Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Club High Trips’

Tuolumne Meadows Parsons’ Lodge Caretakers Hugh Sakols And Mara Dale

March 20th, 2012

Photographer Hugh Sakols And His Wife Mara Dale Work As Summer Caretakers Of Parsons’ Lodge And The Historic McCauley Cabin In Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park…

Environmental Educators And Back Country Mountaineers Hugh Sakols and his wife Mara Dale, Each Summer Since 2008, Have Honored And Educated About Early Conservation Leaders, While Acting As Volunteer Docents, Leading Interpretive Walks, Caretaking The Sierra Club Parsons’ Memorial Lodge And Staying In The Rustic McCauley Cabin, Much As Ardis And Philip Hyde Did In The Summer Of 1949. On This Land, Next To Soda Springs In Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, John Muir And Other Pioneer Conservationists First Conceived The Sierra Club.

"Lenticular Clouds and Lembert Dome," Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, copyright 2010 by Hugh Sakols.

(View the photograph large: “Lenticular Clouds and Lembert Dome.”)

Hugh Sakols first started exploring Yosemite National Park on a backpacking trip when he was seventeen years old. He started seriously photographing the Park after working as a Yosemite Institute instructor teaching environmental education. He later assisted photography workshops taught by Michael Frye through the Ansel Adams Gallery. Today he continues to explore the Yosemite back country, whether in summer or winter. He now lives just outside Yosemite National Park in El Portal, California, where he teaches elementary school during the school year. Hugh Sakol’s photographs have been used by the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite Institute, and have appeared at the Yosemite Renaissance. He has converted almost entirely to digital photography, now using a Nikon D300, whereas before he often used a Bronica SQA medium format film camera and a Horseman VH-R large format View Camera.

Summer In Tuolumne Meadows By Hugh Sakols

Over the last four summers, starting in 2008, my wife Mara, and I have worked as National Park Service Volunteers. We are summer caretakers for Parsons’ Memorial Lodge and the historic McCauley Cabin in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. We are lucky enough pull this off and continue working at our “real jobs” as Educators in Yosemite National Park.

Just like the Southern Miwok people have done for thousands of years, Mara and I migrate upslope, where at 8600 ft the meadows are green, the temperatures are generally cool, and the views are striking.  Tuolumne Meadows is a glacially scoured sub alpine landscape that is the heart of Yosemite’s high country and part of what John Muir referred to as the Range of Light. To learn more about John Muir and the Sierra Nevada, see the blog post, “Philip Hyde’s Tribute To John Muir.”

It was here at Soda Springs that John Baptist Lembert, namesake of Lembert Dome, spent his summers on a 160 acre homestead where he raised Angora goats and became an expert on local butterflies. John Baptist Lembert’s only friends in the summer were sheepherders, many of whom were Basque. At this time Tuolumne Meadows was essentially a land grab. Reportedly, in the late 1860s there were thousands of grazing sheep that later John Muir described as “hooved locust.” After John Lembert’s death (he was murdered in El Portal), the McCauley brothers acquired the land where they grazed cattle and built a log cabin. The McCauley Cabin now is a park service residence, where Mara and I live come summer.

Honoring The Place Where Western Conservation Began

Hugh Sakols And Mara Dale In Front Of The Historical McCauley Cabin, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by Hugh Sakols. Self portrait.

While at the McCauley Cabin, Mara and I have some big shoes to fill.  It was here that the western conservation movement began. John Muir saw the commercialism that was taking over Yosemite Valley and dreaded what would happen to Tuolumne Meadows. In 1889 Robert Underwood Johnson convinced John Muir to write two articles for a popular East Coast magazine. In one article John Muir described the beauty of Yosemite, and in another article John Muir proposed the need for Yosemite’s preservation. Only a year later, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill to establish Yosemite as the country’s first national preserve. Soon after Yosemite became a national park.

In 1912, the Sierra Club bought the McCauley brother’s land in hopes that it would be saved from the building of hotels, stables and other improvements. The land around Soda Springs with Parsons’ Lodge and the McCauley Cabin on it, the Sierra Club eventually seeded to the National Park Service in 1973. During the Sierra Club’s ownership, this remarkably beautiful spot brought club members together for mountain adventures and a place to discuss the protection of wild lands, many of which are now national parks. The most famous early battle was probably over the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley inside Yosemite National Park. Sierra Club leaders such as Edward Taylor Parsons, William E. Colby, and John Muir fought tooth and nail, but eventually lost the battle. Interestingly, the man Forest Service people call their first environmentalist, Gifford Pinchot, was in favor of damming Hetch Hetchy. Gifford Pinchot opposed John Muir in the ongoing public debate over building a dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley within Yosemite National Park around the turn of the century. In 1915 Parsons’ Lodge was built as a mountain headquarters and a place to reflect the work of forward thinking Sierra Club leaders.

A year after Parsons’ Lodge was built, Ansel Adams made his first trip to Yosemite National Park. After that he quickly became part of the Sierra Club where he first worked as a custodian at the LeConte Memorial and later served on the board of directors. The Sierra Club over time indoctrinated Ansel Adams to Yosemite’s High Country and the importance of preserving wilderness. This was the beginning of a close relationship between landscape photographers and conservationists.

Conservation, The Environmental Movement And Landscape Photography

Beginning in the late 1930s and 1940s, Ansel Adams and wilderness photographer Cedric Wright both contributed photographs to conservation campaigns. However, it wasn’t until 1951, when the Sierra Club sent photographer Philip Hyde on the first photography assignment ever for an environmental cause. The Sierra Club sent Philip Hyde, who had been a photography student of Ansel Adams in San Francisco, to Dinosaur National Monument to help prevent the building of two dams, again within the National Park System. The battle over Dinosaur, many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement because it combined the conservation ideals of John Muir and other turn of the century conservation leaders with the hard hitting tactics of David Brower and other environmentalists of the 1950s and 1960s. For more about David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer And Environmentalist 1.” The Dinosaur battle redeemed the loss of Hetch Hetchy to the extent that it reversed the precedent set for such development within a national park. Read about the first photography assignment for an environmental cause in the blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 1.” Activists are still working to remove Hetch Hetchy Dam and restore Yosemite Valley’s sister valley to its original pristine state.

In the decades that followed the Dinosaur battle, Philip Hyde, worked with the Sierra Club, National Audubon, Wilderness Society and other environmental groups, contributing his photographs to more environmental campaigns than any other photographer of his time. David Brower, Sierra Club Executive Director and head of the publishing program, used Philip Hyde’s widely published photographs in Sierra Club Books to help save such places as the Grand Canyon, the California Redwoods, the North Cascades and many other national treasures. The Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, not only popularized coffee table photography books and the modern environmental movement, but paved the way for photographers to be able make a living from such publications. Photographs from this time period helped spark the 1960s interest in getting back to nature and helped instigate a backpacking boom in the 1970s.

Philip Hyde’s first exposure to vast wilderness also occurred in Yosemite National Park in 1938. Philip Hyde at age 16, joined a Boy Scout backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. To read this history see the blog post, “Lake Tenaya And Yosemite National Park.” For some years afterward, Philip Hyde visited and backpacked in Yosemite National Park until World War II. After the War, Philip Hyde studied photography under Ansel Adams. For more on Ansel Adams’ innovative photography department, see the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 6.” During the summer 1949 break from photography school, Ansel Adams helped Ardis and Philip Hyde land the caretakers job at Parsons’ Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows. Ardis and Philip Hyde stayed in the rustic McCauley cabin while Ardis Hyde studied for her teaching credential and Philip Hyde gleefully photographed. Future blog posts will share more about the Hyde’s Summer in Tuolumne Meadows. That summer Philip Hyde met David Brower briefly in Tuolumne Meadows, as the Sierra Club leader brought a Yosemite High Trip through the Soda Springs area. Philip Hyde and David Brower were more formally introduced later by Ansel Adams, which led to David Brower inviting Philip Hyde to act as official Sierra Club photographer for the 1950 Summer High Trip, one year before the battle over Dinosaur National Monument began to take the national stage. Read about the Sierra High Trip in the blog post, “Cedric Wright And Philip Hyde On The 1950 Sierra High Trip.”

Tuolumne Meadows And Landscape Photography Today

"Golden Reflection, Gaylor Lake" Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, copyright 2008 by Hugh Sakols.

(See the photograph large click: “Golden Reflection, Gaylor Lake.”)

Understanding the history and traditions of Tuolumne Meadows has helped me to realize why I am so intrigued by landscape photography.  First I have always felt the need to venture into wilderness. Second, I hope my photography advocates the importance of wilderness preservation and the complexity of nature. And third, I want to uncover Yosemite National Park as a place I have spent years exploring and observing.

While at the McCauley Cabin, some of our tasks include taking care of Parsons Memorial Lodge and assisting presenters who come each summer.  Also, I lead weekly photography walks while my wife teaches Junior Rangers.  Together each Sunday we serve coffee in the campground where we are able to talk with a very diverse group of visitors. It is not uncommon to have gritty looking backpackers who are passing through on their way along the Pacific Crest Trail, a computer geek from the Silicon Valley, and a family looking for the falsely posted church service, all together around a single camp fire.The one thing we all have in common is our love for Tuolumne and of course, caffeine. It is during these informal programs that Mara and I try to instill the values of our predecessors. We remind the visitors of the challenges Yosemite National Park faces in finding a balance between preservation and access. Furthermore, we celebrate Yosemite’s timelessness by enjoying the rustic nature of places such as Tuolumne Meadows.

When I am scheduled in the Yosemite Guide, I lead a Monday morning photography walk for the general public.  During the walk I quickly go over the basics of composition, exposure, and quality of light.  Along the way I will pull out prints I have made that illustrate these concepts and show views from the trail that I have collected over the past summers. It is fun to pass them around and not worry about people handling them.  I’ve even dropped a few on the trail. I explain that for me the end product of an image is the print, and it is always fun to carry a few in a box to share with others.

Imparting Landscape Photography’s History And Significance To Yosemite National Park’s Visitors

Beyond the basics of photography, it is more important to help visitors understand what landscape photography represents today and how it co-evolved with the creation of national parks and organizations like the Sierra Club. Early photographs have documented changes in the landscape over time whether it be a sandstone tower that is now covered in water in Glen Canyon, a 1860s view of Yosemite Valley that shows a greater abundance of black oaks, or an 1870s view of thousands of sheep grazing in Tuolumne Meadows. Hopefully modern landscape photographs will someday represent our successes, failures and our human need to connect with nature.  I think understanding this tradition will help fellow photographers be more cognizant of their own impact in the park.

I also take the opportunity to discuss our increasing detachment from the natural world which could have alarming effects on the future of our natural heritage. Today our new generation of young people spend more and more of their free time glued to a monitor and show little interest in the out of doors. In fact many children do not know how to play outside unless they are playing organized sports.  Today most Yosemite visitors walk a quarter mile or less from the road. Increasingly I find visitors who don’t quite know what to do in a place like Tuolumne Meadows. For these visitors photography is a perfect way to have fun, become observant, and connect.

I am not sure how long we will continue to live in Tuolumne Meadows during our summers. At some point Mara and I want to have more time to explore areas of the park that take more than a long weekend to find.  However, having had this experience makes my photography all the more meaningful.

June 2, 2012 Exhibition At The Ansel Adams Gallery

Local artists including Hugh Sakols will show their work at the Ansel Adams Gallery on June 2nd.  All proceeds will go to Yosemite Park El Portal School.

What makes your photography more meaningful? Have you been to Yosemite or explored its back country? In what place or places do you enjoy getting off the beaten path?

New Release: Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake

February 23rd, 2012

The Making Of “Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness” Copyright 1956 by Philip Hyde

Ardis and Philip Hyde Write About Trekking Into The Glacier Peak Wilderness and Image Lake in Their Travel Logs.

In the proposed North Cascades National Park, Ardis and Philip Hyde backpacked To Image Lake with Philip & Laura Zalesky, Grant McConnell And Other Sierra Club Board Members with the David Brower family, Howard Zahniser family, Jane Goldsworthy, Bob Golden, Rich Miller and others joining the group for the Sloan Creek High Trip.
Lake Chelan,
Lyman Lake
Image Lake
Glacier Peak Wilderness

Glacier Peak: The Glacier Peak Wilderness was originally proposed as part of North Cascades National Park. The Seattle chapter and other chapters of The Mountaineers, the Sierra Club and many other environmental groups in and out of coalitions in the Northwestern United States have campaigned for more than 60 years to have the Glacier Peak Wilderness added to North Cascades National Park. Last year yet another failed proposal nearly made it through the US Congress.

The Photograph: Even though Philip Hyde was the primary illustrator, his 1956 photograph, “Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake,” was not part of the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series book, “The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland”  that helped in the campaign to make North Cascades National Park. However, the high mountain photograph became fairly well-known as it was used in the campaign to make the Glacier Peak Wilderness part of the National Park and in several other books and magazine articles. Philip Hyde never made a color fine art print of the photograph. Also, it was rare that Philip Hyde used 5X7 transparencies for color photographs. By far the majority of his color photographs were made with 4X5 film. The original 5X7 color transparency of “Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake,” has faded and color shifted significantly.

Restoration: The photograph was restored for archival fine art digital printing by David Staley, Jr. of Outdoor Plus Digital Print Lab. David Staley, Jr. quit counting his time at eight hours and worked long beyond that to get this photograph correct in Photoshop. Ed Cooper, a mountaineer, climber, outdoorsman, large format and Sierra Club Calendars photographer and book author who knew my father, confirmed that our restoration looked very close in color, hue, saturation and range to the original landscape that time of year and to his own Photoshop restoration of his color shifted 4X5 color transparencies of Glacier Peak and Image Lake. Ed Cooper has backpacked into Image Lake himself and photographed it a number of times.

For the first time ever produced as a fine art print, Archival Digital Prints of “Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake” are now available at New Release Pricing for a limited time.

Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, North Cascades, Washington, copyright 1956 by Philip Hyde.

(To see the photograph large go to: “Glacier Peak From Above Image Lake.”)

This Section by Ardis Hyde

Friday, August 17, 1956:  We departed leisurely from Philip and Laura Zalesky’s home in Everett, Washington. We drove through miles of apple orchards to the Southern end of Lake Chelan to Lake Chelan State Park, which proved crowded with little privacy.

Saturday, August 18:  We just made the Lake Chelan Steamer at 9:10 am. We steamed up Lake Chelan, making two stops on the way. The land on both sides of the lake was low, hot and dry foothill country. The steamer was crowded, but comfortable and very maneuverable. We disembarked at Lucerne, Washington and transferred to a bus that took us up 10 miles of good graded gravel road to Holden, Washington. We were surprised to find Holden a pleasant shingle mining town, all company owned except for many private residences built on land leased from the US Forest Service. While we were walking to the Sierra Club camp, a Sierra Club truck met us, picked up our gear and delivered us to the packers just in time to have our duffle transferred to the pack horses. Shortly, around 2:30 pm, we set out on the 8 to 9 mile hike to Lyman Lake. The going was hot and humid through a lush young forest. Some kind of packing accident happened on the trail that spooked the horses and landed our dunnage and film box on the trail. They repacked our horses and headed on to camp, arriving after sundown around 7:45 pm. The packers were at that point only ahead of us by 15 minutes. With much of our trip after the sun slid behind the mountains, the nine mile hike seemed long enough, but not too hot or over strenuous. We arrived so late that we made our bedding and campsite right near the commissary by the lakeside.

Sunday, August 19:  It was the coldest night we spent sleeping out, the whole summer. Philip laid tarps over us that became soaking wet on the under side. After getting up, we found a good, sheltered and private campsite near the stream and relocated our gear. Philip photographed subjects around camp, while I spent the day reading the novelized true story of, Anna and the King of Siam, the book that inspired the film and Broadway Musical The King and I. I became acquainted with Sierra Club leader and pre-eminent political scientist Grant McConnell, his wife Jane, his daughter Ann and his son Jim. They spend the summers in a cabin at Stehikin, Washington and winters in Berkeley, California, where Grant McConnell teaches Political Science at the University of California. Also around camp were Al Schmitz and Oliver Kehrlein, co-leaders of the trip. There were only about 15 Sierra Club members in Base Camp at that time, while 125 more people from other groups and individuals were expected soon.

The Following Section Written by Philip Hyde

Sunday afternoon a group of us including Philip Zalesky and Grant McConnell hiked up to Phelps Creek Pass and Spider Pass for views down Phelps Creek and of the Entiat Mountains in the proposed Glacier Peak Wilderness. The Seattle group of The Mountaineers club proposed that the Glacier Peak Wilderness boundary run across Spider Pass.

Monday, August 20:  We gathered our gear together to backpack to Image Lake over Cloudy Pass and Siuattle Pass, then along Miner’s Ridge. We hiked past an old mining camp from several years ago. Several miles further we came across the present mining camp. What a mess. There were trees chopped off two feet or more from the ground in all directions, old oil drums, tin cans, bottles, and all sorts of other imaginable debris everywhere within throwing distance. The mining camps support diamond drilling operations prospecting for copper ore. Large scaffolds in several places support the drills. All of it is supplied by helicopter. We hiked on along Miner’s Ridge. It was a stiff climb to high steep grassy slopes, then around into a cove in the ridge and Image Lake finally below. Image Lake is in a small depression held back by a rock lip around the downhill edge. Below the lip, the valley plunges deeply down to the Suiattle River canyon, while our gaze moves upward to the steeper slopes across the river valley, up, up, to lower snow fields and finally to the immense, white glacier-covered slopes of Glacier Peak. Ardis preceded me into camp, while I exposed several large format black and white negatives and color transparencies of the Suiattle River Valley and surrounding peaks. I found Ardis’ welcome of hot soup as I walked into camp by the shore of Image Lake. There was a beautiful full moon that night over the snowy slopes of Glacier Peak across the valley.

Tuesday, August 21:  I woke up early to make more 5X7 view camera photographs of Glacier Peak across and from above Image Lake. Then I climbed the pass behind the lake for a view across Canyon Creek and Canyon Lake nestled in a cirque about two thirds of the way to the top of the ridge. Then I joined Ardis and some of the others, picking up our packs and heading back down to our Lyman Lake Sierra Club Base Camp. On the way, we took a high trail near the mine and ended up near one of the drilling rigs watching the helicopter operation. We took off cross-country, off-trail, bushwhacking while contouring along the ridge. After negotiating several patches of heavy forest and avalanche paths, we rejoined the trail for the climb up to Siuattle Pass and Cloudy Pass, followed by the drop down into the Lyman Lake basin. It’s a long haul, not so easily done with backpacks as we were led to believe. The mob had descended on Lyman Lake Base Camp. Already the lake surroundings look beat up. Circus tents are up, as well as individual large tents, which the management rents out.

Wednesday, August 22:  I hiked up to the South Peak of North Star Mountain today for magnificent views of Glacier Peak over Cloudy Pass and Siuattle Pass. Oliver Kehrlein made a sly dig at me at the evening campfire for going up alone.

Thursday, August 23:  We were up early for the walk out to Holden, Washington, leaving the Lyman Lake Base Camp for the trip around to the Sloan Creek Sierra Club High Trip. It was cloudy early, bringing the first threat of rain this week. It rained some on us backpacking down. We took the bus from Holden to Lucerne and down Lake Chelan in a boat. There was some hard rain on the lake. It was overcast all afternoon and night, as we camped in the US Forest Service campground on Steven’s Pass…

More in another blog post as the Hydes met up with the David Brower family, Howard Zahniser family, Jane Goldsworthy, Bob Golden, Rich Miller and other Sierra Club Board members and regular members…

New Releases Time & Prints Running Out

November 17th, 2010

All 2010 New Release Specials Will Increase To Regular Prices On January 1, 2011…

Below see also the story of the making of “Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, 1970″…

Base Of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1968 by Philip Hyde. In 2010, we printed this image for the first time since the late 1960s. It took over a dozen hours of restoration work taking red-orange splotches out of the water all over the raw tango drum scan. The damage is caused by ongoing degradation of the early Kodak Ektachrome E-3 film that can only be halted or nearly halted by a very expensive particular method of deep freezing.

There is still time for Holiday shopping. However, the photographer authorized archival fine art digital prints by Carr Clifton and David Leland Hyde are also running out. Only two archival digital prints are left at the New Release Price of each of these photographs:

“Base Of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1968”

(See at left and full screen Click Here.)

“Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, California, 1970”

(See below and full screen Click Here.)

Four new releases for 2010 were lowered to special sale pricing on June 28, 2010, effective through the end of the year. For details, figures and number of prints available through the special see the blog post, “New Releases Now At Special Introductory Pricing.” After the New Releases go up to regular prices after five of each image sell or January 1, 2011, which ever comes first, the New Releases will go up every time 10 prints sell just like all of the other Special Edition archival fine art digital prints. For more on archival digital prints go to About Archival Digital Prints or go to PhilipHyde.com and About Archival Digital Prints under the INFO tab.

The Story Behind “Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness”

This photograph was never printed or published before 2010. My father Philip Hyde made the photograph on August 15, 1970 on his 49th birthday with a Hasselblad 2 1/4″ camera. The Pioneer Basin High Sierra Pack Trip started on Sunday, August 9, my mother Ardis Hyde’s 45th birthday, just two weeks before my fifth birthday. My father earned his place on the trip by making photographs for the Sierra Club. Mom paid for her trip by working on the kitchen crew. In my mother’s words:

Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, 1970 by Philip Hyde. Never published or printed until 2010.

The Commissary woke up before 6:00 am. We served breakfast and then moved gear and cars over to the Pack Station where we left them. Philip got a ride to Mosquito Flat Campground while David and I waited for our horses. They put David on a child’s saddle with stirrups that his feet reached to and fit in. David’s horse was named “Friday”and mine was “Pugusee” meaning fish in Paiute…. We were 11 guest riders led into the high country by a cowgirl at each end of the string… We passed Philip on foot well up the climb to Morgan Pass. Flowers appeared everywhere along the path until we reached timberline. The Pass was at 12,643 feet elevation and well above any trees. On the way up we looked down into Little Lakes Valley, a long string of lakes, and up the head of that valley to Bear Creek Spire. Flanking the East wall of the glacial valley rose Mt. Morgan and Morgan Pass… Our route seemed to be skirting a contour around Mt. Starr and over Mono Pass. It was like a high altitude desert. Below the granite peaks the soil consisted of all course granite sand with no flowers visible except one small hidden garden of columbine among some boulders…. Scarcely any snow on the pass…steep decent to Golden Creek and into timber again. When we arrived at Pioneer Basin base camp, Philip had already made it before us, as we had stopped for lunch and on several other occasions. Mountaineer Norman Clyde, age 85, had arrived in camp also ahead of the pack train with other hiking guests and the staff to set up…

The travel log described the base camp, day hikes, day packs to satellite campsites, all among mountain meadows, streams, granite boulders and walls, wildflowers, waterfalls, me playing with sticks and rocks, in the streams and tarns and with the other children on the trip. On Saturday, August 15, Dad’s birthday, we had stayed in base camp with about eight other travelers. My mother continued:

After a leisurely breakfast and late start we decided to walk around the East side of Pioneer Basin. Philip took his Hasselblad only and planned to photograph until the late afternoon and then start back. Philip’s first pictures were flowers at a stream’s edge in a meadow where David picked a dead fish carcass out of the stream and cherished it a long while before throwing it back in. It didn’t seem to smell at first but his hands did. He said he would not do that again. We climbed a little and came to a beautiful little tarn with trees, reflections and a grassy edge. Everywhere wafted the scent of Lupin and housewort growing together. After Philip made a photograph with distant mountains in the background, David undressed except for his shirt and played in the water. Clouds began to obscure the sun and a breeze made it cool. David and Philip played a game of throwing rocks in the water. David would throw a rock in and then Philip would quickly without being seen echo David’s rock. David loved it of course and kept it going. We ate an early lunch and Philip left to climb to another larger lake above. David and I napped as the sun came back out and it got much warmer. Nice views with lakes or tarns in foreground and peaks heading the Recesses beyond. Philip said he heard and then saw quail above. I think that is what I saw at our little lunch lake too.

Dad made the photograph from the lower small tarn with the Lupin and housewort blooming,  and with the reflections and small trees. The stories behind the other Special Releases in blog posts to come…

Cedric Wright And Philip Hyde On The 1950 Sierra Club High Trip

May 25th, 2010

Split Boulder Near Lake Ediza, Minarets Wilderness, Now The Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 1950 by Philip Hyde. This photograph that went on to be widely collected and published and was part of the famous Perceptions Show in San Francisco, was made on the 1950 Sierra Club High Trip with David Brower and Cedric Wright.

(See also the blog post on, “A Credo For Mountain Photographers” from the book Words of the Earth by Cedric Wright.)

In 1950, David Brower invited Philip Hyde to join the Sierra Club High Trip that David Brower led in the high country of Yosemite National Park. Cedric Wright was also on the trip as a veteran wilderness photographer to serve as high country photography mentor to the young Philip Hyde just out of photography school, who would also act as ‘official photographer.’

Even in 1950, Philip Hyde was no stranger to the Sierra Nevada High Country. He had been backpacking and exploring it since he was 16 turning 17 years old in 1938. Nor was he new to outdoor photography. During the years from 1946 through 1950 while he was enrolled in photography school at the California School of Fine Arts now the San Francisco Art Institute, Philip Hyde spent every summer in the mountains. The previous summer of 1949 Ansel Adams had helped Philip and Ardis Hyde land the caretaking job at the Sierra Club’s Parson’s Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows. The young couple, just married two years, lived in the rustic McCauley Homestead cabin all summer and scrambled all over the nearby peaks and domes. While Philip Hyde photographed, Ardis Hyde had plenty of peace and quiet to study for her teaching credential and identify birds and flowers. More about this special summer in a future blog post.

By the time Philip Hyde went on his first Sierra Club High Trip, he was seasoned by a summer in Tuolumne Meadows and 12 other summers in the High Sierra. However, as soon as he met Cedric Wright, he knew that this man had a depth of knowledge about wilderness travel and wilderness photography of which he had only dreamed. Here was the ideal teacher and companion.

Cedric Wright was a childhood friend of Ansel Adams. They met through piano playing. Both of them were in training to be concert pianists but ended up as landscape photographers. Ansel Adams wrote the forward to Cedric Wright’s book, Words of the Earth, one of the early volumes in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series:

His work reveals a strange and compelling beauty; it is not obscure, oblique, mechanical, or intellectual, but is the evidence of a great insight and intuitive power. It moves the spirit; then, because it is so simple and direct, it moves the mind and conscience… What is offered here is not merely a collection of nostalgic and beautiful pictures and poetic text, but a profound revelation of a most uncommon man, who, despite avalanches of problems and distractions, held fast to the essential dream. I regret there must be a date on this work, because in essence, it is timeless.

“That first 1950 High Trip in the capacity of ‘official photographer’ was a very important trip for me,” Philip Hyde said in 2004. “I look back now and still feel that the photographs I made on that trip are among some of my best. All I had to do was sleep, eat, make photographs and walk 10-12 miles from one camp to another, unless there was a layover.” The trip started in the northeast corner of Yosemite National Park and journeyed along the Sierra Crest to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond out of the national park and into the Minarets Wilderness Area that is now the Ansel Adams Wilderness. In those days the backcountry was little traveled. Philip Hyde shared more about Cedric Wright:

One of the things I remember about Cedric is that he had certain little systems because he had been on so many High Trips, maybe 20 or more. He had special ways of pitching a tarp. Sometimes he would give lessons to other people who didn’t know how. He also had a little practice of making it to the first camp early. When the first group of hikers would arrive, he would have hot tea waiting for them. Another time he had a number 10 can full of hot water and he would bathe people’s tired feet in hot water. One time we found a note from Cedric, ‘Be sure to go out and look at this view,’ and he wrote directions. Cedric took me under his wing and taught me all his intricate details. Some were a bit overboard, like shaving off the handle of his toothbrush to save weight. He was kind of a nut about saving weight, even though he did not carry much. His outfit was a little square box about 6″ X 6″ X 15 inches that contained his extra lenses and extra film. He was shooting black and white film pack. I didn’t get into film pack on that trip. I was still using 5 X 7 cut film, a single sheet film you load into a holder in a changing bag. The holder takes two sheets on each side, for a total of four. I think I carried 18 holders and several lenses on metal plates that I could interchange. I carried a 5 X 7 camera with a 5 X7 back on a big wooden Reese tripod that I still have. I thought I was going pretty light, but my outfit was a lot heavier than Cedric’s.

More about the Summer 1950 Sierra Club High Trip in a future blog post…