The Southern Sierras of California by Charles Francis Saunders: A Second Look at a Forgotten, Outdoors Classic
The book's title is a misnomer: The Southern Sierras of California, by regionally revered botanist, naturalist, and outdoorsman, Charles Francis Saunders, isn't referring to the majestic southern Sierra Nevadas encompassing Yosemite Valley and Kings Canyon National Park — rugged alpine terrain of gigantic granite domes, gargantuan Sequoias centuries old, and Tolkien-like, multi-tiered waterfalls, made famous by the writings of John Muir and photography of Ansel Adams — but to the less celebrated, less elevated, and lesser traveled trio of mountain ranges flanking the cities and suburbs of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Palm Springs.
|First printing, 1923
"Suddenly there was a crash of thunder and a blinding flash. The bolt stunned the guide, and sent him plumb crazy, so I had to hold him by force to the ground for half an hour, or he would have thrown himself off the mountain. A second bolt that followed killed Wheeler instantly, ripping his clothes to shreds and leaving him almost naked. Then a third bolt struck close to me while I was struggling with Dobbs, who cried like a baby and was calling for his mother. I couldn't make him realize what had happened. Other bolts followed striking here and there on neighboring buttes, and I was with a dead man and a lunatic on my hands, and no help so far as I knew within a dozen miles, and the mountain wild with storm."
Consider forested Orchard Camp, the former "trail resort" in the hulking shadow of Mount Wilson, a mere three miles north of, by historic footpath, the encroaching mansions of Sierra Madre's, Arcadia's, and Glendora's arson-prone canyon cul-de-sacs; imagine a night there under oaks and alders and the spell of a sylvan stream, reading what Charles Francis Saunders wrote about Orchard Camp by candlelight, in the mosquitoey hologram of your flashlight. . . .
|Orchard Camp: Then
|Orchard Camp: Now