Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Steep Trails
Author: Muir, John, 1838-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Steep Trails" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



STEEP TRAILS

California-Utah-Nevada-Washington-Oregon-The Grand Canyon


by John Muir



EDITOR'S NOTE

The papers brought together in this volume have, in a general way, been
arranged in chronological sequence. They span a period of twenty-nine
years of Muir's life, during which they appeared as letters and
articles, for the most part in publications of limited and local
circulation. The Utah and Nevada sketches, and the two San Gabriel
papers, were contributed, in the form of letters, to the San Francisco
Evening Bulletin toward the end of the seventies. Written in the field,
they preserve the freshness of the author's first impressions of those
regions. Much of the material in the chapters on Mount Shasta first took
similar shape in 1874. Subsequently it was rewritten and much expanded
for inclusion in Picturesque California, and the Region West of the
Rocky Mountains, which Muir began to edit in 1888. In the same work
appeared the description of Washington and Oregon. The charming little
essay "Wild Wool" was written for the Overland Monthly in 1875. "A
Geologist's Winter Walk" is an extract from a letter to a friend, who,
appreciating its fine literary quality, took the responsibility of
sending it to the Overland Monthly without the author's knowledge. The
concluding chapter on "The Grand Canyon of the Colorado" was published
in the Century Magazine in 1902, and exhibits Muir's powers of
description at their maturity.

Some of these papers were revised by the author during the later years
of his life, and these revisions are a part of the form in which they
now appear. The chapters on Mount Shasta, Oregon, and Washington will
be found to contain occasional sentences and a few paragraphs that were
included, more or less verbatim, in The Mountains of California and Our
National Parks. Being an important part of their present context, these
paragraphs could not be omitted without impairing the unity of the
author's descriptions.

The editor feels confident that this volume will meet, in every way,
the high expectations of Muir's readers. The recital of his experiences
during a stormy night on the summit of Mount Shasta will take rank among
the most thrilling of his records of adventure. His observations on the
dead towns of Nevada, and on the Indians gathering their harvest of
pine nuts, recall a phase of Western life that has left few traces in
American literature. Many, too, will read with pensive interest the
author's glowing description of what was one time called the New
Northwest. Almost inconceivably great have been the changes wrought in
that region during the past generation. Henceforth the landscapes that
Muir saw there will live in good part only in his writings, for fire,
axe, plough, and gunpowder have made away with the supposedly boundless
forest wildernesses and their teeming life.

William Frederic Bade

Berkeley, California

May, 1918



STEEP TRAILS


CONTENTS

         I.  Wild Wool
        II.  A Geologist's Winter Walk
       III.  Summer Days at Mount Shasta
        IV.  A Perilous Night on Shasta's Summit
         V.  Shasta Rambles and Modoc Memories
        VI.  The City of the Saints
       VII.  A Great Storm in Utah
      VIII.  Bathing in Salt Lake
        IX.  Mormon Lilies
         X.  The San Gabriel Valley
        XI.  The San Gabriel Mountains
       XII.  Nevada Farms
      XIII.  Nevada Forests
       XIV.  Nevada's Timber Belt
        XV.  Glacial Phenomena in Nevada
       XVI.  Nevada's Dead Towns
      XVII.  Puget Sound
     XVIII.  The Forests of Washington
       XIX.  People and Towns of Puget Sound
        XX.  An Ascent of Mount Rainier
       XXI.  The Physical and Climatic Characteristics of Oregon
      XXII.  The Forests of Oregon and Their Inhabitants
     XXIII.  The Rivers of Oregon
      XXIV.  The Grand Canyon of the Colorado
             Footnotes



ILLUSTRATIONS


The Crest of the Wahsatch Range From a point about four miles north of
Salt Lake City, Utah. From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason

At Shasta Soda Springs. A view of Mossbrae Falls, where a subterranean
stream coming down from the glaciers of Mt. Shasta breaks through the
vegetation and flows into the Sacramento River. From a photograph by
Herbert W. Gleason

Mount Shasta after a Snowstorm    A view from the west, near Sisson.
From a photograph by Pillsbury's Pictures, Inc.

Mormon Lilies    The plant is known in Utah as the Sego Lily, and in
California and elsewhere as the Mariposa Tulip (Calochortus Nuttallii).
From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason

Along the Oregon Sea Bluffs    A view near the town of Ecola, Oregon.
From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason

O'Neill's Point    A favorite point of observation overlooking the Grand
Canyon Of Arizona.  Now called by the Indian name, Yavapai Point. From a
photograph by Herbert W. Gleason



I. WILD WOOL


Moral improvers have calls to preach. I have a friend who has a call to
plough, and woe to the daisy sod or azalea thicket that falls under
the savage redemption of his keen steel shares. Not content with the
so-called subjugation of every terrestrial bog, rock, and moorland, he
would fain discover some method of reclamation applicable to the ocean
and the sky, that in due calendar time they might be brought to bud and
blossom as the rose. Our efforts are of no avail when we seek to turn
his attention to wild roses, or to the fact that both ocean and sky are
already about as rosy as possible--the one with stars, the other with
dulse, and foam, and wild light. The practical developments of his
culture are orchards and clover-fields wearing a smiling, benevolent
aspect, truly excellent in their way, though a near view discloses
something barbarous in them all. Wildness charms not my friend, charm it
never so wisely: and whatsoever may be the character of his heaven,
his earth seems only a chaos of agricultural possibilities calling for
grubbing-hoes and manures.

Sometimes I venture to approach him with a plea for wildness, when he
good-naturedly shakes a big mellow apple in my face, reiterating his
favorite aphorism, "Culture is an orchard apple; Nature is a crab." Not
all culture, however, is equally destructive and inappreciative. Azure
skies and crystal waters find loving recognition, and few there be who
would welcome the axe among mountain pines, or would care to apply
any correction to the tones and costumes of mountain waterfalls.
Nevertheless, the barbarous notion is almost universally entertained by
civilized man, that there is in all the manufactures of Nature something
essentially coarse which can and must be eradicated by human culture.
I was, therefore, delighted in finding that the wild wool growing upon
mountain sheep in the neighborhood of Mount Shasta was much finer than
the average grades of cultivated wool. This FINE discovery was made
some three months ago [1], while hunting among the Shasta sheep between
Shasta and Lower Klamath Lake. Three fleeces were obtained--one that
belonged to a large ram about four years old, another to a ewe about the
same age, and another to a yearling lamb. After parting their beautiful
wool on the side and many places along the back, shoulders, and hips,
and examining it closely with my lens, I shouted: "Well done for
wildness! Wild wool is finer than tame!"

My companions stooped down and examined the fleeces for themselves,
pulling out tufts and ringlets, spinning them between their fingers,
and measuring the length of the staple, each in turn paying tribute to
wildness. It WAS finer, and no mistake; finer than Spanish Merino. Wild
wool IS finer than tame.

"Here," said I, "is an argument for fine wildness that needs no
explanation. Not that such arguments are by any means rare, for all
wildness is finer than tameness, but because fine wool is appreciable
by everybody alike--from the most speculative president of national
wool-growers' associations all the way down to the gude-wife spinning by
her ingleside."

Nature is a good mother, and sees well to the clothing of her many
bairns--birds with smoothly imbricated feathers, beetles with shining
jackets, and bears with shaggy furs. In the tropical south, where the
sun warms like a fire, they are allowed to go thinly clad; but in the
snowy northland she takes care to clothe warmly. The squirrel has
socks and mittens, and a tail broad enough for a blanket; the grouse
is densely feathered down to the ends of his toes; and the wild sheep,
besides his undergarment of fine wool, has a thick overcoat of hair that
sheds off both the snow and the rain. Other provisions and adaptations
in the dresses of animals, relating less to climate than to the more
mechanical circumstances of life, are made with the same consummate
skill that characterizes all the love work of Nature. Land, water, and
air, jagged rocks, muddy ground, sand beds, forests, underbrush, grassy
plains, etc., are considered in all their possible combinations while
the clothing of her beautiful wildlings is preparing. No matter what the
circumstances of their lives may be, she never allows them to go dirty
or ragged. The mole, living always in the dark and in the dirt, is
yet as clean as the otter or the wave-washed seal; and our wild sheep,
wading in snow, roaming through bushes, and leaping among jagged
storm-beaten cliffs, wears a dress so exquisitely adapted to its
mountain life that it is always found as unruffled and stainless as a
bird.

On leaving the Shasta hunting grounds I selected a few specimen tufts,
and brought them away with a view to making more leisurely examinations;
but, owing to the imperfectness of the instruments at my command, the
results thus far obtained must be regarded only as rough approximations.

As already stated, the clothing of our wild sheep is composed of fine
wool and coarse hair. The hairs are from about two to four inches long,
mostly of a dull bluish-gray color, though varying somewhat with the
seasons. In general characteristics they are closely related to the
hairs of the deer and antelope, being light, spongy, and elastic, with
a highly polished surface, and though somewhat ridged and spiraled,
like wool, they do not manifest the slightest tendency to felt or become
taggy. A hair two and a half inches long, which is perhaps near
the average length, will stretch about one fourth of an inch before
breaking. The diameter decreases rapidly both at the top and bottom, but
is maintained throughout the greater portion of the length with a fair
degree of regularity. The slender tapering point in which the hairs
terminate is nearly black: but, owing to its fineness as compared with
the main trunk, the quantity of blackness is not sufficient to affect
greatly the general color. The number of hairs growing upon a square
inch is about ten thousand; the number of wool fibers is about
twenty-five thousand, or two and a half times that of the hairs. The
wool fibers are white and glossy, and beautifully spired into ringlets.
The average length of the staple is about an inch and a half. A fiber
of this length, when growing undisturbed down among the hairs, measures
about an inch; hence the degree of curliness may easily be inferred. I
regret exceedingly that my instruments do not enable me to measure the
diameter of the fibers, in order that their degrees of fineness might be
definitely compared with each other and with the finest of the domestic
breeds; but that the three wild fleeces under consideration are
considerably finer than the average grades of Merino shipped from San
Francisco is, I think, unquestionable.

When the fleece is parted and looked into with a good lens, the skin
appears of a beautiful pale-yellow color, and the delicate wool fibers
are seen growing up among the strong hairs, like grass among stalks
of corn, every individual fiber being protected about as specially and
effectively as if inclosed in a separate husk. Wild wool is too fine to
stand by itself, the fibers being about as frail and invisible as the
floating threads of spiders, while the hairs against which they
lean stand erect like hazel wands; but, notwithstanding their great
dissimilarity in size and appearance, the wool and hair are forms of
the same thing, modified in just that way and to just that degree that
renders them most perfectly subservient to the well-being of the sheep.
Furthermore, it will be observed that these wild modifications are
entirely distinct from those which are brought chancingly into existence
through the accidents and caprices of culture; the former being
inventions of God for the attainment of definite ends. Like the
modifications of limbs--the fin for swimming, the wing for flying, the
foot for walking--so the fine wool for warmth, the hair for additional
warmth and to protect the wool, and both together for a fabric to wear
well in mountain roughness and wash well in mountain storms.

The effects of human culture upon wild wool are analogous to those
produced upon wild roses. In the one case there is an abnormal
development of petals at the expense of the stamens, in the other an
abnormal development of wool at the expense of the hair. Garden roses
frequently exhibit stamens in which the transmutation to petals may
be observed in various stages of accomplishment, and analogously the
fleeces of tame sheep occasionally contain a few wild hairs that are
undergoing transmutation to wool. Even wild wool presents here and there
a fiber that appears to be in a state of change. In the course of my
examinations of the wild fleeces mentioned above, three fibers were
found that were wool at one end and hair at the other. This, however,
does not necessarily imply imperfection, or any process of change
similar to that caused by human culture. Water lilies contain parts
variously developed into stamens at one end, petals at the other, as
the constant and normal condition. These half wool, half hair fibers may
therefore subserve some fixed requirement essential to the perfection of
the whole, or they may simply be the fine boundary-lines where and exact
balance between the wool and the hair is attained.

I have been offering samples of mountain wool to my friends, demanding
in return that the fineness of wildness be fairly recognized and
confessed, but the returns are deplorably tame. The first question
asked, is, "Now truly, wild sheep, wild sheep, have you any wool?" while
they peer curiously down among the hairs through lenses and spectacles.
"Yes, wild sheep, you HAVE wool; but Mary's lamb had more. In the name
of use, how many wild sheep, think you, would be required to furnish
wool sufficient for a pair of socks?" I endeavor to point out the
irrelevancy of the latter question, arguing that wild wool was not made
for man but for sheep, and that, however deficient as clothing for other
animals, it is just the thing for the brave mountain-dweller that wears
it. Plain, however, as all this appears, the quantity question rises
again and again in all its commonplace tameness. For in my experience it
seems well-nigh impossible to obtain a hearing on behalf of Nature from
any other standpoint than that of human use. Domestic flocks yield more
flannel per sheep than the wild, therefore it is claimed that culture
has improved upon wildness; and so it has as far as flannel is
concerned, but all to the contrary as far as a sheep's dress is
concerned. If every wild sheep inhabiting the Sierra were to put on tame
wool, probably only a few would survive the dangers of a single season.
With their fine limbs muffled and buried beneath a tangle of hairless
wool, they would become short-winded, and fall an easy prey to the
strong mountain wolves. In descending precipices they would be thrown
out of balance and killed, by their taggy wool catching upon sharp
points of rocks. Disease would also be brought on by the dirt
which always finds a lodgment in tame wool, and by the draggled and
water-soaked condition into which it falls during stormy weather.

No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable
an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relations which
culture sustains to wildness as that which regards the world as made
especially for the uses of man. Every animal, plant, and crystal
controverts it in the plainest terms. Yet it is taught from century
to century as something ever new and precious, and in the resulting
darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged.

I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show
that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for
itself. Not that Nature manifests any such thing as selfish isolation.
In the making of every animal the presence of every other animal has
been recognized. Indeed, every atom in creation may be said to be
acquainted with and married to every other, but with universal union
there is a division sufficient in degree for the purposes of the most
intense individuality; no matter, therefore, what may be the note
which any creature forms in the song of existence, it is made first for
itself, then more and more remotely for all the world and worlds.

Were it not for the exercise of individualizing cares on the part of
Nature, the universe would be felted together like a fleece of tame
wool. But we are governed more than we know, and most when we are
wildest. Plants, animals, and stars are all kept in place, bridled
along appointed ways, WITH one another, and THROUGH THE MIDST of one
another--killing and being killed, eating and being eaten, in harmonious
proportions and quantities. And it is right that we should thus
reciprocally make use of one another, rob, cook, and consume, to the
utmost of our healthy abilities and desires. Stars attract one another
as they are able, and harmony results. Wild lambs eat as many wild
flowers as they can find or desire, and men and wolves eat the lambs to
just the same extent.

This consumption of one another in its various modifications is a
kind of culture varying with the degree of directness with which it is
carried out, but we should be careful not to ascribe to such culture
any improving qualities upon those on whom it is brought to bear. The
water-ousel plucks moss from the riverbank to build its nest, but is
does not improve the moss by plucking it. We pluck feathers from birds,
and less directly wool from wild sheep, for the manufacture of clothing
and cradle-nests, without improving the wool for the sheep, or the
feathers for the bird that wore them. When a hawk pounces upon a linnet
and proceeds to pull out its feathers, preparatory to making a meal,
the hawk may be said to be cultivating the linnet, and he certainly does
effect an improvement as far as hawk-food is concerned; but what of the
songster? He ceases to be a linnet as soon as he is snatched from the
woodland choir; and when, hawklike, we snatch the wild sheep from its
native rock, and, instead of eating and wearing it at once, carry it
home, and breed the hair out of its wool and the bones out of its body,
it ceases to be a sheep.

These breeding and plucking processes are similarly improving as regards
the secondary uses aimed at; and, although the one requires but a few
minutes for its accomplishment, the other many years or centuries, they
are essentially alike. We eat wild oysters alive with great directness,
waiting for no cultivation, and leaving scarce a second of distance
between the shell and the lip; but we take wild sheep home and subject
them to the many extended processes of husbandry, and finish by boiling
them in a pot--a process which completes all sheep improvements as far
as man is concerned. It will be seen, therefore, that wild wool and tame
wool--wild sheep and tame sheep--are terms not properly comparable, nor
are they in any correct sense to be considered as bearing any antagonism
toward each other; they are different things. Planned and accomplished
for wholly different purposes.

Illustrative examples bearing upon this interesting subject may be
multiplied indefinitely, for they abound everywhere in the plant and
animal kingdoms wherever culture has reached. Recurring for a moment to
apples. The beauty and completeness of a wild apple tree living its own
life in the woods is heartily acknowledged by all those who have been so
happy as to form its acquaintance. The fine wild piquancy of its fruit
is unrivaled, but in the great question of quantity as human food wild
apples are found wanting. Man, therefore, takes the tree from the woods,
manures and prunes and grafts, plans and guesses, adds a little of this
and that, selects and rejects, until apples of every conceivable size
and softness are produced, like nut galls in response to the irritating
punctures of insects. Orchard apples are to me the most eloquent words
that culture has ever spoken, but they reflect no imperfection upon
Nature's spicy crab. Every cultivated apple is a crab, not improved,
BUT COOKED, variously softened and swelled out in the process, mellowed,
sweetened, spiced, and rendered pulpy and foodful, but as utterly unfit
for the uses of nature as a meadowlark killed and plucked and roasted.
Give to Nature every cultured apple--codling, pippin, russet--and every
sheep so laboriously compounded--muffled Southdowns, hairy Cotswolds,
wrinkled Merinos--and she would throw the one to her caterpillars, the
other to her wolves.

It is now some thirty-six hundred years since Jacob kissed his mother
and set out across the plains of Padan-aram to begin his experiments
upon the flocks of his uncle, Laban; and, notwithstanding the high
degree of excellence he attained as a wool-grower, and the innumerable
painstaking efforts subsequently made by individuals and associations
in all kinds of pastures and climates, we still seem to be as far from
definite and satisfactory results as we ever were. In one breed the
wool is apt to wither and crinkle like hay on a sun-beaten hillside. In
another, it is lodged and matted together like the lush tangled grass of
a manured meadow. In one the staple is deficient in length, in another
in fineness; while in all there is a constant tendency toward disease,
rendering various washings and dippings indispensable to prevent its
falling out. The problem of the quality and quantity of the carcass
seems to be as doubtful and as far removed from a satisfactory solution
as that of the wool. Desirable breeds blundered upon by long series
of groping experiments are often found to be unstable and subject to
disease--bots, foot rot, blind staggers, etc.--causing infinite trouble,
both among breeders and manufacturers. Would it not be well, therefore,
for some one to go back as far as possible and take a fresh start?

The source or sources whence the various breeds were derived is not
positively known, but there can be hardly any doubt of their being
descendants of the four or five wild species so generally distributed
throughout the mountainous portions of the globe, the marked differences
between the wild and domestic species being readily accounted for by the
known variability of the animal, and by the long series of painstaking
selection to which all its characteristics have been subjected. No other
animal seems to yield so submissively to the manipulations of culture.
Jacob controlled the color of his flocks merely by causing them to stare
at objects of the desired hue; and possibly Merinos may have caught
their wrinkles from the perplexed brows of their breeders. The
California species (Ovis montana) [2] is a noble animal, weighing when
full-grown some three hundred and fifty pounds, and is well worthy the
attention of wool-growers as a point from which to make a new departure,
for pure wildness is the one great want, both of men and of sheep.



II. A Geologist's Winter Walk [3]

After reaching Turlock, I sped afoot over the stubble fields and through
miles of brown hemizonia and purple erigeron, to Hopeton, conscious
of little more than that the town was behind and beneath me, and the
mountains above and before me; on through the oaks and chaparral of the
foothills to Coulterville; and then ascended the first great mountain
step upon which grows the sugar pine. Here I slackened pace, for I drank
the spicy, resiny wind, and beneath the arms of this noble tree I felt
that I was safely home. Never did pine trees seem so dear. How sweet was
their breath and their song, and how grandly they winnowed the sky! I
tingled my fingers among their tassels, and rustled my feet among their
brown needles and burrs, and was exhilarated and joyful beyond all I can
write.

When I reached Yosemite, all the rocks seemed talkative, and more
telling and lovable than ever. They are dear friends, and seemed to have
warm blood gushing through their granite flesh; and I love them with a
love intensified by long and close companionship. After I had bathed in
the bright river, sauntered over the meadows, conversed with the domes,
and played with the pines, I still felt blurred and weary, as if tainted
in some way with the sky of your streets. I determined, therefore, to
run out for a while to say my prayers in the higher mountain temples.
"The days are sunful," I said, "and, though now winter, no great danger
need be encountered, and no sudden storm will block my return, if I am
watchful."

The morning after this decision, I started up the canyon of Tenaya,
caring little about the quantity of bread I carried; for, I thought, a
fast and a storm and a difficult canyon were just the medicine I needed.
When I passed Mirror Lake, I scarcely noticed it, for I was absorbed
in the great Tissiack--her crown a mile away in the hushed azure; her
purple granite drapery flowing in soft and graceful folds down to my
feet, embroidered gloriously around with deep, shadowy forest. I have
gazed on Tissiack a thousand times--in days of solemn storms, and when
her form shone divine with the jewelry of winter, or was veiled in
living clouds; and I have heard her voice of winds, and snowy, tuneful
waters when floods were falling; yet never did her soul reveal itself
more impressively than now. I hung about her skirts, lingering timidly,
until the higher mountains and glaciers compelled me to push up the
canyon.

This canyon is accessible only to mountaineers, and I was anxious to
carry my barometer and clinometer through it, to obtain sections and
altitudes, so I chose it as the most attractive highway. After I had
passed the tall groves that stretch a mile above Mirror Lake, and
scrambled around the Tenaya Fall, which is just at the head of the lake
groves, I crept through the dense and spiny chaparral that plushes the
roots of the mountains here for miles in warm green, and was ascending
a precipitous rock front, smoothed by glacial action, when I suddenly
fell--for the first time since I touched foot to Sierra rocks. After
several somersaults, I became insensible from the shock, and when
consciousness returned I found myself wedged among short, stiff bushes,
trembling as if cold, not injured in the slightest.

Judging by the sun, I could not have been insensible very long; probably
not a minute, possibly an hour; and I could not remember what made
me fall, or where I had fallen from; but I saw that if I had rolled a
little further, my mountain climbing would have been finished, for just
beyond the bushes the canyon wall steepened and I might have fallen to
the bottom. "There," said I, addressing my feet, to whose separate skill
I had learned to trust night and day on any mountain, "that is what you
get by intercourse with stupid town stairs, and dead pavements." I felt
degraded and worthless. I had not yet reached the most difficult portion
of the canyon, but I determined to guide my humbled body over the
most nerve-trying places I could find; for I was now awake, and felt
confident that the last of the town fog had been shaken from both head
and feet.

I camped at the mouth of a narrow gorge which is cut into the bottom of
the main canyon, determined to take earnest exercise next day. No plushy
boughs did my ill-behaved bones enjoy that night, nor did my bumped head
get a spicy cedar plume pillow mixed with flowers. I slept on a naked
boulder, and when I awoke all my nervous trembling was gone.

The gorged portion of the canyon, in which I spent all the next day, is
about a mile and a half in length; and I passed the time in tracing the
action of the forces that determined this peculiar bottom gorge, which
is an abrupt, ragged-walled, narrow-throated canyon, formed in the
bottom of the wide-mouthed, smooth, and beveled main canyon. I will not
stop now to tell you more; some day you may see it, like a shadowy line,
from Cloud's Rest. In high water, the stream occupies all the bottom of
the gorge, surging and chafing in glorious power from wall to wall.
But the sound of the grinding was low as I entered the gorge, scarcely
hoping to be able to pass through its entire length. By cool efforts,
along glassy, ice-worn slopes, I reached the upper end in a little over
a day, but was compelled to pass the second night in the gorge, and in
the moonlight I wrote you this short pencil-letter in my notebook:--


   The moon is looking down into the canyon, and how marvelously the
   great rocks kindle to her light!  Every dome, and brow, and
   swelling boss touched by her white rays, glows as if lighted with
   snow.  I am now only a mile from last night's camp; and have been
   climbing and sketching all day in this difficult but instructive
   gorge.  It is formed in the bottom of the main canyon, among the
   roots of Cloud's Rest.  It begins at the filled-up lake basin where
   I camped last night, and ends a few hundred yards above, in another
   basin of the same kind.  The walls everywhere are craggy and
   vertical, and in some places they overlean.  It is only from twenty
   to sixty feet wide, and not, though black and broken enough, the
   thin, crooked mouth of some mysterious abyss; but it was eroded,
   for in many places I saw its solid, seamless floor.

   I am sitting on a big stone, against which the stream divides, and
   goes brawling by in rapids on both sides; half of my rock is white
   in the light, half in shadow.  As I look from the opening jaws of
   this shadowy gorge, South Dome is immediately in front--high in the
   stars, her face turned from the moon, with the rest of her body
   gloriously muffled in waved folds of granite.  On the left,
   sculptured from the main Cloud's Rest ridge, are three magnificent
   rocks, sisters of the great South Dome.  On the right is the
   massive, moonlit front of Mount Watkins, and between, low down in
   the furthest distance, is Sentinel Dome, girdled and darkened with
   forest.  In the near foreground Tenaya Creek is singing against
   boulders that are white with snow and moonbeams.  Now look back
   twenty yards, and you will see a waterfall fair as a spirit; the
   moonlight just touches it, bringing it into relief against a dark
   background of shadow.  A little to the left, and a dozen steps this
   side of the fall, a flickering light marks my camp--and a precious
   camp it is.  A huge, glacier-polished slab, falling from the
   smooth, glossy flank of Cloud's Rest, happened to settle on edge
   against the wall of the gorge.  I did not know that this slab was
   glacier-polished until I lighted my fire.  Judge of my delight.  I
   think it was sent here by an earthquake.  It is about twelve feet
   square.  I wish I could take it home [4] for a hearthstone.
   Beneath this slab is the only place in this torrent-swept gorge
   where I could find sand sufficient for a bed.

   I expected to sleep on the boulders, for I spent most of the
   afternoon on the slippery wall of the canyon, endeavoring to get
   around this difficult part of the gorge, and was compelled to
   hasten down here for water before dark.  I shall sleep soundly on
   this sand; half of it is mica.  Here, wonderful to behold, are a
   few green stems of prickly rubus, and a tiny grass.  They are here
   to meet us.  Ay, even here in this darksome gorge, "frightened and
   tormented" with raging torrents and choking avalanches of snow.
   Can it be?  As if rubus and the grass leaf were not enough of God's
   tender prattle words of love, which we so much need in these mighty
   temples of power, yonder in the "benmost bore" are two blessed
   adiantums.  Listen to them!  How wholly infused with God is this
   one big word of love that we call the world!  Good-night.  Do you
   see the fire-glow on my ice-smoothed slab, and on my two ferns and
   the rubus and grass panicles?  And do you hear how sweet a sleep-
   song the fall and cascades are singing?

The water-ground chips and knots that I found fastened between the rocks
kept my fire alive all through the night. Next morning I rose nerved and
ready for another day of sketching and noting, and any form of climbing.
I escaped from the gorge about noon, after accomplishing some of the
most delicate feats of mountaineering I ever attempted; and here the
canyon is all broadly open again--the floor luxuriantly forested with
pine, and spruce, and silver fir, and brown-trunked libocedrus. The
walls rise in Yosemite forms, and Tenaya Creek comes down seven hundred
feet in a white brush of foam. This is a little Yosemite valley. It is
about two thousand feet above the level of the main Yosemite, and about
twenty-four hundred below Lake Tenaya.

I found the lake frozen, and the ice was so clear and unruffled that
the surrounding mountains and the groves that look down upon it were
reflected almost as perfectly as I ever beheld them in the calm evening
mirrors of summer. At a little distance, it was difficult to believe the
lake frozen at all; and when I walked out on it, cautiously stamping
at short intervals to test the strength of the ice, I seemed to walk
mysteriously, without adequate faith, on the surface of the water.
The ice was so transparent that I could see through it the beautifully
wave-rippled, sandy bottom, and the scales of mica glinting back the
down-pouring light. When I knelt down with my face close to the ice,
through which the sunbeams were pouring, I was delighted to discover
myriads of Tyndall's six-rayed water flowers, magnificently colored.

A grand old mountain mansion is this Tenaya region! In the glacier
period it was a mer de glace, far grander than the mer de glace of
Switzerland, which is only about half a mile broad. The Tenaya mer de
glace was not less than two miles broad, late in the glacier epoch, when
all the principal dividing crests were bare; and its depth was not less
than fifteen hundred feet. Ice streams from Mounts Lyell and Dana, and
all the mountains between, and from the nearer Cathedral Peak, flowed
hither, welded into one, and worked together. After eroding this Tanaya
Lake basin, and all the splendidly sculptured rocks and mountains that
surround and adorn it, and the great Tenaya Canyon, with its wealth of
all that makes mountains sublime, they were welded with the vast South,
Lyell, and Illilouette glaciers on one side, and with those of Hoffman
on the other--thus forming a portion of a yet grander mer de glace in
Yosemite Valley.

I reached the Tenaya Canyon, on my way home, by coming in from the
northeast, rambling down over the shoulders of Mount Watkins, touching
bottom a mile above Mirror Lake. From thence home was but a saunter in
the moonlight.

After resting one day, and the weather continuing calm, I ran up over
the left shoulder of South Dome and down in front of its grand split
face to make some measurements, completed my work, climbed to the right
shoulder, struck off along the ridge for Cloud's Rest, and reached the
topmost heave of her sunny wave in ample time to see the sunset.

Cloud's Rest is a thousand feet higher than Tissiack. It is a wavelike
crest upon a ridge, which begins at Yosemite with Tissiack, and runs
continuously eastward to the thicket of peaks and crests around Lake
Tenaya. This lofty granite wall is bent this way and that by the
restless and weariless action of glaciers just as if it had been made of
dough. But the grand circumference of mountains and forests are coming
from far and near, densing into one close assemblage; for the sun, their
god and father, with love ineffable, is glowing a sunset farewell. Not
one of all the assembled rocks or trees seemed remote. How impressively
their faces shone with responsive love!

I ran home in the moonlight with firm strides; for the sun-love made
me strong. Down through the junipers; down through the firs; now in
jet shadows, now in white light; over sandy moraines and bare, clanking
rocks; past the huge ghost of South Dome rising weird through the firs;
past the glorious fall of Nevada, the groves of Illilouette; through the
pines of the valley; beneath the bright crystal sky blazing with stars.
All of this mountain wealth in one day!--one of the rich ripe days that
enlarge one's life; so much of the sun upon one side of it, so much of
the moon and stars on the other.



III. Summer Days at Mount Shasta


Mount Shasta rises in solitary grandeur from the edge of a comparatively
low and lightly sculptured lava plain near the northern extremity of the
Sierra, and maintains a far more impressive and commanding individuality
than any other mountain within the limits of California. Go where you
may, within a radius of from fifty to a hundred miles or more, there
stands before you the colossal cone of Shasta, clad in ice and snow, the
one grand unmistakable landmark--the pole star of the landscape. Far
to the southward Mount Whitney lifts its granite summit four or five
hundred feet higher than Shasta, but it is nearly snowless during the
late summer, and is so feebly individualized that the traveler may
search for it in vain among the many rival peaks crowded along the axis
of the range to north and south of it, which all alike are crumbling
residual masses brought into relief in the degradation of the general
mass of the range. The highest point on Mount Shasta, as determined by
the State Geological Survey, is 14,440 feet above mean tide. That of
Whitney, computed from fewer observations, is about 14,900 feet. But
inasmuch as the average elevation of the plain out of which Shasta rises
is only about four thousand feet above the sea, while the actual base of
the peak of Mount Whitney lies at an elevation of eleven thousand feet,
the individual height of the former is about two and a half times as
great as that of the latter.

Approaching Shasta from the south, one obtains glimpses of its snowy
cone here and there through the trees from the tops of hills and ridges;
but it is not until Strawberry Valley is reached, where there is a grand
out-opening of the forests, that Shasta is seen in all its glory. From
base to crown clearly revealed with its wealth of woods and waters
and fountain snow, rejoicing in the bright mountain sky, and radiating
beauty on all the subject landscape like a sun. Standing in a fringing
thicket of purple spiraea in the immediate foreground is a smooth
expanse of green meadow with its meandering stream, one of the smaller
affluents of the Sacramento; then a zone of dark, close forest, its
countless spires of pine and fir rising above one another on the
swelling base of the mountain in glorious array; and, over all, the
great white cone sweeping far into the thin, keen sky--meadow, forest,
and grand icy summit harmoniously blending and making one sublime
picture evenly balanced.

The main lines of the landscape are immensely bold and simple, and so
regular that it needs all its shaggy wealth of woods and chaparral and
its finely tinted ice and snow and brown jutting crags to keep it from
looking conventional. In general views of the mountain three distinct
zones may be readily defined. The first, which may be called the
Chaparral Zone, extends around the base in a magnificent sweep nearly a
hundred miles in length on its lower edge, and with a breadth of about
seven miles. It is a dense growth of chaparral from three to six or
eight feet high, composed chiefly of manzanita, cherry, chincapin, and
several species of ceanothus, called deerbrush by the hunters, forming,
when in full bloom, one of the most glorious flowerbeds conceivable.
The continuity of this flowery zone is interrupted here and there,
especially on the south side of the mountain, by wide swaths of
coniferous trees, chiefly the sugar and yellow pines, Douglas spruce,
silver fir, and incense cedar, many specimens of which are two hundred
feet high and five to seven feet in diameter. Goldenrods, asters,
gilias, lilies, and lupines, with many other less conspicuous plants,
occur in warm sheltered openings in these lower woods, making charming
gardens of wildness where bees and butterflies are at home and many a
shy bird and squirrel.

The next higher is the Fir Zone, made up almost exclusively of two
species of silver fir. It is from two to three miles wide, has an
average elevation above the sea of some six thousand feet on its lower
edge and eight thousand on its upper, and is the most regular and best
defined of the three.

The Alpine Zone has a rugged, straggling growth of storm-beaten dwarf
pines (Pinus albicaulis), which forms the upper edge of the timberline.
This species reaches an elevation of about nine thousand feet, but at
this height the tops of the trees rise only a few feet into the thin
frosty air, and are closely pressed and shorn by wind and snow; yet they
hold on bravely and put forth an abundance of beautiful purple flowers
and produce cones and seeds. Down towards the edge of the fir belt they
stand erect, forming small, well-formed trunks, and are associated with
the taller two-leafed and mountain pines and the beautiful Williamson
spruce. Bryanthus, a beautiful flowering heathwort, flourishes a few
hundred feet above the timberline, accompanied with kalmia and spiraea.
Lichens enliven the faces of the cliffs with their bright colors, and in
some of the warmer nooks of the rocks, up to a height of eleven
thousand feet, there are a few tufts of dwarf daisies, wallflowers,
and penstemons; but, notwithstanding these bloom freely, they make no
appreciable show at a distance, and the stretches of rough brown lava
beyond the storm-beaten trees seem as bare of vegetation as the great
snow fields and glaciers of the summit.

Shasta is a fire-mountain, an old volcano gradually accumulated and
built up into the blue deep of the sky by successive eruptions of ashes
and molten lava which, shot high in the air and falling in darkening
showers, and flowing from chasms and craters, grew outward and upward
like the trunk of a knotty, bulging tree. Not in one grand convulsion
was Shasta given birth, nor in any one special period of volcanic storm
and stress, though mountains more than a thousand feet in height have
been cast up like molehills in a night--quick contributions to the
wealth of the landscapes, and most emphatic statements, on the part of
Nature, of the gigantic character of the power that dwells beneath
the dull, dead-looking surface of the earth. But sections cut by the
glaciers, displaying some of the internal framework of Shasta, show
that comparatively long periods of quiescence intervened between many
distinct eruptions, during which the cooling lavas ceased to flow, and
took their places as permanent additions to the bulk of the growing
mountain. Thus with alternate haste and deliberation eruption succeeded
eruption, until Mount Shasta surpassed even its present sublime height.

Then followed a strange contrast. The glacial winter came on. The sky
that so often had been darkened with storms of cinders and ashes
and lighted by the glare of volcanic fires was filled with crystal
snow-flowers, which, loading the cooling mountain, gave birth to
glaciers that, uniting edge to edge, at length formed one grand conical
glacier--a down-crawling mantle of ice upon a fountain of smouldering
fire, crushing and grinding its brown, flinty lavas, and thus degrading
and remodeling the entire mountain from summit to base. How much
denudation and degradation has been effected we have no means of
determining, the porous, crumbling rocks being ill adapted for the
reception and preservation of glacial inscriptions.

The summit is now a mass of ruins, and all the finer striations have
been effaced from the flanks by post-glacial weathering, while the
irregularity of its lavas as regards susceptibility to erosion, and the
disturbance caused by inter- and post-glacial eruptions, have obscured
or obliterated those heavier characters of the glacial record found
so clearly inscribed upon the granite pages of the high Sierra between
latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes and 39 degrees. This much, however, is
plain: that the summit of the mountain was considerably lowered, and the
sides were deeply grooved and fluted while it was a center of dispersal
for the glaciers of the circumjacent region. And when at length
the glacial period began to draw near its close, the ice mantle was
gradually melted off around the base of the mountain, and in receding
and breaking up into its present fragmentary condition the irregular
heaps and rings of moraine matter were stored upon its flanks on which
the forests are growing. The glacial erosion of most of the Shasta lavas
gives rise to detritus composed of rough subangular boulders of moderate
size and porous gravel and sand, which yields freely to the transporting
power of running water. Several centuries ago immense quantities of this
lighter material were washed down from the higher slopes by a flood of
extraordinary magnitude, caused probably by the sudden melting of
the ice and snow during an eruption, giving rise to the deposition
of conspicuous delta-like beds around the base. And it is upon these
flood-beds of moraine soil, thus suddenly and simultaneously laid down
and joined edge to edge, that the flowery chaparral is growing.

Thus, by forces seemingly antagonistic and destructive, Nature
accomplishes her beneficent designs--now a flood of fire, now a flood of
ice, now a flood of water; and again in the fullness of time an outburst
of organic life--forest and garden, with all their wealth of fruit and
flowers, the air stirred into one universal hum with rejoicing insects,
a milky way of wings and petals, girdling the newborn mountain like a
cloud, as if the vivifying sunbeams beating against its sides had broken
into a foam of plant-bloom and bees.

But with such grand displays as Nature is making here, how grand are her
reservations, bestowed only upon those who devotedly seek them! Beneath
the smooth and snowy surface the fountain fires are still aglow, to
blaze forth afresh at their appointed times. The glaciers, looking so
still and small at a distance, represented by the artist with a patch of
white paint laid on by a single stroke of his brush, are still flowing
onward, unhalting, with deep crystal currents, sculpturing the mountain
with stern, resistless energy. How many caves and fountains that no
eye has yet seen lie with all their fine furniture deep down in the
darkness, and how many shy wild creatures are at home beneath the
grateful lights and shadows of the woods, rejoicing in their fullness of
perfect life!

Standing on the edge of the Strawberry Meadows in the sun-days of
summer, not a foot or feather or leaf seems to stir; and the grand,
towering mountain with all its inhabitants appears in rest, calm as a
star. Yet how profound is the energy ever in action, and how great is
the multitude of claws and teeth, wings and eyes, wide awake and at work
and shining! Going into the blessed wilderness, the blood of the plants
throbbing beneath the life-giving sunshine seems to be heard and felt;
plant growth goes on before our eyes, and every tree and bush and flower
is seen as a hive of restless industry. The deeps of the sky are
mottled with singing wings of every color and tone--clouds of brilliant
chrysididae dancing and swirling in joyous rhythm, golden-barred
vespidae, butterflies, grating cicadas and jolly rattling
grasshoppers--fairly enameling the light, and shaking all the air into
music. Happy fellows they are, every one of them, blowing tiny pipe and
trumpet, plodding and prancing, at work or at play.

Though winter holds the summit, Shasta in summer is mostly a massy,
bossy mound of flowers colored like the alpenglow that flushes the
snow. There are miles of wild roses, pink bells of huckleberry and sweet
manzanita, every bell a honey-cup, plants that tell of the north and
of the south; tall nodding lilies, the crimson sarcodes, rhododendron,
cassiope, and blessed linnaea; phlox, calycanthus, plum, cherry,
crataegus, spiraea, mints, and clovers in endless variety; ivesia,
larkspur, and columbine; golden aplopappus, linosyris [5], bahia,
wyethia, arnica, brodiaea, etc.,--making sheets and beds of light
edgings of bloom in lavish abundance for the myriads of the air
dependent on their bounty.

The common honeybees, gone wild in this sweet wilderness, gather tons
of honey into the hollows of the trees and rocks, clambering eagerly
through bramble and hucklebloom, shaking the clustered bells of the
generous manzanita, now humming aloft among polleny willows and firs,
now down on the ashy ground among small gilias and buttercups, and anon
plunging into banks of snowy cherry and buckthorn. They consider the
lilies and roll into them, pushing their blunt polleny faces against
them like babies on their mother's bosom; and fondly, too, with eternal
love does Mother Nature clasp her small bee-babies and suckle them,
multitudes at once, on her warm Shasta breast. Besides the common
honeybee there are many others here, fine, burly, mossy fellows, such as
were nourished on the mountains many a flowery century before the advent
of the domestic species--bumblebees, mason-bees, carpenter-bees, and
leaf-cutters. Butterflies, too, and moths of every size and pattern;
some wide-winged like bats, flapping slowly and sailing in easy curves;
others like small flying violets shaking about loosely in short zigzag
flights close to the flowers, feasting in plenty night and day.

Deer in great abundance come to Shasta from the warmer foothills every
spring to feed in the rich, cool pastures, and bring forth their young
in the ceanothus tangles of the chaparral zone, retiring again before
the snowstorms of winter, mostly to the southward and westward of the
mountain. In like manner the wild sheep of the adjacent region seek the
lofty inaccessible crags of the summit as the snow melts, and are driven
down to the lower spurs and ridges where there is but little snow, to
the north and east of Shasta.

Bears, too, roam this foodful wilderness, feeding on grass, clover,
berries, nuts, ant eggs, fish, flesh, or fowl,--whatever comes in their
way,--with but little troublesome discrimination. Sugar and honey they
seem to like best of all, and they seek far to find the sweets; but when
hard pushed by hunger they make out to gnaw a living from the bark of
trees and rotten logs, and might almost live on clean lava alone.

Notwithstanding the California bears have had as yet but little
experience with honeybees, they sometimes succeed in reaching the
bountiful stores of these industrious gatherers and enjoy the feast with
majestic relish. But most honeybees in search of a home are wise
enough to make choice of a hollow in a living tree far from the ground,
whenever such can be found. There they are pretty secure, for though the
smaller brown and black bears climb well, they are unable to gnaw their
way into strong hives, while compelled to exert themselves to keep from
falling and at the same time endure the stings of the bees about the
nose and eyes, without having their paws free to brush them off. But woe
to the unfortunates who dwell in some prostrate trunk, and to the black
bumblebees discovered in their mossy, mouselike nests in the ground.
With powerful teeth and claws these are speedily laid bare, and almost
before time is given for a general buzz the bees, old and young, larvae,
honey, stings, nest, and all, are devoured in one ravishing revel.

The antelope may still be found in considerable numbers to the
northeastward of Shasta, but the elk, once abundant, have almost
entirely gone from the region. The smaller animals, such as the wolf,
the various foxes, wildcats, coon, squirrels, and the curious wood rat
that builds large brush huts, abound in all the wilder places; and the
beaver, otter, mink, etc., may still be found along the sources of the
rivers. The blue grouse and mountain quail are plentiful in the woods
and the sage-hen on the plains about the northern base of the mountain,
while innumerable smaller birds enliven and sweeten every thicket and
grove.


There are at least five classes of human inhabitants about the Shasta
region: the Indians, now scattered, few in numbers and miserably
demoralized, though still offering some rare specimens of savage
manhood; miners and prospectors, found mostly to the north and west of
the mountain, since the region about its base is overflowed with lava;
cattle-raisers, mostly on the open plains to the northeastward and
around the Klamath Lakes; hunters and trappers, where the woods and
waters are wildest; and farmers, in Shasta Valley on the north side of
the mountain, wheat, apples, melons, berries, all the best production
of farm and garden growing and ripening there at the foot of the great
white cone, which seems at times during changing storms ready to fall
upon them--the most sublime farm scenery imaginable.

The Indians of the McCloud River that have come under my observation
differ considerably in habits and features from the Diggers and other
tribes of the foothills and plains, and also from the Pah Utes and
Modocs. They live chiefly on salmon. They seem to be closely related
to the Tlingits of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and may readily have
found their way here by passing from stream to stream in which salmon
abound. They have much better features than the Indians of the plains,
and are rather wide awake, speculative and ambitious in their way, and
garrulous, like the natives of the northern coast.

Before the Modoc War they lived in dread of the Modocs, a tribe living
about the Klamath Lake and the Lava Beds, who were in the habit of
crossing the low Sierra divide past the base of Shasta on freebooting
excursions, stealing wives, fish, and weapons from the Pitts and
McClouds. Mothers would hush their children by telling them that the
Modocs would catch them.

During my stay at the Government fish-hatching station on the McCloud I
was accompanied in my walks along the riverbank by a McCloud boy about
ten years of age, a bright, inquisitive fellow, who gave me the Indian
names of the birds and plants that we met. The water-ousel he knew well
and he seemed to like the sweet singer, which he called "Sussinny." He
showed me how strips of the stems of the beautiful maidenhair fern were
used to adorn baskets with handsome brown bands, and pointed out several
plants good to eat, particularly the large saxifrage growing abundantly
along the river margin. Once I rushed suddenly upon him to see if he
would be frightened; but he unflinchingly held his ground, struck a
grand heroic attitude, and shouted, "Me no fraid; me Modoc!"

Mount Shasta, so far as I have seen, has never been the home of Indians,
not even their hunting ground to any great extent, above the lower
slopes of the base. They are said to be afraid of fire-mountains and
geyser basins as being the dwelling places of dangerously powerful and
unmanageable gods. However, it is food and their relations to other
tribes that mainly control the movements of Indians; and here their food
was mostly on the lower slopes, with nothing except the wild sheep
to tempt them higher. Even these were brought within reach without
excessive climbing during the storms of winter.

On the north side of Shasta, near Sheep Rock, there is a long cavern,
sloping to the northward, nearly a mile in length, thirty or forty feet
wide, and fifty feet or more in height, regular in form and direction
like a railroad tunnel, and probably formed by the flowing away of a
current of lava after the hardening of the surface. At the mouth of this
cave, where the light and shelter is good, I found many of the heads and
horns of the wild sheep, and the remains of campfires, no doubt those of
Indian hunters who in stormy weather had camped there and feasted after
the fatigues of the chase. A wild picture that must have formed on a
dark night--the glow of the fire, the circle of crouching savages around
it seen through the smoke, the dead game, and the weird darkness and
half-darkness of the walls of the cavern, a picture of cave-dwellers at
home in the stone age!

Interest in hunting is almost universal, so deeply is it rooted as
an inherited instinct ever ready to rise and make itself known. Fine
scenery may not stir a fiber of mind or body, but how quick and how true
is the excitement of the pursuit of game! Then up flames the slumbering
volcano of ancient wildness, all that has been done by church and school
through centuries of cultivation is for the moment destroyed, and
the decent gentleman or devout saint becomes a howling, bloodthirsty,
demented savage. It is not long since we all were cavemen and followed
game for food as truly as wildcat or wolf, and the long repression of
civilization seems to make the rebound to savage love of blood all the
more violent. This frenzy, fortunately, does not last long in its most
exaggerated form, and after a season of wildness refined gentlemen
from cities are not more cruel than hunters and trappers who kill for a
living.

Dwelling apart in the depths of the woods are the various kinds of
mountaineers,--hunters, prospectors, and the like,--rare men, "queer
characters," and well worth knowing. Their cabins are located with
reference to game and the ledges to be examined, and are constructed
almost as simply as those of the wood rats made of sticks laid across
each other without compass or square. But they afford good shelter from
storms, and so are "square" with the need of their builders. These men
as a class are singularly fine in manners, though their faces may be
scarred and rough like the bark of trees. On entering their cabins you
will promptly be placed on your good behavior, and, your wants being
perceived with quick insight, complete hospitality will be offered for
body and mind to the extent of the larder.

These men know the mountains far and near, and their thousand voices,
like the leaves of a book. They can tell where the deer may be found
at any time of year or day, and what they are doing; and so of all the
other furred and feathered people they meet in their walks; and they can
send a thought to its mark as well as a bullet. The aims of such people
are not always the highest, yet how brave and manly and clean are their
lives compared with too many in crowded towns mildewed and dwarfed in
disease and crime! How fine a chance is here to begin life anew in the
free fountains and skylands of Shasta, where it is so easy to live and
to die! The future of the hunter is likely to be a good one; no abrupt
change about it, only a passing from wilderness to wilderness, from one
high place to another.

Now that the railroad has been built up the Sacramento, everybody
with money may go to Mount Shasta, the weak as well as the strong,
fine-grained, succulent people, whose legs have never ripened, as well
as sinewy mountaineers seasoned long in the weather. This, surely,
is not the best way of going to the mountains, yet it is better than
staying below. Many still small voices will not be heard in the noisy
rush and din, suggestive of going to the sky in a chariot of fire or
a whirlwind, as one is shot to the Shasta mark in a booming palace-car
cartridge; up the rocky canyon, skimming the foaming river, above the
level reaches, above the dashing spray--fine exhilarating translation,
yet a pity to go so fast in a blur, where so much might be seen and
enjoyed.

The mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soil, but of
men. Therefore we are all, in some sense, mountaineers, and going to the
mountains is going home. Yet how many are doomed to toil in town shadows
while the white mountains beckon all along the horizon! Up the canyon to
Shasta would be a cure for all care. But many on arrival seem at a loss
to know what to do with themselves, and seek shelter in the hotel, as
if that were the Shasta they had come for. Others never leave the rail,
content with the window views, and cling to the comforts of the sleeping
car like blind mice to their mothers. Many are sick and have been
dragged to the healing wilderness unwillingly for body-good alone. Were
the parts of the human machine detachable like Yankee inventions, how
strange would be the gatherings on the mountains of pieces of people out
of repair!

How sadly unlike the whole-hearted ongoing of the seeker after gold is
this partial, compulsory mountaineering!--as if the mountain treasuries
contained nothing better than gold! Up the mountains they go,
high-heeled and high-hatted, laden like Christian with mortifications
and mortgages of divers sorts and degrees, some suffering from the sting
of bad bargains, others exulting in good ones; hunters and fishermen
with gun and rod and leggins; blythe and jolly troubadours to whom all
Shasta is romance; poets singing their prayers; the weak and the strong,
unable or unwilling to bear mental taxation. But, whatever the motive,
all will be in some measure benefited. None may wholly escape the good
of Nature, however imperfectly exposed to her blessings. The minister
will not preach a perfectly flat and sedimentary sermon after climbing a
snowy peak; and the fair play and tremendous impartiality of Nature,
so tellingly displayed, will surely affect the after pleadings of the
lawyer. Fresh air at least will get into everybody, and the cares of
mere business will be quenched like the fires of a sinking ship.

Possibly a branch railroad may some time be built to the summit of Mount
Shasta like the road on Mount Washington. In the mean time tourists
are dropped at Sisson's, about twelve miles from the summit, whence as
headquarters they radiate in every direction to the so-called "points
of interest"; sauntering about the flowery fringes of the Strawberry
Meadows, bathing in the balm of the woods, scrambling, fishing, hunting;
riding about Castle Lake, the McCloud River, Soda Springs, Big Spring,
deer pastures, and elsewhere. Some demand bears, and make excited
inquiries concerning their haunts, how many there might be altogether
on the mountain, and whether they are grizzly, brown, or black. Others
shout, "Excelsior," and make off at once for the upper snow fields.
Most, however, are content with comparatively level ground and
moderate distances, gathering at the hotel every evening laden with
trophies--great sheaves of flowers, cones of various trees, cedar and
fir branches covered with yellow lichens, and possibly a fish or two, or
quail, or grouse.

But the heads of deer, antelope, wild sheep, and bears are conspicuously
rare or altogether wanting in tourist collections in the "paradise of
hunters." There is a grand comparing of notes and adventures. Most are
exhilarated and happy, though complaints may occasionally be heard--"The
mountain does not look so very high after all, nor so very white; the
snow is in patches like rags spread out to dry," reminding one of Sydney
Smith's joke against Jeffrey, "D--n the Solar System; bad light, planets
too indistinct." But far the greater number are in good spirits, showing
the influence of holiday enjoyment and mountain air. Fresh roses come to
cheeks that long have been pale, and sentiment often begins to blossom
under the new inspiration.

The Shasta region may be reserved as a national park, with special
reference to the preservation of its fine forests and game. This should
by all means be done; but, as far as game is concerned, it is in little
danger from tourists, notwithstanding many of them carry guns, and are
in some sense hunters. Going in noisy groups, and with guns so shining,
they are oftentimes confronted by inquisitive Douglas squirrels, and are
thus given opportunities for shooting; but the larger animals retire at
their approach and seldom are seen. Other gun people, too wise or too
lifeless to make much noise, move slowly along the trails and about
the open spots of the woods, like benumbed beetles in a snowdrift. Such
hunters are themselves hunted by the animals, which in perfect safety
follow them out of curiosity.

During the bright days of midsummer the ascent of Shasta is only a long,
safe saunter, without fright or nerve strain, or even serious fatigue,
to those in sound health. Setting out from Sisson's on horseback,
accompanied by a guide leading a pack animal with provision, blankets,
and other necessaries, you follow a trail that leads up to the edge of
the timberline, where you camp for the night, eight or ten miles from
the hotel, at an elevation of about ten thousand feet. The next day,
rising early, you may push on to the summit and return to Sisson's. But
it is better to spend more time in the enjoyment of the grand scenery
on the summit and about the head of the Whitney Glacier, pass the second
night in camp, and return to Sisson's on the third day. Passing around
the margin of the meadows and on through the zones of the forest, you
will have good opportunities to get ever-changing views of the mountain
and its wealth of creatures that bloom and breathe.

The woods differ but little from those that clothe the mountains to the
southward, the trees being slightly closer together and generally not
quite so large, marking the incipient change from the open sunny forests
of the Sierra to the dense damp forests of the northern coast, where a
squirrel may travel in the branches of the thick-set trees hundreds of
miles without touching the ground. Around the upper belt of the forest
you may see gaps where the ground has been cleared by avalanches of
snow, thousands of tons in weight, which, descending with grand rush and
roar, brush the trees from their paths like so many fragile shrubs or
grasses.

At first the ascent is very gradual. The mountain begins to leave
the plain in slopes scarcely perceptible, measuring from two to three
degrees. These are continued by easy gradations mile after mile all the
way to the truncated, crumbling summit, where they attain a steepness
of twenty to twenty-five degrees. The grand simplicity of these lines is
partially interrupted on the north subordinate cone that rises from the
side of the main cone about three thousand feet from the summit. This
side cone, past which your way to the summit lies, was active after the
breaking-up of the main ice-cap of the glacial period, as shown by the
comparatively unwasted crater in which it terminates and by streams of
fresh-looking, unglaciated lava that radiate from it as a center.

The main summit is about a mile and a half in diameter from southwest
to northeast, and is nearly covered with snow and neve, bounded by
crumbling peaks and ridges, among which we look in vain for any sure
plan of an ancient crater. The extreme summit is situated on the
southern end of a narrow ridge that bounds the general summit on the
east. Viewed from the north, it appears as an irregular blunt point
about ten feet high, and is fast disappearing before the stormy
atmospheric action to which it is subjected.

At the base of the eastern ridge, just below the extreme summit, hot
sulphurous gases and vapor escape with a hissing, bubbling noise from
a fissure in the lava. Some of the many small vents cast up a spray of
clear hot water, which falls back repeatedly until wasted in vapor. The
steam and spray seem to be produced simply by melting snow coming in the
way of the escaping gases, while the gases are evidently derived from
the heated interior of the mountain, and may be regarded as the last
feeble expression of the mighty power that lifted the entire mass of the
mountain from the volcanic depths far below the surface of the plain.

The view from the summit in clear weather extends to an immense distance
in every direction. Southeastward, the low volcanic portion of the
Sierra is seen like a map, both flanks as well as the crater-dotted
axis, as far as Lassen's Butte [6], a prominent landmark and an old
volcano like Shasta, between ten and eleven thousand feet high,
and distant about sixty miles. Some of the higher summit peaks near
Independence Lake, one hundred and eighty miles away, are at times
distinctly visible. Far to the north, in Oregon, the snowy volcanic
cones of Mounts Pitt, Jefferson, and the Three Sisters rise in clear
relief, like majestic monuments, above the dim dark sea of the northern
woods. To the northeast lie the Rhett and Klamath Lakes, the Lava Beds,
and a grand display of hill and mountain and gray rocky plains. The
Scott, Siskiyou, and Trinity Mountains rise in long, compact waves to
the west and southwest, and the valley of the Sacramento and the coast
mountains, with their marvelous wealth of woods and waters, are seen;
while close around the base of the mountain lie the beautiful Shasta
Valley, Strawberry Valley, Huckleberry Valley, and many others, with the
headwaters of the Shasta, Sacramento, and McCloud Rivers. Some observers
claim to have seen the ocean from the summit of Shasta, but I have not
yet been so fortunate.

The Cinder Cone near Lassen's Butte is remarkable as being the scene
of the most recent volcanic eruption in the range. It is a symmetrical
truncated cone covered with gray cinders and ashes, with a regular
crater in which a few pines an inch or two in diameter are growing. It
stands between two small lakes which previous to the last eruption, when
the cone was built, formed one lake. From near the base of the cone a
flood of extremely rough black vesicular lava extends across what was
once a portion of the bottom of the lake into the forest of yellow pine.

This lava flow seems to have been poured out during the same eruption
that gave birth to the cone, cutting the lake in two, flowing a little
way into the woods and overwhelming the trees in its way, the ends of
some of the charred trunks still being visible, projecting from beneath
the advanced snout of the flow where it came to rest; while the floor of
the forest for miles around is so thickly strewn with loose cinders that
walking is very fatiguing. The Pitt River Indians tell of a fearful time
of darkness, probably due to this eruption, when the sky was filled with
falling cinders which, as they thought, threatened every living creature
with destruction, and say that when at length the sun appeared through
the gloom it was red like blood.

Less recent craters in great numbers dot the adjacent region, some
with lakes in their throats, some overgrown with trees, others nearly
bare--telling monuments of Nature's mountain fires so often lighted
throughout the northern Sierra. And, standing on the top of icy Shasta,
the mightiest fire-monument of them all, we can hardly fail to look
forward to the blare and glare of its next eruption and wonder whether
it is nigh. Elsewhere men have planted gardens and vineyards in the
craters of volcanoes quiescent for ages, and almost without warning have
been hurled into the sky. More than a thousand years of profound calm
have been known to intervene between two violent eruptions. Seventeen
centuries intervened between two consecutive eruptions on the island of
Ischia. Few volcanoes continue permanently in eruption. Like gigantic
geysers, spouting hot stone instead of hot water, they work and sleep,
and we have no sure means of knowing whether they are only sleeping or
dead.



IV. A Perilous Night on Shasta's Summit


Toward the end of summer, after a light, open winter, one may reach the
summit of Mount Shasta without passing over much snow, by keeping on the
crest of a long narrow ridge, mostly bare, that extends from near the
camp-ground at the timberline. But on my first excursion to the summit
the whole mountain, down to its low swelling base, was smoothly laden
with loose fresh snow, presenting a most glorious mass of winter
mountain scenery, in the midst of which I scrambled and reveled or lay
snugly snowbound, enjoying the fertile clouds and the snow-bloom in all
their growing, drifting grandeur.

I had walked from Redding, sauntering leisurely from station to station
along the old Oregon stage road, the better to see the rocks and plants,
birds and people, by the way, tracing the rushing Sacramento to its
fountains around icy Shasta. The first rains had fallen on the lowlands,
and the first snows on the mountains, and everything was fresh and
bracing, while an abundance of balmy sunshine filled all the noonday
hours. It was the calm afterglow that usually succeeds the first storm
of the winter. I met many of the birds that had reared their young and
spent their summer in the Shasta woods and chaparral. They were then on
their way south to their winter homes, leading their young full-fledged
and about as large and strong as the parents. Squirrels, dry and elastic
after the storms, were busy about their stores of pine nuts, and the
latest goldenrods were still in bloom, though it was now past the
middle of October. The grand color glow--the autumnal jubilee of ripe
leaves--was past prime, but, freshened by the rain, was still making a
fine show along the banks of the river and in the ravines and the dells
of the smaller streams.

At the salmon-hatching establishment on the McCloud River I halted a
week to examine the limestone belt, grandly developed there, to learn
what I could of the inhabitants of the river and its banks, and to give
time for the fresh snow that I knew had fallen on the mountain to
settle somewhat, with a view to making the ascent. A pedestrian on
these mountain roads, especially so late in the year, is sure to excite
curiosity, and many were the interrogations concerning my ramble. When I
said that I was simply taking a walk, and that icy Shasta was my mark, I
was invariably admonished that I had come on a dangerous quest. The time
was far too late, the snow was too loose and deep to climb, and I should
be lost in drifts and slides. When I hinted that new snow was beautiful
and storms not so bad as they were called, my advisers shook their heads
in token of superior knowledge and declared the ascent of "Shasta Butte"
through loose snow impossible. Nevertheless, before noon of the second
of November I was in the frosty azure of the utmost summit.

When I arrived at Sisson's everything was quiet. The last of the summer
visitors had flitted long before, and the deer and bears also were
beginning to seek their winter homes. My barometer and the sighing winds
and filmy half-transparent clouds that dimmed the sunshine gave notice
of the approach of another storm, and I was in haste to be off and get
myself established somewhere in the midst of it, whether the summit was
to be attained or not. Sisson, who is a mountaineer, speedily fitted me
out for storm or calm as only a mountaineer could, with warm blankets
and a week's provisions so generous in quantity and kind that they
easily might have been made to last a month in case of my being closely
snowbound. Well I knew the weariness of snow-climbing, and the frosts,
and the dangers of mountaineering so late in the year; therefore I could
not ask a guide to go with me, even had one been willing. All I wanted
was to have blankets and provisions deposited as far up in the timber as
the snow would permit a pack animal to go. There I could build a
storm nest and lie warm, and make raids up and around the mountain in
accordance with the weather.

Setting out on the afternoon of November first, with Jerome Fay,
mountaineer and guide, in charge of the animals, I was soon plodding
wearily upward through the muffled winter woods, the snow of course
growing steadily deeper and looser, so that we had to break a trail. The
animals began to get discouraged, and after night and darkness came on
they became entangled in a bed of rough lava, where, breaking through
four or five feet of mealy snow, their feet were caught between angular
boulders. Here they were in danger of being lost, but after we had
removed packs and saddles and assisted their efforts with ropes, they
all escaped to the side of a ridge about a thousand feet below the
timberline.

To go farther was out of the question, so we were compelled to camp as
best we could. A pitch pine fire speedily changed the temperature
and shed a blaze of light on the wild lava-slope and the straggling
storm-bent pines around us. Melted snow answered for coffee, and we
had plenty of venison to roast. Toward midnight I rolled myself in my
blankets, slept an hour and a half, arose and ate more venison, tied two
days' provisions to my belt, and set out for the summit, hoping to reach
it ere the coming storm should fall. Jerome accompanied me a little
distance above camp and indicated the way as well as he could in the
darkness. He seemed loath to leave me, but, being reassured that I was
at home and required no care, he bade me good-bye and returned to camp,
ready to lead his animals down the mountain at daybreak.

After I was above the dwarf pines, it was fine practice pushing up the
broad unbroken slopes of snow, alone in the solemn silence of the night.
Half the sky was clouded; in the other half the stars sparkled icily in
the keen, frosty air; while everywhere the glorious wealth of snow fell
away from the summit of the cone in flowing folds, more extensive and
continuous than any I had ever seen before. When day dawned the clouds
were crawling slowly and becoming more massive, but gave no intimation
of immediate danger, and I pushed on faithfully, though holding myself
well in hand, ready to return to the timber; for it was easy to see that
the storm was not far off. The mountain rises ten thousand feet above
the general level of the country, in blank exposure to the deep upper
currents of the sky, and no labyrinth of peaks and canyons I had ever
been in seemed to me so dangerous as these immense slopes, bare against
the sky.

The frost was intense, and drifting snow dust made breathing at times
rather difficult. The snow was as dry as meal, and the finer particles
drifted freely, rising high in the air, while the larger portions of
the crystals rolled like sand. I frequently sank to my armpits between
buried blocks of loose lava, but generally only to my knees. When tired
with walking I still wallowed slowly upward on all fours. The steepness
of the slope--thirty-five degrees in some places--made any kind of
progress fatiguing, while small avalanches were being constantly set
in motion in the steepest places. But the bracing air and the sublime
beauty of the snowy expanse thrilled every nerve and made absolute
exhaustion impossible. I seemed to be walking and wallowing in a cloud;
but, holding steadily onward, by half-past ten o'clock I had gained the
highest summit.

I held my commanding foothold in the sky for two hours, gazing on the
glorious landscapes spread maplike around the immense horizon, and
tracing the outlines of the ancient lava-streams extending far into
the surrounding plains, and the pathways of vanished glaciers of which
Shasta had been the center. But, as I had left my coat in camp for the
sake of having my limbs free in climbing, I soon was cold. The wind
increased in violence, raising the snow in magnificent drifts that were
drawn out in the form of wavering banners blowing in the sun. Toward the
end of my stay a succession of small clouds struck against the summit
rocks like drifting icebergs, darkening the air as they passed, and
producing a chill as definite and sudden as if ice-water had been dashed
in my face. This is the kind of cloud in which snow-flowers grow, and I
turned and fled.

Finding that I was not closely pursued, I ventured to take time on the
way down for a visit to the head of the Whitney Glacier and the "Crater
Butte." After I had reached the end of the main summit ridge the descent
was but little more than one continuous soft, mealy, muffled slide, most
luxurious and rapid, though the hissing, swishing speed attained was
obscured in great part by flying snow dust--a marked contrast to the
boring seal-wallowing upward struggle. I reached camp about an hour
before dusk, hollowed a strip of loose ground in the lee of a large
block of red lava, where firewood was abundant, rolled myself in my
blankets, and went to sleep.

Next morning, having slept little the night before the ascent and being
weary with climbing after the excitement was over, I slept late. Then,
awaking suddenly, my eyes opened on one of the most beautiful and
sublime scenes I ever enjoyed. A boundless wilderness of storm clouds
of different degrees of ripeness were congregated over all the lower
landscape for thousands of square miles, colored gray, and purple, and
pearl, and deep-glowing white, amid which I seemed to be floating; while
the great white cone of the mountain above was all aglow in the
free, blazing sunshine. It seemed not so much an ocean as a land of
clouds--undulating hill and dale, smooth purple plains, and silvery
mountains of cumuli, range over range, diversified with peak and dome
and hollow fully brought out in light and shade.

I gazed enchanted, but cold gray masses, drifting like dust on a
wind-swept plain, began to shut out the light, forerunners of the coming
storm I had been so anxiously watching. I made haste to gather as much
wood as possible, snugging it as a shelter around my bed. The storm
side of my blankets was fastened down with stakes to reduce as much as
possible the sifting-in of drift and the danger of being blown away. The
precious bread sack was placed safely as a pillow, and when at length
the first flakes fell I was exultingly ready to welcome them. Most of
my firewood was more than half rosin and would blaze in the face of the
fiercest drifting; the winds could not demolish my bed, and my bread
could be made to last indefinitely; while in case of need I had the
means of making snowshoes and could retreat or hold my ground as I
pleased.

Presently the storm broke forth into full snowy bloom, and the thronging
crystals darkened the air. The wind swept past in hissing floods,
grinding the snow into meal and sweeping down into the hollows in
enormous drifts all the heavier particles, while the finer dust was
sifted through the sky, increasing the icy gloom. But my fire glowed
bravely as if in glad defiance of the drift to quench it, and,
notwithstanding but little trace of my nest could be seen after the
snow had leveled and buried it, I was snug and warm, and the passionate
uproar produced a glad excitement.

Day after day the storm continued, piling snow on snow in weariless
abundance. There were short periods of quiet, when the sun would seem
to look eagerly down through rents in the clouds, as if to know how
the work was advancing. During these calm intervals I replenished my
fire--sometimes without leaving the nest, for fire and woodpile were
so near this could easily be done--or busied myself with my notebook,
watching the gestures of the trees in taking the snow, examining
separate crystals under a lens, and learning the methods of their
deposition as an enduring fountain for the streams. Several times, when
the storm ceased for a few minutes, a Douglas squirrel came frisking
from the foot of a clump of dwarf pines, moving in sudden interrupted
spurts over the bossy snow; then, without any apparent guidance, he
would dig rapidly into the drift where were buried some grains of barley
that the horses had left. The Douglas squirrel does not strictly
belong to these upper woods, and I was surprised to see him out in such
weather. The mountain sheep also, quite a large flock of them, came to
my camp and took shelter beside a clump of matted dwarf pines a little
above my nest.

The storm lasted about a week, but before it was ended Sisson became
alarmed and sent up the guide with animals to see what had become of me
and recover the camp outfit. The news spread that "there was a man on
the mountain," and he must surely have perished, and Sisson was blamed
for allowing any one to attempt climbing in such weather; while I was as
safe as anybody in the lowlands, lying like a squirrel in a warm, fluffy
nest, busied about my own affairs and wishing only to be let alone.
Later, however, a trail could not have been broken for a horse, and some
of the camp furniture would have had to be abandoned. On the fifth day I
returned to Sisson's, and from that comfortable base made excursions,
as the weather permitted, to the Black Butte, to the foot of the Whitney
Glacier, around the base of the mountain, to Rhett and Klamath Lakes, to
the Modoc region and elsewhere, developing many interesting scenes and
experiences.

But the next spring, on the other side of this eventful winter, I saw
and felt still more of the Shasta snow. For then it was my fortune to
get into the very heart of a storm, and to be held in it for a long
time.

On the 28th of April [1875] I led a party up the mountain for the
purpose of making a survey of the summit with reference to the location
of the Geodetic monument. On the 30th, accompanied by Jerome Fay, I
made another ascent to make some barometrical observations, the day
intervening between the two ascents being devoted to establishing a camp
on the extreme edge of the timberline. Here, on our red trachyte bed,
we obtained two hours of shallow sleep broken for occasional glimpses of
the keen, starry night. At two o'clock we rose, breakfasted on a warmed
tin-cupful of coffee and a piece of frozen venison broiled on the coals,
and started for the summit. Up to this time there was nothing in sight
that betokened the approach of a storm; but on gaining the summit,
we saw toward Lassen's Butte hundreds of square miles of white cumuli
boiling dreamily in the sunshine far beneath us, and causing no alarm.

The slight weariness of the ascent was soon rested away, and our
glorious morning in the sky promised nothing but enjoyment. At 9 a.m.
the dry thermometer stood at 34 degrees in the shade and rose steadily
until at 1 p.m. it stood at 50 degrees, probably influenced somewhat
by radiation from the sun-warmed cliffs. A common bumblebee, not at all
benumbed, zigzagged vigorously about our heads for a few moments, as if
unconscious of the fact that the nearest honey flower was a mile beneath
him.

In the mean time clouds were growing down in Shasta Valley--massive
swelling cumuli, displaying delicious tones of purple and gray in the
hollows of their sun-beaten bosses. Extending gradually southward around
on both sides of Shasta, these at length united with the older field
towards Lassen's Butte, thus encircling Mount Shasta in one continuous
cloud zone. Rhett and Klamath Lakes were eclipsed beneath clouds
scarcely less brilliant than their own silvery disks. The Modoc Lava
Beds, many a snow-laden peak far north in Oregon, the Scott and Trinity
and Siskiyou Mountains, the peaks of the Sierra, the blue Coast Range,
Shasta Valley, the dark forests filling the valley of the Sacramento,
all in turn were obscured or buried, leaving the lofty cone on which we
stood solitary in the sunshine between two skies--a sky of spotless
blue above, a sky of glittering cloud beneath. The creative sun shone
glorious on the vast expanse of cloudland; hill and dale, mountain and
valley springing into existence responsive to his rays and steadily
developing in beauty and individuality. One huge mountain-cone of cloud,
corresponding to Mount Shasta in these newborn cloud ranges, rose close
alongside with a visible motion, its firm, polished bosses seeming so
near and substantial that we almost fancied that we might leap down upon
them from where we stood and make our way to the lowlands. No hint was
given, by anything in their appearance, of the fleeting character of
these most sublime and beautiful cloud mountains. On the contrary they
impressed one as being lasting additions to the landscape.

The weather of the springtime and summer, throughout the Sierra in
general, is usually varied by slight local rains and dustings of
snow, most of which are obviously far too joyous and life-giving to be
regarded as storms--single clouds growing in the sunny sky, ripening
in an hour, showering the heated landscape, and passing away like a
thought, leaving no visible bodily remains to stain the sky. Snowstorms
of the same gentle kind abound among the high peaks, but in spring they
not unfrequently attain larger proportions, assuming a violence and
energy of expression scarcely surpassed by those bred in the depths of
winter. Such was the storm now gathering about us.

It began to declare itself shortly after noon, suggesting to us the
idea of at once seeking our safe camp in the timber and abandoning the
purpose of making an observation of the barometer at 3 p.m.,--two having
already been made, at 9 a.m., and 12 m., while simultaneous observations
were made at Strawberry Valley. Jerome peered at short intervals over
the ridge, contemplating the rising clouds with anxious gestures in
the rough wind, and at length declared that if we did not make a speedy
escape we should be compelled to pass the rest of the day and night
on the summit. But anxiety to complete my observations stifled my
own instinctive promptings to retreat, and held me to my work. No
inexperienced person was depending on me, and I told Jerome that we
two mountaineers should be able to make our way down through any storm
likely to fall.

Presently thin, fibrous films of cloud began to blow directly over the
summit from north to south, drawn out in long fairy webs like carded
wool, forming and dissolving as if by magic. The wind twisted them into
ringlets and whirled them in a succession of graceful convolutions like
the outside sprays of Yosemite Falls in flood time; then, sailing out
into the thin azure over the precipitous brink of the ridge they were
drifted together like wreaths of foam on a river. These higher and finer
cloud fabrics were evidently produced by the chilling of the air from
its own expansion caused by the upward deflection of the wind against
the slopes of the mountain. They steadily increased on the north rim of
the cone, forming at length a thick, opaque, ill-defined embankment from
the icy meshes of which snow-flowers began to fall, alternating with
hail. The sky speedily darkened, and just as I had completed my last
observation and boxed my instruments ready for the descent, the storm
began in serious earnest. At first the cliffs were beaten with hail,
every stone of which, as far as I could see, was regular in form,
six-sided pyramids with rounded base, rich and sumptuous-looking, and
fashioned with loving care, yet seemingly thrown away on those desolate
crags down which they went rolling, falling, sliding in a network of
curious streams.

After we had forced our way down the ridge and past the group of hissing
fumaroles, the storm became inconceivably violent. The thermometer fell
22 degrees in a few minutes, and soon dropped below zero. The hail gave
place to snow, and darkness came on like night. The wind, rising to the
highest pitch of violence, boomed and surged amid the desolate crags;
lightning flashes in quick succession cut the gloomy darkness; and the
thunders, the most tremendously loud and appalling I ever heard, made
an almost continuous roar, stroke following stroke in quick, passionate
succession, as though the mountain were being rent to its foundations
and the fires of the old volcano were breaking forth again.

Could we at once have begun to descend the snow slopes leading to the
timber, we might have made good our escape, however dark and wild the
storm. As it was, we had first to make our way along a dangerous
ridge nearly a mile and a half long, flanked in many places by steep
ice-slopes at the head of the Whitney Glacier on one side and by
shattered precipices on the other. Apprehensive of this coming darkness,
I had taken the precaution, when the storm began, to make the most
dangerous points clear to my mind, and to mark their relations with
reference to the direction of the wind. When, therefore, the darkness
came on, and the bewildering drift, I felt confident that we could
force our way through it with no other guidance. After passing the "Hot
Springs" I halted in the lee of a lava-block to let Jerome, who had
fallen a little behind, come up. Here he opened a council in which,
under circumstances sufficiently exciting but without evincing any
bewilderment, he maintained, in opposition to my views, that it was
impossible to proceed. He firmly refused to make the venture to find the
camp, while I, aware of the dangers that would necessarily attend our
efforts, and conscious of being the cause of his present peril, decided
not to leave him.

 Our discussions ended, Jerome made a dash from the shelter of the
lava-block and began forcing his way back against the wind to the "Hot
Springs," wavering and struggling to resist being carried away, as if he
were fording a rapid stream. After waiting and watching in vain for
some flaw in the storm that might be urged as a new argument in favor of
attempting the descent, I was compelled to follow. "Here," said Jerome,
as we shivered in the midst of the hissing, sputtering fumaroles, "we
shall be safe from frost." "Yes," said I, "we can lie in this mud and
steam and sludge, warm at least on one side; but how can we protect our
lungs from the acid gases, and how, after our clothing is saturated,
shall we be able to reach camp without freezing, even after the storm is
over? We shall have to wait for sunshine, and when will it come?"

The tempered area to which we had committed ourselves extended over
about one fourth of an acre; but it was only about an eighth of an inch
in thickness, for the scalding gas jets were shorn off close to the
ground by the oversweeping flood of frosty wind. And how lavishly the
snow fell only mountaineers may know. The crisp crystal flowers seemed
to touch one another and fairly to thicken the tremendous blast that
carried them. This was the bloom-time, the summer of the cloud, and
never before have I seen even a mountain cloud flowering so profusely.

When the bloom of the Shasta chaparral is falling, the ground is
sometimes covered for hundreds of square miles to a depth of half an
inch. But the bloom of this fertile snow cloud grew and matured and fell
to a depth of two feet in a few hours. Some crystals landed with their
rays almost perfect, but most of them were worn and broken by striking
against one another, or by rolling on the ground. The touch of these
snow-flowers in calm weather is infinitely gentle--glinting, swaying,
settling silently in the dry mountain air, or massed in flakes soft and
downy. To lie out alone in the mountains of a still night and be
touched by the first of these small silent messengers from the sky is a
memorable experience, and the fineness of that touch none will forget.
But the storm-blast laden with crisp, sharp snow seems to crush and
bruise and stupefy with its multitude of stings, and compels the bravest
to turn and flee.

The snow fell without abatement until an hour or two after what seemed
to be the natural darkness of the night. Up to the time the storm first
broke on the summit its development was remarkably gentle. There was a
deliberate growth of clouds, a weaving of translucent tissue above, then
the roar of the wind and the thunder, and the darkening flight of snow.
Its subsidence was not less sudden. The clouds broke and vanished, not
a crystal was left in the sky, and the stars shone out with pure and
tranquil radiance.

During the storm we lay on our backs so as to present as little surface
as possible to the wind, and to let the drift pass over us. The mealy
snow sifted into the folds of our clothing and in many places reached
the skin. We were glad at first to see the snow packing about us, hoping
it would deaden the force of the wind, but it soon froze into a stiff,
crusty heap as the temperature fell, rather augmenting our novel misery.

When the heat became unendurable, on some spot where steam was escaping
through the sludge, we tried to stop it with snow and mud, or shifted
a little at a time by shoving with our heels; for to stand in blank
exposure to the fearful wind in our frozen-and-broiled condition seemed
certain death. The acrid incrustations sublimed from the escaping gases
frequently gave way, opening new vents to scald us; and, fearing that
if at any time the wind should fall, carbonic acid, which often formed
a considerable portion of the gaseous exhalations of volcanoes, might
collect in sufficient quantities to cause sleep and death, I warned
Jerome against forgetting himself for a single moment, even should his
sufferings admit of such a thing.

Accordingly, when during the long, dreary watches of the night we roused
from a state of half-consciousness, we called each other by name in a
frightened, startled way, each fearing the other might be benumbed or
dead. The ordinary sensations of cold give but a faint conception of
that which comes on after hard climbing with want of food and sleep
in such exposure as this. Life is then seen to be a fire, that now
smoulders, now brightens, and may be easily quenched. The weary hours
wore away like dim half-forgotten years, so long and eventful they
seemed, though we did nothing but suffer. Still the pain was not always
of that bitter, intense kind that precludes thought and takes away all
capacity for enjoyment. A sort of dreamy stupor came on at times in
which we fancied we saw dry, resinous logs suitable for campfires, just
as after going days without food men fancy they see bread.

Frozen, blistered, famished, benumbed, our bodies seemed lost to us at
times--all dead but the eyes. For the duller and fainter we became the
clearer was our vision, though only in momentary glimpses. Then, after
the sky cleared, we gazed at the stars, blessed immortals of light,
shining with marvelous brightness with long lance rays, near-looking and
new-looking, as if never seen before. Again they would look familiar and
remind us of stargazing at home. Oftentimes imagination coming into play
would present charming pictures of the warm zone below, mingled with
others near and far. Then the bitter wind and the drift would break
the blissful vision and dreary pains cover us like clouds. "Are you
suffering much?" Jerome would inquire with pitiful faintness. "Yes,"
I would say, striving to keep my voice brave, "frozen and burned; but
never mind, Jerome, the night will wear away at last, and tomorrow we
go a-Maying, and what campfires we will make, and what sunbaths we will
take!"

The frost grew more and more intense, and we became icy and covered over
with a crust of frozen snow, as if we had lain cast away in the drift
all winter. In about thirteen hours--every hour like a year--day began
to dawn, but it was long ere the summit's rocks were touched by the sun.
No clouds were visible from where we lay, yet the morning was dull
and blue, and bitterly frosty; and hour after hour passed by while we
eagerly watched the pale light stealing down the ridge to the hollow
where we lay. But there was not a trace of that warm, flushing sunrise
splendor we so long had hoped for.

As the time drew near to make an effort to reach camp, we became
concerned to know what strength was left us, and whether or no we could
walk; for we had lain flat all this time without once rising to our
feet. Mountaineers, however, always find in themselves a reserve of
power after great exhaustion. It is a kind of second life, available
only in emergencies like this; and, having proved its existence, I had
no great fear that either of us would fail, though one of my arms was
already benumbed and hung powerless.

At length, after the temperature was somewhat mitigated on this
memorable first of May, we arose and began to struggle homeward. Our
frozen trousers could scarcely be made to bend at the knee, and we waded
the snow with difficulty. The summit ridge was fortunately wind-swept
and nearly bare, so we were not compelled to lift our feet high, and
on reaching the long home slopes laden with loose snow we made rapid
progress, sliding and shuffling and pitching headlong, our feebleness
accelerating rather than diminishing our speed. When we had descended
some three thousand feet the sunshine warmed our backs and we began to
revive. At 10 a.m. we reached the timber and were safe.

Half an hour later we heard Sisson shouting down among the firs, coming
with horses to take us to the hotel. After breaking a trail through the
snow as far as possible he had tied his animals and walked up. We had
been so long without food that we cared but little about eating, but we
eagerly drank the coffee he prepared for us. Our feet were frozen, and
thawing them was painful, and had to be done very slowly by keeping them
buried in soft snow for several hours, which avoided permanent damage.
Five thousand feet below the summit we found only three inches of new
snow, and at the base of the mountain only a slight shower of rain
had fallen, showing how local our storm had been, notwithstanding
its terrific fury. Our feet were wrapped in sacking, and we were soon
mounted and on our way down into the thick sunshine--"God's Country,"
as Sisson calls the Chaparral Zone. In two hours' ride the last snowbank
was left behind. Violets appeared along the edges of the trail, and the
chaparral was coming into bloom, with young lilies and larkspurs about
the open places in rich profusion. How beautiful seemed the golden
sunbeams streaming through the woods between the warm brown boles of the
cedars and pines! All my friends among the birds and plants seemed
like OLD friends, and we felt like speaking to every one of them as we
passed, as if we had been a long time away in some far, strange country.

In the afternoon we reached Strawberry Valley and fell asleep. Next
morning we seemed to have risen from the dead. My bedroom was flooded
with sunshine, and from the window I saw the great white Shasta
cone clad in forests and clouds and bearing them loftily in the sky.
Everything seemed full and radiant with the freshness and beauty and
enthusiasm of youth. Sisson's children came in with flowers and covered
my bed, and the storm on the mountaintop banished like a dream.



V. Shasta Rambles and Modoc Memories


Arctic beauty and desolation, with their blessings and dangers, all may
be found here, to test the endurance and skill of adventurous climbers;
but far better than climbing the mountain is going around its warm,
fertile base, enjoying its bounties like a bee circling around a bank
of flowers. The distance is about a hundred miles, and will take some
of the time we hear so much about--a week or two--but the benefits will
compensate for any number of weeks. Perhaps the profession of doing good
may be full, but every body should be kind at least to himself. Take a
course of good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may
renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you. Some have
strange, morbid fears as soon as they find themselves with Nature, even
in the kindest and wildest of her solitudes, like very sick children
afraid of their mother--as if God were dead and the devil were king.

One may make the trip on horseback, or in a carriage, even; for a good
level road may be found all the way round, by Shasta Valley, Sheep Rock,
Elk Flat, Huckleberry Valley, Squaw Valley, following for a considerable
portion of the way the old Emigrant Road, which lies along the east
disk of the mountain, and is deeply worn by the wagons of the early
gold-seekers, many of whom chose this northern route as perhaps being
safer and easier, the pass here being only about six thousand feet above
sea level. But it is far better to go afoot. Then you are free to
make wide waverings and zigzags away from the roads to visit the great
fountain streams of the rivers, the glaciers also, and the wildest
retreats in the primeval forests, where the best plants and animals
dwell, and where many a flower-bell will ring against your knees, and
friendly trees will reach out their fronded branches and touch you as
you pass. One blanket will be enough to carry, or you may forego
the pleasure and burden altogether, as wood for fires is everywhere
abundant. Only a little food will be required. Berries and plums abound
in season, and quail and grouse and deer--the magnificent shaggy mule
deer as well as the common species.

As you sweep around so grand a center, the mountain itself seems to
turn, displaying its riches like the revolving pyramids in jewelers'
windows. One glacier after another comes into view, and the outlines of
the mountain are ever changing, though all the way around, from whatever
point of view, the form is maintained of a grand, simple cone with a
gently sloping base and rugged, crumbling ridges separating the glaciers
and the snowfields more or less completely. The play of colors, from the
first touches of the morning sun on the summit, down the snowfields and
the ice and lava until the forests are aglow, is a never-ending delight,
the rosy lava and the fine flushings of the snow being ineffably lovely.
Thus one saunters on and on in the glorious radiance in utter peace and
forgetfulness of time.

Yet, strange to say, there are days even here somewhat dull-looking,
when the mountain seems uncommunicative, sending out no appreciable
invitation, as if not at home. At such time its height seems much less,
as if, crouching and weary, it were taking rest. But Shasta is always
at home to those who love her, and is ever in a thrill of enthusiastic
activity--burning fires within, grinding glaciers without, and fountains
ever flowing. Every crystal dances responsive to the touches of the sun,
and currents of sap in the growing cells of all the vegetation are ever
in a vital whirl and rush, and though many feet and wings are folded,
how many are astir! And the wandering winds, how busy they are, and what
a breadth of sound and motion they make, glinting and bubbling about the
crags of the summit, sifting through the woods, feeling their way from
grove to grove, ruffling the loose hair on the shoulders of the bears,
fanning and rocking young birds in their cradles, making a trumpet of
every corolla, and carrying their fragrance around the world.

In unsettled weather, when storms are growing, the mountain looms
immensely higher, and its miles of height become apparent to all,
especially in the gloom of the gathering clouds, or when the storm is
done and they are rolling away, torn on the edges and melting while in
the sunshine. Slight rainstorms are likely to be encountered in a
trip round the mountain, but one may easily find shelter beneath
well-thatched trees that shed the rain like a roof. Then the shining of
the wet leaves is delightful, and the steamy fragrance, and the burst
of bird song from a multitude of thrushes and finches and warblers that
have nests in the chaparral.

The nights, too, are delightful, watching with Shasta beneath the great
starry dome. A thousand thousand voices are heard, but so finely blended
they seem a part of the night itself, and make a deeper silence. And how
grandly do the great logs and branches of your campfire give forth the
heat and light that during their long century-lives they have so slowly
gathered from the sun, storing it away in beautiful dotted cells and
beads of amber gum! The neighboring trees look into the charmed circle
as if the noon of another day had come, familiar flowers and grasses
that chance to be near seem far more beautiful and impressive than by
day, and as the dead trees give forth their light all the other riches
of their lives seem to be set free and with the rejoicing flames rise
again to the sky. In setting out from Strawberry Valley, by bearing off
to the northwestward a few miles you may see

   "...beneath dim aisles, in odorous beds,
    The slight Linnaea hang its twin-born heads,
    And [bless] the monument of the man of flowers,
    Which breathes his sweet fame through the northern bowers."

This is one of the few places in California where the charming linnaea
is found, though it is common to the northward through Oregon
and Washington. Here, too, you may find the curious but unlovable
darlingtonia, a carnivorous plant that devours bumblebees, grasshoppers,
ants, moths, and other insects, with insatiable appetite. In approaching
it, its suspicious-looking yellow-spotted hood and watchful attitude
will be likely to make you go cautiously through the bog where it
stands, as if you were approaching a dangerous snake. It also occurs in
a bog near Sothern's Station on the stage road, where I first saw it,
and in other similar bogs throughout the mountains hereabouts.

The "Big Spring" of the Sacramento is about a mile and a half above
Sisson's, issuing from the base of a drift-covered hill. It is lined
with emerald algae and mosses, and shaded with alder, willow, and thorn
bushes, which give it a fine setting. Its waters, apparently unaffected
by flood or drouth, heat or cold, fall at once into white rapids with
a rush and dash, as if glad to escape from the darkness to begin their
wild course down the canyon to the plain.

Muir's Peak, a few miles to the north of the spring, rises about three
thousand feet above the plain on which it stands, and is easily climbed.
The view is very fine and well repays the slight walk to its summit,
from which much of your way about the mountain may be studied and
chosen. The view obtained of the Whitney Glacier should tempt you to
visit it, since it is the largest of the Shasta glaciers and its lower
portion abounds in beautiful and interesting cascades and crevasses. It
is three or four miles long and terminates at an elevation of about nine
thousand five hundred feet above sea level, in moraine-sprinkled ice
cliffs sixty feet high. The long gray slopes leading up to the glacier
seem remarkably smooth and unbroken. They are much interrupted,
nevertheless, with abrupt, jagged precipitous gorges, which though
offering instructive sections of the lavas for examination, would better
be shunned by most people. This may be done by keeping well down on the
base until fronting the glacier before beginning the ascent.

The gorge through which the glacier is drained is raw-looking, deep and
narrow, and indescribably jagged. The walls in many places overhang; in
others they are beveled, loose, and shifting where the channel has
been eroded by cinders, ashes, strata of firm lavas, and glacial drift,
telling of many a change from frost to fire and their attendant floods
of mud and water. Most of the drainage of the glacier vanishes at once
in the porous rocks to reappear in springs in the distant valley, and it
is only in time of flood that the channel carries much water; then there
are several fine falls in the gorge, six hundred feet or more in height.
Snow lies in it the year round at an elevation of eight thousand five
hundred feet, and in sheltered spots a thousand feet lower. Tracing this
wild changing channel-gorge, gully, or canyon, the sections will show
Mount Shasta as a huge palimpsest, containing the records, layer upon
layer, of strangely contrasted events in its fiery-icy history. But
look well to your footing, for the way will test the skill of the most
cautious mountaineers.

Regaining the low ground at the base of the mountain and holding on in
your grand orbit, you pass through a belt of juniper woods, called "The
Cedars," to Sheep Rock at the foot of the Shasta Pass. Here you strike
the old emigrant road, which leads over the low divide to the eastern
slopes of the mountain. In a north-northwesterly direction from the foot
of the pass you may chance to find Pluto's Cave, already mentioned; but
it is not easily found, since its several mouths are on a level with
the general surface of the ground, and have been made simply by the
falling-in of portions of the roof. Far the most beautiful and richly
furnished of the mountain caves of California occur in a thick belt
of metamorphic limestone that is pretty generally developed along the
western flank of the Sierra from the McCloud River to the Kaweah, a
distance of nearly four hundred miles. These volcanic caves are not
wanting in interest, and it is well to light a pitch pine torch and take
a walk in these dark ways of the underworld whenever opportunity offers,
if for no other reason to see with new appreciation on returning to the
sunshine the beauties that lie so thick about us.

Sheep Rock is about twenty miles from Sisson's, and is one of the
principal winter pasture grounds of the wild sheep, from which it takes
its name. It is a mass of lava presenting to the gray sage plain of
Shasta Valley a bold craggy front two thousand feet high. Its summit
lies at an elevation of five thousand five hundred feet above the sea,
and has several square miles of comparatively level surface, where
bunchgrass grows and the snow does not lie deep, thus allowing the hardy
sheep to pick up a living through the winter months when deep snows have
driven them down from the lofty ridges of Shasta.

From here it might be well to leave the immediate base of the mountain
for a few days and visit the Lava Beds made famous by the Modoc War.
They lie about forty miles to the northeastward, on the south shore
of Rhett or Tule [7] Lake, at an elevation above sea level of about
forty-five hundred feet. They are a portion of a flow of dense black
vesicular lava, dipping northeastward at a low angle, but little changed
as yet by the weather, and about as destitute of soil as a glacial
pavement. The surface, though smooth in a general way as seen from
a distance, is dotted with hillocks and rough crater-like pits, and
traversed by a network of yawning fissures, forming a combination of
topographical conditions of very striking character. The way lies by
Mount Bremer, over stretches of gray sage plains, interrupted by rough
lava slopes timbered with juniper and yellow pine, and with here and
there a green meadow and a stream.

This is a famous game region, and you will be likely to meet small bands
of antelope, mule deer, and wild sheep. Mount Bremer is the most noted
stronghold of the sheep in the whole Shasta region. Large flocks dwell
here from year to year, winter and summer, descending occasionally into
the adjacent sage plains and lava beds to feed, but ever ready to take
refuge in the jagged crags of their mountain at every alarm. While
traveling with a company of hunters I saw about fifty in one flock.

The Van Bremer brothers, after whom the mountain is named, told me that
they once climbed the mountain with their rifles and hounds on a grand
hunt; but, after keeping up the pursuit for a week, their boots and
clothing gave way, and the hounds were lamed and worn out without having
run down a single sheep, notwithstanding they ran night and day. On
smooth spots, level or ascending, the hounds gained on the sheep, but
on descending ground, and over rough masses of angular rocks they fell
hopelessly behind. Only half a dozen sheep were shot as they passed the
hunters stationed near their paths circling round the rugged summit. The
full-grown bucks weigh nearly three hundred and fifty pounds.

The mule deer are nearly as heavy. Their long, massive ears give them
a very striking appearance. One large buck that I measured stood three
feet and seven inches high at the shoulders, and when the ears were
extended horizontally the distance across from tip to tip was two feet
and one inch.

From the Van Bremer ranch the way to the Lava Beds leads down the Bremer
Meadows past many a smooth grassy knoll and jutting cliff, along the
shore of Lower Klamath Lake, and thence across a few miles of sage plain
to the brow of the wall-like bluff of lava four hundred and fifty feet
above Tule Lake. Here you are looking southeastward, and the Modoc
landscape, which at once takes possession of you, lies revealed in
front. It is composed of three principal parts; on your left lies the
bright expanse of Tule Lake, on your right an evergreen forest, and
between the two are the black Lava Beds.

When I first stood there, one bright day before sundown, the lake was
fairly blooming in purple light, and was so responsive to the sky in
both calmness and color it seemed itself a sky. No mountain shore hides
its loveliness. It lies wide open for many a mile, veiled in no mystery
but the mystery of light. The forest also was flooded with sun-purple,
not a spire moving, and Mount Shasta was seen towering above it
rejoicing in the ineffable beauty of the alpenglow. But neither the
glorified woods on the one hand, nor the lake on the other, could
at first hold the eye. That dark mysterious lava plain between them
compelled attention. Here you trace yawning fissures, there clusters
of somber pits; now you mark where the lava is bent and corrugated in
swelling ridges and domes, again where it breaks into a rough mass of
loose blocks. Tufts of grass grow far apart here and there and small
bushes of hardy sage, but they have a singed appearance and can do
little to hide the blackness. Deserts are charming to those who know how
to see them--all kinds of bogs, barrens, and heathy moors; but the Modoc
Lava Beds have for me an uncanny look. As I gazed the purple deepened
over all the landscape. Then fell the gloaming, making everything still
more forbidding and mysterious. Then, darkness like death.

Next morning the crisp, sunshiny air made even the Modoc landscape less
hopeless, and we ventured down the bluff to the edge of the Lava Beds.
Just at the foot of the bluff we came to a square enclosed by a stone
wall. This is a graveyard where lie buried thirty soldiers, most of whom
met their fate out in the Lava Beds, as we learn by the boards marking
the graves--a gloomy place to die in, and deadly-looking even without
Modocs. The poor fellows that lie here deserve far more pity than they
have ever received. Picking our way over the strange ridges and hollows
of the beds, we soon came to a circular flat about twenty yards in
diameter, on the shore of the lake, where the comparative smoothness of
the lava and a few handfuls of soil have caused the grass tufts to grow
taller. This is where General Canby was slain while seeking to make
peace with the treacherous Modocs.

Two or three miles farther on is the main stronghold of the Modocs, held
by them so long and defiantly against all the soldiers that could be
brought to the attack. Indians usually choose to hide in tall grass and
bush and behind trees, where they can crouch and glide like panthers,
without casting up defenses that would betray their positions; but the
Modoc castle is in the rock. When the Yosemite Indians made raids on
the settlers of the lower Merced, they withdrew with their spoils into
Yosemite Valley; and the Modocs boasted that in case of war they had a
stone house into which no white man could come as long as they cared to
defend it. Yosemite was not held for a single day against the pursuing
troops; but the Modocs held their fort for months, until, weary of being
hemmed in, they chose to withdraw.

It consists of numerous redoubts formed by the unequal subsidence
of portions of the lava flow, and a complicated network of redans
abundantly supplied with salient and re-entering angles, being united
each to the other and to the redoubts by a labyrinth of open and covered
corridors, some of which expand at intervals into spacious caverns,
forming as a whole the most complete natural Gibraltar I ever saw. Other
castles scarcely less strong are connected with this by subterranean
passages known only to the Indians, while the unnatural blackness of the
rock out of which Nature has constructed these defenses, and the weird,
inhuman physiognomy of the whole region are well calculated to inspire
terror.

Deadly was the task of storming such a place. The breech-loading rifles
of the Indians thrust through chinks between the rocks were ready
to pick off every soldier who showed himself for a moment, while the
Indians lay utterly invisible. They were familiar with byways both over
and under ground, and could at any time sink suddenly out of sight like
squirrels among the loose boulders. Our bewildered soldiers heard them
shooting, now before, now behind them, as they glided from place
to place through fissures and subterranean passes, all the while as
invisible as Gyges wearing his magic ring. To judge from the few I
have seen, Modocs are not very amiable-looking people at best. When,
therefore, they were crawling stealthily in the gloomy caverns, unkempt
and begrimed and with the glare of war in their eyes, they must have
seemed very demons of the volcanic pit.

Captain Jack's cave is one of the many somber cells of the castle. It
measures twenty-five or thirty feet in diameter at the entrance, and
extends but a short distance in a horizontal direction. The floor is
littered with the bones of the animals slaughtered for food during the
war. Some eager archaeologist may hereafter discover this cabin and
startle his world by announcing another of the Stone Age caves. The
sun shines freely into its mouth, and graceful bunches of grass and
eriogonums and sage grow about it, doing what they can toward its
redemption from degrading associations and making it beautiful.

Where the lava meets the lake there are some fine curving bays,
beautifully embroidered with rushes and polygonums, a favorite resort of
waterfowl. On our return, keeping close along shore, we caused a noisy
plashing and beating of wings among cranes and geese. The ducks, less
wary, kept their places, merely swimming in and out through openings
in the rushes, rippling the glassy water, and raising spangles in their
wake. The countenance of the lava beds became less and less forbidding.
Tufts of pale grasses, relieved on the jet rocks, looked like ornaments
on a mantel, thick-furred mats of emerald mosses appeared in damp spots
next the shore, and I noticed one tuft of small ferns. From year to year
in the kindly weather the beds are thus gathering beauty--beauty for
ashes.

Returning to Sheep Rock and following the old emigrant road, one is soon
back again beneath the snows and shadows of Shasta, and the Ash Creek
and McCloud Glaciers come into view on the east side of the mountain.
They are broad, rugged, crevassed cloudlike masses of down-grinding ice,
pouring forth streams of muddy water as measures of the work they are
doing in sculpturing the rocks beneath them; very unlike the long,
majestic glaciers of Alaska that riverlike go winding down the valleys
through the forests to the sea. These, with a few others as yet
nameless, are lingering remnants of once great glaciers that occupied
the canyons now taken by the rivers, and in a few centuries will, under
present conditions, vanish altogether.

The rivers of the granite south half of the Sierra are outspread on
the peaks in a shining network of small branches, that divide again
and again into small dribbling, purling, oozing threads drawing their
sources from the snow and ice of the surface. They seldom sink out of
sight, save here and there in the moraines or glaciers, or, early in the
season, beneath the banks and bridges of snow, soon to issue again.
But in the north half, laden with rent and porous lava, small tributary
streams are rare, and the rivers, flowing for a time beneath the sky of
rock, at length burst forth into the light in generous volume from
seams and caverns, filtered, cool, and sparkling, as if their bondage in
darkness, safe from the vicissitudes of the weather in their youth, were
only a blessing.

Only a very small portion of the water derived from the melting ice
and snow of Shasta flows down its flanks on the surface. Probably
ninety-nine per cent of it is at once absorbed and drained away beneath
the porous lava-folds of the mountain to gush forth, filtered and pure,
in the form of immense springs, so large, some of them, that they give
birth to rivers that start on their journey beneath the sun, full-grown
and perfect without any childhood. Thus the Shasta River issues from
a large lake-like spring in Shasta Valley, and about two thirds of the
volume of the McCloud gushes forth in a grand spring on the east side of
the mountain, a few miles back from its immediate base.

To find the big spring of the McCloud, or "Mud Glacier," which you will
know by its size (it being the largest on the east side), you make your
way through sunny, parklike woods of yellow pine, and a shaggy growth
of chaparral, and come in a few hours to the river flowing in a gorge of
moderate depth, cut abruptly down into the lava plain. Should the volume
of the stream where you strike it seem small, then you will know that
you are above the spring; if large, nearly equal to its volume at its
confluence with the Pitt River, then you are below it; and in either
case have only to follow the river up or down until you come to it.

Under certain conditions you may hear the roar of the water rushing from
the rock at a distance of half a mile, or even more; or you may not
hear it until within a few rods. It comes in a grand, eager gush from a
horizontal seam in the face of the wall of the river gorge in the form
of a partially interrupted sheet nearly seventy-five yards in width, and
at a height above the riverbed of about forty feet, as nearly as I could
make out without the means of exact measurement. For about fifty yards
this flat current is in one unbroken sheet, and flows in a lacework of
plashing, upleaping spray over boulders that are clad in green silky
algae and water mosses to meet the smaller part of the river, which
takes its rise farther up. Joining the river at right angles to its
course, it at once swells its volume to three times its size above the
spring.

The vivid green of the boulders beneath the water is very striking, and
colors the entire stream with the exception of the portions broken into
foam. The color is chiefly due to a species of algae which seems common
in springs of this sort. That any kind of plant can hold on and grow
beneath the wear of so boisterous a current seems truly wonderful, even
after taking into consideration the freedom of the water from cutting
drift, and the constance of its volume and temperature throughout the
year. The temperature is about 45 degrees, and the height of the river
above the sea is here about three thousand feet. Asplenium, epilobium,
heuchera, hazel, dogwood, and alder make a luxurious fringe and setting;
and the forests of Douglas spruce along the banks are the finest I have
ever seen in the Sierra.

From the spring you may go with the river--a fine traveling
companion--down to the sportsman's fishing station, where, if you are
getting hungry, you may replenish your stores; or, bearing off around
the mountain by Huckleberry Valley, complete your circuit without
interruption, emerging at length from beneath the outspread arms of
the sugar pine at Strawberry Valley, with all the new wealth and health
gathered in your walk; not tired in the least, and only eager to repeat
the round.

Tracing rivers to their fountains makes the most charming of travels.
As the life-blood of the landscapes, the best of the wilderness comes
to their banks, and not one dull passage is found in all their eventful
histories. Tracing the McCloud to its highest springs, and over the
divide to the fountains of Fall River, near Fort Crook, thence down that
river to its confluence with the Pitt, on from there to the volcanic
region about Lassen's Butte, through the Big Meadows among the sources
of the Feather River, and down through forests of sugar pine to the
fertile plains of Chico--this is a glorious saunter and imposes no
hardship. Food may be had at moderate intervals, and the whole circuit
forms one ever-deepening, broadening stream of enjoyment.

Fall River is a very remarkable stream. It is only about ten miles
long, and is composed of springs, rapids, and falls--springs beautifully
shaded at one end of it, a showy fall one hundred and eighty feet
high at the other, and a rush of crystal rapids between. The banks are
fringed with rubus, rose, plum cherry, spiraea, azalea, honeysuckle,
hawthorn, ash, alder, elder, aster, goldenrod, beautiful grasses,
sedges, rushes, mosses, and ferns with fronds as large as the leaves of
palms--all in the midst of a richly forested landscape. Nowhere within
the limits of California are the forests of yellow pine so extensive and
exclusive as on the headwaters of the Pitt. They cover the mountains
and all the lower slopes that border the wide, open valleys which abound
there, pressing forward in imposing ranks, seemingly the hardiest and
most firmly established of all the northern coniferae.

The volcanic region about Lassen's Butte I have already in part
described. Miles of its flanks are dotted with hot springs, many of them
so sulphurous and boisterous and noisy in their boiling that they seem
inclined to become geysers like those of the Yellowstone.

The ascent of Lassen's Butte is an easy walk, and the views from the
summit are extremely telling. Innumerable lakes and craters surround the
base; forests of the charming Williamson spruce fringe lake and crater
alike; the sunbeaten plains to east and west make a striking show, and
the wilderness of peaks and ridges stretch indefinitely away on either
hand. The lofty, icy Shasta, towering high above all, seems but an
hour's walk from you, though the distance in an air-line is about sixty
miles.

The "Big Meadows" lie near the foot of Lassen's Butte, a beautiful
spacious basin set in the heart of the richly forested mountains,
scarcely surpassed in the grandeur of its surroundings by Tahoe. During
the Glacial Period it was a mer de glace, then a lake, and now a level
meadow shining with bountiful springs and streams. In the number and
size of its big spring fountains it excels even Shasta. One of the
largest that I measured forms a lakelet nearly a hundred yards in
diameter, and, in the generous flood it sends forth offers one of the
most telling symbols of Nature's affluence to be found in the mountains.

The great wilds of our country, once held to be boundless and
inexhaustible, are being rapidly invaded and overrun in every direction,
and everything destructible in them is being destroyed. How far
destruction may go it is not easy to guess. Every landscape, low and
high, seems doomed to be trampled and harried. Even the sky is not safe
from scath--blurred and blackened whole summers together with the smoke
of fires that devour the woods.

The Shasta region is still a fresh unspoiled wilderness, accessible and
available for travelers of every kind and degree. Would it not then be
a fine thing to set it apart like the Yellowstone and Yosemite as a
National Park for the welfare and benefit of all mankind, preserving
its fountains and forests and all its glad life in primeval beauty?
Very little of the region can ever be more valuable for any other
use--certainly not for gold nor for grain. No private right or interest
need suffer, and thousands yet unborn would come from far and near and
bless the country for its wise and benevolent forethought.



VI. The City of the Saints [8]


The mountains rise grandly round about this curious city, the Zion of
the new Saints, so grandly that the city itself is hardly visible. The
Wahsatch Range, snow-laden and adorned with glacier-sculpted peaks,
stretches continuously along the eastern horizon, forming the boundary
of the Great Salt Lake Basin; while across the valley of the Jordan
southwestward from here, you behold the Oquirrh Range, about as snowy
and lofty as the Wahsatch. To the northwest your eye skims the blue
levels of the great lake, out of the midst of which rise island
mountains, and beyond, at a distance of fifty miles, is seen the
picturesque wall of the lakeside mountains blending with the lake and
the sky.

The glacial developments of these superb ranges are sharply sculptured
peaks and crests, with ample wombs between them where the ancient snows
of the glacial period were collected and transformed into ice, and ranks
of profound shadowy canyons, while moraines commensurate with the lofty
fountains extend into the valleys, forming far the grandest series of
glacial monuments I have yet seen this side of the Sierra.

In beginning this letter I meant to describe the city, but in the
company of these noble old mountains, it is not easy to bend one's
attention upon anything else. Salt Lake cannot be called a very
beautiful town, neither is there anything ugly or repulsive about it.
From the slopes of the Wahsatch foothills, or old lake benches, toward
Fort Douglas it is seen to occupy the sloping gravelly delta of City
Creek, a fine, hearty stream that comes pouring from the snows of the
mountains through a majestic glacial canyon; and it is just where this
stream comes forth into the light on the edge of the valley of the
Jordan that the Mormons have built their new Jerusalem.

At first sight there is nothing very marked in the external appearance
of the town excepting its leafiness. Most of the houses are veiled with
trees, as if set down in the midst of one grand orchard; and seen at a
little distance they appear like a field of glacier boulders overgrown
with aspens, such as one often meets in the upper valleys of the
California Sierra, for only the angular roofs are clearly visible.

Perhaps nineteen twentieths of the houses are built of bluish-gray adobe
bricks, and are only one or two stories high, forming fine cottage homes
which promise simple comfort within. They are set well back from the
street, leaving room for a flower garden, while almost every one has a
thrifty orchard at the sides and around the back. The gardens are
laid out with great simplicity, indicating love for flowers by people
comparatively poor, rather than deliberate efforts of the rich for showy
artistic effects. They are like the pet gardens of children, about as
artless and humble, and harmonize with the low dwellings to which
they belong. In almost every one you find daisies, and mint, and lilac
bushes, and rows of plain English tulips. Lilacs and tulips are the
most characteristic flowers, and nowhere have I seen them in greater
perfection. As Oakland is pre-eminently a city of roses, so is this
Mormon Saints' Rest a city of lilacs and tulips. The flowers, at least,
are saintly, and they are surely loved. Scarce a home, however obscure,
is without them, and the simple, unostentatious manner in which they are
planted and gathered in pots and boxes about the windows shows how truly
they are prized.

The surrounding commons, the marshy levels of the Jordan, and dry,
gravelly lake benches on the slopes of the Wahsatch foothills are now
gay with wild flowers, chief among which are a species of phlox, with an
abundance of rich pink corollas, growing among sagebrush in showy
tufts, and a beautiful papilionaceous plant, with silky leaves and large
clusters of purple flowers, banner, wings, and keel exquisitely shaded,
a mertensia, hydrophyllum, white boragewort, orthocarpus, several
species of violets, and a tall scarlet gilia. It is delightful to see
how eagerly all these are sought after by the children, both boys and
girls. Every day that I have gone botanizing I have met groups of little
Latter-Days with their precious bouquets, and at such times it was hard
to believe the dark, bloody passages of Mormon history.

But to return to the city. As soon as City Creek approaches its upper
limit its waters are drawn off right and left, and distributed in brisk
rills, one on each side of every street, the regular slopes of the delta
upon which the city is built being admirably adapted to this system of
street irrigation. These streams are all pure and sparkling in the
upper streets, but, as they are used to some extent as sewers, they soon
manifest the consequence of contact with civilization, though the speed
of their flow prevents their becoming offensive, and little Saints not
over particular may be seen drinking from them everywhere.

The streets are remarkably wide and the buildings low, making them
appear yet wider than they really are. Trees are planted along the
sidewalks--elms, poplars, maples, and a few catalpas and hawthorns; yet
they are mostly small and irregular, and nowhere form avenues half so
leafy and imposing as one would be led to expect. Even in the business
streets there is but little regularity in the buildings--now a row
of plain adobe structures, half store, half dwelling, then a high
mercantile block of red brick or sandstone, and again a row of adobe
cottages nestled back among apple trees. There is one immense store with
its sign upon the roof, in letters big enough to be read miles away,
"Z.C.M.I." (Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution), while many a
small, codfishy corner grocery bears the legend "Holiness to the Lord,
Z.C.M.I." But little evidence will you find in this Zion, with its
fifteen thousand souls, of great wealth, though many a Saint is seeking
it as keenly as any Yankee Gentile. But on the other hand, searching
throughout all the city, you will not find any trace of squalor or
extreme poverty.

Most of the women I have chanced to meet, especially those from the
country, have a weary, repressed look, as if for the sake of their
religion they were patiently carrying burdens heavier than they were
well able to bear. But, strange as it must seem to Gentiles, the
many wives of one man, instead of being repelled from one another by
jealousy, appear to be drawn all the closer together, as if the real
marriage existed between the wives only. Groups of half a dozen or so
may frequently be seen on the streets in close conversation, looking
as innocent and unspeculative as a lot of heifers, while the masculine
Saints pass them by as if they belonged to a distinct species. In the
Tabernacle last Sunday, one of the elders of the church, in discoursing
upon the good things of life, the possessions of Latter-Day Saints,
enumerated fruitful fields, horses, cows, wives, and implements, the
wives being placed as above, between the cows and implements, without
receiving any superior emphasis.

Polygamy, as far as I have observed, exerts a more degrading influence
upon husbands that upon wives. The love of the latter finds expression
in flowers and children, while the former seem to be rendered incapable
of pure love of anything. The spirit of Mormonism is intensely exclusive
and un-American. A more withdrawn, compact, sealed-up body of people
could hardly be found on the face of the earth than is gathered here,
notwithstanding railroads, telegraphs, and the penetrating lights
that go sifting through society everywhere in this revolutionary,
question-asking century. Most of the Mormons I have met seem to be in a
state of perpetual apology, which can hardly be fully accounted for by
Gentile attacks. At any rate it is unspeakably offensive to any free
man.

"We Saints," they are continually saying, "are not as bad as we are
called. We don't murder those who differ with us, but rather treat them
with all charity. You may go through our town night or day and no harm
shall befall you. Go into our houses and you will be well used. We are
as glad as you are that Lee was punished," etc. While taking a saunter
the other evening we were overtaken by a characteristic Mormon, "an
umble man," who made us a very deferential salute and then walked on
with us about half a mile. We discussed whatsoever of Mormon doctrines
came to mind with American freedom, which he defended as best he could,
speaking in an excited but deprecating tone. When hard pressed he would
say: "I don't understand these deep things, but the elders do. I'm only
an umble tradesman." In taking leave he thanked us for the pleasure of
our querulous conversation, removed his hat, and bowed lowly in a sort
of Uriah Heep manner, and then went to his humble home. How many humble
wives it contained, we did not learn.

Fine specimens of manhood are by no means wanting, but the number of
people one meets here who have some physical defect or who attract one's
attention by some mental peculiarity that manifests itself through the
eyes, is astonishingly great in so small a city. It would evidently be
unfair to attribute these defects to Mormonism, though Mormonism has
undoubtedly been the magnet that elected and drew these strange people
together from all parts of the world.

But however "the peculiar doctrines" and "peculiar practices" of
Mormonism have affected the bodies and the minds of the old Saints, the
little Latter-Day boys and girls are as happy and natural as possible,
running wild, with plenty of good hearty parental indulgence, playing,
fighting, gathering flowers in delightful innocence; and when we
consider that most of the parents have been drawn from the thickly
settled portion of the Old World, where they have long suffered the
repression of hunger and hard toil, the Mormon children, "Utah's best
crop," seem remarkably bright and promising.

From children one passes naturally into the blooming wilderness, to the
pure religion of sunshine and snow, where all the good and the evil of
this strange people lifts and vanishes from the mind like mist from the
mountains.



VII. A Great Storm in Utah [9]


Utah has just been blessed with one of the grandest storms I have ever
beheld this side of the Sierra. The mountains are laden with fresh snow;
wild streams are swelling and booming adown the canyons, and out in the
valley of the Jordan a thousand rain-pools are gleaming in the sun.

With reference to the development of fertile storms bearing snow and
rain, the greater portion of the calendar springtime of Utah has been
winter. In all the upper canyons of the mountains the snow is now from
five to ten feet deep or more, and most of it has fallen since March.
Almost every other day during the last three weeks small local storms
have been falling on the Wahsatch and Oquirrh Mountains, while the
Jordan Valley remained dry and sun-filled. But on the afternoon of
Thursday, the 17th ultimo, wind, rain, and snow filled the whole basin,
driving wildly over valley and plain from range to range, bestowing
their benefactions in most cordial and harmonious storm-measures. The
oldest Saints say they have never witnessed a more violent storm of this
kind since the first settlement of Zion, and while the gale from the
northwest, with which the storm began, was rocking their adobe walls,
uprooting trees and darkening the streets with billows of dust and sand,
some of them seemed inclined to guess that the terrible phenomenon was
one of the signs of the times of which their preachers are so constantly
reminding them, the beginning of the outpouring of the treasured wrath
of the Lord upon the Gentiles for the killing of Joseph Smith. To me it
seemed a cordial outpouring of Nature's love; but it is easy to differ
with salt Latter-Days in everything--storms, wives, politics, and
religion.

About an hour before the storm reached the city I was so fortunate as
to be out with a friend on the banks of the Jordan enjoying the scenery.
Clouds, with peculiarly restless and self-conscious gestures, were
marshaling themselves along the mountain-tops, and sending out long,
overlapping wings across the valley; and even where no cloud was
visible, an obscuring film absorbed the sunlight, giving rise to a cold,
bluish darkness. Nevertheless, distant objects along the boundaries of
the landscape were revealed with wonderful distinctness in this weird,
subdued, cloud-sifted light. The mountains, in particular, with the
forests on their flanks, their mazy lacelike canyons, the wombs of the
ancient glaciers, and their marvelous profusion of ornate sculpture,
were most impressively manifest. One would fancy that a man might be
clearly seen walking on the snow at a distance of twenty or thirty
miles.

While we were reveling in this rare, ungarish grandeur, turning from
range to range, studying the darkening sky and listening to the still
small voices of the flowers at our feet, some of the denser clouds came
down, crowning and wreathing the highest peaks and dropping long gray
fringes whose smooth linear structure showed that snow was beginning to
fall. Of these partial storms there were soon ten or twelve, arranged
in two rows, while the main Jordan Valley between them lay as yet in
profound calm. At 4:30 p.m. a dark brownish cloud appeared close down on
the plain towards the lake, extending from the northern extremity of
the Oquirrh Range in a northeasterly direction as far as the eye could
reach. Its peculiar color and structure excited our attention without
enabling us to decide certainly as to its character, but we were not
left long in doubt, for in a few minutes it came sweeping over the
valley in a wild uproar, a torrent of wind thick with sand and dust,
advancing with a most majestic front, rolling and overcombing like a
gigantic sea-wave. Scarcely was it in plain sight ere it was upon
us, racing across the Jordan, over the city, and up the slopes of the
Wahsatch, eclipsing all the landscapes in its course--the bending trees,
the dust streamers, and the wild onrush of everything movable giving it
an appreciable visibility that rendered it grand and inspiring.

This gale portion of the storm lasted over an hour, then down came the
blessed rain and the snow all through the night and the next day, the
snow and rain alternating and blending in the valley. It is long since
I have seen snow coming into a city. The crystal flakes falling in the
foul streets was a pitiful sight.

Notwithstanding the vaunted refining influences of towns, purity of all
kinds--pure hearts, pure streams, pure snow--must here be exposed to
terrible trials. City Creek, coming from its high glacial fountains,
enters the streets of this Mormon Zion pure as an angel, but how does it
leave it? Even roses and lilies in gardens most loved are tainted with a
thousand impurities as soon as they unfold. I heard Brigham Young in the
Tabernacle the other day warning his people that if they did not mend
their manners angels would not come into their houses, though perchance
they might be sauntering by with little else to do than chat with them.
Possibly there may be Salt Lake families sufficiently pure for angel
society, but I was not pleased with the reception they gave the small
snow angels that God sent among them the other night. Only the children
hailed them with delight. The old Latter-Days seemed to shun them. I
should like to see how Mr. Young, the Lake Prophet, would meet such
messengers.

But to return to the storm. Toward the evening of the 18th it began to
wither. The snowy skirts of the Wahsatch Mountains appeared beneath the
lifting fringes of the clouds, and the sun shone out through colored
windows, producing one of the most glorious after-storm effects I ever
witnessed. Looking across the Jordan, the gray sagey slopes from the
base of the Oquirrh Mountains were covered with a thick, plushy cloth of
gold, soft and ethereal as a cloud, not merely tinted and gilded like a
rock with autumn sunshine, but deeply muffled beyond recognition. Surely
nothing in heaven, nor any mansion of the Lord in all his worlds, could
be more gloriously carpeted. Other portions of the plain were flushed
with red and purple, and all the mountains and the clouds above them
were painted in corresponding loveliness. Earth and sky, round and round
the entire landscape, was one ravishing revelation of color, infinitely
varied and interblended.

I have seen many a glorious sunset beneath lifting storm clouds on the
mountains, but nothing comparable with this. I felt as if new-arrived in
some other far-off world. The mountains, the plains, the sky, all seemed
new. Other experiences seemed but to have prepared me for this, as souls
are prepared for heaven. To describe the colors on a single mountain
would, if it were possible at all, require many a volume--purples, and
yellows, and delicious pearly grays divinely toned and interblended,
and so richly put on one seemed to be looking down through the ground
as through a sky. The disbanding clouds lingered lovingly about the
mountains, filling the canyons like tinted wool, rising and drooping
around the topmost peaks, fondling their rugged bases, or, sailing
alongside, trailed their lustrous fringes through the pines as if taking
a last view of their accomplished work. Then came darkness, and the
glorious day was done.

This afternoon the Utah mountains and valleys seem to belong to our own
very world again. They are covered with common sunshine. Down here on
the banks of the Jordan, larks and redwings are swinging on the rushes;
the balmy air is instinct with immortal life; the wild flowers, the
grass, and the farmers' grain are fresh as if, like the snow, they had
come out of heaven, and the last of the angel clouds are fleeing from
the mountains.



VIII. Bathing in Salt Lake [10]


When the north wind blows, bathing in Salt Lake is a glorious baptism,
for then it is all wildly awake with waves, blooming like a prairie in
snowy crystal foam. Plunging confidently into the midst of the grand
uproar you are hugged and welcomed, and swim without effort, rocking
and heaving up and down, in delightful rhythm, while the winds sing in
chorus and the cool, fragrant brine searches every fiber of your body;
and at length you are tossed ashore with a glad Godspeed, braced and
salted and clean as a saint.

The nearest point on the shoreline is distant about ten miles from Salt
Lake City, and is almost inaccessible on account of the boggy character
of the ground, but, by taking the Western Utah Railroad, at a distance
of twenty miles you reach what is called Lake Point, where the shore is
gravelly and wholesome and abounds in fine retreating bays that seem to
have been made on purpose for bathing. Here the northern peaks of
the Oquirrh Range plant their feet in the clear blue brine, with
fine curbing insteps, leaving no space for muddy levels. The crystal
brightness of the water, the wild flowers, and the lovely mountain
scenery make this a favorite summer resort for pleasure and health
seekers. Numerous excursion trains are run from the city, and parties,
some of them numbering upwards of a thousand, come to bathe, and dance,
and roam the flowery hillsides together.

But at the time of my first visit in May, I fortunately found myself
alone. The hotel and bathhouse, which form the chief improvements of the
place, were sleeping in winter silence, notwithstanding the year was in
full bloom. It was one of those genial sun-days when flowers and flies
come thronging to the light, and birds sing their best. The mountain
ranges, stretching majestically north and south, were piled with pearly
cumuli, the sky overhead was pure azure, and the wind-swept lake was all
aroll and aroar with whitecaps.

I sauntered along the shore until I came to a sequestered cove, where
buttercups and wild peas were blooming close down to the limit reached
by the waves. Here, I thought, is just the place for a bath; but the
breakers seemed terribly boisterous and forbidding as they came rolling
up the beach, or dashed white against the rocks that bounded the cove
on the east. The outer ranks, ever broken, ever builded, formed a
magnificent rampart, sculptured and corniced like the hanging wall of a
bergschrund, and appeared hopelessly insurmountable, however easily one
might ride the swelling waves beyond. I feasted awhile on their beauty,
watching their coming in from afar like faithful messengers, to tell
their stories one by one; then I turned reluctantly away, to botanize
and wait a calm. But the calm did not come that day, nor did I wait
long. In an hour or two I was back again to the same little cove. The
waves still sang the old storm song, and rose in high crystal walls,
seemingly hard enough to be cut in sections, like ice.

Without any definite determination I found myself undressed, as if some
one else had taken me in hand; and while one of the largest waves was
ringing out its message and spending itself on the beach, I ran out with
open arms to the next, ducked beneath its breaking top, and got myself
into right lusty relationship with the brave old lake. Away I sped in
free, glad motion, as if, like a fish, I had been afloat all my life,
now low out of sight in the smooth, glassy valleys, now bounding aloft
on firm combing crests, while the crystal foam beat against my breast
with keen, crisp clashing, as if composed of pure salt. I bowed to every
wave, and each lifted me right royally to its shoulders, almost setting
me erect on my feet, while they all went speeding by like living
creatures, blooming and rejoicing in the brightness of the day, and
chanting the history of their grand mountain home.

A good deal of nonsense has been written concerning the difficulty of
swimming in this heavy water. "One's head would go down, and heels come
up, and the acrid brine would burn like fire." I was conscious only of
a joyous exhilaration, my limbs seemingly heeding their own business,
without any discomfort or confusion; so much so, that without previous
knowledge my experience on this occasion would not have led me to detect
anything peculiar. In calm weather, however, the sustaining power of the
water might probably be more marked. This was by far the most exciting
and effective wave excursion I ever made this side of the Rocky
Mountains; and when at its close I was heaved ashore among the sunny
grasses and flowers, I found myself a new creature indeed, and went
bounding along the beach with blood all aglow, reinforced by the best
salts of the mountains, and ready for any race.

Since the completion of the transcontinental and Utah railways, this
magnificent lake in the heart of the continent has become as accessible
as any watering-place on either coast; and I am sure that thousands of
travelers, sick and well, would throng its shores every summer were its
merits but half known. Lake Point is only an hour or two from the city,
and has hotel accommodations and a steamboat for excursions; and then,
besides the bracing waters, the climate is delightful. The mountains
rise into the cool sky furrowed with canyons almost yosemitic in
grandeur, and filled with a glorious profusion of flowers and trees.
Lovers of science, lovers of wildness, lovers of pure rest will find
here more than they may hope for.

As for the Mormons one meets, however their doctrines be regarded, they
will be found as rich in human kindness as any people in all our broad
land, while the dark memories that cloud their earlier history will
vanish from the mind as completely as when we bathe in the fountain
azure of the Sierra.



IX. Mormon Lilies [11]


Lilies are rare in Utah; so also are their companions the ferns and
orchids, chiefly on account of the fiery saltness of the soil and
climate. You may walk the deserts of the Great Basin in the bloom time
of the year, all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the snowy
Wahsatch, and your eyes will be filled with many a gay malva, and poppy,
and abronia, and cactus, but you may not see a single true lily, and
only a very few liliaceous plants of any kind. Not even in the cool,
fresh glens of the mountains will you find these favorite flowers,
though some of these desert ranges almost rival the Sierra in height.
Nevertheless, in the building and planting of this grand Territory the
lilies were not forgotten. Far back in the dim geologic ages, when the
sediments of the old seas were being gathered and outspread in smooth
sheets like leaves of a book, and when these sediments became dry land,
and were baked and crumbled into the sky as mountain ranges; when the
lava-floods of the Fire Period were being lavishly poured forth from
innumerable rifts and craters; when the ice of the Glacial Period was
laid like a mantle over every mountain and valley--throughout all
these immensely protracted periods, in the throng of these majestic
operations, Nature kept her flower children in mind. She considered
the lilies, and, while planting the plains with sage and the hills with
cedar, she has covered at least one mountain with golden erythroniums
and fritillarias as its crowning glory, as if willing to show what she
could do in the lily line even here.

Looking southward from the south end of Salt Lake, the two northmost
peaks of the Oquirrh Range are seen swelling calmly into the cool sky
without any marked character, excepting only their snow crowns, and a
few weedy-looking patches of spruce and fir, the simplicity of their
slopes preventing their real loftiness from being appreciated. Gray,
sagey plains circle around their bases, and up to a height of a thousand
feet or more their sides are tinged with purple, which I afterwards
found is produced by a close growth of dwarf oak just coming into leaf.
Higher you may detect faint tintings of green on a gray ground, from
young grasses and sedges; then come the dark pine woods filling glacial
hollows, and over all the smooth crown of snow.

While standing at their feet, the other day, shortly after my memorable
excursion among the salt waves of the lake, I said: "Now I shall have
another baptism. I will bathe in the high sky, among cool wind-waves
from the snow." From the more southerly of the two peaks a long ridge
comes down, bent like a bow, one end in the hot plains, the other in
the snow of the summit. After carefully scanning the jagged towers and
battlements with which it is roughened, I determined to make it my way,
though it presented but a feeble advertisement of its floral wealth.
This apparent barrenness, however, made no great objection just then,
for I was scarce hoping for flowers, old or new, or even for fine
scenery. I wanted in particular to learn what the Oquirrh rocks were
made of, what trees composed the curious patches of forest; and, perhaps
more than all, I was animated by a mountaineer's eagerness to get my
feet into the snow once more, and my head into the clear sky, after
lying dormant all winter at the level of the sea.

But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks. I had
not gone more than a mile from Lake Point ere I found the way profusely
decked with flowers, mostly compositae and purple leguminosae, a hundred
corollas or more to the square yard, with a corresponding abundance of
winged blossoms above them, moths and butterflies, the leguminosae
of the insect kingdom. This floweriness is maintained with delightful
variety all the way up through rocks and bushes to the snow--violets,
lilies, gilias, oenotheras, wallflowers, ivesias, saxifrages, smilax,
and miles of blooming bushes, chiefly azalea, honeysuckle, brier rose,
buckthorn, and eriogonum, all meeting and blending in divine accord.

Two liliaceous plants in particular, Erythronium grandiflorum and
Fritillaria pudica, are marvelously beautiful and abundant. Never
before, in all my walks, have I met so glorious a throng of these fine
showy liliaceous plants. The whole mountainside was aglow with them,
from a height of fifty-five hundred feet to the very edge of the snow.
Although remarkably fragile, both in form and in substance, they are
endowed with plenty of deep-seated vitality, enabling them to grow in
all kinds of places--down in leafy glens, in the lee of wind-beaten
ledges, and beneath the brushy tangles of azalea, and oak, and prickly
roses--everywhere forming the crowning glory of the flowers. If the
neighboring mountains are as rich in lilies, then this may well be
called the Lily Range.

After climbing about a thousand feet above the plain I came to a
picturesque mass of rock, cropping up through the underbrush on one of
the steepest slopes of the mountain. After examining some tufts of grass
and saxifrage that were growing in its fissured surface, I was going
to pass it by on the upper side, where the bushes were more open, but a
company composed of the two lilies I have mentioned were blooming on the
lower side, and though they were as yet out of sight, I suddenly changed
my mind and went down to meet them, as if attracted by the ringing of
their bells. They were growing in a small, nestlike opening between the
rock and the bushes, and both the erythronium and the fritillaria were
in full flower. These were the first of the species I had seen, and
I need not try to tell the joy they made. They are both lowly
plants,--lowly as violets,--the tallest seldom exceeding six inches in
height, so that the most searching winds that sweep the mountains scarce
reach low enough to shake their bells.

The fritillaria has five or six linear, obtuse leaves, put on
irregularly near the bottom of the stem, which is usually terminated
by one large bell-shaped flower; but its more beautiful companion, the
erythronium, has two radical leaves only, which are large and oval, and
shine like glass. They extend horizontally in opposite directions, and
form a beautiful glossy ground, over which the one large down-looking
flower is swung from a simple stem, the petals being strongly recurved,
like those of Lilium superbum. Occasionally a specimen is met which
has from two to five flowers hung in a loose panicle. People oftentimes
travel far to see curious plants like the carnivorous darlingtonia, the
fly-catcher, the walking fern, etc. I hardly know how the little bells
I have been describing would be regarded by seekers of this class, but
every true flower-lover who comes to consider these Utah lilies will
surely be well rewarded, however long the way.

Pushing on up the rugged slopes, I found many delightful
seclusions--moist nooks at the foot of cliffs, and lilies in every one
of them, not growing close together like daisies, but well apart, with
plenty of room for their bells to swing free and ring. I found hundreds
of them in full bloom within two feet of the snow. In winter only the
bulbs are alive, sleeping deep beneath the ground, like field mice in
their nests; then the snow-flowers fall above them, lilies over lilies,
until the spring winds blow, and these winter lilies wither in turn;
then the hiding erythroniums and fritillarias rise again, responsive to
the first touches of the sun.

I noticed the tracks of deer in many places among the lily gardens, and
at the height of about seven thousand feet I came upon the fresh trail
of a flock of wild sheep, showing that these fine mountaineers still
flourish here above the range of Mormon rifles. In the planting of
her wild gardens, Nature takes the feet and teeth of her flocks into
account, and makes use of them to trim and cultivate, and keep them in
order, as the bark and buds of the tree are tended by woodpeckers and
linnets.

The evergreen woods consist, as far as I observed, of two species,
a spruce and a fir, standing close together, erect and arrowy in a
thrifty, compact growth; but they are quite small, say from six to
twelve or fourteen inches in diameter, and bout forty feet in height.
Among their giant relatives of the Sierra the very largest would seem
mere saplings. A considerable portion of the south side of the mountain
is planted with a species of aspen, called "quaking asp" by the
wood-choppers. It seems to be quite abundant on many of the eastern
mountains of the basin, and forms a marked feature of their upper
forests.

Wading up the curves of the summit was rather toilsome, for the snow,
which was softened by the blazing sun, was from ten to twenty feet deep,
but the view was one of the most impressively sublime I ever beheld.
Snowy, ice-sculptured ranges bounded the horizon all around, while the
great lake, eighty miles long and fifty miles wide, lay fully revealed
beneath a lily sky. The shorelines, marked by a ribbon of white sand,
were seen sweeping around many a bay and promontory in elegant curves,
and picturesque islands rising to mountain heights, and some of them
capped with pearly cumuli. And the wide prairie of water glowing in the
gold and purple of evening presented all the colors that tint the lips
of shells and the petals of lilies--the most beautiful lake this side
of the Rocky Mountains. Utah Lake, lying thirty-five miles to the
south, was in full sight also, and the river Jordan, which links the two
together, may be traced in silvery gleams throughout its whole course.

Descending the mountain, I followed the windings of the main central
glen on the north, gathering specimens of the cones and sprays of the
evergreens, and most of the other new plants I had met; but the lilies
formed the crowning glory of my bouquet--the grandest I had carried in
many a day. I reached the hotel on the lake about dusk with all my fresh
riches, and my first mountain ramble in Utah was accomplished. On my way
back to the city, the next day, I met a grave old Mormon with whom I had
previously held some Latter-Day discussions. I shook my big handful of
lilies in his face and shouted, "Here are the true saints, ancient
and Latter-Day, enduring forever!" After he had recovered from his
astonishment he said, "They are nice."

The other liliaceous plants I have met in Utah are two species of
zigadenas, Fritillaria atropurpurea, Calochortus Nuttallii, and three
or four handsome alliums. One of these lilies, the calochortus, several
species of which are well known in California as the "Mariposa tulips,"
has received great consideration at the hands of the Mormons, for to it
hundreds of them owe their lives. During the famine years between
1853 and 1858, great destitution prevailed, especially in the southern
settlements, on account of drouth and grasshoppers, and throughout one
hungry winter in particular, thousands of the people subsisted chiefly
on the bulbs of the tulips, called "sego" by the Indians, who taught
them its use.

Liliaceous women and girls are rare among the Mormons. They have seen
too much hard, repressive toil to admit of the development of lily
beauty either in form or color. In general they are thickset, with large
feet and hands, and with sun-browned faces, often curiously freckled
like the petals of Fritillaria atropurpurea. They are fruit rather than
flower--good brown bread. But down in the San Pitch Valley at Gunnison,
I discovered a genuine lily, happily named Lily Young. She is a
granddaughter of Brigham Young, slender and graceful, with lily-white
cheeks tinted with clear rose, She was brought up in the old Salt Lake
Zion House, but by some strange chance has been transplanted to this
wilderness, where she blooms alone, the "Lily of San Pitch." Pitch is an
old Indian, who, I suppose, pitched into the settlers and thus acquired
fame enough to give name to the valley. Here I feel uneasy about the
name of this lily, for the compositors have a perverse trick of making
me say all kinds of absurd things wholly unwarranted by plain copy, and
I fear that the "Lily of San Pitch" will appear in print as the widow of
Sam Patch. But, however this may be, among my memories of this strange
land, that Oquirrh mountain, with its golden lilies, will ever rise in
clear relief, and associated with them will always be the Mormon lily of
San Pitch.



X. The San Gabriel Valley [12]


The sun valley of San Gabriel is one of the brightest spots to be found
in all our bright land, and most of its brightness is wildness--wild
south sunshine in a basin rimmed about with mountains and hills.
Cultivation is not wholly wanting, for here are the choices of all the
Los Angeles orange groves, but its glorious abundance of ripe sun and
soil is only beginning to be coined into fruit. The drowsy bits of
cultivation accomplished by the old missionaries and the more recent
efforts of restless Americans are scarce as yet visible, and when
comprehended in general views form nothing more than mere freckles on
the smooth brown bosom of the Valley.

I entered the sunny south half a month ago, coming down along the cool
sea, and landing at Santa Monica. An hour's ride over stretches of bare,
brown plain, and through cornfields and orange groves, brought me to the
handsome, conceited little town of Los Angeles, where one finds Spanish
adobes and Yankee shingles meeting and overlapping in very curious
antagonism. I believe there are some fifteen thousand people here, and
some of their buildings are rather fine, but the gardens and the sky
interested me more. A palm is seen here and there poising its royal
crown in the rich light, and the banana, with its magnificent ribbon
leaves, producing a marked tropical effect--not semi-tropical, as they
are so fond of saying here, while speaking of their fruits. Nothing
I have noticed strikes me as semi, save the brusque little bits
of civilization with which the wilderness is checkered. These are
semi-barbarous or less; everything else in the region has a most
exuberant pronounced wholeness. The city held me but a short time, for
the San Gabriel Mountains were in sight, advertising themselves grandly
along the northern sky, and I was eager to make my way into their midst.

At Pasadena I had the rare good fortune to meet my old friend Doctor
Congar, with whom I had studied chemistry and mathematics fifteen years
ago. He exalted San Gabriel above all other inhabitable valleys, old and
new, on the face of the globe. "I have rambled," said he, "ever since
we left college, tasting innumerable climates, and trying the advantages
offered by nearly every new State and Territory. Here I have made my
home, and here I shall stay while I live. The geographical position is
exactly right, soil and climate perfect, and everything that heart can
wish comes to our efforts--flowers, fruits, milk and honey, and plenty
of money. And there," he continued, pointing just beyond his own
precious possessions, "is a block of land that is for sale; buy it and
be my neighbor; plant five acres with orange trees, and by the time your
last mountain is climbed their fruit will be your fortune." He then led
my down the valley, through the few famous old groves in full bearing,
and on the estate of Mr. Wilson showed me a ten-acre grove eighteen
years old, the last year's crop from which was sold for twenty thousand
dollars. "There," said he, with triumphant enthusiasm, "what do you
think of that? Two thousand dollars per acre per annum for land worth
only one hundred dollars."

The number of orange trees planted to the acre is usually from
forty-nine to sixty-nine; they then stand from twenty-five to thirty
feet apart each way, and, thus planted, thrive and continue fruitful to
a comparatively great age. J. DeBarth Shorb, an enthusiastic believer
in Los Angeles and oranges, says, "We have trees on our property
fully forty years old, and eighteen inches in diameter, that are still
vigorous and yielding immense crops of fruit, although they are only
twenty feet apart." Seedlings are said to begin to bear remunerative
crops in their tenth year, but by superior cultivation this long
unproductive period my be somewhat lessened, while trees from three
to five years old may be purchased from the nurserymen, so that the
newcomer who sets out an orchard may begin to gather fruit by the fifth
or sixth year. When first set out, and for some years afterward, the
trees are irrigated by making rings of earth around them, which are
connected with small ditches, through which the water is distributed to
each tree. Or, where the ground is nearly level, the whole surface is
flooded from time to time as required. From 309 trees, twelve years old
from the seed, DeBarth Shorb says that in the season of 1874 he obtained
an average of $20.50 per tree, or $1435 per acre, over and above the
cost of transportation to San Francisco, commission on sales, etc. He
considers $1000 per acre a fair average at present prices, after the
trees have reached the age of twelve years. The average price throughout
the county for the last five years has been about $20 or $25 per
thousand; and, inasmuch as the area adapted to orange culture is
limited, it is hoped that this price may not greatly fall for many
years.

The lemon and lime are also cultivated here to some extent, and
considerable attention is now being given to the Florida banana, and
the olive, almond, and English walnut. But the orange interest heavily
overshadows every other, while vines have of late years been so
unremunerative they are seldom mentioned.

This is pre-eminently a fruit land, but the fame of its productions
has in some way far outrun the results that have as yet been attained.
Experiments have been tried, and good beginnings made, but the number
of really valuable, well-established groves is scarce as one to fifty,
compared with the newly planted. Many causes, however, have combined
of late to give the business a wonderful impetus, and new orchards are
being made every day, while the few old groves, aglow with golden fruit,
are the burning and shining lights that direct and energize the sanguine
newcomers.

After witnessing the bad effect of homelessness, developed to so
destructive an extent in California, it would reassure every lover of
his race to see the hearty home-building going on here and the blessed
contentment that naturally follows it. Travel-worn pioneers, who have
been tossed about like boulders in flood time, are thronging hither as
to a kind of a terrestrial heaven, resolved to rest. They build, and
plant, and settle, and so come under natural influences. When a man
plants a tree he plants himself. Every root is an anchor, over which he
rests with grateful interest, and becomes sufficiently calm to feel the
joy of living. He necessarily makes the acquaintance of the sun and
the sky. Favorite trees fill his mind, and, while tending them like
children, and accepting the benefits they bring, he becomes himself a
benefactor. He sees down through the brown common ground teeming with
colored fruits, as if it were transparent, and learns to bring them to
the surface. What he wills he can raise by true enchantment. With slips
and rootlets, his magic wands, they appear at his bidding. These, and
the seeds he plants, are his prayers, and by them brought into right
relations with God, he works grander miracles every day than ever were
written.

The Pasadena Colony, located on the southwest corner of the well-known
San Pasqual Rancho, is scarce three years old, but it is growing
rapidly, like a pet tree, and already forms one of the best
contributions to culture yet accomplished in the county. It now numbers
about sixty families, mostly drawn from the better class of vagabond
pioneers, who, during their rolling-stone days have managed to gather
sufficient gold moss to purchase from ten to forty acres of land. They
are perfectly hilarious in their newly found life, work like ants in a
sunny noonday, and, looking far into the future, hopefully count their
orange chicks ten years or more before they are hatched; supporting
themselves in the meantime on the produce of a few acres of alfalfa,
together with garden vegetables and the quick-growing fruits, such
as figs, grapes, apples, etc., the whole reinforced by the remaining
dollars of their land purchase money. There is nothing more remarkable
in the character of the colony than the literary and scientific taste
displayed. The conversation of most I have met here is seasoned with a
smack of mental ozone, Attic salt, which struck me as being rare among
the tillers of California soil. People of taste and money in search of a
home would do well to prospect the resources of this aristocratic little
colony.

If we look now at these southern valleys in general, it will appear at
once that with all their advantages they lie beyond the reach of poor
settlers, not only on account of the high price of irrigable land--one
hundred dollars per acre and upwards--but because of the scarcity of
labor. A settler with three or four thousand dollars would be penniless
after paying for twenty acres of orange land and building ever so plain
a house, while many years would go by ere his trees yielded an income
adequate to the maintenance of his family.

Nor is there anything sufficiently reviving in the fine climate to form
a reliable inducement for very sick people. Most of this class, from
all I can learn, come here only to die, and surely it is better to die
comfortably at home, avoiding the thousand discomforts of travel, at a
time when they are so heard to bear. It is indeed pitiful to see so many
invalids, already on the verge of the grave, making a painful way
to quack climates, hoping to change age to youth, and the darkening
twilight of their day to morning. No such health-fountain has been
found, and this climate, fine as it is, seems, like most others, to be
adapted for well people only. From all I could find out regarding its
influence upon patients suffering from pulmonary difficulties, it is
seldom beneficial to any great extent in advanced cases. The cold sea
winds are less fatal to this class of sufferers than the corresponding
winds further north, but, notwithstanding they are tempered on their
passage inland over warm, dry ground, they are still more or less
injurious.

The summer climate of the fir and pine woods of the Sierra Nevada would,
I think, be found infinitely more reviving; but because these woods
have not been advertised like patent medicines, few seem to think of the
spicy, vivifying influences that pervade their fountain freshness and
beauty.



XI. The San Gabriel Mountains [13]


After saying so much for human culture in my last, perhaps I may now be
allowed a word for wildness--the wildness of this southland, pure and
untamable as the sea.

In the mountains of San Gabriel, overlooking the lowland vines and fruit
groves, Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage. Not even in
the Sierra have I ever made the acquaintance of mountains more rigidly
inaccessible. The slopes are exceptionally steep and insecure to the
foot of the explorer, however great his strength or skill may be, but
thorny chaparral constitutes their chief defense. With the exception
of little park and garden spots not visible in comprehensive views, the
entire surface is covered with it, from the highest peaks to the plain.
It swoops into every hollow and swells over every ridge, gracefully
complying with the varied topography, in shaggy, ungovernable
exuberance, fairly dwarfing the utmost efforts of human culture out of
sight and mind.

But in the very heart of this thorny wilderness, down in the dells, you
may find gardens filled with the fairest flowers, that any child would
love, and unapproachable linns lined with lilies and ferns, where the
ousel builds its mossy hut and sings in chorus with the white falling
water. Bears, also, and panthers, wolves, wildcats; wood rats,
squirrels, foxes, snakes, and innumerable birds, all find grateful homes
here, adding wildness to wildness in glorious profusion and variety.

Where the coast ranges and the Sierra Nevada come together we find a
very complicated system of short ranges, the geology and topography of
which is yet hidden, and many years of laborious study must be given for
anything like a complete interpretation of them. The San Gabriel is one
or more of these ranges, forty or fifty miles long, and half as broad,
extending from the Cajon Pass on the east, to the Santa Monica and Santa
Susanna ranges on the west. San Antonio, the dominating peak, rises
towards the eastern extremity of the range to a height of about six
thousand feet, forming a sure landmark throughout the valley and all
the way down to the coast, without, however, possessing much striking
individuality. The whole range, seen from the plain, with the hot sun
beating upon its southern slopes, wears a terribly forbidding aspect.
There is nothing of the grandeur of snow, or glaciers, or deep forests,
to excite curiosity or adventure; no trace of gardens or waterfalls.
From base to summit all seems gray, barren, silent--dead, bleached bones
of mountains, overgrown with scrubby bushes, like gray moss. But all
mountains are full of hidden beauty, and the next day after my arrival
at Pasadena I supplied myself with bread and eagerly set out to give
myself to their keeping.

On the first day of my excursion I went only as far as the mouth of
Eaton Canyon, because the heat was oppressive, and a pair of new shoes
were chafing my feet to such an extent that walking began to be painful.
While looking for a camping ground among the boulder beds of the canyon,
I came upon a strange, dark man of doubtful parentage. He kindly invited
me to camp with him, and led me to his little hut. All my conjectures as
to his nationality failed, and no wonder, since his father was Irish and
mother Spanish, a mixture not often met even in California. He happened
to be out of candles, so we sat in the dark while he gave me a sketch of
his life, which was exceedingly picturesque. Then he showed me his plans
for the future. He was going to settle among these canyon boulders, and
make money, and marry a Spanish woman. People mine for irrigating water
along the foothills as for gold. He is now driving a prospecting tunnel
into a spur of the mountains back of his cabin. "My prospect is good,"
he said, "and if I strike a strong flow, I shall soon be worth five or
ten thousand dollars. That flat out there," he continued, referring to a
small, irregular patch of gravelly detritus that had been sorted out and
deposited by Eaton Creek during some flood season, "is large enough for
a nice orange grove, and, after watering my own trees, I can sell water
down the valley; and then the hillside back of the cabin will do for
vines, and I can keep bees, for the white sage and black sage up the
mountains is full of honey. You see, I've got a good thing." All this
prospective affluence in the sunken, boulder-choked flood-bed of Eaton
Creek! Most home-seekers would as soon think of settling on the summit
of San Antonio.

Half an hour's easy rambling up the canyon brought me to the foot of
"The Fall," famous throughout the valley settlements as the finest yet
discovered in the range. It is a charming little thing, with a voice
sweet as a songbird's, leaping some thirty-five or forty feet into a
round, mirror pool. The cliff back of it and on both sides is completely
covered with thick, furry mosses, and the white fall shines against the
green like a silver instrument in a velvet case. Here come the Gabriel
lads and lassies from the commonplace orange groves, to make love and
gather ferns and dabble away their hot holidays in the cool pool. They
are fortunate in finding so fresh a retreat so near their homes. It is
the Yosemite of San Gabriel. The walls, though not of the true Yosemite
type either in form or sculpture, rise to a height of nearly two
thousand feet. Ferns are abundant on all the rocks within reach of the
spray, and picturesque maples and sycamores spread a grateful shade over
a rich profusion of wild flowers that grow among the boulders, from the
edge of the pool a mile or more down the dell-like bottom of the valley,
the whole forming a charming little poem of wildness--the vestibule of
these shaggy mountain temples.

The foot of the fall is about a thousand feet above the level of the
sea, and here climbing begins. I made my way out of the valley on the
west side, followed the ridge that forms the western rim of the Eaton
Basin to the summit of one of the principal peaks, thence crossed the
middle of the basin, forcing a way over its many subordinate ridges, and
out over the eastern rim, and from first to last during three days
spent in this excursion, I had to contend with the richest, most
self-possessed and uncompromising chaparral I have ever enjoyed since
first my mountaineering began.

For a hundred feet or so the ascent was practicable only by means of
bosses of the club moss that clings to the rock. Above this the ridge
is weathered away to a slender knife-edge for a distance of two or
three hundred yards, and thence to the summit it is a bristly mane of
chaparral. Here and there small openings occur, commanding grand views
of the valley and beyond to the ocean. These are favorite outlooks and
resting places for bears, wolves, and wildcats. In the densest places I
came upon woodrat villages whose huts were from four to eight feet high,
built in the same style of architecture as those of the muskrats.

The day was nearly done. I reached the summit and I had time to make
only a hasty survey of the topography of the wild basin now outspread
maplike beneath, and to drink in the rare loveliness of the sunlight
before hastening down in search of water. Pushing through another mile
of chaparral, I emerged into one of the most beautiful parklike groves
of live oak I ever saw. The ground beneath was planted only with
aspidiums and brier roses. At the foot of the grove I came to the dry
channel of one of the tributary streams, but, following it down a short
distance, I descried a few specimens of the scarlet mimulus; and I was
assured that water was near. I found about a bucketful in a granite
bowl, but it was full of leaves and beetles, making a sort of brown
coffee that could be rendered available only by filtering it through
sand and charcoal. This I resolved to do in case the night came on
before I found better. Following the channel a mile farther down to
its confluence with another, larger tributary, I found a lot of boulder
pools, clear as crystal, and brimming full, linked together by little
glistening currents just strong enough to sing. Flowers in full bloom
adorned the banks, lilies ten feet high, and luxuriant ferns arching
over one another in lavish abundance, while a noble old live oak spread
its rugged boughs over all, forming one of the most perfect and most
secluded of Nature's gardens. Here I camped, making my bed on smooth
cobblestones.

Next morning, pushing up the channel of a tributary that takes its rise
on Mount San Antonio, I passed many lovely gardens watered by oozing
currentlets, every one of which had lilies in them in the full pomp of
bloom, and a rich growth of ferns, chiefly woodwardias and aspidiums and
maidenhairs; but toward the base of the mountain the channel was dry,
and the chaparral closed over from bank to bank, so that I was compelled
to creep more than a mile on hands and knees.

In one spot I found an opening in the thorny sky where I could stand
erect, and on the further side of the opening discovered a small pool.
"Now, HERE," I said, "I must be careful in creeping, for the birds of
the neighborhood come here to drink, and the rattlesnakes come here
to catch them." I then began to cast my eye along the channel, perhaps
instinctively feeling a snaky atmosphere, and finally discovered one
rattler between my feet. But there was a bashful look in his eye, and a
withdrawing, deprecating kink in his neck that showed plainly as words
could tell that he would not strike, and only wished to be let alone.
I therefore passed on, lifting my foot a little higher than usual, and
left him to enjoy his life in this his own home.

My next camp was near the heart of the basin, at the head of a grand
system of cascades from ten to two hundred feet high, one following the
other in close succession and making a total descent of nearly seventeen
hundred feet. The rocks above me leaned over in a threatening way
and were full of seams, making the camp a very unsafe one during an
earthquake.

Next day the chaparral, in ascending the eastern rim of the basin, was,
if possible, denser and more stubbornly bayoneted than ever. I followed
bear trails, where in some places I found tufts of their hair that had
been pulled out in squeezing a way through; but there was much of a very
interesting character that far overpaid all my pains. Most of the plants
are identical with those of the Sierra, but there are quite a number of
Mexican species. One coniferous tree was all I found. This is a spruce
of a species new to me, Douglasii macrocarpa. [14]

My last camp was down at the narrow, notched bottom of a dry channel,
the only open way for the life in the neighborhood. I therefore lay
between two fires, built to fence out snakes and wolves.

From the summit of the eastern rim I had a glorious view of the valley
out to the ocean, which would require a whole book for its description.
My bread gave out a day before reaching the settlements, but I felt all
the fresher and clearer for the fast.



XII. Nevada Farms [15]


To the farmer who comes to this thirsty land from beneath rainy skies,
Nevada seems one vast desert, all sage and sand, hopelessly irredeemable
now and forever. And this, under present conditions, is severely
true. For notwithstanding it has gardens, grainfields, and hayfields
generously productive, these compared with the arid stretches of valley
and plain, as beheld in general views from the mountain tops, are mere
specks lying inconspicuously here and there, in out-of-the-way places,
often thirty or forty miles apart.

In leafy regions, blessed with copious rains, we learn to measure the
productive capacity of the soil by its natural vegetation. But this
rule is almost wholly inapplicable here, for, notwithstanding its savage
nakedness, scarce at all veiled by a sparse growth of sage and linosyris
[16], the desert soil of the Great Basin is as rich in the elements that
in rainy regions rise and ripen into food as that of any other State
in the Union. The rocks of its numerous mountain ranges have been
thoroughly crushed and ground by glaciers, thrashed and vitalized by the
sun, and sifted and outspread in lake basins by powerful torrents that
attended the breaking-up of the glacial period, as if in every way
Nature had been making haste to prepare the land for the husbandman.
Soil, climate, topographical conditions, all that the most exacting
could demand, are present, but one thing, water, is wanting. The present
rainfall would be wholly inadequate for agriculture, even if it were
advantageously distributed over the lowlands, while in fact the
greater portion is poured out on the heights in sudden and violent
thundershowers called "cloud-bursts," the waters of which are
fruitlessly swallowed up in sandy gulches and deltas a few minutes
after their first boisterous appearance. The principal mountain chains,
trending nearly north and south, parallel with the Sierra and the
Wahsatch, receive a good deal of snow during winter, but no great
masses are stored up as fountains for large perennial streams capable
of irrigating considerable areas. Most of it is melted before the end
of May and absorbed by moraines and gravelly taluses, which send forth
small rills that slip quietly down the upper canyons through narrow
strips of flowery verdure, most of them sinking and vanishing before
they reach the base of their fountain ranges. Perhaps not one in ten
of the whole number flow out into the open plains, not a single drop
reaches the sea, and only a few are large enough to irrigate more than
one farm of moderate size.

It is upon these small outflowing rills that most of the Nevada ranches
are located, lying countersunk beneath the general level, just where the
mountains meet the plains, at an average elevation of five thousand feet
above sea level. All the cereals and garden vegetables thrive here,
and yield bountiful crops. Fruit, however, has been, as yet, grown
successfully in only a few specially favored spots.

Another distinct class of ranches are found sparsely distributed along
the lowest portions of the plains, where the ground is kept moist by
springs, or by narrow threads of moving water called rivers, fed by
some one or more of the most vigorous of the mountain rills that have
succeeded in making their escape from the mountains. These are mostly
devoted to the growth of wild hay, though in some the natural meadow
grasses and sedges have been supplemented by timothy and alfalfa; and
where the soil is not too strongly impregnated with salts, some grain
is raised. Reese River Valley, Big Smoky Valley, and White River Valley
offer fair illustrations of this class. As compared with the foothill
ranches, they are larger and less inconspicuous, as they lie in the
wide, unshadowed levels of the plains--wavy-edged flecks of green in a
wilderness of gray.

Still another class equally well defined, both as to distribution and
as to products, is restricted to that portion of western Nevada and the
eastern border of California which lies within the redeeming influences
of California waters. Three of the Sierra rivers descend from their icy
fountains into the desert like angels of mercy to bless Nevada. These
are the Walker, Carson, and Truckee; and in the valleys through which
they flow are found by far the most extensive hay and grain fields
within the bounds of the State. Irrigating streams are led off right and
left through innumerable channels, and the sleeping ground, starting at
once into action, pours forth its wealth without stint.

But notwithstanding the many porous fields thus fertilized, considerable
portions of the waters of all these rivers continue to reach their old
deathbeds in the desert, indicating that in these salt valleys there
still is room for coming farmers. In middle and eastern Nevada, however,
every rill that I have seen in a ride of three thousand miles, at all
available for irrigation, has been claimed and put to use.

It appears, therefore, that under present conditions the limit of
agricultural development in the dry basin between the Sierra and the
Wahsatch has been already approached, a result caused not alone by
natural restrictions as to the area capable of development, but by the
extraordinary stimulus furnished by the mines to agricultural effort.
The gathering of gold and silver, hay and barley, have gone on together.
Most of the mid-valley bogs and meadows, and foothill rills capable of
irrigating from ten to fifty acres, were claimed more than twenty years
ago.

A majority of these pioneer settlers are plodding Dutchmen, living
content in the back lanes and valleys of Nature; but the high price
of all kinds of farm products tempted many of even the keen Yankee
prospectors, made wise in California, to bind themselves down to this
sure kind of mining. The wildest of wild hay, made chiefly of carices
and rushes, was sold at from two to three hundred dollars per ton on
ranches. The same kind of hay is still worth from fifteen to forty
dollars per ton, according to the distance from mines and comparative
security from competition. Barley and oats are from forty to one hundred
dollars a ton, while all sorts of garden products find ready sale at
high prices.

With rich mine markets and salubrious climate, the Nevada farmer can
make more money by loose, ragged methods than the same class of farmers
in any other State I have yet seen, while the almost savage isolation
in which they live seems grateful to them. Even in those cases where
the advent of neighbors brings no disputes concerning water rights and
ranges, they seem to prefer solitude, most of them having been elected
from adventurers from California--the pioneers of pioneers. The passing
stranger, however, is always welcomed and supplied with the best the
home affords, and around the fireside, while he smokes his pipe,
very little encouragement is required to bring forth the story of the
farmer's life--hunting, mining, fighting, in the early Indian times,
etc. Only the few who are married hope to return to California to
educate their children, and the ease with which money is made renders
the fulfillment of these hopes comparatively sure.

After dwelling thus long on the farms of this dry wonderland, my
readers may be led to fancy them of more importance as compared with the
unbroken fields of Nature than they really are. Making your way along
any of the wide gray valleys that stretch from north to south, seldom
will your eye be interrupted by a single mark of cultivation. The smooth
lake-like ground sweeps on indefinitely, growing more and more dim in
the glowing sunshine, while a mountain range from eight to ten thousand
feet high bounds the view on either hand. No singing water, no green
sod, no moist nook to rest in--mountain and valley alike naked and
shadowless in the sun-glare; and though, perhaps, traveling a well-worn
road to a gold or silver mine, and supplied with repeated instructions,
you can scarce hope to find any human habitation from day to day, so
vast and impressive is the hot, dusty, alkaline wildness.

But after riding some thirty or forty miles, and while the sun may
be sinking behind the mountains, you come suddenly upon signs of
cultivation. Clumps of willows indicate water, and water indicates
a farm. Approaching more nearly, you discover what may be a patch of
barley spread out unevenly along the bottom of a flood bed, broken
perhaps, and rendered less distinct by boulder piles and the fringing
willows of a stream. Speedily you can confidently say that the grain
patch is surely such; its ragged bounds become clear; a sand-roofed
cabin comes to view littered with sun-cracked implements and with an
outer girdle of potato, cabbage, and alfalfa patches.

The immense expanse of mountain-girt valleys, on the edges of which
these hidden ranches lie, make even the largest fields seem comic
in size. The smallest, however, are by no means insignificant in a
pecuniary view. On the east side of the Toyabe Range I discovered
a jolly Irishman who informed me that his income from fifty acres,
reinforced by a sheep range on the adjacent hills, was from seven to
nine thousand dollars per annum. His irrigating brook is about four feet
wide and eight inches deep, flowing about two miles per hour.

On Duckwater Creek, Nye County, Mr. Irwin has reclaimed a tule swamp
several hundred acres in extent, which is now chiefly devoted to
alfalfa. On twenty-five acres he claims to have raised this year
thirty-seven tons of barley. Indeed, I have not yet noticed a meager
crop of any kind in the State. Fruit alone is conspicuously absent.

On the California side of the Sierra grain will not ripen at much
greater elevation than four thousand feet above sea level. The valleys
of Nevada lie at a height of from four to six thousand feet, and both
wheat and barley ripen, wherever water may be had, up to seven thousand
feet. The harvest, of course, is later as the elevation increases. In
the valleys of the Carson and Walker Rivers, four thousand feet above
the sea, the grain harvest is about a month later than in California. In
Reese River Valley, six thousand feet, it begins near the end of August.
Winter grain ripens somewhat earlier, while occasionally one meets a
patch of barley in some cool, high-lying canyon that will not mature
before the middle of September.

Unlike California, Nevada will probably be always richer in gold and
silver than in grain. Utah farmers hope to change the climate of the
east side of the basin by prayer, and point to the recent rise in the
waters of the Great Salt Lake as a beginning of moister times.
But Nevada's only hope, in the way of any considerable increase in
agriculture, is from artesian wells. The experiment has been tried on a
small scale with encouraging success. But what is now wanted seems to
be the boring of a few specimen wells of a large size out in the main
valleys. The encouragement that successful experiments of this kind
would give to emigration seeking farms forms an object well worthy the
attention of the Government. But all that California farmers in the
grand central valley require is the preservation of the forests and
the wise distribution of the glorious abundance of water from the snow
stored on the west flank of the Sierra.

Whether any considerable area of these sage plains will ever thus be
made to blossom in grass and wheat, experience will show. But in the
mean time Nevada is beautiful in her wildness, and if tillers of the
soil can thus be brought to see that possibly Nature may have other uses
even for RICH soils besides the feeding of human beings, then will these
foodless "deserts" have taught a fine lesson.



XIII. Nevada Forests [17]


When the traveler from California has crossed the Sierra and gone a
little way down the eastern flank, the woods come to an end about as
suddenly and completely as if, going westward, he had reached the ocean.
From the very noblest forests in the world he emerges into free sunshine
and dead alkaline lake-levels. Mountains are seen beyond, rising in
bewildering abundance, range beyond range. But however closely we have
been accustomed to associate forests and mountains, these always present
a singularly barren aspect, appearing gray and forbidding and shadeless,
like heaps of ashes dumped from the blazing sky.

But wheresoever we may venture to go in all this good world, nature is
ever found richer and more beautiful than she seems, and nowhere may you
meet with more varied and delightful surprises than in the byways and
recesses of this sublime wilderness--lovely asters and abronias on the
dusty plains, rose-gardens around the mountain wells, and resiny woods,
where all seemed so desolate, adorning the hot foothills as well as the
cool summits, fed by cordial and benevolent storms of rain and hail
and snow; all of these scant and rare as compared with the immeasurable
exuberance of California, but still amply sufficient throughout the
barest deserts for a clear manifestation of God's love.

Though Nevada is situated in what is called the "Great Basin," no less
than sixty-five groups and chains of mountains rise within the bounds of
the State to a height of about from eight thousand to thirteen thousand
feet above the level of the sea, and as far as I have observed, every
one of these is planted, to some extent, with coniferous trees, though
it is only upon the highest that we find anything that may fairly be
called a forest. The lower ranges and the foothills and slopes of the
higher are roughened with small scrubby junipers and nut pines, while
the dominating peaks, together with the ridges that swing in grand
curves between them, are covered with a closer and more erect growth of
pine, spruce, and fir, resembling the forests of the Eastern States both
as to size and general botanical characteristics. Here is found what
is called the heavy timber, but the tallest and most fully developed
sections of the forests, growing down in sheltered hollows on moist
moraines, would be regarded in California only as groves of saplings,
and so, relatively, they are, for by careful calculation we find that
more than a thousand of these trees would be required to furnish as much
timber as may be obtained from a single specimen of our Sierra giants.

The height of the timberline in eastern Nevada, near the middle of the
Great Basin, is about eleven thousand feet above sea level; consequently
the forests, in a dwarfed, storm-beaten condition, pass over the summits
of nearly every range in the State, broken here and there only by
mechanical conditions of the surface rocks. Only three mountains in
the State have as yet come under my observation whose summits rise
distinctly above the treeline. These are Wheeler's Peak, twelve thousand
three hundred feet high, Mount Moriah, about twelve thousand feet, and
Granite Mountain, about the same height, all of which are situated near
the boundary line between Nevada and Utah Territory.

In a rambling mountaineering journey of eighteen hundred miles across
the state, I have met nine species of coniferous trees,--four pines, two
spruces, two junipers, and one fir,--about one third the number found
in California. By far the most abundant and interesting of these is the
Pinus Fremontiana, [18] or nut pine. In the number of individual trees
and extent of range this curious little conifer surpasses all the others
combined. Nearly every mountain in the State is planted with it from
near the base to a height of from eight thousand to nine thousand feet
above the sea. Some are covered from base to summit by this one species,
with only a sparse growth of juniper on the lower slopes to break the
continuity of these curious woods, which, though dark-looking at a
little distance, are yet almost shadeless, and without any hint of the
dark glens and hollows so characteristic of other pine woods. Tens
of thousands of acres occur in one continuous belt. Indeed, viewed
comprehensively, the entire State seems to be pretty evenly divided into
mountain ranges covered with nut pines and plains covered with sage--now
a swath of pines stretching from north to south, now a swath of sage;
the one black, the other gray; one severely level, the other sweeping on
complacently over ridge and valley and lofty crowning dome.

The real character of a forest of this sort would never be guessed by
the inexperienced observer. Traveling across the sage levels in the
dazzling sunlight, you gaze with shaded eyes at the mountains rising
along their edges, perhaps twenty miles away, but no invitation that is
at all likely to be understood is discernible. Every mountain, however
high it swells into the sky, seems utterly barren. Approaching nearer,
a low brushy growth is seen, strangely black in aspect, as though it had
been burned. This is a nut pine forest, the bountiful orchard of the
red man. When you ascend into its midst you find the ground beneath the
trees, and in the openings also, nearly naked, and mostly rough on the
surface--a succession of crumbling ledges of lava, limestones, slate,
and quartzite, coarsely strewn with soil weathered from them. Here and
there occurs a bunch of sage or linosyris, or a purple aster, or a tuft
of dry bunch-grass.

The harshest mountainsides, hot and waterless, seem best adapted to
the nut pine's development. No slope is too steep, none too dry; every
situation seems to be gratefully chosen, if only it be sufficiently
rocky and firm to afford secure anchorage for the tough, grasping roots.
It is a sturdy, thickset little tree, usually about fifteen feet high
when full grown, and about as broad as high, holding its knotty
branches well out in every direction in stiff zigzags, but turning them
gracefully upward at the ends in rounded bosses. Though making so dark
a mass in the distance, the foliage is a pale grayish green, in stiff,
awl-shaped fascicles. When examined closely these round needles seem
inclined to be two-leaved, but they are mostly held firmly together,
as if to guard against evaporation. The bark on the older sections is
nearly black, so that the boles and branches are clearly traced against
the prevailing gray of the mountains on which they delight to dwell.

The value of this species to Nevada is not easily overestimated. It
furnishes fuel, charcoal, and timber for the mines, and, together with
the enduring juniper, so generally associated with it, supplies the
ranches with abundance of firewood and rough fencing. Many a square mile
has already been denuded in supplying these demands, but, so great is
the area covered by it, no appreciable loss has as yet been sustained.
It is pretty generally known that this tree yields edible nuts, but
their importance and excellence as human food is infinitely greater than
is supposed. In fruitful seasons like this one, the pine nut crop of
Nevada is, perhaps, greater than the entire wheat crop of California,
concerning which so much is said and felt throughout the food markets of
the world.

The Indians alone appreciate this portion of Nature's bounty and
celebrate the harvest home with dancing and feasting. The cones, which
are a bright grass-green in color and about two inches long by one and a
half in diameter, are beaten off with poles just before the scales open,
gathered in heaps of several bushels, and lightly scorched by burning
a thin covering of brushwood over them. The resin, with which the cones
are bedraggled, is thus burned off, the nuts slightly roasted, and the
scales made to open. Then they are allowed to dry in the sun, after
which the nuts are easily thrashed out and are ready to be stored away.
They are about half an inch long by a quarter of an inch in diameter,
pointed at the upper end, rounded at the base, light brown in general
color, and handsomely dotted with purple, like birds' eggs. The shells
are thin, and may be crushed between the thumb and finger. The kernels
are white and waxy-looking, becoming brown by roasting, sweet and
delicious to every palate, and are eaten by birds, squirrels, dogs,
horses, and man. When the crop is abundant the Indians bring in large
quantities for sale; they are eaten around every fireside in the State,
and oftentimes fed to horses instead of barley.

Looking over the whole continent, none of Nature's bounties seems to
me so great as this in the way of food, none so little appreciated.
Fortunately for the Indians and wild animals that gather around Nature's
board, this crop is not easily harvested in a monopolizing way. If
it could be gathered like wheat the whole would be carried away and
dissipated in towns, leaving the brave inhabitants of these wilds to
starve.

Long before the harvest time, which is in September and October, the
Indians examine the trees with keen discernment, and inasmuch as the
cones require two years to mature from the first appearance of the
little red rosettes of the fertile flowers, the scarcity or abundance
of the crop may be predicted more than a year in advance. Squirrels, and
worms, and Clarke crows, make haste to begin the harvest. When the crop
is ripe the Indians make ready their long beating-poles; baskets, bags,
rags, mats, are gotten together. The squaws out among the settlers at
service, washing and drudging, assemble at the family huts; the men
leave their ranch work; all, old and young, are mounted on ponies, and
set off in great glee to the nut lands, forming cavalcades curiously
picturesque. Flaming scarfs and calico skirts stream loosely over the
knotty ponies, usually two squaws astride of each, with the small baby
midgets bandaged in baskets slung on their backs, or balanced upon the
saddle-bow, while the nut baskets and water jars project from either
side, and the long beating-poles, like old-fashioned lances, angle out
in every direction.

Arrived at some central point already fixed upon, where water and grass
is found, the squaws with baskets, the men with poles, ascend the ridges
to the laden trees, followed by the children; beating begins with loud
noise and chatter; the burs fly right and left, lodging against stones
and sagebrush; the squaws and children gather them with fine natural
gladness; smoke columns speedily mark the joyful scene of their labors
as the roasting fires are kindled; and, at night, assembled in circles,
garrulous as jays, the first grand nut feast begins. Sufficient
quantities are thus obtained in a few weeks to last all winter.

The Indians also gather several species of berries and dry them to vary
their stores, and a few deer and grouse are killed on the mountains,
besides immense numbers of rabbits and hares; but the pine-nuts are
their main dependence--their staff of life, their bread.

Insects also, scarce noticed by man, come in for their share of this
fine bounty. Eggs are deposited, and the baby grubs, happy fellows, find
themselves in a sweet world of plenty, feeding their way through the
heart of the cone from one nut chamber to another, secure from rain and
wind and heat, until their wings are grown and they are ready to launch
out into the free ocean of air and light.



XIV. Nevada's Timber Belt [19]


The pine woods on the tops of the Nevada mountains are already shining
and blooming in winter snow, making a most blessedly refreshing
appearance to the weary traveler down on the gray plains. During the
fiery days of summer the whole of this vast region seems so perfectly
possessed by the sun that the very memories of pine trees and snow are
in danger of being burned away, leaving one but little more than dust
and metal. But since these first winter blessings have come, the wealth
and beauty of the landscapes have come fairly into view, and one is
rendered capable of looking and seeing.

The grand nut harvest is over, as far as the Indians are concerned,
though perhaps less than one bushel in a thousand of the whole crop has
been gathered. But the squirrels and birds are still busily engaged,
and by the time that Nature's ends are accomplished, every nut will
doubtless have been put to use.

All of the nine Nevada conifers mentioned in my last letter are also
found in California, excepting only the Rocky Mountain spruce, which I
have not observed westward of the Snake Range. So greatly, however, have
they been made to vary by differences of soil and climate, that most of
them appear as distinct species. Without seeming in any way dwarfed or
repressed in habit, they nowhere develop to anything like California
dimensions. A height of fifty feet and diameter of twelve or fourteen
inches would probably be found to be above the average size of those
cut for lumber. On the margin of the Carson and Humboldt Sink the larger
sage bushes are called "heavy timber"; and to the settlers here any tree
seems large enough for saw-logs.

Mills have been built in the most accessible canyons of the higher
ranges, and sufficient lumber of an inferior kind is made to supply most
of the local demand. The principal lumber trees of Nevada are the white
pine (Pinus flexilis), foxtail pine, and Douglas spruce, or "red
pine," as it is called here. Of these the first named is most generally
distributed, being found on all the higher ranges throughout the State.
In botanical characters it is nearly allied to the Weymouth, or white,
pine of the Eastern States, and to the sugar and mountain pines of the
Sierra. In open situations it branches near the ground and tosses out
long down-curving limbs all around, often gaining in this way a very
strikingly picturesque habit. It is seldom found lower than nine
thousand feet above the level of the sea, but from this height it
pushes upward over the roughest ledges to the extreme limit of tree
growth--about eleven thousand feet.

On the Hot Creek, White Pine, and Golden Gate ranges we find a still
hardier and more picturesque species, called the foxtail pine, from its
long dense leaf-tassels. About a foot or eighteen inches of the ends of
the branches are densely packed with stiff outstanding needles, which
radiate all around like an electric fox- or squirrel-tail. The needles
are about an inch and a half long, slightly curved, elastic, and
glossily polished, so that the sunshine sifting through them makes them
burn with a fine silvery luster, while their number and elastic temper
tell delightfully in the singing winds.

This tree is pre-eminently picturesque, far surpassing not only its
companion species of the mountains in this respect, but also the most
noted of the lowland oaks and elms. Some stand firmly erect, feathered
with radiant tail tassels down to the ground, forming slender, tapering
towers of shining verdure; others with two or three specialized branches
pushed out at right angles to the trunk and densely clad with the
tasseled sprays, take the form of beautiful ornamental crosses. Again,
in the same woods you find trees that are made up of several boles
united near the ground, and spreading in easy curves at the sides in
a plane parallel to the axis of the mountain, with the elegant tassels
hung in charming order between them the whole making a perfect harp,
ranged across the main wind-lines just where they may be most effective
in the grand storm harmonies. And then there is an infinite variety of
arching forms, standing free or in groups, leaning away from or toward
each other in curious architectural structures,--innumerable tassels
drooping under the arches and radiating above them, the outside glowing
in the light, masses of deep shade beneath, giving rise to effects
marvelously beautiful,--while on the roughest ledges of crumbling
limestone are lowly old giants, five or six feet in diameter, that have
braved the storms of more than a thousand years. But, whether old or
young, sheltered or exposed to the wildest gales, this tree is ever
found to be irrepressibly and extravagantly picturesque, offering a
richer and more varied series of forms to the artist than any other
species I have yet seen.

One of the most interesting mountain excursions I have made in the State
was up through a thick spicy forest of these trees to the top of the
highest summit of the Troy Range, about ninety miles to the south of
Hamilton. The day was full of perfect Indian-summer sunshine, calm and
bracing. Jays and Clarke crows made a pleasant stir in the foothill
pines and junipers; grasshoppers danced in the hazy light, and rattled
on the wing in pure glee, reviving suddenly from the torpor of a frosty
October night to exuberant summer joy. The squirrels were working
industriously among the falling nuts; ripe willows and aspens made
gorgeous masses of color on the russet hillsides and along the edges of
the small streams that threaded the higher ravines; and on the smooth
sloping uplands, beneath the foxtail pines and firs, the ground was
covered with brown grasses, enriched with sunflowers, columbines, and
larkspurs and patches of linosyris, mostly frost-nipped and gone to
seed, yet making fine bits of yellow and purple in the general brown.

At a height of about ninety-five hundred feet we passed through a
magnificent grove of aspens, about a hundred acres in extent, through
which the mellow sunshine sifted in ravishing splendor, showing every
leaf to be as beautiful in color as the wing of a butterfly, and making
them tell gloriously against the evergreens. These extensive groves
of aspen are a marked feature of the Nevada woods. Some of the lower
mountains are covered with them, giving rise to remarkably beautiful
masses of pale, translucent green in spring and summer, yellow and
orange in autumn, while in winter, after every leaf has fallen, the
white bark of the boles and branches seen in mass seems like a cloud of
mist that has settled close down on the mountain, conforming to all
its hollows and ridges like a mantle, yet roughened on the surface with
innumerable ascending spires.

Just above the aspens we entered a fine, close growth of foxtail pine,
the tallest and most evenly planted I had yet seen. It extended along a
waving ridge tending north and south and down both sides with but little
interruption for a distance of about five miles. The trees were mostly
straight in the bole, and their shade covered the ground in the densest
places, leaving only small openings to the sun. A few of the tallest
specimens measured over eighty feet, with a diameter of eighteen inches;
but many of the younger trees, growing in tufts, were nearly fifty feet
high, with a diameter of only five or six inches, while their slender
shafts were hidden from top to bottom by a close, fringy growth of
tasseled branchlets. A few white pines and balsam firs occur here and
there, mostly around the edges of sunny openings, where they enrich the
air with their rosiny fragrance, and bring out the peculiar beauties of
the predominating foxtails by contrast.

Birds find grateful homes here--grouse, chickadees, and linnets, of
which we saw large flocks that had a delightfully enlivening effect. But
the woodpeckers are remarkably rare. Thus far I have noticed only one
species, the golden-winged; and but few of the streams are large enough
or long enough to attract the blessed ousel, so common in the Sierra.

On Wheeler's Peak, the dominating summit of the Snake Mountains, I found
all the conifers I had seen on the other ranges of the State, excepting
the foxtail pine, which I have not observed further east than the White
Pine range, but in its stead the beautiful Rocky Mountain spruce. First,
as in the other ranges, we find the juniper and nut pine; then, higher,
the white pine and balsam fir; then the Douglas spruce and this new
Rocky Mountain spruce, which is common eastward from here, though this
range is, as far as I have observed, its western limit. It is one of
the largest and most important of Nevada conifers, attaining a height of
from sixty to eighty feet and a diameter of nearly two feet, while now
and then an exceptional specimen may be found in shady dells a hundred
feet high or more.

The foliage is bright yellowish and bluish green, according to exposure
and age, growing all around the branchlets, though inclined to turn
upward from the undersides, like that of the plushy firs of California,
making remarkably handsome fernlike plumes. While yet only mere saplings
five or six inches thick at the ground, they measure fifty or sixty feet
in height and are beautifully clothed with broad, level, fronded plumes
down to the base, preserving a strict arrowy outline, though a few of
the larger branches shoot out in free exuberance, relieving the spire
from any unpicturesque stiffness of aspect, while the conical summit is
crowded with thousands of rich brown cones to complete its beauty.

We made the ascent of the peak just after the first storm had whitened
its summit and brightened the atmosphere. The foot-slopes are like those
of the Troy range, only more evenly clad with grasses. After tracing a
long, rugged ridge of exceedingly hard quartzite, said to be veined here
and there with gold, we came to the North Dome, a noble summit rising
about a thousand feet above the timberline, its slopes heavily tree-clad
all around, but most perfectly on the north. Here the Rocky Mountain
spruce forms the bulk of the forest. The cones were ripe; most of
them had shed their winged seeds, and the shell-like scales were
conspicuously spread, making rich masses of brown from the tops of the
fertile trees down halfway to the ground, cone touching cone in lavish
clusters. A single branch that might be carried in the hand would be
found to bear a hundred or more.

Some portions of the wood were almost impenetrable, but in general we
found no difficulty in mazing comfortably on over fallen logs and
under the spreading boughs, while here and there we came to an opening
sufficiently spacious for standpoints, where the trees around their
margins might be seen from top to bottom. The winter sunshine streamed
through the clustered spires, glinting and breaking into a fine dust of
spangles on the spiky leaves and beads of amber gum, and bringing out
the reds and grays and yellows of the lichened boles which had been
freshened by the late storm; while the tip of every spire looking up
through the shadows was dipped in deepest blue.

The ground was strewn with burs and needles and fallen trees; and, down
in the dells, on the north side of the dome, where strips of aspen are
imbedded in the spruces, every breeze sent the ripe leaves flying, some
lodging in the spruce boughs, making them bloom again, while the fresh
snow beneath looked like a fine painting.

Around the dome and well up toward the summit of the main peak, the
snow-shed was well marked with tracks of the mule deer and the pretty
stitching and embroidery of field mice, squirrels, and grouse; and on
the way back to camp I came across a strange track, somewhat like that
of a small bear, but more spreading at the toes. It proved to be that
of a wolverine. In my conversations with hunters, both Indians and white
men assure me that there are no bears in Nevada, notwithstanding the
abundance of pine-nuts, of which they are so fond, and the accessibility
of these basin ranges from their favorite haunts in the Sierra Nevada
and Wahsatch Mountains. The mule deer, antelope, wild sheep, wolverine,
and two species of wolves are all of the larger animals that I have seen
or heard of in the State.



XV. Glacial Phenomena in Nevada [20]


The monuments of the Ice Age in the Great Basin have been greatly
obscured and broken, many of the more ancient of them having perished
altogether, leaving scarce a mark, however faint, of their existence--a
condition of things due not alone to the long-continued action of
post-glacial agents, but also in great part to the perishable character
of the rocks of which they were made. The bottoms of the main valleys,
once grooved and planished like the glacier pavements of the Sierra,
lie buried beneath sediments and detritus derived from the adjacent
mountains, and now form the arid sage plains; characteristic U-shaped
canyons have become V-shaped by the deepening of their bottoms and
straightening of their sides, and decaying glacier headlands have been
undermined and thrown down in loose taluses, while most of the
moraines and striae and scratches have been blurred or weathered away.
Nevertheless, enough remains of the more recent and the more enduring
phenomena to cast a good light well back upon the conditions of the
ancient ice sheet that covered this interesting region, and upon the
system of distinct glaciers that loaded the tops of the mountains and
filled the canyons long after the ice sheet had been broken up.

The first glacial traces that I noticed in the basin are on the Wassuck,
Augusta, and Toyabe ranges, consisting of ridges and canyons, whose
trends, contours, and general sculpture are in great part specifically
glacial, though deeply blurred by subsequent denudation. These
discoveries were made during the summer of 1876-77. And again, on the
17th of last August, while making the ascent of Mount Jefferson, the
dominating mountain of the Toquima range, I discovered an exceedingly
interesting group of moraines, canyons with V-shaped cross sections,
wide neve amphitheatres, moutoneed rocks, glacier meadows, and one
glacier lake, all as fresh and telling as if the glaciers to which they
belonged had scarcely vanished.

The best preserved and most regular of the moraines are two laterals
about two hundred feet in height and two miles long, extending from the
foot of a magnificent canyon valley on the north side of the mountain
and trending first in a northerly direction, then curving around to the
west, while a well-characterized terminal moraine, formed by the
glacier towards the close of its existence, unites them near their lower
extremities at a height of eighty-five hundred feet. Another pair of
older lateral moraines, belonging to a glacier of which the one just
mentioned was a tributary, extend in a general northwesterly direction
nearly to the level of Big Smoky Valley, about fifty-five hundred feet
above sea level.

Four other canyons, extending down the eastern slopes of this grand old
mountain into Monito Valley, are hardly less rich in glacial records,
while the effects of the mountain shadows in controlling and directing
the movements of the residual glaciers to which all these phenomena
belonged are everywhere delightfully apparent in the trends of the
canyons and ridges, and in the massive sculpture of the neve wombs at
their heads. This is a very marked and imposing mountain, attracting
the eye from a great distance. It presents a smooth and gently curved
outline against the sky, as observed from the plains, and is whitened
with patches of enduring snow. The summit is made up of irregular
volcanic tables, the most extensive of which is about two and a half
miles long, and like the smaller ones is broken abruptly down on the
edges by the action of the ice. Its height is approximately eleven
thousand three hundred feet above the sea.

A few days after making these interesting discoveries, I found other
well-preserved glacial traces on Arc Dome, the culminating summit of
the Toyabe Range. On its northeastern slopes there are two small glacier
lakes, and the basins of two others which have recently been filled with
down-washed detritus. One small residual glacier lingered until quite
recently beneath the coolest shadows of the dome, the moraines and
neve-fountains of which are still as fresh and unwasted as many of those
lying at the same elevation on the Sierra--ten thousand feet--while
older and more wasted specimens may be traced on all the adjacent
mountains. The sculpture, too, of all the ridges and summits of this
section of the range is recognized at once as glacial, some of the
larger characters being still easily readable from the plains at a
distance of fifteen or twenty miles.

The Hot Creek Mountains, lying to the east of the Toquima and Monito
ranges, reach the culminating point on a deeply serrate ridge at a
height of ten thousand feet above the sea. This ridge is found to be
made up of a series of imposing towers and pinnacles which have been
eroded from the solid mass of the mountain by a group of small residual
glaciers that lingered in their shadows long after the larger ice
rivers had vanished. On its western declivities are found a group of
well-characterized moraines, canyons, and roches moutonnees, all of
which are unmistakably fresh and telling. The moraines in particular
could hardly fail to attract the eye of any observer. Some of the short
laterals of the glaciers that drew their fountain snows from the jagged
recesses of the summit are from one to two hundred feet in height, and
scarce at all wasted as yet, notwithstanding the countless storms that
have fallen upon them, while cool rills flow between them, watering
charming gardens of arctic plants--saxifrages, larkspurs, dwarf
birch, ribes, and parnassia, etc.--beautiful memories of the Ice Age,
representing a once greatly extended flora.

In the course of explorations made to the eastward of here, between the
38th and 40th parallels, I observed glacial phenomena equally fresh
and demonstrative on all the higher mountains of the White Pine, Golden
Gate, and Snake ranges, varying from those already described only as
determined by differences of elevation, relations to the snow-bearing
winds, and the physical characteristics of the rock formations.

On the Jeff Davis group of the Snake Range, the dominating summit of
which is nearly thirteen thousand feet in elevation, and the highest
ground in the basin, every marked feature is a glacier monument--peaks,
valleys, ridges, meadows, and lakes. And because here the snow-fountains
lay at a greater height, while the rock, an exceedingly hard quartzite,
offered superior resistance to post-glacial agents, the ice-characters
are on a larger scale, and are more sharply defined than any we have
noticed elsewhere, and it is probably here that the last lingering
glacier of the basin was located. The summits and connecting ridges are
mere blades and points, ground sharp by the glaciers that descended on
both sides to the main valleys. From one standpoint I counted nine of
these glacial channels with their moraines sweeping grandly out to the
plains to deep sheer-walled neve-fountains at their heads, making a most
vivid picture of the last days of the Ice Period.

I have thus far directed attention only to the most recent and
appreciable of the phenomena; but it must be borne in mind that less
recent and less obvious traces of glacial action abound on ALL the
ranges throughout the entire basin, where the fine striae and grooves
have been obliterated, and most of the moraines have been washed away,
or so modified as to be no longer recognizable, and even the lakes and
meadows, so characteristic of glacial regions, have almost entirely
vanished. For there are other monuments, far more enduring than these,
remaining tens of thousands of years after the more perishable records
are lost. Such are the canyons, ridges, and peaks themselves, the
glacial peculiarities of whose trends and contours cannot be hid from
the eye of the skilled observer until changes have been wrought upon
them far more destructive than those to which these basin ranges have
yet been subjected.

It appears, therefore, that the last of the basin glaciers have but
recently vanished, and that the almost innumerable ranges trending north
and south between the Sierra and the Wahsatch Mountains were loaded with
glaciers that descended to the adjacent valleys during the last glacial
period, and that it is to this mighty host of ice streams that all the
more characteristic of the present features of these mountain ranges are
due.

But grand as is this vision delineated in these old records, this is
not all; for there is not wanting evidence of a still grander glaciation
extending over all the valleys now forming the sage plains as well
as the mountains. The basins of the main valleys alternating with the
mountain ranges, and which contained lakes during at least the closing
portion of the Ice Period, were eroded wholly, or in part, from a
general elevated tableland, by immense glaciers that flowed north
and south to the ocean. The mountains as well as the valleys present
abundant evidence of this grand origin.

The flanks of all the interior ranges are seen to have been heavily
abraded and ground away by the ice acting in a direction parallel
with their axes. This action is most strikingly shown upon projecting
portions where the pressure has been greatest. These are shorn off
in smooth planes and bossy outswelling curves, like the outstanding
portions of canyon walls. Moreover, the extremities of the ranges
taper out like those of dividing ridges which have been ground away by
dividing and confluent glaciers. Furthermore, the horizontal sections
of separate mountains, standing isolated in the great valleys, are
lens-shaped like those of mere rocks that rise in the channels of
ordinary canyon glaciers, and which have been overflowed or pastflowed,
while in many of the smaller valleys roches moutonnees occur in great
abundance.

Again, the mineralogical and physical characters of the two ranges
bounding the sides of many of the valleys indicate that the valleys were
formed simply by the removal of the material between the ranges. And
again, the rim of the general basin, where it is elevated, as for
example on the southwestern portion, instead of being a ridge sculptured
on the sides like a mountain range, is found to be composed of many
short ranges, parallel to one another, and to the interior ranges, and
so modeled as to resemble a row of convex lenses set on edge and half
buried beneath a general surface, without manifesting any dependence
upon synclinal or anticlinal axes--a series of forms and relations that
could have resulted only from the outflow of vast basin glaciers on
their courses to the ocean.

I cannot, however, present all the evidence here bearing upon these
interesting questions, much less discuss it in all its relations. I
will, therefore, close this letter with a few of the more important
generalizations that have grown up out of the facts that I have
observed. First, at the beginning of the glacial period the region now
known as the Great Basin was an elevated tableland, not furrowed as
at present with mountains and valleys, but comparatively bald and
featureless.

Second, this tableland, bounded on the east and west by lofty mountain
ranges, but comparatively open on the north and south, was loaded with
ice, which was discharged to the ocean northward and southward, and
in its flow brought most, if not all, the present interior ranges and
valleys into relief by erosion.

Third, as the glacial winter drew near its close the ice vanished from
the lower portions of the basin, which then became lakes, into which
separate glaciers descended from the mountains. Then these mountain
glaciers vanished in turn, after sculpturing the ranges into their
present condition.

Fourth, the few immense lakes extending over the lowlands, in the midst
of which many of the interior ranges stood as islands, became shallow
as the ice vanished from the mountains, and separated into many distinct
lakes, whose waters no longer reached the ocean. Most of these have
disappeared by the filling of their basins with detritus from the
mountains, and now form sage plains and "alkali flats."

The transition from one to the other of these various conditions was
gradual and orderly: first, a nearly simple tableland; then a grand mer
de glace shedding its crawling silver currents to the sea, and becoming
gradually more wrinkled as unequal erosion roughened its bed, and
brought the highest peaks and ridges above the surface; then a land of
lakes, an almost continuous sheet of water stretching from the Sierra
to the Wahsatch, adorned with innumerable island mountains; then a slow
desiccation and decay to present conditions of sage and sand.



XVI. Nevada's Dead Towns [21]


Nevada is one of the very youngest and wildest of the States;
nevertheless it is already strewn with ruins that seem as gray and
silent and time-worn as if the civilization to which they belonged had
perished centuries ago. Yet, strange to say, all these ruins are results
of mining efforts made within the last few years. Wander where you may
throughout the length and breadth of this mountain-barred wilderness,
you everywhere come upon these dead mining towns, with their tall
chimney stacks, standing forlorn amid broken walls and furnaces, and
machinery half buried in sand, the very names of many of them already
forgotten amid the excitements of later discoveries, and now known only
through tradition--tradition ten years old.

While exploring the mountain ranges of the State during a considerable
portion of three summers, I think that I have seen at least five of
these deserted towns and villages for every one in ordinary life. Some
of them were probably only camps built by bands of prospectors, and
inhabited for a few months or years, while some specially interesting
canyon was being explored, and then carelessly abandoned for more
promising fields. But many were real towns, regularly laid out and
incorporated, containing well-built hotels, churches, schoolhouses, post
offices, and jails, as well as the mills on which they all depended; and
whose well-graded streets were filled with lawyers, doctors, brokers,
hangmen, real estate agents, etc., the whole population numbering
several thousand.

A few years ago the population of Hamilton is said to have been nearly
eight thousand; that of Treasure Hill, six thousand; of Shermantown,
seven thousand; of Swansea, three thousand. All of these were
incorporated towns with mayors, councils, fire departments, and daily
newspapers. Hamilton has now about one hundred inhabitants, most of whom
are merely waiting in dreary inaction for something to turn up. Treasure
Hill has about half as many, Shermantown one family, and Swansea none,
while on the other hand the graveyards are far too full.

In one canyon of the Toyabe range, near Austin, I found no less than
five dead towns without a single inhabitant. The streets and blocks of
"real estate" graded on the hillsides are rapidly falling back into
the wilderness. Sagebrushes are growing up around the forges of the
blacksmith shops, and lizards bask on the crumbling walls.

While traveling southward from Austin down Big Smoky Valley, I noticed a
remarkably tall and imposing column, rising like a lone pine out of the
sagebrush on the edge of a dry gulch. This proved to be a smokestack of
solid masonry. It seemed strangely out of place in the desert, as if it
had been transported entire from the heart of some noisy manufacturing
town and left here by mistake. I learned afterwards that it belonged
to a set of furnaces that were built by a New York company to smelt ore
that never was found. The tools of the workmen are still lying in place
beside the furnaces, as if dropped in some sudden Indian or earthquake
panic and never afterwards handled. These imposing ruins, together with
the desolate town, lying a quarter of a mile to the northward, present
a most vivid picture of wasted effort. Coyotes now wander unmolested
through the brushy streets, and of all the busy throng that so lavishly
spent their time and money here only one man remains--a lone bachelor
with one suspender.

Mining discoveries and progress, retrogression and decay, seem to have
been crowded more closely against each other here than on any other
portion of the globe. Some one of the band of adventurous prospectors
who came from the exhausted placers of California would discover some
rich ore--how much or little mattered not at first. These specimens fell
among excited seekers after wealth like sparks in gunpowder, and in a
few days the wilderness was disturbed with the noisy clang of miners and
builders. A little town would then spring up, and before anything like a
careful survey of any particular lode would be made, a company would
be formed, and expensive mills built. Then, after all the machinery
was ready for the ore, perhaps little, or none at all, was to be
found. Meanwhile another discovery was reported, and the young town was
abandoned as completely as a camp made for a single night; and so on,
until some really valuable lode was found, such as those of Eureka,
Austin, Virginia, etc., which formed the substantial groundwork for a
thousand other excitements.

Passing through the dead town of Schellbourne last month, I asked one of
the few lingering inhabitants why the town was built. "For the mines,"
he replied. "And where are the mines?" "On the mountains back here."
"And why were they abandoned?" I asked. "Are they exhausted?" "Oh, no,"
he replied, "they are not exhausted; on the contrary, they have never
been worked at all, for unfortunately, just as we were about ready to
open them, the Cherry Creek mines were discovered across the valley in
the Egan range, and everybody rushed off there, taking what they could
with them--houses machinery, and all. But we are hoping that somebody
with money and speculation will come and revive us yet."

The dead mining excitements of Nevada were far more intense and
destructive in their action than those of California, because the prizes
at stake were greater, while more skill was required to gain them. The
long trains of gold-seekers making their way to California had ample
time and means to recover from their first attacks of mining fever while
crawling laboriously across the plains, and on their arrival on any
portion of the Sierra gold belt, they at once began to make money. No
matter in what gulch or canyon they worked, some measure of success
was sure, however unskillful they might be. And though while making ten
dollars a day they might be agitated by hopes of making twenty, or of
striking their picks against hundred- or thousand-dollar nuggets, men
of ordinary nerve could still work on with comparative steadiness, and
remain rational.

But in the case of the Nevada miner, he too often spent himself in years
of weary search without gaining a dollar, traveling hundreds of miles
from mountain to mountain, burdened with wasting hopes of discovering
some hidden vein worth millions, enduring hardships of the most
destructive kind, driving innumerable tunnels into the hillsides, while
his assayed specimens again and again proved worthless. Perhaps one in
a hundred of these brave prospectors would "strike it rich," while
ninety-nine died alone in the mountains or sank out of sight in the
corners of saloons, in a haze of whiskey and tobacco smoke.

The healthful ministry of wealth is blessed; and surely it is a fine
thing that so many are eager to find the gold and silver that lie hid
in the veins of the mountains. But in the search the seekers too often
become insane, and strike about blindly in the dark like raving madmen.
Seven hundred and fifty tons of ore from the original Eberhardt mine on
Treasure Hill yielded a million and a half dollars, the whole of this
immense sum having been obtained within two hundred and fifty feet of
the surface, the greater portion within one hundred and forty feet.
Other ore masses were scarcely less marvelously rich, giving rise to
one of the most violent excitements that ever occurred in the history of
mining. All kinds of people--shoemakers, tailors, farmers, etc., as
well as miners--left their own right work and fell in a perfect storm of
energy upon the White Pine Hills, covering the ground like grasshoppers,
and seeming determined by the very violence of their efforts to turn
every stone to silver. But with few exceptions, these mining storms pass
away about as suddenly as they rise, leaving only ruins to tell of the
tremendous energy expended, as heaps of giant boulders in the valley
tell of the spent power of the mountain floods.

In marked contrast with this destructive unrest is the orderly
deliberation into which miners settle in developing a truly valuable
mine. At Eureka we were kindly led through the treasure chambers of the
Richmond and Eureka Consolidated, our guides leisurely leading the way
from level to level, calling attention to the precious ore masses
which the workmen were slowly breaking to pieces with their picks, like
navvies wearing away the day in a railroad cutting; while down at the
smelting works the bars of bullion were handled with less eager haste
than the farmer shows in gathering his sheaves.

The wealth Nevada has already given to the world is indeed wonderful,
but the only grand marvel is the energy expended in its development.
The amount of prospecting done in the face of so many dangers and
sacrifices, the innumerable tunnels and shafts bored into the mountains,
the mills that have been built--these would seem to require a race of
giants. But, in full view of the substantial results achieved, the pure
waste manifest in the ruins one meets never fails to produce a saddening
effect.

The dim old ruins of Europe, so eagerly sought after by travelers, have
something pleasing about them, whatever their historical associations;
for they at least lend some beauty to the landscape. Their picturesque
towers and arches seem to be kindly adopted by nature, and planted
with wild flowers and wreathed with ivy; while their rugged angles are
soothed and freshened and embossed with green mosses, fresh life and
decay mingling in pleasing measures, and the whole vanishing softly like
a ripe, tranquil day fading into night. So, also, among the older ruins
of the East there is a fitness felt. They have served their time, and
like the weather-beaten mountains are wasting harmoniously. The same is
in some degree true of the dead mining towns of California.

But those lying to the eastward of the Sierra throughout the ranges of
the Great Basin waste in the dry wilderness like the bones of cattle
that have died of thirst. Many of them do not represent any good
accomplishment, and have no right to be. They are monuments of fraud and
ignorance--sins against science. The drifts and tunnels in the rocks may
perhaps be regarded as the prayers of the prospector, offered for the
wealth he so earnestly craves; but, like prayers of any kind not in
harmony with nature, they are unanswered. But, after all, effort,
however misapplied, is better than stagnation. Better toil blindly,
beating every stone in turn for grains of gold, whether they contain any
or not, than lie down in apathetic decay.

The fever period is fortunately passing away. The prospector is no
longer the raving, wandering ghoul of ten years ago, rushing in random
lawlessness among the hills, hungry and footsore; but cool and skillful,
well supplied with every necessary, and clad in his right mind.
Capitalists, too, and the public in general, have become wiser, and do
not take fire so readily from mining sparks; while at the same time a
vast amount of real work is being done, and the ratio between growth and
decay is constantly becoming better.



XVII. Puget Sound


Washington Territory, recently admitted [22] into the Union as a State,
lies between latitude 46 degrees and 49 degrees and longitude 117
degrees and 125 degrees, forming the northwest shoulder of the United
States. The majestic range of the Cascade Mountains naturally
divides the State into two distinct parts, called Eastern and Western
Washington, differing greatly from each other in almost every way, the
western section being less than half as large as the eastern, and, with
its copious rains and deep fertile soil, being clothed with forests of
evergreens, while the eastern section is dry and mostly treeless, though
fertile in many parts, and producing immense quantities of wheat and
hay. Few States are more fertile and productive in one way or another
than Washington, or more strikingly varied in natural features or
resources.

Within her borders every kind of soil and climate may be found--the
densest woods and dryest plains, the smoothest levels and roughest
mountains. She is rich in square miles (some seventy thousand of them),
in coal, timber, and iron, and in sheltered inland waters that render
these resources advantageously accessible. She also is already rich in
busy workers, who work hard, though not always wisely, hacking, burning,
blasting their way deeper into the wilderness, beneath the sky, and
beneath the ground. The wedges of development are being driven hard, and
none of the obstacles or defenses of nature can long withstand the onset
of this immeasurable industry.

Puget Sound, so justly famous the world over for the surpassing size and
excellence and abundance of its timber, is a long, many-fingered arm of
the sea reaching southward from the head of the Strait of Juan de
Fuca into the heart of the grand forests of the western portion of
Washington, between the Cascade Range and the mountains of the coast. It
is less than a hundred miles in length, but so numerous are the branches
into which it divides, and so many its bays, harbors, and islands,
that its entire shoreline is said to measure more than eighteen hundred
miles. Throughout its whole vast extent ships move in safety, and find
shelter from every wind that blows, the entire mountain-girt sea forming
one grand unrivaled harbor and center for commerce.

The forest trees press forward to the water around all the windings of
the shores in most imposing array, as if they were courting their fate,
coming down from the mountains far and near to offer themselves to the
axe, thus making the place a perfect paradise for the lumberman. To the
lover of nature the scene is enchanting. Water and sky, mountain and
forest, clad in sunshine and clouds, are composed in landscapes
sublime in magnitude, yet exquisitely fine and fresh, and full of
glad, rejoicing life. The shining waters stretch away into the leafy
wilderness, now like the reaches of some majestic river and again
expanding into broad roomy spaces like mountain lakes, their farther
edges fading gradually and blending with the pale blue of the sky. The
wooded shores with an outer fringe of flowering bushes sweep onward
in beautiful curves around bays, and capes, and jutting promontories
innumerable; while the islands, with soft, waving outlines, lavishly
adorned with spruces and cedars, thicken and enrich the beauty of the
waters; and the white spirit mountains looking down from the sky keep
watch and ward over all, faithful and changeless as the stars.

All the way from the Strait of Juan de Fuca up to Olympia, a hopeful
town situated at the head of one of the farthest-reaching of the fingers
of the Sound, we are so completely inland and surrounded by mountains
that it is hard to realize that we are sailing on a branch of the
salt sea. We are constantly reminded of Lake Tahoe. There is the same
clearness of the water in calm weather without any trace of the ocean
swell, the same picturesque winding and sculpture of the shoreline and
flowery, leafy luxuriance; only here the trees are taller and stand much
closer together, and the backgrounds are higher and far more extensive.
Here, too, we find greater variety amid the marvelous wealth of islands
and inlets, and also in the changing views dependent on the weather.
As we double cape after cape and round the uncounted islands, new
combinations come to view in endless variety, sufficient to fill and
satisfy the lover of wild beauty through a whole life.

Oftentimes in the stillest weather, when all the winds sleep and no sign
of storms is felt or seen, silky clouds form and settle over all the
land, leaving in sight only a circle of water with indefinite bounds
like views in mid-ocean; then, the clouds lifting, some islet will be
presented standing alone, with the tops of its trees dipping out of
sight in pearly gray fringes; or, lifting higher, and perhaps letting in
a ray of sunshine through some rift overhead, the whole island will be
set free and brought forward in vivid relief amid the gloom, a girdle of
silver light of dazzling brightness on the water about its shores, then
darkening again and vanishing back into the general gloom. Thus island
after island may be seen, singly or in groups, coming and going from
darkness to light like a scene of enchantment, until at length the
entire cloud ceiling is rolled away, and the colossal cone of Mount
Rainier is seen in spotless white looking down over the forests from
a distance of sixty miles, but so lofty and so massive and clearly
outlined as to impress itself upon us as being just back of a strip of
woods only a mile or two in breadth.

For the tourist sailing to Puget Sound from San Francisco there is but
little that is at all striking in the scenery within reach by the way
until the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is reached. The voyage
is about four days in length and the steamers keep within sight of the
coast, but the hills fronting the sea up to Oregon are mostly bare
and uninviting, the magnificent redwood forests stretching along this
portion of the California coast seeming to keep well back, away from
the heavy winds, so that very little is seen of them; while there are
no deep inlets or lofty mountains visible to break the regular monotony.
Along the coast of Oregon the woods of spruce and fir come down to the
shore, kept fresh and vigorous by copious rains, and become denser and
taller to the northward until, rounding Cape Flattery, we enter the
Strait of Fuca, where, sheltered from the ocean gales, the forests begin
to hint the grandeur they attain in Puget Sound. Here the scenery in
general becomes exceedingly interesting; for now we have arrived at the
grand mountain-walled channel that forms the entrance to that marvelous
network of inland waters that extends along the margin of the continent
to the northward for a thousand miles.

This magnificent inlet was named for Juan de Fuca, who discovered it in
1592 while seeking a mythical strait, supposed to exist somewhere in the
north, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific. It is about seventy miles
long, ten or twelve miles wide, and extends to the eastward in a nearly
straight line between the south end of Vancouver Island and the Olympic
Range of mountains on the mainland.

Cape Flattery, the western termination of the Olympic Range, is terribly
rugged and jagged, and in stormy weather is utterly inaccessible from
the sea. Then the ponderous rollers of the deep Pacific thunder amid
its caverns and cliffs with the foam and uproar of a thousand Yosemite
waterfalls. The bones of many a noble ship lie there, and many a sailor.
It would seem unlikely that any living thing should seek rest in such a
place, or find it. Nevertheless, frail and delicate flowers bloom there,
flowers of both the land and the sea; heavy, ungainly seals disport in
the swelling waves, and find grateful retreats back in the inmost bores
of its storm-lashed caverns; while in many a chink and hollow of the
highest crags, not visible from beneath, a great variety of waterfowl
make homes and rear their young.

But not always are the inhabitants safe, even in such wave-defended
castles as these, for the Indians of the neighboring shores venture
forth in the calmest summer weather in their frail canoes to spear
the seals in the narrow gorges amid the grinding, gurgling din of the
restless waters. At such times also the hunters make out to scale many
of the apparently inaccessible cliffs for the eggs and young of the
gulls and other water birds, occasionally losing their lives in these
perilous adventures, which give rise to many an exciting story told
around the campfires at night when the storms roar loudest.

Passing through the strait, we have the Olympic Mountains close at hand
on the right, Vancouver Island on the left, and the snowy peak of Mount
Baker straight ahead in the distance. During calm weather, or when the
clouds are lifting and rolling off the mountains after a storm, all
these views are truly magnificent. Mount Baker is one of that wonderful
series of old volcanoes that once flamed along the summits of the
Sierras and Cascades from Lassen to Mount St. Elias. Its fires are
sleeping now, and it is loaded with glaciers, streams of ice having
taken the place of streams of glowing lava. Vancouver Island presents a
charming variety of hill and dale, open sunny spaces and sweeps of dark
forest rising in swell beyond swell to the high land in the distance.

But the Olympic Mountains most of all command attention, seen tellingly
near and clear in all their glory, rising from the water's edge into the
sky to a height of six or eight thousand feet. They bound the strait on
the south side throughout its whole extent, forming a massive sustained
wall, flowery and bushy at the base, a zigzag of snowy peaks along
the top, which have ragged-edged fields of ice and snow beneath them,
enclosed in wide amphitheaters opening to the waters of the strait
through spacious forest-filled valleys enlivened with fine, dashing
streams. These valleys mark the courses of the Olympic glaciers at the
period of their greatest extension, when they poured their tribute into
that portion of the great northern ice sheet that overswept the south
end of Vancouver Island and filled the strait with flowing ice as it is
now filled with ocean water.

The steamers of the Sound usually stop at Esquimalt on their way up,
thus affording tourists an opportunity to visit the interesting town of
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The Victoria harbor is too
narrow and difficult of access for the larger class of ships; therefore
a landing has to be made at Esquimalt. The distance, however, is only
about three miles, and the way is delightful, winding on through a
charming forest of Douglas spruce, with here and there groves of oak
and madrone, and a rich undergrowth of hazel, dogwood, willow, alder,
spiraea, rubus, huckleberry, and wild rose. Pretty cottages occur
at intervals along the road, covered with honeysuckle, and many an
upswelling rock, freshly glaciated and furred with yellow mosses and
lichen, telling interesting stories of the icy past.

Victoria is a quiet, handsome, breezy town, beautifully located on
finely modulated ground at the mouth of the Canal de Haro, with charming
views in front, of islands and mountains and far-reaching waters, ever
changing in the shifting lights and shades of the clouds and sunshine.
In the background there are a mile or two of field and forest and sunny
oak openings; then comes the forest primeval, dense and shaggy and
well-nigh impenetrable.

Notwithstanding the importance claimed for Victoria as a commercial
center and the capital of British Columbia, it has a rather young,
loose-jointed appearance. The government buildings and some of the
business blocks on the main streets are well built and imposing in bulk
and architecture. These are far less interesting and characteristic,
however, than the mansions set in the midst of spacious pleasure grounds
and the lovely home cottages embowered in honeysuckle and climbing
roses. One soon discovers that this is no Yankee town. The English
faces and the way that English is spoken alone would tell that; while in
business quarters there is a staid dignity and moderation that is very
noticeable, and a want of American push and hurrah. Love of land and of
privacy in homes is made manifest in the residences, many of which are
built in the middle of fields and orchards or large city blocks, and in
the loving care with which these home grounds are planted. They are very
beautiful. The fineness of the climate, with its copious measure of warm
moisture distilling in dew and fog, and gentle, bathing, laving rain,
give them a freshness and floweriness that is worth going far to see.

Victoria is noted for its fine drives, and every one who can should
either walk or drive around the outskirts of the town, not only for the
fine views out over the water but to see the cascades of bloom pouring
over the gables of the cottages, and the fresh wild woods with their
flowery, fragrant underbrush. Wild roses abound almost everywhere. One
species, blooming freely along the woodland paths, is from two to three
inches in diameter, and more fragrant than any other wild rose I ever
saw excepting the sweetbriar. This rose and three species of spiraea
fairly fill the air with fragrance after a shower. And how brightly then
do the red berries of the dogwood shine out from the warm yellow-green
of leaves and mosses!

But still more interesting and significant are the glacial phenomena
displayed hereabouts. All this exuberant tree, bush, and herbaceous
vegetation, cultivated or wild, is growing upon moraine beds outspread
by waters that issued from the ancient glaciers at the time of
their recession, and scarcely at all moved or in any way modified by
post-glacial agencies. The town streets and the roads are graded in
moraine material, among scratched and grooved rock bosses that are as
unweathered and telling as any to be found in the glacier channels of
Alaska. The harbor also is clearly of glacial origin. The rock islets
that rise here and there, forming so marked a feature of the harbor, are
unchanged roches moutonnees, and the shores are grooved, scratched, and
rounded, and in every way as glacial in all their characteristics as
those of a newborn glacial lake.

Most visitors to Victoria go to the stores of the Hudson's Bay Company,
presumably on account of the romantic associations, or to purchase a
bit of fur or some other wild-Indianish trinket as a memento. At certain
seasons of the year, when the hairy harvests are gathered in, immense
bales of skins may be seen in these unsavory warehouses, the spoils of
many thousand hunts over mountain and plain, by lonely river and shore.
The skins of bears, wolves, beavers, otters, fishers, martens, lynxes,
panthers, wolverine, reindeer, moose, elk, wild goats, sheep, foxes,
squirrels, and many others of our "poor earth-born companions and fellow
mortals" may here be found.

Vancouver is the southmost and the largest of the countless islands
forming the great archipelago that stretches a thousand miles to the
northward. Its shores have been known a long time, but little is known
of the lofty mountainous interior on account of the difficulties in
the way of explorations--lake, bogs, and shaggy tangled forests. It is
mostly a pure, savage wilderness, without roads or clearings, and silent
so far as man is concerned. Even the Indians keep close to the shore,
getting a living by fishing, dwelling together in villages, and
traveling almost wholly by canoes. White settlements are few and far
between. Good agricultural lands occur here and there on the edge of
the wilderness, but they are hard to clear, and have received but little
attention thus far. Gold, the grand attraction that lights the way into
all kinds of wildernesses and makes rough places smooth, has been found,
but only in small quantities, too small to make much motion. Almost all
the industry of the island is employed upon lumber and coal, in which,
so far as known, its chief wealth lies.

Leaving Victoria for Port Townsend, after we are fairly out on the free
open water, Mount Baker is seen rising solitary over a dark breadth of
forest, making a glorious show in its pure white raiment. It is said
to be about eleven thousand feet high, is loaded with glaciers, some of
which come well down into the woods, and never, so far as I have heard,
has been climbed, though in all probability it is not inaccessible.
The task of reaching its base through the dense woods will be likely to
prove of greater difficulty than the climb to the summit.

In a direction a little to the left of Mount Baker and much nearer,
may be seen the island of San Juan, famous in the young history of the
country for the quarrels concerning its rightful ownership between the
Hudson's Bay Company and Washington Territory, quarrels which nearly
brought on war with Great Britain. Neither party showed any lack of
either pluck or gunpowder. General Scott was sent out by President
Buchanan to negotiate, which resulted in a joint occupancy of the
island. Small quarrels, however, continued to arise until the year 1874,
when the peppery question was submitted to the Emperor of Germany for
arbitration. Then the whole island was given to the United States.

San Juan is one of a thickset cluster of islands that fills the waters
between Vancouver and the mainland, a little to the north of Victoria.
In some of the intricate channels between these islands the tides run
at times like impetuous rushing rivers, rendering navigation rather
uncertain and dangerous for the small sailing vessels that ply between
Victoria and the settlements on the coast of British Columbia and the
larger islands. The water is generally deep enough everywhere, too deep
in most places for anchorage, and, the winds shifting hither and thither
or dying away altogether, the ships, getting no direction from their
helms, are carried back and forth or are caught in some eddy where two
currents meet and whirled round and round to the dismay of the sailors,
like a chip in a river whirlpool.

All the way over to Port Townsend the Olympic Mountains well maintain
their massive, imposing grandeur, and present their elaborately carved
summits in clear relief, many of which are out of sight in coming up the
strait on account of our being too near the base of the range. Turn to
them as often as we may, our admiration only grows the warmer the longer
we dwell upon them. The highest peaks are Mount Constance and Mount
Olympus, said to be about eight thousand feet high.

In two or three hours after leaving Victoria, we arrive at the handsome
little town of Port Townsend, situated at the mouth of Puget Sound, on
the west side. The residential portion of the town is set on the level
top of the bluff that bounds Port Townsend Bay, while another nearly
level space of moderate extent, reaching from the base of the bluff to
the shoreline, is occupied by the business portion, thus making a town
of two separate and distinct stories, which are connected by long,
ladder-like flights of stairs. In the streets of the lower story, while
there is no lack of animation, there is but little business noise as
compared with the amount of business transacted. This in great part is
due to the scarcity of horses and wagons. Farms and roads back in the
woods are few and far between. Nearly all the tributary settlements are
on the coast, and communication is almost wholly by boats, canoes, and
schooners. Hence country stages and farmers' wagons and buggies, with
the whir and din that belong to them, are wanting.

This being the port of entry, all vessels have to stop here, and they
make a lively show about the wharves and in the bay. The winds stir the
flags of every civilized nation, while the Indians in their long-beaked
canoes glide about from ship to ship, satisfying their curiosity or
trading with the crews. Keen traders these Indians are, and few indeed
of the sailors or merchants from any country ever get the better of them
in bargains. Curious groups of people may often be seen in the
streets and stores, made up of English, French, Spanish, Portuguese,
Scandinavians, Germans, Greeks, Moors, Japanese, and Chinese, of every
rank and station and style of dress and behavior; settlers from many
a nook and bay and island up and down the coast; hunters from the
wilderness; tourists on their way home by the Sound and the Columbia
River or to Alaska or California.

The upper story of Port Townsend is charmingly located, wide bright
waters on one side, flowing evergreen woods on the other. The streets
are well laid out and well tended, and the houses, with their luxuriant
gardens about them, have an air of taste and refinement seldom found
in towns set on the edge of a wild forest. The people seem to have
come here to make true homes, attracted by the beauty and fresh breezy
healthfulness of the place as well as by business advantages, trusting
to natural growth and advancement instead of restless "booming" methods.
They perhaps have caught some of the spirit of calm moderation and
enjoyment from their English neighbors across the water. Of late,
however, this sober tranquillity has begun to give way, some whiffs from
the whirlwind of real estate speculation up the Sound having at length
touched the town and ruffled the surface of its calmness.

A few miles up the bay is Fort Townsend, which makes a pretty picture
with the green woods rising back of it and the calm water in front.
Across the mouth of the Sound lies the long, narrow Whidbey Island,
named by Vancouver for one of his lieutenants. It is about thirty miles
in length, and is remarkable in this region of crowded forests and
mountains as being comparatively open and low. The soil is good and
easily worked, and a considerable portion of the island has been under
cultivation for many years. Fertile fields, open, parklike groves of
oak, and thick masses of evergreens succeed one another in charming
combinations to make this "the garden spot of the Territory."

Leaving Port Townsend for Seattle and Tacoma, we enter the Sound and
sail down into the heart of the green, aspiring forests, and find, look
where we may, beauty ever changing, in lavish profusion. Puget Sound,
"the Mediterranean of America" as it is sometimes called, is in many
respects one of the most remarkable bodies of water in the world.
Vancouver, who came here nearly a hundred years ago and made a careful
survey of it, named the larger northern portion of it "Admiralty Inlet"
and one of the long, narrow branches "Hood's Canal'" applying the name
"Puget Sound" only to the comparatively small southern portion. The
latter name, however, is now applied generally to the entire inlet,
and is commonly shortened by the people hereabouts to "The Sound."
The natural wealth and commercial advantages of the Sound region were
quickly recognized, and the cause of the activity prevailing here is not
far to seek. Vancouver, long before civilization touched these shores,
spoke of it in terms of unstinted praise. He was sent out by the British
government with the principal object in view of "acquiring accurate
knowledge as to the nature and extent of any water communication which
may tend in any considerable degree to facilitate an intercourse for the
purposes of commerce between the northwest coast and the country on
the opposite side of the continent," vague traditions having long been
current concerning a strait supposed to unite the two oceans. Vancouver
reported that he found the coast from San Francisco to Oregon and beyond
to present a nearly straight solid barrier to the sea, without openings,
and we may well guess the joy of the old navigator on the discovery of
these waters after so long and barren a search to the southward.

His descriptions of the scenery--Mounts Baker, Rainier, St. Helen's,
etc.--were as enthusiastic as those of the most eager landscape lover of
the present day, when scenery is in fashion. He says in one place: "To
describe the beauties of this region will, on some future occasion, be a
very grateful task for the pen of a skillful panegyrist. The serenity
of the climate, the immeasurable pleasing landscapes, and the abundant
fertility that unassisted nature puts forth, require only to be enriched
by the industry of man with villages, mansions, cottages, and other
buildings, to render it the most lovely country that can be imagined.
The labor of the inhabitants would be amply rewarded in the bounties
which nature seems ready to bestow on cultivation." "A picture so
pleasing could not fail to call to our remembrance certain delightful
and beloved situations in old England." So warm, indeed, were the
praises he sung that his statements were received in England with a
good deal of hesitation. But they were amply corroborated by Wilkes
and others who followed many years later. "Nothing," says Wilkes, "can
exceed the beauty of these waters and their safety. Not a shoal exists
in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound or Hood's
Canal, that can in any way interrupt their navigation by a 74-gun
ship. I venture nothing in saying there is no country in the world that
possesses waters like these." And again, quoting from the United States
Coast Survey, "For depth of water, boldness of approaches, freedom from
hidden dangers, and the immeasurable sea of gigantic timber coming down
to the very shores, these waters are unsurpassed, unapproachable."

The Sound region has a fine, fresh, clean climate, well washed both
winter and summer with copious rains and swept with winds and clouds
that come from the mountains and the sea. Every hidden nook in the
depths of the woods is searched and refreshed, leaving no stagnant air;
beaver meadows and lake basin and low and willowy bogs, all are kept
wholesome and sweet the year round. Cloud and sunshine alternate in
bracing, cheering succession, and health and abundance follow the
storms. The outer sea margin is sublimely dashed and drenched with ocean
brine, the spicy scud sweeping at times far inland over the bending
woods, the giant trees waving and chanting in hearty accord as if surely
enjoying it all.

Heavy, long-continued rains occur in the winter months. Then every leaf,
bathed and brightened, rejoices. Filtering drops and currents through
all the shaggy undergrowth of the woods go with tribute to the small
streams, and these again to the larger. The rivers swell, but there are
no devastating floods; for the thick felt of roots and mosses holds
the abounding waters in check, stored in a thousand thousand fountains.
Neither are there any violent hurricanes here, At least, I never have
heard of any, nor have I come upon their tracks. Most of the streams are
clear and cool always, for their waters are filtered through deep beds
of mosses, and flow beneath shadows all the way to the sea. Only the
streams from the glaciers are turbid and muddy. On the slopes of the
mountains where they rush from their crystal caves, they carry not
only small particles of rock-mud, worn off the sides and bottoms of
the channels of the glaciers, but grains of sand and pebbles and large
boulders tons in weight, rolling them forward on their way rumbling and
bumping to their appointed places at the foot of steep slopes, to be
built into rough bars and beds, while the smaller material is carried
farther and outspread in flats, perhaps for coming wheat fields and
gardens, the finest of it going out to sea, floating on the tides for
weeks and months ere it finds rest on the bottom.

Snow seldom falls to any great depth on the lowlands, though it comes in
glorious abundance on the mountains. And only on the mountains does the
temperature fall much below the freezing point. In the warmest summer
weather a temperature of eighty-five degrees or even more occasionally
is reached, but not for long at a time, as such heat is speedily
followed by a breeze from the sea. The most charming days here are days
of perfect calm, when all the winds are holding their breath and not a
leaf stirs. The surface of the Sound shines like a silver mirror over
all its vast extent, reflecting its lovely islands and shores; and long
sheets of spangles flash and dance in the wake of every swimming
seabird and boat. The sun, looking down on the tranquil landscape, seems
conscious of the presence of every living thing on which he is pouring
his blessings, while they in turn, with perhaps the exception of man,
seem conscious of the sun as a benevolent father and stand hushed and
waiting.



XVIII. The Forests of Washington


When we force our way into the depths of the forests, following any of
the rivers back to their fountains, we find that the bulk of the woods
is made up of the Douglas spruce (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), named in honor
of David Douglas, an enthusiastic botanical explorer of early Hudson's
Bay times. It is not only a very large tree but a very beautiful one,
with lively bright-green drooping foliage, handsome pendent cones, and
a shaft exquisitely straight and regular. For so large a tree it is
astonishing how many find nourishment and space to grow on any given
area. The magnificent shafts push their spires into the sky close
together with as regular a growth as that of a well-tilled field of
grain. And no ground has been better tilled for the growth of trees
than that on which these forests are growing. For it has been thoroughly
ploughed and rolled by the mighty glaciers from the mountains, and
sifted and mellowed and outspread in beds hundreds of feet in depth by
the broad streams that issued from their fronts at the time of their
recession, after they had long covered all the land.

The largest tree of this species that I have myself measured was nearly
twelve feet in diameter at a height of five feet from the ground, and,
as near as I could make out under the circumstances, about three
hundred feet in length. It stood near the head of the Sound not far from
Olympia. I have seen a few others, both near the coast and thirty or
forty miles back in the interior, that were from eight to ten feet in
diameter, measured above their bulging insteps; and many from six to
seven feet. I have heard of some that were said to be three hundred and
twenty-five feet in height and fifteen feet in diameter, but none that
I measured were so large, though it is not at all unlikely that such
colossal giants do exist where conditions of soil and exposure are
surpassingly favorable. The average size of all the trees of this
species found up to an elevation on the mountain slopes of, say, two
thousand feet above sea level, taking into account only what may be
called mature trees two hundred and fifty to five hundred years of age,
is perhaps, at a vague guess, not more than a height of one hundred and
seventy-five or two hundred feet and a diameter of three feet; though,
of course, throughout the richest sections the size is much greater.

In proportion to its weight when dry, the timber from this tree is
perhaps stronger than that of any other conifer in the country. It is
tough and durable and admirably adapted in every way for shipbuilding,
piles, and heavy timbers in general. But its hardness and liability to
warp render it much inferior to white or sugar pine for fine work. In
the lumber markets of California it is known as "Oregon pine" and is
used almost exclusively for spars, bridge timbers, heavy planking, and
the framework of houses.

The same species extends northward in abundance through British Columbia
and southward through the coast and middle regions of Oregon and
California. It is also a common tree in the canyons and hollows of
the Wahsatch Mountains in Utah, where it is called "red pine" and on
portions of the Rocky Mountains and some of the short ranges of the
Great Basin. Along the coast of California it keeps company with the
redwood wherever it can find a favorable opening. On the western slope
of the Sierra, with the yellow pine and incense cedar, it forms a pretty
well-defined belt at a height of from three thousand to six thousand
feet above the sea, and extends into the San Gabriel and San Bernardino
Mountains in Southern California. But, though widely distributed, it
is only in these cool, moist northlands that it reaches its finest
development, tall, straight, elastic, and free from limbs to an immense
height, growing down to tide water, where ships of the largest size may
lie close alongside and load at the least possible cost.

Growing with the Douglas we find the white spruce, or "Sitka pine," as
it is sometimes called. This also is a very beautiful and majestic tree,
frequently attaining a height of two hundred feet or more and a diameter
of five or six feet. It is very abundant in southeastern Alaska, forming
the greater part of the best forests there. Here it is found mostly
around the sides of beaver-dam and other meadows and on the borders of
the streams, especially where the ground is low. One tree that I saw
felled at the head of the Hop-Ranch meadows on the upper Snoqualmie
River, though far from being the largest I have seen, measured a hundred
and eighty feet in length and four and a half in diameter, and was two
hundred and fifty-seven years of age.

In habit and general appearance it resembles the Douglas spruce, but it
is somewhat less slender and the needles grow close together all
around the branchlets and are so stiff and sharp-pointed on the younger
branches that they cannot well be handled without gloves. The timber is
tough, close-grained, white, and looks more like pine than any other of
the spruces. It splits freely, makes excellent shingles and in general
use in house-building takes the place of pine. I have seen logs of this
species a hundred feet long and two feet in diameter at the upper end.
It was named in honor of the old Scotch botanist Archibald Menzies, who
came to this coast with Vancouver in 1792 [23].

The beautiful hemlock spruce with its warm yellow-green foliage is
also common in some portions of these woods. It is tall and slender and
exceedingly graceful in habit before old age comes on, but the timber is
inferior and is seldom used for any other than the roughest work, such
as wharf-building.

The Western arbor-vitae [24] (Thuja gigantea) grows to a size truly
gigantic on low rich ground. Specimens ten feet in diameter and a
hundred and forty feet high are not at all rare. Some that I have heard
of are said to be fifteen and even eighteen feet thick. Clad in rich,
glossy plumes, with gray lichens covering their smooth, tapering boles,
perfect trees of this species are truly noble objects and well worthy
the place they hold in these glorious forests. It is of this tree that
the Indians make their fine canoes.

Of the other conifers that are so happy as to have place here, there
are three firs, three or four pines, two cypresses, a yew, and another
spruce, the Abies Pattoniana [25]. This last is perhaps the most
beautiful of all the spruces, but, being comparatively small and growing
only far back on the mountains, it receives but little attention from
most people. Nor is there room in a work like this for anything like a
complete description of it, or of the others I have just mentioned. Of
the three firs, one (Picea grandis) [26], grows near the coast and is
one of the largest trees in the forest, sometimes attaining a height of
two hundred and fifty feet. The timber, however, is inferior in quality
and not much sought after while so much that is better is within reach.
One of the others (P. amabilis, var. nobilis) forms magnificent forests
by itself at a height of about three thousand to four thousand feet
above the sea. The rich plushy, plumelike branches grow in regular
whorls around the trunk, and on the topmost whorls, standing erect, are
the large, beautiful cones. This is far the most beautiful of all the
firs. In the Sierra Nevada it forms a considerable portion of the main
forest belt on the western slope, and it is there that it reaches its
greatest size and greatest beauty. The third species (P. subalpina)
forms, together with Abies Pattoniana, the upper edge of the timberline
on the portion of the Cascades opposite the Sound. A thousand feet below
the extreme limit of tree growth it occurs in beautiful groups amid
parklike openings where flowers grow in extravagant profusion.

The pines are nowhere abundant in the State. The largest, the yellow
pine (Pinus ponderosa), occurs here and there on margins of dry gravelly
prairies, and only in such situations have I yet seen it in this State.
The others (P. monticola and P. contorta) are mostly restricted to
the upper slopes of the mountains, and though the former of these two
attains a good size and makes excellent lumber, it is mostly beyond
reach at present and is not abundant. One of the cypresses (Cupressus
Lawsoniana) [27] grows near the coast and is a fine large tree, clothed
like the arbor-vitae in a glorious wealth of flat, feathery branches.
The other is found here and there well up toward the edge of the
timberline. This is the fine Alaska cedar (C. Nootkatensis), the lumber
from which is noted for its durability, fineness of grain, and beautiful
yellow color, and for its fragrance, which resembles that of sandalwood.
The Alaska Indians make their canoe paddles of it and weave matting and
coarse cloth from the fibrous brown bark.

Among the different kinds of hardwood trees are the oak, maple, madrona,
birch, alder, and wild apple, while large cottonwoods are common along
the rivers and shores of the numerous lakes.

The most striking of these to the traveler is the Menzies arbutus, or
madrona, as it is popularly called in California. Its curious red and
yellow bark, large thick glossy leaves, and panicles of waxy-looking
greenish-white urn-shaped flowers render it very conspicuous. On the
boles of the younger trees and on all the branches, the bark is so
smooth and seamless that it does not appear as bark at all, but rather
the naked wood. The whole tree, with the exception of the larger part
of the trunk, looks as though it had been thoroughly peeled. It is found
sparsely scattered along the shores of the Sound and back in the forests
also on open margins, where the soil is not too wet, and extends up the
coast on Vancouver Island beyond Nanaimo. But in no part of the State
does it reach anything like the size and beauty of proportions that
it attains in California, few trees here being more than ten or
twelve inches in diameter and thirty feet high. It is, however, a very
remarkable-looking object, standing there like some lost or runaway
native of the tropics, naked and painted, beside that dark mossy ocean
of northland conifers. Not even a palm tree would seem more out of place
here.

The oaks, so far as my observation has reached, seem to be most
abundant and to grow largest on the islands of the San Juan and Whidbey
Archipelago. One of the three species of maples that I have seen is only
a bush that makes tangles on the banks of the rivers. Of the other two
one is a small tree, crooked and moss-grown, holding out its leaves to
catch the light that filters down through the close-set spires of the
great spruces. It grows almost everywhere throughout the entire extent
of the forest until the higher slopes of the mountains are reached,
and produces a very picturesque and delightful effect; relieving the
bareness of the great shafts of the evergreens, without being close
enough in its growth to hide them wholly, or to cover the bright mossy
carpet that is spread beneath all the dense parts of the woods.

The other species is also very picturesque and at the same time very
large, the largest tree of its kind that I have ever seen anywhere.
Not even in the great maple woods of Canada have I seen trees either
as large or with so much striking, picturesque character. It is widely
distributed throughout western Washington, but is never found scattered
among the conifers in the dense woods. It keeps together mostly in
magnificent groves by itself on the damp levels along the banks of
streams or lakes where the ground is subject to overflow. In such
situations it attains a height of seventy-five to a hundred feet and a
diameter of four to eight feet. The trunk sends out large limbs toward
its neighbors, laden with long drooping mosses beneath and rows of ferns
on their upper surfaces, thus making a grand series of richly ornamented
interlacing arches, with the leaves laid thick overhead, rendering the
underwood spaces delightfully cool and open. Never have I seen a finer
forest ceiling or a more picturesque one, while the floor, covered with
tall ferns and rubus and thrown into hillocks by the bulging roots,
matches it well. The largest of these maple groves that I have yet found
is on the right bank of the Snoqualmie River, about a mile above the
falls. The whole country hereabouts is picturesque, and interesting in
many ways, and well worthy a visit by tourists passing through the Sound
region, since it is now accessible by rail from Seattle.

Looking now at the forests in a comprehensive way, we find in passing
through them again and again from the shores of the Sound to their upper
limits, that some portions are much older than others, the trees much
larger, and the ground beneath them strewn with immense trunks in every
stage of decay, representing several generations of growth, everything
about them giving the impression that these are indeed the "forests
primeval," while in the younger portions, where the elevation of the
ground is the same as to the sea level and the species of trees are the
same as well as the quality of the soil, apart from the moisture which
it holds, the trees seem to be and are mostly of the same age, perhaps
from one hundred to two or three hundred years, with no gray-bearded,
venerable patriarchs--forming tall, majestic woods without any
grandfathers.

When we examine the ground we find that it is as free from those mounds
of brown crumbling wood and mossy ancient fragments as are the growing
trees from very old ones. Then perchance, we come upon a section farther
up the slopes towards the mountains that has no trees more than fifty
years old, or even fifteen or twenty years old. These last show plainly
enough that they have been devastated by fire, as the black, melancholy
monuments rising here and there above the young growth bear witness.
Then, with this fiery, suggestive testimony, on examining those sections
whose trees are a hundred years old or two hundred, we find the same
fire records, though heavily veiled with mosses and lichens, showing
that a century or two ago the forests that stood there had been swept
away in some tremendous fire at a time when rare conditions of drouth
made their burning possible. Then, the bare ground sprinkled with the
winged seed from the edges of the burned district, a new forest sprang
up, nearly every tree starting at the same time or within a few years,
thus producing the uniformity of size we find in such places; while, on
the other hand, in those sections of ancient aspect containing very old
trees both standing and fallen, we find no traces of fire, nor from the
extreme dampness of the ground can we see any possibility of fire ever
running there.

Fire, then, is the great governing agent in forest distribution and to
a great extent also in the conditions of forest growth. Where fertile
lands are very wet one half the year and very dry the other, there can
be no forests at all. Where the ground is damp, with drouth occurring
only at intervals of centuries, fine forests may be found, other
conditions being favorable. But it is only where fires never run that
truly ancient forests of pitchy coniferous trees may exist. When the
Washington forests are seen from the deck of a ship out in the middle of
the sound, or even from the top of some high, commanding mountain,
the woods seem everywhere perfectly solid. And so in fact they are in
general found to be. The largest openings are those of the lakes and
prairies, the smaller of beaver meadows, bogs, and the rivers; none of
them large enough to make a distinct mark in comprehensive views.

Of the lakes there are said to be some thirty in King's County alone;
the largest, Lake Washington, being twenty-six miles long and four miles
wide. Another, which enjoys the duckish name of Lake Squak, is about
ten miles long. Both are pure and beautiful, lying imbedded in the green
wilderness. The rivers are numerous and are but little affected by the
weather, flowing with deep, steady currents the year round. They are
short, however, none of them drawing their sources from beyond the
Cascade Range. Some are navigable for small steamers on their lower
courses, but the openings they make in the woods are very narrow, the
tall trees on their banks leaning over in some places, making fine shady
tunnels.

The largest of the prairies that I have seen lies to the south of Tacoma
on the line of the Portland and Tacoma Railroad. The ground is dry and
gravelly, a deposit of water-washed cobbles and pebbles derived from
moraines--conditions which readily explain the absence of trees here and
on other prairies adjacent to Yelm. Berries grow in lavish abundance,
enough for man and beast with thousands of tons to spare. The woods are
full of them, especially about the borders of the waters and meadows
where the sunshine may enter. Nowhere in the north does Nature set a
more bountiful table. There are huckleberries of many species, red,
blue, and black, some of them growing close to the ground, others on
bushes eight to ten feet high; also salal berries, growing on a low,
weak-stemmed bush, a species of gaultheria, seldom more than a foot or
two high. This has pale pea-green glossy leaves two or three inches long
and half an inch wide and beautiful pink flowers, urn-shaped, that
make a fine, rich show. The berries are black when ripe, are extremely
abundant, and, with the huckleberries, form an important part of the
food of the Indians, who beat them into paste, dry them, and store them
away for winter use, to be eaten with their oily fish. The salmon-berry
also is very plentiful, growing in dense prickly tangles. The flowers
are as large as wild roses and of the same color, and the berries
measure nearly an inch in diameter. Besides these there are
gooseberries, currants, raspberries, blackberries, and, in some favored
spots, strawberries. The mass of the underbrush of the woods is made
up in great part of these berry-bearing bushes. Together with
white-flowered spiraea twenty feet high, hazel, dogwood, wild rose,
honeysuckle, symphoricarpus, etc. But in the depths of the woods, where
little sunshine can reach the ground, there is but little underbrush of
any kind, only a very light growth of huckleberry and rubus and young
maples in most places. The difficulties encountered by the explorer in
penetrating the wilderness are presented mostly by the streams and bogs,
with their tangled margins, and the fallen timber and thick carpet of
moss covering all the ground.

Notwithstanding the tremendous energy displayed in lumbering and the
grand scale on which it is being carried on, and the number of settlers
pushing into every opening in search of farmlands, the woods of
Washington are still almost entirely virgin and wild, without trace of
human touch, savage or civilized. Indians, no doubt, have ascended most
of the rivers on their way to the mountains to hunt the wild sheep and
goat to obtain wool for their clothing, but with food in abundance on
the coast they had little to tempt them into the wilderness, and the
monuments they have left in it are scarcely more conspicuous than those
of squirrels and bears; far less so than those of the beavers, which in
damming the streams have made clearings and meadows which will continue
to mark the landscape for centuries. Nor is there much in these woods to
tempt the farmer or cattle raiser. A few settlers established homes
on the prairies or open borders of the woods and in the valleys of the
Chehalis and Cowlitz before the gold days of California. Most of the
early immigrants from the Eastern States, however, settled in the
fertile and open Willamette Valley or Oregon. Even now, when the search
for land is so keen, with the exception of the bottom lands around the
Sound and on the lower reaches of the rivers, there are comparatively
few spots of cultivation in western Washington. On every meadow or
opening of any kind some one will be found keeping cattle, planting hop
vines, or raising hay, vegetables, and patches of grain. All the large
spaces available, even back near the summits of the Cascade Mountains,
were occupied long ago. The newcomers, building their cabins where the
beavers once built theirs, keep a few cows and industriously seek to
enlarge their small meadow patches by chopping, girdling, and burning
the edge of the encircling forest, gnawing like beavers, and scratching
for a living among the blackened stumps and logs, regarding the trees
as their greatest enemies--a sort of larger pernicious weed immensely
difficult to get rid of.

But all these are as yet mere spots, making no visible scar in the
distance and leaving the grand stretches of the forest as wild as they
were before the discovery of the continent. For many years the axe has
been busy around the shores of the Sound and ships have been falling in
perpetual storm like flakes of snow. The best of the timber has been
cut for a distance of eight or ten miles from the water and to a much
greater distance along the streams deep enough to float the logs.
Railroads, too, have been built to fetch in the logs from the best
bodies of timber otherwise inaccessible except at great cost. None of
the ground, however, has been completely denuded. Most of the young
trees have been left, together with the hemlocks and other trees
undesirable in kind or in some way defective, so that the neighboring
trees appear to have closed over the gaps make by the removal of the
larger and better ones, maintaining the general continuity of the forest
and leaving no sign on the sylvan sea, at least as seen from a distance.

In felling the trees they cut them off usually at a height of six to
twelve feet above the ground, so as to avoid cutting through the swollen
base, where the diameter is so much greater. In order to reach this
height the chopper cuts a notch about two inches wide and three or four
deep and drives a board into it, on which he stands while at work. In
case the first notch, cut as high as he can reach, is not high enough,
he stands on the board that has been driven into the first notch and
cuts another. Thus the axeman may often be seen at work standing eight
or ten feet above the ground. If the tree is so large that with his
long-handled axe the chopper is unable to reach to the farther side of
it, then a second chopper is set to work, each cutting halfway across.
And when the tree is about to fall, warned by the faint crackling of the
strained fibers, they jump to the ground, and stand back out of danger
from flying limbs, while the noble giant that had stood erect in
glorious strength and beauty century after century, bows low at last and
with gasp and groan and booming throb falls to earth.

Then with long saws the trees are cut into logs of the required length,
peeled, loaded upon wagons capable of carrying a weight of eight or ten
tons, hauled by a long string of oxen to the nearest available stream
or railroad, and floated or carried to the Sound. There the logs are
gathered into booms and towed by steamers to the mills, where workmen
with steel spikes in their boots leap lightly with easy poise from
one to another and by means of long pike poles push them apart and,
selecting such as are at the time required, push them to the foot of a
chute and drive dogs into the ends, when they are speedily hauled in by
the mill machinery alongside the saw carriage and placed and fixed
in position. Then with sounds of greedy hissing and growling they are
rushed back and forth like enormous shuttles, and in an incredibly short
time they are lumber and are aboard the ships lying at the mill wharves.

Many of the long, slender boles so abundant in these woods are saved
for spars, and so excellent is their quality that they are in demand
in almost every shipyard of the world. Thus these trees, felled and
stripped of their leaves and branches, are raised again, transplanted
and set firmly erect, given roots of iron and a new foliage of flapping
canvas, and sent to sea. On they speed in glad, free motion, cheerily
waving over the blue, heaving water, responsive to the same winds that
rocked them when they stood at home in the woods. After standing in one
place all their lives they now, like sight-seeing tourists, go round
the world, meeting many a relative from the old home forest, some like
themselves, wandering free, clad in broad canvas foliage, others planted
head downward in mud, holding wharf platforms aloft to receive the wares
of all nations.

The mills of Puget sound and those of the redwood region of California
are said to be the largest and most effective lumber-makers in the
world. Tacoma alone claims to have eleven sawmills, and Seattle about as
many; while at many other points on the Sound, where the conditions are
particularly favorable, there are immense lumbering establishments,
as at Ports Blakely, Madison, Discovery, Gamble, Ludlow, etc., with a
capacity all together of over three million feet a day. Nevertheless,
the observer coming up the Sound sees not nor hears anything of this
fierce storm of steel that is devouring the forests, save perhaps the
shriek of some whistle or the columns of smoke that mark the position of
the mills. All else seems as serene and unscathed as the silent watching
mountains.



XIX. People and Towns of Puget Sound


As one strolls in the woods about the logging camps, most of the
lumbermen are found to be interesting people to meet, kind and obliging
and sincere, full of knowledge concerning the bark and sapwood
and heartwood of the trees they cut, and how to fell them without
unnecessary breakage, on ground where they may be most advantageously
sawed into logs and loaded for removal. The work is hard, and all of
the older men have a tired, somewhat haggard appearance. Their faces are
doubtful in color, neither sickly nor quite healthy-looking, and seamed
with deep wrinkles like the bark of the spruces, but with no trace of
anxiety. Their clothing is full of rosin and never wears out. A little
of everything in the woods is stuck fast to these loggers, and their
trousers grow constantly thicker with age. In all their movements and
gestures they are heavy and deliberate like the trees above them, and
they walk with a swaying, rocking gait altogether free from quick, jerky
fussiness, for chopping and log rolling have quenched all that. They are
also slow of speech, as if partly out of breath, and when one tries
to draw them out on some subject away from logs, all the fresh, leafy,
outreaching branches of the mind seem to have been withered and killed
with fatigue, leaving their lives little more than dry lumber. Many a
tree have these old axemen felled, but, round-shouldered and stooping,
they too are beginning to lean over. Many of their companions are
already beneath the moss, and among those that we see at work some are
now dead at the top (bald), leafless, so to speak, and tottering to
their fall.

A very different man, seen now and then at long intervals but usually
invisible, is the free roamer of the wilderness--hunter, prospector,
explorer, seeking he knows not what. Lithe and sinewy, he walks erect,
making his way with the skill of wild animals, all his senses in
action, watchful and alert, looking keenly at everything in sight, his
imagination well nourished in the wealth of the wilderness, coming into
contact with free nature in a thousand forms, drinking at the fountains
of things, responsive to wild influences, as trees to the winds. Well
he knows the wild animals his neighbors, what fishes are in the streams,
what birds in the forests, and where food may be found. Hungry at times
and weary, he has corresponding enjoyment in eating and resting, and all
the wilderness is home. Some of these rare, happy rovers die alone among
the leaves. Others half settle down and change in part into farmers;
each, making choice of some fertile spot where the landscape attracts
him, builds a small cabin, where, with few wants to supply from garden
or field, he hunts and farms in turn, going perhaps once a year to the
settlements, until night begins to draw near, and, like forest shadows,
thickens into darkness and his day is done. In these Washington
wilds, living alone, all sorts of men may perchance be found--poets,
philosophers, and even full-blown transcendentalists, though you may go
far to find them.

Indians are seldom to be met with away from the Sound, excepting about
the few outlying hop ranches, to which they resort in great numbers
during the picking season. Nor in your walks in the woods will you be
likely to see many of the wild animals, however far you may go, with the
exception of the Douglas squirrel and the mountain goat. The squirrel is
everywhere, and the goat you can hardly fail to find if you climb any of
the high mountains. The deer, once very abundant, may still be found on
the islands and along the shores of the Sound, but the large gray wolves
render their existence next to impossible at any considerable distance
back in the woods of the mainland, as they can easily run them down
unless they are near enough to the coast to make their escape by
plunging into the water and swimming to the islands off shore. The
elk and perhaps also the moose still exist in the most remote and
inaccessible solitudes of the forest, but their numbers have been
greatly reduced of late, and even the most experienced hunters have
difficulty in finding them. Of bears there are two species, the black
and the large brown, the former by far the more common of the two.
On the shaggy bottom-lands where berries are plentiful, and along the
rivers while salmon are going up to spawn, the black bear may be found,
fat and at home. Many are killed every year, both for their flesh and
skins. The large brown species likes higher and opener ground. He is
a dangerous animal, a near relative of the famous grizzly, and wise
hunters are very fond of letting him alone.

The towns of Puget Sound are of a very lively, progressive, and aspiring
kind, fortunately with abundance of substance about them to warrant
their ambition and make them grow. Like young sapling sequoias, they
are sending out their roots far and near for nourishment, counting
confidently on longevity and grandeur of stature. Seattle and Tacoma are
at present far in the lead of all others in the race for supremacy,
and these two are keen, active rivals, to all appearances well matched.
Tacoma occupies near the head of the Sound a site of great natural
beauty. It is the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and calls
itself the "City of Destiny." Seattle is also charmingly located about
twenty miles down the Sound from Tacoma, on Elliott Bay. It is the
terminus of the Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railroad, now in
process of construction, and calls itself the "Queen City of the Sound"
and the "Metropolis of Washington." What the populations of these towns
number I am not able to say with anything like exactness. They are
probably about the same size and they each claim to have about twenty
thousand people; but their figures are so rapidly changing, and so often
mixed up with counts that refer to the future that exact measurements
of either of these places are about as hard to obtain as measurements of
the clouds of a growing storm. Their edges run back for miles into the
woods among the trees and stumps and brush which hide a good many of the
houses and the stakes which mark the lots; so that, without being as yet
very large towns, they seem to fade away into the distance.

But, though young and loose-jointed, they are fast taking on the forms
and manners of old cities, putting on airs, as some would say, like
boys in haste to be men. They are already towns "with all modern
improvements, first-class in every particular," as is said of hotels.
They have electric motors and lights, paved broadways and boulevards,
substantial business blocks, schools, churches, factories, and
foundries. The lusty, titanic clang of boiler making may be heard there,
and plenty of the languid music of pianos mingling with the babel
noises of commerce carried on in a hundred tongues. The main streets are
crowded with bright, wide-awake lawyers, ministers, merchants, agents
for everything under the sun; ox drivers and loggers in stiff, gummy
overalls; back-slanting dudes, well-tailored and shiny; and fashions and
bonnets of every feather and color bloom gayly in the noisy throng and
advertise London and Paris. Vigorous life and strife are to be seen
everywhere. The spirit of progress is in the air. Still it is hard to
realize how much good work is being done here of a kind that makes
for civilization--the enthusiastic, exulting energy displayed in the
building of new towns, railroads, and mills, in the opening of mines of
coal and iron and the development of natural resources in general. To
many, especially in the Atlantic States, Washington is hardly known
at all. It is regarded as being yet a far wild west--a dim, nebulous
expanse of woods--by those who do not know that railroads and steamers
have brought the country out of the wilderness and abolished the old
distances. It is now near to all the world and is in possession of a
share of the best of all that civilization has to offer, while on some
of the lines of advancement it is at the front.

Notwithstanding the sharp rivalry between different sections and
towns, the leading men mostly pull together for the general good and
glory,--building, buying, borrowing, to push the country to its place;
keeping arithmetic busy in counting population present and to come,
ships, towns, factories, tons of coal and iron, feet of lumber, miles
of railroad,--Americans, Scandinavians, Irish, Scotch, and Germans being
joined together in the white heat of work like religious crowds in time
of revival who have forgotten sectarianism. It is a fine thing to see
people in hot earnest about anything; therefore, however extravagant and
high the brag ascending from Puget Sound, in most cases it is likely to
appear pardonable and more.

Seattle was named after an old Indian chief who lived in this part of
the Sound. He was very proud of the honor and lived long enough to
lead his grandchildren about the streets. The greater part of the lower
business portion of the town, including a long stretch of wharves and
warehouses built on piles, was destroyed by fire a few months ago [28],
with immense loss. The people, however, are in no wise discouraged, and
ere long the loss will be gain, inasmuch as a better class of buildings,
chiefly of brick, are being erected in place of the inflammable wooden
ones, which, with comparatively few exceptions, were built of pitchy
spruce.

With their own scenery so glorious ever on show, one would at first
thought suppose that these happy Puget Sound people would never go
sightseeing from home like less favored mortals. But they do all the
same. Some go boating on the Sound or on the lakes and rivers, or with
their families make excursions at small cost on the steamers. Others
will take the train to the Franklin and Newcastle or Carbon River coal
mines for the sake of the thirty- or forty-mile rides through the woods,
and a look into the black depths of the underworld. Others again take
the steamers for Victoria, Fraser River, or Vancouver, the new ambitious
town at the terminus of the Canadian Railroad, thus getting views of the
outer world in a near foreign country. One of the regular summer resorts
of this region where people go for fishing, hunting, and the healing
of diseases, is the Green River Hot Springs, in the Cascade Mountains,
sixty-one miles east of Tacoma, on the line of the Northern Pacific
Railroad. Green River is a small rocky stream with picturesque banks,
and derives its name from the beautiful pale-green hue of its waters.

Among the most interesting of all the summer rest and pleasure places
is the famous "Hop Ranch" on the upper Snoqualmie River, thirty or forty
miles eastward from Seattle. Here the dense forest opens, allowing fine
free views of the adjacent mountains from a long stretch of ground
which is half meadow, half prairie, level and fertile, and beautifully
diversified with outstanding groves of spruces and alders and rich
flowery fringes of spiraea and wild roses, the river meandering deep and
tranquil through the midst of it. On the portions most easily cleared
some three hundred acres of hop vines have been planted and are now in
full bearing, yielding, it is said, at the rate of about a ton of
hops to the acre. They are a beautiful crop, these vines of the north,
pillars of verdure in regular rows, seven feet apart and eight or ten
feet in height; the long, vigorous shoots sweeping round in fine, wild
freedom, and the light, leafy cones hanging in loose, handsome clusters.

Perhaps enough of hops might be raised in Washington for the wants of
all the world, but it would be impossible to find pickers to handle the
crop. Most of the picking is done by Indians, and to this fine, clean,
profitable work they come in great numbers in their canoes, old and
young, of many different tribes, bringing wives and children and
household goods, in some cases from a distance of five or six hundred
miles, even from far Alaska. Then they too grow rich and spend their
money on red cloth and trinkets. About a thousand Indians are required
as pickers at the Snoqualmie ranch alone, and a lively and merry picture
they make in the field, arrayed in bright, showy calicoes, lowering the
rustling vine pillars with incessant song-singing and fun. Still more
striking are their queer camps on the edges of the fields or over on the
river bank, with the firelight shining on their wild jolly faces. But
woe to the ranch should fire-water get there!

But the chief attractions here are not found in the hops, but in
trout-fishing and bear-hunting, and in the two fine falls on the river.
Formerly the trip from Seattle was a hard one, over corduroy roads; now
it is reached in a few hours by rail along the shores of Lake Washington
and Lake Squak, through a fine sample section of the forest and past the
brow of the main Snoqualmie Fall. From the hotel at the ranch village
the road to the fall leads down the right bank of the river through the
magnificent maple woods I have mentioned elsewhere, and fine views
of the fall may be had on that side, both from above and below. It is
situated on the main river, where it plunges over a sheer precipice,
about two hundred and forty feet high, in leaving the level meadows of
the ancient lake basin. In a general way it resembles the well-known
Nevada Fall in Yosemite, having the same twisted appearance at the top
and the free plunge in numberless comet-shaped masses into a deep pool
seventy-five or eighty yards in diameter. The pool is of considerable
depth, as is shown by the radiating well-beaten foam and mist, which is
of a beautiful rose color at times, of exquisite fineness of tone, and
by the heavy waves that lash the rocks in front of it.

Though to a Californian the height of this fall would not seem great,
the volume of water is heavy, and all the surroundings are delightful.
The maple forest, of itself worth a long journey, the beauty of the
river-reaches above and below, and the views down the valley afar over
the mighty forests, with all its lovely trimmings of ferns and flowers,
make this one of the most interesting falls I have ever seen. The upper
fall is about seventy-five feet high, with bouncing rapids at head and
foot, set in a romantic dell thatched with dripping mosses and ferns and
embowered in dense evergreens and blooming bushes, the distance to it
from the upper end of the meadows being about eight miles. The road
leads through majestic woods with ferns ten feet high beneath some of
the thickets, and across a gravelly plain deforested by fire many years
ago. Orange lilies are plentiful, and handsome shining mats of the
kinnikinic, sprinkled with bright scarlet berries.

From a place called "Hunt's," at the end of the wagon road, a trail
leads through lush, dripping woods (never dry) to Thuja and Mertens,
Menzies, and Douglas spruces. The ground is covered with the best
moss-work of the moist lands of the north, made up mostly of the various
species of hypnum, with some liverworts, marchantia, jungermannia, etc.,
in broad sheets and bosses, where never a dust particle floated, and
where all the flowers, fresh with mist and spray, are wetter than water
lilies. The pool at the foot of the fall is a place surpassingly lovely
to look at, with the enthusiastic rush and song of the falls, the
majestic trees overhead leaning over the brink like listeners eager
to catch every word of the white refreshing waters, the delicate
maidenhairs and aspleniums with fronds outspread gathering the rainbow
sprays, and the myriads of hooded mosses, every cup fresh and shining.



XX. An Ascent of Mount Rainier


Ambitious climbers, seeking adventures and opportunities to test their
strength and skill, occasionally attempt to penetrate the wilderness on
the west side of the Sound, and push on to the summit of Mount Olympus.
But the grandest excursion of all to be make hereabouts is to Mount
Rainier, to climb to the top of its icy crown. The mountain is very high
[29], fourteen thousand four hundred feet, and laden with glaciers that
are terribly roughened and interrupted by crevasses and ice cliffs.
Only good climbers should attempt to gain the summit, led by a guide of
proved nerve and endurance. A good trail has been cut through the woods
to the base of the mountain on the north; but the summit of the mountain
never has been reached from this side, though many brave attempts have
been made upon it.

Last summer I gained the summit from the south side, in a day and a half
from the timberline, without encountering any desperate obstacles that
could not in some way be passed in good weather. I was accompanied by
Keith, the artist, Professor Ingraham, and five ambitious young climbers
from Seattle. We were led by the veteran mountaineer and guide Van
Trump, of Yelm, who many years before guided General Stevens in his
memorable ascent, and later Mr. Bailey, of Oakland. With a cumbersome
abundance of campstools and blankets we set out from Seattle, traveling
by rail as far as Yelm Prairie, on the Tacoma and Oregon road. Here
we made our first camp and arranged with Mr. Longmire, a farmer in the
neighborhood, for pack and saddle animals. The noble King Mountain
was in full view from here, glorifying the bright, sunny day with his
presence, rising in godlike majesty over the woods, with the magnificent
prairie as a foreground. The distance to the mountain from Yelm in a
straight line is perhaps fifty miles; but by the mule and yellowjacket
trail we had to follow it is a hundred miles. For, notwithstanding a
portion of this trail runs in the air, where the wasps work hardest, it
is far from being an air line as commonly understood.

By night of the third day we reached the Soda Springs on the right bank
of the Nisqually, which goes roaring by, gray with mud, gravel, and
boulders from the caves of the glaciers of Rainier, now close at hand.
The distance from the Soda Springs to the Camp of the Clouds is about
ten miles. The first part of the way lies up the Nisqually Canyon,
the bottom of which is flat in some places and the walls very high and
precipitous, like those of the Yosemite Valley. The upper part of the
canyon is still occupied by one of the Nisqually glaciers, from which
this branch of the river draws its source, issuing from a cave in the
gray, rock-strewn snout. About a mile below the glacier we had to ford
the river, which caused some anxiety, for the current is very rapid and
carried forward large boulders as well as lighter material, while its
savage roar is bewildering.

At this point we left the canyon, climbing out of it by a steep zigzag
up the old lateral moraine of the glacier, which was deposited when the
present glacier flowed past at this height, and is about eight hundred
feet high. It is now covered with a superb growth of Picea amabilis
[30]; so also is the corresponding portion of the right lateral. From
the top of the moraine, still ascending, we passed for a mile or two
through a forest of mixed growth, mainly silver fir, Patton spruce,
and mountain pine, and then came to the charming park region, at an
elevation of about five thousand feet above sea level. Here the vast
continuous woods at length begin to give way under the dominion of
climate, though still at this height retaining their beauty and giving
no sign of stress of storm, sweeping upward in belts of varying width,
composed mainly of one species of fir, sharp and spiry in form, leaving
smooth, spacious parks, with here and there separate groups of trees
standing out in the midst of the openings like islands in a lake. Every
one of these parks, great and small, is a garden filled knee-deep with
fresh, lovely flowers of every hue, the most luxuriant and the most
extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all
my mountain-top wanderings.

We arrived at the Cloud Camp at noon, but no clouds were in sight, save
a few gauzy ornamental wreaths adrift in the sunshine. Out of the forest
at last there stood the mountain, wholly unveiled, awful in bulk and
majesty, filling all the view like a separate, new-born world, yet
withal so fine and so beautiful it might well fire the dullest observer
to desperate enthusiasm. Long we gazed in silent admiration, buried in
tall daisies and anemones by the side of a snowbank. Higher we could
not go with the animals and find food for them and wood for our own
campfires, for just beyond this lies the region of ice, with only here
and there an open spot on the ridges in the midst of the ice, with dwarf
alpine plants, such as saxifrages and drabas, which reach far up between
the glaciers, and low mats of the beautiful bryanthus, while back of us
were the gardens and abundance of everything that heart could wish. Here
we lay all the afternoon, considering the lilies and the lines of the
mountains with reference to a way to the summit.

At noon next day we left camp and began our long climb. We were in light
marching order, save one who pluckily determined to carry his camera
to the summit. At night, after a long easy climb over wide and smooth
fields of ice, we reached a narrow ridge, at an elevation of about ten
thousand feet above the sea, on the divide between the glaciers of the
Nisqually and the Cowlitz. Here we lay as best we could, waiting for
another day, without fire of course, as we were now many miles beyond
the timberline and without much to cover us. After eating a little
hardtack, each of us leveled a spot to lie on among lava-blocks and
cinders. The night was cold, and the wind coming down upon us in stormy
surges drove gritty ashes and fragments of pumice about our ears while
chilling to the bone. Very short and shallow was our sleep that night;
but day dawned at last, early rising was easy, and there was nothing
about breakfast to cause any delay. About four o'clock we were off,
and climbing began in earnest. We followed up the ridge on which we had
spent the night, now along its crest, now on either side, or on the
ice leaning against it, until we came to where it becomes massive and
precipitous. Then we were compelled to crawl along a seam or narrow
shelf, on its face, which we traced to its termination in the base of
the great ice cap. From this point all the climbing was over ice, which
was here desperately steep but fortunately was at the same time carved
into innumerable spikes and pillars which afforded good footholds, and
we crawled cautiously on, warm with ambition and exercise.

At length, after gaining the upper extreme of our guiding ridge, we
found a good place to rest and prepare ourselves to scale the dangerous
upper curves of the dome. The surface almost everywhere was bare, hard,
snowless ice, extremely slippery; and, though smooth in general, it was
interrupted by a network of yawning crevasses, outspread like lines of
defense against any attempt to win the summit. Here every one of the
party took off his shoes and drove stout steel caulks about half an
inch long into them, having brought tools along for the purpose, and
not having made use of them until now so that the points might not get
dulled on the rocks ere the smooth, dangerous ice was reached. Besides
being well shod each carried an alpenstock, and for special difficulties
we had a hundred feet of rope and an axe.

Thus prepared, we stepped forth afresh, slowly groping our way through
tangled lines of crevasses, crossing on snow bridges here and there
after cautiously testing them, jumping at narrow places, or crawling
around the ends of the largest, bracing well at every point with our
alpenstocks and setting our spiked shoes squarely down on the dangerous
slopes. It was nerve-trying work, most of it, but we made good speed
nevertheless, and by noon all stood together on the utmost summit, save
one who, his strength failing for a time, came up later.

We remained on the summit nearly two hours, looking about us at the vast
maplike views, comprehending hundreds of miles of the Cascade Range,
with their black interminable forests and white volcanic cones in
glorious array reaching far into Oregon; the Sound region also, and
the great plains of eastern Washington, hazy and vague in the distance.
Clouds began to gather. Soon of all the land only the summits of the
mountains, St. Helen's, Adams, and Hood, were left in sight, forming
islands in the sky. We found two well-formed and well-preserved craters
on the summit, lying close together like two plates on a table with
their rims touching. The highest point of the mountain is located
between the craters, where their edges come in contact. Sulphurous fumes
and steam issue from several vents, giving out a sickening smell that
can be detected at a considerable distance. The unwasted condition of
these craters, and, indeed, to a great extent, of the entire mountain,
would tend to show that Rainier is still a comparatively young mountain.
With the exception of the projecting lips of the craters and the top of
a subordinate summit a short distance to the northward, the mountains is
solidly capped with ice all around; and it is this ice cap which forms
the grand central fountain whence all the twenty glaciers of Rainier
flow, radiating in every direction.

The descent was accomplished without disaster, though several of the
party had narrow escapes. One slipped and fell, and as he shot past me
seemed to be going to certain death. So steep was the ice slope no one
could move to help him, but fortunately, keeping his presence of mind,
he threw himself on his face and digging his alpenstock into the ice,
gradually retarded his motion until he came to rest. Another broke
through a slim bridge over a crevasse, but his momentum at the time
carried him against the lower edge and only his alpenstock was lost in
the abyss. Thus crippled by the loss of his staff, we had to lower
him the rest of the way down the dome by means of the rope we carried.
Falling rocks from the upper precipitous part of the ridge were also a
source of danger, as they came whizzing past in successive volleys; but
none told on us, and when we at length gained the gentle slopes of the
lower ice fields, we ran and slid at our ease, making fast, glad time,
all care and danger past, and arrived at our beloved Cloud Camp before
sundown.

We were rather weak from want of nourishment, and some suffered from
sunburn, notwithstanding the partial protection of glasses and veils;
otherwise, all were unscathed and well. The view we enjoyed from the
summit could hardly be surpassed in sublimity and grandeur; but one
feels far from home so high in the sky, so much so that one is
inclined to guess that, apart from the acquisition of knowledge and the
exhilaration of climbing, more pleasure is to be found at the foot of
the mountains than on their tops. Doubly happy, however, is the man to
whom lofty mountain tops are within reach, for the lights that shine
there illumine all that lies below.



XXI. The Physical and Climatic Characteristics of Oregon


Oregon is a large, rich, compact section of the west side of the
continent, containing nearly a hundred thousand square miles of deep,
wet evergreen woods, fertile valleys, icy mountains, and high, rolling
wind-swept plains, watered by the majestic Columbia River and its
countless branches. It is bounded on the north by Washington, on the
east by Idaho, on the south by California and Nevada, and on the west by
the Pacific Ocean. It is a grand, hearty, wholesome, foodful wilderness
and, like Washington, once a part of the Oregon Territory, abounds
in bold, far-reaching contrasts as to scenery, climate, soil, and
productions. Side by side there is drouth on a grand scale and
overflowing moisture; flinty, sharply cut lava beds, gloomy and
forbidding, and smooth, flowery lawns; cool bogs, exquisitely plushy and
soft, overshadowed by jagged crags barren as icebergs; forests seemingly
boundless and plains with no tree in sight; presenting a wide range of
conditions, but as a whole favorable to industry. Natural wealth of
an available kind abounds nearly everywhere, inviting the farmer, the
stock-raiser, the lumberman, the fisherman, the manufacturer, and the
miner, as well as the free walker in search of knowledge and wildness.
The scenery is mostly of a comfortable, assuring kind, grand and
inspiring without too much of that dreadful overpowering sublimity and
exuberance which tend to discourage effort and cast people into inaction
and superstition.

Ever since Oregon was first heard of in the romantic, adventurous,
hunting, trapping Wild West days, it seems to have been regarded as the
most attractive and promising of all the Pacific countries for farmers.
While yet the whole region as well as the way to it was wild, ere
a single road or bridge was built, undaunted by the trackless
thousand-mile distances and scalping, cattle-stealing Indians, long
trains of covered wagons began to crawl wearily westward, crossing how
many plains, rivers, ridges, and mountains, fighting the painted savages
and weariness and famine. Setting out from the frontier of the old West
in the spring as soon as the grass would support their cattle, they
pushed on up the Platte, making haste slowly, however, that they might
not be caught in the storms of winter ere they reached the promised
land. They crossed the Rocky Mountains to Fort Hall; thence followed
down the Snake River for three or four hundred miles, their cattle
limping and failing on the rough lava plains; swimming the streams too
deep to be forded, making boats out of wagon-boxes for the women and
children and goods, or where trees could be had, lashing together logs
for rafts. Thence, crossing the Blue Mountains and the plains of the
Columbia, they followed the river to the Dalles. Here winter would
be upon them, and before a wagon road was built across the Cascade
Mountains the toil-worn emigrants would be compelled to leave their
cattle and wagons until the following summer, and, in the mean time,
with the assistance of the Hudson's Bay Company, make their way to the
Willamette Valley on the river with rafts and boats.

How strange and remote these trying times have already become! They
are now dim as if a thousand years had passed over them. Steamships
and locomotives with magical influence have well-nigh abolished the old
distances and dangers, and brought forward the New West into near and
familiar companionship with the rest of the world.

Purely wild for unnumbered centuries, a paradise of oily, salmon-fed
Indians, Oregon is now roughly settled in part and surveyed, its rivers
and mountain ranges, lakes, valleys, and plains have been traced and
mapped in a general way, civilization is beginning to take root, towns
are springing up and flourishing vigorously like a crop adapted to the
soil, and the whole kindly wilderness lies invitingly near with all its
wealth open and ripe for use.

In sailing along the Oregon coast one sees but few more signs of human
occupation than did Juan de Fuca three centuries ago. The shore bluffs
rise abruptly from the waves, forming a wall apparently unbroken, though
many short rivers from the coast range of mountains and two from the
interior have made narrow openings on their way to the sea. At the
mouths of these rivers good harbors have been discovered for coasting
vessels, which are of great importance to the lumbermen, dairymen, and
farmers of the coast region. But little or nothing of these appear in
general views, only a simple gray wall nearly straight, green along the
top, and the forest stretching back into the mountains as far as the eye
can reach.

Going ashore, we find few long reaches of sand where one may saunter,
or meadows, save the brown and purple meadows of the sea, overgrown
with slippery kelp, swashed and swirled in the restless breakers. The
abruptness of the shore allows the massive waves that have come from far
over the broad Pacific to get close to the bluffs ere they break, and
the thundering shock shakes the rocks to their foundations. No calm
comes to these shores. Even in the finest weather, when the ships off
shore are becalmed and their sails hang loose against the mast, there
is always a wreath of foam at the base of these bluffs. The breakers are
ever in bloom and crystal brine is ever in the air.

A scramble along the Oregon sea bluffs proves as richly exciting to
lovers of wild beauty as heart could wish. Here are three hundred miles
of pictures of rock and water in black and white, or gray and white,
with more or less of green and yellow, purple and blue. The rocks,
glistening in sunshine and foam, are never wholly dry--many of them
marvels of wave-sculpture and most imposing in bulk and bearing,
standing boldly forward, monuments of a thousand storms, types of
permanence, holding the homes and places of refuge of multitudes of
seafaring animals in their keeping, yet ever wasting away. How grand
the songs of the waves about them, every wave a fine, hearty storm
in itself, taking its rise on the breezy plains of the sea, perhaps
thousands of miles away, traveling with majestic, slow-heaving
deliberation, reaching the end of its journey, striking its blow,
bursting into a mass of white and pink bloom, then falling spent and
withered to give place to the next in the endless procession, thus
keeping up the glorious show and glorious song through all times and
seasons forever!

Terribly impressive as is this cliff and wave scenery when the skies are
bright and kindly sunshine makes rainbows in the spray, it is doubly
so in dark, stormy nights, when, crouching in some hollow on the top of
some jutting headland, we may gaze and listen undisturbed in the heart
of it. Perhaps now and then we may dimly see the tops of the highest
breakers, looking ghostly in the gloom; but when the water happens to be
phosphorescent, as it oftentimes is, then both the sea and the rocks are
visible, and the wild, exulting, up-dashing spray burns, every particle
of it, and is combined into one glowing mass of white fire; while back
in the woods and along the bluffs and crags of the shore the storm wind
roars, and the rain-floods, gathering strength and coming from far and
near, rush wildly down every gulch to the sea, as if eager to join the
waves in their grand, savage harmony; deep calling unto deep in the
heart of the great, dark night, making a sight and a song unspeakably
sublime and glorious.

In the pleasant weather of summer, after the rainy season is past and
only occasional refreshing showers fall, washing the sky and bringing
out the fragrance of the flowers and the evergreens, then one may enjoy
a fine, free walk all the way across the State from the sea to the
eastern boundary on the Snake River. Many a beautiful stream we should
cross in such a walk, singing through forest and meadow and deep rocky
gorge, and many a broad prairie and plain, mountain and valley, wild
garden and desert, presenting landscape beauty on a grand scale and in
a thousand forms, and new lessons without number, delightful to learn.
Oregon has three mountain ranges which run nearly parallel with the
coast, the most influential of which, in every way, is the Cascade
Range. It is about six thousand to seven thousand feet in average
height, and divides the State into two main sections called Eastern and
Western Oregon, corresponding with the main divisions of Washington;
while these are again divided, but less perfectly, by the Blue Mountains
and the Coast Range. The eastern section is about two hundred and thirty
miles wide, and is made up in great part of the treeless plains of the
Columbia, which are green and flowery in spring, but gray, dusty, hot,
and forbidding in summer. Considerable areas, however, on these plains,
as well as some of the valleys countersunk below the general surface
along the banks of the streams, have proved fertile and produce large
crops of wheat, barley, hay, and other products.

In general views the western section seems to be covered with one vast,
evenly planted forest, with the exception of the few snow-clad peaks of
the Cascade Range, these peaks being the only points in the landscape
that rise above the timberline. Nevertheless, embosomed in this forest
and lying in the great trough between the Cascades and coast mountains,
there are some of the best bread-bearing valleys to be found in the
world. The largest of these are the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue River
Valleys. Inasmuch as a considerable portion of these main valleys was
treeless, or nearly so, as well as surpassingly fertile, they were the
first to attract settlers; and the Willamette, being at once the largest
and nearest to tide water, was settled first of all, and now contains
the greater portion of the population and wealth of the State.

The climate of this section, like the corresponding portion of
Washington, is rather damp and sloppy throughout the winter months,
but the summers are bright, ripening the wheat and allowing it to be
garnered in good condition. Taken as a whole, the weather is bland and
kindly, and like the forest trees the crops and cattle grow plump and
sound in it. So also do the people; children ripen well and grow up with
limbs of good size and fiber and, unless overworked in the woods, live
to a good old age, hale and hearty.

But, like every other happy valley in the world, the sunshine of this
one is not without its shadows. Malarial fevers are not unknown in some
places, and untimely frosts and rains may at long intervals in
some measure disappoint the hopes of the husbandman. Many a tale,
good-natured or otherwise, is told concerning the overflowing abundance
of the Oregon rains. Once an English traveler, as the story goes, went
to a store to make some purchases and on leaving found that rain was
falling; therefore, not liking to get wet, he stepped back to wait
till the shower was over. Seeing no signs of clearing, he soon became
impatient and inquired of the storekeeper how long he thought the shower
would be likely to last. Going to the door and looking wisely into the
gray sky and noting the direction of the wind, the latter replied that
he thought the shower would probably last about six months, an opinion
that of course disgusted the fault-finding Briton with the "blawsted
country," though in fact it is but little if at all wetter or cloudier
than his own.

No climate seems the best for everybody. Many there be who waste their
lives in a vain search for weather with which no fault may be found,
keeping themselves and their families in constant motion, like floating
seaweeds that never strike root, yielding compliance to every current
of news concerning countries yet untried, believing that everywhere,
anywhere, the sky is fairer and the grass grows greener than where they
happen to be. Before the Oregon and California railroad was built, the
overland journey between these States across the Siskiyou Mountains
in the old-fashioned emigrant wagon was a long and tedious one.
Nevertheless, every season dissatisfied climate-seekers, too wet and too
dry, might be seen plodding along through the dust in the old "49style,"
making their way one half of them from California to Oregon, the other
half from Oregon to California. The beautiful Sisson meadows at the base
of Mount Shasta were a favorite halfway resting place, where the weary
cattle were turned out for a few days to gather strength for better
climates, and it was curious to hear those perpetual pioneers comparing
notes and seeking information around the campfires.

"Where are you from?" some Oregonian would ask.

"The Joaquin."

"It's dry there, ain't it?"

"Well, I should say so. No rain at all in summer and none to speak of in
winter, and I'm dried out. I just told my wife I was on the move again,
and I'm going to keep moving till I come to a country where it rains
once in a while, like it does in every reg'lar white man's country; and
that, I guess, will be Oregon, if the news be true."

"Yes, neighbor, you's heading in the right direction for rain," the
Oregonian would say. "Keep right on to Yamhill and you'll soon be damp
enough. It rains there more than twelve months in the year; at least, no
saying but it will. I've just come from there, plumb drownded out, and
I told my wife to jump into the wagon and we should start out and see if
we couldn't find a dry day somewhere. Last fall the hay was out and
the wood was out, and the cabin leaked, and I made up my mind to try
California the first chance."

"Well, if you be a horned toad or coyote," the seeker of moisture would
reply, "then maybe you can stand it. Just keep right on by the Alabama
Settlement to Tulare and you can have my place on Big Dry Creek and
welcome. You'll be drowned there mighty seldom. The wagon spokes and
tires will rattle and tell you when you come to it."

"All right, partner, we'll swap square, you can have mine in Yamhill
and the rain thrown in. Last August a painter sharp came along one day
wanting to know the way to Willamette Falls, and I told him: Young ma
 going to Oregon City after them. The whole dog-gone Noah's flood of a
country will be a fall and melt and float away some day.'" And more to
the same effect.

But no one need leave Oregon in search of fair weather. The wheat and
cattle region of eastern Oregon and Washington on the upper Columbia
plains is dry enough and dusty enough more than half the year. The truth
is, most of these wanderers enjoy the freedom of gypsy life and seek not
homes but camps. Having crossed the plains and reached the ocean, they
can find no farther west within reach of wagons, and are therefore
compelled now to go north and south between Mexico and Alaska, always
glad to find an excuse for moving, stopping a few months or weeks here
and there, the time being measured by the size of the camp-meadow,
conditions of the grass, game, and other indications. Even their
so-called settlements of a year or two, when they take up land and build
cabins, are only another kind of camp, in no common sense homes. Never a
tree is planted, nor do they plant themselves, but like good soldiers in
time of war are ever ready to march. Their journey of life is indeed a
journey with very matter-of-fact thorns in the way, though not wholly
wanting in compensation.

One of the most influential of the motives that brought the early
settlers to these shores, apart from that natural instinct to scatter
and multiply which urges even sober salmon to climb the Rocky Mountains,
was their desire to find a country at once fertile and winterless, where
their flocks and herds could find pasture all the year, thus doing away
with the long and tiresome period of haying and feeding necessary in the
eastern and old western States and Territories. Cheap land and good land
there was in abundance in Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa; but
there the labor of providing for animals of the farm was very great, and
much of that labor was crowded together into a few summer months,
while to keep cool in summers and warm in the icy winters was well-nigh
impossible to poor farmers.

Along the coast and throughout the greater part of western Oregon in
general, snow seldom falls on the lowlands to a greater depth than a
few inches, and never lies long. Grass is green all winter. The average
temperature for the year in the Willamette Valley is about 52 degrees,
the highest and lowest being about 100 degrees and 20 degrees, though
occasionally a much lower temperature is reached.

The average rainfall is about fifty or fifty-five inches in the
Willamette Valley, and along the coast seventy-five inches, or even more
at some points--figures that bring many a dreary night and day to mind,
however fine the effect on the great evergreen woods and the fields of
the farmers. The rainy season begins in September or October and lasts
until April or May. Then the whole country is solemnly soaked and
poulticed with the gray, streaming clouds and fogs, night and day, with
marvelous constancy. Towards the beginning and end of the season a good
many bright days occur to break the pouring gloom, but whole months of
rain, continuous, or nearly so, are not at all rare. Astronomers beneath
these Oregon skies would have a dull time of it. Of all the year only
about one fourth of the days are clear, while three fourths have more or
less of fogs, clouds, or rain.

The fogs occur mostly in the fall and spring. They are grand,
far-reaching affairs of two kinds, the black and the white, some of the
latter being very beautiful, and the infinite delicacy and tenderness
of their touch as they linger to caress the tall evergreens is most
exquisite. On farms and highways and in the streets of towns, where
work has to be done, there is nothing picturesque or attractive in any
obvious way about the gray, serious-faced rainstorms. Mud abounds. The
rain seems dismal and heedless and gets in everybody's way. Every
face is turned from it, and it has but few friends who recognize its
boundless beneficence. But back in the untrodden woods where no axe has
been lifted, where a deep, rich carpet of brown and golden mosses covers
all the ground like a garment, pressing warmly about the feet of the
trees and rising in thick folds softly and kindly over every fallen
trunk, leaving no spot naked or uncared-for, there the rain is welcomed,
and every drop that falls finds a place and use as sweet and pure as
itself. An excursion into the woods when the rain harvest is at its
height is a noble pleasure, and may be safely enjoyed at small expense,
though very few care to seek it. Shelter is easily found beneath the
great trees in some hollow out of the wind, and one need carry but
little provision, none at all of a kind that a wetting would spoil. The
colors of the woods are then at their best, and the mighty hosts of the
forest, every needle tingling in the blast, wave and sing in glorious
harmony.

   "'T were worth ten years of peaceful life,
     one glance at this array."

The snow that falls in the lowland woods is usually soft, and makes a
fine show coming through the trees in large, feathery tufts, loading
the branches of the firs and spruces and cedars and weighing them down
against the trunks until they look slender and sharp as arrows, while
a strange, muffled silence prevails, giving a peculiar solemnity to
everything. But these lowland snowstorms and their effects quickly
vanish; every crystal melts in a day or two, the bent branches rise
again, and the rain resumes its sway.

While these gracious rains are searching the roots of the lowlands,
corresponding snows are busy along the heights of the Cascade Mountains.
Month after month, day and night the heavens shed their icy bloom in
stormy, measureless abundance, filling the grand upper fountains of
the rivers to last through the summer. Awful then is the silence that
presses down over the mountain forests. All the smaller streams vanish
from sight, hushed and obliterated. Young groves of spruce and pine are
bowed down as by a gentle hand and put to rest, not again to see the
light or move leaf or limb until the grand awakening of the springtime,
while the larger animals and most of the birds seek food and shelter in
the foothills on the borders of the valleys and plains.

The lofty volcanic peaks are yet more heavily snow-laden. To their upper
zones no summer comes. They are white always. From the steep slopes of
the summit the new-fallen snow, while yet dry and loose, descends in
magnificent avalanches to feed the glaciers, making meanwhile the most
glorious manifestations of power. Happy is the man who may get near
them to see and hear. In some sheltered camp nest on the edge of the
timberline one may lie snug and warm, but after the long shuffle on
snowshoes we may have to wait more than a month ere the heavens open
and the grand show is unveiled. In the mean time, bread may be scarce,
unless with careful forecast a sufficient supply has been provided
and securely placed during the summer. Nevertheless, to be thus deeply
snowbound high in the sky is not without generous compensation for all
the cost. And when we at length go down the long white slopes to the
levels of civilization, the pains vanish like snow in sunshine, while
the noble and exalting pleasures we have gained remain with us to enrich
our lives forever.

The fate of the high-flying mountain snow-flowers is a fascinating
study, though little may we see of their works and ways while their
storms go on. The glinting, swirling swarms fairly thicken the blast,
and all the air, as well as the rocks and trees, is as one smothering
mass of bloom, through the midst of which at close intervals come the
low, intense thunder-tones of the avalanches as they speed on their way
to fill the vast fountain hollows. Here they seem at last to have found
rest. But this rest is only apparent. Gradually the loose crystals by
the pressure of their own weight are welded together into clear ice,
and, as glaciers, march steadily, silently on, with invisible motion, in
broad, deep currents, grinding their way with irresistible energy to the
warmer lowlands, where they vanish in glad, rejoicing streams.

In the sober weather of Oregon lightning makes but little show. Those
magnificent thunderstorms that so frequently adorn and glorify the sky
of the Mississippi Valley are wanting here. Dull thunder and lightning
may occasionally be seen and heard, but the imposing grandeur of great
storms marching over the landscape with streaming banners and a network
of fire is almost wholly unknown.

Crossing the Cascade Range, we pass from a green to a gray country, from
a wilderness of trees to a wilderness of open plains, level or rolling
or rising here and there into hills and short mountain spurs. Though
well supplied with rivers in most of its main sections, it is generally
dry. The annual rainfall is only from about five to fifteen inches, and
the thin winter garment of snow seldom lasts more than a month or two,
though the temperature in many places falls from five to twenty-five
degrees below zero for a short time. That the snow is light over eastern
Oregon, and the average temperature not intolerably severe, is shown
by the fact that large droves of sheep, cattle, and horses live there
through the winter without other food or shelter than they find for
themselves on the open plains or down in the sunken valleys and gorges
along the streams.

When we read of the mountain ranges of Oregon and Washington with
detailed descriptions of their old volcanoes towering snow-laden and
glacier-laden above the clouds, one may be led to imagine that the
country is far icier and whiter and more mountainous than it is. Only
in winter are the Coast and Cascade Mountains covered with snow. Then
as seen from the main interior valleys they appear as comparatively
low, bossy walls stretching along the horizon and making a magnificent
display of their white wealth. The Coast Range in Oregon does not
perhaps average more than three thousand feet in height. Its snow does
not last long, most of its soil is fertile all the way to the summits,
and the greater part of the range may at some time be brought under
cultivation. The immense deposits on the great central uplift of the
Cascade Range are mostly melted off before the middle of summer by the
comparatively warm winds and rains from the coast, leaving only a few
white spots on the highest ridges, where the depth from drifting
has been greatest, or where the rate of waste has been diminished by
specially favorable conditions as to exposure. Only the great volcanic
cones are truly snow-clad all the year, and these are not numerous and
make but a small portion of the general landscape.

As we approach Oregon from the coast in summer, no hint of snowy
mountains can be seen, and it is only after we have sailed into the
country by the Columbia, or climbed some one of the commanding
summits, that the great white peaks send us greeting and make telling
advertisements of themselves and of the country over which they rule.
So, also, in coming to Oregon from the east the country by no means
impresses one as being surpassingly mountainous, the abode of peaks and
glaciers. Descending the spurs of the Rocky Mountains into the basin of
the Columbia, we see hot, hundred-mile plains, roughened here the there
by hills and ridges that look hazy and blue in the distance, until we
have pushed well to the westward. Then one white point after another
comes into sight to refresh the eye and the imagination; but they are
yet a long way off, and have much to say only to those who know them or
others of their kind. How grand they are, though insignificant-looking
on the edge of the vast landscape! What noble woods they nourish, and
emerald meadows and gardens! What springs and streams and waterfalls
sing about them and to what a multitude of happy creatures they give
homes and food!

The principal mountains of the range are Mounts Pitt, Scott, and
Thielson, Diamond Peak, the Three Sisters, Mounts Jefferson, Hood, St.
Helen's, Adams, Rainier, Aix, and Baker. Of these the seven first
named belong to Oregon, the others to Washington. They rise singly at
irregular distances from one another along the main axis of the range
or near it, with an elevation of from about eight thousand to fourteen
thousand four hundred feet above the level of the sea. From few points
in the valleys may more than three or four of them be seen, and of the
more distant ones of these only the tops appear. Therefore, speaking
generally, each of the lowland landscapes of the State contains only one
grand snowy mountain.

The heights back of Portland command one of the best general views of
the forests and also of the most famous of the great mountains both of
Oregon and Washington. Mount Hood is in full view, with the summits of
Mounts Jefferson, St. Helen's, Adams, and Rainier in the distance. The
city of Portland is at our feet, covering a large area along both banks
of the Willamette, and, with its fine streets, schools, churches, mills,
shipping, parks, and gardens, makes a telling picture of busy, aspiring
civilization in the midst of the green wilderness in which it is
planted. The river is displayed to fine advantage in the foreground of
our main view, sweeping in beautiful curves around rich, leafy islands,
its banks fringed with willows.

A few miles beyond the Willamette flows the renowned Columbia, and the
confluence of these two great rivers is at a point only about ten miles
below the city. Beyond the Columbia extends the immense breadth of the
forest, one dim, black, monotonous field with only the sky, which one is
glad to see is not forested, and the tops of the majestic old volcanoes
to give diversity to the view. That sharp, white, broad-based pyramid on
the south side of the Columbia, a few degrees to the south of east
from where you stand, is the famous Mount Hood. The distance to it in a
straight line is about fifty miles. Its upper slopes form the only bare
ground, bare as to forests, in the landscape in that direction. It is
the pride of Oregonians, and when it is visible is always pointed out to
strangers as the glory of the country, the mountain of mountains. It
is one of the grand series of extinct volcanoes extending from Lassen's
Butte [31] to Mount Baker, a distance of about six hundred miles, which
once flamed like gigantic watch-fires along the coast. Some of them have
been active in recent times, but no considerable addition to the bulk
of Mount Hood has been made for several centuries, as is shown by the
amount of glacial denudation it has suffered. Its summit has been ground
to a point, which gives it a rather thin, pinched appearance. It has a
wide-flowing base, however, and is fairly well proportioned. Though it
is eleven thousand feet high, it is too far off to make much show under
ordinary conditions in so extensive a landscape. Through a great part of
the summer it is invisible on account of smoke poured into the sky from
burning woods, logging camps, mills, etc., and in winter for weeks at
a time, or even months, it is in the clouds. Only in spring and early
summer and in what there may chance to be of bright weather in winter is
it or any of its companions at all clear or telling. From the Cascades
on the Columbia it may be seen at a distance of twenty miles or
thereabouts, or from other points up and down the river, and with the
magnificent foreground it is very impressive. It gives the supreme
touch of grandeur to all the main Columbia views, rising at every turn,
solitary, majestic, awe-inspiring, the ruling spirit of the landscape.
But, like mountains everywhere, it varies greatly in impressiveness
and apparent height at different times and seasons, not alone from
differences as to the dimness or transparency of the air. Clear, or
arrayed in clouds, it changes both in size and general expression. Now
it looms up to an immense height and seems to draw near in tremendous
grandeur and beauty, holding the eyes of every beholder in devout and
awful interest. Next year or next day, or even in the same day, you
return to the same point of view, perhaps to find that the glory has
departed, as if the mountain had died and the poor dull, shrunken mass
of rocks and ice had lost all power to charm.

Never shall I forget my first glorious view of Mount Hood one calm
evening in July, though I had seen it many times before this. I was
then sauntering with a friend across the new Willamette bridge between
Portland and East Portland for the sake of the river views, which are
here very fine in the tranquil summer weather. The scene on the water
was a lively one. Boats of every description were gliding, glinting,
drifting about at work or play, and we leaned over the rail from time
to time, contemplating the gay throng. Several lines of ferry boats were
making regular trips at intervals of a few minutes, and river steamers
were coming and going from the wharves, laden with all sorts of
merchandise, raising long diverging swells that make all the light
pleasure craft bow and nod in hearty salutation as they passed. The
crowd was being constantly increased by new arrivals from both shores,
sailboats, rowboats, racing shells, rafts, were loaded with gayly
dressed people, and here and there some adventurous man or boy might be
seen as a merry sailor on a single plank or spar, apparently as deep in
enjoyment as were any on the water. It seemed as if all the town
were coming to the river, renouncing the cares and toils of the day,
determined to take the evening breeze into their pulses, and be cool and
tranquil ere going to bed.

Absorbed in the happy scene, given up to dreamy, random observation
of what lay immediately before me, I was not conscious of anything
occurring on the outer rim of the landscape. Forest, mountain, and sky
were forgotten, when my companion suddenly directed my attention to the
eastward, shouting, "Oh, look! look!" in so loud and excited a tone
of voice that passers-by, saunterers like ourselves, were startled and
looked over the bridge as if expecting to see some boat upset. Looking
across the forest, over which the mellow light of the sunset was
streaming, I soon discovered the source of my friend's excitement. There
stood Mount Hood in all the glory of the alpenglow, looming immensely
high, beaming with intelligence, and so impressive that one was overawed
as if suddenly brought before some superior being newly arrived from the
sky.

The atmosphere was somewhat hazy, but the mountain seemed neither
near nor far. Its glaciers flashed in the divine light. The rugged,
storm-worn ridges between them and the snowfields of the summit, these
perhaps might have been traced as far as they were in sight, and the
blending zones of color about the base. But so profound was the general
impression, partial analysis did not come into play. The whole mountain
appeared as one glorious manifestation of divine power, enthusiastic and
benevolent, glowing like a countenance with ineffable repose and beauty,
before which we could only gaze in devout and lowly admiration.

The far-famed Oregon forests cover all the western section of the State,
the mountains as well as the lowlands, with the exception of a few
gravelly spots and open spaces in the central portions of the great
cultivated valleys. Beginning on the coast, where their outer ranks are
drenched and buffeted by wind-driven scud from the sea, they press on in
close, majestic ranks over the coast mountains, across the broad central
valleys, and over the Cascade Range, broken and halted only by the few
great peaks that rise like islands above the sea of evergreens.

In descending the eastern slopes of the Cascades the rich, abounding,
triumphant exuberance of the trees is quickly subdued; they become
smaller, grow wide apart, leaving dry spaces without moss covering
or underbrush, and before the foot of the range is reached, fail
altogether, stayed by the drouth of the interior almost as suddenly as
on the western margin they are stayed by the sea. Here and there at wide
intervals on the eastern plains patches of a small pine (Pinus contorta)
are found, and a scattering growth of juniper, used by the settlers
mostly for fence posts and firewood. Along the stream bottoms there is
usually more or less of cottonwood and willow, which, though yielding
inferior timber, is yet highly prized in this bare region. On the Blue
Mountains there is pine, spruce, fir, and larch in abundance for every
use, but beyond this range there is nothing that may be called a forest
in the Columbia River basin, until we reach the spurs of the Rocky
Mountains; and these Rocky Mountain forests are made up of trees which,
compared with the giants of the Pacific Slope, are mere saplings.



XXII. The Forests of Oregon and their Inhabitants


Like the forests of Washington, already described, those of Oregon are
in great part made up of the Douglas spruce [32], or Oregon pine (Abies
Douglasii). A large number of mills are at work upon this species,
especially along the Columbia, but these as yet have made but little
impression upon its dense masses, the mills here being small as compared
with those of the Puget Sound region. The white cedar, or Port Orford
cedar (Cupressus Lawsoniana, or Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana), is one of
the most beautiful of the evergreens, and produces excellent lumber,
considerable quantities of which are shipped to the San Francisco
market. It is found mostly about Coos Bay, along the Coquille River, and
on the northern slopes of the Siskiyou Mountains, and extends down the
coast into California. The silver firs, the spruces, and the colossal
arbor-vitae, or white cedar [33](Thuja gigantea), described in
the chapter on Washington, are also found here in great beauty and
perfection, the largest of these (Picea grandis, Loud.; Abies grandis,
Lindl.) being confined mostly to the coast region, where it attains a
height of three hundred feet, and a diameter of ten or twelve feet. Five
or six species of pines are found in the State, the most important of
which, both as to lumber and as to the part they play in the general
wealth and beauty of the forests, are the yellow and sugar pines (Pinus
ponderosa and P. Lambertiana). The yellow pine is most abundant on
the eastern slopes of the Cascades, forming there the main bulk of the
forest in many places. It is also common along the borders of the open
spaces in Willamette Valley. In the southern portion of the State the
sugar pine, which is the king of all the pines and the glory of the
Sierra forests, occurs in considerable abundance in the basins of the
Umpqua and Rogue Rivers, and it was in the Umpqua Hills that this noble
tree was first discovered by the enthusiastic botanical explorer David
Douglas, in the year 1826.

This is the Douglas for whom the noble Douglas spruce is named, and many
a fair blooming plant also, which will serve to keep his memory fresh
and sweet as long as beautiful trees and flowers are loved. The Indians
of the lower Columbia River watched him with lively curiosity as he
wandered about in the woods day after day, gazing intently on the ground
or at the great trees, collecting specimens of everything he saw, but,
unlike all the eager fur-gathering strangers they had hitherto seen,
caring nothing about trade. And when at length they came to know him
better, and saw that from year to year the growing things of the woods
and prairies, meadows and plains, were his only object of pursuit, they
called him the "Man of Grass," a title of which he was proud.

He was a Scotchman and first came to this coast in the spring of 1825
under the auspices of the London Horticultural Society, landing at the
mouth of the Columbia after a long dismal voyage of eight months
and fourteen days. During this first season he chose Fort Vancouver,
belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, as his headquarters, and from
there made excursions into the glorious wilderness in every direction,
discovering many new species among the trees as well as among the rich
underbrush and smaller herbaceous vegetation. It was while making a
trip to Mount Hood this year that he discovered the two largest and most
beautiful firs in the world (Picea amabilis and P. nobilis--now called
Abies), and from the seeds which he then collected and sent home tall
trees are now growing in Scotland.

In one of his trips that summer, in the lower Willamette Valley, he
saw in an Indian's tobacco pouch some of the seeds and scales of a new
species of pine, which he learned were gathered from a large tree that
grew far to the southward. Most of the following season was spent on
the upper waters of the Columbia, and it was not until September that
he returned to Fort Vancouver, about the time of the setting-in of the
winter rains. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the great pine he had heard
of, and the seeds of which he had seen, he made haste to set out on an
excursion to the headwaters of the Willamette in search of it; and how
he fared on this excursion and what dangers and hardships he endured is
best told in his own journal, part of which I quote as follows:--

   October 26th, 1826.  Weather dull.  Cold and cloudy.  When my
   friends in England are made acquainted with my travels I fear
   they will think that I have told them nothing but my miseries....
   I quitted my camp early in the morning to survey the neighboring
   country, leaving my guide to take charge of the horses until my
   return in the evening.  About an hour's walk from the camp I met
   an Indian, who on perceiving me instantly strung his bow, placed
   on his left arm a sleeve of raccoon skin and stood on the
   defensive.  Being quite sure that conduct was prompted by fear and
   not by hostile intentions, the poor fellow having probably never
   seen such a being as myself before, I laid my gun at my feet on the
   ground and waved my hand for him to come to me, which he did slowly
   and with great caution.  I then made him place his bow and quiver
   of arrows beside my gun, and striking a light gave him a smoke out
   of my own pipe and a present of a few beads.  With my pencil I made
   a rough sketch of the cone and pine tree which I wanted to obtain
   and drew his attention to it, when he instantly pointed with his
   hand to the hills fifteen or twenty miles distant towards the
   south; and when I expressed my intention of going thither,
   cheerfully set about accompanying me.  At midday I reached my long-
   wished-for pines and lost no time in examining them and endeavoring
   to collect specimens and seeds.  New and strange things seldom fail
   to make strong impressions and are therefore frequently overrated;
   so that, lest I should never see my friends in England to inform
   them verbally of this most beautiful and immensely grand tree, I
   shall here state the dimensions of the largest I could find among
   several that had been blown down by the wind.  At three feet from
   the ground its circumference is fifty-seven feet, nine inches; at
   one hundred and thirty-four feet, seventeen feet five inches; the
   extreme length two hundred and forty-five feet....  As it was
   impossible either to climb the tree or hew it down, I endeavored to
   knock off the cones by firing at them with ball, when the report of
   my gun brought eight Indians, all of them painted with red earth,
   armed with bows, arrows, bone-tipped spears, and flint knives.
   They appeared anything but friendly.  I explained to them what I
   wanted and they seemed satisfied and sat down to smoke; but
   presently I saw one of them string his bow and another sharpen his
   flint knife with a pair of wooden pincers and suspend it on the
   wrist of his right hand.  Further testimony of their intentions was
   unnecessary.  To save myself by flight was impossible, so without
   hesitation I stepped back about five paces, cocked my gun, drew one
   of the pistols out of my belt, and holding it in my left hand, the
   gun in my right, showed myself determined to fight for my life.  As
   much as possible I endeavored to preserve my coolness, and thus we
   stood looking at one another without making any movement or
   uttering a word for perhaps ten minutes, when one at last, who
   seemed to be the leader, gave a sign that they wished for some
   tobacco; this I signified they should have if they fetched a
   quantity of cones.  They went off immediately in search of them,
   and no sooner were they all out of sight than I picked up my three
   cones and some twigs of the trees and made the quickest possible
   retreat, hurrying back to my camp, which I reached before dusk.
   The Indian who last undertook to be my guide to the trees I sent
   off before gaining my encampment, lest he should betray me. How
   irksome is the darkness of night to one under such circumstances.
   I cannot speak a word to my guide, nor have I a book to divert my
   thoughts, which are continually occupied with the dread lest the
   hostile Indians should trace me hither and make an attack.  I now
   write lying on the grass with my gun cocked beside me, and penning
   these lines by the light of my Columbian candle, namely, an ignited
   piece of rosin-wood.

Douglas named this magnificent species Pinus Lambertiana, in honor of
his friend Dr. Lambert, of London. This is the noblest pine thus far
discovered in the forests of the world, surpassing all others not only
in size but in beauty and majesty. Oregon may well be proud that its
discovery was made within her borders, and that, though it is far more
abundant in California, she has the largest known specimens. In the
Sierra the finest sugar pine forests lie at an elevation of about five
thousand feet. In Oregon they occupy much lower ground, some of the
trees being found but little above tide-water.

No lover of trees will ever forget his first meeting with the sugar
pine. In most coniferous trees there is a sameness of form and
expression which at length becomes wearisome to most people who travel
far in the woods. But the sugar pines are as free from conventional
forms as any of the oaks. No two are so much alike as to hide their
individuality from any observer. Every tree is appreciated as a study
in itself and proclaims in no uncertain terms the surpassing grandeur of
the species. The branches, mostly near the summit, are sometimes
nearly forty feet long, feathered richly all around with short, leafy
branchlets, and tasseled with cones a foot and a half long. And when
these superb arms are outspread, radiating in every direction, an
immense crownlike mass is formed which, poised on the noble shaft and
filled with sunshine, is one of the grandest forest objects conceivable.
But though so wild and unconventional when full-grown, the sugar pine
is a remarkably regular tree in youth, a strict follower of coniferous
fashions, slim, erect, tapering, symmetrical, every branch in place.
At the age of fifty or sixty years this shy, fashionable form begins to
give way. Special branches are thrust out away from the general outlines
of the trees and bent down with cones. Henceforth it becomes more and
more original and independent in style, pushes boldly aloft into the
winds and sunshine, growing ever more stately and beautiful, a joy and
inspiration to every beholder.

Unfortunately, the sugar pine makes excellent lumber. It is too good
to live, and is already passing rapidly away before the woodman's
axe. Surely out of all of the abounding forest wealth of Oregon a few
specimens might be spared to the world, not as dead lumber, but as
living trees. A park of moderate extent might be set apart and protected
for public use forever, containing at least a few hundreds of each of
these noble pines, spruces, and firs. Happy will be the men who, having
the power and the love and benevolent forecast to do this, will do it.
They will not be forgotten. The trees and their lovers will sing their
praises, and generations yet unborn will rise up and call them blessed.

Dotting the prairies and fringing the edges of the great evergreen
forests we find a considerable number of hardwood trees, such as the
oak, maple, ash, alder, laurel, madrone, flowering dogwood, wild cherry,
and wild apple. The white oak (Quercus Garryana) is the most important
of the Oregon oaks as a timber tree, but not nearly so beautiful as
Kellogg's oak (Q. Kelloggii). The former is found mostly along the
Columbia River, particularly about the Dalles, and a considerable
quantity of useful lumber is made from it and sold, sometimes for
eastern white oak, to wagon makers. Kellogg's oak is a magnificent tree
and does much for the picturesque beauty of the Umpqua and Rogue River
Valleys where it abounds. It is also found in all the Yosemite valleys
of the Sierra, and its acorns form an important part of the food of
the Digger Indians. In the Siskiyou Mountains there is a live oak (Q.
chrysolepis), wide-spreading and very picturesque in form, but not very
common. It extends southward along the western flank of the Sierra and
is there more abundant and much larger than in Oregon, oftentimes five
to eight feet in diameter.

The maples are the same as those in Washington, already described, but
I have not seen any maple groves here equal in extent or in the size of
the trees to those on the Snoqualmie River.

The Oregon ash is now rare along the stream banks of western Oregon, and
it grows to a good size and furnishes lumber that is for some purposes
equal to the white ash of the Western States.

Nuttall's flowering dogwood makes a brave display with its wealth of
show involucres in the spring along cool streams. Specimens of the
flowers may be found measuring eight inches in diameter.

The wild cherry (Prunus emarginata, var. mollis) is a small, handsome
tree seldom more than a foot in diameter at the base. It makes valuable
lumber and its black, astringent fruit furnishes a rich resource as
food for the birds. A smaller form is common in the Sierra, the fruit of
which is eagerly eaten by the Indians and hunters in time of need.

The wild apple (Pyrus rivularis) is a fine, hearty, handsome little tree
that grows well in rich, cool soil along streams and on the edges
of beaver meadows from California through Oregon and Washington to
southeastern Alaska. In Oregon it forms dense, tangled thickets, some
of them almost impenetrable. The largest trunks are nearly a foot in
diameter. When in bloom it makes a fine show with its abundant clusters
of flowers, which are white and fragrant. The fruit is very small and
savagely acid. It is wholesome, however, and is eaten by birds, bears,
Indians, and many other adventurers, great and small.

Passing from beneath the shadows of the woods where the trees grow close
and high, we step into charming wild gardens full of lilies, orchids,
heathworts, roses, etc., with colors so gay and forming such sumptuous
masses of bloom, they make the gardens of civilization, however lovingly
cared for, seem pathetic and silly. Around the great fire-mountains,
above the forests and beneath the snow, there is a flowery zone
of marvelous beauty planted with anemones, erythroniums, daisies,
bryanthus, kalmia, vaccinium, cassiope, saxifrages, etc., forming one
continuous garden fifty or sixty miles in circumference, and so deep
and luxuriant and closely woven it seems as if Nature, glad to find
an opening, were economizing space and trying to see how may of her
bright-eyed darlings she can get together in one mountain wreath.

Along the slopes of the Cascades, where the woods are less dense,
especially about the headwaters of the Willamette, there are miles of
rhododendron, making glorious outbursts of purple bloom, and down on the
prairies in rich, damp hollows the blue-flowered camassia grows in such
profusion that at a little distance its dense masses appear as beautiful
blue lakes imbedded in the green, flowery plains; while all about the
streams and the lakes and the beaver meadows and the margins of the deep
woods there is a magnificent tangle of gaultheria and huckleberry bushes
with their myriads of pink bells, reinforced with hazel, cornel, rubus
of many species, wild plum, cherry, and crab apple; besides thousands
of charming bloomers to be found in all sorts of places throughout the
wilderness whose mere names are refreshing, such as linnaea, menziesia,
pyrola, chimaphila, brodiaea, smilacina, fritillaria, calochortus,
trillium, clintonia, veratrum, cypripedium, goodyera, spiranthes,
habenaria, and the rare and lovely "Hider of the North," Calypso
borealis, to find which is alone a sufficient object for a journey into
the wilderness. And besides these there is a charming underworld of
ferns and mosses flourishing gloriously beneath all the woods.

Everybody loves wild woods and flowers more or less. Seeds of all these
Oregon evergreens and of many of the flowering shrubs and plants have
been sent to almost every country under the sun, and they are now
growing in carefully tended parks and gardens. And now that the ways of
approach are open one would expect to find these woods and gardens full
of admiring visitors reveling in their beauty like bees in a clover
field. Yet few care to visit them. A portion of the bark of one of the
California trees, the mere dead skin, excited the wondering attention
of thousands when it was set up in the Crystal Palace in London, as
did also a few peeled spars, the shafts of mere saplings from Oregon or
Washington. Could one of these great silver firs or sugar pines three
hundred feet high have been transplanted entire to that exhibition, how
enthusiastic would have been the praises accorded to it!

Nevertheless, the countless hosts waving at home beneath their own
sky, beside their own noble rivers and mountains, and standing on a
flower-enameled carpet of mosses thousands of square miles in extent,
attract but little attention. Most travelers content themselves with
what they may chance to see from car windows, hotel verandas, or the
deck of a steamer on the lower Columbia--clinging to the battered
highways like drowning sailors to a life raft. When an excursion into
the woods is proposed, all sorts of exaggerated or imaginary dangers are
conjured up, filling the kindly, soothing wilderness with colds, fevers,
Indians, bears, snakes, bugs, impassable rivers, and jungles of brush,
to which is always added quick and sure starvation.

As to starvation, the woods are full of food, and a supply of bread
may easily be carried for habit's sake, and replenished now and then
at outlying farms and camps. The Indians are seldom found in the woods,
being confined mainly to the banks of the rivers, where the greater part
of their food is obtained. Moreover, the most of them have been either
buried since the settlement of the country or civilized into comparative
innocence, industry, or harmless laziness. There are bears in the
woods, but not in such numbers nor of such unspeakable ferocity as
town-dwellers imagine, nor do bears spend their lives in going about the
country like the devil, seeking whom they may devour. Oregon bears, like
most others, have no liking for man either as meat or as society; and
while some may be curious at times to see what manner of creature he is,
most of them have learned to shun people as deadly enemies. They have
been poisoned, trapped, and shot at until they have become shy, and
it is no longer easy to make their acquaintance. Indeed, since the
settlement of the country, notwithstanding far the greater portion is
yet wild, it is difficult to find any of the larger animals that once
were numerous and comparatively familiar, such as the bear, wolf,
panther, lynx, deer, elk, and antelope.

As early as 1843, while the settlers numbered only a few thousands, and
before any sort of government had been organized, they came together
and held what they called "a wolf meeting," at which a committee
was appointed to devise means for the destruction of wild animals
destructive to tame ones, which committee in due time begged to report
as follows:--

   It being admitted by all that bears, wolves, panthers, etc., are
   destructive to the useful animals owned by the settlers of this
   colony, your committee would submit the following resolutions as
   the sense of this meeting, by which the community may be governed
   in carrying on a defensive and destructive war on all such
   animals:--

   Resolved, 1st.--That we deem it expedient for the community to take
   immediate measures for the destruction of all wolves, panthers, and
   bears, and such other animals as are known to be destructive to
   cattle, horses, sheep and hogs.

   2d.--That a bounty of fifty cents be paid for the destruction of a
   small wolf, $3.00 for a large wolf, $1.50 for a lynx, $2.00 for a
   bear and $5.00 for a panther.

This center of destruction was in the Willamette Valley. But for
many years prior to the beginning of the operations of the "Wolf
Organization" the Hudson's Bay Company had established forts and trading
stations over all the country, wherever fur-gathering Indians could be
found, and vast numbers of these animals were killed. Their destruction
has since gone on at an accelerated rate from year to year as the
settlements have been extended, so that in some cases it is difficult to
obtain specimens enough for the use of naturalists. But even before any
of these settlements were made, and before the coming of the Hudson's
Bay Company, there was very little danger to be met in passing through
this wilderness as far as animals were concerned, and but little of
any kind as compared with the dangers encountered in crowded houses and
streets.

When Lewis and Clark made their famous trip across the continent in
1804-05, when all the Rocky Mountain region was wild, as well as the
Pacific Slope, they did not lose a single man by wild animals, nor,
though frequently attacked, especially by the grizzlies of the Rocky
Mountains, were any of them wounded seriously. Captain Clark was bitten
on the hand by a wolf as he lay asleep; that was one bite among more
than a hundred men while traveling through eight to nine thousand miles
of savage wilderness. They could hardly have been so fortunate had they
stayed at home. They wintered on the edge of the Clatsop plains, on the
south side of the Columbia River near its mouth. In the woods on that
side they found game abundant, especially elk, and with the aid of
the friendly Indians who furnished salmon and "wapatoo" (the tubers of
Sagittaria variabilis), they were in no danger of starving.

But on the return trip in the spring they reached the base of the Rocky
Mountains when the range was yet too heavily snow-laden to be crossed
with horses. Therefore they had to wait some weeks. This was at the head
of one of the northern branches of the Snake River, and, their scanty
stock of provisions being nearly exhausted, the whole party was
compelled to live mostly on bears and dogs; deer, antelope, and elk,
usually abundant, were now scarce because the region had been closely
hunted over by the Indians before their arrival.

Lewis and Clark had killed a number of bears and saved the skins of the
more interesting specimens, and the variations they found in size, color
of the hair, etc., made great difficulty in classification. Wishing to
get the opinion of the Chopumish Indians, near one of whose villages
they were encamped, concerning the various species, the explorers
unpacked their bundles and spread out for examination all the skins they
had taken. The Indian hunters immediately classed the white, the deep
and the pale grizzly red, the grizzly dark-brown--in short, all those
with the extremities of the hair of a white or frosty color without
regard to the color of the ground or foil--under the name of hoh-host.
The Indians assured them that these were all of the same species as the
white bear, that they associated together, had longer nails than the
others, and never climbed trees. On the other hand, the black skins,
those that were black with white hairs intermixed or with a white
breast, the uniform bay, the brown, and the light reddish-brown, were
classed under the name yack-ah, and were said to resemble each other in
being smaller and having shorter nails, in climbing trees, and being so
little vicious that they could be pursued with safety.

Lewis and Clark came to the conclusion that all those with white-tipped
hair found by them in the basin of the Columbia belonged to the same
species as the grizzlies of the upper Missouri; and that the black and
reddish-brown, etc., of the Rocky Mountains belong to a second species
equally distinct from the grizzly and the black bear of the Pacific
Coast and the East, which never vary in color.

As much as possible should be made by the ordinary traveler of these
descriptions, for he will be likely to see very little of any species
for himself; not that bears no longer exist here, but because, being
shy, they keep out of the way. In order to see them and learn their
habits one must go softly and alone, lingering long in the fringing
woods on the banks of the salmon streams, and in the small openings in
the midst of thickets where berries are most abundant.

As for rattlesnakes, the other grand dread of town dwellers when they
leave beaten roads, there are two, or perhaps three, species of them in
Oregon. But they are nowhere to be found in great numbers. In western
Oregon they are hardly known at all. In all my walks in the Oregon
forest I have never met a single specimen, though a few have been seen
at long intervals.

When the country was first settled by the whites, fifty years ago, the
elk roamed through the woods and over the plains to the east of
the Cascades in immense numbers; now they are rarely seen except by
experienced hunters who know their haunts in the deepest and most
inaccessible solitudes to which they have been driven. So majestic
an animal forms a tempting mark for the sportsman's rifle. Countless
thousands have been killed for mere amusement and they already seem to
be nearing extinction as rapidly as the buffalo. The antelope also is
vanishing from the Columbia plains before the farmers and cattlemen.
Whether the moose still lingers in Oregon or Washington I am unable to
say.

On the highest mountains of the Cascade Range the wild goat roams in
comparative security, few of his enemies caring to go so far in pursuit
and to hunt on ground so high and dangerous. He is a brave, sturdy
shaggy mountaineer of an animal, enjoying the freedom and security of
crumbling ridges and overhanging cliffs above the glaciers, oftentimes
beyond the reach of the most daring hunter. They seem to be as much
at home on the ice and snowfields as on the crags, making their way in
flocks from ridge to ridge on the great volcanic mountains by crossing
the glaciers that lie between them, traveling in single file guided
by an old experienced leader, like a party of climbers on the Alps. On
these ice-journeys they pick their way through networks of crevasses
and over bridges of snow with admirable skill, and the mountaineer may
seldom do better in such places than to follow their trail, if he can.
In the rich alpine gardens and meadows they find abundance of food,
venturing sometimes well down in the prairie openings on the edge of
the timberline, but holding themselves ever alert and watchful, ready to
flee to their highland castles at the faintest alarm. When their summer
pastures are buried beneath the winter snows, they make haste to the
lower ridges, seeking the wind-beaten crags and slopes where the snow
cannot lie at any great depth, feeding at times on the leaves and twigs
of bushes when grass is beyond reach.

The wild sheep is another admirable alpine rover, but comparatively
rare in the Oregon mountains, choosing rather the drier ridges to the
southward on the Cascades and to the eastward among the spurs of the
Rocky Mountain chain.

Deer give beautiful animation to the forests, harmonizing finely in
their color and movements with the gray and brown shafts of the trees
and the swaying of the branches as they stand in groups at rest, or
move gracefully and noiselessly over the mossy ground about the edges of
beaver meadows and flowery glades, daintily culling the leaves and tips
of the mints and aromatic bushes on which they feed. There are three
species, the black-tailed, white-tailed, and mule deer; the last being
restricted in its range to the open woods and plains to the eastward of
the Cascades. They are nowhere very numerous now, killing for food, for
hides, or for mere wanton sport, having well-nigh exterminated them in
the more accessible regions, while elsewhere they are too often at the
mercy of the wolves.

Gliding about in their shady forest homes, keeping well out of sight,
there is a multitude of sleek fur-clad animals living and enjoying their
clean, beautiful lives. How beautiful and interesting they are is about
as difficult for busy mortals to find out as if their homes were beyond
sight in the sky. Hence the stories of every wild hunter and trapper
are eagerly listened to as being possibly true, or partly so, however
thickly clothed in successive folds of exaggeration and fancy.
Unsatisfying as these accounts must be, a tourist's frightened rush and
scramble through the woods yields far less than the hunter's wildest
stories, while in writing we can do but little more than to give a
few names, as they come to mind,--beaver, squirrel, coon, fox, marten,
fisher, otter, ermine, wildcat,--only this instead of full descriptions
of the bright-eyed furry throng, their snug home nests, their fears
and fights and loves, how they get their food, rear their young, escape
their enemies, and keep themselves warm and well and exquisitely clean
through all the pitiless weather.

For many years before the settlement of the country the fur of the
beaver brought a high price, and therefore it was pursued with weariless
ardor. Not even in the quest for gold has a more ruthless, desperate
energy been developed. It was in those early beaver-days that the
striking class of adventurers called "free trappers" made their
appearance. Bold, enterprising men, eager to make money, and inclined
at the same time to relish the license of a savage life, would set forth
with a few traps and a gun and a hunting knife, content at first to
venture only a short distance up the beaver streams nearest to the
settlements, and where the Indians were not likely to molest them. There
they would set their traps, while the buffalo, antelope, deer, etc.,
furnished a royal supply of food. In a few months their pack animals
would be laden with thousands of dollars' worth of fur.

Next season they would venture farther, and again farther, meanwhile
growing rapidly wilder, getting acquainted with the Indian tribes, and
usually marrying among them. Thenceforward no danger could stay them
in their exciting pursuit. Wherever there were beaver they would go,
however far or wild,--the wilder the better, provided their scalps could
be saved. Oftentimes they were compelled to set their traps and
visit them by night and lie hid during the day, when operating in the
neighborhood of hostile Indians. Not then venturing to make a fire or
shoot game, they lived on the raw flesh of the beaver, perhaps seasoned
with wild cresses or berries. Then, returning to the trading stations,
they would spend their hard earnings in a few weeks of dissipation and
"good time," and go again to the bears and beavers, until at length a
bullet or arrow would end all. One after another would be missed by
some friend or trader at the autumn rendezvous, reported killed by the
Indians, and--forgotten. Some men of this class have, from superior
skill or fortune, escaped every danger, lived to a good old age, and
earned fame, and, by their knowledge of the topography of the vast
West then unexplored, have been able to render important service to the
country; but most of them laid their bones in the wilderness after a
few short, keen seasons. So great were the perils that beset them, the
average length of the life of a "free trapper" has been estimated at
less than five years. From the Columbia waters beaver and beaver men
have almost wholly passed away, and the men once so striking a part of
the view have left scarcely the faintest sign of their existence. On the
other hand, a thousand meadows on the mountains tell the story of the
beavers, to remain fresh and green for many a century, monuments of
their happy, industrious lives.

But there is a little airy, elfin animal in these woods, and in all
the evergreen woods of the Pacific Coast, that is more influential and
interesting than even the beaver. This is the Douglas squirrel (Sciurus
Douglasi). Go where you will throughout all these noble forests, you
everywhere find this little squirrel the master-existence. Though only
a few inches long, so intense is his fiery vigor and restlessness, he
stirs every grove with wild life, and makes himself more important than
the great bears that shuffle through the berry tangles beneath him.
Every tree feels the sting of his sharp feet. Nature has made him
master-forester, and committed the greater part of the coniferous crops
to his management. Probably over half of all the ripe cones of the
spruces, firs, and pines are cut off and handled by this busy harvester.
Most of them are stored away for food through the winter and spring, but
a part are pushed into shallow pits and covered loosely, where some
of the seeds are no doubt left to germinate and grow up. All the tree
squirrels are more or less birdlike in voice and movements, but the
Douglas is pre-eminently so, possessing every squirrelish attribute,
fully developed and concentrated. He is the squirrel of squirrels,
flashing from branch to branch of his favorite evergreens, crisp and
glossy and sound as a sunbeam. He stirs the leaves like a rustling
breeze, darting across openings in arrowy lines, launching in curves,
glinting deftly from side to side in sudden zigzags, and swirling in
giddy loops and spirals around the trunks, now on his haunches, now on
his head, yet ever graceful and performing all his feats of strength and
skill without apparent effort. One never tires of this bright spark of
life, the brave little voice crying in the wilderness. His varied, piney
gossip is as savory to the air as balsam to the palate. Some of his
notes are almost flutelike in softness, while others prick and tingle
like thistles. He is the mockingbird of squirrels, barking like a dog,
screaming like a hawk, whistling like a blackbird or linnet, while in
bluff, audacious noisiness he is a jay. A small thing, but filling and
animating all the woods.

Nor is there any lack of wings, notwithstanding few are to be seen on
short, noisy rambles. The ousel sweetens the shady glens and canyons
where waterfalls abound, and every grove or forest, however silent
it may seem when we chance to pay it a hasty visit, has its
singers,--thrushes, linnets, warblers,--while hummingbirds glint and
hover about the fringing masses of bloom around stream and meadow
openings. But few of these will show themselves or sing their songs to
those who are ever in haste and getting lost, going in gangs formidable
in color and accoutrements, laughing, hallooing, breaking limbs off
the trees as they pass, awkwardly struggling through briery thickets,
entangled like blue-bottles in spider webs, and stopping from time to
time to fire off their guns and pistols for the sake of the echoes,
thus frightening all the life about them for miles. It is this class of
hunters and travelers who report that there are "no birds in the woods
or game animals of any kind larger than mosquitoes."

Besides the singing birds mentioned above, the handsome Oregon grouse
may be found in the thick woods, also the dusky grouse and Franklin's
grouse, and in some places the beautiful mountain partridge, or quail.
The white-tailed ptarmigan lives on the lofty snow peaks above the
timber, and the prairie chicken and sage cock on the broad Columbia
plains from the Cascade Range back to the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains. The bald eagle is very common along the Columbia River, or
wherever fish, especially salmon, are plentiful, while swans, herons,
cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks of many species, and water birds in
general abound in the lake region, on the main streams, and along the
coast, stirring the waters and sky into fine, lively pictures, greatly
to the delight of wandering lovers of wildness.



XXIII. The Rivers of Oregon


Turning from the woods and their inhabitants to the rivers, we find
that while the former are rarely seen by travelers beyond the immediate
borders of the settlements, the great river of Oregon draws crowds
of enthusiastic admirers to sound its praises. Every summer since the
completion of the first overland railroad, tourists have been coming to
it in ever increasing numbers, showing that in general estimation the
Columbia is one of the chief attractions of the Pacific Coast. And well
it deserves the admiration so heartily bestowed upon it. The beauty
and majesty of its waters, and the variety and grandeur of the scenery
through which it flows, lead many to regard it as the most interesting
of all the great rivers of the continent, notwithstanding the claims of
the other members of the family to which it belongs and which nobody can
measure--the Fraser, McKenzie, Saskatchewan, the Missouri, Yellowstone,
Platte, and the Colorado, with their glacier and geyser fountains, their
famous canyons, lakes, forests, and vast flowery prairies and plains.
These great rivers and the Columbia are intimately related. All draw
their upper waters from the same high fountains on the broad, rugged
uplift of the Rocky Mountains, their branches interlacing like the
branches of trees. They sing their first songs together on the heights;
then, collecting their tributaries, they set out on their grand journey
to the Atlantic, Pacific, or Arctic Ocean.

The Columbia, viewed as one from the sea to the mountains, is like a
rugged, broad-topped, picturesque old oak about six hundred miles long
and nearly a thousand miles wide measured across the spread of its upper
branches, the main limbs gnarled and swollen with lakes and lakelike
expansions, while innumerable smaller lakes shine like fruit among the
smaller branches. The main trunk extends back through the Coast and
Cascade Mountains in a general easterly direction for three hundred
miles, when it divides abruptly into two grand branches which bend off
to the northeastward and southeastward.

The south branch, the longer of the two, called the Snake, or Lewis,
River, extends into the Rocky Mountains as far as the Yellowstone
National Park, where its head tributaries interlace with those of the
Colorado, Missouri, and Yellowstone. The north branch, still called the
Columbia, extends through Washington far into British territory, its
highest tributaries reaching back through long parallel spurs of the
Rockies between and beyond the headwaters of the Fraser, Athabasca, and
Saskatchewan. Each of these main branches, dividing again and again,
spreads a network of channels over the vast complicated mass of the
great range throughout a section nearly a thousand miles in length,
searching every fountain, however small or great, and gathering a
glorious harvest of crystal water to be rolled through forest and plain
in one majestic flood to the sea, reinforced on the way by tributaries
that drain the Blue Mountains and more than two hundred miles of
the Cascade and Coast Ranges. Though less than half as long as the
Mississippi, it is said to carry as much water. The amount of its
discharge at different seasons, however, has never been exactly
measured, but in time of flood its current is sufficiently massive and
powerful to penetrate the sea to a distance of fifty or sixty miles from
shore, its waters being easily recognized by the difference in color
and by the drift of leaves, berries, pine cones, branches, and trunks of
trees that they carry.

That so large a river as the Columbia, making a telling current so far
from shore, should remain undiscovered while one exploring expedition
after another sailed past seems remarkable, even after due allowance is
made for the cloudy weather that prevails hereabouts and the broad fence
of breakers drawn across the bar. During the last few centuries, when
the maps of the world were in great part blank, the search for new
worlds was fashionable business, and when such large game was no longer
to be found, islands lying unclaimed in the great oceans, inhabited
by useful and profitable people to be converted or enslaved, became
attractive objects; also new ways to India, seas, straits, El Dorados,
fountains of youth, and rivers that flowed over golden sands.

Those early explorers and adventurers were mostly brave, enterprising,
and, after their fashion, pious men. In their clumsy sailing vessels
they dared to go where no chart or lighthouse showed the way, where the
set of the currents, the location of sunken outlying rocks and shoals,
were all unknown, facing fate and weather, undaunted however dark the
signs, heaving the lead and thrashing the men to their duty and trusting
to Providence. When a new shore was found on which they could land,
they said their prayers with superb audacity, fought the natives if they
cared to fight, erected crosses, and took possession in the names of
their sovereigns, establishing claims, such as they were, to everything
in sight and beyond, to be quarreled for and battled for, and
passed from hand to hand in treaties and settlements made during the
intermissions of war.

The branch of the river that bears the name of Columbia all the way to
its head takes its rise in two lakes about ten miles in length that lie
between the Selkirk and main ranges of the Rocky Mountains in British
Columbia, about eighty miles beyond the boundary line. They are called
the Upper and Lower Columbia Lakes. Issuing from these, the young river
holds a nearly straight course for a hundred and seventy miles in a
northwesterly direction to a plain called "Boat Encampment," receiving
many beautiful affluents by the way from the Selkirk and main ranges,
among which are the Beaver-Foot, Blackberry, Spill-e-Mee-Chene, and Gold
Rivers. At Boat Encampment it receives two large tributaries, the Canoe
River from the northwest, a stream about a hundred and twenty miles
long; and the Whirlpool River from the north, about a hundred and forty
miles in length.

The Whirlpool River takes its rise near the summit of the main axis of
the range on the fifty-fourth parallel, and is the northmost of all
the Columbia waters. About thirty miles above its confluence with the
Columbia it flows through a lake called the Punch-Bowl, and thence it
passes between Mounts Hooker and Brown, said to be fifteen thousand
and sixteen thousand feet high, making magnificent scenery; though the
height of the mountains thereabouts has been considerably overestimated.
From Boat Encampment the river, now a large, clear stream, said to be
nearly a third of a mile in width, doubles back on its original course
and flows southward as far as its confluence with the Spokane in
Washington, a distance of nearly three hundred miles in a direct line,
most of the way through a wild, rocky, picturesque mass of mountains,
charmingly forested with pine and spruce--though the trees seem
strangely small, like second growth saplings, to one familiar with the
western forests of Washington, Oregon, and California.

About forty-five miles below Boat Encampment are the Upper Dalles, or
Dalles de Mort, and thirty miles farther the Lower Dalles, where the
river makes a magnificent uproar and interrupts navigation. About thirty
miles below the Lower Dalles the river expands into Upper Arrow Lake, a
beautiful sheet of water forty miles long and five miles wide, straight
as an arrow and with the beautiful forests of the Selkirk range rising
from its east shore, and those of the Gold range from the west. At the
foot of the lake are the Narrows, a few miles in length, and after these
rapids are passed, the river enters Lower Arrow Lake, which is like the
Upper Arrow, but is even longer and not so straight.

A short distance below the Lower Arrow the Columbia receives the
Kootenay River, the largest affluent thus far on its course and said to
be navigable for small steamers for a hundred and fifty miles. It is
an exceedingly crooked stream, heading beyond the upper Columbia lakes,
and, in its mazy course, flowing to all points of the compass, it seems
lost and baffled in the tangle of mountain spurs and ridges it drains.
Measured around its loops and bends, it is probably more than five
hundred miles in length. It is also rich in lakes, the largest, Kootenay
Lake, being upwards of seventy miles in length with an average width of
five miles. A short distance below the confluence of the Kootenay, near
the boundary line between Washington and British Columbia, another large
stream comes in from the east, Clarke's Fork, or the Flathead River. Its
upper sources are near those of the Missouri and South Saskatchewan,
and in its course it flows through two large and beautiful lakes, the
Flathead and the Pend d'Oreille. All the lakes we have noticed thus far
would make charming places of summer resort; but Pend d'Oreille,
besides being surpassingly beautiful, has the advantage of being
easily accessible, since it is on the main line of the Northern Pacific
Railroad in the Territory of Idaho. In the purity of its waters it
reminds one of Tahoe, while its many picturesque islands crowned with
evergreens, and its winding shores forming an endless variety of bays
and promontories lavishly crowded with spiry spruce and cedar, recall
some of the best of the island scenery of Alaska.

About thirty-five miles below the mouth of Clark's Fork the Columbia is
joined by the Ne-whoi-al-pit-ku River from the northwest. Here too are
the great Chaudiere, or Kettle, Falls on the main river, with a total
descent of about fifty feet. Fifty miles farther down, the Spokane
River, a clear, dashing stream, comes in from the east. It is about one
hundred and twenty miles long, and takes its rise in the beautiful Lake
Coeur d'Alene, in Idaho, which receives the drainage of nearly a hundred
miles of the western slopes of the Bitter Root Mountains, through the
St. Joseph and Coeur d'Alene Rivers. The lake is about twenty miles
long, set in the midst of charming scenery, and, like Pend d'Oreille, is
easy of access and is already attracting attention as a summer place for
enjoyment, rest, and health.

The famous Spokane Falls are in Washington, about thirty miles below the
lake, where the river is outspread and divided and makes a grand descent
from a level basaltic plateau, giving rise to one of the most beautiful
as well as one of the greatest and most available of water-powers in
the State. The city of the same name is built on the plateau along both
sides of the series of cascades and falls, which, rushing and sounding
through the midst, give singular beauty and animation. The young city is
also rushing and booming. It is founded on a rock, leveled and prepared
for it, and its streets require no grading or paving. As a power to
whirl the machinery of a great city and at the same time to train the
people to a love of the sublime and beautiful as displayed in
living water, the Spokane Falls are unrivaled, at least as far as my
observation has reached. Nowhere else have I seen such lessons given
by a river in the streets of a city, such a glad, exulting, abounding
outgush, crisp and clear from the mountains, dividing, falling,
displaying its wealth, calling aloud in the midst of the busy throng,
and making glorious offerings for every use of utility or adornment.

From the mouth of the Spokane the Columbia, now out of the woods, flows
to the westward with a broad, stately current for a hundred and twenty
miles to receive the Okinagan, a large, generous tributary a hundred and
sixty miles long, coming from the north and drawing some of its waters
from the Cascade Range. More than half its course is through a chain of
lakes, the largest of which at the head of the river is over sixty miles
in length. From its confluence with the Okinagan the river pursues a
southerly course for a hundred and fifty miles, most of the way through
a dreary, treeless, parched plain to meet the great south fork. The
Lewis, or Snake, River is nearly a thousand miles long and drains nearly
the whole of Idaho, a territory rich in scenery, gold mines, flowery,
grassy valleys, and deserts, while some of the highest tributaries reach
into Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Throughout a great part of its course it
is countersunk in a black lava plain and shut in by mural precipices a
thousand feet high, gloomy, forbidding, and unapproachable, although the
gloominess of its canyon is relieved in some manner by its many falls
and springs, some of the springs being large enough to appear as the
outlets of subterranean rivers. They gush out from the faces of the
sheer black walls and descend foaming with brave roar and beauty to
swell the flood below.

From where the river skirts the base of the Blue Mountains its
surroundings are less forbidding. Much of the country is fertile, but
its canyon is everywhere deep and almost inaccessible. Steamers make
their way up as far as Lewiston, a hundred and fifty miles, and receive
cargoes of wheat at different points through chutes that extend down
from the tops of the bluffs. But though the Hudson's Bay Company
navigated the north fork to its sources, they depended altogether on
pack animals for the transportation of supplies and furs between the
Columbia and Fort Hall on the head of the south fork, which shows how
desperately unmanageable a river it must be.

A few miles above the mouth of the Snake the Yakima, which drains a
considerable portion of the Cascade Range, enters from the northwest.
It is about a hundred and fifty miles long, but carries comparatively
little water, a great part of what it sets out with from the base of
the mountains being consumed in irrigated fields and meadows in passing
through the settlements along its course, and by evaporation on the
parched desert plains. The grand flood of the Columbia, now from half a
mile to a mile wide, sweeps on to the westward, holding a nearly direct
course until it reaches the mouth of the Willamette, where it turns to
the northward and flows fifty miles along the main valley between the
Coast and Cascade Ranges ere it again resumes its westward course to
the sea. In all its course from the mouth of the Yakima to the sea, a
distance of three hundred miles, the only considerable affluent from the
northward is the Cowlitz, which heads in the glaciers of Mount Rainier.

From the south and east it receives the Walla-Walla and Umatilla, rather
short and dreary-looking streams, though the plains they pass through
have proved fertile, and their upper tributaries in the Blue Mountains,
shaded with tall pines, firs, spruces, and the beautiful Oregon larch
(Larix brevifolia), lead into a delightful region. The John Day River
also heads in the Blue Mountains, and flows into the Columbia sixty
miles below the mouth of the Umatilla. Its valley is in great part
fertile, and is noted for the interesting fossils discovered in it by
Professor Condon in sections cut by the river through the overlying lava
beds.

The Deschutes River comes in from the south about twenty miles below the
John Day. It is a large, boisterous stream, draining the eastern slope
of the Cascade Range for nearly two hundred miles, and from the great
number of falls on the main trunk, as well as on its many mountain
tributaries, well deserves its name. It enters the Columbia with a grand
roar of falls and rapids, and at times seems almost to rival the
main stream in the volume of water it carries. Near the mouth of the
Deschutes are the Falls of the Columbia, where the river passes a rough
bar of lava. The descent is not great, but the immense volume of water
makes a grand display. During the flood season the falls are obliterated
and skillful boatmen pass over them in safety; while the Dalles, some
six or eight miles below, may be passed during low water but are
utterly impassable in flood time. At the Dalles the vast river is jammed
together into a long, narrow slot of unknown depth cut sheer down in the
basalt.

This slot, or trough, is about a mile and a half long and about sixty
yards wide at the narrowest place. At ordinary times the river seems to
be set on edge and runs swiftly but without much noisy surging with a
descent of about twenty feet to the mile. But when the snow is melting
on the mountains the river rises here sixty feet, or even more during
extraordinary freshets, and spreads out over a great breadth of massive
rocks through which have been cut several other gorges running parallel
with the one usually occupied. All these inferior gorges now come into
use, and the huge, roaring torrent, still rising and spreading, at
length overwhelms the high jagged rock walls between them, making
a tremendous display of chafing, surging, shattered currents,
counter-currents, and hollow whirls that no words can be made to
describe. A few miles below the Dalles the storm-tossed river gets
itself together again, looks like water, becomes silent, and with
stately, tranquil deliberation goes on its way, out of the gray region
of sage and sand into the Oregon woods. Thirty-five or forty miles below
the Dalles are the Cascades of the Columbia, where the river in passing
through the mountains makes another magnificent display of foaming,
surging rapids, which form the first obstruction to navigation from the
ocean, a hundred and twenty miles distant. This obstruction is to be
overcome by locks, which are now being made.

Between the Dalles and the Cascades the river is like a lake a mile or
two wide, lying in a valley, or canyon, about three thousand feet deep.
The walls of the canyon lean well back in most places, and leave here
and there small strips, or bays, of level ground along the water's
edge. But towards the Cascades, and for some distance below them, the
immediate banks are guarded by walls of columnar basalt, which are worn
in many places into a great variety of bold and picturesque forms, such
as the Castle Rock, the Rooster Rock, the Pillars of Hercules, Cape
Horn, etc., while back of these rise the sublime mountain walls,
forest-crowned and fringed more or less from top to base with pine,
spruce, and shaggy underbrush, especially in the narrow gorges and
ravines, where innumerable small streams come dancing and drifting down,
misty and white, to join the mighty river. Many of these falls on both
sides of the canyon of the Columbia are far larger and more interesting
in every way than would be guessed from the slight glimpses one gets
of them while sailing past on the river, or from the car windows. The
Multnomah Falls are particularly interesting, and occupy fern-lined
gorges of marvelous beauty in the basalt. They are said to be about
eight hundred feet in height and, at times of high water when the
mountain snows are melting, are well worthy of a place beside the famous
falls of Yosemite Valley.

According to an Indian tradition, the river of the Cascades once flowed
through the basalt beneath a natural bridge that was broken down
during a mountain war, when the old volcanoes, Hood and St. Helen's, on
opposite sides of the river, hurled rocks at each other, thus forming
a dam. That the river has been dammed here to some extent, and within
a comparatively short period, seems probable, to say the least, since
great numbers of submerged trees standing erect may be found along both
shores, while, as we have seen, the whole river for thirty miles above
the Cascades looks like a lake or mill-pond. On the other hand, it is
held by some that the submerged groves were carried into their places by
immense landslides.

Much of interest in the connection must necessarily be omitted for want
of space. About forty miles below the Cascades the river receives the
Willamette, the last of its great tributaries. It is navigable for ocean
vessels as far as Portland, ten miles above its mouth, and for river
steamers a hundred miles farther. The Falls of the Willamette are
fifteen miles above Portland, where the river, coming out of dense
woods, breaks its way across a bar of black basalt and falls forty
feet in a passion of snowy foam, showing to fine advantage against its
background of evergreens.

Of the fertility and beauty of the Willamette all the world has heard.
It lies between the Cascade and Coast Ranges, and is bounded on the
south by the Calapooya Mountains, a cross-spur that separates it from
the valley of the Umpqua.

It was here the first settlements for agriculture were made and a
provisional government organized, while the settlers, isolated in the
far wilderness, numbered only a few thousand and were laboring under the
opposition of the British Government and the Hudson's Bay Company. Eager
desire in the acquisition of territory on the part of these pioneer
state-builders was more truly boundless than the wilderness they were
in, and their unconscionable patriotism was equaled only by their
belligerence. For here, while negotiations were pending for the location
of the northern boundary, originated the celebrated "Fifty-four forty or
fight," about as reasonable a war-cry as the "North Pole or fight."
Yet sad was the day that brought the news of the signing of the treaty
fixing their boundary along the forty-ninth parallel, thus leaving the
little land-hungry settlement only a mere quarter-million of miles!

As the Willamette is one of the most foodful of valleys, so is the
Columbia one of the most foodful of rivers. During the fisher's harvest
time salmon from the sea come in countless millions, urging their way
against falls, rapids, and shallows, up into the very heart of the Rocky
Mountains, supplying everybody by the way with most bountiful masses of
delicious food, weighing from twenty to eighty pounds each, plump
and smooth like loaves of bread ready for the oven. The supply seems
inexhaustible, as well it might. Large quantities were used by the
Indians as fuel, and by the Hudson's Bay people as manure for their
gardens at the forts. Used, wasted, canned and sent in shiploads to all
the world, a grand harvest was reaped every year while nobody sowed. Of
late, however, the salmon crop has begun to fail, and millions of young
fry are now sown like wheat in the river every year, from hatching
establishments belonging to the Government.

All of the Oregon waters that win their way to the sea are a tributary
to the Columbia, save the short streams of the immediate coast, and
the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers in southern Oregon. These both head in the
Cascade Mountains and find their way to the sea through gaps in the
Coast Range, and both drain large and fertile and beautiful valleys.
Rogue River Valley is peculiarly attractive. With a fine climate, and
kindly, productive soil, the scenery is delightful. About the main,
central open portion of the basin, dotted with picturesque groves of
oak, there are many smaller valleys charmingly environed, the whole
surrounded in the distance by the Siskiyou, Coast, Umpqua, and Cascade
Mountains. Besides the cereals nearly every sort of fruit flourishes
here, and large areas are being devoted to peach, apricot, nectarine,
and vine culture. To me it seems above all others the garden valley of
Oregon and the most delightful place for a home. On the eastern rim of
the valley, in the Cascade Mountains, about sixty miles from Medford in
a direct line, is the remarkable Crater Lake, usually regarded as the
one grand wonder of the region. It lies in a deep, sheer-walled basin
about seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, supposed to be the
crater of an extinct volcano.

Oregon as it is today is a very young country, though most of it seems
old. Contemplating the Columbia sweeping from forest to forest, across
plain and desert, one is led to say of it, as did Byron of the ocean,--

  "Such as Creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now."

How ancient appear the crumbling basaltic monuments along its banks, and
the gray plains to the east of the Cascades! Nevertheless, the river
as well as its basin in anything like their present condition are
comparatively but of yesterday. Looming no further back in the
geological records than the Tertiary Period, the Oregon of that time
looks altogether strange in the few suggestive glimpses we may get of
it--forests in which palm trees wave their royal crowns, and strange
animals roaming beneath them or about the reedy margins of lakes, the
oreodon, the lophiodon, and several extinct species of the horse, the
camel, and other animals.

Then came the fire period with its darkening showers of ashes and
cinders and its vast floods of molten lava, making quite another Oregon
from the fair and fertile land of the preceding era. And again, while
yet the volcanic fires show signs of action in the smoke and flame of
the higher mountains, the whole region passes under the dominion of ice,
and from the frost and darkness and death of the Glacial Period, Oregon
has but recently emerged to the kindly warmth and life of today.



XXIV. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado


Happy nowadays is the tourist, with earth's wonders, new and old, spread
invitingly open before him, and a host of able workers as his slaves
making everything easy, padding plush about him, grading roads for him,
boring tunnels, moving hills out of his way, eager, like the Devil, to
show him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and foolishness,
spiritualizing travel for him with lightning and steam, abolishing space
and time and almost everything else. Little children and tender,
pulpy people, as well as storm-seasoned explorers, may now go almost
everywhere in smooth comfort, cross oceans and deserts scarce accessible
to fishes and birds, and, dragged by steel horses, go up high mountains,
riding gloriously beneath starry showers of sparks, ascending like
Elijah in a whirlwind and chariot of fire.

First of the wonders of the great West to be brought within reach of the
tourist were the Yosemite and the Big Trees, on the completion of
the first transcontinental railway; next came the Yellowstone and
icy Alaska, by the northern roads; and last the Grand Canyon of the
Colorado, which, naturally the hardest to reach, has now become, by a
branch of the Santa Fe, the most accessible of all.

Of course, with this wonderful extension of steel ways through our
wildness there is loss as well as gain. Nearly all railroads are
bordered by belts of desolation. The finest wilderness perishes as if
stricken with pestilence. Bird and beast people, if not the dryads, are
frightened from the groves. Too often the groves also vanish, leaving
nothing but ashes. Fortunately, nature has a few big places beyond man's
power to spoil--the ocean, the two icy ends of the globe, and the Grand
Canyon.

When I first heard of the Santa Fe trains running to the edge of
the Grand Canyon of Arizona, I was troubled with thoughts of the
disenchantment likely to follow. But last winter, when I saw those
trains crawling along through the pines of the Coconino Forest and close
up to the brink of the chasm at Bright Angel, I was glad to discover
that in the presence of such stupendous scenery they are nothing. The
locomotives and trains are mere beetles and caterpillars, and the noise
they make is as little disturbing as the hooting of an owl in the lonely
woods.

In a dry, hot, monotonous forested plateau, seemingly boundless, you
come suddenly and without warning upon the abrupt edge of a gigantic
sunken landscape of the wildest, most multitudinous features, and those
features, sharp and angular, are made out of flat beds of limestone and
sandstone forming a spiry, jagged, gloriously colored mountain range
countersunk in a level gray plain. It is a hard job to sketch it even in
scrawniest outline; and, try as I may, not in the least sparing myself,
I cannot tell the hundredth part of the wonders of its features--the
side canyons, gorges, alcoves, cloisters, and amphitheaters of vast
sweep and depth, carved in its magnificent walls; the throng of great
architectural rocks it contains resembling castles, cathedrals, temples,
and palaces, towered and spired and painted, some of them nearly a mile
high, yet beneath one's feet. All this, however, is less difficult than
to give any idea of the impression of wild, primeval beauty and power
one receives in merely gazing from its brink. The view down the gulf of
color and over the rim of its wonderful wall, more than any other view
I know, leads us to think of our earth as a star with stars swimming in
light, every radiant spire pointing the way to the heavens.

But it is impossible to conceive what the canyon is, or what impression
it makes, from descriptions or pictures, however good. Naturally it is
untellable even to those who have seen something perhaps a little like
it on a small scale in this same plateau region. One's most extravagant
expectations are indefinitely surpassed, though one expects much from
what is said of it as "the biggest chasm on earth"--"so big is it
that all other big things--Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Pyramids,
Chicago--all would be lost if tumbled into it." Naturally enough,
illustrations as to size are sought for among other canyons like or
unlike it, with the common result of worse confounding confusion. The
prudent keep silence. It was once said that the "Grand Canyon could put
a dozen Yosemites in its vest pocket."

The justly famous Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is, like the Colorado,
gorgeously colored and abruptly countersunk in a plateau, and both
are mainly the work of water. But the Colorado's canyon is more than
a thousand times larger, and as a score or two of new buildings of
ordinary size would not appreciably change the general view of a great
city, so hundreds of Yellowstones might be eroded in the sides of the
Colorado Canyon without noticeably augmenting its size or the richness
of its sculpture.

But it is not true that the great Yosemite rocks would be thus lost or
hidden. Nothing of their kind in the world, so far as I know, rivals
El Capitan and Tissiack, much less dwarfs or in any way belittles them.
None of the sandstone or limestone precipices of the canyon that I have
seen or heard of approaches in smooth, flawless strength and grandeur
the granite face of El Capitan or the Tenaya side of Cloud's Rest. These
colossal cliffs, types of permanence, are about three thousand and six
thousand feet high; those of the canyon that are sheer are about half as
high, and are types of fleeting change; while glorious-domed Tissiack,
noblest of mountain buildings, far from being overshadowed or lost in
this rosy, spiry canyon company, would draw every eye, and, in serene
majesty, "aboon them a'" she would take her place--castle, temple,
palace, or tower. Nevertheless a noted writer, comparing the Grand
Canyon in a general way with the glacial Yosemite, says: "And the
Yosemite--ah, the lovely Yosemite! Dumped down into the wilderness of
gorges and mountains, it would take a guide who knew of its existence
a long time to find it." This is striking, and shows up well above the
levels of commonplace description, but it is confusing, and has the
fatal fault of not being true. As well try to describe an eagle by
putting a lark in it. "And the lark--ah, the lovely lark! Dumped down
the red, royal gorge of the eagle, it would be hard to find." Each in
its own place is better, singing at heaven's gate, and sailing the sky
with the clouds.

Every feature of Nature's big face is beautiful,--height and hollow,
wrinkle, furrow, and line,--and this is the main master-furrow of its
kind on our continent, incomparably greater and more impressive than any
other yet discovered, or likely to be discovered, now that all the great
rivers have been traced to their heads.

The Colorado River rises in the heart of the continent on the dividing
ranges and ridges between the two oceans, drains thousands of snowy
mountains through narrow or spacious valleys, and thence through
canyons of every color, sheer-walled and deep, all of which seem to be
represented in this one grand canyon of canyons.

It is very hard to give anything like an adequate conception of its
size; much more of its color, its vast wall-sculpture, the wealth
of ornate architectural buildings that fill it, or, most of all, the
tremendous impression it makes. According to Major Powell, it is about
two hundred and seventeen miles long, from five to fifteen miles wide
from rim to rim, and from about five thousand to six thousand feet deep.
So tremendous a chasm would be one of the world's greatest wonders even
if, like ordinary canyons cut in sedimentary rocks, it were empty and
its walls were simple. But instead of being plain, the walls are so
deeply and elaborately carved into all sorts of recesses--alcoves,
cirques, amphitheaters, and side canyons--that, were you to trace
the rim closely around on both sides, your journey would be nearly a
thousand miles long. Into all these recesses the level, continuous beds
of rock in ledges and benches, with their various colors, run like broad
ribbons, marvelously beautiful and effective even at a distance of
ten or twelve miles. And the vast space these glorious walls enclose,
instead of being empty, is crowded with gigantic architectural rock
forms gorgeously colored and adorned with towers and spires like works
of art.

Looking down from this level plateau, we are more impressed with a
feeling of being on the top of everything than when looking from the
summit of a mountain. From side to side of the vast gulf, temples,
palaces, towers, and spires come soaring up in thick array half a mile
or nearly a mile above their sunken, hidden bases, some to a level with
our standpoint, but none higher. And in the inspiring morning light all
are so fresh and rosy-looking that they seem new-born; as if, like the
quick-growing crimson snowplants of the California woods, they had just
sprung up, hatched by the warm, brooding, motherly weather.

In trying to describe the great pines and sequoias of the Sierra, I have
often thought that if one of these trees could be set by itself in some
city park, its grandeur might there be impressively realized; while in
its home forests, where all magnitudes are great, the weary, satiated
traveler sees none of them truly. It is so with these majestic rock
structures.

Though mere residual masses of the plateau, they are dowered with the
grandeur and repose of mountains, together with the finely chiseled
carving and modeling of man's temples and palaces, and often, to a
considerable extent, with their symmetry. Some, closely observed, look
like ruins; but even these stand plumb and true, and show architectural
forms loaded with lines strictly regular and decorative, and all are
arrayed in colors that storms and time seem only to brighten. They
are not placed in regular rows in line with the river, but "a' through
ither," as the Scotch say, in lavish, exuberant crowds, as if nature
in wildest extravagance held her bravest structures as common as
gravel-piles. Yonder stands a spiry cathedral nearly five thousand feet
in height, nobly symmetrical, with sheer buttressed walls and arched
doors and windows, as richly finished and decorated with sculptures as
the great rock temples of India or Egypt. Beside it rises a huge castle
with arched gateway, turrets, watch-towers, ramparts, etc., and to
right and left palaces, obelisks, and pyramids fairly fill the gulf,
all colossal and all lavishly painted and carved. Here and there a
flat-topped structure may be seen, or one imperfectly domed; but the
prevailing style is ornate Gothic, with many hints of Egyptian and
Indian.

Throughout this vast extent of wild architecture--nature's own capital
city--there seem to be no ordinary dwellings. All look like grand and
important public structures, except perhaps some of the lower pyramids,
broad-based and sharp-pointed, covered with down-flowing talus like
loosely set tents with hollow, sagging sides. The roofs often have
disintegrated rocks heaped and draggled over them, but in the main the
masonry is firm and laid in regular courses, as if done by square and
rule.

Nevertheless they are ever changing; their tops are now a dome, now a
flat table or a spire, as harder or softer strata are reached in their
slow degradation, while the sides, with all their fine moldings, are
being steadily undermined and eaten away. But no essential change in
style or color is thus effected. From century to century they stand
the same. What seems confusion among the rough earthquake-shaken crags
nearest one comes to order as soon as the main plan of the various
structures appears. Every building, however complicated and laden with
ornamental lines, is at one with itself and every one of its neighbors,
for the same characteristic controlling belts of color and solid strata
extend with wonderful constancy for very great distances, and pass
through and give style to thousands of separate structures, however
their smaller characters may vary.

Of all the various kinds of ornamental work displayed--carving, tracery
on cliff faces, moldings, arches, pinnacles--none is more admirably
effective or charms more than the webs of rain-channeled taluses.
Marvelously extensive, without the slightest appearance of waste or
excess, they cover roofs and dome tops and the base of every cliff,
belt each spire and pyramid and massy, towering temple, and in beautiful
continuous lines go sweeping along the great walls in and out around
all the intricate system of side canyons, amphitheaters, cirques, and
scallops into which they are sculptured. From one point hundreds of
miles of the fairy embroidery may be traced. It is all so fine and
orderly that it would seem that not only had the clouds and streams been
kept harmoniously busy in the making of it, but that every raindrop sent
like a bullet to a mark had been the subject of a separate thought,
so sure is the outcome of beauty through the stormy centuries. Surely
nowhere else are there illustrations so striking of the natural beauty
of desolation and death, so many of nature's own mountain buildings
wasting in glory of high desert air--going to dust. See how steadfast in
beauty they all are in their going. Look again and again how the rough,
dusty boulders and sand of disintegration from the upper ledges wreathe
in beauty for ashes--as in the flowers of a prairie after fires--but
here the very dust and ashes are beautiful.

Gazing across the mighty chasm, we at last discover that it is not its
great depth nor length, nor yet these wonderful buildings, that most
impresses us. It is its immense width, sharply defined by precipitous
walls plunging suddenly down from a flat plain, declaring in terms
instantly apprehended that the vast gulf is a gash in the once unbroken
plateau, made by slow, orderly erosion and removal of huge beds of
rocks. Other valleys of erosion are as great--in all their dimensions
some are greater--but none of these produces an effect on the
imagination at once so quick and profound, coming without study, given
at a glance. Therefore by far the greatest and most influential feature
of this view from Bright Angel or any other of the canyon views is
the opposite wall. Of the one beneath our feet we see only fragmentary
sections in cirques and amphitheaters and on the sides of the
out-jutting promontories between them, while the other, though far
distant, is beheld in all its glory of color and noble proportions--the
one supreme beauty and wonder to which the eye is ever turning. For
while charming with its beauty it tells the story of the stupendous
erosion of the canyon--the foundation of the unspeakable impression made
on everybody. It seems a gigantic statement for even nature to make,
all in one mighty stone word, apprehended at once like a burst of light,
celestial color its natural vesture, coming in glory to mind and heart
as to a home prepared for it from the very beginning. Wildness so
godful, cosmic, primeval, bestows a new sense of earth's beauty and
size. Not even from high mountains does the world seem so wide, so like
a star in glory of light on its way through the heavens.

I have observed scenery-hunters of all sorts getting first views
of yosemites, glaciers, White Mountain ranges, etc. Mixed with the
enthusiasm which such scenery naturally excites, there is often weak
gushing, and many splutter aloud like little waterfalls. Here, for a few
moments at least, there is silence, and all are in dead earnest, as
if awed and hushed by an earthquake--perhaps until the cook cries
"Breakfast!" or the stable-boy "Horses are ready!" Then the poor
unfortunates, slaves of regular habits, turn quickly away, gasping and
muttering as if wondering where they had been and what had enchanted
them.

Roads have been made from Bright Angel Hotel through the Coconino Forest
to the ends of outstanding promontories, commanding extensive views up
and down the canyon. The nearest of them, three or four miles east
and west, are O'Neill's Point and Rowe's Point; the latter, besides
commanding the eternally interesting canyon, gives wide-sweeping views
southeast and west over the dark forest roof to the San Francisco and
Mount Trumbull volcanoes--the bluest of mountains over the blackest of
level woods.

Instead of thus riding in dust with the crowd, more will be gained by
going quietly afoot along the rim at different times of day and night,
free to observe the vegetation, the fossils in the rocks, the seams
beneath overhanging ledges once inhabited by Indians, and to watch the
stupendous scenery in the changing lights and shadows, clouds, showers,
and storms. One need not go hunting the so-called "points of interest."
The verge anywhere, everywhere, is a point of interest beyond one's
wildest dreams.

As yet, few of the promontories or throng of mountain buildings in the
canyon are named. Nor among such exuberance of forms are names thought
of by the bewildered, hurried tourist. He would be as likely to think
of names for waves in a storm. The Eastern and Western Cloisters, Hindu
Amphitheater, Cape Royal, Powell's Plateau, Grand View Point, Point
Sublime, Bissell and Moran Points, the Temple of Set, Vishnu's Temple,
Shiva's Temple, Twin Temples, Tower of Babel, Hance's Column--these
fairly good names given by Dutton, Holmes, Moran, and others are
scattered over a large stretch of the canyon wilderness.

All the canyon rock-beds are lavishly painted, except a few neutral bars
and the granite notch at the bottom occupied by the river, which makes
but little sign. It is a vast wilderness of rocks in a sea of light,
colored and glowing like oak and maple woods in autumn, when the
sun-gold is richest. I have just said that it is impossible to learn
what the canyon is like from descriptions and pictures. Powell's and
Dutton's descriptions present magnificent views not only of the canyon
but of all the grand region round about it; and Holmes's drawings,
accompanying Dutton's report, are wonderfully good. Surely faithful and
loving skill can go no farther in putting the multitudinous decorated
forms on paper. But the COLORS, the living rejoicing COLORS, chanting
morning and evening in chorus to heaven! Whose brush or pencil, however
lovingly inspired, can give us these? And if paint is of no effect, what
hope lies in pen-work? Only this: some may be incited by it to go and
see for themselves.

No other range of mountainous rock-work of anything like the same extent
have I seen that is so strangely, boldly, lavishly colored. The famous
Yellowstone Canyon below the falls comes to mind; but, wonderful as it
is, and well deserved as is its fame, compared with this it is only a
bright rainbow ribbon at the roots of the pines. Each of the series of
level, continuous beds of carboniferous rocks of the canyon has, as we
have seen, its own characteristic color. The summit limestone beds
are pale yellow; next below these are the beautiful rose-colored
cross-bedded sandstones; next there are a thousand feet of brilliant red
sandstones; and below these the red wall limestones, over two thousand
feet thick, rich massy red, the greatest and most influential of the
series, and forming the main color-fountain. Between these are many
neutral-tinted beds. The prevailing colors are wonderfully deep and
clear, changing and blending with varying intensity from hour to hour,
day to day, season to season; throbbing, wavering, glowing, responding
to every passing cloud or storm, a world of color in itself, now burning
in separate rainbow bars streaked and blotched with shade, now glowing
in one smooth, all-pervading ethereal radiance like the alpenglow,
uniting the rocky world with the heavens.

The dawn, as in all the pure, dry desert country is ineffably beautiful;
and when the first level sunbeams sting the domes and spires, with what
a burst of power the big, wild days begin! The dead and the living,
rocks and hearts alike, awake and sing the new-old song of creation.
All the massy headlands and salient angles of the walls, and the
multitudinous temples and palaces, seem to catch the light at once, and
cast thick black shadows athwart hollow and gorge, bringing out details
as well as the main massive features of the architecture; while all the
rocks, as if wild with life, throb and quiver and glow in the glorious
sunburst, rejoicing. Every rock temple then becomes a temple of music;
every spire and pinnacle an angel of light and song, shouting color
hallelujahs.

As the day draws to a close, shadows, wondrous, black, and thick, like
those of the morning, fill up the wall hollows, while the glowing rocks,
their rough angles burned off, seem soft and hot to the heart as they
stand submerged in purple haze, which now fills the canyon like a sea.
Still deeper, richer, more divine grow the great walls and temples,
until in the supreme flaming glory of sunset the whole canyon is
transfigured, as if all the life and light of centuries of sunshine
stored up and condensed in the rocks was now being poured forth as from
one glorious fountain, flooding both earth and sky.

Strange to say, in the full white effulgence of the midday hours the
bright colors grow dim and terrestrial in common gray haze; and the
rocks, after the manner of mountains, seem to crouch and drowse and
shrink to less than half their real stature, and have nothing to say to
one, as if not at home. But it is fine to see how quickly they come
to life and grow radiant and communicative as soon as a band of white
clouds come floating by. As if shouting for joy, they seem to spring
up to meet them in hearty salutation, eager to touch them and beg their
blessings. It is just in the midst of these dull midday hours that the
canyon clouds are born.

A good storm cloud full of lightning and rain on its way to its work on
a sunny desert day is a glorious object. Across the canyon, opposite the
hotel, is a little tributary of the Colorado called Bright Angel Creek.
A fountain-cloud still better deserves the name "Angel of the Desert
Wells"--clad in bright plumage, carrying cool shade and living water to
countless animals and plants ready to perish, noble in form and gesture,
seeming able for anything, pouring life-giving, wonder-working floods
from its alabaster fountains, as if some sky-lake had broken. To every
gulch and gorge on its favorite ground is given a passionate torrent,
roaring, replying to the rejoicing lightning--stones, tons in weight,
hurrying away as if frightened, showing something of the way Grand
Canyon work is done. Most of the fertile summer clouds of the canyon
are of this sort, massive, swelling cumuli, growing rapidly, displaying
delicious tones of purple and gray in the hollows of their sun-beaten
houses, showering favored areas of the heated landscape, and vanishing
in an hour or two. Some, busy and thoughtful-looking, glide with
beautiful motion along the middle of the canyon in flocks, turning aside
here and there, lingering as if studying the needs of particular
spots, exploring side canyons, peering into hollows like birds seeding
nest-places, or hovering aloft on outspread wings. They scan all the red
wilderness, dispensing their blessings of cool shadows and rain where
the need is the greatest, refreshing the rocks, their offspring as well
as the vegetation, continuing their sculpture, deepening gorges and
sharpening peaks. Sometimes, blending all together, they weave a ceiling
from rim to rim, perhaps opening a window here and there for sunshine
to stream through, suddenly lighting some palace or temple and making it
flare in the rain as if on fire.

Sometimes, as one sits gazing from a high, jutting promontory, the sky
all clear, showing not the slightest wisp or penciling, a bright band of
cumuli will appear suddenly, coming up the canyon in single file, as if
tracing a well-known trail, passing in review, each in turn darting its
lances and dropping its shower, making a row of little vertical rivers
in the air above the big brown one. Others seem to grow from mere
points, and fly high above the canyon, yet following its course for a
long time, noiseless, as if hunting, then suddenly darting lightning at
unseen marks, and hurrying on. Or they loiter here and there as if idle,
like laborers out of work, waiting to be hired.

Half a dozen or more showers may oftentimes be seen falling at once,
while far the greater part of the sky is in sunshine, and not a raindrop
comes nigh one. These thundershowers from as many separate clouds,
looking like wisps of long hair, may vary greatly in effects. The
pale, faint streaks are showers that fail to reach the ground, being
evaporated on the way down through the dry, thirsty air, like streams
in deserts. Many, on the other hand, which in the distance seem
insignificant, are really heavy rain, however local; these are the gray
wisps well zigzagged with lightning. The darker ones are torrent rain,
which on broad, steep slopes of favorable conformation give rise to
so-called "cloudbursts"; and wonderful is the commotion they cause. The
gorges and gulches below them, usually dry, break out in loud uproar,
with a sudden downrush of muddy, boulder-laden floods. Down they all go
in one simultaneous gush, roaring like lions rudely awakened, each of
the tawny brood actually kicking up a dust at the first onset.

During the winter months snow falls over all the high plateau, usually
to a considerable depth, whitening the rim and the roofs of the canyon
buildings. But last winter, when I arrived at Bright Angel in the middle
of January, there was no snow in sight, and the ground was dry, greatly
to my disappointment, for I had made the trip mainly to see the
canyon in its winter garb. Soothingly I was informed that this was an
exceptional season, and that the good snow might arrive at any time.
After waiting a few days, I gladly hailed a broad-browed cloud coming
grandly on from the west in big promising blackness, very unlike the
white sailors of the summer skies. Under the lee of a rim-ledge, with
another snow-lover, I watched its movements as it took possession of the
canyon and all the adjacent region in sight. Trailing its gray fringes
over the spiry tops of the great temples and towers, it gradually
settled lower, embracing them all with ineffable kindness and gentleness
of touch, and fondled the little cedars and pines as they quivered
eagerly in the wind like young birds begging their mothers to feed them.
The first flakes and crystals began to fly about noon, sweeping straight
up the middle of the canyon, and swirling in magnificent eddies along
the sides. Gradually the hearty swarms closed their ranks, and all the
canyon was lost in gray bloom except a short section of the wall and a
few trees beside us, which looked glad with snow in their needles and
about their feet as they leaned out over the gulf. Suddenly the storm
opened with magical effect to the north over the canyon of Bright Angel
Creek, inclosing a sunlit mass of the canyon architecture, spanned
by great white concentric arches of cloud like the bows of a silvery
aurora. Above these and a little back of them was a series of upboiling
purple clouds, and high above all, in the background, a range of noble
cumuli towered aloft like snow-laden mountains, their pure pearl bosses
flooded with sunshine. The whole noble picture, calmly glowing, was
framed in thick gray gloom, which soon closed over it; and the storm
went on, opening and closing until night covered all.

Two days later, when we were on a jutting point about eighteen miles
east of Bright Angel and one thousand feet higher, we enjoyed another
storm of equal glory as to cloud effects, though only a few inches of
snow fell. Before the storm began we had a magnificent view of this
grander upper part of the canyon and also of the Coconino Forest and the
Painted Desert. The march of the clouds with their storm banners flying
over this sublime landscape was unspeakably glorious, and so also was
the breaking up of the storm next morning--the mingling of silver-capped
rock, sunshine, and cloud.

Most tourists make out to be in a hurry even here; therefore their days
or hours would be best spent on the promontories nearest the hotel. Yet
a surprising number go down the Bright Angel Trail to the brink of the
inner gloomy granite gorge overlooking the river. Deep canyons attract
like high mountains; the deeper they are, the more surely are we drawn
into them. On foot, of course, there is no danger whatever, and, with
ordinary precautions, but little on animals. In comfortable tourist
faith, unthinking, unfearing, down go men, women, and children on
whatever is offered, horse, mule, or burro, as if saying with Jean Paul,
"fear nothing but fear"--not without reason, for these canyon trails
down the stairways of the gods are less dangerous than they seem, less
dangerous than home stairs. The guides are cautious, and so are the
experienced, much-enduring beasts. The scrawniest Rosinantes and
wizened-rat mules cling hard to the rocks endwise or sidewise, like
lizards or ants. From terrace to terrace, climate to climate, down one
creeps in sun and shade, through gorge and gully and grassy ravine, and,
after a long scramble on foot, at last beneath the mighty cliffs one
comes to the grand, roaring river.

To the mountaineer the depth of the canyon, from five thousand to
six thousand feet, will not seem so very wonderful, for he has often
explored others that are about as deep. But the most experienced will be
awestruck by the vast extent of huge rock monuments of pointed masonry
built up in regular courses towering above, beneath, and round about
him. By the Bright Angel Trail the last fifteen hundred feet of the
descent to the river has to be made afoot down the gorge of Indian
Garden Creek. Most of the visitors do not like this part, and are
content to stop at the end of the horse trail and look down on the
dull-brown flood from the edge of the Indian Garden Plateau. By the new
Hance Trail, excepting a few daringly steep spots, you can ride all
the way to the river, where there is a good spacious camp-ground in a
mesquite grove. This trail, built by brave Hance, begins on the highest
part of the rim, eight thousand feet above the sea, a thousand feet
higher than the head of Bright Angel Trail, and the descent is a little
over six thousand feet, through a wonderful variety of climate and life.
Often late in the fall, when frosty winds are blowing and snow is flying
at one end of the trail, tender plants are blooming in balmy summer
weather at the other. The trip down and up can be made afoot easily in
a day. In this way one is free to observe the scenery and vegetation,
instead of merely clinging to his animal and watching its steps. But
all who have time should go prepared to camp awhile on the riverbank,
to rest and learn something about the plants and animals and the mighty
flood roaring past. In cool, shady amphitheaters at the head of the
trail there are groves of white silver fir and Douglas spruce, with
ferns and saxifrages that recall snowy mountains; below these, yellow
pine, nut pine, juniper, hop-hornbeam, ash, maple, holly-leaved
berberis, cowania, spiraea, dwarf oak, and other small shrubs and
trees. In dry gulches and on taluses and sun-beaten crags are sparsely
scattered yuccas, cactuses, agave, etc. Where springs gush from the
rocks there are willow thickets, grassy flats, and bright, flowery
gardens, and in the hottest recesses the delicate abronia, mesquite,
woody compositae, and arborescent cactuses.

The most striking and characteristic part of this widely varied
vegetation are the cactaceae--strange, leafless, old-fashioned plants
with beautiful flowers and fruit, in every way able and admirable. While
grimly defending themselves with innumerable barbed spears, they offer
both food and drink to man and beast. Their juicy globes and disks and
fluted cylindrical columns are almost the only desert wells that never
go dry, and they always seem to rejoice the more and grow plumper and
juicier the hotter the sunshine and sand. Some are spherical, like
rolled-up porcupines, crouching in rock-hollows beneath a mist of gray
lances, unmoved by the wildest winds. Others, standing as erect as
bushes and trees or tall branchless pillars crowned with magnificent
flowers, their prickly armor sparkling, look boldly abroad over the
glaring desert, making the strangest forests ever seen or dreamed of.
Cereus giganteus, the grim chief of the desert tribe, is often thirty or
forty feet high in southern Arizona. Several species of tree yuccas in
the same desert, laden in early spring with superb white lilies, form
forests hardly less wonderful, though here they grow singly or in small
lonely groves. The low, almost stemless Yucca baccata, with beautiful
lily flowers and sweet banana-like fruit, prized by the Indians,
is common along the canyon rim, growing on lean, rocky soil beneath
mountain mahogany, nut pines, and junipers, beside dense flowery mats of
Spiraea caespitosa and the beautiful pinnate-leaved Spiraea millefolia.
The nut pine (Pinus edulis) scattered along the upper slopes and roofs
of the canyon buildings, is the principal tree of the strange dwarf
Coconino Forest. It is a picturesque stub of a pine about twenty-five
feet high, usually with dead, lichened limbs thrust through its rounded
head, and grows on crags and fissured rock tables, braving heat and
frost, snow and drought, and continuing patiently, faithfully fruitful
for centuries. Indians and insects and almost every desert bird and
beast come to it to be fed.

To civilized people from corn and cattle and wheat-field countries the
canyon at first sight seems as uninhabitable as a glacier crevasse,
utterly silent and barren. Nevertheless it is the home of the multitude
of our fellow-mortals, men as well as animals and plants. Centuries ago
it was inhabited by tribes of Indians, who, long before Columbus saw
America, built thousands of stone houses in its crags, and large ones,
some of them several stories high, with hundreds of rooms, on the mesas
of the adjacent regions. Their cliff-dwellings, almost numberless, are
still to be seen in the canyon, scattered along both sides from top to
bottom and throughout its entire length, built of stone and mortar
in seams and fissures like swallows' nests, or on isolated ridges and
peaks. The ruins of larger buildings are found on open spots by the
river, but most of them aloft on the brink of the wildest, giddiest
precipices, sites evidently chosen for safety from enemies, and
seemingly accessible only to the birds of the air. Many caves were also
used as dwelling-places, as were mere seams on cliff-fronts formed by
unequal weathering and with or without outer or side walls; and some of
them were covered with colored pictures of animals. The most interesting
of these cliff-dwellings had pathetic little ribbon-like strips of
garden on narrow terraces, where irrigating water could be carried to
them--most romantic of sky-gardens, but eloquent of hard times.

In recesses along the river and on the first plateau flats above its
gorge were fields and gardens of considerable size, where irrigating
ditches may still be traced. Some of these ancient gardens are still
cultivated by Indians, descendants of cliff-dwellers, who raise corn,
squashes, melons, potatoes, etc., to reinforce the produce of the many
wild food-furnishing plants--nuts, beans, berries, yucca and cactus
fruits, grass and sunflower seeds, etc.--and the flesh of animals--deer,
rabbits, lizards, etc. The canyon Indians I have met here seem to
be living much as did their ancestors, though not now driven into
rock-dens. They are able, erect men, with commanding eyes, which nothing
that they wish to see can escape. They are never in a hurry, have a
strikingly measured, deliberate, bearish manner of moving the limbs and
turning the head, are capable of enduring weather, thirst, hunger,
and over-abundance, and are blessed with stomachs which triumph over
everything the wilderness may offer. Evidently their lives are not
bitter.

The largest of the canyon animals one is likely to see is the wild
sheep, or Rocky Mountain bighorn, a most admirable beast, with limbs
that never fail, at home on the most nerve-trying precipices, acquainted
with all the springs and passes and broken-down jumpable places in
the sheer ribbon cliffs, bounding from crag to crag in easy grace and
confidence of strength, his great horns held high above his shoulders,
wild red blood beating and hissing through every fiber of him like the
wind through a quivering mountain pine.

Deer also are occasionally met in the canyon, making their way to the
river when the wells of the plateau are dry. Along the short spring
streams beavers are still busy, as is shown by the cottonwood and willow
timber they have cut and peeled, found in all the river drift-heaps.
In the most barren cliffs and gulches there dwell a multitude of lesser
animals, well-dressed, clear-eyed, happy little beasts--wood rats,
kangaroo rats, gophers, wood mice, skunks, rabbits, bobcats, and many
others, gathering food, or dozing in their sun-warmed dens. Lizards,
too, of every kind and color are here enjoying life on the hot cliffs,
and making the brightest of them brighter.

Nor is there any lack of feathered people. The golden eagle may be seen,
and the osprey, hawks, jays, hummingbirds, the mourning dove, and cheery
familiar singers--the black-headed grosbeak, robin, bluebird, Townsend's
thrush, and many warblers, sailing the sky and enlivening the rocks and
bushes through all the canyon wilderness.

Here at Hance's river camp or a few miles above it brave Powell and
his brave men passed their first night in the canyon on the adventurous
voyage of discovery thirty-three [34] years ago. They faced a thousand
dangers, open or hidden, now in their boats gladly sliding down swift,
smooth reaches, now rolled over and over in back-combing surges of
rough, roaring cataracts, sucked under in eddies, swimming like beavers,
tossed and beaten like castaway drift--stout-hearted, undaunted, doing
their work through it all. After a month of this they floated smoothly
out of the dark, gloomy, roaring abyss into light and safety two hundred
miles below. As the flood rushes past us, heavy-laden with desert
mud, we naturally think of its sources, its countless silvery branches
outspread on thousands of snowy mountains along the crest of the
continent, and the life of them, the beauty of them, their history
and romance. Its topmost springs are far north and east in Wyoming and
Colorado, on the snowy Wind River, Front, Park, and Sawatch Ranges,
dividing the two ocean waters, and the Elk, Wahsatch, Uinta, and
innumerable spurs streaked with streams, made famous by early explorers
and hunters. It is a river of rivers--the Du Chesne, San Rafael, Yampa,
Dolores, Gunnison, Cochetopa, Uncompahgre, Eagle, and Roaring Rivers,
the Green and the Grand, and scores of others with branches innumerable,
as mad and glad a band as ever sang on mountains, descending in glory
of foam and spray from snow-banks and glaciers through their rocky
moraine-dammed, beaver-dammed channels. Then, all emerging from dark
balsam and pine woods and coming together, they meander through wide,
sunny park valleys, and at length enter the great plateau and flow in
deep canyons, the beginning of the system culminating in this grand
canyon of canyons.

Our warm canyon camp is also a good place to give a thought to the
glaciers which still exist at the heads of the highest tributaries. Some
of them are of considerable size, especially those on the Wind River
and Sawatch ranges in Wyoming and Colorado. They are remnants of a vast
system of glaciers which recently covered the upper part of the Colorado
basin, sculptured its peaks, ridges, and valleys to their present forms,
and extended far out over the plateau region--how far I cannot now say.
It appears, therefore, that, however old the main trunk of the Colorado
may be, all its widespread upper branches and the landscapes they flow
through are new-born, scarce at all changed as yet in any important
feature since they first came to light at the close of the Glacial
Period.

The so-called Grand Colorado Plateau, of which the Grand Canyon is
only one of the well-proportioned features, extends with a breadth of
hundreds of miles from the flanks of the Wahsatch and Park Mountains to
the south of the San Francisco Peaks. Immediately to the north of the
deepest part of the canyon it rises in a series of subordinate plateaus,
diversified with green meadows, marshes, bogs, ponds, forests, and grovy
park valleys, a favorite Indian hunting ground, inhabited by elk, deer,
beaver, etc. But far the greater part of the plateau is good sound
desert, rocky, sandy, or fluffy with loose ashes and dust, dissected in
some places into a labyrinth of stream-channel chasms like cracks in a
dry clay-bed, or the narrow slit crevasses of glaciers--blackened with
lava flows, dotted with volcanoes and beautiful buttes, and lined with
long continuous escarpments--a vast bed of sediments of an ancient
sea-bottom, still nearly as level as when first laid down after being
heaved into the sky a mile or two high.

Walking quietly about in the alleys and byways of the Grand Canyon city,
we learn something of the way it was made; and all must admire effects
so great from means apparently so simple; rain striking light hammer
blows or heavier in streams, with many rest Sundays; soft air and light,
gentle sappers and miners, toiling forever; the big river sawing the
plateau asunder, carrying away the eroded and ground waste, and
exposing the edges of the strata to the weather; rain torrents sawing
cross-streets and alleys, exposing the strata in the same way in
hundreds of sections, the softer, less resisting beds weathering and
receding faster, thus undermining the harder beds, which fall, not
only in small weathered particles, but in heavy sheer-cleaving masses,
assisted down from time to time by kindly earthquakes, rain torrents
rushing the fallen material to the river, keeping the wall rocks
constantly exposed. Thus the canyon grows wider and deeper. So also do
the side canyons and amphitheaters, while secondary gorges and cirques
gradually isolate masses of the promontories, forming new buildings,
all of which are being weathered and pulled and shaken down while being
built, showing destruction and creation as one. We see the proudest
temples and palaces in stateliest attitudes, wearing their sheets of
detritus as royal robes, shedding off showers of red and yellow stones
like trees in autumn shedding their leaves, going to dust like beautiful
days to night, proclaiming as with the tongues of angels the natural
beauty of death.

Every building is seen to be a remnant of once continuous beds of
sediments,--sand and slime on the floor of an ancient sea, and filled
with the remains of animals,--and every particle of the sandstones
and limestones of these wonderful structures to be derived from other
landscapes, weathered and rolled and ground in the storms and streams
of other ages. And when we examine the escarpments, hills, buttes, and
other monumental masses of the plateau on either side of the canyon, we
discover that an amount of material has been carried off in the general
denudation of the region compared with which even that carried away in
the making of the Grand Canyon is as nothing. Thus each wonder in sight
becomes a window through which other wonders come to view. In no other
part of this continent are the wonders of geology, the records of the
world's auld lang syne, more widely opened, or displayed in higher
piles. The whole canyon is a mine of fossils, in which five thousand
feet of horizontal strata are exposed in regular succession over more
than a thousand square miles of wall-space, and on the adjacent plateau
region there is another series of beds twice as thick, forming a grand
geological library--a collection of stone books covering thousands of
miles of shelving, tier on tier, conveniently arranged for the student.
And with what wonderful scriptures are their pages filled--myriad forms
of successive floras and faunas, lavishly illustrated with colored
drawings, carrying us back into the midst of the life of a past
infinitely remote. And as we go on and on, studying this old, old life
in the light of the life beating warmly about us, we enrich and lengthen
our own.


THE END



Footnotes:

[by the editor of the 1918 original of this text]:


[Footnote 1: This essay was written early in 1875.]

[Footnote 2: The wild sheep of California are now classified as Ovis
nelsoni. Whether those of the Shasta region belonged to the latter
species, or to the bighorn species of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, is
still an unsettled question.]

[Footnote 3: An excerpt from a letter to a friend, written in 1872.]

[Footnote 4: Muir at this time was making Yosemite Valley his home.]

[Footnote 5: An obsolete genus of plants now replaced in the main by
Chrysothamnus and Ericameria.]

[Footnote 6: An early local name for what is now known as Lassen
Peak, or Mt. Lassen. In 1914 its volcanic activity was resumed with
spectacular eruptions of ashes, steam, and gas.]

[Footnote 7: Pronounced Too'-lay.]

[Footnote 8: Letter dated "Salt Lake City, Utah, May 15, 1877."]

[Footnote 9: Letter dated "Salt Lake City, Utah, May 19, 1877."]

[Footnote 10: Letter dated "Lake Point, Utah, May 20, 1877."]

[Footnote 11: Letter dated "Salt Lake, July, 1877."]

[Footnote 12: Letter dated "September 1, 1877."]

[Footnote 13: Letter written during the first week of September, 1877. ]

[Footnote 14: The spruce, or hemlock, then known as Abies Douglasii var.
macrocarpa is now called Pseudotsuga macrocarpa.]

[Footnote 15: Written at Ward, Nevada, in September, 1878.]

[Footnote 16: See footnote 5.]

[Footnote 17: Written at Eureka, Nevada, in October, 1878.]

[Footnote 18: Now called Pinus monophylla, or one-leaf pinyon.]

[Footnote 19: Written at Pioche, Nevada, in October, 1878.]

[Footnote 20: Written at Eureka, Nevada, in November, 1878.]

[Footnote 21: Date and place of writing not given. Published in the San
Francisco Evening Bulletin, January 15, 1879.]

[Footnote 22: November 11, 1889; Muir's description probably was written
toward the end of the same year.]

[Footnote 23: This tree, now known to botanists as Picea sitchensis, was
named Abies Menziesii by Lindley in 1833.]

[Footnote 24: Also known as "canoe cedar," and described in Jepson's
Silva of California under the more recent specific name Thuja plicata. ]

[Footnote 25: Now classified as Tsuga mertensiana Sarg.]

[Footnote 26: Now Abies grandis Lindley.]

[Footnote 27: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Parl. (Port Orford cedar) in
Jepson's Silva.]

[Footnote 28: 1889.]

[Footnote 29: A careful re-determination of the height of Rainier, made
by Professor A. G. McAdie in 1905, gave an altitude of 14,394 feet. The
Standard Dictionary wrongly describes it is "the highest peak (14,363
feet) within the United States." The United States Baedeker and railroad
literature overstate its altitude by more than a hundred feet.]

[Footnote 30: Doubtless the red silver fir, now classified as Abies
amabilis. ]

[Footnote 31: Lassen Peak on recent maps.]

[Footnote 32: Pseudotsuga taxifolia Brit.]

[Footnote 33: Thuja plicata Don.]

[Footnote 34: Muir wrote this description in 1902; Major J. W. Powell
made his descent through the canyon, with small boats, in 1869.]


Note from the transcriber:

A phrase Muir uses that readers might doubt: "fountain range," by which
he means a mountainous area where rain or snow fall that is the source
of water for a river or stream downslope. So it is not a typographical
error for "mountain range"! Another odd phrase is "(something) is well
worthy (something else)" rather than "well worth" or "well worthy of."
He uses this at least twice in this work.--jg





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Steep Trails" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home