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HE true grandeur of our Sierra Nevada was first opened
to the world by the discovery of the Yosemite Valley in 1851. In spite of the difficulties of travel, a great many people found their way into this famous valley during the early fifties, at a time when access was possible only on horseback and over the roughest of trails. It is not surprising then that these hardy pioneers soon discovered that the Yosemite was only the gateway to a vast alpine region whose equal was not to be found within the boundaries of the United States. Incited by the reports of early explorers, in the summer of 1863 Professor J. D. Whitney, chief of the California Geological Survey, which was created by act of legislature in 1860, decided to send an exploring party into this remote region. The results of this first scientific expedition were so remarkable that in 1864 a second party was sent to explore the basins of the Kings and San Joaquin rivers. The results of this early reconnaissance are to be found in volume I of the reports of the Geological Survey of California, published in 1865.
To J. D. Whitney, therefore, and his associates, William H. Brewer, Clarence King, J. T. Gardner, and Charles F. Hoffmann, belong the credit of first exploring, describing, and mapping in outline this great area of difficult country.
In 1868 John Muir came to California and immediately made his way into the Yosemite Valley, which by this time was renowned throughout the world. He at once began his travels and studies in the high Sierra, and his first contribution to the literature of this subject was published in 1871. From then on to the time of his death, his writings, more than any one thing, have directed the attention of the public to the wonders of the Sierra.
Beginning about 1870, expeditions were formed by enthusiastic mountain-lovers simply for the purpose of exploring and enjoying the high Sierra. But these also were but pioneers, , and each party was obliged to work its own way through independently, making use of the trails of the sheepmen who at a very early date began using the rich pasturage of the alpine meadows. Practically no detailed information was to be obtained then in any published accounts. All descriptions so far were of a general nature and lacked that accuracy of detail of route and trail so necessary to the traveler.
It finally became evident that some organization was needed whereby the experiences and practical results of travel might be brought together and preserved for the use of others to follow. This idea in a general way may have been in the minds of some of the very earliest explorers in this field, but if so no record of such has been found. The first definite move in this direction seems to have been made by Professor J. H. Senger, of the University of California, in 1886, and the beginnings are shown in a short correspondence between himself and Mr. Dennison, then State Guardian of the Yosemite Valley. Professor Senger's first idea was to establish a library of mountaineering literature in the Yosemite Valley, bringing together not only all books relating to the California mountains, but collecting all published maps, as well as sketch-maps and notes and itineraries made by travelers. His idea was evidently that Yosemite