Hitch Hike Trip 1947
May 10, 1947
Having the urge to travel and see things that many young fellows don’t get to see, I decided to do something about it. I planned to take a hitch-hike tour of the United States. I had a pack frame, sleeping bag, and pup tent plus all the other things I would need on the trip.
My parents approved of my plans and I think that I shall leave for the west as soon as school lets out. This will be the summer between my Junior and Senior year in Manasquan High School. My plan is to take a bus to Denver, Colorado, and hitch-hike from thereon.
School is out. Got a ride from Manasquan to Newark, NJ with Mr. Jarvis. Slept at Aunt Ann’s house.
I got to the Public Service Bus Depot at 7 a.m. My bus was due to arrive at 7:20. I waited for more than a half-hour and the bus still didn’t arrive. At last, I saw it come. It went right on past without as much as a blow of his horn and left me to wait for the next bus at 9:20. When it arrived I got on and got a window seat. We took the Pennsylvania Turnpike through most of its course. It was a beautiful ride.
We arrived in Pittsburg at 8:08 p.m. Ozzies (my mother’s brother and wife) were at the station waiting for me. Nancy wasn’t there as she went to an opera. We had something at a soda fountain. I taught the waitress how to make a vanilla frosted float. My bus for St. Louis pulled in and I said good-bye and jumped in. The bus was local and made every stop between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. There was very little sleep for anyone that night. A lady and her daughter (Mrs. L.H. Beverly and daughter) were sitting across from me. We got to talking and found out that she had attended the conference of some Temperance group in Asbury Park. I gave her a lot of information for a radio script she was writing. She gave me one dollar for postage on minerals to send home from various states gone through.
I arrived in St. Louis at 3:45 p.m. The bus for Kansas City left at 5:15. I took it and rode all night
I arrived in Kansas City at 12:19 p.m. Here we had to jump in line to get reservations for Denver. I got mine on the first bus. I got the seat directly behind the driver and next to a soldier who was going to Washington State for his discharge. His name and address are Gerrit Van Wieringen, Rt. 1, Box 131, Bow, Washington. [466-3517 – La Conner. Is this him?]
We now started to cross the great plains of Kansas. Our driver, after 5 a.m. was Francis Schorling. A load of newspapers was put on the bus when we left Kansas City to be left off in various towns along the way. At 5:30 the bus driver started blasting his horn for some unknown reason. There wasn’t another vehicle in sight nor a person on the road. I asked him why he blew the horn and he explained that it was to wake up the farmer in the farmhouse we were passing so he could milk his cows. It seems that all drivers passing on this route at this time wake up the farmer in the same manner. Francis told me that he visited the farmer once on his day off and had returned home with a gallon of milk, some butter, and many fresh vegetables.
We are now passing through Wilson, Kansas. It is a Czech town. It looks the same as any other Kansas town gone through. It has the grain elevators next to the tracks, a church, a few stores on the highway, and a few houses along the highway. All around were immense fields of wheat. This area was part of the Piedmont Plateau and was called the breadbasket of the nation and now of the world. A strange thing that I noticed about this area was the fence posts. They were of rock. The farmers quarried limestone and cut the pieces to about 6” x 6” x 5’ in size and used them for posts. There were miles and miles of them.
We were now passing through the oil ridge section of Kansas. Oil wells were all over the place. Barley could be seen growing along the road. We changed drivers again and road on and on, finally arriving in Denver at 6:20 p.m. I got off the bus, looked up the address of the YMCA, and went right to it. I got a bed for the night in a dormitory and had dinner in their cafeteria. I got to bed by 9:30 and fell right asleep.
I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning with the phone ringing loudly. It sounded more like a burglar alarm. The desk was calling to wake up bed number five. Instead, it woke up everybody else. From then on about every half hour the phone rang so there wasn’t much more sleep for me. I finally got up at 8 a.m. and went down to get something to eat. I left my pack in the pool room and went out to find a store where I could purchase an Explorer Scout shirt. I eventually arranged with a shop to order one from Chicago and have it mailed to La Junta General Delivery by June 27.
While in the May Company store I struck up a conversation with a scout and his mother who were purchasing scout equipment there. I arranged to meet them in the Barnum School out on West 1st and Hooker at the Wes District Court of Honor. I asked the clerk if he knew of a place where I could stay for the night. He arranged for me to stay at the Harris Hotel for $1.50 per night. I figured it was worth it if I could get some sleep. I got to the hotel at 1:30 and checked in. I then got my pack from the YMCA and brought it up to my room. I threw everything out on the bed and looked the things over.
My sleeping bag needed some sewing done on it so I took it to a tailor nearby and he fixed it for 35 cents. I then went back to my room and did some writing and fixing equipment. After supper, I went to the Court of Honor. It took me ½ hour to get out there as no one knew how to direct me. Finally, I took a number 75 trolley and arrived there at 8:30 p.m. the Court of Honor was similar to the ones we have in New Jersey. The audience was exactly the same. The awards were presented by various troop leaders and all awards of the same kind were given out at the same time, i.e., all Life Scout awards were given at one time regardless of the troop.
Following the presentation of awards a man set up an easel and a drawing board and drew with charcoal anything that was asked of him. He had scouts come up and write their names and from them, he drew pictures that were very clever and humorous. The court was closed with a prayer by Jim Tincomb who kinda forgot the words. I was introduced to Jim by James Russell whom I had met in town that morning. Jim is a Life Scout and seems like a very nice chap. He asked me if I cared to go on an overnight camping trip for the purpose of collecting rocks and minerals. I, of course, agreed readily. That was what I had come for, to see if I could get in on any such trip. Jim introduced me to his scoutmaster who said that whether I could go or not depended on whether he could get enough transportation.
He said he would let me know by Friday evening whether he would have the room or not. I then went over to James’ house to see if his mother had been able to locate somebody to go go to Genisse and Lookout Mt. on Friday. She said that she hadn’t but that James might go. She arranged to call me at the hotel at 8:00 a.m. and let me know. I then left and caught the next trolley back to the center of the city and to my hotel and to sleep.
I awoke at 5:30 a.m. and turned over and went right back to sleep. It was no hour for decent people to get up, not me anyway. I finally got up at 7:30 and was all ready to leave at 8:00. I sat on my bed waiting for the phone call from Mrs. Russel until 8:30 and finally called her. She had decided not to let Jim go with me for various reasons but asked me out to their place to start on my trip to Lookout Mt. Mrs. Russel fixed up a very nice lunch for me and took me up the highway for a few miles. I then stuck out my thumb and soon got a ride. I was let off on the highway when the man I was riding with turned into his home. I then walked about 3 miles when I was picked up by a man going clear across the mountains. He took me right to the road leading to Lookout Mountain. I walked the three miles into Buffalo Bill’s grave and museum.
There wasn’t anything very spectacular about the grave. All it is is a fenced-in area with a monument in it. The museum is more interesting. In it are many relics of his. Here is found his guns, saddles, clothing, pictures of his and many of his Wild West Show posters. The museum is located on the top of Lookout Mountain. From the top of the mountain, you can see for over 100 miles.
Instead of coming back from Bill Cody’s grave on Lookout Mountain by the road, I cut down the mountainside and across the fields toward Golden. This, I believe, is the most beautiful time of the year. The grass on the hillsides was green and soft underfoot. I followed a small stream (Bear Creek) for a while as it wound down the hill, sometimes passing through wooded sections that were damp and wet with many ferns, Solomon Seals, shooting stars, and buttercups thriving in the richness of the loamy soil. The stream would then cut across the open field and bounce down the rocky slopes of a sudden incline, passing beautiful wild cactuses in full bloom with their waxy yellow blossom atop a thorny base. The wild blue lupines, yellow columbines, and the white Mariposa lily all were blooming in profusion, lending their beauty to the scene, making this one of the most pleasant of walks on a warm summer’s day.
I got a ride from Golden to Denver and I went right to Mrs. Russell’s house. I helped her pick strawberries and then set up a pup tent with Jim in the back yard. After supper at the Russell’s, I went to Jim Tincomb’s patrol meeting. They were getting ready for their overnight camping trip to Salida where they were going to hunt for rocks and minerals. Each patrol in their troop has one troop committeeman looking after it. It is he who goes with the boys when they go camping and on various hikes. After the patrol meeting, I went back to Russel’s home. Jim and I went to sleep in a tent. It rained all night long. I didn’t get the least bit wet but Jim did because his ground cloth protruded out from under the tent and the water came right in on it. My sleeping bag cover is no good. It sweats. My sleeping bag was wet from the moisture inside of the cover. Jim Tincomb told me at the patrol meeting that they hadn’t been able to get enough transportation to take me along on the trip so tomorrow I’ll start for Pueblo.
I took a bus from Barnum to Santa Fe highway and started hitchhiking.
Pueblo is 114 miles away and I hope to get there by evening. I got a ride to Littleton which is about 12 miles from Denver. From there I got a ride straight to Colorado Springs. From there I got a ride that let me off about 25 miles from Pueblo. Then it started to rain. And it did rain. No one would pick me up so I finally took a bus the rest of the way. I got into Pueblo about 4:30 and went right away to look up Ida Mayer whom Mrs. Hancock (of Manasquan) suggested that I see. When I got there I found her ill in bed. She had just come home from the hospital after having had a heart attack. I had supper there and then got a bed at the YMCA.
I woke up about 8:30, washed, packed my equipment, and left the YMCA. I had breakfast and then walked as far as Vineland. It took me 2 hr and 15 minutes to get there. It is only ten miles from Pueblo. The Courtesy Patrol (police) stopped me and told me to walk facing traffic, i.e., on the left side of the road. I did. When I saw or heard a car coming I crossed the highway and walked toward it while hitchhiking the other direction. Finally I got to Vineland. Vineland is a Mexican village consisting of two coffee shops and a gas station. I had a bottle of “pop” in one of the cafes and then sat on my pack a short way past the gas station and put out my thumb. A bunch of Mexican boys sat on the café steps a short way down the other side of the block and watched me. They were continually shooting firecrackers.
I finally got a ride to Avondale which was about 10 miles further down the road. From there I got a ride for about 3 miles further. I was left off by a bend in the highway where there was one gas station. I sat out there for 2-1/2 hours without getting a ride. I finally went into the gas station and talked awhile with the attendant. As soon as I got out to the road again a new Chevrolet panel body truck stopped and picked me up. It had only gone 85 miles since coming from the factory. Well, he took me straight into La Junta. I had something to eat and then took a room in the Colorado Hotel for $1.50 for the night. It had hot and cold running water which I wanted to do my wash. I did my laundry and then went to sleep.
I awoke at 8:30 a.m. and packed up. I went to the Fred Harvey restaurant for breakfast. There were two men sitting a few seats away from me who was talking about the Koshare Indian Dancers. They were discussing where the chiefs were to be placed and about makeup they bought. From their talk I imagined them to be leaders in the troop but I didn’t say anything to them. After they left I asked the waitress who they were. She told me that the heavyset man was Buck Burshears who is the scoutmaster of Troop 230, better known as the Koshare Indians.
The waitress told me that the scouts had a clubhouse on 8th Ave. so I went up there to look at it. It was quite a nice building. It was closed when I was there so I couldn’t see much of the inside. I went back to town and bought a community strip for my badge collection. While there I asked the man who was waiting on me if the boys were going to put on the same performance both nights. He didn’t know but he went outside and called in a fellow who was washing the windows and asked him. This boy was one of the braves.
We got to talking and we arranged to meet at about 7 p.m. and go to Buck’s house together. After lunch, I did some writing, paid for my room for 3 more nights at a cost of 3 dollars, and then went to Bent’s Fort Museum. There I saw the Horace Greely Stage Coach, many ancient firearms, Indian relics, and minerals of the locality. The lady in charge was very kind and courteous and gave me some postcards, a Koshare Indian Dancers Book and a Koshare sticker.
After I left there I went to a book store where there were a lot of photographs on the exhibit of the Koshare’s. The young man who owned the store is the Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 230, Bill Cash. I introduced myself and we got to talking. I looked over the photographs he had for sale and asked him if I could order them in September when I got home. He said I could and gave me a photograph as a gift. Link:
After supper, I went to Bob Hurt’s house. He took me to Buck Burshear’s house and introduced me to Buck. Buck took me down into the cellar where he has his den. In the first part of the basement was a workshop and model railroad. His railroad has been shown in Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Railroading, and numerous other magazines.
You step through a doorway and you are in another world. You are in the world of the American Indian. Buck has furnished this room with Indian paintings, rugs, pottery, costumes, arrowheads, stone implements, and household articles. The couches are covered with Indian blankets. There are numerous trunks around the wall that are full of Indian costumes, jewelry, and handwork. When I first came in I was introduced to Wade Williams, an artist from Taos and a friend of his, Charles Reynolds, who is also from Taos.
Many of the Koshare Indians were introduced to me. I met the head chief of the Koshare Tribe. There were no less than 15 scouts coming in to visit or work in Buck’s shop and den during the evening. This, I found out, goes on every night. Wade brought in his trunk full of Indian costumes which he had brought for the dance. He had two pairs of beautiful beaded moccasins, a beaded vest, two pairs of beaded buckskin gloves, 2 pairs of beaded leggings, a loincloth, 2 bone necklaces, a piping bag, headdress and various other pieces of the costume.
After all the scouts had left I started to leave and Buck offered me a ride downtown as he was taking his mother and guests down for ice cream. I went with him and he asked me to join thin in having a dish of ice cream. After finishing I said good-night and went to my room and fell asleep.
Helped set up teepees in the field.
Attended Koshare show. Tonight I have seen one of the most impressive shows I think that I ever shall see. The show was the annual Koshare dance performance given by the scouts of troop 230, LaJunta, Colorado to an audience of over 3,000 persons from many parts of the midwest and further (including this guy from New Jersey.)
I arose about 7:30 a.m. and washed in the washroom under the stadium. Then I went to one of the scout’s houses for breakfast. After breakfast, I went to the highway leading to Trinidad and put out my thumb. I finally got tired of waiting and decided to walk. I walked for hours and wasn’t able to get a ride all the while. I ate some ration bars and drank some water for lunch. I got to a town marked on my map as being 10 miles from La Junta. It consisted of one building and a water pump. I walked on and on, finally getting to a town that consisted of two gas stations, a general store, two houses, and a railroad station.
I asked a driver that pulled up at the gas station if he would give me a ride to Trinidad. He was from California and was traveling with his wife. He consented to give me a ride that far. When I got to Trinidad I got a hotel room and after having, supper I went to sleep.
After breakfast, I got out on the road and got a ride right away to Raton, New Mexico. From Ronan, I got a ride from a man making recordings of various types of Spanish spoken in New Mexico for the University of New Mexico. He let me off in Cimarron from where I got a ride to Philmont Scout Ranch in a car owned by one of the ranch staff.
At ranch headquarters, I asked “Doc” if it were possible for me to stay there for a few days. He said that I would have to see Mr. Bullock who was a camping director. Mr. Bullock allowed me to stay on the ranch for a cost of 50 cents per meal. I had supper in the mess hall after which I went with a wagon train of boys from Iowa to the meeting room where a Navajo Indian gave us a short talk on how an Indian trained to become a Chief.
I returned to the Rocky Mountain shelter to go to sleep. Mr. Johnson was talking to some boys at the far end of the shelter, so I went over to see what was going on. He was telling them some Indian legends. He finally told the Indian story of the creation of the world and how things got the way they are now, i.e., the stars, sun, moon in the sky, the flying fish, the birds, beasts, etc. He spoke for about three hours and his soft musical voice almost put me to sleep. It was very interesting to listen to and very kind of Mr. Johnson to tell it to us.
Mr. Johnson was born in southern Alaska and raised under the old customs. He is now living on a reservation in New Mexico because it is easier to live there than in Alaska.
I awoke with the sun in my eyes. Some of the fellows were already up, trying to get a picture of some elk on the ridge behind the shelter. The boys from Iowa and I piled into a truck after breakfast and went camping at Ponil. At Ponil I met Tex Owen, Assistant Camp Director, and also Camp Naturalist. We gabbed of old times.
I was given a bunk in the longhouse and spread out my junk there. I heard a shot behind the camp director’s house and went out to investigate. I found that the director’s wife had just shot a rattlesnake. One of her small children had come into the house and said they heard a noise in the bushes. Mrs. Johnson grabbed a shotgun and shot the rattler she found there. With her permission, I took the rattles which I sent home. There were seven rattles and a button. Jim Smith gave me a haircut. He used barber’s clippers and a large pair of shears. He almost got my ear once. I think he did a darn good job for a quarter. A hot bath and then to bed.
Jim lit the kerosene stove before breakfast so as to have hot water for a shower afterward. At breakfast one of the fellows from over in the Wagon Train encampment came over and said the longhouse was on fire. Zoom! Everybody was outside in no time flat. The fire was rapidly put out and the only damage incurred was a pretty well burnt up bathroom.
The priest came at about 11:00 a.m. and said mass for 3 boys. After dinner, I went back to headquarters with him. I couldn’t locate my notebook when I left so I asked Bob Owen to find it and mail it to me. When back at headquarters I washed my clothes. Tex showed up at the shelter soon after to be treated by the camp doctor for a foot ailment.
I left Philmont Ranch headquarters soon after breakfast. My cost for the stay on the ranch came to $5.00. I got a ride in a dilapidated hearse from Cimarron through the Cimarron Canyon to Eagle Nest. Eagle Nest is a small village in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. It is on the edge of a lake and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
The community schoolhouse was made of logs and perfectly fitted the atmosphere of the area. I got a ride out of Eagle Nest on the back of a logging truck. They took me to Taos. On the way, we went through Carson National Forest. It was a very scenic ride and I believe I saw it from the best possible position. When I arrived in Taos I went immediately to Charles Reynolds Gift Shop. There I contacted Charles Junior and we visited Kit Carson’s house in Taos. After lunch, we went out to the Taos Pueblo. We wandered around the pueblo for a while. I came to the conclusion that the Indians who lived there were a filthy lot and were too commercialized to gain any respect from me as being authentic American Indians. Charles and I found a few pieces of pottery in the ruins of the old mission.
After some supper downtown on the plaza, I took my pack and went up in the mountains to camp for the night. The following I wrote while waiting for the sun to go down: I have just climbed to the top of the first ridge of mountains to the northeast of Taos. It was a tough climb over rocky ground. There is only lodgepole pine, sagebrush, and cactus growing on these slopes. The sun is now setting behind the ridge of mountains on the other side of Taos from me. The Taos Indian pueblo can be seen to the right at the foot of the same range of mountains I am on. I am trespassing on Indian property.
There is just an orange glow left over the mountains across from me and the moon has risen to about 15 degrees behind me. A strong westerly wind is blowing and it is quite cool. Ants are bothering me so I guess I will have to use that insect repellent lotion. My bedroll will have to be laid out on the rocky ground.
On my way down the mountain, I found many fossils which I put in my pack and will take home with me. The architecture of Taos is interesting. All the houses are made of adobe mud. The roof is supported by logs spanning the length of the roof. These logs are usually varnished and are called ‘vigas’. The roof is often 12” to 20” thick. Charlie and I went out to Wade William’s house near Rancho de Taos. I had lunch there and met his wife and mother-in-law. His studio is beautiful. The house is made of adobe. The studio ceiling is about 15’ high. One wall was taken up by a large window. On another wall was a collection of Indian beadwork and handicrafts. I looked through his album and was well pleased with all his work. After bidding farewell to the Williams I hiked to Rancho de Taos where I saw the famous mission church.
I soon picked up a ride that took me along the Rio Grande River to Santa Fe, New Mexico. As soon as I got to Santa Fe I looked up the scout executive. Since the office was closed I got his home address from the phone book and went to his house. Jack Stoltz (222 Bower St, Santa Fe) invited me to camp in his back yard for the night. He provided a tent for me to use. At my inquiry, he told me that there was a troop meeting in town that I could possibly go to.
The scoutmaster was to meet some of the boys at the supermarket so I went right over to get a ride with them. Soon the scoutmaster came along and picked up another fellow and myself. The scoutmaster and all the boys were Mexican. He had a ½ ton truck in which he had 14 boys, a case of coke, and some steak. He drove to Hyde State Park in the back of Santa Fe where he had a troop meeting and steak roast. I offered to pay for my share of the costs but Benny, the scoutmaster, refused to accept it. The scouts were a swell lot. They were noisy as hell and mostly talked in a Mexican lingo. Coming back into Santa Fe the roof of the truck was almost torn off by the noise of the boys singing. Benny took me to a look-out point from where we could see the whole city of Santa Fe below us all lit up for the night.
We took in a softball game between two Mexican teams.”Murder the umpire” was often called in the Mexican tongue….which I recognized by the tone of the voice used. I bid the scouts and Benny farewell and left them at the courthouse in Santa Fe.
This morning I left Santa Fe early so as to get a good ride. Prices were so high in restaurants that I only got one waffle for breakfast along with a glass of milk. I got a short ride then another short one. I passed Ernest Thompson Seton Village on the Las Vegas Highway. My last ride let me out on a straight stretch of highway where a dirt road turned off. A veteran was let off there also. We talked for a while and then just waited patiently. Hours passed. Finally, about 2 p.m. a panel body truck stopped to pick me up. When the fellow got out to put my pack in the back I asked him if he would care to give the other fellow a lift also (he had gone about 100 yards up the road). The driver said, “Don’t you think one is enough for a day?” “It is up to you,” I said, “but he is a WWII veteran and is going to Hobbs.” Well, he picked him up.
We rode along for a long while talking about one thing or another, mostly another. I heard a car horn behind us so I turned around to see what was the matter that he couldn’t pass. I could see no car for as far as the road stretching. I thought that I might be hearing things so I let it pass unmentioned. Shortly I heard it again. This time the fellow next to me heard it also. We couldn’t see a car for miles. I thought right away that the driver was pulling a trick on us. I asked him if he was making the noise. He asked how could he be doing it? When we heard it again he took his hands off the steering wheel and feet off the floor to show us he wasn’t doing it.
About half an hour later we pulled up to a small gas station and café. It was tended by a Mexican girl. We went inside and had a bottle of beer each. As soon as we were served the girl heard a car horn outside as if someone wanted gas. She went out but found no one. When she came in she acted as though nothing happened. Soon she heard the horn again. This time it sounded very impatient. She ran out of the store but saw no one. She walked all around the store but still saw no one. When she re-entered the store she asked us if we heard any noise, a car horn perhaps. “No,” we said, “we didn’t hear anything.” We paid for the drinks and left. Just as we got to the door the poor girl heard the horn again and her eyes popped open wide and mouth dropped. We drove away and left her in that condition.
When the girl heard the horn the second time I caught on to the trick. The driver was twitching a muscle in his throat on the left side of his neck. This plus use of his vocal cords produced the effect desired. We didn’t notice it in the car because we couldn’t see his left side. More fun!
I went to the scout headquarters in Roswell to see if there was a troop meeting I could attend. There was, so after supper, I went to the Elks lodge to visit the troop. I wasn’t a very well attended one but the excuse was that it was hard to hold one in the summer. A scout present at the troop meeting gave me the meeting address and scoutmaster’s name of a troop in San Bernadino, California. I then found a room in a cheap hotel for the night and went to sleep. I had forgotten my canteen and had left it in the Elks Hall.
I got on the road at 7:30 this morning and had 115 miles to go in 3 hours if I wanted to get in on the main tour through Carlsbad Caverns. I soon got a ride, then another and another and another in rapid succession. I got to the entrance of the caverns at 10:15 with 15 minutes to spare. The cost of admission is 50 cents for persons under 17 years of age and $1.50 for persons 17 and over. I got in line and when I got to the window the girl punched out a $1.50 ticket. “Hold it, sister,” I said, “I want a 50 cent ticket.” “Who are you kidding?” she replied. “How old are you?” “16.” “When will you be 17?” “At 10:30 p.m. tonight!” She got a kick out of that and so did the people in line. I got in for 50 cents.
The tour of the caverns was a wonderful experience. I spent five hours in the caverns. Lunch was served 750 ft. below the entrance for only 50 cents. I got out of the caverns and was on the road hitchhiking near White City soon after 4 p.m. I soon got a ride from a fellow in a coupe who took me all the way to El Paso, Texas. We shared a Motel cabin overnight at a cost of $2.00 for me and $4.00 for him. It was well worth it.
We started riding at about 6:30 a.m. and had breakfast somewhere in New Mexico. We rode through some of the most beautiful deserts in the U.S. The large saguaro cactus spread its large arms out and looked very stately in their 10 to 20 ft. height. We saw lots of ocotillo cactus, barrel cactus, Joshua Trees, Spanish Bayonet, and sagebrush. All of this was very new to me and I thought that it was beautiful.
We got into Tucson at about 1 p.m. and I called Jeff Davis and introduced myself. I was invited to their house for the night. They took me through the University of Southern Arizona campus and up on a high point above the town to see what Tucson looked like from above. From there I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Silhouetted in the foreground were some large saguaro cactus plants and date palms. It was really gorgeous.
Shortly after breakfast, I went downtown to check on the mail. There wasn’t any. I then put my pack on my back and walked out of the city to get on the main highway to Phoenix. It didn’t take long to get a ride. This time in a 1947 Buick convertible. We went very close to the Casa Grande National Monument, close enough that I could see the building itself. Phoenix was all right but I went right on through and also through Prescott. Then up to Prescott National Forest where I spent the night in an old deserted cabin.
I got a ride from Prescott National Forest to Jerome on the back of a lumber truck, from Jerome to Clarkdale with a minister, from Clarkdale to Montezuma’s Castle by a local farmer. I took a tour through the dwellings and felt that my time was well spent. I met Dr. Hull and family while there. I noticed when he signed the register that he was from New Jersey and I spoke up. I then accepted a ride back to Clarkdale from a tourist and then from Clarkdale halfway back to the park with another fellow. From that point, I got a ride on the back of a Ford pick-up truck out of Flagstaff. Soon after picking me up the driver picked up two more hitchhikers and put them in the back with me. Just a mile further on he picked up 2 more hitchhikers making five of us in the back. We were going up the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon when it started to rain. I pulled out C.B.’ poncho [C.B. was a scout commissioner in New Jersey who gave me the poncho.] and covered all of us with it.
We were let out in Flagstaff. I had some supper there and then put out my thumb again. This time I got a ride from a bunch of drunken Indians as far as the fork in the highway. There I got a ride from another Indian, this time a very nice one who took me to the East Entrance of the Grand Canyon. I was just 1 mile south of Cameron when he let me off. I found a good place to bunk for the night. It was a natural bunk formed in the stone with soft earth on the bottom and a rock ledge overhead to protect me from any rain that might fall.
I went to the trading post and lunchroom nearby for a bite to eat. While there a truckload of Navajos in costume came in and got bread and a can of fruit. They all sat in a circle on the floor. The old man broke the loaf of bread open and took a slice. He then poked his fingers in the can (it had been opened by the trader) and pulled out a piece of fruit. This was done around the circle for as many times as the food lasted. Then they got up and drove away.
As I walked back to my campsite the sun was setting. It lit up the clouds in the west producing a beautiful spectacle. The rock formations to the east were beautifully colored a short while ago but now have assumed somber grey and purple hues. On to my sleeping bag and a night’s sleep.
When I got up in the morning I noticed a scorpion not two feet away from my sleeping bag. On leaving the area heading back to the road I spotted a rattlesnake. I am glad I fell asleep as quickly as I did last night or I might have had cause to remove myself from there before getting too comfortable.
Without much effort, I got a ride from the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park to the hotel. I was given the ride by the layout the editor of the National History magazine. He was on his honeymoon. We stopped at the various lookout points along the south rim of the canyon. The view was beautiful, grand. You really couldn’t realize the immensity of the thing by just looking at it. It is over 16 miles across where you might think it only a matter of a few thousand yards.
I left the couple at the Harvey Hotel and looked around the campground to see if I could find a good place to go to sleep when night came on. I saw a New Jersey license plate and went over to the car to say hello and found out that it was Dr. Hull and family whom I met at Montezuma’s Castle yesterday. (Dr. D. Hull, 88 W. Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood, New Jersey) He invited me to go with him and his family when touring the various points of interest on the south rim of the canyon. We listened to a lecture by a Park Ranger at Yakapi Point. There was a thunderstorm down in the canyon during the lecture.
Following the lecture, we went to the museum and met the curator who was also a head naturalist. He and Dr. Hull had an interesting conversation. Dr. Hull had this man’s sister for a patient in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I had supper with the Hulls and went to a campfire program with them afterward which featured a talk on the various types of trees found along the rim. The canyon itself is something I can’t put into words. All I can say is that it is immense, majestic, and beautiful.
I was out on the rim at about 5:00 a.m. to see the sunrise, if possible. It so happened that it was overcast and the sun didn’t show through until about 8 a.m. Meanwhile, I took a walk along the rim as far as Yakapi Point. I then came back and found to my disappointment that Dr. Hull and his family had left. I should have realized that they were leaving early when I went out for my walk. I, therefore, didn’t get a chance to say goodby and thank them for their kindness while with them. I then went back to the rim and saw a fellow pull up in a 1947 Chrysler with New Jersey plates. I got to talking to him and finally asked him if he would give me a ride to Las Vegas. He was traveling by himself and was on a tour of the U.S. He agreed to take me to Las Vegas.
We stopped for a few hours at Hoover Dam. The government tour through the dam cost 30 cents. We arrived in Las Vegas at about 6 p.m. and had supper in a lunch wagon. The driver got a cabin in a motel. Since I could not afford any such accommodation he drove me to the edge of the desert and let me off at a radio station. He said that if he saw me on the highway the next morning he would pick me up. “But,” he said, “I am leaving at about 3 a.m. so as to miss the heat of the day when crossing the desert.” I got permission from the radio engineer to sleep on the station lawn.
From where I lay I could see the clock on the wall of the station. I woke up about four times between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.. finally I fell asleep and did not wake up until 3:45 a.m. I jumped right up and packed up my sleeping bag. There was a lot of traffic on the highway, most of it going west. I got on the road at 4 a.m. and immediately started hitch-hiking since I thought I was too late to get a ride from the fellow in the Chrysler. The first car to pass was a yellow mercury that was in front of us all day yesterday. The next car pulled up and gave me a ride. It was the fellow in the Chrysler. He, too, had overslept.
We got into San Bernadino at 9 a.m. I went to the YMCA and arranged for a room for the night. Then I looked in the phone book for the address of the Boy Scout Headquarters. Finding the address to be within walking distance I hoofed it in a few minutes. At headquarters, I enquired about scout camps nearby and also about troop meetings that night. I was especially interested in finding out what night Jack Weinreb had his troop meeting as I wanted to tell him of meeting one of his former scouts in Roswell, New Mexico. It turned out that Jack’s meeting was that very evening so I arranged to be at the school where the meeting was held in time for the meeting. About 7:30 p.m. I was at the school and walked in unannounced. I introduced myself and near the close of the meeting, I was asked to tell something about my travels. After the meeting, Jack took me back to the Y.
Realizing that my clothes were in dire need of washing I enquired as to where I could possibly get it done in a day or two. One of the cleaning ladies told me it would be possible to get it done by an old colored lady in a nearby street. I took the laundry to her and then went to scout headquarters to meet the executive. The executive wasn’t there but the assistant executive was there and we soon became engaged in conversation. He told me that he was on his way out to their camp and asked me if I cared to go out there with him. Of course, I didn’t say no.
The name of the camp is Camp Arataba and is located about 45 miles out of San Bernadino in the San Bernadino Mountains. After traveling over the most winding road I ever went on we arrived at the camp just before noon. I was introduced to the Scout Executive and staff and was invited to lunch. After lunch, I was shown around the camp. I then took off by myself to see the camp located further down the road. This other camp’s name was RoKoLi which stands for Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions, sponsors of the camp. RoKoLi is the camp of the Orange Empire Area Boy Scout Council with headquarters in Santa Anna, California.
I was invited to supper at RoKoLi and of course, I enjoyed it. At this camp, I made a few friends, one of whom is Brooks Kuehl, the registrar at the Orange Empire Area Council office. After supper, I went back up to Arataba where they were planning a council fire. At that time I was asked if I wanted to remain overnight. I delayed about saying yes because I didn’t have my pack with me but since it would be very difficult to get down the mountain so late in the afternoon I decided to stay. The council fire was very good. I don’t recall any new stunts used but do remember that it was a very hot fire. That night I was bunked on a cot outside with three sleeping mats or ticks over me. It kept me fairly warm.
his morning after a hearty breakfast I took leave of the camp and started down the mountain. Within a very short time, I got a lift. It was from a farmer and his wife in a truck. The truck had no hood and a large flat body. There were boards around the sides of the body making it about 8 inches deep. This was filled with horse manure on top of which were some old quilts. There were four children ranging in age from one to five lying on the quilts. The farmer told me that during the past two years he had been traveling with his family. He formerly had a house on the truck body. He and his family lived in this house while he went sightseeing, taking them through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and landed up in California where he purchased a farm. He has an arrangement with a riding stable to take the major away which he uses on his land.
It was quite an experience going down the mountain in this truck. It made so much noise it was almost impossible to speak. Every once in a while the road was so steep that he had to put the clutch in second gear. There were many curves on the road where he would brake the wheels and spin around the curves with a thousand-foot drop just beyond the pavement.
I was let out near the foot of the mountain near some grapefruit orchards. It was a novel thing for me to walk alongside the road and see oranges and grapefruit on the trees. I finally got a ride to San Bernadina where I picked up my wash, packed my equipment, and got on the highway. It took me only two rides to get to Los Angeles. By calling up the scout headquarters I found that there was a troop meeting I could visit. After the meeting, I went to the YMCA. There I used a pay typewriter to send a letter to Fritz [? I don’t remember who this is or how come I got the letter back but here ‘tis.]
YMCA, Downtown Branch, Los Angeles 14, California, July 11, 1947.
Dear Fritz: I bet that it is hotter than hell back there in Jersey. Well, you have nothing on me. When I was in Tucson it was 110 degrees F. When I went to Boulder Dam it was 120 degrees. I’ve been having a swell time. So far I have visited Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, La Juta, Trinidad, Taos, Santa Fe, Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, Prescot, Montezuma’s Castle, the Grand Canyon, Boulder Dam, Las Vegas, San Bernadino and now here. [Sorry for the interruption but time ran out on the pay typewriter. I was finishing up some else’s time. Since my money is already locked up for the night I’ll finish by pen.] I’ve had an article about me and my trip in the La Junta paper and also in the San Bernadino paper. I’ve been the guest at a lot of scout camps and troop meetings and have been asked many times to tell the boys about my trip. Rides are coming pretty good. I never had to wait for more than four hours for a tide. I’ll say some more later, Till then, Auf Weidersehn, Azzever, Geo Drake.
Leaving the YMCA I went to scout headquarters to ask about camps. I was given directions on how to get to Camp Josepho. Taking my pack I started on a series of bus rides that took me across LA, Hollywood, up Sunset Blvd, and finally, to the road I was to follow to Camp Josepho. It was a three-mile walk in terrific heat to get to the camp. Once there I tried to locate the camp director and make my presence known. It proved a very difficult job to find anybody but at last, I did and made arrangements to stay overnight.
At the camp, I found the boys from Region VII that were going to the Jamboree in France were camping there. I made friends with some of them and was invited to spend the night with them. This I did with much pleasure. The boys were from Nevada, Utah, and California. The leader of the group I was staying with was Paul Click.
Arising early I helped get wood chopped for cooking breakfast. Following breakfast, I went with a bunch of boys and Paul Culike in a truck to the church in Santa Monica. After mass, I took my pack and headed for the beach. There I tried hitch-hiking. The trouble was that the highway was a four-line highway with no parking allowed. Therefore no car could stop if he wanted to. I tried walking for a while and finally reached a stoplight where I caught a ride. Then after two more short rides, I got a ride from a fellow in a Pontiac with a trailer in tow. He took me to Salinas. It was dark when we reached Salinas. After being let out of the car I headed west and about 2 miles out of town I rolled out my sleeping bag under some trees near the road.
At about 6:30 I was up and got my first ride in a small car from a fellow that was in a hell of a hurry to get somewhere. After two more short rides, I finally got a ride from a fellow that worked in Yosemite and was heading there. He took me the rest of the way and let me out near the campgrounds in the park. I spent the rest of the day looking around the park and visiting the museum. I night I went to the campfire program and saw the fire fall. This fire fall is something spectacular. About 7:30 p.m. a large fire is built of bark on the top of Glacier Point. Then at 9:30, all that is left is red embers, it is pushed off slowly forming a waterfall of fire. I rolled out my sleeping bag under a large tree on the bank of the Merced River for the night.
As usual, I got up early and went to the cafeteria for breakfast. There was a pup tent near me that I didn’t notice the night before. There were three fellows in it, sound asleep. I packed my pack and left it at Camp Curry. After breakfast, I hiked up the ridge trail. It was only a mile and a half long but it took me two hours to make it. The rest of the day was spent on the top where I made friends with one of the rangers, Marty ______. I also struck up an acquaintance with two boys who were hiking around the place. We arranged to go up Half Dome together the next day. Also at Glacier Point, I met a young fellow and his wife who I had met at the Grand Canyon. I went down to the valley with Marty and saw the fire fall for the second time this evening. I became acquainted with the three fellows in the pup tent. They had driven up from Los Angeles to spend a few days in the park.
Today I arose at 6:00 a.m. and had breakfast in the cafeteria. Picking up the lunch I had ordered the night before I went outside to meet my hiking companions. We then started on our way. The trail to Half Dome goes past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. The path, as it goes by Vernal Falls is so close that the spray gets you wet. The spray also makes the rocky trail slippery and we, therefore, had to proceed with caution. From the top of Nevada Falls, we could look straight down on the falls, watching the frothing water tearing at breakneck speed to the bottom.
For about an hour and a half, we were on a level piece of land with towering Jeffrey Pines all around us. Then we started up again. An hour after hour we climbed. Our canteens were filled at the last waterhole and soon we were at the bottom of the first hump of Half Dome. Here we had lunch, each of us sucking on a piece of lemon that Bob had brought with him. This helped quench our thirst. As we were getting ready to go up the last hump of Half Dome two sailors came puffing up the hill so we waited for them and we all went up together, that is, at least we all started up together. The rock here was on an angle of 45 to 60 degrees and to get up to the top you have to climb up between two steel cables which are supported by steel posts every ten feet. A board is placed between these posts so as to enable you to rest.
One of the sailors and Bob could not make it to the top. They were affected by the altitude and had to go down. While we were at the top Bob again tried to go up but again couldn’t make it. Meanwhile, the rest of us pulled ourselves over the remaining upthrusts of rock, and at least we were at the top. The top of Half Dome is about as large as a baseball field. Half Dome was originally a whole dome but was severed in half by a glacier. At the top, there is a piece of rock jutting out from the rest of the dome. I crawled on my stomach out upon this and looked down. The floor of the valley was one mile below me.
July 17 Washed clothes
July 18 HH to San Francisco
July 19 HH to Eureka, CA
July 20 HH to Grants Pass, Or.
July 21 HH to Seatle, WA
July 22 Spent a day in Seattle
July 23 HH to Yakima
July 24 With Steve and Peg Palwick
July 25 w/Steve and Peg
July 26 w/Steve and Peg. Went to a lumber mill
July 27 went to the Elks picnic
July 28 Yakima
July 29 Yakima
July 30 Yakima
July 31 Yakima
August 1 Yakima
August 2 Went to Grand Coulee Dam
August 3 HH to Missoula, Montana
August 4 Melita Island Link:
August 12th Melita Island Link:
August 13 HH to St. Marys
August 14 The following is a note sent to my mother in Manasquan written on pages in a tiny lined notebook.
This is written on this paper because it is all that I have. At the present time I am situated about 44 miles to the east of Glacier National Park in Montana. I am sitting on my pack which is on the road on the top of a hill in central Montana. I got a ride in a logging truck this far but the driver decided to turn back, leaving me out here in the middle of nowhere. A car swishes by every ten minutes or so which causes a breeze. I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes and hope to get a ride soon. … A car from New York with only one person in it just breezed by. I got a ride this morning from an old man in an older car. He then picked up another hitch hiker soon after picking me up. This other fellow was an Irishman, about 50 years old. The driver said there wasn’t anything in this world as lovely as Irish music. “ God inspired those who wrote it”, he said, It has a deep feeling, etc, etc. The Irishman responded, “Yeah, it sounds good, too.” The driver said he was sorry that he wasn’t an Irishman. “But don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I could have been if I wanted to.” Huh? Say that again! You meet some strange people on the road.
The canoe trip [at Melita Island Scout Camp] fizzled out. We only paddled 80 miles because the current was too swift. I I left the camp before getting your letter which I hope you sent. Jud Compton, the camp director, is going to send it to me in Sioux City. Well, I finally got to Choteau. George, August 14, 1947.
How are you all? I’m fine. Enclosed is some scribbling I did yesterday. Today I left Chouteau and went to Great Falls. In Great Falls I went out to the Anaconda copper smelter. I was just one minute too late. The morning tour was at 10:00 and I got there in time to see them pull away. I then went to Helena. From Helena to Townsend I rode with a professional gambler. He told me that he had just gotten out of jail that morning. He had a 1946 Buick and acted very nice. [I checked and find that I still have all my money.] this evening I finally ended up in Livingston, Montana. Tomorrow I go into Yellowstone National Park..
August 16 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
August 17 Sheridan, Wyoming
August 18 Gilette, Wyoming
August 19 Wall, South Dakota
August 20 Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Whew!! It IS hot. Hotter than southern Arizona. I don’t think I would like to live in South Dakota if I could help it. I got a ride today from Rapid City that is taking me through to Chicago in a car. I will take the liberty to call you collect when I get there. I will call on Friday evening and if not then on Saturday evening. I will be home in two or three weeks.
August 21 Dubuque, Iowa
August 22 Chicago, Illinois
August 23 Met Bill Verhoeve
August 24 HH to Plan
August 25 Toledo, Ohio
August 26 Buffalo, New York
August 27 Buffalo, NY
August 28 Met Conrad Meinecke
August 29 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
August 30 Toronto
August 31 Went through steel mill
September 1 Niagra Falls, New York
September 2 Towanda, Pennsylvania
September 3 Arrived home
Climbing Mt. McDonald August 4th 1947
By George F. Drake
“Whew!” gasped Kenneth. “That was a tough climb. Let’s rest awhile.”
“Agreed”, said Cy as he dropped to the ground.
We had just passed the last stand of timber and were now on the rocky slopes of the mountain. Above us loomed Sheep’s Head and beyond it lay McDonald Peak, both to be climbed that day.
Our party was made up of eight fellows. The leader was Cy Varnum, hike master of Melita Island Senior Scout Camp. Cy had lived in the western mountains all his life and had climbed in these hills many times. Another Melita Island Senior Scout Camp staff member, Earl Freels, Explorer Scout of Spokane, Washington, was with us. Leonard Derby, Kenneth Egan, Jr, Dick Waltermire, Clifford Wordle and Donald McGowan, all Explorer Scouts from Post 8, Missoula, Montana, and I made up the rest of the party.
We had started hiking at six that morning at the foot of the Mission Range. At first, climbing had been easy but as the trail had grown steeper the switchbacks had started. Every once in a while there had been openings among the trees on either side of us. On one side we could see the sections of land in the Flathead Valley laid out in geometric patterns which, from where we stood, resembled a gigantic checkerboard. On the further side, we had caught glimpses of the Ashley Lakes with their emerald green water reflecting the mountains around them. Near the timberline, we had seen wildflowers blooming in profusion. The forest floor was virtually covered with masses of red, yellow, white, and blue flowers with the early morning dampness still on them, glistening in the sunlight.
After our rest, we started climbing again. In front of us were snow-capped peaks, glaciers and rocky cliffs. McDonald Peak, the highest in the Mission Range of the Rocky Mountains rose above us 10,000 ft. into the heavens.
“Our party is probably the first to ascend McDonald since two scouts climbed up there in 1939, eight years ago .” Said, Cy. “A party of Jesuit priests from a mission in the valley was the first to the top. They erected a large cross on the summit.”
By noon we had reached the top of Sheep’s Head, 9,000 ft. above sea level. “Where does Sheep’s Head get its name? I asked Cy. “From the valley in the wintertime, its snow-capped peak looks like an enormous sheep’s head.” He responded. “People often climb it but they stop here. The glaciers and sheer cliffs between Sheep’s Head and McDonald Peak make the climb too dangerous for most people. You need plenty of equipment = ice axes, crampons, pitons, rope, etc” he continued.
By noon we crossed a small glacier on the southerly side of the mountain and with our canteens filled we spread out and worked our way up a broad sloping incline. There was so much loose rock that it was safer not to climb too closely behind one another. Our immediate objective was a saddle in the ridge between Sheep’s Head and McDonald Peak. When we pulled ourselves over the last pile of rocks we gasped in awe. In front of us was McDonald Glacier. Before we could only catch glimpses of portions of it but now we could see the full expanse of treacherous ice. More than a mile below us was the bottom of the glacier. I shudder to think what would have happened if one of us had been unfortunate enough to go careening down the slippery surface.
After a slight pause, we turned to ascend the final reaches of McDonald Peak. The outlook was poor. We could go neither right nor straight ahead. We chose the more perilous but shorter way, along the crest of the glacier itself. Each of us put a loop of the rope around our waist and ventured out on a crest of ice sixteen inches across. To our right was a crevice at least twenty feet deep and three feet wide. Beyond rose a cliff of sheer rock. To our left was the terrifying slope of the glacier.
“Just how steep is this glacier, Cy?” Donald asked, shuddering.
“Only about 43 degrees.”
“Is that all?” Donald gulped and stepped gingerly forward. We proceeded, one behind the other, with Cy in the lead for half an hour. Suddenly I saw Kenneth Egan slip. His feet slid out from under him and down the glacier, he went. Instinctively everyone braced himself for the jolt. We dug in praying that the rope would hold. As soon as Kenny stopped sliding we pulled him back to his place in line on the ridge of ice. When everyone gained confidence once more we went on. “I have been on many hikes and camping trips in my eight years of scouting but this has them all beat” Earl exclaimed. Finally, by the popular vote, we decided to get off the ice and climb on the rock where we thought the going would be easier. Cy spied a ledge above us in the rock. He untied himself and with the ax went on ahead intending on reaching the ledge by ascending an icy slope. With a cry, Herb Waltermire called him back. Taking the ax he smacked the ice where Cy had just been. It cracked and fell to the bottom of the crevice.
Cy, wiping his brow, started for the ledge again, this time making a wider circuit of the crevice. After a successful leap, he tied the tope on the ax which he wedged securely into a crack in the rock. Then he let down the rope to us to climb to join him. Have you ever climbed up a rope suspended over a rock ledge? Your muscles tighten and you swallow hard. There is no real choice but to hang on. You are too frightened to think of the consequences of letting go. So it was as we went, one by one, up that rope dangling over the icy crevice below.
With everyone safely on the rock, we continued the short, steep climb that lay ahead of us and accomplished it with some strain and puffing. Only a narrow ridge remained between us and the last upward thrust of the peak. At that point two of the fellows dropped to the ground exhausted. They decided to wait where they were for us to come back. The others dashed on ahead. Cy and I followed about 100 yards behind. When we were halfway across the remaining narrow ridge we all froze in our tracks. Directly in front of us at the far end of the ridge, two young grizzly bears popped up, seemingly from nowhere. The bears, too, stopped movement at the sight of us. Not until they had turned and scampered away did we dare to move. Further up near the peak we found some shallow spots in the rock that showed evidence of the bears having slept there.
At last, we reached the top of McDonald Peak. We seemed to be standing on a cloud with the world at our feet. To the south, we could see row upon row of mountain ranges and snow-covered mountain peaks. We saw the Glacier Peaks with snow and ice on their slopes. High up in the mountains was the Lake of the Clouds. Nearby was Mountaineer Glacier, largest in the Northwest. To the north rose Mt. Harding. Flathead Lake was visible in the distance. To the west were the farmlands of Flathead Valley and near our feet, the Ashley Lakes. On the other side of the ridge leading up to Mt. McDonald was McDonald Lake.
Cy took a mirror out of his pack and started signaling toward Ronan, about fifteen miles away. Cy had told his father to look out for signals. Presently tiny flashes of light came back, telling us that someone knew we had reached the top. I wrote all of our names on a leaf of my notebook, wrapped it in a bit of foil and placed it in a can that we buried in the cairn on the summit of the mountain. Then we headed back down the mountain.
Instead of trying to cross the ice again, we went down the south side of the peak. Even though the slope was frightfully steep we descended with some speed on the loose rock. Soon we were again at the timberline.
It was evening when we reached the first of the Ashley Lakes where we picked up a trail. Shortly, though, the trail ended on a rock ledge. All efforts failed to regain it failing we struck out on the same level for the ridge where Cy knew there was a path. To cut across a mountainside in the dark, making your own trail is no easy task as we soon found out. In many places, the hillside was so steep that we started sliding. In the darkness, we grabbed the most convenient tree, shrub or bush which often turned out to be a briar bush or wild rose. What carried us forward I will never know. It seemed as though we had lost all our senses. We couldn’t see, had no energy to talk nor could we think. We just threw one foot in front of the other and gravity did the rest.
Suddenly, with a cry of victory, Darby fell exhausted on the ridge trail, solid beneath our feet and easy to follow even in the dark. At 11:05 p.m. we reached our base camp after seventeen hours of rugged hiking and thrilling adventure.
I wrote this in September 1947 and filed it away only to be found 61 years later as I poked through an old box of “keepsakes.” It has never been published. I have made no changes to the original document. I know that I have a series of beautiful photographs of this expedition and will take time this next week to try to locate them and attach them to the story.