National Geographic : 1907 Mar
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE type of canyon sculpture, of the regular distribution of the belts of vegetation, and of many characteristic features of the High Sierra scenery. The western slope may therefore be considered the main portion of the Sierra Nevada, containing not only 90 per. cent. of its area, but also most of its great forest and mineral wealth, receiving nearly all the annual precipitation and giving rise to all its rivers. During the Glacial times the High Sierra was completely covered with ice, and enormous glaciers filled its canyons, reaching in some instances for forty miles down its western flank. This ice mantle has vanished within very recent geological times, and the High Sierra exhibits to a most perfect degree the effects of this recent glaciation. Great areas are everywhere found polished smooth as glass and covered with glacial erratics. The canyons are all of the characteristic U-shape, with walls show ing polished and scored surfaces. Large streams flow over smooth rock slopes without channels, and indeed the general appearance is as if the glaciers had vanished but yesterday. At the present time three large na tional parks have been created on the western slope of the Sierra, the Yose mite National Park, which now includes the Yosemite Valley; the General Grant and Sequoia National Parks, which in clude some of the finest of the sequoia groves. The whole of the western slope, from the southern portions of the Kern Basin to Lake Tahoe, has been set aside as a national forest reserve. The crea tion of these parks and reserves has restored the magnificent flora of the Sierra, which previous to 1899 was in danger of total destruction through sheep grazing and forest fires. The eastern crestline contains the two highest points in the state and the highest one in the United States, Mount Whitney, 14,499 feet, and Mount Williamson, 14,384 feet. As to the height of Mount Whitney, there is no longer a doubt, as it has been leveled up by the United States Geological Survey from two in dependent bases. It is of but little in terest to the mountain-climber, however. Its ascent has always been easy, and within the past year a horse trail has been constructed to the summit. Mount Williamson is by far the more imposing of the two and affords a really interest ing climb. Mount Tyndall (14,025 feet) and Mount Langley (14,042 feet) are both exceedingly easy of ascent. MOTOR SLEDGES IN THE ANT ARCTIC A NEW South Polar Expedition is being organized by Lieutenant E. H. Shackleton, who was a mem ber of the recent British expedition and also one of the sledging party who reached farthest south, 82° 17'. Mr Shackleton plans to leave England Octo ber of this year on a steam whaler, and to establish his winter quarters at the sta tion used by the Discovery near Mount Erebus. His party will be limited to from nine to twelve men. Mr Shackleton introduces two innovations: The use of Siberian ponies, which Fiala found so useful in the north, and a specially de signed motor car for traveling over the ice barrier. Mr Shackleton in his an nouncement says: "A North China or Siberian pony is capable of dragging 1,8oo pounds on a food basis of 10 pounds per day. A dog drags o100pounds at the outside, and re quires over 2 pounds of food per day. Therefore one pony drags as much as eighteen dogs, at less than one-third in weight of provision, and can travel com fortably 20 to 25 miles per day. "The motor will be of a special type, taking into consideration the tempera tures to be encountered and the surface to be traveled over. I would propose to take three or four ponies on the southern journey and the motor car. As long as the car continued to remain satisfactory, it alone would be used to drag our equip- 2 14.