Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Packer and Author
Ed Turner, Mt. Whitney Pack Trains packer and author has put together a wonderful, and perhaps tear-jerking, collection of his poems in this publication that you won't want to miss.
These poems are about living, growing, and dying. Whoever knew that we would live this long?
Over sixty years of living, these poems are a snippet of many experiences with family, friends, horses, and mules.
I urge you to read all the poems and perhaps you have also experienced similar events in your life. Enjoy.
Poems to Live and Die For
by Ed Turner
Below are a few samplings from Ed's book to whet your appetite.
A Tribute to Bruce Morgan
Those days were the best days of our lives; we didn't know they would end.
We worked long hours for very little pay every person we met became a friend.
In the dark of the morning we would wrangle the stock,
then tie them to a picket line.
After coffee and a smoke, sometimes breakfast and a joke,
I would curry, brush, and saddle those mules of mine.
Bruce Morgan was the boss man who directed what we did:
he organized the trips we'd always take.
Crabtree or Monache, top of Whitney or much more,
my favorite was the trip to Wallace Lake.
The special of all pack trips—the Sierra Club High trip each year.
The memories we made and those we chrerish now
were hard work, long rides, and good cheer.
I miss the days of the 20 Mule Team, Sage Flat where we'd hunt and fish.
The packers, horses, and friends I miss most. Returning to thos days is my wish.
I drove to Lone Pine in a Model "A" Ford, where I met Bruce and Grace.
I asked for a job, he said he'd give it a try, so I worked very hard for this place.
The years have taken their toll of packers; fond memories are all we cah share.
Let this poem be a tribute to them and a promise forever we'll care.
Yes, we'll care for our loved ones, our horses and mules,
the wildlife, the mountains and trails.
And we'll always remember the great times we had
At Mt. Whitney Pack Trains and those tales.
Let Me Ride One More Time With You
Just one more time is all I ask, to take a trip with you.
Over Whitney Pass or Army Pass, Kaweah Gap will do.
Let me dally up the lead mule, let me pack a string of five.
Let me hear "Strawberry Roan" again, to know I am alive.
Let me feel the cold of morning with the ice upon the ground.
Waking in some frosty meadow, "Get up and wrangle" is the sound.
The boss is yelling for me to get up, and it's only 5 a.m.
With nosebag, bridle, and flashlight I track the herd again.
Now Tommy will tell you, "Bring the tracks back so we can have a track meet."
"To keep you eyes peeled or cut tracks," to hear it again would be neat.
Let me watch the dust cloud at the picket line where Pepper was being broke.
The blindfold and one leg up; that mule was wild and that's no joke.
Let me shovel snow from Whitney Pass to open up the trail.
Charley marked the switchbacks; we'd shovel hard, then rest a spell.
Let me hear the words of Bruce and Grace as we drive to the Portal Store.
Grace gave me instructions on how to cook coffee, eggs, steaks, and more.
I was only seventeen then and Outpost Camp became home.
Over thirty days I was camped up there and most of the time alone.
Let me feel the warmth of the fire from the Sierra Club at night.
Let me hear the stories often told around packers' camfire light.
Let me ride once more over Bishop Pass, Dusey Basin,
and Grouse Meadows, then camp.
Let me read or write or just visit from the light of the Coleman lamp.
Let me sip from the Sierra Club cup a Whiskey Sour or Pizanno Wine.
This time I will sip real slow, to slow down the pace of time.
We didn't know that those might be the best days we might every know.
As for me they were the best days, and it was sad to see them go.
Let me chase the donkeys grazing in the Panamint Range,
and herd them across the desert to Carroll Creek for a change.
Let me catch that wild donkey and saddle him for the very first time.
Let me lead him up the road a mile and bring him back all broke and fine.
Whether it's horses or donkeys or mules that we pack,
Whether it's hikers or dudes, it's time to look back.
To remember the years and the stories gone by,
The good times, the bad times, the laugh and the cry.
As we leave this reunion, we think of the past.
Let's plan for the next one, this won't be the last.
The stories you told are fascinating and true.
I have only one wish, "Let me ride one more time with you."
Ed Turner |
Bruce Morgan |
Eddie Mike |
Packers gathered around the Sierra Club Commissary at the Big Arroyo campground - summer 1954.
(Roberta Morgan is seated off to the right in the middle of the five seated Sierra Clubbers.)
Al Carpenter (L) and Paul Kaufmann serving up breakfast on the Sierra Club High Trip.
Bob Golden cooks soup for the Sierra Club High Trip with that famous Sierra Club Cup at his side.
Photo - "1952 Sierra High Trip" by David R. Brower in the June 1954 issue of the National Geographic Magazine
Sierra Club Reunion 100 Years
If John Muir was with us tonight, what do you think he would say?
would he be pleased with what we have done, in 100 years to the day?
Would John say it's better with trails in abundance from every road end to the top,
or would he say enough is enough, expansion and progress must stop?
was the air cleaner when John walked the earth and the water purer in the stream?
Is the quality of life better now or a nightmare instead of a dream?
Many here at this reunion have walked the same trails as John Muir.
We drank from the streams with a Sierra Club cup, waters so clear and so pure.
We stood on the summit of Whitney, knowing John once was here.
We hiked the trails through the valleys, and we return year after year.
This adds to the greatest adventure, the High Trips of so long ago.
The memories are fond of the places we went,
from green meadows to ice axe and snow.
The High Trips were famous for special events, like Harkin Spaghetti a feast, Or
Ethel-Rose-Taylor Horsefall's Bandana Party, special to say the least.
I remember the night a Dusy Basin, the speaker was David Brower.
He hike in over Bishop Pass and spoke for most of an hour.
When David was through, he shook hands and left, hiking out the way he came in.
I was impressed with the man and his energy and hoped to hear him again.
Remember the leaders, the commissary, big stoves on the Aparaho pack;
Remember Don Levy who played lots of music and was always invited back.
Remember the packers, their horses and mules, now how could you ever forget.
They carried your dunnage, your food and your clothes; we'll always be glad we met.
Remember Tommy with his guitar who often played alone.
Who could ever forget those camfire songs; my favoritewas Strawberry Roan.
Remember the packers—Richard, Charley, and Bruce—and others too many to list.
All the people who helped with the High Trip, all who aren't here will be missed.
Let us be thankful that we had those days, we had that window of time.
To sleep under the stars and walk throught the valleys,
with plenty of mountains to climb.
Thank you, my friends, for the times we shared,
the laughter and sometimes the tears.
Thank you for being at this Reunion, I'll see you in one hundred years.
Tommy Jefferson, guitarist and balladeer
1954 Sierra Club High Trip
Sierra Club High Trip - Summer of 1954
L/R (back): ?, Clyde Poncho, Skip Parker, Bobby Douglas
L/R (front): Tommy Jefferson, Nancy Droubay, Roberta Morgan
It's up to you, Lord, it's really up to you.
We ask and pray to let them stay for just a day or two.
Or maybe if it's possible, you will let them stay for years.
We know you pick the time and place, and when we shed our tears.
So if you decide to take them, as You've done before.
Only You now when they're ready, as you open Heaven's Door.
You will greet our friend, our loved one, and their suffering will end.
And that's the best we all can wish, with the passing of our friend.
So, it's really up to you, Lord, It's really up to you.
When you call our name, there's nothing we can do.
So call us when You're ready, Lord, You know the place and when.
And once again we'll meet our friend, In Jesus' Name, Amen.
L/R: Wendell Gill, Gabe Gill, and "Cowboy Joe (?)" on the 1952 Sierra Club High Trip to the Muro Blanco country between Sawmill Pass and Taboose Pass