National Geographic : 1954 Jun
847 John W. Hodgkin ... Far Below Mount Whitney (Arrow), Crown of the 48 States Sierra Nevada snows store California's water. Melting, they feed most of the State's metropolitan areas and a third of its farms. Crop yield varies in proportion to snowfall. Many Californians who saw combat duty with the 10th Mountain Division during World War II learned their skiing techniques here. In winter, snowy slopes attract as many as 20,000 skiers a week end. travel now, and in the distance the high places beckoned. Bruce Morgan, our head packer, would supervise the loading of our eight strings of livestock (a packer, his horse, and five mules per string) that would carry our food, dun nage, and commissary equipment. Thanks to the mules, each of us need shoulder little more than his lunch in a light knapsack. "Slow and steady wins the race," I re minded my boys as we started out. "And if your heels or toes start to hurt even a little bit, let me know, and we'll fix them so you won't get a blister." I led the way. I knew enough about small boys on trails to feel sure that, left to them selves, they would scamper up, back, right, and left like exploring puppies. We adopted the infantrymen's schedule of movement hike for 50 minutes and stop for 10. At our first break on the zigzag trail we picked a good promontory and stripped down to our hiking shorts. The vista's broad sweep was not of much interest to the boys; they were more concerned with details close at hand-a shiny rock, a fluttering bird, a lizard, or a chance to stir up an anthill with a stick. What caught my eye was the eons-old evi dence of the cataclysmic forces that had made the Sierra Nevada the largest single block range within continental United States. Sierra Uplifted Two Miles Ours would have been an interesting spot to watch from in Pleistocene times, a million years ago. For then a series of low ranges the ancestral Sierra-underwent tremendous uplifting along a 430-mile line at the base of the eastern slope. The huge block tilted upward two vertical miles. To the eastward, broad Owens Valley and the Inyo Mountains rose with the Sierra.