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what do you want to know about the Sierra?

A place to explore the natural setting (geology, flora & fauna), people, constructed infrastructure and historical events that play and have played a part in shaping the Sierra Nevada as we know it today.

Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby Timberline » Sun May 06, 2012 2:33 pm

Hiya, schmalz,
Have you looked at Clarence Kings' "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada" or pursued anything by Norman Clyde? Great stuff there. Also, look into early issues of the Sierra Club Bulletin for some great first hand accounts of early b'pking and mountaineering when only a handful of folks were out there doing it. More great history stuff in "Sierra Crossing: First Roads in California" by Thomas F. Howard, and "Sierra Nevada Lakes" by George Henry Hinkle. Yep, these mtns have awesome stories!
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon May 07, 2012 7:24 am

Timberline wrote:Hiya, schmalz,
Have you looked at Clarence Kings' "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada"...?

This ties in to Up and Down California: King was on the California Geological Survey team in 1864, and the heart of "Mountaineering..." is the story of him and Cotter splitting off from the main group to try to climb Mt. Whitney (there are other pieces in there, but IIRC that's the longest and best-known).

I've always preferred Brewer's style to King's; Brewer is low-key and factually reliable, while King is self-consciously 'literary' and prone to dramatic embellishment. Both are worth reading, though, and ideally both should be read at the same time (since they're really part of the same story).
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby gdurkee » Mon May 07, 2012 10:48 am

2nd that. Brewer is definitely the more trustworthy writer as far as that goes. King's drama was for an eastern audience -- the wild and wooly west described to the effete easterner that still persists today.Also, there's a high probability that some of his events just never happened (Kaweah's ride is suspect).

Still, he contributed one of the greatest lines in mountaineering literature in their climb returning from Tyndall:

“...but to coolly seat one's self in the door of death, and silently listen for the fatal summons, and this all for a friend,— for he might easily have cast loose the lasso and saved himself,—requires as sublime a type of courage as I know.”
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby vandman » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:16 am

On my Sierra journey this August, I carried a copy of Assembling California by John McPhee. Finally a book that can explain the geology of the twisted Sierra Nevada! It was exciting to read about roof pendants and look up and actually see it around Mt. Goddard. Check it out! Now I understand, it's all about plate tectonics.
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby frozenintime » Sat Nov 05, 2016 1:06 pm

tom, did you ever manage to scan some of that NPS booklet about the various proposed-but-thwarted developments? sounds amazing! :)
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby Big Ed » Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:02 pm

I remember the Reds Meadow Cafe having pictures and stories of the emigrant road Red operated across the Sierra, anyone know where it came out on the western slope?
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby dave54 » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:33 am

One of my pet hobbies is reading about the pioneering families and learning how features got their names -- which is often named after the pioneering families, and event that happened, or an unusual shape of a landmark.

Hambone Butte in Shasta County has a colorful history, as does JimJam Ridge in Siskiyou County, Penitentiary Flat in Lassen, and Humbug Valley in Plumas.

It took me a while to figger out Cement Panther Creek. But I found it -- a rock formation of marine conglomerate that from the right angle looks like a mountain lion (sort of).
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:02 am

Big Ed: I think that trail came wound just south of the Sequoia boundary, came through Hockett Meadow and then down to the south fork of the Kaweah and Visalia. Though maybe we're talking different trails -- that was a cattle/sheep trail, though used very early (1870s??) -- taking stock from Central Valley to pastures on Inyo. Later, during severe droughts, they started using High Sierra meadow.
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby Big Ed » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:21 am

Sounds like a different trial, that would be a lot of north south going from Reds Meadow to Visalia. Plus it was a wooden road for settlers going from the east to California.
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby gdurkee » Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:35 pm

Interesting. I can't imagine an East West trail from Reds Meadow area that was used by immigrants. That's gnarly terrain and I'd not heard of anything south of Sonora Pass for the early 1840s -- 1850s era travelers. As mentioned, the only trail anywhere near Reds was the Hockett Trail and that was for cattle etc. not much for any immigrant groups. The Transcontinental RR was completed in 1869, so that limits where those foot/horse groups were coming in by.

The Minarets were a major barrier to easy travel as was the Sierra south of there. There's definite gaps in my knowledge, but I can't think of anything south of Sonora Pass that was used. The terrain to the east from Missouri essentially took wagons to Salt Lake, then into the Humboldt sink. There, they headed to Oregon or over the Sierra at Tahoe, Donner (when that was improved) and Sonora (ditto). Not south of there as far as I know though I'm very open to anything you have. Getting to Reds via the Humboldt drainage was another formidable barrier (see "A Way Across the Mountains" by Scott Stine on the Walker party in 1833. An excellent description of the terrain/route choices faced by all explorers and immigrants from then into the 1850s).
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