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sam lewis pack station
sierra lady pack station
Roni McFadden's "Longest Trail"


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haiwee pass

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roni mcfadden
Roni Goss (at 17) on Hellzapoppin
THE LAST RIDE

"I saw the People on both sides of me. The Paiute. They were smiling and cheering me home. I felt so much love from them. Running Bear was standing there so proud. Naked children were running beside us trying to pet Poppin'. So I stopped for a moment to let them. He enjoyed the attention so much; he must have felt he was in heaven. The old women of the tribe smiled at me and nodded. The young girl, who was my first contact with these people, came forward and gave me the rabbit skin we had worked on together. She smiled at me and I knew we would be friends forever.

[Little Bear] reached up and removed the eagle feather froplumem his ebony hair. 'Keep this feather as a token of my affection for you and a sign I will always be with you.' He tied the eagle feather in my hair, kissed my forehead, and turned me back around toward Poppin'.

We [Sheriff Wright and Roni] walked down along the rim of the canyon until we came to the rock. The dogs went scampering off looking for anything that moved. As I approached the stone, I saw a shadow on it. I wasn't sure what it was until I got closer to it. Laying on the rock was a beautiful eagle feather, and I knew it had been placed there for me. I picked it up and turned it over in my hand.

Then I took the one out of my hair and held them next to each other. One was ancient, one was young. Gifts for me from afar. Treasured keepsakes of my time there.

I gathered all of my treasures together on the table; the bone tools found on earlier 'dream' trips; the basket faintly stained with blood, but beautiful just the same; the deerskin, soft and supple; the knife with the sharp black blade attached to a deer antler handle; the dart tips in my pouch both given and found; and, the most treasured things of all, the eagle feathers. It is said that it was on Eagle's wings the Grandfathers flew to the Spirit world. The feathers were sacred.

Yes, this last ride was important. It would set the tone for the remainder of my life. I was forever changed."


sierra lady pack station
Sierra Lady Pack Station circa 1967

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TRAILS END

"I went on several hunting trips that fall [1972]. The strangest thing happened on that trip. When we arrived at the pack station late that night, for some reason, instead of going into the cabin and sleeping, we all slept in the trucks. About three in the morning a loud roaring noise woke us up. All of us sat up in the back of the truck to see the cabin completely engulfed in flames. Just like that, it burned to the ground in minutes.

We were so confused by what happened. We counted heads and couldn't find Jim Slaughter. After several frantic moments, he came out from under the big rig. We were all present and accounted for. None of us had been inside that cabin. Since it hadn't been used in a couple of weeks, what had started that fire? We will never know.

In reality it was the beginning of the end for John and the pack station. The Forest Service had revoked all the leases and was making plans to turn that whole National Forest area back into wilderness. I felt so bad for John. His whole way of life in those mountains was coming to an end. John, the man who turned my life around. The man who meant everything to me.

Unbeknownst to us, the Forest Service was planning on burning down all of the cabins up in the high country. There would no longer be shelter for hikers, campers, or riders to take refuge in if bad weather stranded the. Gone forever would be all of the history engraved on those cabin walls. There were names and dates of hundreds of visitors spanning over seventy-five years. Grand, sturdy log cabins built by Sam Lewis and others in that wild country, gone. They didn't care. I couldn't imagine it.

There was one more trip after that to take in a last group of hunters and pack up all of our belongings. With an immense sense of sadness, I relished every moment of what I was sure was my very last pack trip. If only I had known then that they were going to burn all the cabins down, I would have taken many more pictures, but on that last trip, I didn't even have my camera with me. So I had to make sure the images were imprinted forever in my mind.

I rode to all of my favorite places. I spent time in the high cabin at Deer Mountain thinking about all of my secret times there with Jim and later with my husband.

I rode all of the secret trails where I had heard spirits sing to me. Their voices still sang to me. They were happy for me, wished me well, and whispered that my life now had meaning and not to be sad about leaving this place. It would always be deep inside my heart. This way of life I cherished would fade from my memories, but never completely be extinguished.

I rode back to the cabin that last evening, unsure of what the future held, but knowing it would be wonderful. I had been told it would be by all of my friends in the spirit world. They had all been part of my growth during those seven years.

The Ancients, the Sierra Lady Pack Station, and a man named John Slaughter."pack train

Dutch John Flat
Roni Goss at Dutch John Flat
sierra lady pack station
Sierra Lady Pack Station site circa 2003
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Sierra Lady Pack Station site circa 2003


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Five Weeks in the High Sierras [pdf]
by Ted Bates

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[Photos courtesy Ashley Olive: Ashley's Flickr Photostream]



haiwee trail
Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Canyon
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Canyon Road overlooking Haiwee Reservoir
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Looking towards Haiwee Canyon
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Haiwee Pass Road near the trail head
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Pass Trail
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Haiwee Pass Trail

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Haiwee Pass Trail from the Haiwee Canyon trailhead to Dutch John Flat

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olancha peak and owens lake
Olancha Peak and Owens Lake from the Inyo Mountains Crest

[photographer - unknown]


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More of Sam Lewis' Pack Outfit
photos courtesy of Roni McFadden
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Sam Lewis heading out for Haiwee Pass
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Sam Lewis cabins at Dutch Flats between the South Fork of the Kern River and Deer Mountain
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Sam Lewis on the trail

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Sam Lewis family
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Sam Lewis family at Dutch Flats in 1932
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Sam Lewis on the trail
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Sam Lewis family at Dutch Flats
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Sam Lewis family
L to R: Sam (8), Helen (6), Estella (11), Lucille
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Sam Lewis cabin


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This page was last updated on 05 May 2015