National Geographic : 1989 Apr
© 1984 MUIR-HANNATRUST, UNIVERSITYOFTHE PACIFIC, STCKTON CALFORNIA Ma moth "Drinkingthis champagne water is pure pleasure," Muir reveled while exploring the Sierra in 1869 as a shepherd ofaflock of sheep he called "hoofed locusts." Here, 40 years later, he surveys the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, by then part of the nationalpark. Muir had helpedfound the conservationist Sierra Club in 1892. He lost a heartrending battle in 1913 when a dam for Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley was approved to provide fresh water for San Francisco. Conceived by Sierra Club charter member Theodore S. Solomons and begun a year after Muir's death in 1914, the trail ascends from Yosemite Valley, hugs the Sierra crest, and ends on 14,494-foot Mount Whitney. En route nearly a dozen peaks exceed 14,000 feet.