Geography 195 Field Trip

3-10 August 1988

by Bill Finch

I needed three more units to jump to the next higher pay grade and the class cost $195. The investment would pay out in a few months so I signed up for the class, Geography 195. At the first meeting, I was assigned to write about the geology of the area we would be hiking through. Our leader was Professor Don Morgan of the Fresno State Geography Department. The seventeen of us ate communally during the eight day trip. For many of us, the pace was leisurely. A few of us were new to backpacking. Some of the newbies were hooked and others were, "Never again."

Day 1 3 August 6 miles

We left Sunset Meadow, aka Rowell Meadow Trailhead at about ten. Lunch was at Rowell Meadow. We arrived at Comanche Meadow about 4:15 and set up camps for the first time. There was little drama in the process and our first dinner went well.

Day 2 4 August 7 miles

The trip from Comanche Meadow to the Sugarloaf was uneventful.

The Sugarloaf, a prominent landmark on the way to Roaring River

We arrived at the Roaring River Ranger Station early that afternoon. I had a chance to fish but had only a few hits.

ranger station
Some of the group at the Roaring River Ranger Station which at that time was manned by Mike Williams aka Old Ranger

We listened to a presentation about the history of the area from Ranger Mike Williams, known on High Sierra Topix as Old Ranger.

Day 3 5 August 8 miles

We got a late start up Deadman Canyon and passed through lovely Ranger Meadow.

Ranger Meadow
Ranger Meadow in Deadman Canyon

We started setting up camp at Upper Ranger Meadow at around 3:30. We would camp here for a couple of nights.

Day Four 6 August 7 miles

The next day, several of us took a hike to Coppermine Pass/Peak. We visited the mine works with its old wooden hand powered winch.

Wooden hand powered winch in the mine on Coppermine Peak

A window within the mine had a beautiful view of Cloud Canyon.

Cloud Canyon
Cloud Canyon from the window in the mine on Coppermine Peak

I posed for a picture atop Coppermine Pass/Peak. The peak is listed on the newest topographic map as Coppernine Pass because an old trail used by the mine goes directly over the peak.

Coppermine Peak
Coppermine Peak with Triple Divide Peak shrouded in clouds

Day Five 7 August

We had a layover day in Upper Ranger Meadow. Professor Morgan showed us one of the sheepherder carvings he had found in the area.

Professor Morgan pointing to sheepherder carving, apparently a man playing a guitar. Other carvings can be R rated.

Day Five 7 August We had a layover day in Upper Ranger Meadow. I headed up to Big Bird Lake and climbed part way up Big Bird Peak.

Day Six 8 August 1 mile We climbed the steep slope between Upper Ranger Meadow and Big Bird Lake.

Big Bird Lake
Big Bird Lake was full of small brook trout

There was time for relaxation and fishing at this beautiful lake which was full of small brook trout.

Day Seven 9 August 6 miles We headed out on a day of cross country travel. We climbed from Big Bird Lake up steep slopes to the Tableland.

Finally on the Tableland where the cross country hiking was easy

Travel across the mostly flat area was not difficult but became more challenging as we descended to our next destination, Crescent Lake. For beginners in the group, this was probably the most difficult day and some of them voiced concern about the rocky cross country descent to the lake.

Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake, our final camp spot of the trip

Day Eight 10 August 8 miles

Our final day began with a short section of cross country travel to Beville Lake where we joined the trail from Silliman Pass. The remainder of the hike was on trail which took us back to Sunset Meadow.

we made it
The crew back at Sunset Meadow Trailhead


15 January 2021