Imagine driving slowly up Rock Creek Canyon, mesmerized by the gorgeous eastern Sierra scenery, en route to the beginning of a pack trip vacation. Your vehicle trip culminates at a cluster of rustic buildings with corrals off to one side, one filled with mules and the other, horses. Upon parking your car you walk toward a small building that proclaims itself “office”. You have arrived at the Rock Creek Pack Station, elevation 9500′ located in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop California. In the rather gloomy office interior stands a large old fashioned desk, with an even larger and older gentleman behind it. He turns and smiles, with blue eyes twinkling, and says, “Hi. I’m Herb London. How can I help you?”
A similar scenario was played out many, many times over more than fifty years, as Herbert M. London dedicated his adult life to enhancing people’s lives by exposing them to the wild beauty of the Sierras. Herb’s life was centered around Rock Creek Pack station, Inyo County, and the Eastern Sierra. Those who thought he was “just a packer” found themselves in awe of this larger-than-life, complex, and very intelligent man with well thought out and frequently inflexible opinions.
As a advocate for wilderness, Herb was also adamant that there be use of the wilderness for all types of people: those who hike, and those who ride. In working with the Forest Service, he always emphasized the need to make Wilderness areas available to everyone who wanted to enjoy the natural beauty, Around the evening campfire, Herb was a story teller unequaled by any; he was funny, knowledgeable, and entertaining, especially when playing his guitar.
In honor to Herb’s life and legacy, Aleta London, Herb’s wife, suggested that the most fitting memorial to Herb would be to establish a trail maintenance fund on the Mono Pass Trail to honor his life. The Mono Pass Trail, particularly from Trail Lake to Golden Creek, needs extensive maintenance. 3FIA helped to collect donations to help fund the project.
Contributions to the 3-Forests Interpretive Association were passed on to the Sierra National Forest with the intent to spend the money on fixing those sections of trail that need heavy maintenance. The Forest Service will begin work on the project this summer utilizing their own trail crews and other agency resources that coordinate work within the Sierra National Forest.
The London Family will assist the Forest Service in identifying those sections of trail that are most in need of work. Craig London, Herb’s son, will provide guidance on how to construct trail that is hopefully going to last for generations and be a safe and enjoyable trail for hikers and riders that travel over Mono Pass.
There are over 60 years of letters written by Herb to the Sierra National Forest asking for more trail work and money to be spent fixing, building and maintaining trails in the National Forest. Through the years, many a District Ranger and Forest Supervisor on the Sierra National Forest have tried to get proper funding to get the work done. Unfortunately, money for new construction and maintaining the existing trails has been a low priority of Washington officials.
This Herb London Mono Pass Trail Fund will be a fitting memorial to Herb London. He was a permit holder for 64 years and in partnership with the Forest Service provided packing and outfitting service to generations of Americans. What better way to honor him than to repair water bars, fix dangerous rocky jump offs and gullied rock chutes?
Contact 3FIA to donate to the Mono Creek Memorial Trail Maintenance Fund.