Familiarity not only breeds contempt, it can also desensitize one to risk. Even dangerous work can become monotonous, and monotony can lead to inattentiveness, inattentiveness to carelessness.
The six-man trail construction team operating just north of Forester Pass in late August of 1930 certainly had plenty familiarity with explosives. Their primary tools were shovels, pry bars and other small implements, but when they had to move something outsized, dynamite was the only way to do it.
It had taken the team three days, on horseback, to arrive at this spot within the Kern River drainage. The John Muir Trail was still eight years from completion, and except for a certain stretch to the north (where the Golden Staircase would someday be carved out of the granite), this was the toughest section left to complete. Continue reading