Explorer's Guide to
(2nd edition)

by David T. Page

"Open to any page and you'll find a great story, along with details that will inspire travel—and more reading." —Westways 

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Explorer's Guide Yosemite & the Southern Sierra Nevada - David T. Page
Notes Index


  Death Valley's Secret Stash (Men's Journal)

  Really Old Masters
(NY Times)

The World's Most Traveled Man?

(Men's Journal)

Skiing CA's 14ers

(Eastside Magazine)

Wild Ice

(NY Times)

Rituals: The Last Run

(NY Times)


« Twilight of the Travel Guidebook? | Main | Yosemite from the Air »

Early Spring, Eureka Dunes

A STURDY WIND GUSTED IN over the Saline range, stirring up the dunes on the west side of the basin. The boys lounged in the lee of the truck while I unloaded and pitched camp. A few road warriors gunned by on dirt bikes, in full, dust-caked body armor, on their way to and from Steel Pass and the road to the springs. Otherwise, we had the whole of the basin to ourselves.

It was cold, except in those brief moments when the wind died down and the sun got its way, but Jasper would not hear of going home. He'd spent the last two weeks indoors, with a fractured tibia and a full cast from toe-cheese to mid-thigh (product of an experiment with the tensile limits of his leg against the DIN setting on his ski bindings, as set — too high, it seems — by his father).

He'd been happy enough working on his drawings and writing out words and sucking back grape-flavored Motrin. But enough was enough. Now he wanted to get on top of those dunes.

Running the dunes. Photo by Roadtrip Rip.A nigh-on-five-year-old — plus a few extra pounds of blue fiberglass, extra jackets, hats, water, diapers, wipes, snacks, cans of apple juice, beer, etc. — is no small charge in a backpack, especially uphill over soft sand. Little Beckett was willing to walk some of it, in fact would not consider traveling otherwise, until the way got steep and he began to slide backward on his belly. Or to roll.

At which point I had no choice but to add to my load: one boy on my back, the other in front, in my arms.

I was reminded of the story of the Miller and His Ass, of course, and could not help but think had we brought with us a mule I would be carrying it as well.

"Come on, Daddy," said Jasper. "Don't stop."

I clawed my way to the first ridge. We dropped out of the wind and angled for the closest summit, following a narrow tongue of fairly walkable crust, admiring the optimism of a thousand tiny green plant-shoots sprouting from the sand. In a couple of months, with ground temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, they would be toasting like so many pumpkin seeds in the early summer sun.

At the top, we sat for a minute, spat out the sand from between our teeth, chewed granola bars and beef jerky and sipped from our respective canned cocktails. We surveyed the basin and the distant ranges. We watched a truck, far below, pull into the dry camp next to ours. Then we ran down the angle of repose to meet the strangers with whom we would be sharing the valley.

Rip and his Rig

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