Ray DeLea

   



What is this site all about?

1. The telling in words and pictures of one of the Eastern Sierra's most incredible mule packing outfits - Mt. Whitney Pack Trains which operated out of Lone Pine, CA from the 1940s through the early 1970s.

2. The history of Owens Valley towns, pioneering families, and individual people who made Owens Valley what it is today.

3. Stories of mining camps and surrounding areas affecting mining in the mountains surrounding Owens Valley.

4. Stories and photos about the Sierra Nevada Mountains (The Range of Light that is like none other), the personalities who enjoyed them in the past and who are part of the lore we relish to hear about today.

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Mt. Whitney and the Eastern Sierra crest as seen from Thunder Mountain.
(Photograph by Mike Porter - 1977)

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Entries since 08 June 2013- The Sierra Lady Pack Station (Sam Lewis Pack Station)
Entries since 16 June 2013- Ed Brown: Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Packer and Cowboy Poet
Entries since 02 September 2013- "Five Weeks in the High Sierras" by Ted Bates
Entries since 02 September 2013- At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 18 November 2013 - Tuttle Creek Ashram
Entries since 27 November 2013 - Duane Rossi Cowboy Poet
Entries since 15 February 2014 - Little Lake
Entries since 18 February 2014 - Irene Kritz - Cook, Packer, Cowgirl, & Author
Entries since o4 July 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 04 July 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 16 July 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 15 November 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 04 December 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine
Entries since 15 December 2014 - At the Movies - Movie Production in Lone Pine

 

 

Entries since 19 May 2013 - Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Old Carroll Creek Trail
Entries since 23 June 2013 - Los Angeles Aqueduct Workers circa 1920: Walt Disney
Entries since 23 June 2013 - Campers in Death Valley
Entries since 18 July 2013 - Early Mt. Whitney Pack Trains
Entries since 20 July 2013 - Campfire Smoke and Trail Dust (See below on this page)
Entries since 20 July 2013 - Early Lone Pine
Entries since 27 September 2013 - Golden Trout Season (story)
Entries since 05 October 2013 - Sam Lewis Journal
Entries since 30 November 2013 - Owens Valley Aqueduct
Entries since 08 February 2014 - Saline Valley Salt Company
Entries since 08 February 2014 - Woody Raper Cafe - Olancha
Entries since 08 April 2014 - 20 Mule Team Photos by Merilee Mitchell
Entries since 10 May 2014 - 100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct
Entries since 12 June 2014 - 2009 Mt. Whitney Packers Reunion Photo
Entries since 12 June 2014 - "My Owens Valley" photos revamped.
Entries since 04 July 2014 - "Monache Tour 1925" by Rena Beth Moore

Entries since 04 July 2014 - "Monache Tour 1925" by Rena Beth Moore
Entries since 04 July 2014 - "Monache Tour 1925" by Rena Beth Moore
Entries since 16 July 2014 - Lone Pine Saloon
Entries since 04 September 2014 - One Packer's High Sierra Experience ... Page 1 REFORMATTED
Entries since 11 October 2014 - One Packer's High Sierra Experience ... Page 2 REFORMATTED

 

Site navigation: You may navigate through this web site by returning to home and clicking on one of the buttons below or by using the arrows at the bottom of each page. The arrows will point you to the next three or prevous three pages of site information. New additions to the site are always featured above.



ATTENTION!
Mt. Whitney Pack Trains, Vintage Photo Request


CLICK HERE

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Attention ... you must see this!

Flight over Owens Valley and the High Sierra
Flight over Mammoth Lakes Area

Flight over the California Basin and Range Province
Other flights
by Dr. William A. Bowen

Attention all of you High Sierra packers!

Sun Dog Days is book you DO NOT want to miss reading. Slim Randles has masterfully captured the life of two Owens Valley packers, Buck and Smokey, and their adventure, not only in the Coso Mountains but their adventure in life. It is a heartwarming story which will challenge your emotions as you reflect on those days when you were once a packer yourself.
Slim has informed me that he is working on the screenplay to his book and it will soon be made into a motion picture. When it is, I hope that all of you former and current packers will do the High Sierra packing business the honor of seeing the movie.

Sun Dog Days is available at www.amazon.com

 Attention Cowboys and Packers!

Slim Randles has authored another wonderful book that I'm certain all of you cowboys and packers will not only enjoy reading yourself, but enjoy reading to your children. In a time when people seem to have sacrifice their morals on the altar of political correctness, Slim has authored a book which will help parents instill a true moral compass in their children, and perhaps, in the process, reset their own. Wow! What a book Slim!

A Cowboy's Guide to Growing Up Right is available at www.amazon.com
the longest trail

Attention Sierra Lady packers!

You will love this heartwarming story about a teenage girl and her adventures packing with John Slaughter at the Sierra Lady Pack Station located at the mouth of Haiwee Canyon were the Sam Lewis Pack Station operated for over 50 years. Her encounters with rattlesnakes, bears, mountain lions and wreckless hunters will keep you enthralled. The winter she spent at the pack station with no one for company other than the pack station stock would put most teenagers to shame today who are content to be preoccupied with senseless electronic social media. The challenges she was forced to overcome as a teenager in that situation were both harrowing and maturing. Well done Roni!

As I read Roni's story, I couldn't help but get excited at the spiritual experiences the Spirit of God opened up to her. We should all be so blessed. Now you can be, by heading up "The Longest Trail" with Roni.

The Longest Trail is available at www.amazon.com
rhyme doesn't pay
I [Ray DeLea] first met Ed in the summer of 1965 while working for Mt. Whitney Pack Trains. I was as green as they come city slicker who hadn't the faintest bit of knowledge about mules or horses. I don't recall even seeing either up to this point in time. Ed, on the other hand, was your typical "aggie" guy who seem to know quite a bit. Even if he knew nothing, he just appeared to know more than me. With his red hair, he was immediately nicknamed "Red." Being only 5' 7" I was soon to be name "the pigmy packer." Ed was quite the smoker. It seemed that he always had a cigarette between his lips. With his cowboy hat and boots, he seemed quite the cowhand. I'll never forget our first summer at the pack station. Ed, my brother Tom, and I spent an entire week camped out in relentless rain at Outpost Camp on the Mt. Whitney Trail. Outpost Camp was located 5.3 miles up the trail in an area dominated by rocks, streams, and willows. Every day the three of us would make the trek another 3 miles up the trail from Outpost Camp to Trail Camp where we would tie up our horses, unpack our mule of shovels and pickaxes and hike another mile up the trail where the 97 switchbacks are. There we would begin shoveling snow off of the Mt. Whitney Trail. At 13,000' this was quite the laughing picture. Every day we were pickaxing and shoveling snow while it was snowing at 13,000'. Without the pickaxe the job would have been more than impossible. The repeated snowing and melting rendered bands of ice in between layers of snow up to a total thickness over 6 feet deep in places. I think you are beginning to get the picture of the pure hell we endured for five days. It was even more difficult for Ed who was gasping for air at 13,000' because of his relationship with smoking. Every day Ed would swear that he would never light up another cigarette; but, as soon as he got into our soaking wet camp at Outpost Camp ... that was the first thing he lit up.

UNFORTUNATELY Ed's book is no longer in print.
campfire smoke
Irene Kritz, another employee of Mt. Whitney Pack Trains during my days with the outfit, has put together a fascinating collection of 30+ years of packing experience as a High Sierra cook with several pack outfits along the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada in Owens Valley. Her experiences with wrecks involving packers and the mules/horses, moving stock in the Alabama Hills, loose herding, backcountry cook experiments, and just plain surviving the wit and wisdom, or lack thereof, of packers is a wonder to behold. After reading Irene's and Roni's books I am inspired to write one of my own.

Irene has cleverly captured the heart of the packstation cook and her colorful relationship with outfit owners, cowboys (and wannabe cowboys) and eastern Sierra Nevada mule packers. You don't want miss reading Irene's book and the unique imagery it brings from the heart of a truly great packstation cook. Hallelujah!

Campfire Smoke and Trail Dust is available at www.amazon.com
monache rodeo
Attention Poets, Cowboys and Packers!

Duane Rossi (poet, cowboy, and packer), of Big Pine, California, has written an inspiring collection of poems accompanied by some amazing textual insight and anecdotes to each of the poems. Though out of print, Duane's book is still available through used book sellers. I particularily like his selection of publisher - "100 Proof Publishing Company." You will love Duane's coboy humor as you read such wonderful poems as Monache Rodeo, Pete, Ol Bob, Andy, Rose Valley Opera, Spooky Meadows, The Saddle, Sierra Sunset and more.

The Monache Rodeo is available at www.abebooks.com

   
   

All photographs are from the archives of the Pigmy Packer unless otherwise noted!
This site is graciously being hosted by the owner's of Shocking.Com - Stop by and pay them a visit and express you thanks for their generosity. Without their generosity, this site would not be possible.

 Mt. Whitney Pack Trains [pdf]
by Charles Morgan
   


 

Owens Valley History readers, it's time to put on your thinking cap, we all need your help. Many vistors have left me with unsolved questions, mysteries, etc. regarding people, places, and events that have occurred in Owens Valley. Please take the time to look at this new page on the website and see if you might have the answer to some of the readers questions. If you have any information at all please e-mail the individual with your comments.




The Internet Wayback Machine

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There was a time when there wasn't performance-enhancing drugs or gene therapy, only athletic ability. There was a time when one of our Native American sons represented the true spirit of America before the world.
olympic rings



   

Owens Valley History Directory

Mt. Whitney Pack Trains
History
Owens Valley History

Bruce Morgan Memories

My Owens Valley - Photos by the Pigmy Packer

Chrysler and Cook Brochure

1903 Sierra Club High Trip

El Camino Sierra

Matlicks

Mt. Whitney Pack Trains - 1930s & 1940s

Aberdeen

George Brown,
Native American,
Pine Creek Pack Station

Night Ride

Mt. Whitney Packers of the 1940s - 1970s

All American

Ghosts of the Past 1

Norman Clyde

1950s Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Brochure

Allie Robinson Pack Trains

Ghosts of the Past 2

Olancha

Mt. Whitney Packer's
1995 Reunion &
MWPT Roster of Packers

Aparejo Packing in the Sierras

Ghosts of the Past 3 - Bruce Morgan & the 20 Mule Team '49ers

Olds Family of Keeler

 One Packer's High Sierra Experience

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At the Movies

Ghosts of the Past 4 -
20 Mule Team History

Owens Valley Aqueduct

Sierra Club "High Trips" - 1946 - 1972

Bessie Brady Steamer

Golden Trout Camp Brochure

Packing Equipment

Packing, 50 Years Ago

Big Pine

 High Sierra Pack Stations

Rex Montis Mine

"To the Top of
Mt. Whitney" by Rena Moore

Bishop Pioneers

High Sierra, Owens Valley & Packing Stories

Saline-to-Owens Valley Tram

The Morgans

Black Jed - B24 Bomber

High sierra Panoramas

Sawdust Magazine

Mary Jefferson Archives

Brochures from Owens Valley

Independence

Sierra Crossing

Burton Frasher

John H. Lubken

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Sam Lewis and Sierra Lady Pack Stations

Casa Diablo & Hot Creek

Keough's Hot Springs

Sierra Place Names

Cerro Gordo

Lone Pine

Sierra Nevada Wildflowers

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Darwin

Manzanar Internment Camp

Vintage MWPT photos of the Mt. Whitney Trail

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Death Valley Sketches

Manzanar (Town)

Willie Chalfant

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Index to USGS Topo Maps
usgs

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In search of Owens Valley Ancestory? The following Inyo County website might be your answer.
Courtesy of Pam in Bishop, CA

  Inyo County Gen Web



Hey all of you desert lovers!
All of the issues of Desert Magazine, starting with 1937, are now online for you viewing pleasure.
Many thanks to Rocko for making this wonderful magazine available to all of us desert rats once again.




   


Many thanks to the Backcountry Horsemen of California for their continuing efforts over the decades to help preserve the Sierra Nevada and keep it open to livestock. They strive to promote conservation and the awareness of the benefit of livestock in the backcountry. In addition I, in particular, am thankful that they strive to keep everyone appraised of those, who through misguided legislation or self interests, would try to ban livestock from the mountain range packers not only opened to the public, but who also made us aware of the importance of preserving that same country. It is indeed ironic that it has been those on two feet with easy road-end access to the Sierra, and not four, who have contaminated nearly every stream and lake in the Sierra with giardia.

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Many heartfelt thanks to all of the packers, Owens Valley pioneers, and friends who have so generously contributed to this site in pictures and words so that others might share in the experiences that God has so graciously granted to them!


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  Is the above back country vista familiar to you; and how about these golden trout? You can almost taste them as they're frying in the pan. Have you ever been to Golden Trout Camp? Wonderful times and great people with many an interesting story to tell. Names like Frank Chrysler, Ted Cook (see their 1940's Mt. Whitney Pack Trains brochure), Ike Livermore, Bruce Morgan (once a driver of the famed Borax 20 mule team and manager to the Tunnel Air Camp), Tommy Jefferson, Charles Morgan, and a host of other packers, private party guests, and Sierra Club cooks, commissary and club members. Let's not forget those Trail Riders, hunters and forest service trail crews which were packed in over those many years. Many have been lead home gently by our Father but many are still with us. Some, like Irene Kritz, are still in the saddle and packing every season. All encompass an exciting group of people which time and the trails will never forget.
 Fish Fry


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rock creek
How many times have we all seen this trail sign? It has either meant hours in the saddle pushing cache or more hours on foot finding out where the packers left everything. Whatever the means of one's getting to the next camp, you could always be assured of a good cold stream bath and warm dinner at the end. Let's not forget those evenings of back country stories, guitar pickin', campfires and practical jokes. The Sierra Club girls were always beautiful and just waiting to make the packers a lunch for the trail and/or steal your heart away. What an exciting time it was for all of us at Mt. Whitney Pack Trains from 1946 through 1972.
 

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Share the experiences you have had: with the Mt. Whitney Packers
as a High Sierra packer
as an Owens Valley pioneer
as the descendent of a pioneer
as someone who just loves Owens Valley, it's people and the memories it has left you with

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If you have pictures of people/places which you would like posted on this site please e-mail me for posting instructions. Please try to include the following information with each picture or story (if you can recall):

  • The date the picture was taken (month/year)
  • The place the picture was taken
  • The names of any people in the picture
  • The type of trip you were on (Sierra Club, Trail Riders, private party, hunting, trail crew etc.)
  • The trip leader and cook's name

In addition to pictures, if you have a particular trail story, humorous or serious, which you would like to share with everyone please e-mail it directly to me. If you e-mail the file, please send the file in either Microsoft Word, if possible, or as a pure text file.

Remember - there are a host of folks out there waiting to blessed by your High Sierra or Owens Valley story. Don't disapoint them, or yourself, by failing to share your experience.

Thank you, from everyone, for obeying that still small voice within you and sharing your heart and experiences with everyone.




Owens Lake in 1911 before it was drained dry by Los Angeles
owens lake

   


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Golden Trout Camp in the High Sierra

 Chrysler and Cook's Mt. Whitney Pack Trains

 Panoramas of the High Sierra

   


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 Pigmy Packer & Guests
The Pigmy Packer (1970), with his horse - Quarter Boy, and two guest from New York on New Army Pass. Mules were Nigger, Bart, and Dan.


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View Old Guest Book Entries
Feb 2012 - Oct 1999

Ray
The Pigmy Packer (1997)

Sunhorn
The Pigmy Packer


The Pigmy Packer (2001)


This page was last updated on 15 December 2014
   

 

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