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Books - Eastern Sierra

Book Report - Eastern Sierra

By Bob Jacoby

There is no question that one of the most scenic and popular areas in California is the Eastern Sierra. In fact, I would hazard a guess that this might be the favorite region for Desert Explorers to play in. There is so much to see and so much to learn in the Eastern Sierra that it can be challenging to take it all in. That is why I am most happy to report that two new books on this area have been published in the last six months.

The first book is titled Legends and Lore Along California’s Highway 395 (The History Press). The author is Brian McClune who has written ten other books on various topics with an emphasis on haunted California. He discovered the eastern Sierra as he visited the area to research one of these books. McClune includes 20 different stories or topics about the Eastern Sierra with some special emphasis on weird tales. I have been reading about and visiting this area for many, many years yet I was not aware of many of these stories. A good example is the tale of the Sierra Phantom, John Glover. Glover lived outdoors in the eastern Sierra for over 50 years before he “retired” to Bishop in his 70s. During those 50 years he would appear periodically in various places in the Owens Valley. He was also very active over the years in assisting the search for lost hikers or other missing people. His story is fascinating, and it is an example of they type of story that the author is so good at telling.

Other histories in the book include the story of female pilot Pancho Barnes and the saga of Burro Schmidt for whom Burro Schmidt Tunnel is named for. Each story is well researched and McClune’s writing is entertaining and overall he is has a great style of writing. Even if you have been to the eastern Sierra 50 times, there is something new to learn in this book. I also should mention that the book is chock full of excellent photography.

The second book I would like to talk about is titled Range of Light by Jerry and Janine Sprout (Diamond Valley Company Publishers). The Sprouts define the book as “An adventure travel guide from the High Sierra East to Death Valley.” This is interesting in that their approach to presenting the specifics of 31 different regions is from west to east (Sierras to Death Valley) as opposed to from north to south. Included in the 31 regions discussed is a lot of familiar places such as Devils Postpile, Ash Meadows, and Saline Valley. However, included also are several areas that are rarely described in similar books such as the Piper mountains, Fossil Falls and Lake Sabrina Basin.

The writeup for each of the 31 regions includes maps, hikes, turn - by - turn instructions, as well as extensive camping information and 152 photos. The turn-by-turn instructions include both paved roads and 4x4 trails.

The material is very well organized in this regard and provides extensive information within its 292 pages.

A lot of onsite research went into the publication of this book.

I believe that both above books I have discussed are worth purchasing and would be good additions to anyone’s library.

As part of the preparation for any trip that I take, I like to spend a few hours reading about the area. For any future trip to the Eastern Sierra I can assure you that I will be accessing both of these books the night before. Even though there are other excellent books on the area, the uniqueness of these two books make them mandatory reading. ~ Bob