In the summer of 1870, Professor Joseph LeConte (1823-1901), and some of his students at the then brand-new University of California, went on a five-week camping trip on horseback to Yosemite and the High Sierra, including Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe. Along the way, LeConte and his students faced hardships of weather and terrain. They had difficulties with their horses and finding trails, and the weather made the men broil and freeze. But in spite all of the harsh conditions, LeConte was enraptured by the awesome beauty of Yosemite Valley, the High Sierra, and Lake Tahoe.
He and his party met and traveled for a time with a young, but already brilliant, John Muir, who later co-founded the Sierra Club. The journals give us a snapshot of the day, with observations about natural history and also social attitudes. The journals were first published in 1875 and then republished in 1900 in the Sierra Club Bulletin. LeConte went on to distinguish himself in science and conservation. A number of features in the Sierra, on the UC Berkeley campus, and elsewhere, are named for him. He died at age 78, in 1901, while on another visit to Yosemite, preparing for a trip to the High Sierra with the Sierra Club.