I recently came upon resource created in 1907 during a trans-Klamath adventure to explore the region and document its plants. Willis Jepson’s Siskiyou Expedition began in Yreka on July 1st and ended back in Etna on July 25th. Over that time the expedition team traveled from the eastern Klamath to the coast—and back again—using a combination of routes including poorly developed roads, the Kelsey Trail, river corridors, and portage boats guided by Karuk men. I encourage you to read more of Jepson’s journal and his colorful descriptions of the plants and places along the way. The journal offers an ecologist’s view, 110 years back, to a northwest California vastly different than today.
This is the country of the Klamath Indians. It is truly a frontier country. There are not only no railroads but no roads. A wagon would be as strange a sight to the native inhabitants of these parts.Willis Jepson, July 8th, 1907.
Our trip across the Klamath
In August of 2020, a group of COVID-Bubble-Botanists embarked on a far less strange journey to traverse the Klamath Mountain Geomorphic Province, swim, botanize, seek out big trees, and relive the botanical adventure Jepson and his team experienced a century earlier. Jenn Yost and Matt Ritter traveled north from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with their grad students past and present. We were also joined by Jared Farmer, history professor and author, from the University of Pennsylvania. We had a blast, stayed cool in the rivers, and even found time to botanize. What follows are a selection of pictures and descriptions from our trip. Enjoy.
- Link to all Willis Jepson’s translated field journals
- Downloadable PDF of the Siskiyou Expedition (Copyright © 2009 Regents of the University of California)