To nature-lovers, more or less active, the trails all around and about Lake Tahoe are a source of perpetual surprise and delight. I know of no region in California that possesses such a wealth of trails - not even the Yosemite or Mt. Shasta regions. The Lake is an ever-present friend. From ridges, peaks, summits and passes, near at hand or scores of miles away, it never fails to satisfy the eye. Again and again, when one is least expecting it, a turn in the trail, or a few steps forward or backward on a summit ridge brings it into sight, and its pure blue surface, now seen smooth and glossy as a mirror, again shining in pearly brilliancy in the sun, or gently rippled by a calm morning or evening zephyr, or tossed into white caps by a rising wind-storm, pelted with fierce rain or hail, or glimpsed only through sudden openings in a snowstorm, at sunrise or sunset, each with its own dazzling brilliancies - it always gives one a thrill and warming sensation at the heart.

Then, too, the number of peaks to the summits of which trails have been cut, so that the walker, or the horseback rider may have easy access, are many and varied. In all there are not less than forty peaks, each of which is well worth a trip, each presenting some feature of its own that renders its personality worth cultivating.

In this and other chapters, I present my own experiences as illustrative to give the general reader an idea of what may be expected if he (or she) is induced to try one of the chief delights of a sojourn in this scenic region.


Leaving Tahoe Tavern, crossing the bridge to Tahoe City, the trail leaves the main road on the left about a mile and a half further on, passing the horse pasture on the right. Near Tahoe City is the Free Camping Ground owned by the Transportation Company. This has a mile frontage overlooking the Lake, and scores of people habitually avail themselves of the privilege, bringing their own outfits with them, as, at present, there are no arrangements made for renting tents and the needed furnishings to outsiders.

The slope up which the trail now ascends with gradual rise is covered with variegated chaparral, making a beautiful mountain carpet and cushion for the eye. To the foot and body it is entangling and annoying, placing an effectual barrier before any but the most strenuous, athletic and determined of men.

Now the white firs, with their white bark, and the red-barked yellow pines begin to appear. They accompany us all the rest of the way to the peak and lake.

Soon we cross Burton Creek, a mere creek except during the snow-melting or rain-falling time. It empties into Carnelian Bay. Burton was one of the old-timers who owned the Island ranch near the Lake shore, and who came to the Tahoe region at the time of the Squaw Valley mining excitement. When the "bottom fell out" of that he did a variety of things to earn a living, one of which was to cut bunch grass from Lake Valley and bring it on mules over the pass that bears his name, boat it across to Lakeside at the south end of the Lake, on the Placerville and Virginia City stage-road, and there sell it to the stage station. Hay thus gathered was worth in those days from $80 to $100 per ton.

About two and a half miles from the Tavern we come to a wood road, which is followed for half a mile. Years ago all these slopes were denuded of their valuable timber, which was "chuted" down to the Lake and then towed across to the sawmills at Glenbrook. The remnants are now being gathered up and used as fuel for the hotel and the steamboats.

Here and there are charming little nurseries of tiny and growing yellow pines and white fir. How sweet, fresh and beautiful they look, - the Christmas trees of the fairies. And how glad they make the heart of the real lover of his country, to whom "conservation" is not a fad, but an imperative necessity for the future - an obligation felt towards the generations yet to come.

Of entirely different associations, and arousing a less agreeable chain of memories, are the ruined log-cabins of the wood-cutter's and logger's days. Several of these are passed.

As we re-enter the trail, Watson's Peak, 8500 feet high, with its basaltic crown, looms before us. At our feet is a big bed of wild sunflowers, their flaring yellow and gold richly coloring the more somber slopes. Here I once saw a band of upwards of 2000 sheep, herded by a Basque, one of that strange European people who seem especially adapted by centuries of such life to be natural shepherds. Few of them speak much American, but they all know enough, when you ask them how many sheep they have, to answer, "About sixteen hundred." The limit allowed on any government reserve in any one band is, I think, 1750, and though a passing ranger may be sure there are more, he is nonplussed when, on his making question, the owner or the shepherd shrugs his shoulders and says, "If you don't believe me, they're there. Go and count 'em!"

Before the officials treated some of the Basque shepherds with what seemed to be too great severity there were numerous forest fires on the reserve. These men were generally both self-willed and ignorant, and we passed by at this spot a clump of finely growing firs, which had been destroyed by a fire started by a shepherd the year before.

Watson assures me that he has personally known many cases where a tree had been blown across a trail, and the shepherd would stop his sheep, set fire to the "wind-fall" and then leave it to burn - sometimes allowing it to smolder for months, to the infinite peril of the forest should an arousing wind blow the fire into life and make it spread.

Fire notices, however, now are everywhere, and a few severe punishments have largely put a stop to all carelessness on the part of shepherds, let alone their culpable neglect. There are still campers and automobilists and others, of the so-called superior and educated race, who need as severe lessons as some of these ignorant Basque shepherds. They knock down the forest-service placards, throw down matches, cigar and cigarette stumps, and often go off and leave a campfire burning. The time is rapidly coming when severer and swifter penalties will be meted out to this class of culprits, for not only are their actions against the law, but they jeopardize all property in and near to the forests, as well as the lives, sometimes, of many innocent men, women and children, besides destroying the value of the mountain slopes as watersheds.

As our trail winds and ascends, the rotting stumps of trees cut years ago meet the eye on every hand, until at length, when at about 7000 feet altitude we see no more. The indications are clear that, though the timber is abundant above this elevation, for some reason or other cutting ceased. Careful observation reveals a possible reason for this. From this point on up the soil is both thin and poor, and though the trees seem to have flourished they are, in reality, gnarled, twisted, stunted and unfit for a good quality of lumber. Many of them are already showing signs of decay, possibly a proof that they grew rapidly and are rotting with equal or greater speed.

At this elevation, 7000 to 8000 feet, the red fir begins to appear. It is an attractive and ever-pleasing tree, its dark red bark soon making it a familar friend.

How remarkably a woodsman can read what would be an unintelligible jumble of facts to a city man. Here on one trip we found a tree. Its top was smitten off and removed a distance of forty to fifty feet. Parts of the tree were scattered for a distance of two hundred yards. What caused it? The unobservant man would have passed it by, and the observant, though untrained and inexperienced, would have wondered without an answer. And yet a few minutes' observation, with the interpretation of Bob Watson, made it as clear as the adding of two to two. The lightning had struck the tree, and shot the top off as if lifted and carried away bodily, at the same time scattering the pieces in every direction. Then, it had seemed to jump from this tree to another, out of the side of which it had torn a large piece, as if, like a wild beast in angry fury, it had bitten out a giant mouthful of something it hated. It had then jumped - where? There was no sign. It simply disappeared.

Near by we found quite a nursery of graceful, dainty and attractive young firs; "Noah's ark trees," I always feel like calling them, for they remind one constantly of the trees found in the Noah's arks of childhood days, made by the Swiss during the long winter nights in their mountain chalets, where the trees are of a similar character to those of the Sierras.

Near to the point at which we turn to the left for Watson's Peak, and to the right for Watson's Lake, is a delicious, cool, clear spring, which I instinctively called, "the Spring of the Angels." When Bob asked the why of the name, the answer quickly came: "It is up so high and is so pure and good." The elevation is about 8000 feet. We take to the left.

Here also is found the mountain pine, its fine, smooth, black bark contrasting markedly with that of the firs and pines further down. It is generally found not lower than this elevation around Lake Tahoe.

Near by are some scattered hemlocks. This tree is found even higher than the mountain pine, and is seldom found lower than 8000 feet. In these higher elevations one sees what a struggle some of the trees have for mere existence. Again and again a mountain pine will be found, a tree perhaps fifty feet high, bowed over almost to the ground. This was done by snow. Given the slightest list from the perpendicular when the heavy, wet snow falls upon it, it is bound slowly to be forced over. If it is a tough, strong tree it may sustain the weight until melting time comes, when it is released. But it never becomes upright again. On the other hand if a cold snap comes after the snow has bent it over, it is no uncommon thing for it to snap right in two, eight, ten or more feet from the ground.

Now we stand on the summit. This peak and its attendant lake were named after my incomparable guide, Robert Watson, and it is well that the name of so admirable a man should be preserved in the region through which he has intelligently and kindly guided so many interested visitors. The elevation is 8500 feet.

What a wonderful panorama is spread out before us. Close by, just across the valley in which nestles Watson's Lake, 7900 feet elevation, is Mt. Pluto, 8500 feet, the sides of which are covered with a dense virgin forest, thus presenting a magnificent and glorious sight. There is no trail through this forest though sheep are taken there to graze in the quiet meadows secluded on the heights.

Further to the east and north is Mt. Rose, 10,800 feet, on which is perched the Meteorological Observatory of the University of Nevada. Beyond is the Washoe Range.

Even before reaching the summit we gain a fine view, through the trees, of Castle Peak, 9139 feet, while further north is Mt. Lola, 9167 feet. Close at hand is a glorious specimen of red fir, fully four and a half feet in diameter. Below us to the west is a patch of vivid green, known as Antone Meadows. It was named after a Switzer who lived there years ago and whose children now own it. Not far away is Round Meadow, locally known as Bear-Trap Meadow, for one may still find there an old bear-trap that hunters were wont to use thirty or forty years ago. In this meadow is the cabin of the Forest Ranger, which we shall see on the return trip.

Looking now over Lake Tahoe to the western horizon we see, over Tahoe Tavern, and a little west of north, Needle Peak (8920 feet), to the right of which is Lyon Peak (about 9000 feet). A trifle to the south of Needle Peak is Granite Chief, followed by Squaw Peak (8960 feet), Ward Peak (8665 feet), and Twin Peak (8924 feet) the one to the right having the appearance of a buffalo feeding.

While these peaks appear in a line, and as if belonging to the same range, a glimpse at the map will reveal that they are some miles apart.

As we look further south, across the head of Ward and Blackwood Creek Canyons, the mountains do not seem so high, though we discern Barker Peak (over 8000 feet).

Still further southward is Ellis Peak (8700 feet) apparently well timbered. It was named after Jock Ellis, who, on the further side, had a dairy ranch for a while. But when he found the cream would not rise in the colder periods of the year, he gave up his dairy, and went to raising sheep. In the summer months, however, he had no trouble in disposing of all the butter he could make, or milk and cream he cared to sell, for he was on the road from Georgetown which passed by Rubicon Springs to McKinney's on the Lake.

On the ridge to the left are the Rubicon Peaks (9199 feet) three of them apparently, all closely overlooking Lake Tahoe, and leading the eye down to Sugar Pine Point, which is at the south end of McKinney's Bay.

To the west of Rubicon Peaks is Phipps Peak (9120 feet), and a little farther back Mt. Tallac (9185 feet), while farther to the south is Ralston Peak (about 9500 feet), at this angle and distance appearing not unlike one of the domes of the Yosemite Valley. Near by, to the right, is Pyramid Peak (10,020 feet), though from here it presents a very different appearance from that it holds when viewed from Mt. Tallac. Still farther to the right is Tell's Peak (9125 feet), apparently at the end of a richly timbered ridge. Tell was an old Switzer who used to keep a dairy ranch on the slopes of the mountain bearing his name.

At the extreme south of Lake Tahoe stands Round Top (10,130 feet), to the left of which are the three great peaks of the Tahoe region, Freel's (10,900 feet), Job's (10,500 feet) and Job's Sister (10,820 feet). Freel was one of the old timers who used to have a cattle-range on the slopes.

Then, allowing the eye to follow along the southeastern curve of the Lake up to the mountains on the eastern side, the first great depression is the pass over which the Placerville road goes down the Kingsbury grade to Genoa. At the foot of the grade, at the entrance to the Carson Valley is Van Sickle's old place, one of the early day stage-stations on the Placerville road.

Van Sickle was a noted character, a fearless, rude pioneer, but well liked and highly respected. His fame was materially enhanced when he killed Sam Brown, one of the noted desperadoes of the Tahoe region in the days of the Virginia City mining excitement. Tradition says that Brown was a fire-eating southerner, from Texas, a man proud of his bad record of several murders. He was notorious in Virginia City, and when the war broke out was one of the outspoken heralds and advocates of secession. He had trouble with Van Sickle and had threatened to kill him on sight. Coming to the place for this purpose he himself was killed, for Van Sickle secured a shot-gun, "laid for him," and shot him. A great sense of relief was felt by many people at this, what was then considered not only a justifiable but highly laudable act, for Brown was seeking to raise a body of men to go South and fight in the Civil War. This event had much to do with stopping too vigorous advocacy of the claims of the South from that time on in Virginia City and the immediate neighborhood.

The road around the Lake forks at a place originally known as Edgewood's, the branch to the left continuing along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe, past Round Mound and Cave Rock to Glenbrook, where it swings over the grade to the east and over the summit, divides, one branch going down Clear Creek Canyon, and the other down King's Canyon to Carson City. It is thirteen and a half miles from Glenbrook to Carson by way of King's Canyon, and automobiles use this route, while stages run regularly over the other route via Clear Creek Canyon which is only fourteen and a quarter miles to Carson.

It was during the lumbering days at Glenbrook that the railway ran from the mills to the summit, nine miles, carrying carloads of lumber there, which were then unloaded and shot down the water-flume to Carson City.

Letting the eye still follow the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe completing the circuit, northward, Snow Valley Peak and Marietta Peak are reached. Under the latter, to the southwest, is Marlette Lake, largely an artificial body over a mile long and half a mile wide, which is the reservoir for the water supply of Virginia City. The course of the conveying flume may distinctly be traced, for part of its twenty-four miles of length. Both peak and lake were named after S.H. Marlette, once Surveyor-General of Nevada, and a well-known character of the earlier mining days.

Just below Marlette Lake, almost directly facing Tahoe Tavern, are several scarrings, running almost parallel to each other and going in the most direct fashion to Lake Tahoe. These denote where the flume broke and the water made its own rude channels to the Lake beneath.

From this inadequate and imperfect description it can readily be imagined what a sublime and comprehensive view is afforded from Watson's Peak. Every visitor to Tahoe should take the trip, especially those who stay for a few days or longer at Tahoe Tavern.

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About half a mile northwest from the summit of Watson Peak is Watson Lake, 7900 feet. It is about 300 yards long by 250 yards broad, hence rudely oval in shape. While about fifty feet deep in the center, it shallows toward the edges, where lilies abound, and then becomes mere marsh. Practically it is surrounded by trees. Restocked with a variety of fish (trout) in large numbers each year, it is one of the best fishing lakes at the northern end of Lake Tahoe, and a most enjoyable day to the angler is to start early, take his lunch along, and spend the day there.

To those who are not anglers this same day can be spent in the quiet enjoyment of the trees, flowers, lake and sky.

The outlet from the lake is by Deer Creek, and thence into the Truckee not far from the site of the old mining-camp of Knoxville.

The return trip to Tahoe Tavern is made through a virgin forest, on a ridge between Watson Lake and the Truckee Valley, the trail having been outlined only about five years ago. Later the Forest Rangers considerably improved it, until now it is a very easy and comfortable trail to traverse. One notices here the especial "blaze" on the trees, of the rangers. It consists of a perpendicular parallelogram with a square above, thus

Wherever this blaze is found everybody in the region knows it for a ranger's blaze, denoting a trail leading to a ranger's cabin.

On this ride one has a wonderful illustration of the popular fallacy in woodcraft that moss is always found on the north side of the trees. Here the moss is mainly on the west. The fact is the moss is generally found on the side from which the rain-storms come, and here they are mainly from the south and southwest. A mile or so away on the trail to Watson's Lake the moss is all on the southwest side of the trees.

Most of the trees here are red fir and mountain pine, some of them being of large size, and noble specimens.

A little further on a fine opening reveals Deer Creek, through which the waters of Watson Lake flow to the Truckee. It was nearing the hour of sunset when I reached this point, and the trees were glowing with flaming gold, reminding one of the pictures John Enneking, the wonderful Boston artist, so loves to paint, while below the water gleamed like dazzling diamonds.

Along here the side of the ridge below the trail seemed as if plowed into a number of rudely parallel lines. These were sheep-trails made as the sheep followed each other over the softer soil of the mountain side.

A mile and a half from Watson Lake we came to a telephone box. This was the signal box of the Forest Rangers connecting with Lake Tahoe, five miles away, Truckee, eight miles, Shaffer's Mills, five miles and thence to Brockway, six miles. In the direction we were going it was but one mile to the ranger's log-cabin in Round Meadow.

In the winter time the ranger often finds it difficult to keep the line in operation. The damp snow falling upon the wire, clings to it, freezes and keeps receiving additions until it is bigger than a man's arm, and the weight breaks it down.

As we rode along we saw a fat porcupine, weighing full twenty-five pounds and deliberately walking up the slope near by, as if going to its den in the rocks, but, though we yelled and shouted, it scorned to notice us and indifferently went its way. A horned owl now and then hooted and bade us begone, while a badger came out from his hole, but hurried back when he saw or smelled who we were.

Now and again we caught marvelous sunset reflections on Lake Tahoe through the trees, and on the eastern mountains was a peach glow more soft and beautiful than the famous Alpen glow.

Soon the sun was gone, and then, as we rode through the' dark aisles of the trees the stars came out and shone with dazzling splendor overhead. Just as we left the ranger's cabin a long dark corridor of majestic trees framed in a patch of black velvet in the upper sky, and there, in the very center, shining in resplendent glory, was Venus, the evening star.

The wind began to blow a regular cyclone from the north, so the roaring of the trees told us, but we were largely sheltered, and as we looked up through the dancing and whirling tree-tops there was not a cloud in the sky.

Thus we returned to the Tavern, dramatically and gloriously bringing our delightful and easy trip to an end.

I have been rather prolix, and have entered much more fully into detail than some may deem necessary in the account of this trip, for two important reasons. It is a trip that none should fail to take, and I have made it a sort of general account, giving in broad outline what the visitor may expect of any of the peak trips in the vicinity of Tahoe Tavern. It goes without saying that, constantly, from a score or more outlook points, the eye finds its resting place upon Lake Tahoe, each view being different and more charming than the one that preceded it.

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Leaving Tahoe Tavern we cross the Truckee River and ride down on the north side. The flowing Truckee is placid and smooth, save where eager trout jump and splash. The meadows are richly green and the mountain slope on the further side is radiant with virgin tree-life in joyous exuberance. Jays are harshly calling, chipmunks are excitedly running, the pure blue of the sky over-arches all, the wine of the morning is in the air, and we are glad we are alive. A spring of pure cold water on the right, about a mile out, tempts us to a delicious morning draught.

A little further down is "Pap." Church's "Devil's Playground," "Devil's Post," and devil's this, that and the other, out of which he gained considerable satisfaction while driving stage-coach between Truckee and Tahoe in the days before the railroad.

It is well carefully to observe these singular lava puddingstone masses, for, according to the theory of John Le Conte, the eminent physicist, recounted in another chapter, these were the restraining masses that made the Lake at one time eighty or a hundred feet higher than it is to-day.

Four miles from the Tavern we pass Engineer Von Schmidt's old dam, for the history of which see the chapter on "The Truckee River."

Near Deer Park Station is another spring on the right. In the old stage days "Pap." Church always stopped here and gave his passengers the opportunity to drink of the water, while he made discourse as to its remarkable coldness. Five years ago a land slide completely buried it, and the road had to be cut through again. Ever since the spring has been partially clogged and does not flow freely, but it is cold enough to make one's teeth ache.

In the winter of 1881-2 a land-and-snow-slide occurred a little beyond Deer Park Station. Watson was carrying the mail on snow-shoes at the time and saw it. There had been a five foot fall of snow in early March, and a week or two later came a second fall of seven feet. Something started the mass, and down it came, rushing completely across the river and damming it up, high on the other side, and the course of the slide can clearly be seen to-day. It is now, however, almost covered with recent growth of chaparral, and thus contributed to one of the most beautiful effects of light and shade I ever saw. The mountain slope on one side was completely covered with a growth of perfect trees. Through these came pencillings of light from the rising sun, casting alternate rulings of light and shadow in parallel lines on the glossy surface of the chaparral beyond. The effect was enhanced by the fleecy and sunshiny clouds floating in the cobalt blue above.

Near the mouth of Bear Creek the river makes a slight curve and also a drop at the same time, and the road, making a slight rise, presents the view of a beautiful stretch of roaring and foaming cascades. Here the canyon walls are of bare, rocky ridges, of white and red barrenness, with occasional patches of timber, but very different from the tree-clad slopes that we have enjoyed hitherto all the way down from the Tavern.

Beyond is a little grove of quaking aspens. Their leaves, quivering in the morning breeze, attract the eye. Crossing the railway, the road makes a climb up a hill that at one time may have formed a natural dam across the river. Here is a scarred tree on the left where Handsome Jack ran his stage off the bank in 1875, breaking his leg and seriously injuring his passengers.

Crossing the next bridge to the left at the mouth of Squaw Creek, six miles from the Tavern, on a small flat by the side of the river is the site of the town of Claraville, one of the reminders of the Squaw Valley mining excitement.

Just below this bridge is an old log chute, and a dam in the river. This dam backed up the water and made a "cushion" into which the logs came dashing and splashing, down from the mountain heights above. They were then floated down the river to the sawmill at Truckee.

At Knoxville we forded the river at a point where a giant split bowlder made a tunnel and the water dashed through with roaring speed. Retracing our steps for a mile or so we came to the Wigwam Inn, a wayside resort and store just at the entrance to Squaw Valley. To the right flows Squaw Creek, alongside of which is the bed of the logging railway belonging to the Truckee Lumber Co. It was abandoned two or three years ago, when all the available logs of the region had been cut. Most of the timber-land between Squaw Creek and Truckee, on both sides of the river, was purchased years ago, from its locators, by the Truckee Lumber Company. But Scott Bros., purchased a hundred and sixty acres from the locators and established a dairy in Squaw Valley, supplying the logging-camps with milk and butter for many years past.

For forty years or more this region has been the scene of active logging, the work having begun under the direction of Messrs. Bricknell and Kinger, of Forest Hill. The present president of the Truckee Lumber Co. is Mr. Hazlett, who married the daughter of Kinger. This company, after the railway removed from Glenbrook and was established between Tahoe and Truckee, lumbered along the west side of Tahoe as far as Ward Creek.

Entering the valley we find it free from willows, open and clear. The upper end is surrounded, amphitheater fashion, by majestic mountains, rising to a height of upwards of 9000 feet. Clothed with sage-brush at the lower end and rich grass further up, even to the very base of the mountains, it is, in some respects, the prettiest valley in the whole of this part of the Sierra Nevadas.

The upper meadows are full of milk cows, quietly grazing or lying down and chewing their cuds, while just beyond the great dairy buildings is the unpretentious cottage of the Forest Ranger. Remnants of old log chutes remind one of the logging activities that used to be carried on here.

One of the most observable features of Squaw Valley is its level character. This is discussed in the chapter on glacial action.

On the right the vein of quartz which out-crops at Knoxville is visible in several places and the various dump-piles show how many claimants worked on their locations in the hope of finding profitable ore.

Half way up the valley is an Iron Spring, the oxydization from which has gathered together a large amount of red which the Indians still prize highly and use for face paint.

How these suggestions excite the imagination - old logging chutes, mining-claims and Indians. Once this valley rang with the clang of chains on driven oxen, the sharp stroke of the ax as it bit into the heart of the tree, the crash of the giant trees as they fell, the rude snarl of the saw as it cut them up into logs, the shout of the driver as he drove his horses alongside the chute and hurried the logs down to the river, the quick blast of the imprisoned powder, the falling of shattered rocks, the emptying of the ore or waste-bucket upon the dump - all these sounds once echoed to and from these hillsides and mountain slopes.

Now everything is as quiet and placid as a New England pastoral scene, and only the towering mountains, snow-clad even as late as this in the fall, suggest that we are in the far-away wilds of the great West.

But Squaw Valley had another epoch, which it was hoped would materially and forever destroy its quiet and pastoral character. In the earlier days of the California gold excitement the main road from Truckee and Dormer Lake went into Nevada County and thus on to Sacramento. In 1862 the supervisors of Placer County, urged on by the merchants, sent up a gang of men from Placerville to build a road from Squaw Valley, into the Little American Valley, down the Forest Hill Divide, thus hoping to bring the emigrant travel to Forest Hill, Michigan Bluff, and other parts of Placer County.

It was also argued that emigrants would be glad to take this new road as all the pasture along the other road was "eaten off." Over this historic road we are now about to ride.

As we look up it is a forbidding prospect. Only brave men and sanguine would ever have dared to contemplate such a plan. The mountain cliffs, separated and split, arise before us as impassable barriers. Yet one branch of the old trail used to pass through the divide to the right, over to Hopkins Springs, while the one that was converted into the wagon road took the left-hand canyon to the main divide.

We now begin to ascend this road at the head of Squaw Valley, and in five minutes, or less, are able to decide why it was never a success. The grade is frightful, and for an hour or more we go slowly up it, stopping every few yards to give our horses breath. All the way along we can trace the blazes on the trees made over sixty years ago. It is hard enough for horses to go up this grade, but to pull heavily-ladened wagons - it seems impossible that even those giant-hearted men, used to seeing so many impossible things accomplished, could ever have believed that such a road could be feasible. What wonderful, marvelous, undaunted characters they must have been, men with wills of inflexible steel, to overcome such obstacles and dare such hardships. Yet there were compensations. Squaw Creek's clear, pellucid, snow-fed stream runs purling, babbling or roaring and foaming by to the right. These pioneers with their women and children had crossed the sandy, alkali and waterless deserts. For days and weeks they had not had water enough to keep their faces clean, to wash the sand from their eyes. Now, though they had come to a land of apparently unscalable mountains and impassable rock-barriers, they had grass for the stock, and water, - delicious, fresh, pure, refreshing water for themselves. I can imagine that when they reached here they felt it was a new paradise, and that God was especially smiling upon them, and to such men, with such feelings, what could daunt, what prevent, what long stay their onward march.

As we ascend, the mountains on our right assume the form of artificial parapets of almost white rock, outlined against the bluest of blue skies. There is one gray peak ahead, tinged with green. The trail is all washed away and our horses stumble and slide, slip and almost fall over the barren and rough rocks, and the scattered bowlders, a devastating cloud-burst could not wash away.

Here is a spring on the left, hidden in a grove of alders and willows, and now new and more fantastic spires arise on the right. Higher up we see where those sturdy road-builders rolled giant rocks out of their way to make an impassable road look as if it could be traversed.

Reaching the point at the foot of Squaw Peak at last we look back over Squaw Valley. In the late summer tints it is beautiful, but what must it be in the full flush of its summer glory and perfection? Then it must be a delight to the eye and a refreshment to the soul. How interesting, too, it is to rehabilitate it as a great glacial lake. One can see its pellucid waters of clear amethystine blue and imagine the scenes that transpired when the ancestors of the present Indians fished, in rude dugouts, or on logs, or extemporized rafts, upon its surface. Now it is covered with brown, yellowish grass, with tree-clad slopes rising from the marge.

Turning to the right we find ourselves in a country of massive bowlders. They seem to have been broken off from the summits above and arrested here for future ages and movements to change or pass on.

The road grows severer than ever, and we cannot help again picturing those old heroes driving their wagons up, while the women and children toiled painfully on foot up the steep and rocky slopes. Could anything ever daunt them after this? any obstacle, however insurmountable, discourage them? any labor, however severe, compel them to turn back?

Though there is a deep pathos in all these memories, the heroism of it makes our blood tingle with pride that such men and women belonged to us, that we are privileged to live in the land their labors, loves and lives have sanctified.

We turn to the right; a tiny waterfall, which in the season must be quite a sight, trickles down near by; we are now advancing directly upon the serrated ridge of fantastic spires that have long accompanied us. We now find those white-seeming pinnacles are of delicate pinks, creams, blues, slates and grays. In one place, however, it seems for all the world as if there were a miniature Gothic chapel built of dark, brownish-black lava. Another small patch of the same color and material, lower down, presents a gable end, with windows, reminding us of the popular picture of Melrose Abbey in the moonlight.

Now we are lined on either side by removed bowlders, but the road! ah the road! who could ever have traveled over it? Trees twenty feet high have now grown up in the roadway. To the left Squaw Peak (8960 feet) towers above us, while we make the last great pull through the rocky portion ere we come to the easier rise to the shoulders of Granite Chief. Here the road was graded out from the side of a granite mountain, blasted out and built up, but it is now sadly washed out. Further up, a broad porphyritic dyke crosses our path, then more trees, and we come to the gentle slope of a kind of granitic sand which composes the open space leading to the pass between Granite Chief on the right, and a peculiar battlemented rock, locally known as Fort Sumpter, on the left. This was named by the Squaw Valley stampeders who came over the trail in the early days of the Civil War, when all patriots and others were excited to the core at the news that Fort Sumpter had been fired upon. On one of the highest points stands a juniper on which a big blaze was cut by the early road-makers, so that there need be no doubt as to which way the road turned. Other nearby trees, in their wild ruggedness and sturdy growth, remind us of a woman whose skirts are blown about by a fierce wind. Their appearance speaks of storms braved, battles of wind and snow and ice and cold fought and won, for they have neither branch nor leaf on the exposed side, and on the other are pitiably scant.

As we cross the sandy divide, over which a wagon could drive anywhere, we find white sage in abundance. Expansive vistas loom before us, ahead and to the right, while Squaw Peak now presents the appearance of a vast sky-line crater. We seem to be standing on the inside of it, but on the side where the wall has disappeared. Across, the peak has a circular, palisaded appearance, and the lower peaks to the right seem as if they were the continuation of the wall, making a vast crater several miles in diameter. The plateau upon which we stand seems as if it might have been a level spot almost near the center of the bowl. Fort Sumpter is a part of this great crater-like wall and Granite Chief is the end of the ridge.

As a rule there is a giant bank of snow on the saddle over which the trail goes between Ft. Sumpter and Granite Chief, but this year (1913) it has totally disappeared. It has been the driest season known for many years.

Looking back towards the Lake a glorious and expansive view is presented. Watson Peak, Mt. Rose, Marlette Peak, Glenbrook and the pass behind it, are all in sight and the Lake glistening in pearly brilliancy below.

At the end of the Squaw Peak ridge, on the right, is a mass of andesite, looking like rude cordwood, and just above is a mass of breccia very similar to that found in the Truckee Valley a few miles below Tahoe Tavern.

Below us, at the head of Squaw Creek is a small blue pond, scarcely large and important enough to be called a lake, yet a distinctive feature and one that would be highly prized in a less-favored landscape.

On the very summit of the ridge we get fine views of Mounts Ralston, Richardson, Pyramid Peak and the whole Rock Bound Range, while close at hand to the north is Needle Peak (8920 feet), and to the south, Mt. Mildred (8400 feet). To our left is Fort Sumpter, to the right the Granite Chief, and between the two a stiff breeze is blowing.

Have you ever stood on a mountain ridge or divide when a fierce gale was blowing, so that you were unable to walk without staggering, and where it was hard to get your breath, much less speak, and where it seemed as if Nature herself had set herself the purpose of cleansing you through and through with her sweetening pneumatic processes? If not, you have missed one of the blessed influences of life.

Rough? harsh? severe? Of course, but what of that, compared with the blessings that result. It is things like that that teach one to love Nature. Read John Muir's account - in his Mountains of California - and see how he reveled in wind-storms, and even climbed into a tree and clung to its top "like a bobolink on a reed" in order to enjoy a storm to the full.

Immediately at our feet lie the various mazes of canyons and ravines that make the diverse forks of the American River. In one place is a forbidding El Capitan, while in another we can clearly follow for miles the Royal Gorge of this many branched Sierran river. To the right is Castle Peak (9139 feet) to the north and west of Donner Lake, while nearby is Tinker's Knob (9020 feet) leading the eye down to Hopkins' Soda Springs. Beyond is Donner Peak (8135 feet) pointing out the location of Summit Valley, just to the left (west) where the trains of the Southern Pacific send up their smoke-puffs and clouds into the air.

At our feet is the Little American Valley, in which is the road, up the eastern portion of which we have so toilsomely climbed. With a little pointing out it is possible to follow the route it followed on the balance of its steep and perilous way. Crossing the valley beneath it zig-zagged over the bluff to the right, through the timber to the ridge between the North and Middle Forks, then down, down, by Last Chance to Michigan Bluff. The reverent man instinctively thanks God that he is not compelled to drive a wagon, containing his household goods, as well as his wife and children, over such roads nowadays.

Just before making the descent we succeed in getting a suggestive glimpse of what is finely revealed on a clear day. Slightly to the south of west is Mount Diablo, while northwards the Marysville Buttes, Lassen's rugged butte, and even stately Mt. Shasta are in distinct sight. At this time the atmosphere is smoky with forest fires and the burning of the tules in the Sacramento and other interior valleys, hence our view is not a clear one.

It did not take us long to reach the old stage-station in the Little American Valley. Here Greek George - he was never known by any other name - had a station, only the charred logs remaining to tell of some irreverent sheep-herder or Indian who had no regard for historic landmarks. The pile of rocks which remain denote the presence of the chimney. When the new stage-road was built and travel over this road - always very slim and precarious - completely declined, Greek George removed, but his log hotel and bunk-house remained until a few years ago.

We lunch by the side of the old chimney and ruminate over the scenes that may have transpired here in those early days.

On our way back we pass the stumps of two large firs which were undoubtedly cut down to supply George's houses with shakes. At the base of Ft. Sumpter we leave the trail down which we have come, with the intention of going - without a trail - down Whisky Creek, over several interesting meadows to Five Lake Creek, and thence up by the Five Lakes, over the pass into Bear Creek Canyon, past Deer Park to the Truckee River and thus to the Tavern.

With such an excellent guide as Bob Watson we have no hesitation in striking out in any direction and in a short time Mt. Mildred (8400 feet) is on our right.

Great groves of willows and alders cover immense areas of the canyon's sides, while we pass a giant red fir with a diameter of fully six feet.

When about half a mile from Five Lake Creek the largest portion of the canyon is taken up with irregular masses of granite over which a glacier, or glaciers, have moved. The striation and markings are down the valley, and looking up from below the canyon for a mile or more it has the appearance of a series of irregular giant steps, each step gradually sloping back to the step above. From above the course of the glacier seems clear. It must have flowed downwards, polishing and smoothing each step in turn, then falling over the twenty, thirty or fifty feet high edge to the next lower level, to ascend the next slope, reach the next precipice, and so on.

At the point where we strike Five Lake Creek, in a large expanse of meadow, we pass a camp, where in the distance we can clearly see three men and a woman. Deer hunters probably. We give them a cheery Halloo! and pass on.

Five Lake Creek here makes a sharp bend into the canyon which is a continuation of the canyon down which we have been traveling, and enters the Rubicon River at Hell Hole. We, however, turn up the Creek to the northeast, here striking the regular Hell Hole trail built a few years ago by Miss Katherine Chandler, of Deer Park. Just ahead of us, appearing through a grove of trees near to where the Five Lakes are nestling, is a perfectly white cloud, absolutely startling in the vividness of its contrast to the deep blue of the sky and the equally deep green of the firs and pines.

A wilderness of bowlders compels the winding about of the trail, but we hear and see Five Lake Creek, roaring and dashing along, for it has a large flow of water and its course is steep and rocky. We pass through groups of willows, wild currants and alders, enter a sparsely wooded meadow and in a few moments see the first of the Five Lakes. There is but little difference in their levels, though their sizes vary considerably. The first one is the largest. Here is a log cabin and two or three boats. These are owned by the Deer Park Springs resort, and are for their fishing and hunting patrons. They also own a hundred and sixty acres here, which include the area of the lake. The two first or lower lakes are the largest and the deepest. It is their flow which makes Five Lakes Creek. The three upper lakes are smaller and shallower. It is said that a divide used to separate the two lower from the three upper lakes, and the flow from the latter descended through Bear Creek, past Deer Park, into the Truckee River and thence into far-away Pyramid Lake in Nevada.

From this point the trail is clear and well defined, being traveled constantly during the season by guests of Deer Park Springs. Passing through a fine nursery of beautiful and exquisite red firs we drop into the canyon of Bear Creek. To the left are great andesite crowns on the mountain tops. Here also are more glacially polished masses and cliffs of granite, clearly indicating great glacial activity in the upper part of this canyon. The trail is ticklish in a few places, with steps up and down which our horses take gingerly, but nothing which need excite an extra heart-beat to one used to mountain trails.

In less than half an hour we are at Deer Park Springs, drinking its pleasant waters, and while we still have six and a half miles to go to the Tavern it is over easy and ordinary road, and therefore our pleasant trip is practically at an end.

       * * * * *


Homewood is the natural starting point for Ellis Peak (8745 feet) as the trail practically leaves the Lake high-road at that point, and strikes directly upon the mountain slope. Hundreds make the trip on foot and it is by no means an arduous task, but many prefer to go horse-back or burro-back. In its upward beginnings the trail follows the course of an old logging chute for a distance of some two miles, the lake terminus of which is now buried in a nursery of white fir and masses of white lilac. There are a few cedars and pines left untouched by the logger's ax, but they are not prime lumber trees, or not one of them would now be standing.

To the right is Dick Madden Creek, which, like all the streams on the eastern slopes of the great western escarpment of Lake Tahoe, comes dashing and roaring down steep and rocky beds to the Lake.

When at about 7000 feet we find few other than red firs and mountain pines. Here is a wonderful nursery of them that have secured a firm hold upon life. Throughout the whole region the year 1913 seems to have been a most kindly one for the untended, uncared for baby-trees. There has been comparatively little snowfall for three successive years, and this has given the young trees a chance. As soon as their heads appear above the snow and they are not battered down by storm they can make their way, but if the heavy snow falls and remains upon them too long, they are either smothered, or so broken down, that life becomes a fearful struggle and scores of them succumb. Yet in spite of this fact hemlocks and red firs seem to prefer the north or shady slopes of the mountains and invariably thrive much better there than where there is sunnier exposure.

When about three miles up from the Lake we reach a richly-grassed meadow, about five acres in extent, confined in a bowl-shaped rim, broken down at the east side, through which a rivulet, which flows across the meadow, finds outlet. This is undoubtedly one of the many mountain lakes of the region, too shallow and with too sluggish a flow of water into it to clear itself of the detritus washed down from the disintegrating slopes above, hence it ultimately filled up and entered upon a new life as a meadow.

On the upper side of the meadow the trail passes through a glorious grove of hemlocks, the clean and clear "floor" of which leads one to the observation that hemlocks generally seem to be hostile to other and lesser growth coming in to occupy the ground with them.

Sierran heather of purple color now appears here and there in patches and we find quantities of it further along. There are also several peculiar puff-balls, and close by a remarkable fungus-growth like a cauliflower, fully a foot in diameter.

Nearing the summit we come to another meadow followed by another grove, where scarcely any trees but hemlocks are to be seen. Here also we see great beds of the California primrose which grows with a straight upright stem crowned with blood-red or deep scarlet flowers above a rich duster of leaves. These flowers generally can be found blooming quite late in the season, following the snowline as the summer's sun makes it climb higher each day. When the winter's snows have been extra heavy the plants are covered and no flowers appear, as the snow melts too late, but when there is a lesser amount they bloom as freely as ever, apparently none the worse for their dormant period.

Over the peak billowy white clouds are tossing, like giant cradles built of the daintiest and most silvery cloud-stuff to be found in the heavens for the rocking of the cloud-babies to sleep.

On a sister peak to Ellis Peak, just to the south, is to be seen a remarkable and strikingly picturesque cluster of hemlocks. It is almost circular in form, with eight trees in the center, and twenty-three on the outer rim, which is over a hundred feet in circumference. Seldom does one see so interesting a group of trees anywhere, even when planted, and these, of course, are of native growth.

The summit itself is of broken and shattered granite, which has allowed a scraggly mountain pine to take root and grow close to the U.S. Geological Survey monument. A fierce gale was blowing from the west, and turning toward the tree-clad slopes of the east, we stood in the wind, with the everlasting blue above and the glorious and never-failing green beneath. Unconsciously there sprang to my lips Joaquin Miller's lines:

And ever and ever His boundless blue, And ever and ever His green, green sod, And ever and ever between the two Walk the wonderful winds of God.

Braving the wind and looking over the steep precipice to the west we see, some four hundred or five hundred feet below us, so that it seems that we might almost throw a stone into it, a small lake. This is Bessie Lake, named after Mrs. C.F. Kohl, of Idlewyld. It discharges its surplus waters into Blackwood Creek, and has several times been stocked with fish. In the mid-distance is Loon Lake, which is the head-waters of the California Ditch, which follows over the Georgetown Divide, carries water some forty to fifty miles, and is distributed by its owners, the Reno Water and Electric Power Co., for mining, irrigation and domestic purposes.

East of Loon Lake are Spider and Pleasant Lakes, all of which we are told are connected with one another and controlled by the same company. Another lake, Bixly or Bixby, slightly to the north of Pleasant, is also connected.

To the east of Pleasant Lake, Buck Island and Rock Bound Lakes were dazzlingly brilliant in the mid-day sun.

One has but to look at the map to realize what a comprehensive survey is possible in every direction from Ellis Peak. There is no wonder that it is so popular. The panorama is unobstructed - the outlook practically complete and perfect. Though the whole of the Lake is not revealed, there is sufficient of it to make a transcendent picture. Every peak to the north and on the eastern side is in sight, while the Tallac range, and the near-by mountains make one long for an aeroplane that he might step from peak to peak without the effort of journeying by land to their elevated summits.

On the left side of Tinker's Knob is a peak, unmarked on the map, to which the name of Lion Peak has been given, for the following reason: Some years ago former Governor Stanford's nephew, who has been a visitor for many years at Hopkins' Spring, was climbing, together with a companion, over this peak, when they came to a cave. Lighting a rude torch they thoughtlessly entered it and had barely got well inside before they saw the two fierce eyes of a mountain lion glaring at them. Surprised and startled, they were about to turn and run, when the astonished animal sprang past them and disappeared before they recollected they had a gun.

It should not be overlooked that Ellis Peak is the most eastern mountain of the Sierran divide. East, its drainage empties into Lake Tahoe and thus eastward into the Big Basin; west, into the Rubicon, thence to the American, the Sacramento and finally out by the Golden Gate to the Pacific.

To the west of the Rubicon Peaks is a chain of lakes in the valley below known as the Rock Bound Lakes. There are nine of these in all, though several of them are practically unknown except to the few guides and the sheepmen who range over the surrounding mountains.

As far as the eye can see, westward, there are distinct glacial markings, a wonderful revelation of the widespread and far-reaching activity of these glaciers borne on the highest crests of the Sierras. The canyon in which the Rubicon River flows is definitely outlined, as is also the deep chasm known as Hell Hole. Near by is Bear Lake, about the same size and appearance as Watson Lake, its overflow emptying into the Rubicon.

Close at hand to the north and west are Barker's Peak, Barker's Pass, and Barker's Creek, and these decide us to go home by way of Barker's Pass instead of the way we came. Accordingly we drop down, returning a short distance to the south, over the western slope of Ellis Peak to Ellis Valley. Both peak and valley receive their name from Jock Ellis, a Squaw Valley stay-behind, who entered the cattle and sheep business, and pastured his animals in this rich and well-watered region.

On our way we pass through the most remarkable white fir nursery we have yet seen. Not far away were a few hoary monarchs from the still hanging but burst open cones of which winged seeds were flying before the breeze. These potential firs were carried in many cases over a mile before they found lodgement. It was a beautiful and delightful demonstration of Nature's lavish method of preserving this useful species of tree alive.

Sweeping now to the north and east we make a rapid descent of some six hundred or seven hundred feet to Barker's Pass, the elevation of which is about 7000 to 7500 feet, the nearby Peak having an elevation of about 8500 feet. It is a round, bare mountain, and seems as if it ought to be marked higher (on the map) than it is.

Rapidly dropping we come to a peculiar mass of stratified rock, acutely tilted, unlike any found elsewhere in the region except on Five Lake Creek on the way to Hell Hole. Just before reaching Blackwood's Creek the trail passes through rude piles of breccia similar to that of the Devil's Playground near the Truckee River. It may be perfectly possible that one of the volcanic flows that covered large portions of the High Sierras, after the Cretaceous degradations had taken place, came from a vent, or volcano, near by, and slowly flowed down Blackwood Creek, leaving vast masses behind which have rapidly disintegrated until these are all that remain.

These conjectures occupy our brain until we reach the Lake again, alongside of which the road soon brings us back to our starting point, after another most enjoyable, instructive, healthful and delightful day.

The foregoing are but samples of a hundred similar trail trips that can be taken from every part of the Lake, and from all the resorts. Each place has its chosen trips, and though, of course, there are many points of similarity, there are enough individualities to make each trip distinctive.

My friends often ask me what food and drink I take along on such hiking or riding trips. Generally the hotel provides a luncheon, but personally, I prefer a few Grant's crackers (a thick, hard cracker full of sweet nutriment, made at Berkeley, Calif.), a handful of shelled nuts - walnuts, pecans, or almonds, a small bottle of Horlick's Malted Milk tablets, a few slabs of Ghirardelli's milk chocolate, and an apple or an orange. On this food I can ride or walk days at a time, without anything else. Grant's crackers, Horlick's Malted Milk tablets, and Ghirardelli's chocolate are the best of their kind, and all are nutritious to the full, as well as delicious to the taste. For drink I find Horlick's Malted Milk the most comforting and invigorating, and it has none of the after "letting-down" effects that accompany coffee drinking.