Scott Stine’s A Way Across the Mountain: Joseph Walker’s 1833 Trans-Sierran Passage and the Myth of Yosemite’s Discovery (University of Oklahoma Press, $39.95) buries the myth—risen from an obituary—that mountain man Joseph Walker spotted Yosemite Valley while crossing the Sierra Nevada in 1833. Stine surveys earlier accounts biased to put Walker along the valley’s rim. Then, starting from scratch with the journal of Zenas Leonard who accompanied Walker, Stine reconstructs the more plausible route using knowledge of terrain and landmarks, a doable daily pace, period climatic conditions, and capabilities and needs of horses, revealing a route north of Yosemite. Historians and buffs will grasp Stine’s “rules of reconstruction” that controlled his objectivity. Stine’s unique book format—a worthy style to emulate—includes entr’acte “excursions” that deepen his reasoning, broaden subject knowledge and complement readability.
—Pieter Burggraaf, author of The Walker Party, The Revised Story