"Yosemite & Grand Canyon-Arizona El Tovar Hotel"
BLANCHE TRASK
writes to
WILLIS JEPSON:
Letter of May 2, 1913


Grand Canyon
(El Tovar Hotel)
May 2 [?], 1913

Jepson Correspondence Volume 8: 703

"I am sending you a bit of Juniper - asking 'Why' it bears cones (?) - or what seems so to be. It is quite out of my knowledge of things - yet I do not like to allow it to pass: perhaps it is not 'new' - to you! I trust you are well & happy -wherever you are! I received your last note while at the Yosemite; since then - we have had a sojourn here & I am on the eve of a departure again for a wandering in the Navajo Land, preceding northward to the Yellowstone -- June. It is a year since my last bivouac on the Island which though extending only through 3 days, was a joy which lingers with me still: then followed by [?] (almost) fatal illness during which they carried me to the city. I always hope that some day - I am to have the same pleasure of guiding you to some of the dear haunts I know in the sea. Mail will be forwarded from here - should you write."


Preliminary Analysis of the Letter
by
Robert Roy van de Hoek
December 2000

Blanche Trask, poet-explorer-naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915. Her time on Catalina spanned 20 years. Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. However, she did travel to the deserts of the west as well and we know this through her correspondence such as in the following letter. She corresponded with professors and scientists at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. For example, Willis Linn Jepson, was Professor of Botany at the University of California (Berkeley) with a PhD with several books on botany published. About a dozen letters were written to Doctor Jepson, and one of those letters is presented below. The deep friendship to Willis Jepson is evident as well as is her affection for the ocean and the islands. She did appreciate the desert scenary of the southwest but the California Channel Islands is her "sense of place." The Geography of Hope for Blanche Trask is undoubtedly Santa Catalina Island

This letter tells us that Blanche Trask had been very sick, almost losing her life in 1912. She had to be "carried" to the city. We also learn in this letter that she had been to Yosemite. For some reason, she does not get to explore the Islands very much now. It seems very sad that once great explorer of the Islands, explores no more. Her most recent visit to Catalina in the wilds was only for 3 days in 1912.

Blanche Trask wrote this letter on May 2, 1913. By 1913, Blanche Trask was not publishing any new articles or poetry. In fact, all we know about Blanche Trask from 1908 to her passing in 1916, is through her written correpsondence. The above letter was compiled and analyzed by Robert Roy van de Hoek for educational purposes in recognition of the 87th year anniversary of this letter being written.

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