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Hiking From Tioga Road to Parker Pass Lake

Orlando Fuller established the Golden Crown Mine in 1879 and built his cabin hanging over Parker Pass Lake so that a horse could walk over the ice with safety. Now that is plenty of reason for me to visit that location and learn more about him.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 12.67 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 9,596′ – 11,142′
Elevation Gain: 1,765′
Date: August 24, 2021
CALTOPO: Parker Pass Lake Hike
Dog Hike? No

It was looking like the wind might blow the air around on the Sierra Crest and I was hoping it would also blow the smoke away for my hike but I wouldn’t know until I got there. I left the house early and headed into Yosemite National Park via the El Portal Entrance Gate. I had already printed out my Day Pass and since the gate wasn’t staffed this early, picked up one of the temporary white slips at the Entrance Station to fill out and place on my dashboard. If you aren’t aware, Yosemite National Park has implemented a Temporary Day Use Reservation system. Day Use Entry Passes are validated at the park entrance gate on the reservation date and can be used for 3 days of entry. There are some exceptions but reservations are required to enter Yosemite for day and overnight trips and you get them through Recreation.gov. If you have questions about those exceptions or changes, you can also check out Yosemite’s How will COVID-19 affect my visit?

Once through the gate, I headed up to and east on Tioga Road, then parked my car at the Mono Pass Trailhead, about 5.6 miles east of the Tuolumne Meadows Campground and 1.4 miles south of Tioga Pass. After I put my coffee mug, snacks, cold drinks for after the hike in the bear box, I hit the trail. It was 30 degrees and frost dusted the grass. And I was wearing shorts.

The Mono Pass Trail was a primary prehistoric route of travel across the Sierra Nevada and is still used today. Some of the locals checked me out.

After about a mile, I walked by remains of old miner’s cabin.

This cabin was one of two along my route that showed up on old topographic maps.

1901 Mt. Lyell Quad

And look what I found in Yosemite National Park’s Photo Archives? The title of the first one says “Mono Trail Cabin Fuller & Hoyt.”

Mono Trail Cabin Fuller & Hoyt (Yosemite Archives)

And here is another picture of the cabin titled “Cabin on Mono Trail. 1921 Sierra Club Trip.”

Cabin on Mono Trail. 1921 Sierra Club Trip (Yosemite Archives)

After about the 2 mile mark, the trail split. The right fork goes to Spillway Lake and I took the left up to Parker Pass.

 

 

 

 

 

About 3 miles into my hike, I came across the second cabin.

 

 

 

 

 

The trail split and I headed to Parker Pass, with the country opening up in front of me. Whitebark pine stands were on the higher spots along treeline. This pines depend upon the Clark’s Nutcracker for dispersal of its large, wingless seeds. 

I checked out views of Spillway Lake below me and the Kuna Crest.

Then the trail opened up as I approached Parker Pass.

I reached Parker Pass (11,100′ elevation). Yosemite Place Names by Peter Browning says that Parker Pass Creek, Parker Pass Lake, Parker Creek, Parker Lake and Parker Peak names came from an early settler of Mono County and was on maps as early as 1883. Another thought is that the name was from Edward A. Parker, a student of Professor Joseph LeConte, who accompanied him to the summit of Mount Lyell in 1875.

Looking down the trail that leads through Koip Peak Pass between Koip and Parker Peaks, into Ansel Adams Wilderness and toward Devil’s Postpile.

I headed about 1/10th of a mile toward Parker Pass Lake (10,950′ elevation) and you probably are wondering why. Ever since I read the below out of Ghost Mines of Yosemite by Douglass Hubbard, I was intrigued to learn more about Orlando Fuller.

At the headwaters of the Dana Fork, about a mile southeast of Mono Pass, lies a small lake, jewel-like in an alpine setting. The topographic map calls it Parker Pass Lake.

Here Orlando Fuller, the locator of the Golden Crown and Bloss mines at the head of Bloody Canyon and the pioneer prospector and miner of this region has a cabin hanging, so to speak, over a lake still frozen over so that a horse can walk over the ice with safety . . . (Homer Mining Index August 15, 1883)

Fuller has been gone for a long time now, and the snows and winds have reduced his cabin to its elements. It may still be found, though, and today’s explorer of this beautiful region can pause for a moment to meditate beside Fuller’s battered coffeepot and enjoy the view which greeted the old miner nearly fourscore years ago.

Wonderful views of Spillway Lake and the Kuna Crest were in front of me as I walked the crest above Parker Pass Lake, working my way down toward the lower portion of the lake where I hoped that I could locate some evidence of Orlando Fuller’s cabin.

The upper end was a bit steep with large boulders, not a likely spot to have a cabin or bring a horse into so that is why I suspected the cabin was probably at the lower part of the lake.

I was soon in the general area where I suspected his cabin might have been. I had hoped a bunch of timbers from the cabin might still be around and I did find one or two and of course that old coffee pot that was mentioned in 1958 was long gone.

I checked out the area around the lake’s outlet, locating depressions in the area where I think buildings could have been but they don’t show up well in this photo.

I compared the old undated photo titled “Fullers Cabin Parker Pass Lake” from Douglass Hubbard’s book Ghost Mines of Yosemite. It could have been taken by the author for the book published 1958.

Fuller’s Cabin Parker Pass Lake from Ghost Mines of Yosemite by Douglass Hubbard

If you click on the below picture, it will get larger and you will see the labeled location of an old wood post, along with the angle that the old picture above was looking at when it was taken.

Of course I needed to learn more about Orland Fuller and here is a timeline:

March 7, 1825:  Born Itaska, NY to Joseph Kibbe Fuller (Born 1803 Fuller’s Settlement, Itaska, NY, worked as an Assessor, enlisted in Mexican War with Michagan Infantry, and died 1848 New Orleans, LA) and Jane Quinley (Born 1804 NY, died 1840 Oshtemo, Michigan ). Joseph and Jane had 6 children. One of the daughters, Mary Ann, married Benjamin Parke Avery in Marysville, CA. He was appointed the Minister of China by President Grant in 1874. Their son, Mortimer, headed to California and was shown on the 1850 El Dorado Co., CA census as a Miner, 1860 Yuba Co., CA census as a Miner and 1880 Lincoln Co., NV census as a Miner. Mortimer never married.

April 5, 1873:  An article in the San Francisco Chronicle give information on the bankruptcy of Huhn & Hunt Mine, with a filing by Orlando Fuller to declare bankruptcy.

1863-1865: Civil War Draft Registration lists Orlando Fuller as Speculator, Single in Marysville, Yuba Co., CA.

September 1, 1877:  Orlando Fuller is mentioned in the Arizona Weekly Citizen as a Director filing for Incorporation for the Hackberry Mining Company in Arizona with stock worth $6,000,000. In 1909, The Weekly Journal Miner (Prescott, AZ) reported that the Hackberry Mine sold for $2,000,000. 1956 is the latest year of reported production.

1879: Orlando Fuller established the Golden Crown Mine during the Tioga silver boom that also produced Bennettville and the Great Sierra Mine near Tioga Pass.

1883:  From Bennettville by Alan H. Patera:

The Great Sierra Company suspended mining operations in 1883 after they ran out of money. Charles E. Barney was the superintendent as it was about to shut down in July 1883. He was hoping to resume operations the next spring. In October, he traveled to San Francisco to make a written report to W.C.N. Swift. He describes the assessment work that had been on the mines and he mentions Orlando Fuller and the Ella Bloss and Golden Crown Mines.

Fuller told me that the deed he gave to Traynor of 1/3d Golden Crown had never been recorded. I had some doubts about it and wrot to Miller (the Clerk at Bridgeport) for information. I found a letter from him on my arrival here, saying that Fuller’s deed to Traynor had been recorded and that no transfer from Traynor was on his books, so the property still stands in Traynor’s name.

Fuller talks very loudly and confidently about the mine, wants a price on your 2/3d and a contract to sink a shaft 200 ft. deep. He is a difficult subject to deal with. I think I wrote you in my lst letter that in doing the work on the Ella Bloss a ledge was uncovered and some ore taken out. This ledge is not in line with any of the other openings and I hardly know what to make of it. There seems to be ore all through the hill. I made assays of some of this ore, which ran from $160 to %520 per ton. It is fine looking rock and comparatively free from base metals.

Nothing was found on the Ella Bloss No. 2 or Bulwark. On the Golden Crown the assays of ore taken out ran from $60 to $120 per ton. The crosscut from Golden Crown tunnel was run out of the ore into slate. It was 12 ft. long. There is ore just beyond the breast of this crosscut, which shows ore on the surface, and I have no doubt goes down.

End of 1883: From Bennettville by Alan H. Patera:

After the Great Sierra Company suspended operations there wasn’t any work to be had in the Bennettville area but a few mining claims were being prosecuted by the end of 1883. Much of the activity was on Mt. Gibbs, where Orlando Fuller had laid in a winter’s supplies to work a small force on the Original Mt. Dana and Lucky Friday claims. He had already run a tunnel in 150 feet. August Cordes had single-handedly sunk a shaft 52 feet on his New Brunswick claim on Mt. Gibbs. On the south side of Mt. Gibbs Charley Jardine-the same Charley Jardine who was to shoot a Deputy Sheriff in Lundy in 1885 –was mining, and Andy Sayre was said to have erected “a palatial residence on the southern slope of Mt. Gibbs.” however, when winter came on Andy abandoned his “palatial residence” for work in the Sweetwater district north of Bridgeport, and even Orlando Fuller’s cabin was vacant by spring.

1884: Orlando Fuller no longer in the Golden Crown Mine/Parker Pass Lake area.

1892-1894: Orlando Fuller registered to vote San Diego, CA.

1910: Orlando Fuller listed on San Diego, CA census, single, no occupation and living as a Roomer.

November 10, 1910: Orlando Fuller died San Diego, CA.

I headed back toward the Parker Pass trail in what I would have imagined would have been the approach that Orlando Fuller would have taken to his cabin toward the Golden Crown Mine area. It was a gentle line out and down. I met up with the Parker Pass Trail and headed back down toward the Golden Crown Mine area.

My plan was to leave the trail just above the trail split with the Mono Pass Trail, hugging the ledge to look for mine workings. I would work my way toward the location of the Golden Crown Mine and that is what I did until I walked by this little lake full of reflections from Mount Gibbs (12,772′ elevation), so I took a break and ate my lunch.

As I looked for old diggings, I was careful as I walked because a mine or tunnel l could collapse if you are too close. I didn’t explore any open mines but you also need to be careful of gasses from those. I don’t go inside those old mines because the old timbers could collapse, burying you in the mine. I continued a little more wandering but kind of ran out of time if I was going to turn around at the time I had planned. I didn’t head up the trail toward the Golden Crown mine, turning around and heading back to the car. I will return!

Dog Hike?

No, dogs not allowed in Yosemite National Park Wilderness. If you wanted to do this hike from the bottom, the trail would be in the  Inyo National Forest where they are allowed. But I would not recommend this trail for dogs because the rocks are extra sharp and I believe would tear their paws up, just like the mules from which Bloody Canyon derived its name.

Doarama:

What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Parker Pass Lake Doarama

Map and Profile:

CALTOPO has some free options for mapping and here is a link to my hike this week, which you can view or download: CALTOPO: Parker Pass Lake Hike

Parker Pass Lake Topographic Map

Parker Pass Lake Profile

Sources:

Yosemite National Park Upper Sardine Lake and Mono Lake

Browning, Peter, Yosemite Place Names, Great West Books, Lafayette California, 1988

Patera, Alan H., Bennettville and the Tioga Mining District, Western Places, Lake Grove, OR 2003

Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard

Mono Pass Prospect USGS

Mono Trail Cabin Yosemite Archives

Mono Trail Cabin Yosemite Archives 2

Golden Crown Mine Yosemite National Park

Golden Crown Mine historic Site Yosemite National Park

Fuller Family Tree, Ancestry.com

John Muir: A Passion for Nature NPS

Yosemite: the Park and its Resources (1987) by Linda W. Greene

Ghost Mines of Yosemite (1958) by Douglass Hubbard

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Hiking Yosemite’s Mono Pass Trail to Sardine Lakes August 18, 2021

Hiking Up Yosemite’s Mono Pass Trail Past Spillway Lake June 17, 2021

Adventures with Candace: Hiking to Helen and Spillway Lakes June 23, 2020

Hiking up Yosemite’s Mono Pass Trail to Helen Lake July 10, 2019

Hiking to Spillway and Helen Lakes July 6, 2018

Hiking up to Spillway and Helen Lakes August 1, 2017

Hiking up to Spillway and Helen Lakes June 29, 2016

Hiking on the Mono Trail to Spillway and Helen Lakes June 8 2014

Hiking and Fishing High Lakes along the Mono Pass Trail August 14, 2013

Hiking with the Yosemite Toad to Helen & Spillway Lakes June 7, 2013

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