Project Description

JMT Standing Stone Marker

OBJECTIVE: The Foundation would like to erect a Standing Stone Marker at the John Muir Trail’s Historic Starting Point in Yosemite Valley

JMT Standing Stone Marker

OBJECTIVE: The Foundation would like to erect a Standing Stone Marker at the John Muir Trail’s Historic Starting Point in Yosemite Valley

 

The JMT Foundation proposes to mark the early-20th century starting point of the JMT in Yosemite Valley at the former LeConte Memorial Lodge, now the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center. For the first half of the 20th century, the Sierra Club began its annual summer “High Trips” from the entry courtyard of this historic lodge, now a National Historic Landmark.

Most national scenic trails have a marker erected at the starting and ending points of the trail. Photographs of high country backpackers, Yosemite Valley day hikers or park visitors are a fitting way to record these important moments. Along with a bronze plaque that would provide a narrative of the JMT’s history, such a trail origin marker would signify the promise of adventures that lie ahead. We at the JMT Foundation believe that the John Muir Trail deserves such a permanent kind of origin – and terminus – recognition.

Over the century-long history of the JMT, people have chosen to start out on the trail from many different places. In order to determine the most appropriate single starting point in today’s Yosemite Valley, our JMT trails teams consulted a number of historic sources, including early editions of the Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail (Starr Jr. Guide 1943), various maps made during exploration and trail construction, and many articles and journals that were published over the early decades of the trail’s use. In the end, the foundation chose to honor the spirit of the earliest JMT expeditions by highlighting the tradition of the Sierra Club “High Trips”. It was at the LeConte Memorial Memorial Lodge (recently renamed the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center) where these early hikers gathered, typically supported by mule and horse teams, before setting out to hike the JMT trail along the Merced River, past Vernal and Nevada Falls, onward towards Tuolumne Meadows and into the JMT Backcountry.

The “YCHC” lodge structure was constructed originally at the base of Glacier Point in Curry Village and was dedicated on July 3, 1904. Its design reflected its impressive surroundings, with the steep granite valley walls and the muted natural palette of Yosemite’s Lodgepole Pine trees. The architecture is categorized as Tudor Revival in style, featuring a steep-pitched gable roof, local Yosemite granite laid in a rough-course ashlar pattern, exposed interior hammer beams and scissor trusses. In 1919, it was moved westward to its current location across from Housekeeping Camp, where a young Ansel Adams served as its first summer custodian. In 1987 the structure was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior, signifying its importance in the nation’s history in the national parks and conservation movements.

So it seems most fitting to mark this spot as the John Muir Trail’s authentic starting point. For this standing stone we chose a natural-cleft Sierra White granite, a favorite indigenous stone of early Sierra Club members and JMT explorers. Several of the early club leaders, including the LeConte family, used such stones as their burial headstones, an abiding symbol of their lifelong passion for Yosemite and the entire Sierra Nevada range.

Please help us to quarry, carve and install this John Muir Trail Origin “Standing Stone” at the YCHC!

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The JMT Foundation proposes to mark the early-20th century starting point of the JMT in Yosemite Valley at the former LeConte Memorial Lodge, now the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center. For the first half of the 20th century, the Sierra Club began its annual summer “High Trips” from the entry courtyard of this historic lodge, now a National Historic Landmark.

Most national scenic trails have a marker erected at the starting and ending points of the trail. Photographs of high country backpackers, Yosemite Valley day hikers or park visitors are a fitting way to record these important moments. Along with a bronze plaque that would provide a narrative of the JMT’s history, such a trail origin marker would signify the promise of adventures that lie ahead. We at the JMT Foundation believe that the John Muir Trail deserves such a permanent kind of origin – and terminus – recognition.

Over the century-long history of the JMT, people have chosen to start out on the trail from many different places. In order to determine the most appropriate single starting point in today’s Yosemite Valley, our JMT trails teams consulted a number of historic sources, including early editions of the Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail (Starr Jr. Guide 1943), various maps made during exploration and trail construction, and many articles and journals that were published over the early decades of the trail’s use. In the end, the foundation chose to honor the spirit of the earliest JMT expeditions by highlighting the tradition of the Sierra Club “High Trips”. It was at the LeConte Memorial Memorial Lodge (recently renamed the Yosemite Conservation Heritage Center) where these early hikers gathered, typically supported by mule and horse teams, before setting out to hike the JMT trail along the Merced River, past Vernal and Nevada Falls, onward towards Tuolumne Meadows and into the JMT Backcountry.

The “YCHC” lodge structure was constructed originally at the base of Glacier Point in Curry Village and was dedicated on July 3, 1904. Its design reflected its impressive surroundings, with the steep granite valley walls and the muted natural palette of Yosemite’s Lodgepole Pine trees. The architecture is categorized as Tudor Revival in style, featuring a steep-pitched gable roof, local Yosemite granite laid in a rough-course ashlar pattern, exposed interior hammer beams and scissor trusses. In 1919, it was moved westward to its current location across from Housekeeping Camp, where a young Ansel Adams served as its first summer custodian. In 1987 the structure was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior, signifying its importance in the nation’s history in the national parks and conservation movements.

So it seems most fitting to mark this spot as the John Muir Trail’s authentic starting point. For this standing stone we chose a natural-cleft Sierra White granite, a favorite indigenous stone of early Sierra Club members and JMT explorers. Several of the early club leaders, including the LeConte family, used such stones as their burial headstones, an abiding symbol of their lifelong passion for Yosemite and the entire Sierra Nevada range.

Please help us to quarry, carve and install this John Muir Trail Origin “Standing Stone” at the YCHC!

VIEW ALL PROJECTS