In February, I decided to see the snow. The weather broke for a week and I took advantage of blue skies and snow cleared roads to visit the East Side of the Sierras during this extraordinary California winter! The snowcapped Sierras were magnificent! Walking with my friends in the fields and along the waterway canals surrounding Bishop, we met horses, mules, and burros – for me the “holy trinity of the Sierras” – in their winter pastures, resting before their busy summer hauling supplies into the high mountains from pack stations, such as McGee Creek, Pine Creek, and Rock Creek, for hikers and fishermen to camp and sojourn alongside alpine lakes.
Writing about a summer pack into the California Sierras, Everett Ruess wrote, “much of the time I feel so exuberant, I can hardly contain myself. The colors are so glorious, the forests so magnificent, the mountains are splendid, and the streams so utterly, wildly, tumultuously, effervescently joyful that to me, at least, the world is a riot of sensual delight.”
In his Sunday, September 16, 1933, journal entry during his Sierra adventure, Ruess wrote about his day trekking with his burros Grandma and Betsy:
Up before day. There was heavy frost on the meadow grass. I packed with surpassing adroitness and celerity. We went up the north fork of Mono creek and climbed out of the canyon by the edge of a waterfall. I quarreled with the trailmakers several times, but it seems they went in the best way, after all. We passed some lakes and climbed to Silver Pass, where I was “High in the white windy presence of eternity”…..
After lunch, when the burros had rested and eaten their fill, I packed with great rapidity and drove the burros down…..we reached a fork of the trail, and it appears that the Muir Trail does not go down Cascade and Fish Valley, but up to Mammoth Lakes. Reds Meadow and Devil’s Post Pile are my next destinations.
Instead of down, we went up hill, over two passes. We are now in terra incognita, for I do not have the Mt. Morrison quadrangle. In a valley below the second pass, I camped by a long lake that sparkled in the evening sun. I managed to have a bath and plunge before sunset, and felt the better for them. I salted the burros and had constarch pudding, lemon flavor for supper. Now the alpine glow is fading from the mountains.
Journal entry from Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty & Wilderness Journals edited by W. L. Rusho