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Guide to Tuolumne Meadows Trails (1960) by Allan Shields


BRIEF HISTORY OF GUIDED HIKES IN TUOLUMNE MEADOWS

John Muir first hiked, scrambled, and climbed around this elevated country in the year 1869, and continued making his insightful studies of nature until the year of his death by pneumonia in 1914. Before him, the Yosemite (Miwok) Indians, and others, frequently hiked in the region for reasons of commerce, cultural exchange, and subsistence. These people were greatly skilled in getting about in the mountains, often chasing game to mountain tablelands and summits, where animals would be ambushed by stationed hunters. Arrowheads, found throughout the high mountains, attest to the Indian’s wandering.

For nearly thirty years, Tuolumne Meadows has held an enviable reputation for its hiking program conducted under the direction of ranger-naturalists who have been trained in mountaineering, the natural sciences, and the history of the region Ranger-naturalist Carl Sharsmith without doubt, has been the most important single person responsible for the development of these activities. Under his spirited direction, the program has grown to include more than 50 all-day hikes, and 20 half-day hikes, nature walks, bird walks, and many specialized activities.

Several main principles have served the naturalists in this region. Among them are these: 1) that the uninitiated, with some guidance, can quickly learn to find his way around in the mountains, and can learn to conduct himself in such a manner that he will succeed in doing with pleasure what he may only fearfully avoid, if left to his own devices; 2) that the main object, apart from accurate and meaningful interpretation of the numerous facts connected with the area, is to help the novice to become independent and secure in the mountains; 3) that the means to achieve these objectives are, most directly, the campfire programs that have inspired so many to undertake some aspects of the scheduled events, and especially, the all-day hikes and others, which infuse the participant with the zeal to continue to discover for himself the great riches that lie about one in Tuolumne.

John Muir’s admonition still sounds the keynote of the naturalist conducted trips:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

This booklet is intended for that park visitor who is unfamiliar with the region, probably inexperienced in hiking, but who is willing to expend a little thought and energy to garner to himself some of the peace and energy of the mountains. It is a supplement to the regularly scheduled guided hikes and is in no sense a substitution for them. Few of us are so able in learning a complicated skill that we can afford to do without a mentor entirely. The truly independent hiker will want to do both: to take conducted trips, and to follow this program independently.

It is our hope that by grading the hikes, the visitor will be enabled to start with comparatively simple but infinitely rewarding trips, and gradually advance to the more strenuous and trying hikes when he will have achieved a solid orientation in the region and confidence in his ability to hike. He can then graduate to complete independence in the Park.



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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

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