Muir Walk Talk

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

      On Saturday I drove through the rain to the San Luis Reservoir for the Annual Meeting of the Four Rivers Assn. This is the support organization for the State Parks located in the environs of the Tuolumne, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers.  A big geography. I knew little about the greater Pacheco Pass area but learned that Highway 152 is essentially the route that stage coaches traveled to points east – even Merced & on to Yosemite. There are 2 major events that I will put on my calendar – Wild Flower Days and the Path of the Padres hike. These are spring gatherings that really show off the native flowers in their glory. And it turns out that you can actually hike to the Mission San Juan Bautista – private property owners obliging.

     Featured speakers were Peter and Donna Thomas of Santa Cruz. Their talk showed the route that John Muir took when he walked from San Francisco to Yosemite. They did the recreation in 2006. Actually, they later did it a few times in pieces as they wrote their book: “Muir Ramble Route.” It the how-to guide for common folk like us. They said the hardest part was getting places to stay along the central valley towns. Muir would just knock on doors and tell the owners that he “promised his mother that he would not sleep outside.” That doesn’t seem to work these days. This day we were in the very area that Muir crossed over Pacheco Pass in 1868.  The Thomas’s did extensive pre-work to try and find his path since he wrote little about it. I am fixated on the old Coulterville Road and got some tips on how to find the eastern end of it – it was hit by landslides so the terminus near Yosemite was abandoned.  Their book is loaded with olde tyme maps. I was disappointed to hear that they are not interested in giving guided tours of the Muir walk. They want some enterprising person to arrange all that – it’s a good business venture. Rooming, bike shuttles and food support would make this a trip I’d pay for.  Click to enlarge photos.


The Thomas duet tell their tale

An attentive audience

Peter explains the route


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Both success and failure are choices. What is  your choice?”

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


2 Responses to “Muir Walk Talk”

  1. Randy Says:

    Great stuff. I’m curious as to how they discoverd the actual route. I know he mentioned Pacheco Pass, but nothing else very specific. I suppose I will get the book. I suspect the wild flowers and views were far grander in those days than anything you would see today, but it would be nice to participate if that ever happens. It seems odd to me that he slept outside virtually everywhere else, but knocked on doors of strangers in the central valley. I learn something new all the time.

  2. mrhalfdome Says:

    Yeah, get the book! The CA park ranger said that the Pacheco Pass was pretty much the same route for eons. A natural opening between the hills. They did a ton of research to find the route. Pg 39 begins the description of the route. He did not go the normal way via Stockton – he was a botanist and wanted to get into the wild. The route was a common path for miners. Muir had to ask a lot for directions.

    Get the book ISBN 978-0-9824276-6-8 dunno if it’s on Amazon.

    Also the wildflowers behind the reservoir are pretty much natural and no invasive plants there.

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