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Guide to Tuolumne Meadows Trails (1960) by Allan Shields


Altitude hiking and conditioning recommendations - People in normal health have nothing to fear about beginning the graded program after being in the region for a couple of days. If in doubt, consult your physician. Most of the hikes require climbing, and that means exertion. After the initial stiffness gained by the inactive person taking the Lembert Dome and Dog Lake hikes, the additional hiking will actually help limber the muscles. Headaches are normal at the beginning of one’s stay at high altitudes. They should disappear, without medication, in a couple of days.

Snakes - In Tuolumne Meadows region there is one snake, the garter (16, p. 37).* There are no rattlesnakes, or seriously poisonous insects.

*See Bibliography on p. 201. Number refers to corresponding work on the list.

Children - Generally speaking, children suffer mildly the same difficulties as adults, but evidence discomfort in different ways. After conditioning, there is no reason why children of 5 years or older should not enjoy hiking with their parents. A child is lost when he cannot find the way back. Not knowing exactly where you are does not mean that you are lost. We rarely know exactly where we are. Instruct your children that when they cannot find their way “home”, that they should remain in one place and wait for help. Of course, any suspected case of a lost child (or adult) should be reported to the District Ranger at once.

Bears - The black bear (12, p. 82) is a wild animal and is dangerous to humans. Do not feed them. Do not store food in tents or sleeping bags. Bears have been known to rip open cans to obtain food. Hang food high between trees. Bears are usually frightened away if an empty tin can is tossed toward them. Bears may be dangerous, if provoked.

Illness, injury, and other emergencies - Report immediately such difficulties to the District Ranger, or any of the other rangers. Do not attempt to remove a person alone. Send for help, or go get it.

On getting lost - Few persons find themselves lost if they have learned the region gradually. Anyone who has followed the program described here will have to try hard to get lost. However, it is possible to become confused and disoriented. When leaving for a hike, always let someone know where you are going, how you will go and return, and when. Then, if you really feel lost, stay where you are. Help will come. By staying on the trail, you greatly minimize the chances of getting confused, and enhance the possibilities of being found.

Fires - Except in the campground, you are required to obtain a permit to build a fire in the region. Permits are free, and are quickly delivered at all ranger stations. Consult any ranger regarding regulations.

In places where campfires are permitted, be careful, at higher elevations especially, to keep fires small, and see that they are completely out when leaving. Roots of the whitebark pine may smolder for weeks, killing 500 years of growth. Be careful. Build your fire a considerable distance (15 feet) from trunks. See that no exposed roots are near. Use old fire places.

Firewood - Park policy states that visitors may burn only dead wood that is down. Standing dead trees are to be preserved as natural features of the region, no matter how strongly you are antagonized by dead trees that stay upright. There is plenty of wood that is down. That others may share it after you, build small fires, and use only as much wood as you need.

Trash disposal - The best policy regarding trash is the general rule, “Don’t leave the area as clean as you found it — leave it cleaner.” Burn all trash and garbage, flatten cans, after burning them out, then carry them out to the nearest trash can. In this way, the Sierra Nevada can be kept in wilderness condition. You will find what looks like trash dumps at some camps. Increased high country travel makes such dumps out of date and unsightly. Do not contribute to their accumulations.

General Cautions - Sand or gravel over granite is very slippery.

When traveling up steep slopes, be extra careful not to dislodge rocks. The dangers are not to you, but to your companions below.

Never throw or roll rocks down steep slopes or over cliffs. Someone is probably below, even though you do not see them. Also, you may precipitate a rock slide in loose talus.

Do not attempt to descend steep granite slopes.

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