National Geographic : 1959 Aug
"Sure-there's plenty of hot water if you'd like to scrub up before bedtime." Beyond Bearpaw the High Sierra Trail clings to the face of a precipice and crosses the brink of a waterfall before reaching the big gest of the three Hamilton Lakes. I arrived there just as the morning sun was silvering the Angel's Wings, 2,000-foot cliffs that hover above the water. Hummingbird Guards a Mighty Realm As I sat on a glacier-polished rock, scanning this enormous amphitheater, a tiny form flit ted boldly before my eyes, then hung motion less on invisibly beating wings as if to chal lenge me. A calliope hummingbird, one of the smallest of warm-blooded creatures, was guardian of these vast spaces. It was a para dox to ponder: this mite of life pulsing in such a chasm of the earth. Hamilton Lake is a popular camping spot. Cheerful shouts led me to the camp of Boy Scout Troop 373 of Sierra Madre, California (page 154). "We have no formal program here," said 180 leader George Black, who has brought Scouts to the lake for 10 summers. "We just let nature inspire the boys. Some want to fish; others hike. Some spend all their time right here by the creek, fascinated by the wildlife they see." At another campsite I met Tony Bertsch, a Los Angeles house painter for 10 months of the year and for the other two a solitary Sierra backpacker. Hiking in the mountains without a companion is not recommended by the Park Service, but Tony is a veteran in the wilderness. "One day in 1930 I drove my Model-T Ford up to Glacier Point in Yosemite and got a look at all that wonderful wilderness," he told me. "I just wrapped a coffee pot and some food in an old comforter and started walking. "I've been hiking in the Sierra every year since. There's adventure in being alone and dependent on only yourself. There's adven ture, too, in being under the sky and the stars at night, and in knowing the plants and trees. At first I scarcely knew a pine from an oak.''