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Publications made by Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Packers
and other Sierra Nevada Packers

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high sierra adventures

From a Mt. Whitney Pack Trains packer of the 1960s!

High Sierra Adventures follows the adventures of a teenager who worked for Mt. Whitney Pack Trains, out of Lone Pine, CA, for six summers between the years of 1965 - 1970. It details his journey from being a "city slicker" knowing nothing about livestock and packing to becoming a seasoned packer / guide for one of the most prestigious pack stations operating on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Using a combination of photographs and life events he takes the reader progressively through six summers of "learning the ropes" of being a packer as he packed in such groups as the Sierra Club, the Trail Riders of the Wilderness and private parties. This book is full of events that will make you laugh and cry as he describes the pack trips, wrecks, wrangles, livestock and personnel that made each summer a greater adventure than the preceding one.

High Sierra Adventures is available at
california adventures
California Adventures are the real hiking adventures of Ray DeLea and his nephew Josh Green. Over a period of seven years from 2012 to 2019 this hiking duo ventured into the Southern California deserts of Anza Borrego & Joshua Tree in search of desert adventures. When they had had their fill of the blistering heat of the desert, they turned their attention to the mountains of Los Angeles and Riverside Counties pursuing their hiking dreams. Finally, when they had hiked to the summit of most of the mountain peaks in the Los Angeles area, they ventured northward to the Sierra Nevada Mountains flanking Owens Valley and the Panamint Mountains overlooking Death Valley. It was there, from the cattle-worn trails of the Southern Sierra Nevada near Olancha to the mid-Sierra Nevada country west of Tom’s Place that they found true “hiking delight.”

High Sierra Adventures is available at

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

 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

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
rhyme doesn't pay

The 2016 revised edition is
available at:
Oakdale Cowboy Museum
355 F Street
Oakdale, CA. 95361

I 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 pick axing 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.

In his latest revision of Rhyme Doesn't Pay, Ed has once again gifted us with more of his wonderful cowboy poet spirit. The first time I read Ed's cowboy poems I was thoroughly amazed by his inspirational and gifted writing. I had no idea the young man I packed alongside of at Mt. Whitney Pack Trains would, one day, be so gifted. Since this book is once again in print, you should definitely make this part of your cowboy poetry collection.

Rhyme Doesn't Pay is available at
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
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. I particularly like his selection of publisher - "100 Proof Publishing Company." You will love Duane's cowboy 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 has JUST BEEN REPRINTED
Available for $15 from Duane (call 760.938.2280 or e-mail Duane at

Duane Rossi has come up with another wonderful book - Squawbuck Joe. The story of Squawbuck Joe emerged from the Indian wars of 1863; a story based upon one man's moral decision to stand against the conflict to protect a family that raised him as a boy. He was deemed a coward for a selfless act, and Joe's. This is a story of deep loyalty mixed with betrayal, as told by pioneer settlers about a brave Owens Valley Paiute.

Squawbuck Joe is available at

lona burkhart

Lona Burkhart, as an honest-to-goodness cowgirl, packer, rancher, and author is another one of Owens Valley's finest. Her book, Cow Tracks on the Land, weaves a beautiful, and sometimes teary, collection of stories, poems and sketches of her life as a poet, rancher, and Sierra Nevada packer. Besides having a wonderful collection of her own works, she has also featured other renown western authors such as Jon Bowerman, Ramona Turmon, Bob Schield, Eric Spardo, Leon Flick, Betty Lynne Grue, and Sonny Hancock. This is a wonderful heartwarming book with poems and stories which will bring tears to your eyes.

Cow Tracks on the Land (1990) is available at:

old trails
Lona Tankersley Burkhart and Ramona Turmon have co-authored this marvelous book of western poetry which will inspire you about the marvel that is the west, the friends who will stand by you no matter what, and a life that city dwellers, if possible, could only imagine that they could partake of. This book also features Lona's artistically beautiful western sketches that are so prominent in all of her publications.

Where Old Trails Meet the New (1988) is available through

and through

life in owens valley

Attention Lone Pine, Independence &
Owens Valley Pioneers!

What a fascinating book Rena Beth Moore-Smith has authored. Rena was born into the Frederick Moore family in 1932. Her father, Frederick Moore, was born in 1896 in the small town of Blackrock, just east of what was to become U.S. 395, across from the Mt. Whitey Fish Hatchery.

The Moore families settled in the surrounding towns of Independence, Bishop, Keeler, and Lone Pine, CA. Rena's father grew up in Lone Pine and developed friendships with many families of the 1900's. Families such as the Carrasco's, Cooks, Lasky's, Spainhower's, Chrysler's, and Lacey's. Rena is the last survivor of her immediate Moore family.

In this book, Rena touches on her family and town history. How are father and mother met, their first home (Mary's Austin's house in Independence), her father's packing history with Chrysler & Cook's Mt. Whitney Pack Trains, their adventures at Whitney Portal and their life on a ranch in the Alabama Hills. Rena has put together a fabulous book filled with family and friends portraits and pioneer stories.

Life in Owens Valley is available at
Attention Cowboys and Packers!
This is one book you will want to have in your library of books authored by Sierra Nevada packers. Bill Carteret has authored an awesome book about his 25 years owning and operating both the Mineral King Pack Station and the Wolverton Meadow Pack Station, both eventually located in Sequoia National Park.

Bill has put together an incredible "adventure" in Mountains, Mules and Memories that will have all of you packers reliving those wonderful adventures that you were so privileged to have been part of - no matter your age when you packed in the Sierra Nevada and no matter what pack station you were privileged to be part of.

Bill's book is a work of art that will have you laughing, sighing, and crying as you relive the life of a packer and pack station owner.

Copies of Bill's book can be obtained by calling Bill at

Why do I have to call to get a copy, you might ask? Bill has informed me that he wants to spend time chatting with each person that purchases one of his books. Wow! Such a thoughtful change from the normal procedure of purchasing a book from
switchback trails

 High Sierra Packers and Packing Historians!

Marye Roeser's book

Switchback Trails Across the Sierra
is available for your enjoyment

Marye Roeser has written an unbelievably fabulous book about packing in the Sierra Nevada from the late 1800's right up to the present day. Mixed with historical information about early packing traditions, early Sierra Nevada exploration, government agencies, tourism, the effects of WWI and WWII on the packing industry and the packing industry today, Marye has has taken the time to write and publish a monumental book about a breed of people and their profession that is slowly vanishing because of over-restrictive government intervention in their business. Some of that intervention - especially in the National Park Service will bring you to tears.

Switchback Trails Across the Sierra is available at
ed turner

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


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This page was last updated on 02 November 2023