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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS AND REFERENCES
SUPPORTING THE FORMAL NAMING OF SHARSMITH PEAK
See also earlier supporting statements on Name4Carl.org website at
Modesto (CA) Bee
Friday, August 8, 2014
The ‘Mountain Sage’ added flavor to Yosemite
By Dick Hagerty
As Yosemite National Park continues to celebrate its 150th anniversary, it is
timely to recognize the immense contributions made to the quality and continued
splendor of our great treasure by three great men.
John Muir’s legacy still reverberates through the park; his enormous efforts to
preserve and promote the park are legendary. His great personal theme has become
my own personal mantra: “Going to the mountains is going home.”
Ansel Adams, who dubbed the central Sierras as “The Range of Light,” brought
great awareness of the mountain splendors through his magnificent
A lesser-known giant of the mountains was “The Mountain Sage,” Carl Sharsmith.
He died in 1994 at the age of 91. He had served as a National Park Service
ranger in Yosemite since 1931, a full 63 years. He was the oldest ranger in the
service as well as the longest-serving ranger. His “normal” occupation was
botany professor at San Jose State College.
One of his many interesting assignments in Yosemite was to lead summer science
classes for the college, and that is where I first came to know this great man.
My dear mother, always looking for an angle, had discovered a loophole in the
law that allowed active-duty military an early out if the individual was
enrolled in a “for credit” college course. I was finishing my hitch with the
U.S. Navy on an aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Va., and was definitely eager to
end my military career, return to life with female coeds and escape the stifling
humidity of the southern East Coast.
Thus, two months ahead of my discharge date, I was cheerfully lined up to
commence nature school, freedom from military rule, close contact with lovely
young people, etc., etc. And, as fate would have it, my teacher was none other
than “The Mountain Sage.”
Once of the memorable moments with Carl was the morning he took our group up
past the Wawona Tunnel, led us down an embankment (“Careful, don’t step on the
flowers”) and had us sit, in silence, for nearly an hour with the instructions
to look, listen, smell and simply take in all that was going on around us. He
promised that at the end of our quiet time he would teach us a new word.
“Ecology!” he exclaimed to break the silence. We all stared at him and waited
for a definition. He went on to explain that some time in the future this new
word would take on much importance; it described all the natural interactions
that we had observed and more.
Of course, none of us knew the word, nor did we realize the importance it would
Sadly, as is the general case with the Park Service and our government, there is
a sour twist to the end of this saga.
Soon after his death, many of Sharsmith’s admirers began a push to name a
mountain in the park, just north of Tioga Pass, in his honor. Sharsmith Peak has
languished in Congress for a dozen years or more, and still has not been
formalized. True to form, the Park Service he so ably served for 63 years issued
the following tepid endorsement: “The Park Service will not oppose this action.”
Swell! Just about what we might expect from this bureaucratic creature.
I leave you with one of Carl’s greatest quotes.
A woman visitor approached him, rather breathlessly, and exclaimed, “I only have
one hour to spend in Yosemite. What do you recommend that I do and see in this
Carl looked at her with his long craggy face and opined, “Ah, lady. Only one
hour.” Which he then repeated slowly and said, “I suppose that if I had only one
hour to spend in Yosemite I’d just walk over there by the river and sit down and
Aug 9 Owen Hoffman
This article is a wonderful tribute to Dr. Sharsmith. He loved the park and its
visitors, and while he was alive, he was a memorable part of the park experience
for all who went on his guideded walks or attended his evening programs. He was
totally in his element when giving a primitive evening program, with only a
campfire, songs, stories, and stars for a stage. As far as I"m aware, he never
needed to use artificial amplification. He seldom raised his voice. HIs
audiences just listened more carefully. I would hope that among those of us who
knew and experienced Yosemite's Mountain Sage, that we could renew energy and
momentum for the naming of Sharsmith peak. More information on this effort can
be found at www.sharsmithpeak.org.
"Against All Odds: the epic story of one of the National Park Service's
greatest rescues" by Kevin Grange in National Parks Magazine, Fall 2016
This article presents the story of a rescue in the area of Sharsmith Peak,
which it has been noted, elsewhere, was made more difficult by the lack of
established nearby place names. Ranger Anne Macquarie was one of the rescuers,
and is a supporter of formally naming Sharsmith Peak.
Send emails to Sharsmith Peak Committtee
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