Mt. Emerson P500 SPS / WSC

Sun, Aug 7, 2005

With: Mark Thomas
Glenn Gookin

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile

Mt. Emerson (13,204 ft.)

Named by John Muir in 1873

Also Lake

"'I have named a grand wide-winged mountain on the head of the Joaquin Mount Emerson. Its head is high above its fellows and wings are white with ice and snow.'(John Muir, letter to Mrs. Carr, September 1873, in Bade, vol. 1, 389.) Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayest, poet, lecturer, and philospher, visited Yosemite Valley in 1871 and went to the Mariposa Grove with Muir.

Muir made a mistake in location; he was putting Emerson's name on Mount Humphreys, which had already been named by the Whitney Survey. The present Mount Emerson was probably designated by the USGS in 1907-09 during the survey for the Mt. Goddard 30' map, first published in 1912. The Mt. Goddard 15' map (1948) shows 'Mt. Emerson' as the eastern of two peaks, with an altitude of 13,225. The Mt. Darwin 7.5' quad shows that peak as being 13,204, but puts 'Mt. Emerson' on the western peak of 13,118.

Emerson Lake was originally called 'Tobe Lake,' after Tobe Way, the packer who first stocked it (Art Schober.)"
- Erwin Gudde, California Place Names

One day in May, 1871, the distinguished poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, arrived in the Valley with an escort of Bostonians who hung upon his every word. There had been letters of introduction, but Muir was too diffident to present himself in person, so left a note at Hutchings' hotel. Next day Emerson sought out the writer and found him at the sawmill. Cordiality was immediate. Muir invited him to his hang-nest, 'not easy of access, being reached only by a series of sloping planks roughened by slats like a hen ladder; but he bravely climbed up and I showed him my collection of plants and sketches, which seemed to interest him greatly.' Emerson invited Muir to accompany him to the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, and Muir accepted with the urgent stipulation that they camp out beneath the giant trees. Emerson was enthusiastic, but his friends, 'would have none of it, and held Mr. Emerson to the hotels and trails. "It would never do to lie out in the night air -- Mr. Emerson might take cold." Sad commentary on culture and the glorious transcendentalism.' They did visit the Grove, however, and Emerson was impressed, 'but he was past his prime, and was now in the hands of his affectionate but sadly civilized friends, who seemed as full of old-fashioned conformity as of bold intellectual independence. The party rode away in wondrous contentment. I followed to the edge of the grove. Emerson lingered, turned his horse, took off his hat and waved me a last good-by. After sundown I built a great fire, and as usual had it all to myself.'"
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada

Poetry by Ralph Waldow Emerson:

  • Poets' Corner
    References to can also be found in these files:

  • More of Bob's Trip Reports

    For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Emerson

    This page last updated: Sat Apr 7 17:02:14 2007
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