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Courtesy of the Salt Lake Route

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Courtesy of the Salt Lake Route

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the first people we laid eyes on from the time we left Independence, except for Prof. Brewer and his party of exploring scientists. These placer mines down near the San Joaquin Valley were not showing up well. We, ourselves, tried it out and cleaned up only thirty-eight cents, so we decided to strike out to the northeast. We went north by the old Jackson ranch into Squaw Flat, across Squaw Flat and up into the mountains until we struck the South Fork of Joaquin River about 35 or 40 miles east from Middleton, an old mining camp on the San Joaquin. Then we followed the river, you might say, to its very head in the main Sierra Nevada. There we had for dinner the last of our stock of provisions. Beveridge and I took our pans and went over to a red hill where we got a good prospect; but we were out of grub. We struck east, hoping to find a way over the Sierras and down again into Owen's Valley, but we could not get any further east-got into the main mountains and then had to back out and work south. We worked south until we got down on to the North Fork of King's River. It was a terrific task working around granite cliffs and over great boulders with our horses. Beveridge and I got down on to the North Fork one day about sun-down with the animals. The rest of the boys had gone ahead and had been fishing all day, but could not catch any. Beveridge and I coming into camp with the horses asked the boys what they had got for us to eat, and they pointed up to a rattlesnake hanging on a limb that they had skinned for supper for us. I looked at John and asked him what he thought of it. I said, “It looks pretty tough,” and John says, “Yes, I can't go that.” Just while we were talking it over, two grouse lit in a tree. I grabbed the shot gun and brought down both of them. We made a little fire and after awhile scraped the fire away, dug a hole in the hot sand and put in the two grouse just as they were, feathers and all, piling the ashes and fire on the top of them. After about two and a half hours, we took them out and they were done to a turn. John Beveridge ate one of the grouse and I ate the other. Then we held a council and the next day slaughtered one of the rses. It was John Beveridge's horse, called “General Grant,” an old horse about twenty-five years old. We made a rack out of green willows and jerked a lot of him and roasted a lot more of him in front of a big log fire. After we got everything ready we divided up the jerky and roast meat in our haversacks and struck south. We picked our way along with the animals, but the country kept getting rougher and rougher-deep cañons and precipices, a terribly rough, bouldery country-all bare granite. One of our party got part way down a cliff where he could neither get up nor down, and we had to tie our blankets together and let them down and pull him up. It was a several thousand-foot drop down below where he was on the cliff. We never could understand how he got down there. For two days we tried to work south. Finally we got into a cañon full of boulders, where we could neither get our horses one way or the other. They were so worn out and hungry that we finally killed them. They would have starved to death in that barren granite. We left our saddles and everything, and took only our clothes and necessary blankets and went on afoot. We lived entirely on horse meat. I don't know how horse meat might be with a little salt, but it certainly is not very nice without salt. It is just a sweet, sickening kind of meat without salt, and we tried to chew it as we traveled along, but the meat would keep swelling up in your mouth like a sponge until you could not work your jaws.

Traveling without the animals was easier, but the country kept getting even more impassable. In working down into one cañon, thousands of feet deep, we had to slide down a water-run. Sometimes we would slide thirty feet and fetch up on a bench, throwing our blankets on ahead. We camped down in one of these cañons one night and then, the next morning, started east in the hope of reaching the summit of the Sierra Nevada at a place where we could go down the easterly cliffs into the Owen's Valley. By night we had reached the summit at a place they now call "Taboose Pass," about eighteen miles north of Independence, and the next day we worked our way down the east cliff of the Sierras along Taboose Creek into Owen's Valley.

We had no map of the country, and none of the streams or mountains were named at that time, except the San Joaquin and the King's rivers. The first peak named, I think, was Brewer, named by the party of scientists we met.

The rest of our party, who left us soon after we climbed up over Little Pine Pass, found a gold mine near the pass on their way home which they called the "Cliff Mine." This mine developed into quite a rich ledge, and it was through this discovery that the pass came to be known as “Kearsarge Pass.” Down in Owen's Valley, south of Independence, there is a low lying range of hills. In the early 6o's the Hitchcock boys discovered a mine in these hills which they called the “Old Abe" mine, and they called their district the "Alabama District." They were Rebels and in those days "Old Abe" was a term of ridicule. But they named the district in honor of the Confederate cruiser “Alabama.” These hills are now called the "Alabama Hills.” Our crowd, however, were all Union men, and when the news came that the Kearsarge had sunk the Alabama, our boys named the district where the Cliff Mine was the “Kearsarge District" to taunt the Rebels. The little town which grew up at the mine was called “Kearsarge City," and the pass came to be called the "Kearsarge Pass," and the mountain just to the north of the pass "Kearsarge Mountain."


April 16, 1917 Dear Mr. Albright: While I have it in mind, there is one matter that we of the Sierra Club are very anxious that the National Park Service should undertake without delay, and that is the building of a trail from Hardin Lake on the Tioga Road down into Pate Valley, which is a Yosemite-like valley in the Tuolumne Cañon about ten miles above HetchHetchy. Cross the Tuolumne River at this point and continue the trail on up to connect with the main Rogers Lake, Pleasant Valley Trail, on the other side of the Tuolumne. This trail is of immense importance for the development of the northern portion of the Yosemite National Park, and now that the Hetch-Hetchy crossing is to a great extent eliminated and undesirable, it has become doubly important that this trail should be opened up without delay so as to make the northern portion of the park accessible, and this will be the shortest route into it from the Yosemite, as well as making the finest portion of the Grand Cañon of the Tuolumne accessible. I had intended taking this up with Mr. Mather, but appreciate that it would mean too great a delay. This trail is mentioned on page 251, “National Park Notes,” in a foot-note, to which note I call your attention.

Very sincerely yours,


REPORT OF WORK DONE IN MUIR TRAIL, 1917 After my trip last year with Mr. McClure, the State Engineer, I was impressed with his belief that under no consideration should any but a Class A trail be constructed.

With this in view, I issued the following to Deputy Supervisor Jordan and Ranger Hughes before they entered upon the work:

"The State Engineer insists on a Class A trail, and you will be governed by the specifications laid down in the trail manual for this type of trail. Tread should never be less than 15 inches, more if necessary to meet the situation. In location work the trail should be laid off in sections of like type, each section measured and numbered, and a record made of costs chargeable to each. Packing, grub and cook costs will be kept separate, to be pro-rated later.

I want to impress upon both of you the importance of locating the trail properly, and I know that I can depend upon you to turn out a trail that we will be proud of.”

This, of course, was supplemented by a thorough discussion of the whole project, so that we started on the work with our ideas of construction unified.

The work accomplished, although higher in cost than last year, is of a higher standard than ever before attempted on this forest, and will be, I am sure, a work that will bear the inspection of the most critical.


As last year we divided construction work into three types, as follows:

Class A is solid rock, from 10 per cent to 100 per cent slope.
Class B is talus, consisting of small and large broken slides,

and are at present impassable and require blasting.

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