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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 gdurkee » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:42 pm

Exploring the Highest Sierra: still available on Amazon -- even in Kindle, but you want the print edition. Has an excellent Highway geology coming up from Fresno to Cedar Grove as well as excellent history of the Sierra and geology of the southern Sierra.

Probably truly out of print, but California Roadside Geology is great.

Clyde Wahrhaftig! I took geomorphology from him. Excellent course!

I had heard (but don't know for sure...) that Reagan canceled the trans-Sierra highway from Florence over Piute because it was too expensive. Makes more sense since he was not a known nature lover ('seen one tree, seen 'em all').

If you go into Evolution Valley, you can see huge blazes on trees at Evolution Meadow and Colby. Both marked proposed dam sites by Southern California Edison. Even after it was made a park, I understood (but am not truly sure) that they retained rights to build dams up there.

I'm not sure about Solomon's route. I think he proposed it well before the Muir Trail was proposed (ca. 1890??) Yes, Hal Roth in Pathways in the Sky (another Sierra classic) gives him credit for the idea.

USGS has issued very old maps on their web site. It's not an easy front end, but for any particular section, you fan see the dates of editions that are available. Some neat stuff.

Another out of print to look for: the three volume set of Sierra Club Bulletins, 1890 to 1906. Printed in 1950 to replace the sets lost in the SF '06 earthquake and fire. Very hard to find. Google Books has some sets available online free. You have to try several different search strategies to find them since they don't seem well cataloged.

I'd totally missed this thread. Hope that helps. Fun old stuff out there.

g.



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

Postby schmalz » Fri May 04, 2012 10:52 pm

I'm really interested in early Sierra history history. The period where it was initially being explored by people like muir. I haven't read any of his stuff yet. If anyone has any favorite books with tales of early Sierra trips I'd appreciate the tips.
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby TehipiteTom » Sat May 05, 2012 9:12 am

schmalz wrote:I'm really interested in early Sierra history history. The period where it was initially being explored by people like muir. I haven't read any of his stuff yet. If anyone has any favorite books with tales of early Sierra trips I'd appreciate the tips.

There's a collection called Splendid Mountains, compiled by Peter Browning, that has firsthand accounts from people like Frank Dusy, Joseph LeConte, Bolton Brown, and others. Highly recommended.

William H. Brewer (field leader of the California Geological Survey in 1864) wrote about some of the earliest exploration of what is now Kings Canyon National Park. It's in Up and Down California, which is a fascinating read; the Sierra exploration is just a small part of the book, (he traveled over 14,000 miles around the state), but the whole thing is available online. (I'm also liveblogging his travels, sort of--that is, I'm posting excerpts from his account in real time +150 years.)

For a really good roundup of the early history, check out Francis Farquhar's History of the Sierra Nevada.

Hope this helps. Happy reading!
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby maverick » Sat May 05, 2012 1:47 pm

Great advice TT, both Splendid Mountains and History of the Sierra Nevada are really
well written, and have a lot of great information.
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby Timberline » Sun May 06, 2012 3:33 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!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: what do you want to know about the Sierra?

Postby TehipiteTom » Mon May 07, 2012 8:24 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 11:48 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 7:16 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 2:06 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 9:02 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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