Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

SIERRA CLUB BULLETIN, VOL. X.

CAMP AT YOUNG LAKE
Photo by Walter L. Huber

number of plant species on the peak proper is very small and the vegetation is exceedingly scanty.

If one is a pigmy one cannot view a giant very well by standing at his feet. One does, to be sure, obtain a certain impression of the vastness and height of the eastern wall of the Sierra Nevada by standing at its base in the Owens Valley; but these impressions are not in any wise comparable to the impressions thronging instantly on the mind as one surveys the Sierra from the altitude of White Mountain Peak. The high snow fields and plateaux and peaks unfold in a way to reveal unexpected and unusual grandeur. It is a revelation of the highest Sierra-almost as if one were viewing them from the vantage point of a separate planet which had wandered near.

In the end of April and early May it was my fortune to be in Death Valley, whence a trip was made into the Panamint Range, of which the dominating height is Telescope Peak, 11,045 feet in altitude. The situation of Telescope Peak, its distance from Mt. Whitney, and its altitude combine to render it an unequalled view-point for comprehension of the premier mountain chain of California. From this pinnacle one sees the Sierra Nevada rising from the great interior plateau as an unbroken wall barring the westward way. One is thrilled with a new sensation, for he feels that he sees the whole snowy range. There it comes, out of the far distance from the Mt. Ritter group of peaks, down to University Peak and Mt. Williamson, curving down to Mt. Whitney, Mt. Le Conte, and Mt. Langley, curving steadily on to Olancha Peak, and always without pass or break, and still curving steadily on westerly till lost in the Double Peak of the Tehachapi Range, thus en folding to the westward that mysterious land, the light of which one sees through a purple haze beyond the line of snowy peaks.

To my mind no other view of the Sierra Nevada equals this in romantic character. From no other point does one so nearly seize the whole mighty chain in one sweep of the eye; from no other point is the contrast of the desert ranges so impressive; from no other point is there greater possible appreciation of the Sierra Nevada as a barrier, especially in its relation to the westward migration of men.

The White Mountains, however, far surpass the Panamint Range in extent and height, and in area and persistence of snowfields. The name White Mountains does not seem happy, but certain granite peaks of the range are said to show white as viewed from the northwest. The term "White Mountain Peak,” which is used for the highest point by the United States Geological Survey, seems especially awkward and unfortunate. An alternative name, Mt. Olmsted, appears on the Forest Service map of the Inyo National Forest and is much to be preferred.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

BY ARISTIDES E. PHOUTRIDES
Under sun-enamored shades
Born of cedar, pine, and fir,
Through the flower-spotted glades
Where the fleeting insects stir,
Past the valleys, past the hills,
Up the singing mountain rills,
Upward! Upward !
The blithe climbers go!
Upward! Upward!
Past all things below!
To the lofty mountain peak!
To the snows that touch the sky!
Where the tongues of ages speak
With eternal voices high,
Echoed in their endless rhyme
By a bournless space and time!
Upward! Upward!
The blithe climbers go!
Upward ! Upward!
Past all things below!

(From LIGHTS AT Dawn) Kern River, California,

July, 1912.

THE CLIMB OF DUNDERBERG VIA

VIRGINIA CANON

BY GEORGE C. THOMPSON

TH

HE encampment of the Sierra Club in Tuolumne Mead

,

cess, and from many standpoints an unqualified success. It pursued, in the main, the objects for which the constitution of the club declares we exist. It is a matter of common consent, however, that the side trip, those few days when kindred spirits become knights of the road, is the pièce de résistance of the summer outing; for it is then you see the finest views, climb the highest peaks, get the biggest appetite, and catch the most unheard-of trout. It is then, too, that you readily find out what stuff your comrades are made of.

Last summer's outing can boast of at least two such trips that had the zest of newness and romance, and that, too, within a bow-shot-of course I mean a Sierra bow-shot-of the Soda Springs. They were the trip to the Ten Lakes Basin, and the climb of Dunderberg via Virginia Cañon. The first, Ten Lakes Basin, does not come within the scope of this article. The five-day Dunderberg trip, however, I shall attempt to describe briefly, having been in the thick of it as a fly-caster and humble member of the commissary.

When it became noised along the rocky slopes of Parsons Ridge, I almost said Parnassus Ridge, that a five-day trip was being planned to explore Virginia Cañon, climb the forbidding pile of frowning rock, properly known as Thunder Mountain, that stands sentinel over the desert, and return cross country via Young Lake and Mount Conness, there was unusual stir and excitement. And when it became farther known that that intrepid and insatiable mountaineer, Walter Huber, was to be commander-in-chief of the expedition, and that he was to be assisted by Mrs. Parsons, it was soon a question whether it would be a side trip or whether we would have to move the entire camp, Soda Springs, Toy Gong, Tap, and all, in order to accommodate the numbers. It was finally agreed, however, that twenty should be the limit of the party, and that for convenience of commissary and general handling they should be divided into two platoons of ten each.

And so we set forth, bag and baggage, with the most efficient of packers and five pack animals. The first night found us by our camp fire at Conness Creek, dining on rainbow trout, and afterwards mingling our voices in true Sierra Club fashion in hymns of praise and thanksgiving. On the other side of the creek, Ray Bailey and his Rodgers Lake revelers were making their best efforts to prove that they were the true and only dwellers in the mountains. But they failed. We were it. So we thought and so we still believe. We were off to an unknown land - a valley lying somewhere to the northeast, guessed at, but unknown—and a still more mysterious mountain beyond. We had been to Rodgers Lake and knew it by heart. But no one, as far as we knew in the history of the Sierra Club, had been up Virginia Cañon and to Dunderberg. And so with lusty voices we proved our right of primacy far into the night. At last the fire died out and the winds and tumbling streams sang us to sleep.

The morning of our second day found us still on familiar ground, up Cold Cañon and over the ridge following the Matterhorn trail as far as Return Creek. Return Creek is the name given to the stream formed by the junction of Spiller and Virginia creeks, so Return Cañon and Virginia Cañon are, in fact, geographically one. The same stream heading in Virginia Cañon flows through both. At the point where the main trail crossed the creek we picked up the Virginia Pass trail, running northeasterly and following closely the stream.

Virginia Cañon is one of the many spots in the Sierra that owe their beauty and charm to what may be called their intimacy. You leave the rest of the world behind; you are visiting a friend at home, in the seclusion of a quiet beauty that is denied the world in general. To add to its charm you have not only meadows of rare flowers, but on either side the most perfect tamarack-pine forests that I have seen anywhere. Not a single dead tree up to the very sky-line mars the unbroken sweep of glistening green; and, best of all, the trail, which

« PreviousContinue »