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CAMP IN VIRGINIA CAÑON, BELOW SHEPHERD CREST

Photo by Walter L. Huber

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within a few years has been reblazed at the lower part of the cañon, suddenly gives out, and you are your own trailmaker. Open meadow follows stretches of forest, and forest succeeds delightful flower-scented glades. If you are careful, you are further repaid with the sight of soft-eyed deer, looking at you from the tangled underbrush, unafraid. The birds, particularly the thrushes, are futing their dreamy songs from brush to mountain side, and the chickadee sings his love song.

We had evidence abundant that this is the true home of Apollo and the Muses. In fact one of our number had strange stories to tell of a lost trail leading to secret haunts where the sense of direction becomes confused and where, in bewilderment, one lies down and dreams to the music of unseen choristers and is wafted away under the tricky guidance of Pan and the water sprites. Yes, it is an intimate, a lovely, a friendly cañon, with a stream in its midst that has every virtue that a stream could have - babbling noises, tumbling rapids, cold, crystal pools, moss-lined and tanglewood banks, and overhanging shelves where the ouzel dips with lightning speed-everything !-with one exception. In vain did the best of fishermen, even the unexcelled d'Estrella, speed the singing line upon the foaming pools and change from fly to fly. Sad but true, the trout is a minus quantity. Still the trout is not always necessary, and we had ample compensation, an appetite and a thirst "you couldn't buy," and a meal truly fit for the gods.

And then as we sat in the gathering twilight, listening to the music of the stream and the last song of the thrush, we were suddenly aware of a miracle. The entire valley was transformed into a bowl filled to its brim with molten gold, while Shepherd's Crest, with its mantle of snow, blazed in the last rays of the sun like a great amethyst. We sat in silence for a long time watching it until gradually the light faded and the long shadows dropped into darkness. It was a scene that none of us can ever forget.

And then such a camp-fire as we had, soaring high above and lighting and lifting higher still the splendid tree tops that seemed to lose themselves in the sky! Songs, stories, a round table of friendly jest and reminiscence, and we are safe again in our sleeping bags upon "rock and cones imbedded deep.'

Morning brings the third day, and while still the dipping stars were winking and the shadows filling up the valley, even before the highest point of Shepherd's Crest had felt the morning's breath, we were up and away. A climb of a thousand feet brought us to Summit Lake and in full view of Thunder Mountain.

Here the ways divided, and while the bold spirits turned their faces to the storm-defying heights, the slackers and a large part of the commissary contented themselves with climbing to Epidote Peak, and, dreaming in the sunshine, picking out the various peaks and lakes, and watching through field glasses the intrepids scale the frowning cliffs.

Dunderberg is a mountain of multi-colored rock, steep as to its sides, broken as to the rocks, and slippery, shifting, red and hot as to the uncertain shale. It also has snow on the sidesteep, unclimbable snow—and on top, when you get there, a big monument of more broken rocks. It is easy to come down, but not exactly safe as to the coming. Rennie, the Mountain Goat, makes a bee line down ravines of crushed shale and fetches up, in a few thousand dashes, in something like twenty-three minutes, at the bottom. Others come more slowly, and with caution. After you have climbed it you are glad, and when you get back to camp you are gladder still. Those left behind at camp are glad, too, for they have kept dinner waiting, and they show their joy by unusually friendly greetings, and by handing out dainties that you never knew existed, such as onion and potato salad. I forgot to state that the elevation of this Thunder Peak is 12,365 feet.

Do not be too hasty, however, in deciding not to climb Dunderberg. The real and most important reason for climbing any mountain is the getting there and the things one can see from the top. Measured by this standard, Dunderberg ranks second to few in the entire Sierra. In fact it is the vantage point of this entire region, and commands on all sides views which are simply superb. Bridgeport Valley to the north, Monument Ridge and Saw Tooth Ridge to the north and west, Dana, Gibbs, Conness, Lyell, and many other old friends greet you from a new angle. Saddlebag Lake, Virginia Lake, East Lake, West Lake, Greek Lake, and innumerable others-even Hoover Lake-winking with laughing eyes of blue, send their glistening light to greet you. Beyond, to the east, mysterious, silent, desolate, shadow-like, filled with shifting rainbow colors, lie Mono Lake and Mono Desert.

At the campfire that night, amid stories of adventure, narrow escapes, scientific discussion, etc., it was clearly demonstrated to the entire satisfaction of the twenty campers, and to the packer, that if a flying body, Homer Miller, for instance, in a mad leap for lower ledges, comes in contact with a splinter

a of Dunderberg, it is eminently fitting and necessary that he come into camp last of all, and that he occupy his place at the camp-fire in his sleeping bag, in order that Miss Bridges may illustrate with needle and thread a new use for bandanas.

Our cross-country trip from Virginia Cañon to Young Lake, where we camped for the last night, was a constantly shifting scene of forest, stream and mountain, with many surprises as to distances. Young Lake, only a short distance from Soda Spring, has not received the appreciation to which it is clearly entitled. We voted it by acclamation a spot of almost unparalleled beauty. Ragged Peak, White Mountain and Conness, so encircle it from various sides that its setting is one of wild beauty unsurpassed. The stunted trees, the broken granite boulders, the snow edging its way into the waters of the lake, the restless waves that nervously rock themselves from cliff to sandy beach, all add to the impression that this spot is very far from the world. One could well believe that no human being had ever visited it until his eye falls upon a bit of obsidian, or an exquisite arrowhead, giving evidence that in a bygone age here was once a happy hunting ground of the Indians.

The last day brought us to the top of Conness, and back by Young Lake and the circuitous contours of Ragged Peak, to the base camp at Soda Springs. Blessed is the side trip, so say we all; blessed is the spirit of the mountains; and blessed are the streams of crystal water and ice-cold plunge in lake and pool. The stars are blessed, too, showing in untold myriads so friendly and near. Blessed is the thunderstorm, and the sweet mountain rain, and the trees and flowers that hold up grateful heads. And blessed beyond all the comradeship that no one knows who has not tested its sweetness in the High Sierra.

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