Page images
PDF
EPUB

soft gray foliage, in charming contrast to the royal purple flowers in large but delicately interrupted whorles.

The trail now leads past Hidden Lake, a small well-concealed basin of water without outlet, on to Tamrac Valley, with its numerous tall and stately tamrac pines, a beautiful camping place. Due largely, however, to a great dearth of signposts during the day's walk of fifteen miles through this national forest, with its many diverging paths, it was after dark before all the party were all accounted for in camp. No pack train had arrived and the scouting party formed by our good leader, Ernest Dawson, failed to reveal any trace of it. It were better we had heeded those rumblings of Tahquitz! However, some venison obtained from some hunters this first day of the deer season was roasted, some dried figs were discovered in someone's knapsack, and a box of afterdinner mints completed the delusion. A cache a mile distant, belonging to packers, was commandeered and each of us rolled up in a single blanket around the campfire.

But the night was not long as the more hardy were up by three o'clock for the climb of Mount San Jacinto, only two miles distant. The full moon made the cold white rocks stand out almost phosphorescent as we climbed through the bent and broken Murray and limber pines to well above the timber line. The sun rose a brilliant ruby red out of the mists of the Colorado Desert. Down in the west the great mountain peak cast its shadow over the little farms nestled against the foothills, and beyond, though not visible, were the orange groves of Riverside. Over 8000 feet almost directly below was the San Gorgonio Pass, joining these two landscapes of such striking contrast. Southeast were the Santa Rosa Mountains, and to the south Palomar, Cuyamaca, and the Laguna

mountains. Soon after return to camp one most welcome pack animal arrived with provisions and the party was soon off in fine spirits for the day's hike of six miles. The sheer view we had at midday from the ridge at Hidden Lake down over the Coachella Valley and on toward Salton Sea was impressive. A short dark line moving slowly across the floor of the desert, dotted with creosote bushes, proved by our glasses to be a Southern Pacific train. Early next morning dunnage was left for the packers to return to Los Angeles by parcel post, and the party began the tenmile descent to "the land of the palm.” Ours was the first large party to use this trail, lately completed by M. S. Gordon at his own expense. We soon descended from the pines through manzanita and mountain mahogany into the elfin forest of “ribbon woods," with their shreds of reddish bark hanging about the branches. This is the chamise of the higher zone (Adenostoma sparsifolium), and for a mile we journeyed amongst its sweetly fragrant white blossoms.

But as the trail descended the thermometer certainly ascended. However, a half-hour's shower proved most refreshing, and we were ready for lunch in the grove of magnificent native fan palms (Washingtonia) at the mouth of Andreas Cañon. This grove a hundred years ago, according to Pablo, an Indian, was the annual meeting place of the Agua Caliente Indians, a few of whom may be seen today around the hot springs below. Mortars and hieroglyphics can still be seen in the nearby caves. Last year the club had camped here and explored five nearby cañons, tropical with thousands of these palms. Farther from the stream there is only cactus, greasewood and mesquite. The "barrel cactus" grows nearly head high, and by cutting out the top with a hand ax and crushing the pulp with the handle, a cup of watery juice can soon be extracted which easily allays thirst on the desert.

But again is heard the honk of the mountain buses, and we gather the stragglers of the group to wave adieu to the most varied scenes of this four-day trip, and after a stop at Palm Springs to test the mud baths and see the Desert Inn, the enjoyment and the hardship of the outing mingle in pleasant memory.

CLUB GATHERING Wishing to bring more of the spirit of informality into the annual indoor reunion of the Southern Section of the Sierra Club, an informal supper was given in the municipal club house at Echo Park, Los Angeles, on November 24th. Arrangements were made with a cafeteria for the hot food and the Sierra Club members did all the rest. At six-thirty there was a real Sierra Club line-up for supper, and nearly two hundred hungry hikers took their plates and cups to the long tables which had been set in the main hall.

After supper the tables were removed and, naturally, a very informal social time ensued while changing the room into an assembly hall. A very good program followed, Mr. Tappaan officiating. This included an informal talk on the High Sierra by Chester Versteeg, illustrated by beautiful natural-color views, mostly by Mr. Ink. Then a little informal dance and it was time to leave, every one feeling that this was the most successful indoor gathering ever held by the Southern Section, and at just half the expense of the more formal affairs, thus keeping in line with the universal purpose of conservation and the avoidance of useless expenditure.

MUIR LODGE

The Muir Lodge reunions in the spring for John Muir's birthday celebration, and in October for the dedication anniversary, are events long anticipated and largely attended. But Muir Lodge means more than that. Almost daily, along the high, winding trail come members of our big mountain family to rest in their own mountain home. It is a wellobserved code of honor to leave Muir Lodge a little cleaner and the firewood a little more abundant than one found it. The additional dressing- and locker-rooms and women's out-door sleeping quarters have temporarily solved a difficulty for which the steadily increasing patronage demanded a solution. By its thousands of visitors Muir Lodge has abundantly justified its existence.

LOCAL WALKS OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SECTION OF SIERRA CLUB Although some faces are missing from our local walks since the war, nearly every week sees an enthusiastic band of climbers starting out for a one-, two- or three-day outing. Once in a while, by the help of a fortunate holiday date, we even manage a four-day trip. In the summer of 1917, those who could not stretch their vacations to cover a High Sierra trip enjoyed a week's outing among the mountains of the San Gabriel Divide. Our itinerary ranges from San Jacinto and San Gorgonio in the southeast to Pinos far in the northeast, and from Gleason and Pacifico overlooking the desert on the north to the hills along the coast.

On the recent trip to Liebre Mountain the club was royally entertained by Mr. Collins at Oak Ridge Ranch. Milk, fruit and melons were furnished ad libitum, and he even built a Dutch oven for their special use. His "good-by” was accompanied by a cordial urging to come again.

Some particularly attractive trips are now being planned by the Local Walks Committee.

MUNICIPAL MOUNTAIN CAMP Realizing the benefits of a mountain vacation, Los Angeles City Playground Commission has established a summer camp in Seeley Flats in the San Bernardino Mountains. The camp has grown until now there is permanent equipment for two hundred and seventy-five campers, and four hundred have been accommodated at once. As each one renders some slight assistance every day, the small amount of $7.50 gives a happy, healthful vacation of two weeks, transportation included, and everyone feels part of the big family.

The camp is reached by automobile stage, and the road winds through beautiful country and climbs to an elevation of about forty-five hundred feet. The cabins are arranged in a semi-circle, with the lodge, dining quarters and ball courts completing the circle. Across the creek and a little to one side is the plunge.

The commission is now building a second municipal camp on a site of eighty acres, near Seven Oaks. This gives practically everyone a chance to "Go to the mountains and get their good tidings.”

TRAIL BUILDING At a late meeting of the Southern Section committee, it was decided to use all money collected from the five-cent fees on the local trips for trail building and sign posting exclusively. The Southern Section has lately expended one hundred dollars with a like sum from the Government in building a trail near Mount Islip. They are also expending fifty dollars with an equal sum from the Government in the much needed sign-posting of the San Jacinto Mountains. They are also doing some trail work at Iron Mountain.

INVASION OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS Sheep owners want to graze sheep in national parks. This would despoil

the parks without greatly increasing the supply of wool and mutton What are our national parks for—to be enjoyed by people or to be despoiled by cattle and sheep?

"The invasion of the enemy," is an expression that need not be limited to war usage. It exactly fits a condition of internal affairs here in the United States that is far removed from battlefields and warring men. The territories being invaded are the national parks. If the invasion continues these regions which belong to all the American people will be monopolized by a few individuals.

Certain interests, individual and collective, are constantly endeavoring to use these parks for their own commercial benefit. The friends of the people's playgrounds have again and again thwarted efforts that were being made to use these wonderlands for stock pasture. Now there are people who are taking advantage of the present need for increased food production, to secure permission to graze cattle and sheep in our national parks. Last summer certain stock men seized the opportunity offered by the urgent national need of food and undertook to get the Federal Government to permit grazing in parks. In California the friends of parks acted quickly and saved most of Yosemite. The stock men did succeed in getting possession of two comparatively small areas. Increased efforts are being made to pasture the parks in 1918.

We all know that more mutton and more wool are needed, and that the sheep industry should be increased. Grazing grounds are essential, but there is ample opportunity for grazing outside of the national parks.

The Department of Agriculture says, “There remain practically no lands in the public domain (unreserved public lands) that are fit for any other use than for the grazing of livestock. They should therefore be used for that purpose.” Does it seem reasonable to graze sheep in the national parks when there is government land not in use that is fitted for that purpose?

Then there are the national forests, covering an area of approximately one hundred and seventy-five million acres. Of this about five-eighths

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »