Day One story by Curtis Grant;
Day Two Story and Photography by Shann Rupp
by Curtis Grant
On Saturday morning, August 4, 2001, eight trail aficionados met Dave and Lisa Johnson near the Pinecrest General Store. After Dave outlined a brief history of the 1852-54 Sonora Pass emigrant road and a reminder of how sparsely settled the Pinecrest area remained until the 20th century, we drove to the trailhead at Giannelli’s Cabin. Our round-trip hike included Burst Rock, Powell Lake, and exploration of possible wagon routes–altogether, some six miles of walking.
Dave Johnson–with considerable assistance from Dick Davis and John Maloney–has spent years researching and identifying the wagon route from Fort Churchill on the Carson River to Sonora. In 1852, entrepreneurs from Columbia/Sonora mining camps enticed some 60 emigrants on the Carson River route to take the “shorter” Sonora route; in 1853, it was recorded that 2,375 persons traveled the road; but in 1854–after publication of Ebbets’ diary blasting the Sonora as one of worst into California–only 600 emigrants took the bait. According to a sign erected near Burst Rock by Dick Davis and the George Davis Foundation, the Sonora short-cut promised to save 10-days travel time, but instead cost the emigrants an additional month!
In addition to seeing spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada on a perfect day for hiking, we learned that Burst Rock may have once been name “Birth Rock”– since it was the birthplace of a baby girl born during a blizzard late in the 1853 migration. Tour member Larry Larson shared information about his great-great grandfather, John Roberts, who married one of the five Dye sisters who traveled the Sonora Pass route in 1853. Shann Rupp inspired our entire entourage by hiking and climbing with the best of them . . . .
All in all, a most informative and very enjoyable excursion.
by Shann Rupp
By Sunday, the group had dwindled down to five people: Bob Wilson, Robin Hook, Shann Rupp, and Lisa and David Johnson. We met near the Marine Base on the east side of the Sonora Pass.
David, a teacher by profession, makes a wonderful leader. He’s teaching all the time. He pointed out that – unlike the other routes leading to California, with only one or two passes or summits, – the Walker River/Sonora Route involves no less than four: Summit Meadow, Sonora Pass, Brown Bear Pass, and Burst or Birth Rock.
Bob and Robin often hike the area we visited Sunday and led us to a picturesque old cabin at the edge of a lovely meadow. Our second stop gave us an excellent view of Tower Peak and Lost Cannon Peak, which was named for Fremont’s Lost Cannon. From another vantage point, David pointed out where the emigrants travelled as they came out of Antelope Valley. Then we followed a road that went around Lost Cannon Peak and Summit Meadow. When we parked the cars to commence the day’s hike, Lisa opted to remain with the cars to protect a sore foot. David, Bob, and Robin, all veteran hikers, very kindly permitted Shann to tag along. Many rocks were examined for rust marks, but nothing was conclusive until reaching a point fairly near the known crossing of Lost Cannon Creek. There, the group found many rust marks – evidence that the wagons had passed there! The Creek crossing was a beautiful spot for lunch, but afterwards it was uphill from there, all the way back to the parking lot.
On Saturday morning, Robin showed interest immediately in OCTA and asked for a membership application. As we parted at the end of the two-day outing, Robin purchased a Goddard map from the chapter. We’ll certainly look forward to welcoming him to the CA-NV Chapter!