Cynthia Holman’s thesis is a very interesting read. Some experience from my youth to add: While some of the ski huts were generally removed, in the late ’70s there still existed a couple of small A-frame shacks that contained emergency toboggans and first aid. Along the Southfork trail to Slushy and up to Dollar Lake, there used to be Orange triangular markers so that skiers could follow skinning up in heavy snow. I once participated in a yearly ski race on Memorial Day weekend where they set up what would today be described as a Super-G type course that ran down the large open swath just east of Dollar Lake. It was a blast. Sadly, I was just up there this Memorial Day weekend and there was basically no snow.
Fires: Fires used to be allowed in the Wilderness at specially designated “yellow stakes.” These were horrible. When my dad worked as a ranger, one of his most hated jobs was to go to the yellow stake sites to clean–dismantle the huge rings and clean the black crap. In the 70s I cant image camping in these horribly filthy sites. This includes Lodgepole, which is pretty nice now. But back then, it was usually a black sooty mess.
Trail Crews: As mentioned in the thesis, Horse Meadows used to be a ranger station with horses (and mules). These animals were used primarily to pack in trail crews for the season. Let me just say that the trail crew camps were pretty damned nice. One I recall was built way up Lodgepole where you either go up the old trail to Fish Creek Saddle or the old trail to Lodgepole Saddle. It was a like a little town: Big wall tents, tables, barbeques, cots–if a horse or mule could carry it, it was there. The crews would spend the season rebuilding trails rotating from one area of the Wilderness to another each year. Isolated logs were dealt with by the rangers who would take the necessary equipment in with the pack animals.
Water. Maybe we just didn’t know any better then, but the idea of filtering water never occurred to us. We all used to carry a metal “Sierra cup” on our packbelt and just dip it into whatever creek. Now the idea of that is a little strange–especially to dip into Soutfork knowing how many people have done their business up at Dry Lake and Dollar Lake. I think I’ll pass. Additionally, Lodgpole spring used to run much higher up toward Fish Creek Saddle. I haven’t seen it run up that high for some time now. But there is a spring that I ran into a couple of years ago coming of Grinnell that was running in late June.
For all the changes in the Wilderness over the years. It is still amazing to me that such a pristine place exists so close to one of the biggest urban expanses in the country. And I’m so grateful it’s there.