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 belt buckle
Mt. Whitney Packers of the 1940s - 1950s


All photos courtesy of Paul Lamos from the archives of his stepfather,
and former MWPT packer, - Bill Smart.



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mule train

Roster of Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Packers

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Taking some time off from shoeing

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Around the Shoeing Station - Another View
 From left to right: unknown, Archie Deans, Ed Thistlewait, Oli Robinson (?)
The packers life is, without a doubt, one of the best there is. It is too bad that here in the west that that life is confined to the summer. When winter sets in, so does the snow and everyone goes back to some "fall back" job - school for the students and saddlery or something else for the non-students. It seems that no matter what the job at the pack outfit it is always exciting; and, something which you yearn to do. It might be the toughest job that you've ever done in your life - shoeing stock, wrangling, packing up camp, loose herding stock or driving stock trucks - but for some strange romantic reason seldom does a packer not wish to return the following summer.

"Ed Thistlewait died, along with his dog, while packing in the mountains. He loved his whiskey and his pipe. The combination, along with his sleeping bag, was the end for him and his dog, who slept curled up at his feet in the sleeping bag. Wendel eventually opened up Gil's Station at Coso Junction. Oli and Archie both had pack stations operating out of Independence at the same time."
[John Haylas Smith - July 9, 2000]


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"Sierra or Sierras?"[pdf]
From 1947 Sierra Club Bulletin


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Pete Garner riding "Ikey"
Somewhere in the backcountry Porfilio (Pete) Garner sits atop his trusty steed, Ikey, appearing as if he were "Tonto" waiting for "Kimosabe" to show up around the next bend. Mt. Whitney Pack Trains, besides, at one time, being co-owned by Tommy Jefferson (a full blooded Paiute from Owens Valley) was eager to hire anyone who was willing to give it their all. Whether you were a flatlander from the cities of Los Angeles or San Francisco, high school or college student, cowboy or native-American Indian it didn't matter. What a great outfit to work for!

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Porfilio (Pete) Garner - Another View

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Charley Gilmore atop one the Mt. Whitney Pack Trains Mules

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Charlie Gilmore - Another View
Hey, when your horse went lame there was always a mule. And just maybe, Charley preferred a mule to a horse. Going over Trail Crest Pass, en route to either Mt. Whitney or Crabtree Meadows was so precariously dangerous that almost anything was preferable to riding a horse. I can't recall how many times I just plain preferred to walk down the Whitney Portal side of the pass rather than ride a horse. I recall the incident with Kathy Jefferson when her horse slipped on the ice near weeping rock and her and the horse went over the side sliding down several hundred feet to the snow bank at the bottom. Thank goodness neither were hurt, but neither's nerves were ever the same again.

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Sierra Club "High Trip" Packers

Can you believe this group - fifteen packers! Those original Sierra Club "High Trips" were something else. Just these fifteen represented 90 head of stock. Throw in a few extra saddle horses and a couple extra strings of mules and you were already over 100 head of stock. That spelled WORK no matter how you put your chaps and spurs on! But to the packer, it was a freedom afforded him like none other.
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 L to R: Dick Troeger, Mert Stewart, Unknown, Unknown, Charley Gilmore, Ivan Hanson, Tommy Jefferson, Unknown, Ike Livermore, Tom Ott, Unknown, Unknown, Ikie (Pete Garner's famous horse), Pete Garner, Bill Smart

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 "Lightning and the Mountains"[pdf]
by James R. Wilson and Robin Hansen

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Making do in the backcountry when shoeing bronc mules.

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Shoeing - Another View

L to R: Unknown, Tommy Jefferson, Concepcian Zuniga (?)

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Shoeing - Another View
Left to Right: Dick Troeger, Unknown (directly behind Dick),Pete Garner, Unknown, Bruce Morgan, Charlie Gilmore

shoeing

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Shoeing - Another View

Shoeing mules in the High Sierra backcountry took ingenuity, daring and often times sheer guts! It was another one of those jobs that had you swearing a blue streak in addition to twisting the mules nose nearly off with a rope noose. But, can you imagine yourself doing anything else during those long summer and fall months?

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1995 Mt. Whitney Packer's Reunion  

Packing & High Sierra Stories  

 More Mt. Whitney Packers of the 1940s and 1950s

 

Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada 

 

 One Packers High Sierra Experience


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This page was last updated on 17 March 2016