Camp Four

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In My First Summer in the Sierra:

“It would be delightful to be storm-bound beneath one of these noble, hospitable, inviting old trees, its broad sheltering arms bent down like a tent, incense rising from the fire made from its dry fallen branches, and a hearty wind chanting overhead. But the weather is calm to-night, and our camp is only a sheep camp. We are near the North Fork of the Merced.”  Chapter 1, June 6th

In Real Life:

In My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir camped along the North Fork of the Merced River. In this camping spot, he celebrates that he’s above the lowland dust – and finally in the mountains.  He says he can hear the mountains telling him stories. And actually he hasn’t seen nothing yet – he’s not in Yosemite.

===-Another conifer was met to-day, –incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), a large tree with warm yellow-green foliage in flat plumes like those of arborvit, bark cinnamon-colored, and as the boles of the old trees are without limbs they make striking pillars in the woods where the sun chances to shine on them, –a worthy companion of the kingly sugar and yellow pines. I feel strangely attracted to this tree. The brown close-grained wood, as well as the small scale-like leaves, is fragrant, and the flat overlapping plumes make fine beds, and must shed the rain well. It would be delightful to be storm-bound beneath one of these noble, hospitable, inviting old trees, its broad sheltering arms bent down like a tent, incense rising from the fire made from its dry fallen branches, and a hearty wind chanting overhead. But the weather is calm to-night, and our camp is only a sheep camp. We are near the North Fork of the Merced. The night wind is telling the wonders of the upper mountains, their snow fountains and gardens, forests and groves; even their topography is in its tones. And the stars, the everlasting sky lilies, how bright they are now that we have climbed above the lowland dust! The horizon is bounded and adorned by a spiry wall of pines, every tree harmoniously related to every other; definite symbols, divine hieroglyphics written with sunbeams. Would I could understand them! The stream flowing past the camp through ferns and lilies and alders makes sweet music to the ear, but the pines marshaled around the edge of the sky make a yet sweeter music to the eye. Divine beauty all. Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased, would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between us.

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So – we found this campsite with our guide – Chris Kory. The man who mapped it out before us – John Fiske – who made the trek in 1985 mapped all the sites. We followed his directions in which he says he followed Greeley Hill Road for three miles from where Holtzer Road meets Greeley Hill Road in town. On the left – a big meadow on the side of the road. That’s where Muir saw the tree he described. I didn’t see a big tree like that – I saw a lot of them.  I could see how their drooping limbs could provide shelter from the snow.

These directions to Camp 4 are from our guide Chris Corey: From the Greeley Hill Road and Holtzer Road head toward Yosemite on Greeley Hill Road. You go thru some twists and turns in the road and you see Dudley Cemetery on the right. That’s where a stage stop was, it’s also where Smith station road comes in on the left. You go straight on GHRoad. At this intersection do not follow the signs to Yosemite. After zigging and zagging for a few miles (road deteriorates) you see the Delaney Ranch on the left. I was told that it had also belonged to Art Linkletter at one time.  So that’s Camp 4.

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