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Ah, Wilderness…

Among the books at the far end of the Keeping Room you will find—not surprisingly—several copies of Steve Mather of The National Parks by Robert Shankland.

On page 47, Shankland writes “…in the summer of 1912 he ran the first of his own big mountain trips, taking his wife and daughter and nine friends into the Kern River Canyon country and Sequoia Park. One of the rewards of the experience was a fortuitous meeting with John Muir…”

In the far recesses of the attic, in a trunk containing everything from an invitation to Stephen Mather and Jane Thacker Floy’s wedding to Stephen’s “Special Passport” for a trip to Central America, is a simple album filled with 150 photographs from that Kern River Canyon expedition.

On the first page, Stephen catalogs the itinerary, trails cut, miles covered (199), elevations (from 300’ to 10,700’) and the daily 6am temperature (from 34° to 64°).

There are several photographs of the young Bertha (Betty) Mather. Many photographs capture life at various campsites. There are proud fishermen with their catch (including an 8-3/4 pound trout)…”roughing it” with well-set tables…and Stephen taking a well-earned rest.

But most are devoted to the unspoiled beauty of the Kern River Canyon area. These photographs reflect both the affinity and the responsibility Stephen Mather felt for the wilderness even in the years before embarking upon his efforts to create the National Park Service.

Photo 2: Luncheon First Day

Photo 3: Bertha (Betty) left and Eloise

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