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Title: My First Summer in the Sierra
Author: Muir, John, 1838-1914
Language: English
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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.

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Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



THE WRITINGS OF JOHN MUIR

Sierra Edition

VOLUME II

[Illustration: _The Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park_]



MY FIRST SUMMER IN THE SIERRA

BY

JOHN MUIR

[Illustration]

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

1917



COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY JOHN MUIR

COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



TO

THE SIERRA CLUB OF CALIFORNIA

FAITHFUL DEFENDER OF THE PEOPLE'S PLAYGROUNDS



CONTENTS

     I. THROUGH THE FOOTHILLS WITH A FLOCK OF SHEEP                    3

    II. IN CAMP ON THE NORTH FORK OF THE MERCED                       32

   III. A BREAD FAMINE                                                75

    IV. TO THE HIGH MOUNTAINS                                         86

     V. THE YOSEMITE                                                 115

    VI. MOUNT HOFFMAN AND LAKE TENAYA                                149

   VII. A STRANGE EXPERIENCE                                         178

  VIII. THE MONO TRAIL                                               195

    IX. BLOODY CAÑON AND MONO LAKE                                   214

     X. THE TUOLUMNE CAMP                                            232

    XI. BACK TO THE LOWLANDS                                         254

        INDEX                                                        265



ILLUSTRATIONS


THE YOSEMITE FALLS, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK                _Frontispiece_

     The total height of the three falls is 2600 feet. The upper fall is
     about 1600 feet, and the lower about 400 feet. Mr. Muir was
     probably the only man who ever looked down into the heart of the
     fall from the narrow ledge of rocks near the top.

     _From a photograph by Charles S. Olcott_

SHEEP IN THE MOUNTAINS                                                 8

     Since the establishment of the Yosemite National Park the pasturing
     of sheep has not been allowed within its boundaries, and as a
     result the grasses and wild flowers have recovered very much of
     their former luxuriance. The flock of sheep here photographed were
     feeding near Alger Lake on the slope of Blacktop Mountain, at an
     altitude of about 10,000 feet and just beyond the eastern boundary
     of the Park.

     _From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason_

A SILVER FIR, OR RED FIR (_Abies magnifica_)                          90

     This tree was found in an extensive forest of red fir above the
     Middle Fork of King's River. It was estimated to be about 250 feet
     high. Mr. Muir, on being shown the photograph, remarked that it was
     one of the finest and most mature specimens of the red fir that he
     had ever seen.

     _From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason_

THE NORTH AND SOUTH DOMES                                            122

     The great rock on the right is the South Dome, commonly called the
     Half-Dome, according to Mr. Muir "the most beautiful and most
     sublime of all the Yosemite rocks." The one on the left is the
     North Dome, while in the center is the Washington Column.

     _From a photograph by Charles S. Olcott_

CATHEDRAL PEAK                                                       154

     This view was taken from a point on the Sunrise Trail just south of
     the Peak, on a day when the "cloud mountains" so inspiring to Mr.
     Muir were much in evidence.

     _From a photograph by Herbert W. Gleason_

THE VERNAL FALLS, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK                             182

     _From a photograph by Charles S. Olcott_

THE HAPPY ISLES, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK                              190

     This is the main stream of the Merced River after passing over the
     Nevada and Vernal Falls and receiving the Illilouette tributary.

     _From a photograph by Charles S. Olcott_

THE THREE BROTHERS, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK                           208

     The highest rock, called Eagle Point, is 7900 feet above the sea,
     and 3900 feet above the floor of the valley.

     _From a photograph by Charles S. Olcott_

MAP OF THE YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK                                    264

     _From the United States Geological Survey_


FROM SKETCHES MADE BY THE AUTHOR IN 1869

     HORSESHOE BEND, MERCED RIVER                                     14

     ON SECOND BENCH. EDGE OF THE MAIN FOREST
       BELT, ABOVE COULTERVILLE, NEAR GREELEY'S
       MILL                                                           14

     CAMP, NORTH FORK OF THE MERCED                                   38

     MOUNTAIN LIVE OAK (_Quercus chrysolepis_), EIGHT
       FEET IN DIAMETER                                               38

     SUGAR PINE                                                       50

     DOUGLAS SQUIRREL OBSERVING BROTHER MAN                           68

     DIVIDE BETWEEN THE TUOLUMNE AND THE MERCED,
       BELOW HAZEL GREEN                                              86

     TRACK OF SINGING DANCING GRASSHOPPER IN THE
       AIR OVER NORTH DOME                                           140

     ABIES MAGNIFICA (MOUNT CLARK, TOP OF SOUTH
       DOME, MOUNT STARR KING)                                       142

     ILLUSTRATING GROWTH OF NEW PINE FROM BRANCH
       BELOW THE BREAK OF AXIS OF SNOW-CRUSHED
       TREE                                                          144

     APPROACH OF DOME CREEK TO YOSEMITE                              150

     JUNIPERS IN TENAYA CAÑON                                        164

     VIEW OF TENAYA LAKE SHOWING CATHEDRAL PEAK                      196

     ONE OF THE TRIBUTARY FOUNTAINS OF THE TUOLUMNE
       CAÑON WATERS, ON THE NORTH SIDE OF
       THE HOFFMAN RANGE                                             196

     GLACIER MEADOW, ON THE HEADWATERS OF THE
       TUOLUMNE, 9500 FEET ABOVE THE SEA                             204

     MONO LAKE AND VOLCANIC CONES, LOOKING SOUTH                     228

     HIGHEST MONO VOLCANIC CONES (NEAR VIEW)                         228

     ONE OF THE HIGHEST MOUNT RITTER FOUNTAINS                       240

     GLACIER MEADOW STREWN WITH MORAINE BOULDERS,
       10,000 FEET ABOVE THE SEA (NEAR MOUNT
       DANA)                                                         248

     FRONT OF CATHEDRAL PEAK                                         248

     VIEW OF UPPER TUOLUMNE VALLEY                                   252



MY FIRST SUMMER IN THE SIERRA



CHAPTER I

THROUGH THE FOOTHILLS WITH A FLOCK OF SHEEP


In the great Central Valley of California there are only two
seasons--spring and summer. The spring begins with the first rainstorm,
which usually falls in November. In a few months the wonderful flowery
vegetation is in full bloom, and by the end of May it is dead and dry
and crisp, as if every plant had been roasted in an oven.

Then the lolling, panting flocks and herds are driven to the high, cool,
green pastures of the Sierra. I was longing for the mountains about this
time, but money was scarce and I couldn't see how a bread supply was to
be kept up. While I was anxiously brooding on the bread problem, so
troublesome to wanderers, and trying to believe that I might learn to
live like the wild animals, gleaning nourishment here and there from
seeds, berries, etc., sauntering and climbing in joyful independence of
money or baggage, Mr. Delaney, a sheep-owner, for whom I had worked a
few weeks, called on me, and offered to engage me to go with his
shepherd and flock to the headwaters of the Merced and Tuolumne
rivers--the very region I had most in mind. I was in the mood to accept
work of any kind that would take me into the mountains whose treasures I
had tasted last summer in the Yosemite region. The flock, he explained,
would be moved gradually higher through the successive forest belts as
the snow melted, stopping for a few weeks at the best places we came to.
These I thought would be good centers of observation from which I might
be able to make many telling excursions within a radius of eight or ten
miles of the camps to learn something of the plants, animals, and rocks;
for he assured me that I should be left perfectly free to follow my
studies. I judged, however, that I was in no way the right man for the
place, and freely explained my shortcomings, confessing that I was
wholly unacquainted with the topography of the upper mountains, the
streams that would have to be crossed, and the wild sheep-eating
animals, etc.; in short that, what with bears, coyotes, rivers, cañons,
and thorny, bewildering chaparral, I feared that half or more of his
flock would be lost. Fortunately these shortcomings seemed
insignificant to Mr. Delaney. The main thing, he said, was to have a man
about the camp whom he could trust to see that the shepherd did his
duty, and he assured me that the difficulties that seemed so formidable
at a distance would vanish as we went on; encouraging me further by
saying that the shepherd would do all the herding, that I could study
plants and rocks and scenery as much as I liked, and that he would
himself accompany us to the first main camp and make occasional visits
to our higher ones to replenish our store of provisions and see how we
prospered. Therefore I concluded to go, though still fearing, when I saw
the silly sheep bouncing one by one through the narrow gate of the home
corral to be counted, that of the two thousand and fifty many would
never return.

I was fortunate in getting a fine St. Bernard dog for a companion. His
master, a hunter with whom I was slightly acquainted, came to me as soon
as he heard that I was going to spend the summer in the Sierra and
begged me to take his favorite dog, Carlo, with me, for he feared that
if he were compelled to stay all summer on the plains the fierce heat
might be the death of him. "I think I can trust you to be kind to him,"
he said, "and I am sure he will be good to you. He knows all about the
mountain animals, will guard the camp, assist in managing the sheep,
and in every way be found able and faithful." Carlo knew we were talking
about him, watched our faces, and listened so attentively that I fancied
he understood us. Calling him by name, I asked him if he was willing to
go with me. He looked me in the face with eyes expressing wonderful
intelligence, then turned to his master, and after permission was given
by a wave of the hand toward me and a farewell patting caress, he
quietly followed me as if he perfectly understood all that had been said
and had known me always.

       *       *       *       *       *

_June 3, 1869._ This morning provisions, camp-kettles, blankets,
plant-press, etc., were packed on two horses, the flock headed for the
tawny foothills, and away we sauntered in a cloud of dust: Mr. Delaney,
bony and tall, with sharply hacked profile like Don Quixote, leading the
pack-horses, Billy, the proud shepherd, a Chinaman and a Digger Indian
to assist in driving for the first few days in the brushy foothills, and
myself with notebook tied to my belt.

The home ranch from which we set out is on the south side of the
Tuolumne River near French Bar, where the foothills of metamorphic
gold-bearing slates dip below the stratified deposits of the Central
Valley. We had not gone more than a mile before some of the old leaders
of the flock showed by the eager, inquiring way they ran and looked
ahead that they were thinking of the high pastures they had enjoyed last
summer. Soon the whole flock seemed to be hopefully excited, the mothers
calling their lambs, the lambs replying in tones wonderfully human,
their fondly quavering calls interrupted now and then by hastily
snatched mouthfuls of withered grass. Amid all this seeming babel of
baas as they streamed over the hills every mother and child recognized
each other's voice. In case a tired lamb, half asleep in the smothering
dust, should fail to answer, its mother would come running back through
the flock toward the spot whence its last response was heard, and
refused to be comforted until she found it, the one of a thousand,
though to our eyes and ears all seemed alike.

The flock traveled at the rate of about a mile an hour, outspread in the
form of an irregular triangle, about a hundred yards wide at the base,
and a hundred and fifty yards long, with a crooked, ever-changing point
made up of the strongest foragers, called the "leaders," which, with the
most active of those scattered along the ragged sides of the "main
body," hastily explored nooks in the rocks and bushes for grass and
leaves; the lambs and feeble old mothers dawdling in the rear were
called the "tail end."

[Illustration: _Sheep in the Mountains_]

About noon the heat was hard to bear; the poor sheep panted pitifully
and tried to stop in the shade of every tree they came to, while we
gazed with eager longing through the dim burning glare toward the snowy
mountains and streams, though not one was in sight. The landscape is
only wavering foothills roughened here and there with bushes and trees
and outcropping masses of slate. The trees, mostly the blue oak
(_Quercus Douglasii_), are about thirty to forty feet high, with pale
blue-green leaves and white bark, sparsely planted on the thinnest soil
or in crevices of rocks beyond the reach of grass fires. The slates in
many places rise abruptly through the tawny grass in sharp
lichen-covered slabs like tombstones in deserted burying-grounds. With
the exception of the oak and four or five species of manzanita and
ceanothus, the vegetation of the foothills is mostly the same as that of
the plains. I saw this region in the early spring, when it was a
charming landscape garden full of birds and bees and flowers. Now the
scorching weather makes everything dreary. The ground is full of cracks,
lizards glide about on the rocks, and ants in amazing numbers, whose
tiny sparks of life only burn the brighter with the heat, fairly
quiver with unquenchable energy as they run in long lines to fight and
gather food. How it comes that they do not dry to a crisp in a few
seconds' exposure to such sun-fire is marvelous. A few rattlesnakes lie
coiled in out-of-the-way places, but are seldom seen. Magpies and crows,
usually so noisy, are silent now, standing in mixed flocks on the ground
beneath the best shade trees, with bills wide open and wings drooped,
too breathless to speak; the quails also are trying to keep in the shade
about the few tepid alkaline water-holes; cottontail rabbits are running
from shade to shade among the ceanothus brush, and occasionally the
long-eared hare is seen cantering gracefully across the wider openings.

After a short noon rest in a grove, the poor dust-choked flock was again
driven ahead over the brushy hills, but the dim roadway we had been
following faded away just where it was most needed, compelling us to
stop to look about us and get our bearings. The Chinaman seemed to think
we were lost, and chattered in pidgin English concerning the abundance
of "litty stick" (chaparral), while the Indian silently scanned the
billowy ridges and gulches for openings. Pushing through the thorny
jungle, we at length discovered a road trending toward Coulterville,
which we followed until an hour before sunset, when we reached a dry
ranch and camped for the night.

Camping in the foothills with a flock of sheep is simple and easy, but
far from pleasant. The sheep were allowed to pick what they could find
in the neighborhood until after sunset, watched by the shepherd, while
the others gathered wood, made a fire, cooked, unpacked and fed the
horses, etc. About dusk the weary sheep were gathered on the highest
open spot near camp, where they willingly bunched close together, and
after each mother had found her lamb and suckled it, all lay down and
required no attention until morning.

Supper was announced by the call, "Grub!" Each with a tin plate helped
himself direct from the pots and pans while chatting about such camp
studies as sheep-feed, mines, coyotes, bears, or adventures during the
memorable gold days of pay dirt. The Indian kept in the background,
saying never a word, as if he belonged to another species. The meal
finished, the dogs were fed, the smokers smoked by the fire, and under
the influences of fullness and tobacco the calm that settled on their
faces seemed almost divine, something like the mellow meditative glow
portrayed on the countenances of saints. Then suddenly, as if awakening
from a dream, each with a sigh or a grunt knocked the ashes out of his
pipe, yawned, gazed at the fire a few moments, said, "Well, I believe
I'll turn in," and straightway vanished beneath his blankets. The fire
smouldered and flickered an hour or two longer; the stars shone
brighter; coons, coyotes, and owls stirred the silence here and there,
while crickets and hylas made a cheerful, continuous music, so fitting
and full that it seemed a part of the very body of the night. The only
discordance came from a snoring sleeper, and the coughing sheep with
dust in their throats. In the starlight the flock looked like a big gray
blanket.

_June 4._ The camp was astir at daybreak; coffee, bacon, and beans
formed the breakfast, followed by quick dish-washing and packing. A
general bleating began about sunrise. As soon as a mother ewe arose, her
lamb came bounding and bunting for its breakfast, and after the thousand
youngsters had been suckled the flock began to nibble and spread. The
restless wethers with ravenous appetites were the first to move, but
dared not go far from the main body. Billy and the Indian and the
Chinaman kept them headed along the weary road, and allowed them to pick
up what little they could find on a breadth of about a quarter of a
mile. But as several flocks had already gone ahead of us, scarce a leaf,
green or dry, was left; therefore the starving flock had to be hurried
on over the bare, hot hills to the nearest of the green pastures, about
twenty or thirty miles from here.

The pack-animals were led by Don Quixote, a heavy rifle over his
shoulder intended for bears and wolves. This day has been as hot and
dusty as the first, leading over gently sloping brown hills, with mostly
the same vegetation, excepting the strange-looking Sabine pine (_Pinus
Sabiniana_), which here forms small groves or is scattered among the
blue oaks. The trunk divides at a height of fifteen or twenty feet into
two or more stems, outleaning or nearly upright, with many straggling
branches and long gray needles, casting but little shade. In general
appearance this tree looks more like a palm than a pine. The cones are
about six or seven inches long, about five in diameter, very heavy, and
last long after they fall, so that the ground beneath the trees is
covered with them. They make fine resiny, light-giving camp-fires, next
to ears of Indian corn the most beautiful fuel I've ever seen. The nuts,
the Don tells me, are gathered in large quantities by the Digger Indians
for food. They are about as large and hard-shelled as hazelnuts--food
and fire fit for the gods from the same fruit.

_June 5._ This morning a few hours after setting out with the crawling
sheep-cloud, we gained the summit of the first well-defined bench on the
mountain-flank at Pino Blanco. The Sabine pines interest me greatly.
They are so airy and strangely palm-like I was eager to sketch them, and
was in a fever of excitement without accomplishing much. I managed to
halt long enough, however, to make a tolerably fair sketch of Pino
Blanco peak from the southwest side, where there is a small field and
vineyard irrigated by a stream that makes a pretty fall on its way down
a gorge by the roadside.

After gaining the open summit of this first bench, feeling the natural
exhilaration due to the slight elevation of a thousand feet or so, and
the hopes excited concerning the outlook to be obtained, a magnificent
section of the Merced Valley at what is called Horseshoe Bend came full
in sight--a glorious wilderness that seemed to be calling with a
thousand songful voices. Bold, down-sweeping slopes, feathered with
pines and clumps of manzanita with sunny, open spaces between them, make
up most of the foreground; the middle and background present fold beyond
fold of finely modeled hills and ridges rising into mountain-like masses
in the distance, all covered with a shaggy growth of chaparral, mostly
adenostoma, planted so marvelously close and even that it looks like
soft, rich plush without a single tree or bare spot. As far as the eye
can reach it extends, a heaving, swelling sea of green as regular and
continuous as that produced by the heaths of Scotland. The sculpture of
the landscape is as striking in its main lines as in its lavish richness
of detail; a grand congregation of massive heights with the river
shining between, each carved into smooth, graceful folds without leaving
a single rocky angle exposed, as if the delicate fluting and ridging
fashioned out of metamorphic slates had been carefully sandpapered. The
whole landscape showed design, like man's noblest sculptures. How
wonderful the power of its beauty! Gazing awe-stricken, I might have
left everything for it. Glad, endless work would then be mine tracing
the forces that have brought forth its features, its rocks and plants
and animals and glorious weather. Beauty beyond thought everywhere,
beneath, above, made and being made forever. I gazed and gazed and
longed and admired until the dusty sheep and packs were far out of
sight, made hurried notes and a sketch, though there was no need of
either, for the colors and lines and expression of this divine
landscape-countenance are so burned into mind and heart they surely can
never grow dim.

[Illustration: HORSESHOE BEND, MERCED RIVER]

[Illustration: ON SECOND BENCH. EDGE OF THE MAIN FOREST BELT ABOVE
COULTERVILLE, NEAR GREELEY'S MILL]

The evening of this charmed day is cool, calm, cloudless, and full of a
kind of lightning I have never seen before--white glowing cloud-shaped
masses down among the trees and bushes, like quick-throbbing fireflies
in the Wisconsin meadows rather than the so-called "wild fire." The
spreading hairs of the horses' tails and sparks from our blankets show
how highly charged the air is.

_June 6._ We are now on what may be called the second bench or plateau
of the Range, after making many small ups and downs over belts of
hill-waves, with, of course, corresponding changes in the vegetation. In
open spots many of the lowland compositæ are still to be found, and some
of the Mariposa tulips and other conspicuous members of the lily family;
but the characteristic blue oak of the foothills is left below, and its
place is taken by a fine large species (_Quercus Californica_) with
deeply lobed deciduous leaves, picturesquely divided trunk, and broad,
massy, finely lobed and modeled head. Here also at a height of about
twenty-five hundred feet we come to the edge of the great coniferous
forest, made up mostly of yellow pine with just a few sugar pines. We
are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making
every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our
flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about
us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and
trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,--a part of all
nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal. Just now I
can hardly conceive of any bodily condition dependent on food or breath
any more than the ground or the sky. How glorious a conversion, so
complete and wholesome it is, scarce memory enough of old bondage days
left as a standpoint to view it from! In this newness of life we seem to
have been so always.

Through a meadow opening in the pine woods I see snowy peaks about the
headwaters of the Merced above Yosemite. How near they seem and how
clear their outlines on the blue air, or rather _in_ the blue air; for
they seem to be saturated with it. How consuming strong the invitation
they extend! Shall I be allowed to go to them? Night and day I'll pray
that I may, but it seems too good to be true. Some one worthy will go,
able for the Godful work, yet as far as I can I must drift about these
love-monument mountains, glad to be a servant of servants in so holy a
wilderness.

Found a lovely lily (_Calochortus albus_) in a shady adenostoma thicket
near Coulterville, in company with _Adiantum Chilense_. It is white with
a faint purplish tinge inside at the base of the petals, a most
impressive plant, pure as a snow crystal, one of the plant saints that
all must love and be made so much the purer by it every time it is seen.
It puts the roughest mountaineer on his good behavior. With this plant
the whole world would seem rich though none other existed. It is not
easy to keep on with the camp cloud while such plant people are standing
preaching by the wayside.

During the afternoon we passed a fine meadow bounded by stately pines,
mostly the arrowy yellow pine, with here and there a noble sugar pine,
its feathery arms outspread above the spires of its companion species in
marked contrast; a glorious tree, its cones fifteen to twenty inches
long, swinging like tassels at the ends of the branches with superb
ornamental effect. Saw some logs of this species at the Greeley Mill.
They are round and regular as if turned in a lathe, excepting the butt
cuts, which have a few buttressing projections. The fragrance of the
sugary sap is delicious and scents the mill and lumber yard. How
beautiful the ground beneath this pine thickly strewn with slender
needles and grand cones, and the piles of cone-scales, seed-wings and
shells around the instep of each tree where the squirrels have been
feasting! They get the seeds by cutting off the scales at the base in
regular order, following their spiral arrangement, and the two seeds at
the base of each scale, a hundred or two in a cone, must make a good
meal. The yellow pine cones and those of most other species and genera
are held upside down on the ground by the Douglas squirrel, and turned
around gradually until stripped, while he sits usually with his back to
a tree, probably for safety. Strange to say, he never seems to get
himself smeared with gum, not even his paws or whiskers--and how cleanly
and beautiful in color the cone-litter kitchen-middens he makes.

We are now approaching the region of clouds and cool streams.
Magnificent white cumuli appeared about noon above the Yosemite
region,--floating fountains refreshing the glorious wilderness,--sky
mountains in whose pearly hills and dales the streams take their
rise,--blessing with cooling shadows and rain. No rock landscape is more
varied in sculpture, none more delicately modeled than these landscapes
of the sky; domes and peaks rising, swelling, white as finest marble
and firmly outlined, a most impressive manifestation of world building.
Every rain-cloud, however fleeting, leaves its mark, not only on trees
and flowers whose pulses are quickened, and on the replenished streams
and lakes, but also on the rocks are its marks engraved whether we can
see them or not.

I have been examining the curious and influential shrub _Adenostoma
fasciculata_, first noticed about Horseshoe Bend. It is very abundant on
the lower slopes of the second plateau near Coulterville, forming a
dense, almost impenetrable growth that looks dark in the distance. It
belongs to the rose family, is about six or eight feet high, has small
white flowers in racemes eight to twelve inches long, round needle-like
leaves, and reddish bark that becomes shreddy when old. It grows on
sun-beaten slopes, and like grass is often swept away by running fires,
but is quickly renewed from the roots. Any trees that may have
established themselves in its midst are at length killed by these fires,
and this no doubt is the secret of the unbroken character of its broad
belts. A few manzanitas, which also rise again from the root after
consuming fires, make out to dwell with it, also a few bush
compositæ--baccharis and linosyris, and some liliaceous plants, mostly
calochortus and brodiæa, with deepset bulbs safe from fire. A multitude
of birds and "wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beasties" find good homes
in its deepest thickets, and the open bays and lanes that fringe the
margins of its main belts offer shelter and food to the deer when winter
storms drive them down from their high mountain pastures. A most
admirable plant! It is now in bloom, and I like to wear its pretty
fragrant racemes in my buttonhole.

_Azalea occidentalis_, another charming shrub, grows beside cool streams
hereabouts and much higher in the Yosemite region. We found it this
evening in bloom a few miles above Greeley's Mill, where we are camped
for the night. It is closely related to the rhododendrons, is very showy
and fragrant, and everybody must like it not only for itself but for the
shady alders and willows, ferny meadows, and living water associated
with it.

Another conifer was met to-day,--incense cedar (_Libocedrus decurrens_),
a large tree with warm yellow-green foliage in flat plumes like those of
arborvitæ, bark cinnamon-colored, and as the boles of the old trees are
without limbs they make striking pillars in the woods where the sun
chances to shine on them--a worthy companion of the kingly sugar and
yellow pines. I feel strangely attracted to this tree. The brown
close-grained wood, as well as the small scale-like leaves, is fragrant,
and the flat overlapping plumes make fine beds, and must shed the rain
well. It would be delightful to be storm-bound beneath one of these
noble, hospitable, inviting old trees, its broad sheltering arms bent
down like a tent, incense rising from the fire made from its dry fallen
branches, and a hearty wind chanting overhead. But the weather is calm
to-night, and our camp is only a sheep camp. We are near the North Fork
of the Merced. The night wind is telling the wonders of the upper
mountains, their snow fountains and gardens, forests and groves; even
their topography is in its tones. And the stars, the everlasting sky
lilies, how bright they are now that we have climbed above the lowland
dust! The horizon is bounded and adorned by a spiry wall of pines, every
tree harmoniously related to every other; definite symbols, divine
hieroglyphics written with sunbeams. Would I could understand them! The
stream flowing past the camp through ferns and lilies and alders makes
sweet music to the ear, but the pines marshaled around the edge of the
sky make a yet sweeter music to the eye. Divine beauty all. Here I
could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be
lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased,
would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between
us.

_June 7._ The sheep were sick last night, and many of them are still far
from well, hardly able to leave camp, coughing, groaning, looking
wretched and pitiful, all from eating the leaves of the blessed azalea.
So at least say the shepherd and the Don. Having had but little grass
since they left the plains, they are starving, and so eat anything green
they can get. "Sheep men" call azalea "sheep-poison," and wonder what
the Creator was thinking about when he made it,--so desperately does
sheep business blind and degrade, though supposed to have a refining
influence in the good old days we read of. The California sheep owner is
in haste to get rich, and often does, now that pasturage costs nothing,
while the climate is so favorable that no winter food supply,
shelter-pens, or barns are required. Therefore large flocks may be kept
at slight expense, and large profits realized, the money invested
doubling, it is claimed, every other year. This quickly acquired wealth
usually creates desire for more. Then indeed the wool is drawn close
down over the poor fellow's eyes, dimming or shutting out almost
everything worth seeing.

As for the shepherd, his case is still worse, especially in winter when
he lives alone in a cabin. For, though stimulated at times by hopes of
one day owning a flock and getting rich like his boss, he at the same
time is likely to be degraded by the life he leads, and seldom reaches
the dignity or advantage--or disadvantage--of ownership. The degradation
in his case has for cause one not far to seek. He is solitary most of
the year, and solitude to most people seems hard to bear. He seldom has
much good mental work or recreation in the way of books. Coming into his
dingy hovel-cabin at night, stupidly weary, he finds nothing to balance
and level his life with the universe. No, after his dull drag all day
after the sheep, he must get his supper; he is likely to slight this
task and try to satisfy his hunger with whatever comes handy. Perhaps no
bread is baked; then he just makes a few grimy flapjacks in his unwashed
frying-pan, boils a handful of tea, and perhaps fries a few strips of
rusty bacon. Usually there are dried peaches or apples in the cabin, but
he hates to be bothered with the cooking of them, just swallows the
bacon and flapjacks, and depends on the genial stupefaction of tobacco
for the rest. Then to bed, often without removing the clothing worn
during the day. Of course his health suffers, reacting on his mind; and
seeing nobody for weeks or months, he finally becomes semi-insane or
wholly so.

The shepherd in Scotland seldom thinks of being anything but a shepherd.
He has probably descended from a race of shepherds and inherited a love
and aptitude for the business almost as marked as that of his collie. He
has but a small flock to look after, sees his family and neighbors, has
time for reading in fine weather, and often carries books to the fields
with which he may converse with kings. The oriental shepherd, we read,
called his sheep by name; they knew his voice and followed him. The
flocks must have been small and easily managed, allowing piping on the
hills and ample leisure for reading and thinking. But whatever the
blessings of sheep-culture in other times and countries, the California
shepherd, as far as I've seen or heard, is never quite sane for any
considerable time. Of all Nature's voices baa is about all he hears.
Even the howls and ki-yis of coyotes might be blessings if well heard,
but he hears them only through a blur of mutton and wool, and they do
him no good.

The sick sheep are getting well, and the shepherd is discoursing on the
various poisons lurking in these high pastures--azalea, kalmia, alkali.
After crossing the North Fork of the Merced we turned to the left toward
Pilot Peak, and made a considerable ascent on a rocky, brush-covered
ridge to Brown's Flat, where for the first time since leaving the plains
the flock is enjoying plenty of green grass. Mr. Delaney intends to seek
a permanent camp somewhere in the neighborhood, to last several weeks.

Before noon we passed Bower Cave, a delightful marble palace, not dark
and dripping, but filled with sunshine, which pours into it through its
wide-open mouth facing the south. It has a fine, deep, clear little lake
with mossy banks embowered with broad-leaved maples, all under ground,
wholly unlike anything I have seen in the cave line even in Kentucky,
where a large part of the State is honeycombed with caves. This curious
specimen of subterranean scenery is located on a belt of marble that is
said to extend from the north end of the Range to the extreme south.
Many other caves occur on the belt, but none like this, as far as I have
learned, combining as it does sunny outdoor brightness and vegetation
with the crystalline beauty of the underworld. It is claimed by a
Frenchman, who has fenced and locked it, placed a boat on the lakelet
and seats on the mossy bank under the maple trees, and charges a dollar
admission fee. Being on one of the ways to the Yosemite Valley, a good
many tourists visit it during the travel months of summer, regarding it
as an interesting addition to their Yosemite wonders.

Poison oak or poison ivy (_Rhus diversiloba_), both as a bush and a
scrambler up trees and rocks, is common throughout the foothill region
up to a height of at least three thousand feet above the sea. It is
somewhat troublesome to most travelers, inflaming the skin and eyes, but
blends harmoniously with its companion plants, and many a charming
flower leans confidingly upon it for protection and shade. I have
oftentimes found the curious twining lily (_Stropholirion Californicum_)
climbing its branches, showing no fear but rather congenial
companionship. Sheep eat it without apparent ill effects; so do horses
to some extent, though not fond of it, and to many persons it is
harmless. Like most other things not apparently useful to man, it has
few friends, and the blind question, "Why was it made?" goes on and on
with never a guess that first of all it might have been made for
itself.

Brown's Flat is a shallow fertile valley on the top of the divide
between the North Fork of the Merced and Bull Creek, commanding
magnificent views in every direction. Here the adventurous pioneer David
Brown made his headquarters for many years, dividing his time between
gold-hunting and bear-hunting. Where could lonely hunter find a better
solitude? Game in the woods, gold in the rocks, health and exhilaration
in the air, while the colors and cloud furniture of the sky are ever
inspiring through all sorts of weather. Though sternly practical, like
most pioneers, old David seems to have been uncommonly fond of scenery.
Mr. Delaney, who knew him well, tells me that he dearly loved to climb
to the summit of a commanding ridge to gaze abroad over the forest to
the snow-clad peaks and sources of the rivers, and over the foreground
valleys and gulches to note where miners were at work or claims were
abandoned, judging by smoke from cabins and camp-fires, the sounds of
axes, etc.; and when a rifle-shot was heard, to guess who was the
hunter, whether Indian or some poacher on his wide domain. His dog Sandy
accompanied him everywhere, and well the little hairy mountaineer knew
and loved his master and his master's aims. In deer-hunting he had but
little to do, trotting behind his master as he slowly made his way
through the wood, careful not to step heavily on dry twigs, scanning
open spots in the chaparral, where the game loves to feed in the early
morning and towards sunset; peering cautiously over ridges as new
outlooks were reached, and along the meadowy borders of streams. But
when bears were hunted, little Sandy became more important, and it was
as a bear-hunter that Brown became famous. His hunting method, as
described by Mr. Delaney, who had passed many a night with him in his
lonely cabin and learned his stories, was simply to go slowly and
silently through the best bear pastures, with his dog and rifle and a
few pounds of flour, until he found a fresh track and then follow it to
the death, paying no heed to the time required. Wherever the bear went
he followed, led by little Sandy, who had a keen nose and never lost the
track, however rocky the ground. When high open points were reached, the
likeliest places were carefully scanned. The time of year enabled the
hunter to determine approximately where the bear would be found,--in the
spring and early summer on open spots about the banks of streams and
springy places eating grass and clover and lupines, or in dry meadows
feasting on strawberries; toward the end of summer, on dry ridges,
feasting on manzanita berries, sitting on his haunches, pulling down the
laden branches with his paws, and pressing them together so as to get
good compact mouthfuls however much mixed with twigs and leaves; in the
Indian summer, beneath the pines, chewing the cones cut off by the
squirrels, or occasionally climbing a tree to gnaw and break off the
fruitful branches. In late autumn, when acorns are ripe, Bruin's
favorite feeding-grounds are groves of the California oak in park-like
cañon flats. Always the cunning hunter knew where to look, and seldom
came upon Bruin unawares. When the hot scent showed the dangerous game
was nigh, a long halt was made, and the intricacies of the topography
and vegetation leisurely scanned to catch a glimpse of the shaggy
wanderer, or to at least determine where he was most likely to be.

"Whenever," said the hunter, "I saw a bear before it saw me I had no
trouble in killing it. I just studied the lay of the land and got to
leeward of it no matter how far around I had to go, and then worked up
to within a few hundred yards or so, at the foot of a tree that I could
easily climb, but too small for the bear to climb. Then I looked well to
the condition of my rifle, took off my boots so as to climb well if
necessary, and waited until the bear turned its side in clear view when
I could make a sure or at least a good shot. In case it showed fight I
climbed out of reach. But bears are slow and awkward with their eyes,
and being to leeward of them they could not scent me, and I often got in
a second shot before they noticed the smoke. Usually, however, they run
when wounded and hide in the brush. I let them run a good safe time
before I ventured to follow them, and Sandy was pretty sure to find them
dead. If not, he barked and drew their attention, and occasionally
rushed in for a distracting bite, so that I was able to get to a safe
distance for a final shot. Oh yes, bear-hunting is safe enough when
followed in a safe way, though like every other business it has its
accidents, and little doggie and I have had some close calls. Bears like
to keep out of the way of men as a general thing, but if an old, lean,
hungry mother with cubs met a man on her own ground she would, in my
opinion, try to catch and eat him. This would be only fair play anyhow,
for we eat them, but nobody hereabout has been used for bear grub that I
know of."

Brown had left his mountain home ere we arrived, but a considerable
number of Digger Indians still linger in their cedar-bark huts on the
edge of the flat. They were attracted in the first place by the white
hunter whom they had learned to respect, and to whom they looked for
guidance and protection against their enemies the Pah Utes, who
sometimes made raids across from the east side of the Range to plunder
the stores of the comparatively feeble Diggers and steal their wives.



CHAPTER II

IN CAMP ON THE NORTH FORK OF THE MERCED


_June 8._ The sheep, now grassy and good-natured, slowly nibbled their
way down into the valley of the North Fork of the Merced at the foot of
Pilot Peak Ridge to the place selected by the Don for our first central
camp, a picturesque hopper-shaped hollow formed by converging hill
slopes at a bend of the river. Here racks for dishes and provisions were
made in the shade of the river-bank trees, and beds of fern fronds,
cedar plumes, and various flowers, each to the taste of its owner, and a
corral back on the open flat for the wool.

_June 9._ How deep our sleep last night in the mountain's heart, beneath
the trees and stars, hushed by solemn-sounding waterfalls and many small
soothing voices in sweet accord whispering peace! And our first pure
mountain day, warm, calm, cloudless,--how immeasurable it seems, how
serenely wild! I can scarcely remember its beginning. Along the river,
over the hills, in the ground, in the sky, spring work is going on with
joyful enthusiasm, new life, new beauty, unfolding, unrolling in
glorious exuberant extravagance,--new birds in their nests, new winged
creatures in the air, and new leaves, new flowers, spreading, shining,
rejoicing everywhere.

The trees about the camp stand close, giving ample shade for ferns and
lilies, while back from the bank most of the sunshine reaches the
ground, calling up the grasses and flowers in glorious array, tall
bromus waving like bamboos, starry compositæ, monardella, Mariposa
tulips, lupines, gilias, violets, glad children of light. Soon every
fern frond will be unrolled, great beds of common pteris and woodwardia
along the river, wreaths and rosettes of pellæa and cheilanthes on sunny
rocks. Some of the woodwardia fronds are already six feet high.

A handsome little shrub, _Chamæbatia foliolosa_, belonging to the rose
family, spreads a yellow-green mantle beneath the sugar pines for miles
without a break, not mixed or roughened with other plants. Only here and
there a Washington lily may be seen nodding above its even surface, or a
bunch or two of tall bromus as if for ornament. This fine carpet shrub
begins to appear at, say, twenty-five hundred or three thousand feet
above sea level, is about knee high or less, has brown branches, and the
largest stems are only about half an inch in diameter. The leaves, light
yellow green, thrice pinnate and finely cut, give them a rich ferny
appearance, and they are dotted with minute glands that secrete wax with
a peculiar pleasant odor that blends finely with the spicy fragrance of
the pines. The flowers are white, five eighths of an inch in diameter,
and look like those of the strawberry. Am delighted with this little
bush. It is the only true carpet shrub of this part of the Sierra. The
manzanita, rhamnus, and most of the species of ceanothus make shaggy
rugs and border fringes rather than carpets or mantles.

The sheep do not take kindly to their new pastures, perhaps from being
too closely hemmed in by the hills. They are never fully at rest. Last
night they were frightened, probably by bears or coyotes prowling and
planning for a share of the grand mass of mutton.

_June 10._ Very warm. We get water for the camp from a rock basin at the
foot of a picturesque cascading reach of the river where it is well
stirred and made lively without being beaten into dusty foam. The rock
here is black metamorphic slate, worn into smooth knobs in the stream
channels, contrasting with the fine gray and white cascading water as it
glides and glances and falls in lace-like sheets and braided overfolding
currents. Tufts of sedge growing on the rock knobs that rise above the
surface produce a charming effect, the long elastic leaves arching over
in every direction, the tips of the longest drooping into the current,
which dividing against the projecting rocks makes still finer lines,
uniting with the sedges to see how beautiful the happy stream can be
made. Nor is this all, for the giant saxifrage also is growing on some
of the knob rock islets, firmly anchored and displaying their broad,
round, umbrella-like leaves in showy groups by themselves, or above the
sedge tufts. The flowers of this species (_Saxifraga peltata_) are
purple, and form tall glandular racemes that are in bloom before the
appearance of the leaves. The fleshy root-stocks grip the rock in cracks
and hollows, and thus enable the plant to hold on against occasional
floods,--a marked species employed by Nature to make yet more beautiful
the most interesting portions of these cool clear streams. Near camp the
trees arch over from bank to bank, making a leafy tunnel full of soft
subdued light, through which the young river sings and shines like a
happy living creature.

Heard a few peals of thunder from the upper Sierra, and saw firm white
bossy cumuli rising back of the pines. This was about noon.

_June 11._ On one of the eastern branches of the river discovered some
charming cascades with a pool at the foot of each of them. White dashing
water, a few bushes and tufts of carex on ledges leaning over with fine
effect, and large orange lilies assembled in superb groups on fertile
soil-beds beside the pools.

There are no large meadows or grassy plains near camp to supply lasting
pasture for our thousands of busy nibblers. The main dependence is
ceanothus brush on the hills and tufted grass patches here and there,
with lupines and pea-vines among the flowers on sunny open spaces. Large
areas have already been stripped bare, or nearly so, compelling the poor
hungry wool bundles to scatter far and wide, keeping the shepherds and
dogs at the top of their speed to hold them within bounds. Mr. Delaney
has gone back to the plains, taking the Indian and Chinaman with him,
leaving instruction to keep the flock here or hereabouts until his
return, which he promised would not be long delayed.

How fine the weather is! Nothing more celestial can I conceive. How
gently the winds blow! Scarce can these tranquil air-currents be called
winds. They seem the very breath of Nature, whispering peace to every
living thing. Down in the camp dell there is no swaying of tree-tops;
most of the time not a leaf moves. I don't remember having seen a
single lily swinging on its stalk, though they are so tall the least
breeze would rock them. What grand bells these lilies have! Some of them
big enough for children's bonnets. I have been sketching them, and would
fain draw every leaf of their wide shining whorls and every curved and
spotted petal. More beautiful, better kept gardens cannot be imagined.
The species is _Lilium pardalinum_, five to six feet high, leaf-whorls a
foot wide, flowers about six inches wide, bright orange, purple spotted
in the throat, segments revolute--a majestic plant.

_June 12._ A slight sprinkle of rain--large drops far apart, falling
with hearty pat and plash on leaves and stones and into the mouths of
the flowers. Cumuli rising to the eastward. How beautiful their pearly
bosses! How well they harmonize with the upswelling rocks beneath them.
Mountains of the sky, solid-looking, finely sculptured, their richly
varied topography wonderfully defined. Never before have I seen clouds
so substantial looking in form and texture. Nearly every day toward noon
they rise with visible swelling motion as if new worlds were being
created. And how fondly they brood and hover over the gardens and
forests with their cooling shadows and showers, keeping every petal and
leaf in glad health and heart. One may fancy the clouds themselves are
plants, springing up in the sky-fields at the call of the sun, growing
in beauty until they reach their prime, scattering rain and hail like
berries and seeds, then wilting and dying.

The mountain live oak, common here and a thousand feet or so higher, is
like the live oak of Florida, not only in general appearance, foliage,
bark, and wide-branching habit, but in its tough, knotty, unwedgeable
wood. Standing alone with plenty of elbow room, the largest trees are
about seven to eight feet in diameter near the ground, sixty feet high,
and as wide or wider across the head. The leaves are small and
undivided, mostly without teeth or wavy edging, though on young shoots
some are sharply serrated, both kinds being found on the same tree. The
cups of the medium-sized acorns are shallow, thick walled, and covered
with a golden dust of minute hairs. Some of the trees have hardly any
main trunk, dividing near the ground into large wide-spreading limbs,
and these, dividing again and again, terminate in long, drooping,
cord-like branchlets, many of which reach nearly to the ground, while a
dense canopy of short, shining, leafy branchlets forms a round head
which looks something like a cumulus cloud when the sunshine is
pouring over it.

[Illustration: CAMP, NORTH FORK OF THE MERCED]

[Illustration: MOUNTAIN LIVE OAK (_Quercus chrysolepis_), EIGHT FEET IN
DIAMETER]

A marked plant is the bush poppy (_Dendromecon rigidum_), found on the
hot hillsides near camp, the only woody member of the order I have yet
met in all my walks. Its flowers are bright orange yellow, an inch to
two inches wide, fruit-pods three or four inches long, slender and
curving,--height of bushes about four feet, made up of many slim,
straight branches, radiating from the root,--a companion of the
manzanita and other sun-loving chaparral shrubs.

_June 13._ Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be
dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life
seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or
make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good
practical sort of immortality. Yonder rises another white skyland. How
sharply the yellow pine spires and the palm-like crowns of the sugar
pines are outlined on its smooth white domes. And hark! the grand
thunder billows booming, rolling from ridge to ridge, followed by the
faithful shower.

A good many herbaceous plants come thus far up the mountains from the
plains, and are now in flower, two months later than their lowland
relatives. Saw a few columbines to-day. Most of the ferns are in their
prime,--rock ferns on the sunny hillsides, cheilanthes, pellæa,
gymnogramme; woodwardia, aspidium, woodsia along the stream banks, and
the common _Pteris aquilina_ on sandy flats. This last, however common,
is here making shows of strong, exuberant, abounding beauty to set the
botanist wild with admiration. I measured some scarce full grown that
are more than seven feet high. Though the commonest and most widely
distributed of all the ferns, I might almost say that I never saw it
before. The broad-shouldered fronds held high on smooth stout stalks
growing close together, overleaning and overlapping, make a complete
ceiling, beneath which one may walk erect over several acres without
being seen, as if beneath a roof. And how soft and lovely the light
streaming through this living ceiling, revealing the arching branching
ribs and veins of the fronds as the framework of countless panes of pale
green and yellow plant-glass nicely fitted together--a fairyland created
out of the commonest fern-stuff.

The smaller animals wander about as if in a tropical forest. I saw the
entire flock of sheep vanish at one side of a patch and reappear a
hundred yards farther on at the other, their progress betrayed only by
the jerking and trembling of the fronds; and strange to say very few of
the stout woody stalks were broken. I sat a long time beneath the
tallest fronds, and never enjoyed anything in the way of a bower of wild
leaves more strangely impressive. Only spread a fern frond over a man's
head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace
come in. The waving of a pine tree on the top of a mountain,--a magic
wand in Nature's hand,--every devout mountaineer knows its power; but
the marvelous beauty value of what the Scotch call a breckan in a still
dell, what poet has sung this? It would seem impossible that any one,
however incrusted with care, could escape the Godful influence of these
sacred fern forests. Yet this very day I saw a shepherd pass through one
of the finest of them without betraying more feeling than his sheep.
"What do you think of these grand ferns?" I asked. "Oh, they're only
d----d big brakes," he replied.

Lizards of every temper, style, and color dwell here, seemingly as happy
and companionable as the birds and squirrels. Lowly, gentle fellow
mortals, enjoying God's sunshine, and doing the best they can in getting
a living, I like to watch them at their work and play. They bear
acquaintance well, and one likes them the better the longer one looks
into their beautiful, innocent eyes. They are easily tamed, and one soon
learns to love them, as they dart about on the hot rocks, swift as
dragon-flies. The eye can hardly follow them; but they never make
long-sustained runs, usually only about ten or twelve feet, then a
sudden stop, and as sudden a start again; going all their journeys by
quick, jerking impulses. These many stops I find are necessary as rests,
for they are short-winded, and when pursued steadily are soon out of
breath, pant pitifully, and are easily caught. Their bodies are more
than half tail, but these tails are well managed, never heavily dragged
nor curved up as if hard to carry; on the contrary, they seem to follow
the body lightly of their own will. Some are colored like the sky,
bright as bluebirds, others gray like the lichened rocks on which they
hunt and bask. Even the horned toad of the plains is a mild, harmless
creature, and so are the snake-like species which glide in curves with
true snake motion, while their small, undeveloped limbs drag as useless
appendages. One specimen fourteen inches long which I observed closely
made no use whatever of its tender, sprouting limbs, but glided with all
the soft, sly ease and grace of a snake. Here comes a little, gray,
dusty fellow who seems to know and trust me, running about my feet, and
looking up cunningly into my face. Carlo is watching, makes a quick
pounce on him, for the fun of the thing I suppose; but Liz has shot away
from his paws like an arrow, and is safe in the recesses of a clump of
chaparral. Gentle saurians, dragons, descendants of an ancient and
mighty race, Heaven bless you all and make your virtues known! for few
of us know as yet that scales may cover fellow creatures as gentle and
lovable as feathers, or hair, or cloth.

Mastodons and elephants used to live here no great geological time ago,
as shown by their bones, often discovered by miners in washing
gold-gravel. And bears of at least two species are here now, besides the
California lion or panther, and wild cats, wolves, foxes, snakes,
scorpions, wasps, tarantulas; but one is almost tempted at times to
regard a small savage black ant as the master existence of this vast
mountain world. These fearless, restless, wandering imps, though only
about a quarter of an inch long, are fonder of fighting and biting than
any beast I know. They attack every living thing around their homes,
often without cause as far as I can see. Their bodies are mostly jaws
curved like ice-hooks, and to get work for these weapons seems to be
their chief aim and pleasure. Most of their colonies are established in
living oaks somewhat decayed or hollowed, in which they can conveniently
build their cells. These are chosen probably because of their strength
as opposed to the attacks of animals and storms. They work both day and
night, creep into dark caves, climb the highest trees, wander and hunt
through cool ravines as well as on hot, unshaded ridges, and extend
their highways and byways over everything but water and sky. From the
foothills to a mile above the level of the sea nothing can stir without
their knowledge; and alarms are spread in an incredibly short time,
without any howl or cry that we can hear. I can't understand the need of
their ferocious courage; there seems to be no common sense in it.
Sometimes, no doubt, they fight in defense of their homes, but they
fight anywhere and always wherever they can find anything to bite. As
soon as a vulnerable spot is discovered on man or beast, they stand on
their heads and sink their jaws, and though torn limb from limb, they
will yet hold on and die biting deeper. When I contemplate this fierce
creature so widely distributed and strongly intrenched, I see that much
remains to be done ere the world is brought under the rule of universal
peace and love.

On my way to camp a few minutes ago, I passed a dead pine nearly ten
feet in diameter. It has been enveloped in fire from top to bottom so
that now it looks like a grand black pillar set up as a monument. In
this noble shaft a colony of large jet-black ants have established
themselves, laboriously cutting tunnels and cells through the wood,
whether sound or decayed. The entire trunk seems to have been
honeycombed, judging by the size of the talus of gnawed chips like
sawdust piled up around its base. They are more intelligent looking than
their small, belligerent, strong-scented brethren, and have better
manners, though quick to fight when required. Their towns are carved in
fallen trunks as well as in those left standing, but never in sound,
living trees or in the ground. When you happen to sit down to rest or
take notes near a colony, some wandering hunter is sure to find you and
come cautiously forward to discover the nature of the intruder and what
ought to be done. If you are not too near the town and keep perfectly
still he may run across your feet a few times, over your legs and hands
and face, up your trousers, as if taking your measure and getting
comprehensive views, then go in peace without raising an alarm. If,
however, a tempting spot is offered or some suspicious movement excites
him, a bite follows, and such a bite! I fancy that a bear or wolf bite
is not to be compared with it. A quick electric flame of pain flashes
along the outraged nerves, and you discover for the first time how great
is the capacity for sensation you are possessed of. A shriek, a grab for
the animal, and a bewildered stare follow this bite of bites as one
comes back to consciousness from sudden eclipse. Fortunately, if
careful, one need not be bitten oftener than once or twice in a
lifetime. This wonderful electric species is about three fourths of an
inch long. Bears are fond of them, and tear and gnaw their home-logs to
pieces, and roughly devour the eggs, larvæ, parent ants, and the rotten
or sound wood of the cells, all in one spicy acid hash. The Digger
Indians also are fond of the larvæ and even of the perfect ants, so I
have been told by old mountaineers. They bite off and reject the head,
and eat the tickly acid body with keen relish. Thus are the poor biters
bitten, like every other biter, big or little, in the world's great
family.

There is also a fine, active, intelligent-looking red species,
intermediate in size between the above. They dwell in the ground, and
build large piles of seed husks, leaves, straw, etc., over their nests.
Their food seems to be mostly insects and plant leaves, seeds and sap.
How many mouths Nature has to fill, how many neighbors we have, how
little we know about them, and how seldom we get in each other's way!
Then to think of the infinite numbers of smaller fellow mortals,
invisibly small, compared with which the smallest ants are as mastodons.

_June 14._ The pool-basins below the falls and cascades hereabouts,
formed by the heavy down-plunging currents, are kept nicely clean and
clear of detritus. The heavier parts of the material swept over the
falls are heaped up a short distance in front of the basins in the form
of a dam, thus tending, together with erosion, to increase their size.
Sudden changes, however, are effected during the spring floods, when the
snow is melting and the upper tributaries are roaring loud from "bank to
brae." Then boulders that have fallen into the channels, and which the
ordinary summer and winter currents were unable to move, are suddenly
swept forward as by a mighty besom, hurled over the falls into these
pools, and piled up in a new dam together with part of the old one,
while some of the smaller boulders are carried further down stream and
variously lodged according to size and shape, all seeking rest where the
force of the current is less than the resistance they are able to offer.
But the greatest changes made in these relations of fall, pool, and dam
are caused, not by the ordinary spring floods, but by extraordinary ones
that occur at irregular intervals. The testimony of trees growing on
flood boulder deposits shows that a century or more has passed since the
last master flood came to awaken everything movable to go swirling and
dancing on wonderful journeys. These floods may occur during the summer,
when heavy thunder-showers, called "cloud-bursts," fall on wide, steeply
inclined stream basins furrowed by converging channels, which suddenly
gather the waters together into the main trunk in booming torrents of
enormous transporting power, though short lived.

One of these ancient flood boulders stands firm in the middle of the
stream channel, just below the lower edge of the pool dam at the foot of
the fall nearest our camp. It is a nearly cubical mass of granite about
eight feet high, plushed with mosses over the top and down the sides to
ordinary high-water mark. When I climbed on top of it to-day and lay
down to rest, it seemed the most romantic spot I had yet found--the one
big stone with its mossy level top and smooth sides standing square and
firm and solitary, like an altar, the fall in front of it bathing it
lightly with the finest of the spray, just enough to keep its moss cover
fresh; the clear green pool beneath, with its foam-bells and its half
circle of lilies leaning forward like a band of admirers, and flowering
dogwood and alder trees leaning over all in sun-sifted arches. How
soothingly, restfully cool it is beneath that leafy, translucent
ceiling, and how delightful the water music--the deep bass tones of the
fall, the clashing, ringing spray, and infinite variety of small low
tones of the current gliding past the side of the boulder-island, and
glinting against a thousand smaller stones down the ferny channel! All
this shut in; every one of these influences acting at short range as if
in a quiet room. The place seemed holy, where one might hope to see God.

After dark, when the camp was at rest, I groped my way back to the altar
boulder and passed the night on it,--above the water, beneath the leaves
and stars,--everything still more impressive than by day, the fall seen
dimly white, singing Nature's old love song with solemn enthusiasm,
while the stars peering through the leaf-roof seemed to join in the
white water's song. Precious night, precious day to abide in me forever.
Thanks be to God for this immortal gift.

_June 15._ Another reviving morning. Down the long mountain-slopes the
sunbeams pour, gilding the awakening pines, cheering every needle,
filling every living thing with joy. Robins are singing in the alder and
maple groves, the same old song that has cheered and sweetened countless
seasons over almost all of our blessed continent. In this mountain
hollow they seem as much at home as in farmers' orchards. Bullock's
oriole and the Louisiana tanager are here also, with many warblers and
other little mountain troubadours, most of them now busy about their
nests.

Discovered another magnificent specimen of the goldcup oak six feet in
diameter, a Douglas spruce seven feet, and a twining lily
(_Stropholirion_), with stem eight feet long, and sixty rose-colored
flowers.

[Illustration: SUGAR PINE]

Sugar pine cones are cylindrical, slightly tapered at the end and
rounded at the base. Found one to-day nearly twenty-four inches long and
six in diameter, the scales being open. Another specimen nineteen inches
long; the average length of full-grown cones on trees favorably situated
is nearly eighteen inches. On the lower edge of the belt at a height of
about twenty-five hundred feet above the sea they are smaller, say a
foot to fifteen inches long, and at a height of seven thousand feet or
more near the upper limits of its growth in the Yosemite region they are
about the same size. This noble tree is an inexhaustible study and
source of pleasure. I never weary of gazing at its grand tassel cones,
its perfectly round bole one hundred feet or more without a limb, the
fine purplish color of its bark, and its magnificent outsweeping,
down-curving feathery arms forming a crown always bold and striking and
exhilarating. In habit and general port it looks somewhat like a palm,
but no palm that I have yet seen displays such majesty of form and
behavior either when poised silent and thoughtful in sunshine, or
wide-awake waving in storm winds with every needle quivering. When young
it is very straight and regular in form like most other conifers; but at
the age of fifty to one hundred years it begins to acquire
individuality, so that no two are alike in their prime or old age. Every
tree calls for special admiration. I have been making many sketches, and
regret that I cannot draw every needle. It is said to reach a height of
three hundred feet, though the tallest I have measured falls short of
this stature sixty feet or more. The diameter of the largest near the
ground is about ten feet, though I've heard of some twelve feet thick or
even fifteen. The diameter is held to a great height, the taper being
almost imperceptibly gradual. Its companion, the yellow pine, is almost
as large. The long silvery foliage of the younger specimens forms
magnificent cylindrical brushes on the top shoots and the ends of the
upturned branches, and when the wind sways the needles all one way at a
certain angle every tree becomes a tower of white quivering sun-fire.
Well may this shining species be called the silver pine. The needles are
sometimes more than a foot long, almost as long as those of the
long-leaf pine of Florida. But though in size the yellow pine almost
equals the sugar pine, and in rugged enduring strength seems to surpass
it, it is far less marked in general habit and expression, with its
regular conventional spire and its comparatively small cones clustered
stiffly among the needles. Were there no sugar pine, then would this be
the king of the world's eighty or ninety species, the brightest of the
bright, waving, worshiping multitude. Were they mere mechanical
sculptures, what noble objects they would still be! How much more
throbbing, thrilling, overflowing, full of life in every fiber and cell,
grand glowing silver-rods--the very gods of the plant kingdom, living
their sublime century lives in sight of Heaven, watched and loved and
admired from generation to generation! And how many other radiant resiny
sun trees are here and higher up,--libocedrus, Douglas spruce, silver
fir, sequoia. How rich our inheritance in these blessed mountains, the
tree pastures into which our eyes are turned!

Now comes sundown. The west is all a glory of color transfiguring
everything. Far up the Pilot Peak Ridge the radiant host of trees stand
hushed and thoughtful, receiving the Sun's good-night, as solemn and
impressive a leave-taking as if sun and trees were to meet no more. The
daylight fades, the color spell is broken, and the forest breathes free
in the night breeze beneath the stars.

_June 16._ One of the Indians from Brown's Flat got right into the
middle of the camp this morning, unobserved. I was seated on a stone,
looking over my notes and sketches, and happening to look up, was
startled to see him standing grim and silent within a few steps of me,
as motionless and weather-stained as an old tree-stump that had stood
there for centuries. All Indians seem to have learned this wonderful way
of walking unseen,--making themselves invisible like certain spiders I
have been observing here, which, in case of alarm, caused, for example,
by a bird alighting on the bush their webs are spread upon, immediately
bounce themselves up and down on their elastic threads so rapidly that
only a blur is visible. The wild Indian power of escaping observation,
even where there is little or no cover to hide in, was probably slowly
acquired in hard hunting and fighting lessons while trying to approach
game, take enemies by surprise, or get safely away when compelled to
retreat. And this experience transmitted through many generations seems
at length to have become what is vaguely called instinct.

How smooth and changeless seems the surface of the mountains about us!
Scarce a track is to be found beyond the range of the sheep except on
small open spots on the sides of the streams, or where the forest
carpets are thin or wanting. On the smoothest of these open strips and
patches deer tracks may be seen, and the great suggestive footprints of
bears, which, with those of the many small animals, are scarce enough to
answer as a kind of light ornamental stitching or embroidery. Along the
main ridges and larger branches of the river Indian trails may be
traced, but they are not nearly as distinct as one would expect to find
them. How many centuries Indians have roamed these woods nobody knows,
probably a great many, extending far beyond the time that Columbus
touched our shores, and it seems strange that heavier marks have not
been made. Indians walk softly and hurt the landscape hardly more than
the birds and squirrels, and their brush and bark huts last hardly
longer than those of wood rats, while their more enduring monuments,
excepting those wrought on the forests by the fires they made to improve
their hunting grounds, vanish in a few centuries.

How different are most of those of the white man, especially on the
lower gold region--roads blasted in the solid rock, wild streams dammed
and tamed and turned out of their channels and led along the sides of
cañons and valleys to work in mines like slaves. Crossing from ridge to
ridge, high in the air, on long straddling trestles as if flowing on
stilts, or down and up across valleys and hills, imprisoned in iron
pipes to strike and wash away hills and miles of the skin of the
mountain's face, riddling, stripping every gold gully and flat. These
are the white man's marks made in a few feverish years, to say nothing
of mills, fields, villages, scattered hundreds of miles along the flank
of the Range. Long will it be ere these marks are effaced, though Nature
is doing what she can, replanting, gardening, sweeping away old dams and
flumes, leveling gravel and boulder piles, patiently trying to heal
every raw scar. The main gold storm is over. Calm enough are the gray
old miners scratching a bare living in waste diggings here and there.
Thundering underground blasting is still going on to feed the pounding
quartz mills, but their influence on the landscape is light as compared
with that of the pick-and-shovel storms waged a few years ago.
Fortunately for Sierra scenery the gold-bearing slates are mostly
restricted to the foothills. The region about our camp is still wild,
and higher lies the snow about as trackless as the sky.

Only a few hills and domes of cloudland were built yesterday and none at
all to-day. The light is peculiarly white and thin, though pleasantly
warm. The serenity of this mountain weather in the spring, just when
Nature's pulses are beating highest, is one of its greatest charms.
There is only a moderate breeze from the summits of the Range at night,
and a slight breathing from the sea and the lowland hills and plains
during the day, or stillness so complete no leaf stirs. The trees
hereabouts have but little wind history to tell.

Sheep, like people, are ungovernable when hungry. Excepting my guarded
lily gardens, almost every leaf that these hoofed locusts can reach
within a radius of a mile or two from camp has been devoured. Even the
bushes are stripped bare, and in spite of dogs and shepherds the sheep
scatter to all points of the compass and vanish in dust. I fear some are
lost, for one of the sixteen black ones is missing.

_June 17._ Counted the wool bundles this morning as they bounced through
the narrow corral gate. About three hundred are missing, and as the
shepherd could not go to seek them, I had to go. I tied a crust of bread
to my belt, and with Carlo set out for the upper slopes of the Pilot
Peak Ridge, and had a good day, notwithstanding the care of seeking the
silly runaways. I went out for wool, and did not come back shorn. A
peculiar light circled around the horizon, white and thin like that
often seen over the auroral corona, blending into the blue of the upper
sky. The only clouds were a few faint flossy pencilings like combed
silk. I pushed direct to the boundary of the usual range of the flock,
and around it until I found the outgoing trail of the wanderers. It led
far up the ridge into an open place surrounded by a hedge-like growth of
ceanothus chaparral. Carlo knew what I was about, and eagerly followed
the scent until we came up to them, huddled in a timid, silent bunch.
They had evidently been here all night and all the forenoon, afraid to
go out to feed. Having escaped restraint, they were, like some people we
know of, afraid of their freedom, did not know what to do with it, and
seemed glad to get back into the old familiar bondage.

_June 18._ Another inspiring morning, nothing better in any world can
be conceived. No description of Heaven that I have ever heard or read of
seems half so fine. At noon the clouds occupied about .05 of the sky,
white filmy touches drawn delicately on the azure.

The high ridges and hilltops beyond the woolly locusts are now gay with
monardella, clarkia, coreopsis, and tall tufted grasses, some of them
tall enough to wave like pines. The lupines, of which there are many
ill-defined species, are now mostly out of flower, and many of the
compositæ are beginning to fade, their radiant corollas vanishing in
fluffy pappus like stars in mist.

We had another visitor from Brown's Flat to-day, an old Indian woman
with a basket on her back. Like our first caller from the village, she
got fairly into camp and was standing in plain view when discovered. How
long she had been quietly looking on, I cannot say. Even the dogs failed
to notice her stealthy approach. She was on her way, I suppose, to some
wild garden, probably for lupine and starchy saxifrage leaves and
rootstocks. Her dress was calico rags, far from clean. In every way she
seemed sadly unlike Nature's neat well-dressed animals, though living
like them on the bounty of the wilderness. Strange that mankind alone is
dirty. Had she been clad in fur, or cloth woven of grass or shreddy
bark, like the juniper and libocedrus mats, she might then have seemed a
rightful part of the wilderness; like a good wolf at least, or bear. But
from no point of view that I have found are such debased fellow beings a
whit more natural than the glaring tailored tourists we saw that
frightened the birds and squirrels.

_June 19._ Pure sunshine all day. How beautiful a rock is made by leaf
shadows! Those of the live oak are particularly clear and distinct, and
beyond all art in grace and delicacy, now still as if painted on stone,
now gliding softly as if afraid of noise, now dancing, waltzing in
swift, merry swirls, or jumping on and off sunny rocks in quick dashes
like wave embroidery on seashore cliffs. How true and substantial is
this shadow beauty, and with what sublime extravagance is beauty thus
multiplied! The big orange lilies are now arrayed in all their glory of
leaf and flower. Noble plants, in perfect health, Nature's darlings.

_June 20._ Some of the silly sheep got caught fast in a tangle of
chaparral this morning, like flies in a spider's web, and had to be
helped out. Carlo found them and tried to drive them from the trap by
the easiest way. How far above sheep are intelligent dogs! No friend
and helper can be more affectionate and constant than Carlo. The noble
St. Bernard is an honor to his race.

The air is distinctly fragrant with balsam and resin and mint,--every
breath of it a gift we may well thank God for. Who could ever guess that
so rough a wilderness should yet be so fine, so full of good things. One
seems to be in a majestic domed pavilion in which a grand play is being
acted with scenery and music and incense,--all the furniture and action
so interesting we are in no danger of being called on to endure one dull
moment. God himself seems to be always doing his best here, working like
a man in a glow of enthusiasm.

_June 21._ Sauntered along the river-bank to my lily gardens. The
perfection of beauty in these lilies of the wilderness is a never-ending
source of admiration and wonder. Their rhizomes are set in black mould
accumulated in hollows of the metamorphic slates beside the pools, where
they are well watered without being subjected to flood action. Every
leaf in the level whorls around the tall polished stalks is as finely
finished as the petals, and the light and heat required are measured for
them and tempered in passing through the branches of over-leaning trees.
However strong the winds from the noon rainstorms, they are securely
sheltered. Beautiful hypnum carpets bordered with ferns are spread
beneath them, violets too, and a few daisies. Everything around them
sweet and fresh like themselves.

Cloudland to-day is only a solitary white mountain; but it is so
enriched with sunshine and shade, the tones of color on its big domed
head and bossy outbulging ridges, and in the hollows and ravines between
them, are ineffably fine.

_June 22._ Unusually cloudy. Besides the periodical shower-bearing
cumuli there is a thin, diffused, fog-like cloud overhead. About .75 in
all.

_June 23._ Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at
once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally
divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however
weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one
mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm,
he is rich forever.

_June 24._ Our regular allowance of clouds and thunder. Shepherd Billy
is in a peck of trouble about the sheep; he declares that they are
possessed with more of the evil one than any other flock from the
beginning of the invention of mutton and wool to the last batch of it.
No matter how many are missing, he will not, he says, go a step to seek
them, because, as he reasons, while getting back one wanderer he would
probably lose ten. Therefore runaway hunting must be Carlo's and mine.
Billy's little dog Jack is also giving trouble by leaving camp every
night to visit his neighbors up the mountain at Brown's Flat. He is a
common-looking cur of no particular breed, but tremendously enterprising
in love and war. He has cut all the ropes and leather straps he has been
tied with, until his master in desperation, after climbing the brushy
mountain again and again to drag him back, fastened him with a pole
attached to his collar under his chin at one end, and to a stout sapling
at the other. But the pole gave good leverage, and by constant twisting
during the night, the fastening at the sapling end was chafed off, and
he set out on his usual journey, dragging the pole through the brush,
and reached the Indian settlement in safety. His master followed, and
making no allowance, gave him a beating, and swore in bad terms that
next evening he would "fix that infatuated pup" by anchoring him
unmercifully to the heavy cast-iron lid of our Dutch oven, weighing
about as much as the dog. It was linked directly to his collar close up
under the chin, so that the poor fellow seemed unable to stir. He stood
quite discouraged until after dark, unable to look about him, or even to
lie down unless he stretched himself out with his front feet across the
lid, and his head close down between his paws. Before morning, however,
Jack was heard far up the height howling Excelsior, cast-iron anchor to
the contrary notwithstanding. He must have walked, or rather climbed,
erect on his hind legs, clasping the heavy lid like a shield against his
breast, a formidable iron-clad condition in which to meet his rivals.
Next night, dog, pot-lid, and all, were tied up in an old bean-sack, and
thus at last angry Billy gained the victory. Just before leaving home,
Jack was bitten in the lower jaw by a rattlesnake, and for a week or so
his head and neck were swollen to more than double the normal size;
nevertheless he ran about as brisk and lively as ever, and is now
completely recovered. The only treatment he got was fresh milk--a gallon
or two at a time forcibly poured down his sore, poisoned throat.

_June 25._ Though only a sheep camp, this grand mountain hollow is home,
sweet home, every day growing sweeter, and I shall be sorry to leave it.
The lily gardens are safe as yet from the trampling flock. Poor, dusty,
raggedy, famishing creatures, I heartily pity them. Many a mile they
must go every day to gather their fifteen or twenty tons of chaparral
and grass.

_June 26._ Nuttall's flowering dogwood makes a fine show when in bloom.
The whole tree is then snowy white. The involucres are six to eight
inches wide. Along the streams it is a good-sized tree thirty to fifty
feet high, with a broad head when not crowded by companions. Its showy
involucres attract a crowd of moths, butterflies, and other winged
people about it for their own and, I suppose, the tree's advantage. It
likes plenty of cool water, and is a great drinker like the alder,
willow, and cottonwood, and flourishes best on stream banks, though it
often wanders far from streams in damp shady glens beneath the pines,
where it is much smaller. When the leaves ripen in the fall, they become
more beautiful than the flowers, displaying charming tones of red,
purple, and lavender. Another species grows in abundance as a chaparral
shrub on the shady sides of the hills, probably _Cornus sessilis_. The
leaves are eaten by the sheep.--Heard a few lightning strokes in the
distance, with rumbling, mumbling reverberations.

_June 27._ The beaked hazel (_Corylus rostrata_, var. _Californica_) is
common on cool slopes up toward the summit of the Pilot Peak Ridge.
There is something peculiarly attractive in the hazel, like the oaks and
heaths of the cool countries of our forefathers, and through them our
love for these plants has, I suppose, been transmitted. This species is
four or five feet high, leaves soft and hairy, grateful to the touch,
and the delicious nuts are eagerly gathered by Indians and squirrels.
The sky as usual adorned with white noon clouds.

_June 28._ Warm, mellow summer. The glowing sunbeams make every nerve
tingle. The new needles of the pines and firs are nearly full grown and
shine gloriously. Lizards are glinting about on the hot rocks; some that
live near the camp are more than half tame. They seem attentive to every
movement on our part, as if curious to simply look on without suspicion
of harm, turning their heads to look back, and making a variety of
pretty gestures. Gentle, guileless creatures with beautiful eyes, I
shall be sorry to leave them when we leave camp.

_June 29._ I have been making the acquaintance of a very interesting
little bird that flits about the falls and rapids of the main branches
of the river. It is not a water-bird in structure, though it gets its
living in the water, and never leaves the streams. It is not web-footed,
yet it dives fearlessly into deep swirling rapids, evidently to feed at
the bottom, using its wings to swim with under water just as ducks and
loons do. Sometimes it wades about in shallow places, thrusting its head
under from time to time in a jerking, nodding, frisky way that is sure
to attract attention. It is about the size of a robin, has short crisp
wings serviceable for flying either in water or air, and a tail of
moderate size slanted upward, giving it, with its nodding, bobbing
manners, a wrennish look. Its color is plain bluish ash, with a tinge of
brown on the head and shoulders. It flies from fall to fall, rapid to
rapid, with a solid whir of wing-beats like those of a quail, follows
the windings of the stream, and usually alights on some rock jutting up
out of the current, or on some stranded snag, or rarely on the dry limb
of an overhanging tree, perching like regular tree birds when it suits
its convenience. It has the oddest, daintiest mincing manners
imaginable; and the little fellow can sing too, a sweet, thrushy, fluty
song, rather low, not the least boisterous, and much less keen and
accentuated than from its vigorous briskness one would be led to look
for. What a romantic life this little bird leads on the most beautiful
portions of the streams, in a genial climate with shade and cool water
and spray to temper the summer heat. No wonder it is a fine singer,
considering the stream songs it hears day and night. Every breath the
little poet draws is part of a song, for all the air about the rapids
and falls is beaten into music, and its first lessons must begin before
it is born by the thrilling and quivering of the eggs in unison with the
tones of the falls. I have not yet found its nest, but it must be near
the streams, for it never leaves them.

_June 30._ Half cloudy, half sunny, clouds lustrous white. The tall
pines crowded along the top of the Pilot Peak Ridge look like six-inch
miniatures exquisitely outlined on the satiny sky. Average cloudiness
for the day about .25. No rain. And so this memorable month ends, a
stream of beauty unmeasured, no more to be sectioned off by almanac
arithmetic than sun-radiance or the currents of seas and rivers--a
peaceful, joyful stream of beauty. Every morning, arising from the death
of sleep, the happy plants and all our fellow animal creatures great and
small, and even the rocks, seemed to be shouting, "Awake, awake,
rejoice, rejoice, come love us and join in our song. Come! Come!"
Looking back through the stillness and romantic enchanting beauty and
peace of the camp grove, this June seems the greatest of all the months
of my life, the most truly, divinely free, boundless like eternity,
immortal. Everything in it seems equally divine--one smooth, pure, wild
glow of Heaven's love, never to be blotted or blurred by anything past
or to come.

_July 1._ Summer is ripe. Flocks of seeds are already out of their cups
and pods seeking their predestined places. Some will strike root and
grow up beside their parents, others flying on the wings of the wind far
from them, among strangers. Most of the young birds are full feathered
and out of their nests, though still looked after by both father and
mother, protected and fed and to some extent educated. How beautiful the
home life of birds! No wonder we all love them.

[Illustration: DOUGLAS SQUIRREL OBSERVING BROTHER MAN]

I like to watch the squirrels. There are two species here, the large
California gray and the Douglas. The latter is the brightest of all the
squirrels I have ever seen, a hot spark of life, making every tree
tingle with his prickly toes, a condensed nugget of fresh mountain vigor
and valor, as free from disease as a sunbeam. One cannot think of such
an animal ever being weary or sick. He seems to think the mountains
belong to him, and at first tried to drive away the whole flock of
sheep as well as the shepherd and dogs. How he scolds, and what faces he
makes, all eyes, teeth, and whiskers! If not so comically small, he
would indeed be a dreadful fellow. I should like to know more about his
bringing up, his life in the home knot-hole, as well as in the
tree-tops, throughout all seasons. Strange that I have not yet found a
nest full of young ones. The Douglas is nearly allied to the red
squirrel of the Atlantic slope, and may have been distributed to this
side of the continent by way of the great unbroken forests of the north.

The California gray is one of the most beautiful, and, next to the
Douglas, the most interesting of our hairy neighbors. Compared with the
Douglas he is twice as large, but far less lively and influential as a
worker in the woods and he manages to make his way through leaves and
branches with less stir than his small brother. I have never heard him
bark at anything except our dogs. When in search of food he glides
silently from branch to branch, examining last year's cones, to see
whether some few seeds may not be left between the scales, or gleans
fallen ones among the leaves on the ground, since none of the present
season's crop is yet available. His tail floats now behind him, now
above him, level or gracefully curled like a wisp of cirrus cloud,
every hair in its place, clean and shining and radiant as thistle-down
in spite of rough, gummy work. His whole body seems about as
unsubstantial as his tail. The little Douglas is fiery, peppery, full of
brag and fight and show, with movements so quick and keen they almost
sting the onlooker, and the harlequin gyrating show he makes of himself
turns one giddy to see. The gray is shy, and oftentimes stealthy in his
movements, as if half expecting an enemy in every tree and bush, and
back of every log, wishing only to be let alone apparently, and
manifesting no desire to be seen or admired or feared. The Indians hunt
this species for food, a good cause for caution, not to mention other
enemies--hawks, snakes, wild cats. In woods where food is abundant they
wear paths through sheltering thickets and over prostrate trees to some
favorite pool where in hot and dry weather they drink at nearly the same
hour every day. These pools are said to be narrowly watched, especially
by the boys, who lie in ambush with bow and arrow, and kill without
noise. But, in spite of enemies, squirrels are happy fellows, forest
favorites, types of tireless life. Of all Nature's wild beasts, they
seem to me the wildest. May we come to know each other better.

The chaparral-covered hill-slope to the south of the camp, besides
furnishing nesting-places for countless merry birds, is the home and
hiding-place of the curious wood rat (_Neotoma_), a handsome,
interesting animal, always attracting attention wherever seen. It is
more like a squirrel than a rat, is much larger, has delicate, thick,
soft fur of a bluish slate color, white on the belly; ears large, thin,
and translucent; eyes soft, full, and liquid; claws slender, sharp as
needles; and as his limbs are strong, he can climb about as well as a
squirrel. No rat or squirrel has so innocent a look, is so easily
approached, or expresses such confidence in one's good intentions. He
seems too fine for the thorny thickets he inhabits, and his hut also is
as unlike himself as may be, though softly furnished inside. No other
animal inhabitant of these mountains builds houses so large and striking
in appearance. The traveler coming suddenly upon a group of them for the
first time will not be likely to forget them. They are built of all
kinds of sticks, old rotten pieces picked up anywhere, and green prickly
twigs bitten from the nearest bushes, the whole mixed with miscellaneous
odds and ends of everything movable, such as bits of cloddy earth,
stones, bones, deerhorn, etc., piled up in a conical mass as if it were
got ready for burning. Some of these curious cabins are six feet high
and as wide at the base, and a dozen or more of them are occasionally
grouped together, less perhaps for the sake of society than for
advantages of food and shelter. Coming through the dense shaggy thickets
of some lonely hillside, the solitary explorer happening into one of
these strange villages is startled at the sight, and may fancy himself
in an Indian settlement, and begin to wonder what kind of reception he
is likely to get. But no savage face will he see, perhaps not a single
inhabitant, or at most two or three seated on top of their wigwams,
looking at the stranger with the mildest of wild eyes, and allowing a
near approach. In the centre of the rough spiky hut a soft nest is made
of the inner fibres of bark chewed to tow, and lined with feathers and
the down of various seeds, such as willow and milkweed. The delicate
creature in its prickly, thick-walled home suggests a tender flower in a
thorny involucre. Some of the nests are built in trees thirty or forty
feet from the ground, and even in garrets, as if seeking the company and
protection of man, like swallows and linnets, though accustomed to the
wildest solitude. Among housekeepers Neotoma has the reputation of a
thief, because he carries away everything transportable to his queer
hut,--knives, forks, combs, nails, tin cups, spectacles, etc.,--merely,
however, to strengthen his fortifications, I guess. His food at home, as
far as I have learned, is nearly the same as that of the
squirrels,--nuts, berries, seeds, and sometimes the bark and tender
shoots of the various species of ceanothus.

_July 2._ Warm, sunny day, thrilling plant and animals and rocks alike,
making sap and blood flow fast, and making every particle of the crystal
mountains throb and swirl and dance in glad accord like star-dust. No
dullness anywhere visible or thinkable. No stagnation, no death.
Everything kept in joyful rhythmic motion in the pulses of Nature's big
heart.

Pearl cumuli over the higher mountains--clouds, not with a silver
lining, but all silver. The brightest, crispest, rockiest-looking
clouds, most varied in features and keenest in outline I ever saw at any
time of year in any country. The daily building and unbuilding of these
snowy cloud-ranges--the highest Sierra--is a prime marvel to me, and I
gaze at the stupendous white domes, miles high, with ever fresh
admiration. But in the midst of these sky and mountain affairs a change
of diet is pulling us down. We have been out of bread a few days, and
begin to miss it more than seems reasonable for we have plenty of meat
and sugar and tea. Strange we should feel food-poor in so rich a
wilderness. The Indians put us to shame, so do the squirrels,--starchy
roots and seeds and bark in abundance, yet the failure of the meal sack
disturbs our bodily balance, and threatens our best enjoyments.

_July 3._ Warm. Breeze just enough to sift through the woods and waft
fragrance from their thousand fountains. The pine and fir cones are
growing well, resin and balsam dripping from every tree, and seeds are
ripening fast, promising a fine harvest. The squirrels will have bread.
They eat all kinds of nuts long before they are ripe, and yet never seem
to suffer in stomach.



CHAPTER III

A BREAD FAMINE


_July 4._ The air beyond the flock range, full of the essences of the
woods, is growing sweeter and more fragrant from day to day, like
ripening fruit.

Mr. Delaney is expected to arrive soon from the lowlands with a new
stock of provisions, and as the flock is to be moved to fresh pastures
we shall all be well fed. In the mean time our stock of beans as well as
flour has failed--everything but mutton, sugar, and tea. The shepherd is
somewhat demoralized, and seems to care but little what becomes of his
flock. He says that since the boss has failed to feed him he is not
rightly bound to feed the sheep, and swears that no decent white man can
climb these steep mountains on mutton alone. "It's not fittin' grub for
a white man really white. For dogs and coyotes and Indians it's
different. Good grub, good sheep. That's what I say." Such was Billy's
Fourth of July oration.

_July 5._ The clouds of noon on the high Sierra seem yet more
marvelously, indescribably beautiful from day to day as one becomes
more wakeful to see them. The smoke of the gunpowder burned yesterday on
the lowlands, and the eloquence of the orators has probably settled or
been blown away by this time. Here every day is a holiday, a jubilee
ever sounding with serene enthusiasm, without wear or waste or cloying
weariness. Everything rejoicing. Not a single cell or crystal unvisited
or forgotten.

_July 6._ Mr. Delaney has not arrived, and the bread famine is sore. We
must eat mutton a while longer, though it seems hard to get accustomed
to it. I have heard of Texas pioneers living without bread or anything
made from the cereals for months without suffering, using the
breast-meat of wild turkeys for bread. Of this kind they had plenty in
the good old days when life, though considered less safe, was fussed
over the less. The trappers and fur traders of early days in the Rocky
Mountain regions lived on bison and beaver meat for months.
Salmon-eaters, too, there are among both Indians and whites who seem to
suffer little or not at all from the want of bread. Just at this moment
mutton seems the least desirable of food, though of good quality. We
pick out the leanest bits, and down they go against heavy disgust,
causing nausea and an effort to reject the offensive stuff. Tea makes
matters worse, if possible. The stomach begins to assert itself as an
independent creature with a will of its own. We should boil lupine
leaves, clover, starchy petioles, and saxifrage rootstocks like the
Indians. We try to ignore our gastric troubles, rise and gaze about us,
turn our eyes to the mountains, and climb doggedly up through brush and
rocks into the heart of the scenery. A stifled calm comes on, and the
day's duties and even enjoyments are languidly got through with. We chew
a few leaves of ceanothus by way of luncheon, and smell or chew the
spicy monardella for the dull headache and stomach-ache that now
lightens, now comes muffling down upon us and into us like fog. At night
more mutton, flesh to flesh, down with it, not too much, and there are
the stars shining through the cedar plumes and branches above our beds.

_July 7._ Rather weak and sickish this morning, and all about a piece of
bread. Can scarce command attention to my best studies, as if one
couldn't take a few days' saunter in the Godful woods without
maintaining a base on a wheat-field and gristmill. Like caged parrots we
want a cracker, any of the hundred kinds--the remainder biscuit of a
voyage around the world would answer well enough, nor would the
wholesomeness of saleratus biscuit be questioned. Bread without flesh
is a good diet, as on many botanical excursions I have proved. Tea also
may easily be ignored. Just bread and water and delightful toil is all I
need,--not unreasonably much, yet one ought to be trained and tempered
to enjoy life in these brave wilds in full independence of any
particular kind of nourishment. That this may be accomplished is
manifest, as far as bodily welfare is concerned, in the lives of people
of other climes. The Eskimo, for example, gets a living far north of the
wheat line, from oily seals and whales. Meat, berries, bitter weeds, and
blubber, or only the last, for months at a time; and yet these people
all around the frozen shores of our continent are said to be hearty,
jolly, stout, and brave. We hear, too, of fish-eaters, carnivorous as
spiders, yet well enough as far as stomachs are concerned, while we are
so ridiculously helpless, making wry faces over our fare, looking
sheepish in digestive distress amid rumbling, grumbling sounds that
might well pass for smothered baas. We have a large supply of sugar, and
this evening it occurred to me that these belligerent stomachs might
possibly, like complaining children, be coaxed with candy. Accordingly
the frying-pan was cleansed, and a lot of sugar cooked in it to a sort
of wax, but this stuff only made matters worse.

Man seems to be the only animal whose food soils him, making necessary
much washing and shield-like bibs and napkins. Moles living in the earth
and eating slimy worms are yet as clean as seals or fishes, whose lives
are one perpetual wash. And, as we have seen, the squirrels in these
resiny woods keep themselves clean in some mysterious way; not a hair is
sticky, though they handle the gummy cones, and glide about apparently
without care. The birds, too, are clean, though they seem to make a good
deal of fuss washing and cleaning their feathers. Certain flies and ants
I see are in a fix, entangled and sealed up in the sugar-wax we threw
away, like some of their ancestors in amber. Our stomachs, like tired
muscles, are sore with long squirming. Once I was very hungry in the
Bonaventure graveyard near Savannah, Georgia, having fasted for several
days; then the empty stomach seemed to chafe in much the same way as
now, and a somewhat similar tenderness and aching was produced, hard to
bear, though the pain was not acute. We dream of bread, a sure sign we
need it. Like the Indians, we ought to know how to get the starch out of
fern and saxifrage stalks, lily bulbs, pine bark, etc. Our education has
been sadly neglected for many generations. Wild rice would be good. I
noticed a leersia in wet meadow edges, but the seeds are small. Acorns
are not ripe, nor pine nuts, nor filberts. The inner bark of pine or
spruce might be tried. Drank tea until half intoxicated. Man seems to
crave a stimulant when anything extraordinary is going on, and this is
the only one I use. Billy chews great quantities of tobacco, which I
suppose helps to stupefy and moderate his misery. We look and listen for
the Don every hour. How beautiful upon the mountains his big feet would
be!

In the warm, hospitable Sierra, shepherds and mountain men in general,
as far as I have seen, are easily satisfied as to food supplies and
bedding. Most of them are heartily content to "rough it," ignoring
Nature's fineness as bothersome or unmanly. The shepherd's bed is often
only the bare ground and a pair of blankets, with a stone, a piece of
wood, or a pack-saddle for a pillow. In choosing the spot, he shows less
care than the dogs, for they usually deliberate before making up their
minds in so important an affair, going from place to place, scraping
away loose sticks and pebbles, and trying for comfort by making many
changes, while the shepherd casts himself down anywhere, seemingly the
least skilled of all rest seekers. His food, too, even when he has all
he wants, is usually far from delicate, either in kind or cooking.
Beans, bread of any sort, bacon, mutton, dried peaches, and sometimes
potatoes and onions, make up his bill-of-fare, the two latter articles
being regarded as luxuries on account of their weight as compared with
the nourishment they contain; a half-sack or so of each may be put into
the pack in setting out from the home ranch and in a few days they are
done. Beans are the main standby, portable, wholesome, and capable of
going far, besides being easily cooked, although curiously enough a
great deal of mystery is supposed to lie about the bean-pot. No two
cooks quite agree on the methods of making beans do their best, and,
after petting and coaxing and nursing the savory mess,--well oiled and
mellowed with bacon boiled into the heart of it,--the proud cook will
ask, after dishing out a quart or two for trial, "Well, how do you like
_my_ beans?" as if by no possibility could they be like any other beans
cooked in the same way, but must needs possess some special virtue of
which he alone is master. Molasses, sugar, or pepper may be used to give
desired flavors; or the first water may be poured off and a spoonful or
two of ashes or soda added to dissolve or soften the skins more fully,
according to various tastes and notions. But, like casks of wine, no two
potfuls are exactly alike to every palate. Some are supposed to be
spoiled by the moon, by some unlucky day, by the beans having been grown
on soil not suitable; or the whole year may be to blame as not favorable
for beans.

Coffee, too, has its marvels in the camp kitchen, but not so many, and
not so inscrutable as those that beset the bean-pot. A low, complacent
grunt follows a mouthful drawn in with a gurgle, and the remark cast
forth aimlessly, "That's good coffee." Then another gurgling sip and
repetition of the judgment, "_Yes, sir_, that _is_ good coffee." As to
tea, there are but two kinds, weak and strong, the stronger the better.
The only remark heard is, "That tea's weak," otherwise it is good enough
and not worth mentioning. If it has been boiled an hour or two or smoked
on a pitchy fire, no matter,--who cares for a little tannin or creosote?
they make the black beverage all the stronger and more attractive to
tobacco-tanned palates.

Sheep-camp bread, like most California camp bread, is baked in Dutch
ovens, some of it in the form of yeast powder biscuit, an unwholesome
sticky compound leading straight to dyspepsia. The greater part,
however, is fermented with sour dough, a handful from each batch being
saved and put away in the mouth of the flour sack to inoculate the
next. The oven is simply a cast-iron pot, about five inches deep and
from twelve to eighteen inches wide. After the batch has been mixed and
kneaded in a tin pan the oven is slightly heated and rubbed with a piece
of tallow or pork rind. The dough is then placed in it, pressed out
against the sides, and left to rise. When ready for baking a shovelful
of coals is spread out by the side of the fire and the oven set upon
them, while another shovelful is placed on top of the lid, which is
raised from time to time to see that the requisite amount of heat is
being kept up. With care good bread may be made in this way, though it
is liable to be burned or to be sour, or raised too much, and the weight
of the oven is a serious objection.

At last Don Delaney comes doon the lang glen--hunger vanishes, we turn
our eyes to the mountains, and to-morrow we go climbing toward
cloudland.

Never while anything is left of me shall this first camp be forgotten.
It has fairly grown into me, not merely as memory pictures, but as part
and parcel of mind and body alike. The deep hopper-like hollow, with its
majestic trees through which all the wonderful nights the stars poured
their beauty. The flowery wildness of the high steep slope toward
Brown's Flat, and its bloom-fragrance descending at the close of the
still days. The embowered river-reaches with their multitude of voices
making melody, the stately flow and rush and glad exulting onsweeping
currents caressing the dipping sedge-leaves and bushes and mossy stones,
swirling in pools, dividing against little flowery islands, breaking
gray and white here and there, ever rejoicing, yet with deep solemn
undertones recalling the ocean--the brave little bird ever beside them,
singing with sweet human tones among the waltzing foam-bells, and like a
blessed evangel explaining God's love. And the Pilot Peak Ridge, its
long withdrawing slopes gracefully modeled and braided, reaching from
climate to climate, feathered with trees that are the kings of their
race, their ranks nobly marshaled to view, spire above spire, crown
above crown, waving their long, leafy arms, tossing their cones like
ringing bells--blessed sun-fed mountaineers rejoicing in their strength,
every tree tuneful, a harp for the winds and the sun. The hazel and
buckthorn pastures of the deer, the sun-beaten brows purple and yellow
with mint and golden-rods, carpeted with chamæbatia, humming with bees.
And the dawns and sunrises and sundowns of these mountain days,--the
rose light creeping higher among the stars, changing to daffodil yellow,
the level beams bursting forth, streaming across the ridges, touching
pine after pine, awakening and warming all the mighty host to do gladly
their shining day's work. The great sun-gold noons, the alabaster
cloud-mountains, the landscape beaming with consciousness like the face
of a god. The sunsets, when the trees stood hushed awaiting their
good-night blessings. Divine, enduring, unwastable wealth.



CHAPTER IV

TO THE HIGH MOUNTAINS


_July 8._ Now away we go toward the topmost mountains. Many still, small
voices, as well as the noon thunder, are calling, "Come higher."
Farewell, blessed dell, woods, gardens, streams, birds, squirrels,
lizards, and a thousand others. Farewell. Farewell.

Up through the woods the hoofed locusts streamed beneath a cloud of
brown dust. Scarcely were they driven a hundred yards from the old
corral ere they seemed to know that at last they were going to new
pastures, and rushed wildly ahead, crowding through gaps in the brush,
jumping, tumbling like exulting hurrahing flood-waters escaping through
a broken dam. A man on each flank kept shouting advice to the leaders,
who in their famishing condition were behaving like Gadarene swine; two
other drivers were busy with stragglers, helping them out of brush
tangles; the Indian, calm, alert, silently watched for wanderers likely
to be overlooked; the two dogs ran here and there, at a loss to know
what was best to be done, while the Don, soon far in the rear, was
trying to keep in sight of his troublesome wealth.

[Illustration: DIVIDE BETWEEN THE TUOLUMNE AND THE MERCED BELOW HAZEL
GREEN]

As soon as the boundary of the old eaten-out range was passed the hungry
horde suddenly became calm, like a mountain stream in a meadow.
Thenceforward they were allowed to eat their way as slowly as they
wished, care being taken only to keep them headed toward the summit of
the Merced and Tuolumne divide. Soon the two thousand flattened paunches
were bulged out with sweet-pea vines and grass, and the gaunt, desperate
creatures, more like wolves than sheep, became bland and governable,
while the howling drivers changed to gentle shepherds, and sauntered in
peace.

Toward sundown we reached Hazel Green, a charming spot on the summit of
the dividing ridge between the basins of the Merced and Tuolumne, where
there is a small brook flowing through hazel and dogwood thickets
beneath magnificent silver firs and pines. Here, we are camped for the
night, our big fire, heaped high with rosiny logs and branches, is
blazing like a sunrise, gladly giving back the light slowly sifted from
the sunbeams of centuries of summers; and in the glow of that old
sunlight how impressively surrounding objects are brought forward in
relief against the outer darkness! Grasses, larkspurs, columbines,
lilies, hazel bushes, and the great trees form a circle around the fire
like thoughtful spectators, gazing and listening with human-like
enthusiasm. The night breeze is cool, for all day we have been climbing
into the upper sky, the home of the cloud mountains we so long have
admired. How sweet and keen the air! Every breath a blessing. Here the
sugar pine reaches its fullest development in size and beauty and number
of individuals, filling every swell and hollow and down-plunging ravine
almost to the exclusion of other species. A few yellow pines are still
to be found as companions, and in the coolest places silver firs; but
noble as these are, the sugar pine is king, and spreads long protecting
arms above them while they rock and wave in sign of recognition.

We have now reached a height of six thousand feet. In the forenoon we
passed along a flat part of the dividing ridge that is planted with
manzanita (_Arctostaphylos_), some specimens the largest I have seen. I
measured one, the bole of which is four feet in diameter and only
eighteen inches high from the ground, where it dissolves into many
wide-spreading branches forming a broad round head about ten or twelve
feet high, covered with clusters of small narrow-throated pink bells.
The leaves are pale green, glandular, and set on edge by a twist of the
petiole. The branches seem naked; for the chocolate-colored bark is very
smooth and thin, and is shed off in flakes that curl when dry. The wood
is red, close-grained, hard, and heavy. I wonder how old these curious
tree-bushes are, probably as old as the great pines. Indians and bears
and birds and fat grubs feast on the berries, which look like small
apples, often rosy on one side, green on the other. The Indians are said
to make a kind of beer or cider out of them. There are many species.
This one, _Arctostaphylos pungens_, is common hereabouts. No need have
they to fear the wind, so low they are and steadfastly rooted. Even the
fires that sweep the woods seldom destroy them utterly, for they rise
again from the root, and some of the dry ridges they grow on are seldom
touched by fire. I must try to know them better.

I miss my river songs to-night. Here Hazel Creek at its topmost springs
has a voice like a bird. The wind-tones in the great trees overhead are
strangely impressive, all the more because not a leaf stirs below them.
But it grows late, and I must to bed. The camp is silent; everybody
asleep. It seems extravagant to spend hours so precious in sleep. "He
giveth his beloved sleep." Pity the poor beloved needs it, weak, weary,
forspent; oh, the pity of it, to sleep in the midst of eternal,
beautiful motion instead of gazing forever, like the stars.

_July 9._ Exhilarated with the mountain air, I feel like shouting this
morning with excess of wild animal joy. The Indian lay down away from
the fire last night, without blankets, having nothing on, by way of
clothing, but a pair of blue overalls and a calico shirt wet with sweat.
The night air is chilly at this elevation, and we gave him some
horse-blankets, but he didn't seem to care for them. A fine thing to be
independent of clothing where it is so hard to carry. When food is
scarce, he can live on whatever comes in his way--a few berries, roots,
bird eggs, grasshoppers, black ants, fat wasp or bumblebee larvæ,
without feeling that he is doing anything worth mention, so I have been
told.

[Illustration: _A Silver Fir, or Red Fir (Abies magnifica)_]

Our course to-day was along the broad top of the main ridge to a hollow
beyond Crane Flat. It is scarce at all rocky, and is covered with the
noblest pines and spruces I have yet seen. Sugar pines from six to eight
feet in diameter are not uncommon, with a height of two hundred feet or
even more. The silver firs (_Abies concolor_ and _A. magnifica_) are
exceedingly beautiful, especially the _magnifica_, which becomes
more abundant the higher we go. It is of great size, one of the most
notable in every way of the giant conifers of the Sierra. I saw
specimens that measured seven feet in diameter and over two hundred feet
in height, while the average size for what might be called full-grown
mature trees can hardly be less than one hundred and eighty or two
hundred feet high and five or six feet in diameter; and with these noble
dimensions there is a symmetry and perfection of finish not to be seen
in any other tree, hereabout at least. The branches are whorled in fives
mostly, and stand out from the tall, straight, exquisitely tapered bole
in level collars, each branch regularly pinnated like the fronds of
ferns, and densely clad with leaves all around the branchlets, thus
giving them a singularly rich and sumptuous appearance. The extreme top
of the tree is a thick blunt shoot pointing straight to the zenith like
an admonishing finger. The cones stand erect like casks on the upper
branches. They are about six inches long, three in diameter, blunt,
velvety, and cylindrical in form, and very rich and precious looking.
The seeds are about three quarters of an inch long, dark reddish brown
with brilliant iridescent purple wings, and when ripe, the cone falls
to pieces, and the seeds thus set free at a height of one hundred and
fifty or two hundred feet have a good send off and may fly considerable
distances in a good breeze; and it is when a good breeze is blowing that
most of them are shaken free to fly.

The other species, _Abies concolor_, attains nearly as great a height
and thickness as the _magnifica_, but the branches do not form such
regular whorls, nor are they so exactly pinnated or richly leaf-clad.
Instead of growing all around the branchlets, the leaves are mostly
arranged in two flat horizontal rows. The cones and seeds are like those
of the _magnifica_ in form but less than half as large. The bark of the
_magnifica_ is reddish purple and closely furrowed, that of the
_concolor_ gray and widely furrowed. A noble pair.

At Crane Flat we climbed a thousand feet or more in a distance of about
two miles, the forest growing more dense and the silvery _magnifica_ fir
forming a still greater portion of the whole. Crane Flat is a meadow
with a wide sandy border lying on the top of the divide. It is often
visited by blue cranes to rest and feed on their long journeys, hence
the name. It is about half a mile long, draining into the Merced, sedgy
in the middle, with a margin bright with lilies, columbines, larkspurs,
lupines, castilleia, then an outer zone of dry, gently sloping ground
starred with a multitude of small flowers,--eunanus, mimulus, gilia,
with rosettes of spraguea, and tufts of several species of eriogonum and
the brilliant zauschneria. The noble forest wall about it is made up of
the two silver firs and the yellow and sugar pines, which here seem to
reach their highest pitch of beauty and grandeur; for the elevation, six
thousand feet or a little more, is not too great for the sugar and
yellow pines or too low for the _magnifica_ fir, while the _concolor_
seems to find this elevation the best possible. About a mile from the
north end of the flat there is a grove of _Sequoia gigantea_, the king
of all the conifers. Furthermore, the Douglas spruce (_Pseudotsuga
Douglasii_) and _Libocedrus decurrens_, and a few two-leaved pines,
occur here and there, forming a small part of the forest. Three pines,
two silver firs, one Douglas spruce, one sequoia,--all of them, except
the two-leaved pine, colossal trees,--are found here together, an
assemblage of conifers unrivaled on the globe.

We passed a number of charming garden-like meadows lying on top of the
divide or hanging like ribbons down its sides, imbedded in the glorious
forest. Some are taken up chiefly with the tall white-flowered _Veratrum
Californicum_, with boat-shaped leaves about a foot long, eight or ten
inches wide, and veined like those of cypripedium,--a robust, hearty,
liliaceous plant, fond of water and determined to be seen. Columbine and
larkspur grow on the dryer edges of the meadows, with a tall handsome
lupine standing waist-deep in long grasses and sedges. Castilleias, too,
of several species make a bright show with beds of violets at their
feet. But the glory of these forest meadows is a lily (_L. parvum_). The
tallest are from seven to eight feet high with magnificent racemes of
ten to twenty or more small orange-colored flowers; they stand out free
in open ground, with just enough grass and other companion plants about
them to fringe their feet, and show them off to best advantage. This is
a grand addition to my lily acquaintances,--a true mountaineer, reaching
prime vigor and beauty at a height of seven thousand feet or
thereabouts. It varies, I find, very much in size even in the same
meadow, not only with the soil, but with age. I saw a specimen that had
only one flower, and another within a stone's throw had twenty-five. And
to think that the sheep should be allowed in these lily meadows! after
how many centuries of Nature's care planting and watering them, tucking
the bulbs in snugly below winter frost, shading the tender shoots with
clouds drawn above them like curtains, pouring refreshing rain, making
them perfect in beauty, and keeping them safe by a thousand miracles;
yet, strange to say, allowing the trampling of devastating sheep. One
might reasonably look for a wall of fire to fence such gardens. So
extravagant is Nature with her choicest treasures, spending plant beauty
as she spends sunshine, pouring it forth into land and sea, garden and
desert. And so the beauty of lilies falls on angels and men, bears and
squirrels, wolves and sheep, birds and bees, but as far as I have seen,
man alone, and the animals he tames, destroy these gardens. Awkward,
lumbering bears, the Don tells me, love to wallow in them in hot
weather, and deer with their sharp feet cross them again and again,
sauntering and feeding, yet never a lily have I seen spoiled by them.
Rather, like gardeners, they seem to cultivate them, pressing and
dibbling as required. Anyhow not a leaf or petal seems misplaced.

The trees round about them seem as perfect in beauty and form as the
lilies, their boughs whorled like lily leaves in exact order. This
evening, as usual, the glow of our camp-fire is working enchantment on
everything within reach of its rays. Lying beneath the firs, it is
glorious to see them dipping their spires in the starry sky, the sky
like one vast lily meadow in bloom! How can I close my eyes on so
precious a night?

_July 10._ A Douglas squirrel, peppery, pungent autocrat of the woods,
is barking overhead this morning, and the small forest birds, so seldom
seen when one travels noisily, are out on sunny branches along the edge
of the meadow getting warm, taking a sun bath and dew bath--a fine
sight. How charming the sprightly confident looks and ways of these
little feathered people of the trees! They seem sure of dainty,
wholesome breakfasts, and where are so many breakfasts to come from? How
helpless should we find ourselves should we try to set a table for them
of such buds, seeds, insects, etc., as would keep them in the pure wild
health they enjoy! Not a headache or any other ache amongst them, I
guess. As for the irrepressible Douglas squirrels, one never thinks of
their breakfasts or the possibility of hunger, sickness or death; rather
they seem like stars above chance or change, even though we may see them
at times busy gathering burrs, working hard for a living.

On through the forest ever higher we go, a cloud of dust dimming the
way, thousands of feet trampling leaves and flowers, but in this mighty
wilderness they seem but a feeble band, and a thousand gardens will
escape their blighting touch. They cannot hurt the trees, though some of
the seedlings suffer, and should the woolly locusts be greatly
multiplied, as on account of dollar value they are likely to be, then
the forests, too, may in time be destroyed. Only the sky will then be
safe, though hid from view by dust and smoke, incense of a bad
sacrifice. Poor, helpless, hungry sheep, in great part misbegotten,
without good right to be, semi-manufactured, made less by God than man,
born out of time and place, yet their voices are strangely human and
call out one's pity.

Our way is still along the Merced and Tuolumne divide, the streams on
our right going to swell the songful Yosemite River, those on our left
to the songful Tuolumne, slipping through sunny carex and lily meadows,
and breaking into song down a thousand ravines almost as soon as they
are born. A more tuneful set of streams surely nowhere exists, or more
sparkling crystal pure, now gliding with tinkling whisper, now with
merry dimpling rush, in and out through sunshine and shade, shimmering
in pools, uniting their currents, bouncing, dancing from form to form
over cliffs and inclines, ever more beautiful the farther they go until
they pour into the main glacial rivers.

All day I have been gazing in growing admiration at the noble groups of
the magnificent silver fir which more and more is taking the ground to
itself. The woods above Crane Flat still continue comparatively open,
letting in the sunshine on the brown needle-strewn ground. Not only are
the individual trees admirable in symmetry and superb in foliage and
port, but half a dozen or more often form temple groves in which the
trees are so nicely graded in size and position as to seem one. Here,
indeed, is the tree-lover's paradise. The dullest eye in the world must
surely be quickened by such trees as these.

Fortunately the sheep need little attention, as they are driven slowly
and allowed to nip and nibble as they like. Since leaving Hazel Green we
have been following the Yosemite trail; visitors to the famous valley
coming by way of Coulterville and Chinese Camp pass this way--the two
trails uniting at Crane Flat--and enter the valley on the north side.
Another trail enters on the south side by way of Mariposa. The tourists
we saw were in parties of from three or four to fifteen or twenty,
mounted on mules or small mustang ponies. A strange show they made,
winding single file through the solemn woods in gaudy attire, scaring
the wild creatures, and one might fancy that even the great pines would
be disturbed and groan aghast. But what may we say of ourselves and the
flock?

We are now camped at Tamarack Flat, within four or five miles of the
lower end of Yosemite. Here is another fine meadow embosomed in the
woods, with a deep, clear stream gliding through it, its banks rounded
and beveled with a thatch of dipping sedges. The flat is named after the
two-leaved pine (_Pinus contorta_, var. _Murrayana_), common here,
especially around the cool margin of the meadow. On rocky ground it is a
rough, thickset tree, about forty to sixty feet high and one to three
feet in diameter, bark thin and gummy, branches rather naked, tassels,
leaves, and cones small. But in damp, rich soil it grows close and
slender, and reaches a height at times of nearly a hundred feet.
Specimens only six inches in diameter at the ground are often fifty or
sixty feet in height, as slender and sharp in outline as arrows, like
the true tamarack (larch) of the Eastern States; hence the name, though
it is a pine.

_July 11._ The Don has gone ahead on one of the pack animals to spy out
the land to the north of Yosemite in search of the best point for a
central camp. Much higher than this we cannot now go, for the upper
pastures, said to be better than any hereabouts, are still buried in
heavy winter snow. Glad I am that camp is to be fixed in the Yosemite
region, for many a glorious ramble I'll have along the top of the walls,
and then what landscapes I shall find with their new mountains and
cañons, forests and gardens, lakes and streams and falls.

We are now about seven thousand feet above the sea, and the nights are
so cool we have to pile coats and extra clothing on top of our blankets.
Tamarack Creek is icy cold, delicious, exhilarating champagne water. It
is flowing bank-full in the meadow with silent speed, but only a few
hundred yards below our camp the ground is bare gray granite strewn with
boulders, large spaces being without a single tree or only a small one
here and there anchored in narrow seams and cracks. The boulders, many
of them very large, are not in piles or scattered like rubbish among
loose crumbling débris as if weathered out of the solid as boulders of
disintegration; they mostly occur singly, and are lying on a clean
pavement on which the sunshine falls in a glare that contrasts with the
shimmer of light and shade we have been accustomed to in the leafy
woods. And, strange to say, these boulders lying so still and deserted,
with no moving force near them, no boulder carrier anywhere in sight,
were nevertheless brought from a distance, as difference in color and
composition shows, quarried and carried and laid down here each in its
place; nor have they stirred, most of them, through calm and storm since
first they arrived. They look lonely here, strangers in a strange
land,--huge blocks, angular mountain chips, the largest twenty or thirty
feet in diameter, the chips that Nature has made in modeling her
landscapes, fashioning the forms of her mountains and valleys. And with
what tool were they quarried and carried? On the pavement we find its
marks. The most resisting unweathered portion of the surface is scored
and striated in a rigidly parallel way, indicating that the region has
been overswept by a glacier from the northeastward, grinding down the
general mass of the mountains, scoring and polishing, producing a
strange, raw, wiped appearance, and dropping whatever boulders it
chanced to be carrying at the time it was melted at the close of the
Glacial Period. A fine discovery this. As for the forests we have been
passing through, they are probably growing on deposits of soil most of
which has been laid down by this same ice agent in the form of moraines
of different sorts, now in great part disintegrated and outspread by
post-glacial weathering.

Out of the grassy meadow and down over this ice-planed granite runs the
glad young Tamarack Creek, rejoicing, exulting, chanting, dancing in
white, glowing, irised falls and cascades on its way to the Merced
Cañon, a few miles below Yosemite, falling more than three thousand feet
in a distance of about two miles.

All the Merced streams are wonderful singers, and Yosemite is the centre
where the main tributaries meet. From a point about half a mile from our
camp we can see into the lower end of the famous valley, with its
wonderful cliffs and groves, a grand page of mountain manuscript that I
would gladly give my life to be able to read. How vast it seems, how
short human life when we happen to think of it, and how little we may
learn, however hard we try! Yet why bewail our poor inevitable
ignorance? Some of the external beauty is always in sight, enough to
keep every fibre of us tingling, and this we are able to gloriously
enjoy though the methods of its creation may lie beyond our ken. Sing
on, brave Tamarack Creek, fresh from your snowy fountains, plash and
swirl and dance to your fate in the sea; bathing, cheering every living
thing along your way.

Have greatly enjoyed all this huge day, sauntering and seeing, steeping
in the mountain influences, sketching, noting, pressing flowers,
drinking ozone and Tamarack water. Found the white fragrant Washington
lily, the finest of all the Sierra lilies. Its bulbs are buried in
shaggy chaparral tangles, I suppose for safety from pawing bears; and
its magnificent panicles sway and rock over the top of the rough
snow-pressed bushes, while big, bold, blunt-nosed bees drone and mumble
in its polleny bells. A lovely flower, worth going hungry and footsore
endless miles to see. The whole world seems richer now that I have found
this plant in so noble a landscape.

A log house serves to mark a claim to the Tamarack meadow, which may
become valuable as a station in case travel to Yosemite should greatly
increase. Belated parties occasionally stop here. A white man with an
Indian woman is holding possession of the place.

Sauntered up the meadow about sundown, out of sight of camp and sheep
and all human mark, into the deep peace of the solemn old woods,
everything glowing with Heaven's unquenchable enthusiasm.

_July 12._ The Don has returned, and again we go on pilgrimage.
"Looking over the Yosemite Creek country," he said, "from the tops of
the hills you see nothing but rocks and patches of trees; but when you
go down into the rocky desert you find no end of small grassy banks and
meadows, and so the country is not half so lean as it looks. There we'll
go and stay until the snow is melted from the upper country."

I was glad to hear that the high snow made a stay in the Yosemite region
necessary, for I am anxious to see as much of it as possible. What fine
times I shall have sketching, studying plants and rocks, and scrambling
about the brink of the great valley alone, out of sight and sound of
camp!

We saw another party of Yosemite tourists to-day. Somehow most of these
travelers seem to care but little for the glorious objects about them,
though enough to spend time and money and endure long rides to see the
famous valley. And when they are fairly within the mighty walls of the
temple and hear the psalms of the falls, they will forget themselves and
become devout. Blessed, indeed, should be every pilgrim in these holy
mountains!

We moved slowly eastward along the Mono Trail, and early in the
afternoon unpacked and camped on the bank of Cascade Creek. The Mono
Trail crosses the range by the Bloody Cañon Pass to gold mines near the
north end of Mono Lake. These mines were reported to be rich when first
discovered, and a grand rush took place, making a trail necessary. A few
small bridges were built over streams where fording was not practicable
on account of the softness of the bottom, sections of fallen trees cut
out, and lanes made through thickets wide enough to allow the passage of
bulky packs; but over the greater part of the way scarce a stone or
shovelful of earth has been moved.

The woods we passed through are composed almost wholly of _Abies
magnifica_, the companion species, _concolor_, being mostly left behind
on account of altitude, while the increasing elevation seems grateful to
the charming _magnifica_. No words can do anything like justice to this
noble tree. At one place many had fallen during some heavy wind-storm,
owing to the loose sandy character of the soil, which offered no secure
anchorage. The soil is mostly decomposed and disintegrated moraine
material.

The sheep are lying down on a bare rocky spot such as they like, chewing
the cud in grassy peace. Cooking is going on, appetites growing keener
every day. No lowlander can appreciate the mountain appetite, and the
facility with which heavy food called "grub" is disposed of. Eating,
walking, resting, seem alike delightful, and one feels inclined to shout
lustily on rising in the morning like a crowing cock. Sleep and
digestion as clear as the air. Fine spicy plush boughs for bedding we
shall have to-night, and a glorious lullaby from this cascading creek.
Never was stream more fittingly named, for as far as I have traced it
above and below our camp it is one continuous bouncing, dancing, white
bloom of cascades. And at the very last unwearied it finishes its wild
course in a grand leap of three hundred feet or more to the bottom of
the main Yosemite cañon near the fall of Tamarack Creek, a few miles
below the foot of the valley. These falls almost rival some of the
far-famed Yosemite falls. Never shall I forget these glad cascade songs,
the low booming, the roaring, the keen, silvery clashing of the cool
water rushing exulting from form to form beneath irised spray; or in the
deep still night seen white in the darkness, and its multitude of voices
sounding still more impressively sublime. Here I find the little water
ouzel as much at home as any linnet in a leafy grove, seeming to take
the greater delight the more boisterous the stream. The dizzy
precipices, the swift dashing energy displayed, and the thunder tones of
the sheer falls are awe inspiring, but there is nothing awful about
this little bird. Its song is sweet and low, and all its gestures, as it
flits about amid the loud uproar, bespeak strength and peace and joy.
Contemplating these darlings of Nature coming forth from spray-sprinkled
nests on the brink of savage streams, Samson's riddle comes to mind,
"Out of the strong cometh forth sweetness." A yet finer bloom is this
little bird than the foam-bells in eddying pools. Gentle bird, a
precious message you bring me. We may miss the meaning of the torrent,
but thy sweet voice, only love is in it.

_July 13._ Our course all day has been eastward over the rim of Yosemite
Creek basin and down about halfway to the bottom, where we have encamped
on a sheet of glacier-polished granite, a firm foundation for beds. Saw
the tracks of a very large bear on the trail, and the Don talked of
bears in general. I said I should like to see the maker of these immense
tracks as he marched along, and follow him for days, without disturbing
him, to learn something of the life of this master beast of the
wilderness. Lambs, the Don told me, born in the lowland, that never saw
or heard a bear, snort and run in terror when they catch the scent,
showing how fully they have inherited a knowledge of their enemy. Hogs,
mules, horses, and cattle are afraid of bears, and are seized with
ungovernable terror when they approach, particularly hogs and mules.
Hogs are frequently driven to pastures in the foothills of the Coast
Range and Sierra where acorns are abundant, and are herded in droves of
hundreds like sheep. When a bear comes to the range they promptly leave
it, emigrating in a body, usually in the night time, the keepers being
powerless to prevent; they thus show more sense than sheep, that simply
scatter in the rocks and brush and await their fate. Mules flee like the
wind with or without riders when they see a bear, and, if picketed,
sometimes break their necks in trying to break their ropes, though I
have not heard of bears killing mules or horses. Of hogs they are said
to be particularly fond, bolting small ones, bones and all, without
choice of parts. In particular, Mr. Delaney assured me that all kinds of
bears in the Sierra are very shy, and that hunters found far greater
difficulty in getting within gunshot of them than of deer or indeed any
other animal in the Sierra, and if I was anxious to see much of them I
should have to wait and watch with endless Indian patience and pay no
attention to anything else.

Night is coming on, the gray rock waves are growing dim in the twilight.
How raw and young this region appears! Had the ice sheet that swept
over it vanished but yesterday, its traces on the more resisting
portions about our camp could hardly be more distinct than they now are.
The horses and sheep and all of us, indeed, slipped on the smoothest
places.

_July 14._ How deathlike is sleep in this mountain air, and quick the
awakening into newness of life! A calm dawn, yellow and purple, then
floods of sun-gold, making every thing tingle and glow.

In an hour or two we came to Yosemite Creek, the stream that makes the
greatest of all the Yosemite falls. It is about forty feet wide at the
Mono Trail crossing, and now about four feet in average depth, flowing
about three miles an hour. The distance to the verge of the Yosemite
wall, where it makes its tremendous plunge, is only about two miles from
here. Calm, beautiful, and nearly silent, it glides with stately
gestures, a dense growth of the slender two-leaved pine along its banks,
and a fringe of willow, purple spirea, sedges, daisies, lilies, and
columbines. Some of the sedges and willow boughs dip into the current,
and just outside of the close ranks of trees there is a sunny flat of
washed gravelly sand which seems to have been deposited by some ancient
flood. It is covered with millions of erethrea, eriogonum, and
oxytheca, with more flowers than leaves, forming an even growth,
slightly dimpled and ruffled here and there by rosettes of _Spraguea
umbellata_. Back of this flowery strip there is a wavy upsloping plain
of solid granite, so smoothly ice-polished in many places that it
glistens in the sun like glass. In shallow hollows there are patches of
trees, mostly the rough form of the two-leaved pine, rather scrawny
looking where there is little or no soil. Also a few junipers
(_Juniperus occidentalis_), short and stout, with bright
cinnamon-colored bark and gray foliage, standing alone mostly, on the
sun-beaten pavement, safe from fire, clinging by slight joints,--a
sturdy storm-enduring mountaineer of a tree, living on sunshine and
snow, maintaining tough health on this diet for perhaps more than a
thousand years.

Up towards the head of the basin I see groups of domes rising above the
wavelike ridges, and some picturesque castellated masses, and dark
strips and patches of silver fir, indicating deposits of fertile soil.
Would that I could command the time to study them! What rich excursions
one could make in this well-defined basin! Its glacial inscriptions and
sculptures, how marvelous they seem, how noble the studies they offer! I
tremble with excitement in the dawn of these glorious mountain
sublimities, but I can only gaze and wonder, and, like a child, gather
here and there a lily, half hoping I may be able to study and learn in
years to come.

The drivers and dogs had a lively, laborious time getting the sheep
across the creek, the second large stream thus far that they have been
compelled to cross without a bridge; the first being the North Fork of
the Merced near Bower Cave. Men and dogs, shouting and barking, drove
the timid, water-fearing creatures in a close crowd against the bank,
but not one of the flock would launch away. While thus jammed, the Don
and the shepherd rushed through the frightened crowd to stampede those
in front, but this would only cause a break backward, and away they
would scamper through the stream-bank trees and scatter over the rocky
pavement. Then with the aid of the dogs the runaways would again be
gathered and made to face the stream, and again the compacted mass would
break away, amid wild shouting and barking that might well have
disturbed the stream itself and marred the music of its falls, to which
visitors no doubt from all quarters of the globe were listening. "Hold
them there! Now hold them there!" shouted the Don; "the front ranks will
soon tire of the pressure, and be glad to take to the water, then all
will jump in and cross in a hurry." But they did nothing of the kind;
they only avoided the pressure by breaking back in scores and hundreds,
leaving the beauty of the banks sadly trampled.

If only one could be got to cross over, all would make haste to follow;
but that one could not be found. A lamb was caught, carried across, and
tied to a bush on the opposite bank, where it cried piteously for its
mother. But though greatly concerned, the mother only called it back.
That play on maternal affection failed, and we began to fear that we
should be forced to make a long roundabout drive and cross the
wide-spread tributaries of the creek in succession. This would require
several days, but it had its advantages, for I was eager to see the
sources of so famous a stream. Don Quixote, however, determined that
they must ford just here, and immediately began a sort of siege by
cutting down slender pines on the bank and building a corral barely
large enough to hold the flock when well pressed together. And as the
stream would form one side of the corral he believed that they could
easily be forced into the water.

In a few hours the inclosure was completed, and the silly animals were
driven in and rammed hard against the brink of the ford. Then the Don,
forcing a way through the compacted mass, pitched a few of the terrified
unfortunates into the stream by main strength; but instead of crossing
over, they swam about close to the bank, making desperate attempts to
get back into the flock. Then a dozen or more were shoved off, and the
Don, tall like a crane and a good natural wader, jumped in after them,
seized a struggling wether, and dragged it to the opposite shore. But no
sooner did he let it go than it jumped into the stream and swam back to
its frightened companions in the corral, thus manifesting sheep-nature
as unchangeable as gravitation. Pan with his pipes would have had no
better luck, I fear. We were now pretty well baffled. The silly
creatures would suffer any sort of death rather than cross that stream.
Calling a council, the dripping Don declared that starvation was now the
only likely scheme to try, and that we might as well camp here in
comfort and let the besieged flock grow hungry and cool, and come to
their senses, if they had any. In a few minutes after being thus let
alone, an adventurer in the foremost rank plunged in and swam bravely to
the farther shore. Then suddenly all rushed in pell-mell together,
trampling one another under water, while we vainly tried to hold them
back. The Don jumped into the thickest of the gasping, gurgling,
drowning mass, and shoved them right and left as if each sheep was a
piece of floating timber. The current also served to drift them apart; a
long bent column was soon formed, and in a few minutes all were over and
began baaing and feeding as if nothing out of the common had happened.
That none were drowned seems wonderful. I fully expected that hundreds
would gain the romantic fate of being swept into Yosemite over the
highest waterfall in the world.

As the day was far spent, we camped a little way back from the ford, and
let the dripping flock scatter and feed until sundown. The wool is dry
now, and calm, cud-chewing peace has fallen on all the comfortable band,
leaving no trace of the watery battle. I have seen fish driven out of
the water with less ado than was made in driving these animals into it.
Sheep brain must surely be poor stuff. Compare today's exhibition with
the performances of deer swimming quietly across broad and rapid rivers,
and from island to island in seas and lakes; or with dogs, or even with
the squirrels that, as the story goes, cross the Mississippi River on
selected chips, with tails for sails comfortably trimmed to the breeze.
A sheep can hardly be called an animal; an entire flock is required to
make one foolish individual.



CHAPTER V

THE YOSEMITE


_July 15._ Followed the Mono Trail up the eastern rim of the basin
nearly to its summit, then turned off southward to a small shallow
valley that extends to the edge of the Yosemite, which we reached about
noon, and encamped. After luncheon I made haste to high ground, and from
the top of the ridge on the west side of Indian Cañon gained the noblest
view of the summit peaks I have ever yet enjoyed. Nearly all the upper
basin of the Merced was displayed, with its sublime domes and cañons,
dark upsweeping forests, and glorious array of white peaks deep in the
sky, every feature glowing, radiating beauty that pours into our flesh
and bones like heat rays from fire. Sunshine over all; no breath of wind
to stir the brooding calm. Never before had I seen so glorious a
landscape, so boundless an affluence of sublime mountain beauty. The
most extravagant description I might give of this view to any one who
has not seen similar landscapes with his own eyes would not so much as
hint its grandeur and the spiritual glow that covered it. I shouted and
gesticulated in a wild burst of ecstasy, much to the astonishment of
St. Bernard Carlo, who came running up to me, manifesting in his
intelligent eyes a puzzled concern that was very ludicrous, which had
the effect of bringing me to my senses. A brown bear, too, it would
seem, had been a spectator of the show I had made of myself, for I had
gone but a few yards when I started one from a thicket of brush. He
evidently considered me dangerous, for he ran away very fast, tumbling
over the tops of the tangled manzanita bushes in his haste. Carlo drew
back, with his ears depressed as if afraid, and kept looking me in the
face, as if expecting me to pursue and shoot, for he had seen many a
bear battle in his day.

Following the ridge, which made a gradual descent to the south, I came
at length to the brow of that massive cliff that stands between Indian
Cañon and Yosemite Falls, and here the far-famed valley came suddenly
into view throughout almost its whole extent. The noble walls--sculptured
into endless variety of domes and gables, spires and battlements and
plain mural precipices--all a-tremble with the thunder tones of the
falling water. The level bottom seemed to be dressed like a garden--sunny
meadows here and there, and groves of pine and oak; the river of Mercy
sweeping in majesty through the midst of them and flashing back the
sunbeams. The great Tissiack, or Half-Dome, rising at the upper end of
the valley to a height of nearly a mile, is nobly proportioned and
life-like, the most impressive of all the rocks, holding the eye in
devout admiration, calling it back again and again from falls or meadows,
or even the mountains beyond,--marvelous cliffs, marvelous in sheer dizzy
depth and sculpture, types of endurance. Thousands of years have they
stood in the sky exposed to rain, snow, frost, earthquake and avalanche,
yet they still wear the bloom of youth.

I rambled along the valley rim to the westward; most of it is rounded
off on the very brink, so that it is not easy to find places where one
may look clear down the face of the wall to the bottom. When such places
were found, and I had cautiously set my feet and drawn my body erect, I
could not help fearing a little that the rock might split off and let me
down, and what a down!--more than three thousand feet. Still my limbs
did not tremble, nor did I feel the least uncertainty as to the reliance
to be placed on them. My only fear was that a flake of the granite,
which in some places showed joints more or less open and running
parallel with the face of the cliff, might give way. After withdrawing
from such places, excited with the view I had got, I would say to
myself, "Now don't go out on the verge again." But in the face of
Yosemite scenery cautious remonstrance is vain; under its spell one's
body seems to go where it likes with a will over which we seem to have
scarce any control.

After a mile or so of this memorable cliff work I approached Yosemite
Creek, admiring its easy, graceful, confident gestures as it comes
bravely forward in its narrow channel, singing the last of its mountain
songs on its way to its fate--a few rods more over the shining granite,
then down half a mile in showy foam to another world, to be lost in the
Merced, where climate, vegetation, inhabitants, all are different.
Emerging from its last gorge, it glides in wide lace-like rapids down a
smooth incline into a pool where it seems to rest and compose its gray,
agitated waters before taking the grand plunge, then slowly slipping
over the lip of the pool basin, it descends another glossy slope with
rapidly accelerated speed to the brink of the tremendous cliff, and with
sublime, fateful confidence springs out free in the air.

I took off my shoes and stockings and worked my way cautiously down
alongside the rushing flood, keeping my feet and hands pressed firmly on
the polished rock. The booming, roaring water, rushing past close to my
head, was very exciting. I had expected that the sloping apron would
terminate with the perpendicular wall of the valley, and that from the
foot of it, where it is less steeply inclined, I should be able to lean
far enough out to see the forms and behavior of the fall all the way
down to the bottom. But I found that there was yet another small brow
over which I could not see, and which appeared to be too steep for
mortal feet. Scanning it keenly, I discovered a narrow shelf about three
inches wide on the very brink, just wide enough for a rest for one's
heels. But there seemed to be no way of reaching it over so steep a
brow. At length, after careful scrutiny of the surface, I found an
irregular edge of a flake of the rock some distance back from the margin
of the torrent. If I was to get down to the brink at all that rough
edge, which might offer slight finger-holds, was the only way. But the
slope beside it looked dangerously smooth and steep, and the swift
roaring flood beneath, overhead, and beside me was very nerve-trying. I
therefore concluded not to venture farther, but did nevertheless. Tufts
of artemisia were growing in clefts of the rock near by, and I filled my
mouth with the bitter leaves, hoping they might help to prevent
giddiness. Then, with a caution not known in ordinary circumstances, I
crept down safely to the little ledge, got my heels well planted on it,
then shuffled in a horizontal direction twenty or thirty feet until
close to the outplunging current, which, by the time it had descended
thus far, was already white. Here I obtained a perfectly free view down
into the heart of the snowy, chanting throng of comet-like streamers,
into which the body of the fall soon separates.

While perched on that narrow niche I was not distinctly conscious of
danger. The tremendous grandeur of the fall in form and sound and
motion, acting at close range, smothered the sense of fear, and in such
places one's body takes keen care for safety on its own account. How
long I remained down there, or how I returned, I can hardly tell. Anyhow
I had a glorious time, and got back to camp about dark, enjoying
triumphant exhilaration soon followed by dull weariness. Hereafter I'll
try to keep from such extravagant, nerve-straining places. Yet such a
day is well worth venturing for. My first view of the High Sierra, first
view looking down into Yosemite, the death song of Yosemite Creek, and
its flight over the vast cliff, each one of these is of itself enough
for a great life-long landscape fortune--a most memorable day of
days--enjoyment enough to kill if that were possible.

_July 16._ My enjoyments yesterday afternoon, especially at the head of
the fall, were too great for good sleep. Kept starting up last night in
a nervous tremor, half awake, fancying that the foundation of the
mountain we were camped on had given way and was falling into Yosemite
Valley. In vain I roused myself to make a new beginning for sound sleep.
The nerve strain had been too great, and again and again I dreamed I was
rushing through the air above a glorious avalanche of water and rocks.
One time, springing to my feet, I said, "This time it is real--all must
die, and where could mountaineer find a more glorious death!"

Left camp soon after sunrise for an all-day ramble eastward. Crossed the
head of Indian Basin, forested with _Abies magnifica_, underbrush mostly
_Ceanothus cordulatus_ and manzanita, a mixture not easily trampled over
or penetrated, for the ceanothus is thorny and grows in dense
snow-pressed masses, and the manzanita has exceedingly crooked, stubborn
branches. From the head of the cañon continued on past North Dome into
the basin of Dome or Porcupine Creek. Here are many fine meadows
imbedded in the woods, gay with _Lilium parvum_ and its companions; the
elevation, about eight thousand feet, seems to be best suited for
it--saw specimens that were a foot or two higher than my head. Had more
magnificent views of the upper mountains, and of the great South Dome,
said to be the grandest rock in the world. Well it may be, since it is
of such noble dimensions and sculpture. A wonderfully impressive
monument, its lines exquisite in fineness, and though sublime in size,
is finished like the finest work of art, and seems to be alive.

_July 17._ A new camp was made to-day in a magnificent silver fir grove
at the head of a small stream that flows into Yosemite by way of Indian
Cañon. Here we intend to stay several weeks,--a fine location from which
to make excursions about the great valley and its fountains. Glorious
days I'll have sketching, pressing plants, studying the wonderful
topography and the wild animals, our happy fellow mortals and neighbors.
But the vast mountains in the distance, shall I ever know them, shall I
be allowed to enter into their midst and dwell with them?

[Illustration: _The North and South Domes_]

We were pelted about noon by a short, heavy rainstorm, sublime thunder
reverberating among the mountains and cañons,--some strokes near,
crashing, ringing in the tense crisp air with startling keenness, while
the distant peaks loomed gloriously through the cloud fringes and sheets
of rain. Now the storm is past, and the fresh washed air is full of
the essences of the flower gardens and groves. Winter storms in Yosemite
must be glorious. May I see them!

Have got my bed made in our new camp,--plushy, sumptuous, and
deliciously fragrant, most of it _magnifica_ fir plumes, of course, with
a variety of sweet flowers in the pillow. Hope to sleep to-night without
tottering nerve-dreams. Watched a deer eating ceanothus leaves and
twigs.

_July 18._ Slept pretty well; the valley walls did not seem to fall,
though I still fancied myself at the brink, alongside the white,
plunging flood, especially when half asleep. Strange the danger of that
adventure should be more troublesome now that I am in the bosom of the
peaceful woods, a mile or more from the fall, than it was while I was on
the brink of it.

Bears seem to be common here, judging by their tracks. About noon we had
another rainstorm with keen startling thunder, the metallic, ringing,
clashing, clanging notes gradually fading into low bass rolling and
muttering in the distance. For a few minutes the rain came in a grand
torrent like a waterfall, then hail; some of the hailstones an inch in
diameter, hard, icy, and irregular in form, like those oftentimes seen
in Wisconsin. Carlo watched them with intelligent astonishment as they
came pelting and thrashing through the quivering branches of the trees.
The cloud scenery sublime. Afternoon calm, sunful, and clear, with
delicious freshness and fragrance from the firs and flowers and steaming
ground.

_July 19._ Watching the daybreak and sunrise. The pale rose and purple
sky changing softly to daffodil yellow and white, sunbeams pouring
through the passes between the peaks and over the Yosemite domes, making
their edges burn; the silver firs in the middle ground catching the glow
on their spiry tops, and our camp grove fills and thrills with the
glorious light. Everything awakening alert and joyful; the birds begin
to stir and innumerable insect people. Deer quietly withdraw into leafy
hiding-places in the chaparral; the dew vanishes, flowers spread their
petals, every pulse beats high, every life cell rejoices, the very rocks
seem to thrill with life. The whole landscape glows like a human face in
a glory of enthusiasm, and the blue sky, pale around the horizon, bends
peacefully down over all like one vast flower.

About noon, as usual, big bossy cumuli began to grow above the forest,
and the rainstorm pouring from them is the most imposing I have yet
seen. The silvery zigzag lightning lances are longer than usual, and
the thunder gloriously impressive, keen, crashing, intensely
concentrated, speaking with such tremendous energy it would seem that an
entire mountain is being shattered at every stroke, but probably only a
few trees are being shattered, many of which I have seen on my walks
hereabouts strewing the ground. At last the clear ringing strokes are
succeeded by deep low tones that grow gradually fainter as they roll
afar into the recesses of the echoing mountains, where they seem to be
welcomed home. Then another and another peal, or rather crashing,
splintering stroke, follows in quick succession, perchance splitting
some giant pine or fir from top to bottom into long rails and slivers,
and scattering them to all points of the compass. Now comes the rain,
with corresponding extravagant grandeur, covering the ground high and
low with a sheet of flowing water, a transparent film fitted like a skin
upon the rugged anatomy of the landscape, making the rocks glitter and
glow, gathering in the ravines, flooding the streams, and making them
shout and boom in reply to the thunder.

How interesting to trace the history of a single raindrop! It is not
long, geologically speaking, as we have seen, since the first raindrops
fell on the newborn leafless Sierra landscapes. How different the lot
of these falling now! Happy the showers that fall on so fair a
wilderness,--scarce a single drop can fail to find a beautiful spot,--on
the tops of the peaks, on the shining glacier pavements, on the great
smooth domes, on forests and gardens and brushy moraines, plashing,
glinting, pattering, laving. Some go to the high snowy fountains to
swell their well-saved stores; some into the lakes, washing the mountain
windows, patting their smooth glassy levels, making dimples and bubbles
and spray; some into the waterfalls and cascades, as if eager to join in
their dance and song and beat their foam yet finer; good luck and good
work for the happy mountain raindrops, each one of them a high waterfall
in itself, descending from the cliffs and hollows of the clouds to the
cliffs and hollows of the rocks, out of the sky-thunder into the thunder
of the falling rivers. Some, falling on meadows and bogs, creep silently
out of sight to the grass roots, hiding softly as in a nest, slipping,
oozing hither, thither, seeking and finding their appointed work. Some,
descending through the spires of the woods, sift spray through the
shining needles, whispering peace and good cheer to each one of them.
Some drops with happy aim glint on the sides of crystals,--quartz,
hornblende, garnet, zircon, tourmaline, feldspar,--patter on grains of
gold and heavy way-worn nuggets; some, with blunt plap-plap and low bass
drumming, fall on the broad leaves of veratrum, saxifrage, cypripedium.
Some happy drops fall straight into the cups of flowers, kissing the
lips of lilies. How far they have to go, how many cups to fill, great
and small, cells too small to be seen, cups holding half a drop as well
as lake basins between the hills, each replenished with equal care,
every drop in all the blessed throng a silvery newborn star with lake
and river, garden and grove, valley and mountain, all that the landscape
holds reflected in its crystal depths, God's messenger, angel of love
sent on its way with majesty and pomp and display of power that make
man's greatest shows ridiculous.

Now the storm is over, the sky is clear, the last rolling thunder-wave
is spent on the peaks, and where are the raindrops now--what has become
of all the shining throng? In winged vapor rising some are already
hastening back to the sky, some have gone into the plants, creeping
through invisible doors into the round rooms of cells, some are locked
in crystals of ice, some in rock crystals, some in porous moraines to
keep their small springs flowing, some have gone journeying on in the
rivers to join the larger raindrop of the ocean. From form to form,
beauty to beauty, ever changing, never resting, all are speeding on with
love's enthusiasm, singing with the stars the eternal song of creation.

_July 20._ Fine calm morning; air tense and clear; not the slightest
breeze astir; everything shining, the rocks with wet crystals, the
plants with dew, each receiving its portion of irised dewdrops and
sunshine like living creatures getting their breakfast, their dew manna
coming down from the starry sky like swarms of smaller stars. How
wondrous fine are the particles in showers of dew, thousands required
for a single drop, growing in the dark as silently as the grass! What
pains are taken to keep this wilderness in health,--showers of snow,
showers of rain, showers of dew, floods of light, floods of invisible
vapor, clouds, winds, all sorts of weather, interaction of plant on
plant, animal on animal, etc., beyond thought! How fine Nature's
methods! How deeply with beauty is beauty overlaid! the ground covered
with crystals, the crystals with mosses and lichens and low-spreading
grasses and flowers, these with larger plants leaf over leaf with
ever-changing color and form, the broad palms of the firs outspread over
these, the azure dome over all like a bell-flower, and star above star.

Yonder stands the South Dome, its crown high above our camp, though its
base is four thousand feet below us; a most noble rock, it seems full of
thought, clothed with living light, no sense of dead stone about it, all
spiritualized, neither heavy looking nor light, steadfast in serene
strength like a god.

Our shepherd is a queer character and hard to place in this wilderness.
His bed is a hollow made in red dry-rot punky dust beside a log which
forms a portion of the south wall of the corral. Here he lies with his
wonderful everlasting clothing on, wrapped in a red blanket, breathing
not only the dust of the decayed wood but also that of the corral, as if
determined to take ammoniacal snuff all night after chewing tobacco all
day. Following the sheep he carries a heavy six-shooter swung from his
belt on one side and his luncheon on the other. The ancient cloth in
which the meat, fresh from the frying-pan, is tied serves as a filter
through which the clear fat and gravy juices drip down on his right hip
and leg in clustering stalactites. This oleaginous formation is soon
broken up, however, and diffused and rubbed evenly into his scanty
apparel, by sitting down, rolling over, crossing his legs while resting
on logs, etc., making shirt and trousers water-tight and shiny. His
trousers, in particular, have become so adhesive with the mixed fat and
resin that pine needles, thin flakes and fibres of bark, hair, mica
scales and minute grains of quartz, hornblende, etc., feathers, seed
wings, moth and butterfly wings, legs and antennæ of innumerable
insects, or even whole insects such as the small beetles, moths and
mosquitoes, with flower petals, pollen dust and indeed bits of all
plants, animals, and minerals of the region adhere to them and are
safely imbedded, so that though far from being a naturalist he collects
fragmentary specimens of everything and becomes richer than he knows.
His specimens are kept passably fresh, too, by the purity of the air and
the resiny bituminous beds into which they are pressed. Man is a
microcosm, at least our shepherd is, or rather his trousers. These
precious overalls are never taken off, and nobody knows how old they
are, though one may guess by their thickness and concentric structure.
Instead of wearing thin they wear thick, and in their stratification
have no small geological significance.

Besides herding the sheep, Billy is the butcher, while I have agreed to
wash the few iron and tin utensils and make the bread. Then, these small
duties done, by the time the sun is fairly above the mountain-tops I am
beyond the flock, free to rove and revel in the wilderness all the big
immortal days.

Sketching on the North Dome. It commands views of nearly all the valley
besides a few of the high mountains. I would fain draw everything in
sight--rock, tree, and leaf. But little can I do beyond mere
outlines,--marks with meanings like words, readable only to myself,--yet
I sharpen my pencils and work on as if others might possibly be
benefited. Whether these picture-sheets are to vanish like fallen leaves
or go to friends like letters, matters not much; for little can they
tell to those who have not themselves seen similar wildness, and like a
language have learned it. No pain here, no dull empty hours, no fear of
the past, no fear of the future. These blessed mountains are so
compactly filled with God's beauty, no petty personal hope or experience
has room to be. Drinking this champagne water is pure pleasure, so is
breathing the living air, and every movement of limbs is pleasure, while
the whole body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the
camp-fire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally
through all one's flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic
pleasure-glow not explainable. One's body then seems homogeneous
throughout, sound as a crystal. Perched like a fly on this Yosemite
dome, I gaze and sketch and bask, oftentimes settling down into dumb
admiration without definite hope of ever learning much, yet with the
longing, unresting effort that lies at the door of hope, humbly
prostrate before the vast display of God's power, and eager to offer
self-denial and renunciation with eternal toil to learn any lesson in
the divine manuscript.

It is easier to feel than to realize, or in any way explain, Yosemite
grandeur. The magnitudes of the rocks and trees and streams are so
delicately harmonized they are mostly hidden. Sheer precipices three
thousand feet high are fringed with tall trees growing close like grass
on the brow of a lowland hill, and extending along the feet of these
precipices a ribbon of meadow a mile wide and seven or eight long, that
seems like a strip a farmer might mow in less than a day. Waterfalls,
five hundred to one or two thousand feet high, are so subordinated to
the mighty cliffs over which they pour that they seem like wisps of
smoke, gentle as floating clouds, though their voices fill the valley
and make the rocks tremble. The mountains, too, along the eastern sky,
and the domes in front of them, and the succession of smooth rounded
waves between, swelling higher, higher, with dark woods in their
hollows, serene in massive exuberant bulk and beauty, tend yet more to
hide the grandeur of the Yosemite temple and make it appear as a subdued
subordinate feature of the vast harmonious landscape. Thus every attempt
to appreciate any one feature is beaten down by the overwhelming
influence of all the others. And, as if this were not enough, lo! in the
sky arises another mountain range with topography as rugged and
substantial-looking as the one beneath it--snowy peaks and domes and
shadowy Yosemite valleys--another version of the snowy Sierra, a new
creation heralded by a thunder-storm. How fiercely, devoutly wild is
Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness!--painting lilies,
watering them, caressing them with gentle hand, going from flower to
flower like a gardener while building rock mountains and cloud mountains
full of lightning and rain. Gladly we run for shelter beneath an
overhanging cliff and examine the reassuring ferns and mosses, gentle
love tokens growing in cracks and chinks. Daisies, too, and ivesias,
confiding wild children of light, too small to fear. To these one's
heart goes home, and the voices of the storm become gentle. Now the sun
breaks forth and fragrant steam arises. The birds are out singing on the
edges of the groves. The west is flaming in gold and purple, ready for
the ceremony of the sunset, and back I go to camp with my notes and
pictures, the best of them printed in my mind as dreams. A fruitful day,
without measured beginning or ending. A terrestrial eternity. A gift of
good God.

Wrote to my mother and a few friends, mountain hints to each. They seem
as near as if within voice-reach or touch. The deeper the solitude the
less the sense of loneliness, and the nearer our friends. Now bread and
tea, fir bed and good-night to Carlo, a look at the sky lilies, and
death sleep until the dawn of another Sierra to-morrow.

_July 21._ Sketching on the Dome--no rain; clouds at noon about quarter
filled the sky, casting shadows with fine effect on the white mountains
at the heads of the streams, and a soothing cover over the gardens
during the warm hours.

Saw a common house-fly and a grasshopper and a brown bear. The fly and
grasshopper paid me a merry visit on the top of the Dome, and I paid a
visit to the bear in the middle of a small garden meadow between the
Dome and the camp where he was standing alert among the flowers as if
willing to be seen to advantage. I had not gone more than half a mile
from camp this morning, when Carlo, who was trotting on a few yards
ahead of me, came to a sudden, cautious standstill. Down went tail and
ears, and forward went his knowing nose, while he seemed to be saying,
"Ha, what's this? A bear, I guess." Then a cautious advance of a few
steps, setting his feet down softly like a hunting cat, and questioning
the air as to the scent he had caught until all doubt vanished. Then he
came back to me, looked me in the face, and with his speaking eyes
reported a bear near by; then led on softly, careful, like an
experienced hunter, not to make the slightest noise; and frequently
looking back as if whispering, "Yes, it's a bear; come and I'll show
you." Presently we came to where the sunbeams were streaming through
between the purple shafts of the firs, which showed that we were nearing
an open spot, and here Carlo came behind me, evidently sure that the
bear was very near. So I crept to a low ridge of moraine boulders on the
edge of a narrow garden meadow, and in this meadow I felt pretty sure
the bear must be. I was anxious to get a good look at the sturdy
mountaineer without alarming him; so drawing myself up noiselessly back
of one of the largest of the trees I peered past its bulging buttresses,
exposing only a part of my head, and there stood neighbor Bruin within
a stone's throw, his hips covered by tall grass and flowers, and his
front feet on the trunk of a fir that had fallen out into the meadow,
which raised his head so high that he seemed to be standing erect. He
had not yet seen me, but was looking and listening attentively, showing
that in some way he was aware of our approach. I watched his gestures
and tried to make the most of my opportunity to learn what I could about
him, fearing he would catch sight of me and run away. For I had been
told that this sort of bear, the cinnamon, always ran from his bad
brother man, never showing fight unless wounded or in defense of young.
He made a telling picture standing alert in the sunny forest garden. How
well he played his part, harmonizing in bulk and color and shaggy hair
with the trunks of the trees and lush vegetation, as natural a feature
as any other in the landscape. After examining at leisure, noting the
sharp muzzle thrust inquiringly forward, the long shaggy hair on his
broad chest, the stiff, erect ears nearly buried in hair, and the slow,
heavy way he moved his head, I thought I should like to see his gait in
running, so I made a sudden rush at him, shouting and swinging my hat to
frighten him, expecting to see him make haste to get away. But to my
dismay he did not run or show any sign of running. On the contrary, he
stood his ground ready to fight and defend himself, lowered his head,
thrust it forward, and looked sharply and fiercely at me. Then I
suddenly began to fear that upon me would fall the work of running; but
I was afraid to run, and therefore, like the bear, held my ground. We
stood staring at each other in solemn silence within a dozen yards or
thereabouts, while I fervently hoped that the power of the human eye
over wild beasts would prove as great as it is said to be. How long our
awfully strenuous interview lasted, I don't know; but at length in the
slow fullness of time he pulled his huge paws down off the log, and with
magnificent deliberation turned and walked leisurely up the meadow,
stopping frequently to look back over his shoulder to see whether I was
pursuing him, then moving on again, evidently neither fearing me very
much nor trusting me. He was probably about five hundred pounds in
weight, a broad, rusty bundle of ungovernable wildness, a happy fellow
whose lines have fallen in pleasant places. The flowery glade in which I
saw him so well, framed like a picture, is one of the best of all I have
yet discovered, a conservatory of Nature's precious plant people. Tall
lilies were swinging their bells over that bear's back, with geraniums,
larkspurs, columbines, and daisies brushing against his sides. A place
for angels, one would say, instead of bears.

In the great cañons Bruin reigns supreme. Happy fellow, whom no famine
can reach while one of his thousand kinds of food is spared him. His
bread is sure at all seasons, ranged on the mountain shelves like stores
in a pantry. From one to the other, up or down he climbs, tasting and
enjoying each in turn in different climates, as if he had journeyed
thousands of miles to other countries north or south to enjoy their
varied productions. I should like to know my hairy brothers
better--though after this particular Yosemite bear, my very neighbor,
had sauntered out of sight this morning, I reluctantly went back to camp
for the Don's rifle to shoot him, if necessary, in defense of the flock.
Fortunately I couldn't find him, and after tracking him a mile or two
towards Mount Hoffman I bade him Godspeed and gladly returned to my work
on the Yosemite Dome.

The house-fly also seemed at home and buzzed about me as I sat
sketching, and enjoying my bear interview now it was over. I wonder what
draws house-flies so far up the mountains, heavy gross feeders as they
are, sensitive to cold, and fond of domestic ease. How have they been
distributed from continent to continent, across seas and deserts and
mountain chains, usually so influential in determining boundaries of
species both of plants and animals. Beetles and butterflies are
sometimes restricted to small areas. Each mountain in a range, and even
the different zones of a mountain, may have its own peculiar species.
But the house-fly seems to be everywhere. I wonder if any island in
mid-ocean is flyless. The bluebottle is abundant in these Yosemite
woods, ever ready with his marvelous store of eggs to make all dead
flesh fly. Bumblebees are here, and are well fed on boundless stores of
nectar and pollen. The honeybee, though abundant in the foothills, has
not yet got so high. It is only a few years since the first swarm was
brought to California.

[Illustration: TRACK OF SINGING DANCING GRASSHOPPER IN THE AIR OVER
NORTH DOME]

A queer fellow and a jolly fellow is the grasshopper. Up the mountains
he comes on excursions, how high I don't know, but at least as far and
high as Yosemite tourists. I was much interested with the hearty
enjoyment of the one that danced and sang for me on the Dome this
afternoon. He seemed brimful of glad, hilarious energy, manifested by
springing into the air to a height of twenty or thirty feet, then
diving and springing up again and making a sharp musical rattle just as
the lowest point in the descent was reached. Up and down a dozen times
or so he danced and sang, then alighted to rest, then up and at it
again. The curves he described in the air in diving and rattling
resembled those made by cords hanging loosely and attached at the same
height at the ends, the loops nearly covering each other. Braver,
heartier, keener, care-free enjoyment of life I have never seen or heard
in any creature, great or small. The life of this comic redlegs, the
mountain's merriest child, seems to be made up of pure, condensed
gayety. The Douglas squirrel is the only living creature that I can
compare him with in exuberant, rollicking, irrepressible jollity.
Wonderful that these sublime mountains are so loudly cheered and
brightened by a creature so queer. Nature in him seems to be snapping
her fingers in the face of all earthly dejection and melancholy with a
boyish hip-hip-hurrah. How the sound is made I do not understand. When
he was on the ground he made not the slightest noise, nor when he was
simply flying from place to place, but only when diving in curves, the
motion seeming to be required for the sound; for the more vigorous the
diving the more energetic the corresponding outbursts of jolly
rattling. I tried to observe him closely while he was resting in the
intervals of his performances; but he would not allow a near approach,
always getting his jumping legs ready to spring for immediate flight,
and keeping his eyes on me. A fine sermon the little fellow danced for
me on the Dome, a likely place to look for sermons in stones, but not
for grasshopper sermons. A large and imposing pulpit for so small a
preacher. No danger of weakness in the knees of the world while Nature
can spring such a rattle as this. Even the bear did not express for me
the mountain's wild health and strength and happiness so tellingly as
did this comical little hopper. No cloud of care in his day, no winter
of discontent in sight. To him every day is a holiday; and when at
length his sun sets, I fancy he will cuddle down on the forest floor and
die like the leaves and flowers, and like them leave no unsightly
remains calling for burial.

Sundown, and I must to camp. Good-night, friends three,--brown bear,
rugged boulder of energy in groves and gardens fair as Eden; restless,
fussy fly with gauzy wings stirring the air around all the world; and
grasshopper, crisp, electric spark of joy enlivening the massy sublimity
of the mountains like the laugh of a child. Thank you, thank you all
three for your quickening company. Heaven guide every wing and leg.
Good-night friends three, good-night.

[Illustration: MT. CLARK TOP OF S. DOME MT. STARR KING

ABIES MAGNIFICA]

_July 22._ A fine specimen of the black-tailed deer went bounding past
camp this morning. A buck with wide spread of antlers, showing admirable
vigor and grace. Wonderful the beauty, strength, and graceful movements
of animals in wildernesses, cared for by Nature only, when our
experience with domestic animals would lead us to fear that all the
so-called neglected wild beasts would degenerate. Yet the upshot of
Nature's method of breeding and teaching seems to lead to excellence of
every sort. Deer, like all wild animals, are as clean as plants. The
beauties of their gestures and attitudes, alert or in repose, surprise
yet more than their bounding exuberant strength. Every movement and
posture is graceful, the very poetry of manners and motion. Mother
Nature is too often spoken of as in reality no mother at all. Yet how
wisely, sternly, tenderly she loves and looks after her children in all
sorts of weather and wildernesses. The more I see of deer the more I
admire them as mountaineers. They make their way into the heart of the
roughest solitudes with smooth reserve of strength, through dense belts
of brush and forest encumbered with fallen trees and boulder piles,
across cañons, roaring streams, and snow-fields, ever showing forth
beauty and courage. Over nearly all the continent the deer find homes.
In the Florida savannas and hummocks, in the Canada woods, in the far
north, roaming over mossy tundras, swimming lakes and rivers and arms of
the sea from island to island washed with waves, or climbing rocky
mountains, everywhere healthy and able, adding beauty to every
landscape,--a truly admirable creature and great credit to Nature.

Have been sketching a silver fir that stands on a granite ridge a few
hundred yards to the eastward of camp--a fine tree with a particular
snow-storm story to tell. It is about one hundred feet high, growing on
bare rock, thrusting its roots into a weathered joint less than an inch
wide, and bulging out to form a base to bear its weight. The storm came
from the north while it was young and broke it down nearly to the
ground, as is shown by the old, dead, weather-beaten top leaning out
from the living trunk built up from a new shoot below the break. The
annual rings of the trunk that have overgrown the dead sapling tell the
year of the storm. Wonderful that a side branch forming a portion of one
of the level collars that encircle the trunk of this species (_Abies
magnifica_) should bend upward, grow erect, and take the place of the
lost axis to form a new tree.

Many others, pines as well as firs, bear testimony to the crushing
severity of this particular storm. Trees, some of them fifty to
seventy-five feet high, were bent to the ground and buried like grass,
whole groves vanishing as if the forest had been cleared away, leaving
not a branch or needle visible until the spring thaw. Then the more
elastic undamaged saplings rose again, aided by the wind, some reaching
a nearly erect attitude, others remaining more or less bent, while those
with broken backs endeavored to specialize a side branch below the break
and make a leader of it to form a new axis of development. It is as if a
man, whose back was broken or nearly so and who was compelled to go
bent, should find a branch backbone sprouting straight up from below the
break and should gradually develop new arms and shoulders and head,
while the old damaged portion of his body died.

Grand white cloud mountains and domes created about noon as usual,
ridges and ranges of endless variety, as if Nature dearly loved this
sort of work, doing it again and again nearly every day with infinite
industry, and producing beauty that never palls. A few zigzags of
lightning, five minutes' shower, then a gradual wilting and clearing.

[Illustration: ILLUSTRATING GROWTH OF NEW PINE FROM BRANCH BELOW THE
BREAK OF AXIS OF SNOW-CRUSHED TREE]

_July 23._ Another midday cloudland, displaying power and beauty that
one never wearies in beholding, but hopelessly unsketchable and
untellable. What can poor mortals say about clouds? While a description
of their huge glowing domes and ridges, shadowy gulfs and cañons, and
feather-edged ravines is being tried, they vanish, leaving no visible
ruins. Nevertheless, these fleeting sky mountains are as substantial and
significant as the more lasting upheavals of granite beneath them. Both
alike are built up and die, and in God's calendar difference of duration
is nothing. We can only dream about them in wondering, worshiping
admiration, happier than we dare tell even to friends who see farthest
in sympathy, glad to know that not a crystal or vapor particle of them,
hard or soft, is lost; that they sink and vanish only to rise again and
again in higher and higher beauty. As to our own work, duty, influence,
etc., concerning which so much fussy pother is made, it will not fail of
its due effect, though, like a lichen on a stone, we keep silent.

_July 24._ Clouds at noon occupying about half the sky gave half an hour
of heavy rain to wash one of the cleanest landscapes in the world. How
well it is washed! The sea is hardly less dusty than the ice-burnished
pavements and ridges, domes and cañons, and summit peaks plashed with
snow like waves with foam. How fresh the woods are and calm after the
last films of clouds have been wiped from the sky! A few minutes ago
every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling,
tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though
to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.
Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fibre
thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the
balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first
temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and
churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. The same
may be said of stone temples. Yonder, to the eastward of our camp grove,
stands one of Nature's cathedrals, hewn from the living rock, almost
conventional in form, about two thousand feet high, nobly adorned with
spires and pinnacles, thrilling under floods of sunshine as if alive
like a grove-temple, and well named "Cathedral Peak." Even Shepherd
Billy turns at times to this wonderful mountain building, though
apparently deaf to all stone sermons. Snow that refused to melt in fire
would hardly be more wonderful than unchanging dullness in the rays of
God's beauty. I have been trying to get him to walk to the brink of
Yosemite for a view, offering to watch the sheep for a day, while he
should enjoy what tourists come from all over the world to see. But
though within a mile of the famous valley, he will not go to it even out
of mere curiosity. "What," says he, "is Yosemite but a cañon--a lot of
rocks--a hole in the ground--a place dangerous about falling into--a
d----d good place to keep away from." "But think of the waterfalls,
Billy--just think of that big stream we crossed the other day, falling
half a mile through the air--think of that, and the sound it makes. You
can hear it now like the roar of the sea." Thus I pressed Yosemite upon
him like a missionary offering the gospel, but he would have none of it.
"I should be afraid to look over so high a wall," he said. "It would
make my head swim. There is nothing worth seeing anywhere, only rocks,
and I see plenty of them here. Tourists that spend their money to see
rocks and falls are fools, that's all. You can't humbug me. I've been in
this country too long for that." Such souls, I suppose, are asleep, or
smothered and befogged beneath mean pleasures and cares.

_July 25._ Another cloudland. Some clouds have an over-ripe decaying
look, watery and bedraggled and drawn out into wind-torn shreds and
patches, giving the sky a littered appearance; not so these Sierra
summer midday clouds. All are beautiful with smooth definite outlines
and curves like those of glacier-polished domes. They begin to grow
about eleven o'clock, and seem so wonderfully near and clear from this
high camp one is tempted to try to climb them and trace the streams that
pour like cataracts from their shadowy fountains. The rain to which they
give birth is often very heavy, a sort of waterfall as imposing as if
pouring from rock mountains. Never in all my travels have I found
anything more truly novel and interesting than these midday mountains of
the sky, their fine tones of color, majestic visible growth, and
ever-changing scenery and general effects, though mostly as well let
alone as far as description goes. I oftentimes think of Shelley's cloud
poem, "I sift the snow on the mountains below."



CHAPTER VI

MOUNT HOFFMAN AND LAKE TENAYA


_July 26._ Ramble to the summit of Mount Hoffman, eleven thousand feet
high, the highest point in life's journey my feet have yet touched. And
what glorious landscapes are about me, new plants, new animals, new
crystals, and multitudes of new mountains far higher than Hoffman,
towering in glorious array along the axis of the range, serene,
majestic, snow-laden, sun-drenched, vast domes and ridges shining below
them, forests, lakes, and meadows in the hollows, the pure blue
bell-flower sky brooding them all,--a glory day of admission into a new
realm of wonders as if Nature had wooingly whispered, "Come higher."
What questions I asked, and how little I know of all the vast show, and
how eagerly, tremulously hopeful of some day knowing more, learning the
meaning of these divine symbols crowded together on this wondrous page.

Mount Hoffman is the highest part of a ridge or spur about fourteen
miles from the axis of the main range, perhaps a remnant brought into
relief and isolated by unequal denudation. The southern slopes shed
their waters into Yosemite Valley by Tenaya and Dome Creeks, the
northern in part into the Tuolumne River, but mostly into the Merced by
Yosemite Creek. The rock is mostly granite, with some small piles and
crests rising here and there in picturesque pillared and castellated
remnants of red metamorphic slates. Both the granite and slates are
divided by joints, making them separable into blocks like the stones of
artificial masonry, suggesting the Scripture "He hath builded the
mountains." Great banks of snow and ice are piled in hollows on the cool
precipitous north side forming the highest perennial sources of Yosemite
Creek. The southern slopes are much more gradual and accessible. Narrow
slot-like gorges extend across the summit at right angles, which look
like lanes, formed evidently by the erosion of less resisting beds. They
are usually called "devil's slides," though they lie far above the
region usually haunted by the devil; for though we read that he once
climbed an exceeding high mountain, he cannot be much of a mountaineer,
for his tracks are seldom seen above the timber-line.

[Illustration: APPROACH OF DOME CREEK TO YOSEMITE]

The broad gray summit is barren and desolate-looking in general views,
wasted by ages of gnawing storms; but looking at the surface in detail,
one finds it covered by thousands and millions of charming plants
with leaves and flowers so small they form no mass of color visible at a
distance of a few hundred yards. Beds of azure daisies smile confidingly
in moist hollows, and along the banks of small rills, with several
species of eriogonum, silky-leaved ivesia, pentstemon, orthocarpus, and
patches of _Primula suffruticosa_, a beautiful shrubby species. Here
also I found bryanthus, a charming heathwort covered with purple flowers
and dark green foliage like heather, and three trees new to me--a
hemlock and two pines. The hemlock (_Tsuga Mertensiana_) is the most
beautiful conifer I have ever seen; the branches and also the main axis
droop in a singularly graceful way, and the dense foliage covers the
delicate, sensitive, swaying branchlets all around. It is now in full
bloom, and the flowers, together with thousands of last season's cones
still clinging to the drooping sprays, display wonderful wealth of
color, brown and purple and blue. Gladly I climbed the first tree I
found to revel in the midst of it. How the touch of the flowers makes
one's flesh tingle! The pistillate are dark, rich purple, and almost
translucent, the staminate blue,--a vivid, pure tone of blue like the
mountain sky,--the most uncommonly beautiful of all the Sierra tree
flowers I have seen. How wonderful that, with all its delicate feminine
grace and beauty of form and dress and behavior, this lovely tree up
here, exposed to the wildest blasts, has already endured the storms of
centuries of winters!

The two pines also are brave storm-enduring trees, the mountain pine
(_Pinus monticola_) and the dwarf pine (_Pinus albicaulis_). The
mountain pine is closely related to the sugar pine, though the cones are
only about four to six inches long. The largest trees are from five to
six feet in diameter at four feet above the ground, the bark rich brown.
Only a few storm-beaten adventurers approach the summit of the mountain.
The dwarf or white-bark pine is the species that forms the timber-line,
where it is so completely dwarfed that one may walk over the top of a
bed of it as over snow-pressed chaparral.

How boundless the day seems as we revel in these storm-beaten sky
gardens amid so vast a congregation of onlooking mountains! Strange and
admirable it is that the more savage and chilly and storm-chafed the
mountains, the finer the glow on their faces and the finer the plants
they bear. The myriads of flowers tingeing the mountain-top do not seem
to have grown out of the dry, rough gravel of disintegration, but rather
they appear as visitors, a cloud of witnesses to Nature's love in what
we in our timid ignorance and unbelief call howling desert. The surface
of the ground, so dull and forbidding at first sight, besides being rich
in plants, shines and sparkles with crystals: mica, hornblende,
feldspar, quartz, tourmaline. The radiance in some places is so great as
to be fairly dazzling, keen lance rays of every color flashing,
sparkling in glorious abundance, joining the plants in their fine, brave
beauty-work--every crystal, every flower a window opening into heaven, a
mirror reflecting the Creator.

From garden to garden, ridge to ridge, I drifted enchanted, now on my
knees gazing into the face of a daisy, now climbing again and again
among the purple and azure flowers of the hemlocks, now down into the
treasuries of the snow, or gazing afar over domes and peaks, lakes and
woods, and the billowy glaciated fields of the upper Tuolumne, and
trying to sketch them. In the midst of such beauty, pierced with its
rays, one's body is all one tingling palate. Who wouldn't be a
mountaineer! Up here all the world's prizes seem nothing.

The largest of the many glacier lakes in sight, and the one with the
finest shore scenery, is Tenaya, about a mile long, with an imposing
mountain dipping its feet into it on the south side, Cathedral Peak a
few miles above its head, many smooth swelling rock-waves and domes on
the north, and in the distance southward a multitude of snowy peaks, the
fountain-heads of rivers. Lake Hoffman lies shimmering beneath my feet,
mountain pines around its shining rim. To the northward the picturesque
basin of Yosemite Creek glitters with lakelets and pools; but the eye is
soon drawn away from these bright mirror wells, however attractive, to
revel in the glorious congregation of peaks on the axis of the range in
their robes of snow and light.

[Illustration: Cathedral Peak]

Carlo caught an unfortunate woodchuck when it was running from a grassy
spot to its boulder-pile home--one of the hardiest of the mountain
animals. I tried hard to save him, but in vain. After telling Carlo that
he must be careful not to kill anything, I caught sight, for the first
time, of the curious pika, or little chief hare, that cuts large
quantities of lupines and other plants and lays them out to dry in the
sun for hay, which it stores in underground barns to last through the
long, snowy winter. Coming upon these plants freshly cut and lying in
handfuls here and there on the rocks has a startling effect of busy life
on the lonely mountain-top. These little haymakers, endowed with
brain stuff something like our own,--God up here looking after
them,--what lessons they teach, how they widen our sympathy!

An eagle soaring above a sheer cliff, where I suppose its nest is, makes
another striking show of life, and helps to bring to mind the other
people of the so-called solitude--deer in the forest caring for their
young; the strong, well-clad, well-fed bears; the lively throng of
squirrels; the blessed birds, great and small, stirring and sweetening
the groves; and the clouds of happy insects filling the sky with joyous
hum as part and parcel of the down-pouring sunshine. All these come to
mind, as well as the plant people, and the glad streams singing their
way to the sea. But most impressive of all is the vast glowing
countenance of the wilderness in awful, infinite repose.

Toward sunset, enjoyed a fine run to camp, down the long south slopes,
across ridges and ravines, gardens and avalanche gaps, through the firs
and chaparral, enjoying wild excitement and excess of strength, and so
ends a day that will never end.

_July 27._ Up and away to Lake Tenaya,--another big day, enough for a
lifetime. The rocks, the air, everything speaking with audible voice or
silent; joyful, wonderful, enchanting, banishing weariness and sense of
time. No longing for anything now or hereafter as we go home into the
mountain's heart. The level sunbeams are touching the fir-tops, every
leaf shining with dew. Am holding an easterly course, the deep cañon of
Tenaya Creek on the right hand, Mount Hoffman on the left, and the lake
straight ahead about ten miles distant, the summit of Mount Hoffman
about three thousand feet above me, Tenaya Creek four thousand feet
below and separated from the shallow, irregular valley, along which most
of the way lies, by smooth domes and wave-ridges. Many mossy emerald
bogs, meadows, and gardens in rocky hollows to wade and saunter
through--and what fine plants they give me, what joyful streams I have
to cross, and how many views are displayed of the Hoffman and Cathedral
Peak masonry, and what a wondrous breadth of shining granite pavement to
walk over for the first time about the shores of the lake! On I
sauntered in freedom complete; body without weight as far as I was
aware; now wading through starry parnassia bogs, now through gardens
shoulder deep in larkspur and lilies, grasses and rushes, shaking off
showers of dew; crossing piles of crystalline moraine boulders, bright
mirror pavements, and cool, cheery streams going to Yosemite; crossing
bryanthus carpets and the scoured pathways of avalanches, and thickets
of snow-pressed ceanothus; then down a broad, majestic stairway into the
ice-sculptured lake-basin.

The snow on the high mountains is melting fast, and the streams are
singing bank-full, swaying softly through the level meadows and bogs,
quivering with sun-spangles, swirling in pot-holes, resting in deep
pools, leaping, shouting in wild, exulting energy over rough boulder
dams, joyful, beautiful in all their forms. No Sierra landscape that I
have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what in
manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean
and pure and full of divine lessons. This quick, inevitable interest
attaching to everything seems marvelous until the hand of God becomes
visible; then it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well
interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it
hitched to everything else in the universe. One fancies a heart like our
own must be beating in every crystal and cell, and we feel like stopping
to speak to the plants and animals as friendly fellow mountaineers.
Nature as a poet, an enthusiastic workingman, becomes more and more
visible the farther and higher we go; for the mountains are
fountains--beginning places, however related to sources beyond mortal
ken.

I found three kinds of meadows: (1) Those contained in basins not yet
filled with earth enough to make a dry surface. They are planted with
several species of carex, and have their margins diversified with robust
flowering plants such as veratrum, larkspur, lupine, etc. (2) Those
contained in the same sort of basins, once lakes like the first, but so
situated in relation to the streams that flow through them and beds of
transportable sand, gravel, etc., that they are now high and dry and
well drained. This dry condition and corresponding difference in their
vegetation may be caused by no superiority of position, or power of
transporting filling material in the streams that belong to them, but
simply by the basin being shallow and therefore sooner filled. They are
planted with grasses, mostly fine, silky, and rather short-leaved,
_Calamagrostis_ and _Agrostis_ being the principal genera. They form
delightfully smooth, level sods in which one finds two or three species
of gentian and as many of purple and yellow orthocarpus, violet,
vaccinium, kalmia, bryanthus, and lonicera. (3) Meadows hanging on ridge
and mountain slopes, not in basins at all, but made and held in place
by masses of boulders and fallen trees, which, forming dams one above
another in close succession on small, outspread, channelless streams,
have collected soil enough for the growth of grasses, carices, and many
flowering plants, and being kept well watered, without being subject to
currents sufficiently strong to carry them away, a hanging or sloping
meadow is the result. Their surfaces are seldom so smooth as the others,
being roughened more or less by the projecting tops of the dam rocks or
logs; but at a little distance this roughness is not noticed, and the
effect is very striking--bright green, fluent, down-sweeping flowery
ribbons on gray slopes. The broad shallow streams these meadows belong
to are mostly derived from banks of snow and because the soil is well
drained in some places, while in others the dam rocks are packed close
and caulked with bits of wood and leaves, making boggy patches; the
vegetation, of course, is correspondingly varied. I saw patches of
willow, bryanthus, and a fine show of lilies on some of them, not
forming a margin, but scattered about among the carex and grass. Most of
these meadows are now in their prime. How wonderful must be the temper
of the elastic leaves of grasses and sedges to make curves so perfect
and fine. Tempered a little harder, they would stand erect, stiff and
bristly, like strips of metal; a little softer, and every leaf would lie
flat. And what fine painting and tinting there is on the glumes and
pales, stamens and feathery pistils. Butterflies colored like the
flowers waver above them in wonderful profusion, and many other
beautiful winged people, numbered and known and loved only by the Lord,
are waltzing together high over head, seemingly in pure play and
hilarious enjoyment of their little sparks of life. How wonderful they
are! How do they get a living, and endure the weather? How are their
little bodies, with muscles, nerves, organs, kept warm and jolly in such
admirable exuberant health? Regarded only as mechanical inventions, how
wonderful they are! Compared with these, Godlike man's greatest machines
are as nothing.

Most of the sandy gardens on moraines are in prime beauty like the
meadows, though some on the north sides of rocks and beneath groves of
sapling pines have not yet bloomed. On sunny sheets of crystal soil
along the slopes of the Hoffman Mountains, I saw extensive patches of
ivesia and purple gilia with scarce a green leaf, making fine clouds of
color. Ribes bushes, vaccinium, and kalmia, now in flower, make
beautiful rugs and borders along the banks of the streams. Shaggy beds
of dwarf oak (_Quercus chrysolepis_, var. _vaccinifolia_) over which one
may walk are common on rocky moraines, yet this is the same species as
the large live oak seen near Brown's Flat. The most beautiful of the
shrubs is the purple-flowered bryanthus, here making glorious carpets at
an elevation of nine thousand feet.

The principal tree for the first mile or two from camp is the
magnificent silver fir, which reaches perfection here both in size and
form of individual trees, and in the mode of grouping in groves with
open spaces between. So trim and tasteful are these silvery, spiry
groves one would fancy they must have been placed in position by some
master landscape gardener, their regularity seeming almost conventional.
But Nature is the only gardener able to do work so fine. A few noble
specimens two hundred feet high occupy central positions in the groups
with younger trees around them; and outside of these another circle of
yet smaller ones, the whole arranged like tastefully symmetrical
bouquets, every tree fitting nicely the place assigned to it as if made
especially for it; small roses and eriogonums are usually found blooming
on the open spaces about the groves, forming charming pleasure grounds.
Higher, the firs gradually become smaller and less perfect, many
showing double summits, indicating storm stress. Still, where good
moraine soil is found, even on the rim of the lake-basin, specimens one
hundred and fifty feet in height and five feet in diameter occur nearly
nine thousand feet above the sea. The saplings, I find, are mostly bent
with the crushing weight of the winter snow, which at this elevation
must be at least eight or ten feet deep, judging by marks on the trees;
and this depth of compacted snow is heavy enough to bend and bury young
trees twenty or thirty feet in height and hold them down for four or
five months. Some are broken; the others spring up when the snow melts
and at length attain a size that enables them to withstand the snow
pressure. Yet even in trees five feet thick the traces of this early
discipline are still plainly to be seen in their curved insteps, and
frequently in old dried saplings protruding from the trunk, partially
overgrown by the new axis developed from a branch below the break. Yet
through all this stress the forest is maintained in marvelous beauty.

Beyond the silver firs I find the two-leaved pine (_Pinus contorta_,
var. _Murrayana_) forms the bulk of the forest up to an elevation of ten
thousand feet or more--the highest timber-belt of the Sierra. I saw a
specimen nearly five feet in diameter growing on deep, well-watered
soil at an elevation of about nine thousand feet. The form of this
species varies very much with position, exposure, soil, etc. On
stream-banks, where it is closely planted, it is very slender; some
specimens seventy-five feet high do not exceed five inches in diameter
at the ground, but the ordinary form, as far as I have seen, is well
proportioned. The average diameter when full grown at this elevation is
about twelve or fourteen inches, height forty or fifty feet, the
straggling branches bent up at the end, the bark thin and bedraggled
with amber-colored resin. The pistillate flowers form little crimson
rosettes a fourth of an inch in diameter on the ends of the branchlets,
mostly hidden in the leaf-tassels; the staminate are about three eighths
of an inch in diameter, sulphur-yellow, in showy clusters, giving a
remarkably rich effect--a brave, hardy mountaineer pine, growing
cheerily on rough beds of avalanche boulders and joints of rock
pavements, as well as in fertile hollows, standing up to the waist in
snow every winter for centuries, facing a thousand storms and blooming
every year in colors as bright as those worn by the sun-drenched trees
of the tropics.

A still hardier mountaineer is the Sierra juniper (_Juniperus
occidentalis_), growing mostly on domes and ridges and glacier
pavements. A thickset, sturdy, picturesque highlander, seemingly content
to live for more than a score of centuries on sunshine and snow; a truly
wonderful fellow, dogged endurance expressed in every feature, lasting
about as long as the granite he stands on. Some are nearly as broad as
high. I saw one on the shore of the lake nearly ten feet in diameter,
and many six to eight feet. The bark, cinnamon-colored, flakes off in
long ribbon-like strips with a satiny luster. Surely the most enduring
of all tree mountaineers, it never seems to die a natural death, or even
to fall after it has been killed. If protected from accidents, it would
perhaps be immortal. I saw some that had withstood an avalanche from
snowy Mount Hoffman cheerily putting out new branches, as if repeating,
like Grip, "Never say die." Some were simply standing on the pavement
where no fissure more than half an inch wide offered a hold for its
roots. The common height for these rock-dwellers is from ten to twenty
feet; most of the old ones have broken tops, and are mere stumps, with a
few tufted branches, forming picturesque brown pillars on bare
pavements, with plenty of elbow-room and a clear view in every
direction. On good moraine soil it reaches a height of from forty to
sixty feet, with dense gray foliage. The rings of the trunk are very
thin, eighty to an inch of diameter in some specimens I examined. Those
ten feet in diameter must be very old--thousands of years. Wish I could
live, like these junipers, on sunshine and snow, and stand beside them
on the shore of Lake Tenaya for a thousand years. How much I should see,
and how delightful it would be! Everything in the mountains would find
me and come to me, and everything from the heavens like light.

[Illustration: JUNIPERS IN TENAYA CAÑON]

The lake was named for one of the chiefs of the Yosemite tribe. Old
Tenaya is said to have been a good Indian to his tribe. When a company
of soldiers followed his band into Yosemite to punish them for
cattle-stealing and other crimes, they fled to this lake by a trail that
leads out of the upper end of the valley, early in the spring, while the
snow was still deep; but being pursued, they lost heart and surrendered.
A fine monument the old man has in this bright lake, and likely to last
a long time, though lakes die as well as Indians, being gradually filled
with detritus carried in by the feeding streams, and to some extent also
by snow avalanches and rain and wind. A considerable portion of the
Tenaya basin is already changed into a forested flat and meadow at the
upper end, where the main tributary enters from Cathedral Peak. Two
other tributaries come from the Hoffman Range. The outlet flows westward
through Tenaya Cañon to join the Merced River in Yosemite. Scarce a
handful of loose soil is to be seen on the north shore. All is bare,
shining granite, suggesting the Indian name of the lake, Pywiack,
meaning shining rock. The basin seems to have been slowly excavated by
the ancient glaciers, a marvelous work requiring countless thousands of
years. On the south side an imposing mountain rises from the water's
edge to a height of three thousand feet or more, feathered with hemlock
and pine; and huge shining domes on the east, over the tops of which the
grinding, wasting, molding glacier must have swept as the wind does
to-day.

_July 28._ No cloud mountains, only curly cirrus wisps scarce
perceptible, and the want of thunder to strike the noon hour seems
strange, as if the Sierra clock had stopped. Have been studying the
_magnifica_ fir--measured one near two hundred and forty feet high, the
tallest I have yet seen. This species is the most symmetrical of all
conifers, but though gigantic in size it seldom lives more than four or
five hundred years. Most of the trees die from the attacks of a fungus
at the age of two or three centuries. This dry-rot fungus perhaps enters
the trunk by way of the stumps of limbs broken off by the snow that
loads the broad palmate branches. The younger specimens are marvels of
symmetry, straight and erect as a plumb-line, their branches in regular
level whorls of five mostly, each branch as exact in its divisions as a
fern frond, and thickly covered by the leaves, making a rich plush over
all the tree, excepting only the trunk and a small portion of the main
limbs. The leaves turn upward, especially on the branchlets, and are
stiff and sharp, pointed on all the upper portion of the tree. They
remain on the tree about eight or ten years, and as the growth is rapid
it is not rare to find the leaves still in place on the upper part of
the axis where it is three to four inches in diameter, wide apart of
course, and their spiral arrangement beautifully displayed. The
leaf-scars are conspicuous for twenty years or more, but there is a good
deal of variation in different trees as to the thickness and sharpness
of the leaves.

After the excursion to Mount Hoffman I had seen a complete cross-section
of the Sierra forest, and I find that _Abies magnifica_ is the most
symmetrical tree of all the noble coniferous company. The cones are
grand affairs, superb in form, size, and color, cylindrical, stand
erect on the upper branches like casks, and are from five to eight
inches in length by three or four in diameter, greenish gray, and
covered with fine down which has a silvery luster in the sunshine, and
their brilliance is augmented by beads of transparent balsam which seems
to have been poured over each cone, bringing to mind the old ceremonies
of anointing with oil. If possible, the inside of the cone is more
beautiful than the outside; the scales, bracts, and seed wings are
tinted with the loveliest rosy purple with a bright lustrous
iridescence; the seeds, three fourths of an inch long, are dark brown.
When the cones are ripe the scales and bracts fall off, setting the
seeds free to fly to their predestined places, while the dead spike-like
axes are left on the branches for many years to mark the positions of
the vanished cones, excepting those cut off when green by the Douglas
squirrel. How he gets his teeth under the broad bases of the sessile
cones, I don't know. Climbing these trees on a sunny day to visit the
growing cones and to gaze over the tops of the forest is one of my best
enjoyments.

_July 29._ Bright, cool, exhilarating. Clouds about .05. Another
glorious day of rambling, sketching, and universal enjoyment.

_July 30._ Clouds .20, but the regular shower did not reach us, though
thunder was heard a few miles off striking the noon hour. Ants, flies,
and mosquitoes seem to enjoy this fine climate. A few house-flies have
discovered our camp. The Sierra mosquitoes are courageous and of good
size, some of them measuring nearly an inch from tip of sting to tip of
folded wings. Though less abundant than in most wildernesses, they
occasionally make quite a hum and stir, and pay but little attention to
time or place. They sting anywhere, any time of day, wherever they can
find anything worth while, until they are themselves stung by frost. The
large, jet-black ants are only ticklish and troublesome when one is
lying down under the trees. Noticed a borer drilling a silver fir.
Ovipositor about an inch and a half in length, polished and straight
like a needle. When not in use, it is folded back in a sheath, which
extends straight behind like the legs of a crane in flying. This
drilling, I suppose, is to save nest building, and the after care of
feeding the young. Who would guess that in the brain of a fly so much
knowledge could find lodgment? How do they know that their eggs will
hatch in such holes, or, after they hatch, that the soft, helpless grubs
will find the right sort of nourishment in silver fir sap? This
domestic arrangement calls to mind the curious family of gallflies.
Each species seems to know what kind of plant will respond to the
irritation or stimulus of the puncture it makes and the eggs it lays, in
forming a growth that not only answers for a nest and home but also
provides food for the young. Probably these gallflies make mistakes at
times, like anybody else; but when they do, there is simply a failure of
that particular brood, while enough to perpetuate the species do find
the proper plants and nourishment. Many mistakes of this kind might be
made without being discovered by us. Once a pair of wrens made the
mistake of building a nest in the sleeve of a workman's coat, which was
called for at sundown, much to the consternation and discomfiture of the
birds. Still the marvel remains that any of the children of such small
people as gnats and mosquitoes should escape their own and their
parents' mistakes, as well as the vicissitudes of the weather and hosts
of enemies, and come forth in full vigor and perfection to enjoy the
sunny world. When we think of the small creatures that are visible, we
are led to think of many that are smaller still and lead us on and on
into infinite mystery.

_July 31._ Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as
nectar to the tongue; indeed the body seems one palate, and tingles
equally throughout. Cloudiness about .05, but our ordinary shower has
not yet reached us, though I hear thunder in the distance.

The cheery little chipmunk, so common about Brown's Flat, is common here
also, and perhaps other species. In their light, airy habits they recall
the familiar species of the Eastern States, which we admired in the oak
openings of Wisconsin as they skimmed along the zigzag rail fences.
These Sierra chipmunks are more arboreal and squirrel-like. I first
noticed them on the lower edge of the coniferous belt, where the Sabine
and yellow pines meet,--exceedingly interesting little fellows, full of
odd, funny ways, and without being true squirrels, have most of their
accomplishments without their aggressive quarrelsomeness. I never weary
watching them as they frisk about in the bushes gathering seeds and
berries, like song sparrows poising daintily on slender twigs, and
making even less stir than most birds of the same size. Few of the
Sierra animals interest me more; they are so able, gentle, confiding,
and beautiful, they take one's heart, and get themselves adopted as
darlings. Though weighing hardly more than field mice, they are
laborious collectors of seeds, nuts, and cones, and are therefore well
fed, but never in the least swollen with fat or lazily full. On the
contrary, of their frisky, birdlike liveliness there is no end. They
have a great variety of notes corresponding with their movements, some
sweet and liquid, like water dripping with tinkling sounds into pools.
They seem dearly to love teasing a dog, coming frequently almost within
reach, then frisking away with lively chipping, like sparrows, beating
time to their music with their tails, which at each chip describe half
circles from side to side. Not even the Douglas squirrel is surer-footed
or more fearless. I have seen them running about on sheer precipices of
the Yosemite walls seemingly holding on with as little effort as flies,
and as unconscious of danger, where, if the slightest slip were made,
they would have fallen two or three thousand feet. How fine it would be
could we mountaineers climb these tremendous cliffs with the same sure
grip! The venture I made the other day for a view of the Yosemite Fall,
and which tried my nerves so sorely, this little Tamias would have made
for an ear of grass.

The woodchuck (_Arctomys monax_) of the bleak mountain-tops is a very
different sort of mountaineer--the most bovine of rodents, a heavy
eater, fat, aldermanic in bulk and fairly bloated, in his high pastures,
like a cow in a clover field. One woodchuck would outweigh a hundred
chipmunks, and yet he is by no means a dull animal. In the midst of what
we regard as storm-beaten desolation he pipes and whistles right
cheerily, and enjoys long life in his skyland homes. His burrow is made
in disintegrated rocks or beneath large boulders. Coming out of his den
in the cold hoarfrost mornings, he takes a sun-bath on some favorite
flat-topped rock, then goes to breakfast in garden hollows, eats grass
and flowers until comfortably swollen, then goes a-visiting to fight and
play. How long a woodchuck lives in this bracing air I don't know, but
some of them are rusty and gray like lichen-covered boulders.

_August 1._ A grand cloudland and five-minute shower, refreshing the
blessed wilderness, already so fragrant and fresh, steeping the black
meadow mold and dead leaves like tea.

The waycup, or flicker, so familiar to every boy in the old Middle West
States, is one of the most common of the wood-peckers hereabouts, and
makes one feel at home. I can see no difference in plumage or habits
from the Eastern species, though the climate here is so different,--a
fine, brave, confiding, beautiful bird. The robin, too, is here, with
all his familiar notes and gestures, tripping daintily on open garden
spots and high meadows. Over all America he seems to be at home, moving
from the plains to the mountains and from north to south, back and
forth, up and down, with the march of the seasons and food supply. How
admirable the constitution and temper of this brave singer, keeping in
cheery health over so vast and varied a range! Oftentimes, as I wander
through these solemn woods, awe-stricken and silent, I hear the
reassuring voice of this fellow wanderer ringing out, sweet and clear,
"Fear not! fear not!"

The mountain quail (_Oreortyx ricta_) I often meet in my walks--a small
brown partridge with a very long, slender, ornamental crest worn
jauntily like a feather in a boy's cap, giving it a very marked
appearance. This species is considerably larger than the valley quail,
so common on the hot foothills. They seldom alight in trees, but love to
wander in flocks of from five or six to twenty through the ceanothus and
manzanita thickets and over open, dry meadows and rocks of the ridges
where the forest is less dense or wanting, uttering a low clucking sound
to enable them to keep together. When disturbed they rise with a strong
birr of wing-beats, and scatter as if exploded to a distance of a
quarter of a mile or so. After the danger is past they call one another
together with a loud piping note--Nature's beautiful mountain chickens.
I have not yet found their nests. The young of this season are already
hatched and away--new broods of happy wanderers half as large as their
parents. I wonder how they live through the long winters, when the
ground is snow-covered ten feet deep. They must go down towards the
lower edge of the forest, like the deer, though I have not heard of them
there.

The blue, or dusky, grouse is also common here. They like the deepest
and closest fir woods, and when disturbed, burst from the branches of
the trees with a strong, loud whir of wing-beats, and vanish in a
wavering, silent slide, without moving a feather--a stout, beautiful
bird about the size of the prairie chicken of the old west, spending
most of the time in the trees, excepting the breeding season, when it
keeps to the ground. The young are now able to fly. When scattered by
man or dog, they keep still until the danger is supposed to be passed,
then the mother calls them together. The chicks can hear the call a
distance of several hundred yards, though it is not loud. Should the
young be unable to fly, the mother feigns desperate lameness or death to
draw one away, throwing herself at one's feet within two or three yards,
rolling over on her back, kicking and gasping, so as to deceive man or
beast. They are said to stay all the year in the woods hereabouts,
taking shelter in dense tufted branches of fir and yellow pine during
snowstorms, and feeding on the young buds of these trees. Their legs are
feathered down to their toes, and I have never heard of their suffering
in any sort of weather. Able to live on pine and fir buds, they are
forever independent in the matter of food, which troubles so many of us
and controls our movements. Gladly, if I could, I would live forever on
pine buds, however full of turpentine and pitch, for the sake of this
grand independence. Just to think of our sufferings last month merely
for grist-mill flour. Man seems to have more difficulty in gaining food
than any other of the Lord's creatures. For many in towns it is a
consuming, lifelong struggle; for others, the danger of coming to want
is so great, the deadly habit of endless hoarding for the future is
formed, which smothers all real life, and is continued long after every
reasonable need has been over-supplied.

On Mount Hoffman I saw a curious dove-colored bird that seemed half
woodpecker, half magpie, or crow. It screams something like a crow, but
flies like a woodpecker, and has a long, straight bill, with which I saw
it opening the cones of the mountain and white-barked pines. It seems
to keep to the heights, though no doubt it comes down for shelter during
winter, if not for food. So far as food is concerned, these
bird-mountaineers, I guess, can glean nuts enough, even in winter, from
the different kinds of conifers; for always there are a few that have
been unable to fly out of the cones and remain for hungry winter
gleaners.



CHAPTER VII

A STRANGE EXPERIENCE


_August 2._ Clouds and showers, about the same as yesterday. Sketching
all day on the North Dome until four or five o'clock in the afternoon,
when, as I was busily employed thinking only of the glorious Yosemite
landscape, trying to draw every tree and every line and feature of the
rocks, I was suddenly, and without warning, possessed with the notion
that my friend, Professor J. D. Butler, of the State University of
Wisconsin, was below me in the valley, and I jumped up full of the idea
of meeting him, with almost as much startling excitement as if he had
suddenly touched me to make me look up. Leaving my work without the
slightest deliberation, I ran down the western slope of the Dome and
along the brink of the valley wall, looking for a way to the bottom,
until I came to a side cañon, which, judging by its apparently
continuous growth of trees and bushes, I thought might afford a
practical way into the valley, and immediately began to make the
descent, late as it was, as if drawn irresistibly. But after a little,
common sense stopped me and explained that it would be long after dark
ere I could possibly reach the hotel, that the visitors would be asleep,
that nobody would know me, that I had no money in my pockets, and
moreover was without a coat. I therefore compelled myself to stop, and
finally succeeded in reasoning myself out of the notion of seeking my
friend in the dark, whose presence I only felt in a strange, telepathic
way. I succeeded in dragging myself back through the woods to camp,
never for a moment wavering, however, in my determination to go down to
him next morning. This I think is the most unexplainable notion that
ever struck me. Had some one whispered in my ear while I sat on the
Dome, where I had spent so many days, that Professor Butler was in the
valley, I could not have been more surprised and startled. When I was
leaving the university, he said, "Now, John, I want to hold you in sight
and watch your career. Promise to write me at least once a year." I
received a letter from him in July, at our first camp in the Hollow,
written in May, in which he said that he might possibly visit California
some time this summer, and therefore hoped to meet me. But inasmuch as
he named no meeting-place, and gave no directions as to the course he
would probably follow, and as I should be in the wilderness all summer,
I had not the slightest hope of seeing him, and all thought of the
matter had vanished from my mind until this afternoon, when he seemed to
be wafted bodily almost against my face. Well, to-morrow I shall see;
for, reasonable or unreasonable, I feel I must go.

_August 3._ Had a wonderful day. Found Professor Butler as the
compass-needle finds the pole. So last evening's telepathy,
transcendental revelation, or whatever else it may be called, was true;
for, strange to say, he had just entered the valley by way of the
Coulterville Trail and was coming up the valley past El Capitan when his
presence struck me. Had he then looked toward the North Dome with a good
glass when it first came in sight, he might have seen me jump up from my
work and run toward him. This seems the one well-defined marvel of my
life of the kind called supernatural; for, absorbed in glad Nature,
spirit-rappings, second sight, ghost stories, etc., have never
interested me since boyhood, seeming comparatively useless and
infinitely less wonderful than Nature's open, harmonious, songful,
sunny, everyday beauty.

This morning, when I thought of having to appear among tourists at a
hotel, I was troubled because I had no suitable clothes, and at best am
desperately bashful and shy. I was determined to go, however, to see my
old friend after two years among strangers; got on a clean pair of
overalls, a cashmere shirt, and a sort of jacket,--the best my camp
wardrobe afforded,--tied my notebook on my belt, and strode away on my
strange journey, followed by Carlo. I made my way though the gap
discovered last evening, which proved to be Indian Cañon. There was no
trail in it, and the rocks and brush were so rough that Carlo frequently
called me back to help him down precipitous places. Emerging from the
cañon shadows, I found a man making hay on one of the meadows, and asked
him whether Professor Butler was in the valley. "I don't know," he
replied; "but you can easily find out at the hotel. There are but few
visitors in the valley just now. A small party came in yesterday
afternoon, and I heard some one called Professor Butler, or Butterfield,
or some name like that."

[Illustration: _The Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park_]

In front of the gloomy hotel I found a tourist party adjusting their
fishing tackle. They all stared at me in silent wonderment, as if I had
been seen dropping down through the trees from the clouds, mostly, I
suppose, on account of my strange garb. Inquiring for the office, I was
told it was locked, and that the landlord was away, but I might find the
landlady, Mrs. Hutchings, in the parlor. I entered in a sad state of
embarrassment, and after I had waited in the big, empty room and knocked
at several doors the landlady at length appeared, and in reply to my
question said she rather thought Professor Butler _was_ in the valley,
but to make sure, she would bring the register from the office. Among
the names of the last arrivals I soon discovered the Professor's
familiar handwriting, at the sight of which bashfulness vanished; and
having learned that his party had gone up the valley,--probably to the
Vernal and Nevada Falls,--I pushed on in glad pursuit, my heart now sure
of its prey. In less than an hour I reached the head of the Nevada Cañon
at the Vernal Fall, and just outside of the spray discovered a
distinguished-looking gentleman, who, like everybody else I have seen
to-day, regarded me curiously as I approached. When I made bold to
inquire if he knew where Professor Butler was, he seemed yet more
curious to know what could possibly have happened that required a
messenger for the Professor, and instead of answering my question he
asked with military sharpness, "Who wants him?" "I want him," I replied
with equal sharpness. "Why? Do _you_ know him?" "Yes," I said. "Do
_you_ know him?" Astonished that any one in the mountains could possibly
know Professor Butler and find him as soon as he had reached the valley,
he came down to meet the strange mountaineer on equal terms, and
courteously replied, "Yes, I know Professor Butler very well. I am
General Alvord, and we were fellow students in Rutland, Vermont, long
ago, when we were both young." "But where is he now?" I persisted,
cutting short his story. "He has gone beyond the falls with a companion,
to try to climb that big rock, the top of which you see from here." His
guide now volunteered the information that it was the Liberty Cap
Professor Butler and his companion had gone to climb, and that if I
waited at the head of the fall I should be sure to find them on their
way down. I therefore climbed the ladders alongside the Vernal Fall, and
was pushing forward, determined to go to the top of Liberty Cap rock in
my hurry, rather than wait, if I should not meet my friend sooner. So
heart-hungry at times may one be to see a friend in the flesh, however
happily full and care-free one's life may be. I had gone but a short
distance, however, above the brow of the Vernal Fall when I caught sight
of him in the brush and rocks, half erect, groping his way, his sleeves
rolled up, vest open, hat in his hand, evidently very hot and tired.
When he saw me coming he sat down on a boulder to wipe the perspiration
from his brow and neck, and taking me for one of the valley guides, he
inquired the way to the fall ladders. I pointed out the path marked with
little piles of stones, on seeing which he called his companion, saying
that the way was found; but he did not yet recognize me. Then I stood
directly in front of him, looked him in the face, and held out my hand.
He thought I was offering to assist him in rising. "Never mind," he
said. Then I said, "Professor Butler, don't you know me?" "I think not,"
he replied; but catching my eye, sudden recognition followed, and
astonishment that I should have found him just when he was lost in the
brush and did not know that I was within hundreds of miles of him. "John
Muir, John Muir, where have you come from?" Then I told him the story of
my feeling his presence when he entered the valley last evening, when he
was four or five miles distant, as I sat sketching on the North Dome.
This, of course, only made him wonder the more. Below the foot of the
Vernal Fall the guide was waiting with his saddle-horse, and I walked
along the trail, chatting all the way back to the hotel, talking of
school days, friends in Madison, of the students, how each had
prospered, etc., ever and anon gazing at the stupendous rocks about us,
now growing indistinct in the gloaming, and again quoting from the
poets--a rare ramble.

It was late ere we reached the hotel, and General Alvord was waiting the
Professor's arrival for dinner. When I was introduced he seemed yet more
astonished than the Professor at my descent from cloudland and going
straight to my friend without knowing in any ordinary way that he was
even in California. They had come on direct from the East, had not yet
visited any of their friends in the state, and considered themselves
undiscoverable. As we sat at dinner, the General leaned back in his
chair, and looking down the table, thus introduced me to the dozen
guests or so, including the staring fisherman mentioned above: "This
man, you know, came down out of these huge, trackless mountains, you
know, to find his friend Professor Butler here, the very day he arrived;
and how did he know he was here? He just felt him, he says. This is the
queerest case of Scotch farsightedness I ever heard of," etc., etc.
While my friend quoted Shakespeare: "More things in heaven and earth,
Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," "As the sun, ere he
has risen, sometimes paints his image in the firmament, e'en so the
shadows of events precede the events, and in to-day already walks
to-morrow."

Had a long conversation, after dinner, over Madison days. The Professor
wants me to promise to go with him, sometime, on a camping trip in the
Hawaiian Islands, while I tried to get him to go back with me to camp in
the high Sierra. But he says, "Not now." He must not leave the General;
and I was surprised to learn they are to leave the valley to-morrow or
next day. I'm glad I'm not great enough to be missed in the busy world.

_August 4._ It seemed strange to sleep in a paltry hotel chamber after
the spacious magnificence and luxury of the starry sky and silver fir
grove. Bade farewell to my friend and the General. The old soldier was
very kind, and an interesting talker. He told me long stories of the
Florida Seminole war, in which he took part, and invited me to visit him
in Omaha. Calling Carlo, I scrambled home through the Indian Cañon gate,
rejoicing, pitying the poor Professor and General, bound by clocks,
almanacs, orders, duties, etc., and compelled to dwell with lowland care
and dust and din, where Nature is covered and her voice smothered, while
the poor, insignificant wanderer enjoys the freedom and glory of God's
wilderness.

Apart from the human interest of my visit to-day, I greatly enjoyed
Yosemite, which I had visited only once before, having spent eight days
last spring in rambling amid its rocks and waters. Wherever we go in the
mountains, or indeed in any of God's wild fields, we find more than we
seek. Descending four thousand feet in a few hours, we enter a new
world--climate, plants, sounds, inhabitants, and scenery all new or
changed. Near camp the goldcup oak forms sheets of chaparral, on top of
which we may make our beds. Going down the Indian Cañon we observe this
little bush changing by regular gradations to a large bush, to a small
tree, and then larger, until on the rocky taluses near the bottom of the
valley we find it developed into a broad, wide-spreading, gnarled,
picturesque tree from four to eight feet in diameter, and forty or fifty
feet high. Innumerable are the forms of water displayed. Every gliding
reach, cascade, and fall has characters of its own. Had a good view of
the Vernal and Nevada, two of the main falls of the valley, less than a
mile apart, and offering striking differences in voice, form, color,
etc. The Vernal, four hundred feet high and about seventy-five or
eighty feet wide, drops smoothly over a round-lipped precipice and forms
a superb apron of embroidery, green and white, slightly folded and
fluted, maintaining this form nearly to the bottom, where it is suddenly
veiled in quick-flying billows of spray and mist, in which the afternoon
sunbeams play with ravishing beauty of rainbow colors. The Nevada is
white from its first appearance as it leaps out into the freedom of the
air. At the head it presents a twisted appearance, by an overfolding of
the current from striking on the side of its channel just before the
first free out-bounding leap is made. About two thirds of the way down,
the hurrying throng of comet-shaped masses glance on an inclined part of
the face of the precipice and are beaten into yet whiter foam, greatly
expanded, and sent bounding outward, making an indescribably glorious
show, especially when the afternoon sunshine is pouring into it. In this
fall--one of the most wonderful in the world--the water does not seem to
be under the dominion of ordinary laws, but rather as if it were a
living creature, full of the strength of the mountains and their huge,
wild joy.

From beneath heavy throbbing blasts of spray the broken river is seen
emerging in ragged boulder-chafed strips. These are speedily gathered
into a roaring torrent, showing that the young river is still gloriously
alive. On it goes, shouting, roaring, exulting in its strength, passes
through a gorge with sublime display of energy, then suddenly expands on
a gently inclined pavement, down which it rushes in thin sheets and
folds of lace-work into a quiet pool,--"Emerald Pool," as it is
called,--a stopping-place, a period separating two grand sentences.
Resting here long enough to part with its foam-bells and gray mixtures
of air, it glides quietly to the verge of the Vernal precipice in a
broad sheet and makes its new display in the Vernal Fall; then more
rapids and rock tossings down the cañon, shaded by live oak, Douglas
spruce, fir, maple, and dogwood. It receives the Illilouette tributary,
and makes a long sweep out into the level, sun-filled valley to join the
other streams which, like itself, have danced and sung their way down
from snowy heights to form the main Merced--the river of Mercy. But of
this there is no end, and life, when one thinks of it, is so short.
Never mind, one day in the midst of these divine glories is well worth
living and toiling and starving for.

Before parting with Professor Butler he gave me a book, and I gave him
one of my pencil sketches for his little son Henry, who is a favorite
of mine. He used to make many visits to my room when I was a student.
Never shall I forget his patriotic speeches for the Union, mounted on a
tall stool, when he was only six years old.

It seems strange that visitors to Yosemite should be so little
influenced by its novel grandeur, as if their eyes were bandaged and
their ears stopped. Most of those I saw yesterday were looking down as
if wholly unconscious of anything going on about them, while the sublime
rocks were trembling with the tones of the mighty chanting congregation
of waters gathered from all the mountains round about, making music that
might draw angels out of heaven. Yet respectable-looking, even
wise-looking people were fixing bits of worms on bent pieces of wire to
catch trout. Sport they called it. Should church-goers try to pass the
time fishing in baptismal fonts while dull sermons were being preached,
the so-called sport might not be so bad; but to play in the Yosemite
temple, seeking pleasure in the pain of fishes struggling for their
lives, while God himself is preaching his sublimest water and stone
sermons!

[Illustration: _The Happy Isles, Yosemite National Park_]

Now I'm back at the camp-fire, and cannot help thinking about my
recognition of my friend's presence in the valley while he was four or
five miles away, and while I had no means of knowing that he was
not thousands of miles away. It seems supernatural, but only because it
is not understood. Anyhow, it seems silly to make so much of it, while
the natural and common is more truly marvelous and mysterious than the
so-called supernatural. Indeed most of the miracles we hear of are
infinitely less wonderful than the commonest of natural phenomena, when
fairly seen. Perhaps the invisible rays that struck me while I sat at
work on the Dome are something like those which attract and repel people
at first sight, concerning which so much nonsense has been written. The
worst apparent effect of these mysterious odd things is blindness to all
that is divinely common. Hawthorne, I fancy, could weave one of his
weird romances out of this little telepathic episode, the one strange
marvel of my life, probably replacing my good old Professor by an
attractive woman.

_August 5._ We were awakened this morning before daybreak by the furious
barking of Carlo and Jack and the sound of stampeding sheep. Billy fled
from his punk bed to the fire, and refused to stir into the darkness to
try to gather the scattered flock, or ascertain the nature of the
disturbance. It was a bear attack, as we afterward learned, and I
suppose little was gained by attempting to do anything before daylight.
Nevertheless, being anxious to know what was up, Carlo and I groped our
way through the woods, guided by the rustling sound made by fragments of
the flock, not fearing the bear, for I knew that the runaways would go
from their enemy as far as possible and Carlo's nose was also to be
depended upon. About half a mile east of the corral we overtook twenty
or thirty of the flock and succeeded in driving them back; then turning
to the westward, we traced another band of fugitives and got them back
to the flock. After daybreak I discovered the remains of a sheep
carcass, still warm, showing that Bruin must have been enjoying his
early mutton breakfast while I was seeking the runaways. He had eaten
about half of it. Six dead sheep lay in the corral, evidently smothered
by the crowding and piling up of the flock against the side of the
corral wall when the bear entered. Making a wide circuit of the camp,
Carlo and I discovered a third band of fugitives and drove them back to
camp. We also discovered another dead sheep half eaten, showing there
had been two of the shaggy freebooters at this early breakfast. They
were easily traced. They had each caught a sheep, jumped over the corral
fence with them, carrying them as a cat carries a mouse, laid them at
the foot of fir trees a hundred yards or so back from the corral, and
eaten their fill. After breakfast I set out to seek more of the lost,
and found seventy-five at a considerable distance from camp. In the
afternoon I succeeded, with Carlo's help, in getting them back to the
flock. I don't know whether all are together again or not. I shall make
a big fire this evening and keep watch.

When I asked Billy why he made his bed against the corral in rotten
wood, when so many better places offered, he replied that he "wished to
be as near the sheep as possible in case bears should attack them." Now
that the bears have come, he has moved his bed to the far side of the
camp, and seems afraid that he may be mistaken for a sheep.

This has been mostly a sheep day, and of course studies have been
interrupted. Nevertheless, the walk through the gloom of the woods
before the dawn was worth while, and I have learned something about
these noble bears. Their tracks are very telling, and so are their
breakfasts. Scarce a trace of clouds to-day, and of course our ordinary
midday thunder is wanting.

_August 6._ Enjoyed the grand illumination of the camp grove, last
night, from the fire we made to frighten the bears--compensation for
loss of sleep and sheep. The noble pillars of verdure, vividly aglow,
seemed to shoot into the sky like the flames that lighted them.
Nevertheless, one of the bears paid us another visit, as if more
attracted than repelled by the fire, climbed into the corral, killed a
sheep and made off with it without being seen, while still another was
lost by trampling and suffocation against the side of the corral. Now
that our mutton has been tasted, I suppose it will be difficult to put a
stop to the ravages of these freebooters.

The Don arrived to-day from the lowlands with provisions and a letter.
On learning the losses he had sustained, he determined to move the flock
at once to the Upper Tuolumne region, saying that the bears would be
sure to visit the camp every night as long as we stayed, and that no
fire or noise we might make would avail to frighten them. No clouds save
a few thin, lustrous touches on the eastern horizon. Thunder heard in
the distance.



CHAPTER VIII

THE MONO TRAIL


_August 7._ Early this morning bade good-bye to the bears and blessed
silver fir camp, and moved slowly eastward along the Mono Trail. At
sundown camped for the night on one of the many small flowery meadows so
greatly enjoyed on my excursion to Lake Tenaya. The dusty, noisy flock
seems outrageously foreign and out of place in these nature gardens,
more so than bears among sheep. The harm they do goes to the heart, but
glorious hope lifts above all the dust and din and bids me look forward
to a good time coming, when money enough will be earned to enable me to
go walking where I like in pure wildness, with what I can carry on my
back, and when the bread-sack is empty, run down to the nearest point on
the bread-line for more. Nor will these run-downs be blanks, for,
whether up or down, every step and jump on these blessed mountains is
full of fine lessons.

[Illustration: VIEW OF TENAYA LAKE SHOWING CATHEDRAL PEAK]

[Illustration: ONE OF THE TRIBUTARY FOUNTAINS OF THE TUOLUMNE CAÑON
WATERS, ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE HOFFMAN RANGE]

_August 8._ Camp at the west end of Lake Tenaya. Arriving early, I took
a walk on the glacier-polished pavements along the north shore, and
climbed the magnificent mountain rock at the east end of the lake, now
shining in the late afternoon light. Almost every yard of its surface
shows the scoring and polishing action of a great glacier that enveloped
it and swept heavily over its summit, though it is about two thousand
feet high above the lake and ten thousand above sea-level. This
majestic, ancient ice-flood came from the eastward, as the scoring and
crushing of the surface shows. Even below the waters of the lake the
rock in some places is still grooved and polished; the lapping of the
waves and their disintegrating action have not as yet obliterated even
the superficial marks of glaciation. In climbing the steepest polished
places I had to take off shoes and stockings. A fine region this for
study of glacial action in mountain-making. I found many charming
plants: arctic daisies, phlox, white spiræa, bryanthus, and
rock-ferns,--pellæa, cheilanthes, allosorus,--fringing weathered seams
all the way up to the summit; and sturdy junipers, grand old gray and
brown monuments, stood bravely erect on fissured spots here and there,
telling storm and avalanche stories of hundreds of winters. The view of
the lake from the top is, I think, the best of all. There is another
rock, more striking in form than this, standing isolated at the head
of the lake, but it is not more than half as high. It is a knob or knot
of burnished granite, perhaps about a thousand feet high, apparently as
flawless and strong in structure as a wave-worn pebble, and probably
owes its existence to the superior resistance it offered to the action
of the overflowing ice-flood.

Made sketch of the lake, and sauntered back to camp, my iron-shod shoes
clanking on the pavements disturbing the chipmunks and birds. After dark
went out to the shore,--not a breath of air astir, the lake a perfect
mirror reflecting the sky and mountains with their stars and trees and
wonderful sculpture, all their grandeur refined and doubled,--a
marvelously impressive picture, that seemed to belong more to heaven
than earth.

_August 9._ I went ahead of the flock, and crossed over the divide
between the Merced and Tuolumne Basins. The gap between the east end of
the Hoffman spur and the mass of mountain rocks about Cathedral Peak,
though roughened by ridges and waving folds, seems to be one of the
channels of a broad ancient glacier that came from the mountains on the
summit of the range. In crossing this divide the ice-river made an
ascent of about five hundred feet from the Tuolumne meadows. This entire
region must have been overswept by ice.

From the top of the divide, and also from the big Tuolumne Meadows, the
wonderful mountain called Cathedral Peak is in sight. From every point
of view it shows marked individuality. It is a majestic temple of one
stone, hewn from the living rock, and adorned with spires and pinnacles
in regular cathedral style. The dwarf pines on the roof look like
mosses. I hope some time to climb to it to say my prayers and hear the
stone sermons.

The big Tuolumne Meadows are flowery lawns, lying along the south fork
of the Tuolumne River at a height of about eighty-five hundred to nine
thousand feet above the sea, partially separated by forests and bars of
glaciated granite. Here the mountains seem to have been cleared away or
set back, so that wide-open views may be had in every direction. The
upper end of the series lies at the base of Mount Lyell, the lower below
the east end of the Hoffman Range, so the length must be about ten or
twelve miles. They vary in width from a quarter of a mile to perhaps
three quarters, and a good many branch meadows put out along the banks
of the tributary streams. This is the most spacious and delightful high
pleasure-ground I have yet seen. The air is keen and bracing, yet warm
during the day; and though lying high in the sky, the surrounding
mountains are so much higher, one feels protected as if in a grand
hall. Mounts Dana and Gibbs, massive red mountains, perhaps thirteen
thousand feet high or more, bound the view on the east, the Cathedral
and Unicorn Peaks, with many nameless peaks, on the south, the Hoffman
Range on the west, and a number of peaks unnamed, as far as I know, on
the north. One of these last is much like the Cathedral. The grass of
the meadows is mostly fine and silky, with exceedingly slender leaves,
making a close sod, above which the panicles of minute purple flowers
seem to float in airy, misty lightness, while the sod is enriched with
at least three species of gentian and as many or more of orthocarpus,
potentilla, ivesia, solidago, pentstemon, with their gay
colors,--purple, blue, yellow, and red,--all of which I may know better
ere long. A central camp will probably be made in this region, from
which I hope to make long excursions into the surrounding mountains.

On the return trip I met the flock about three miles east of Lake
Tenaya. Here we camped for the night near a small lake lying on top of
the divide in a clump of the two-leaved pine. We are now about nine
thousand feet above the sea. Small lakes abound in all sorts of
situations,--on ridges, along mountain sides, and in piles of moraine
boulders, most of them mere pools. Only in those cañons of the larger
streams at the foot of declivities, where the down thrust of the
glaciers was heaviest, do we find lakes of considerable size and depth.
How grateful a task it would be to trace them all and study them! How
pure their waters are, clear as crystal in polished stone basins! None
of them, so far as I have seen, have fishes, I suppose on account of
falls making them inaccessible. Yet one would think their eggs might get
into these lakes by some chance or other; on ducks' feet, for example,
or in their mouths, or in their crops, as some plant seeds are
distributed. Nature has so many ways of doing such things. How did the
frogs, found in all the bogs and pools and lakes, however high, manage
to get up these mountains? Surely not by jumping. Such excursions
through miles of dry brush and boulders would be very hard on frogs.
Perhaps their stringy gelatinous spawn is occasionally entangled or
glued on the feet of water birds. Anyhow, they are here and in hearty
health and voice. I like their cheery tronk and crink. They take the
place of songbirds at a pinch.

_August 10._ Another of those charming exhilarating days that make the
blood dance and excite nerve currents that render one unweariable and
well-nigh immortal. Had another view of the broad ice-ploughed divide,
and gazed again and again at the Sierra temple and the great red
mountains east of the meadows.

We are camped near the Soda Springs on the north side of the river. A
hard time we had getting the sheep across. They were driven into a
horseshoe bend and fairly crowded off the bank. They seemed willing to
suffer death rather than risk getting wet, though they swim well enough
when they have to. Why sheep should be so unreasonably afraid of water,
I don't know, but they do fear it as soon as they are born and perhaps
before. I once saw a lamb only a few hours old approach a shallow stream
about two feet wide and an inch deep, after it had walked only about a
hundred yards on its life journey. All the flock to which it belonged
had crossed this inch-deep stream, and as the mother and her lamb were
the last to cross, I had a good opportunity to observe them. As soon as
the flock was out of the way, the anxious mother crossed over and called
the youngster. It walked cautiously to the brink, gazed at the water,
bleated piteously, and refused to venture. The patient mother went back
to it again and again to encourage it, but long without avail. Like the
pilgrim on Jordan's stormy bank it feared to launch away. At length,
gathering its trembling inexperienced legs for the mighty effort,
throwing up its head as if it knew all about drowning, and was anxious
to keep its nose above water, it made the tremendous leap, and landed in
the middle of the inch-deep stream. It seemed astonished to find that,
instead of sinking over head and ears, only its toes were wet, gazed at
the shining water a few seconds, and then sprang to the shore safe and
dry through the dreadful adventure. All kinds of wild sheep are mountain
animals, and their descendants' dread of water is not easily accounted
for.

_August 11._ Fine shining weather, with a ten minutes' noon thunderstorm
and rain. Rambling all day getting acquainted with the region north of
the river. Found a small lake and many charming glacier meadows
embosomed in an extensive forest of the two-leaved pine. The forest is
growing on broad, almost continuous deposits of moraine material, is
remarkably even in its growth, and the trees are much closer together
than in any of the fir or pine woods farther down the range. The
evenness of the growth would seem to indicate that the trees are all of
the same age or nearly so. This regularity has probably been in great
part the result of fire. I saw several large patches and strips of dead
bleached spars, the ground beneath them covered with a young even
growth. Fire can run in these woods, not only because the thin bark of
the trees is dripping with resin, but because the growth is close, and
the comparatively rich soil produces good crops of tall broad-leaved
grasses on which fire can travel, even when the weather is calm. Besides
these fire-killed patches there are a good many fallen uprooted trees
here and there, some with the bark and needles still on, as if they had
lately been blown down in some thunderstorm blast. Saw a large
black-tailed deer, a buck with antlers like the upturned roots of a
fallen pine.

After a long ramble through the dense encumbered woods I emerged upon a
smooth meadow full of sunshine like a lake of light, about a mile and a
half long, a quarter to half a mile wide, and bounded by tall arrowy
pines. The sod, like that of all the glacier meadows hereabouts, is made
of silky agrostis and calamagrostis chiefly; their panicles of purple
flowers and purple stems, exceedingly light and airy, seem to float
above the green plush of leaves like a thin misty cloud, while the sod
is brightened by several species of gentian, potentilla, ivesia,
orthocarpus, and their corresponding bees and butterflies. All the
glacier meadows are beautiful, but few are so perfect as this one.
Compared with it the most carefully leveled, licked, snipped artificial
lawns of pleasure-grounds are coarse things. I should like to live here
always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full
communion with everything good. To the north of this glorious meadow I
discovered the camp of some Indian hunters. Their fire was still
burning, but they had not yet returned from the chase.

From meadow to meadow, every one beautiful beyond telling, and from lake
to lake through groves and belts of arrowy trees, I held my way
northward toward Mount Conness, finding telling beauty everywhere, while
the encompassing mountains were calling "Come." Hope I may climb them
all.

_August 12._ The sky-scenery has changed but little so far with the
change in elevation. Clouds about .05. Glorious pearly cumuli tinted
with purple of ineffable fineness of tone. Moved camp to the side of the
glacier meadow mentioned above. To let sheep trample so divinely fine a
place seems barbarous. Fortunately they prefer the succulent
broad-leaved triticum and other woodland grasses to the silky species of
the meadows, and therefore seldom bite them or set foot on them.

[Illustration: GLACIER MEADOW, ON THE HEADWATERS OF THE TUOLUMNE 9500
FEET ABOVE THE SEA]

The shepherd and the Don cannot agree about methods of herding. Billy
sets his dog Jack on the sheep far too often, so the Don thinks; and
after some dispute to-day, in which the shepherd loudly claimed the
right to dog the sheep as often as he pleased, he started for the
plains. Now I suppose the care of the sheep will fall on me, though Mr.
Delaney promises to do the herding himself for a while, then return to
the lowlands and bring another shepherd, so as to leave me free to rove
as I like.

Had another rich ramble. Pushed northward beyond the forests to the head
of the general basin, where traces of glacial action are strikingly
clear and interesting. The recesses among the peaks look like quarries,
so raw and fresh are the moraine chips and boulders that strew the
ground in Nature's glacial workshops.

Soon after my return to camp we received a visit from an Indian,
probably one of the hunters whose camp I had discovered. He came from
Mono, he said, with others of his tribe, to hunt deer. One that he had
killed a short distance from here he was carrying on his back, its legs
tied together in an ornamental bunch on his forehead. Throwing down his
burden, he gazed stolidly for a few minutes in silent Indian fashion,
then cut off eight or ten pounds of venison for us, and begged a "lill"
(little) of everything he saw or could think of--flour, bread, sugar,
tobacco, whiskey, needles, etc. We gave a fair price for the meat in
flour and sugar and added a few needles. A strangely dirty and irregular
life these dark-eyed, dark-haired, half-happy savages lead in this clean
wilderness,--starvation and abundance, deathlike calm, indolence, and
admirable, indefatigable action succeeding each other in stormy rhythm
like winter and summer. Two things they have that civilized toilers
might well envy them--pure air and pure water. These go far to cover and
cure the grossness of their lives. Their food is mostly good berries,
pine nuts, clover, lily bulbs, wild sheep, antelope, deer, grouse, sage
hens, and the larvæ of ants, wasps, bees, and other insects.

_August 13._ Day all sunshine, dawn and evening purple, noon gold, no
clouds, air motionless. Mr. Delaney arrived with two shepherds, one of
them an Indian. On his way up from the plains he left some provisions at
the Portuguese camp on Porcupine Creek near our old Yosemite camp, and I
set out this morning with one of the pack animals to fetch them. Arrived
at the Porcupine camp at noon, and might have returned to the Tuolumne
late in the evening, but concluded to stay over night with the
Portuguese shepherds at their pressing invitation. They had sad stories
to tell of losses from the Yosemite bears, and were so discouraged they
seemed on the point of leaving the mountains; for the bears came every
night and helped themselves to one or several of the flock in spite of
all their efforts to keep them off.

I spent the afternoon in a grand ramble along the Yosemite walls. From
the highest of the rocks called the Three Brothers, I enjoyed a
magnificent view comprehending all the upper half of the floor of the
valley and nearly all the rocks of the walls on both sides and at the
head, with snowy peaks in the background. Saw also the Vernal and Nevada
Falls, a truly glorious picture,--rocky strength and permanence combined
with beauty of plants frail and fine and evanescent; water descending in
thunder, and the same water gliding through meadows and groves in
gentlest beauty. This standpoint is about eight thousand feet above the
sea, or four thousand feet above the floor of the valley, and every
tree, though looking small and feathery, stands in admirable clearness,
and the shadows they cast are as distinct in outline as if seen at a
distance of a few yards. They appeared even more so. No words will ever
describe the exquisite beauty and charm of this mountain park--Nature's
landscape garden at once tenderly beautiful and sublime. No wonder it
draws nature-lovers from all over the world.

Glacial action even on this lofty summit is plainly displayed. Not only
has all the lovely valley now smiling in sunshine been filled to the
brim with ice, but it has been deeply overflowed.

I visited our old Yosemite camp-ground on the head of Indian Creek, and
found it fairly patted and smoothed down with bear-tracks. The bears had
eaten all the sheep that were smothered in the corral, and some of the
grand animals must have died, for Mr. Delaney, before leaving camp, put
a large quantity of poison in the carcasses. All sheep-men carry
strychnine to kill coyotes, bears, and panthers, though neither coyotes
nor panthers are at all numerous in the upper mountains. The little
dog-like wolves are far more numerous in the foothill region and on the
plains, where they find a better supply of food,--saw only one
panther-track above eight thousand feet.

[Illustration: _The Three Brothers, Yosemite National Park_]

On my return after sunset to the Portuguese camp I found the shepherds
greatly excited over the behavior of the bears that have learned to like
mutton. "They are getting worse and worse," they lamented. Not
willing to wait decently until after dark for their suppers, they come
and kill and eat their fill in broad daylight. The evening before my
arrival, when the two shepherds were leisurely driving the flock toward
camp half an hour before sunset, a hungry bear came out of the chaparral
within a few yards of them and shuffled deliberately toward the flock.
"Portuguese Joe," who always carried a gun loaded with buckshot, fired
excitedly, threw down his gun, fled to the nearest suitable tree, and
climbed to a safe height without waiting to see the effect of his shot.
His companion also ran, but said that he saw the bear rise on its hind
legs and throw out its arms as if feeling for somebody, and then go into
the brush as if wounded.

At another of their camps in this neighborhood, a bear with two cubs
attacked the flock before sunset, just as they were approaching the
corral. Joe promptly climbed a tree out of danger, while Antone,
rebuking his companion for cowardice in abandoning his charge, said that
he was not going to let bears "eat up his sheeps" in daylight, and
rushed towards the bears, shouting and setting his dog on them. The
frightened cubs climbed a tree, but the mother ran to meet the shepherd
and seemed anxious to fight. Antone stood astonished for a moment,
eyeing the oncoming bear, then turned and fled, closely pursued. Unable
to reach a suitable tree for climbing, he ran to the camp and scrambled
up to the roof of the little cabin; the bear followed, but did not climb
to the roof,--only stood glaring up at him for a few minutes,
threatening him and holding him in mortal terror, then went to her cubs,
called them down, went to the flock, caught a sheep for supper, and
vanished in the brush. As soon as the bear left the cabin, the trembling
Antone begged Joe to show him a good safe tree, up which he climbed like
a sailor climbing a mast, and remained as long as he could hold on, the
tree being almost branchless. After these disastrous experiences the two
shepherds chopped and gathered large piles of dry wood and made a ring
of fire around the corral every night, while one with a gun kept watch
from a comfortable stage built on a neighboring pine that commanded a
view of the corral. This evening the show made by the circle of fire was
very fine, bringing out the surrounding trees in most impressive relief,
and making the thousands of sheep eyes glow like a glorious bed of
diamonds.

_August 14._ Up to the time I went to bed last night all was quiet,
though we expected the shaggy freebooters every minute. They did not
come till near midnight, when a pair walked boldly to the corral between
two of the great fires, climbed in, killed two sheep and smothered ten,
while the frightened watcher in the tree did not fire a single shot,
saying that he was afraid he might kill some of the sheep, for the bears
got into the corral before he got a good clear view of them. I told the
shepherds they should at once move the flock to another camp. "Oh, no
use, no use," they lamented; "where we go, the bears go too. See my poor
dead sheeps--soon all dead. No use try another camp. We go down to the
plains." And as I afterwards learned, they were driven out of the
mountains a month before the usual time. Were bears much more numerous
and destructive, the sheep would be kept away altogether.

It seems strange that bears, so fond of all sorts of flesh, running the
risks of guns and fires and poison, should never attack men except in
defense of their young. How easily and safely a bear could pick us up as
we lie asleep! Only wolves and tigers seem to have learned to hunt man
for food, and perhaps sharks and crocodiles. Mosquitoes and other
insects would, I suppose, devour a helpless man in some parts of the
world, and so might lions, leopards, wolves, hyenas, and panthers at
times if pressed by hunger,--but under ordinary circumstances, perhaps,
only the tiger among land animals may be said to be a man-eater,--unless
we add man himself.

Clouds as usual about .05. Another glorious Sierra day, warm, crisp,
fragrant, and clear. Many of the flowering plants have gone to seed, but
many others are unfolding their petals every day, and the firs and pines
are more fragrant than ever. Their seeds are nearly ripe, and will soon
be flying in the merriest flocks that ever spread a wing.

On the way back to our Tuolumne camp, I enjoyed the scenery if possible
more than when it first came to view. Every feature already seems
familiar as if I had lived here always. I never weary gazing at the
wonderful Cathedral. It has more individual character than any other
rock or mountain I ever saw, excepting perhaps the Yosemite South Dome.
The forests, too, seem kindly familiar, and the lakes and meadows and
glad singing streams. I should like to dwell with them forever. Here
with bread and water I should be content. Even if not allowed to roam
and climb, tethered to a stake or tree in some meadow or grove, even
then I should be content forever. Bathed in such beauty, watching, the
expressions ever varying on the faces of the mountains, watching the
stars, which here have a glory that the lowlander never dreams of,
watching the circling seasons, listening to the songs of the waters and
winds and birds, would be endless pleasure. And what glorious cloudlands
I should see, storms and calms,--a new heaven and a new earth every day,
aye and new inhabitants. And how many visitors I should have. I feel
sure I should not have one dull moment. And why should this appear
extravagant? It is only common sense, a sign of health, genuine,
natural, all-awake health. One would be at an endless Godful play, and
what speeches and music and acting and scenery and lights!--sun, moon,
stars, auroras. Creation just beginning, the morning stars "still
singing together and all the sons of God shouting for joy."



CHAPTER IX

BLOODY CAÑON AND MONO LAKE


_August 21._ Have just returned from a fine wild excursion across the
range to Mono Lake, by way of the Mono or Bloody Cañon Pass. Mr. Delaney
has been good to me all summer, lending a helping, sympathizing hand at
every opportunity, as if my wild notions and rambles and studies were
his own. He is one of those remarkable California men who have been
overflowed and denuded and remodeled by the excitements of the gold
fields, like the Sierra landscapes by grinding ice, bringing the harder
bosses and ridges of character into relief,--a tall, lean, big-boned,
big-hearted Irishman, educated for a priest in Maynooth College,--lots
of good in him, shining out now and then in this mountain light.
Recognizing my love of wild places, he told me one evening that I ought
to go through Bloody Cañon, for he was sure I should find it wild
enough. He had not been there himself, he said, but had heard many of
his mining friends speak of it as the wildest of all the Sierra passes.
Of course I was glad to go. It lies just to the east of our camp and
swoops down from the summit of the range to the edge of the Mono Desert,
making a descent of about four thousand feet in a distance of about four
miles. It was known and traveled as a pass by wild animals and the
Indians long before its discovery by white men in the gold year of 1858,
as is shown by old trails which come together at the head of it. The
name may have been suggested by the red color of the metamorphic slates
in which the cañon abounds, or by the blood stains on the rocks from the
unfortunate animals that were compelled to slide and shuffle over the
sharp-angled boulders.

Early in the morning I tied my notebook and some bread to my belt, and
strode away full of eager hope, feeling that I was going to have a
glorious revel. The glacier meadows that lay along my way served to
soothe my morning speed, for the sod was full of blue gentians and
daisies, kalmia and dwarf vaccinium, calling for recognition as old
friends, and I had to stop many times to examine the shining rocks over
which the ancient glacier had passed with tremendous pressure, polishing
them so well that they reflected the sunlight like glass in some places,
while fine striæ, seen clearly through a lens, indicated the direction
in which the ice had flowed. On some of the sloping polished pavements
abrupt steps occur, showing that occasionally large masses of the rock
had given way before the glacial pressure, as well as small particles;
moraines, too, some scattered, others regular like long curving
embankments and dams, occur here and there, giving the general surface
of the region a young, new-made appearance. I watched the gradual
dwarfing of the pines as I ascended, and the corresponding dwarfing of
nearly all the rest of the vegetation. On the slopes of Mammoth
Mountain, to the south of the pass, I saw many gaps in the woods
reaching from the upper edge of the timber-line down to the level
meadows, where avalanches of snow had descended, sweeping away every
tree in their paths as well as the soil they were growing in, leaving
the bedrock bare. The trees are nearly all uprooted, but a few that had
been extremely well anchored in clefts of the rock were broken off near
the ground. It seems strange at first sight that trees that had been
allowed to grow for a century or more undisturbed should in their old
age be thus swished away at a stroke. Such avalanches can only occur
under rare conditions of weather and snowfall. No doubt on some
positions of the mountain slopes the inclination and smoothness of the
surface is such that avalanches must occur every winter, or even after
every heavy snowstorm, and of course no trees or even bushes can grow in
their channels. I noticed a few clean-swept slopes of this kind. The
uprooted trees that had grown in the pathway of what might be called
"century avalanches" were piled in windrows, and tucked snugly against
the wall-trees of the gaps, heads downward, excepting a few that were
carried out into the open ground of the meadows, where the heads of the
avalanches had stopped. Young pines, mostly the two-leaved and the
white-barked, are already springing up in these cleared gaps. It would
be interesting to ascertain the age of these saplings, for thus we
should gain a fair approximation to the year that the great avalanches
occurred. Perhaps most or all of them occurred the same winter. How glad
I should be if free to pursue such studies!

Near the summit at the head of the pass I found a species of dwarf
willow lying perfectly flat on the ground, making a nice, soft, silky
gray carpet, not a single stem or branch more than three inches high;
but the catkins, which are now nearly ripe, stand erect and make a
close, nearly regular gray growth, being larger than all the rest of the
plants. Some of these interesting dwarfs have only one catkin--willow
bushes reduced to their lowest terms. I found patches of dwarf vaccinium
also forming smooth carpets, closely pressed to the ground or against
the sides of stones, and covered with round pink flowers in lavish
abundance as if they had fallen from the sky like hail. A little higher,
almost at the very head of the pass, I found the blue arctic daisy and
purple-flowered bryanthus, the mountain's own darlings, gentle
mountaineers face to face with the sky, kept safe and warm by a thousand
miracles, seeming always the finer and purer the wilder and stormier
their homes. The trees, tough and resiny, seem unable to go a step
farther; but up and up, far above the tree-line, these tender plants
climb, cheerily spreading their gray and pink carpets right up to the
very edges of the snow-banks in deep hollows and shadows. Here, too, is
the familiar robin, tripping on the flowery lawns, bravely singing the
same cheery song I first heard when a boy in Wisconsin newly arrived
from old Scotland. In this fine company sauntering enchanted, taking no
heed of time, I at length entered the gate of the pass, and the huge
rocks began to close around me in all their mysterious impressiveness.
Just then I was startled by a lot of queer, hairy, muffled creatures
coming shuffling, shambling, wallowing toward me as if they had no
bones in their bodies. Had I discovered them while they were yet a good
way off, I should have tried to avoid them. What a picture they made
contrasted with the others I had just been admiring. When I came up to
them, I found that they were only a band of Indians from Mono on their
way to Yosemite for a load of acorns. They were wrapped in blankets made
of the skins of sage-rabbits. The dirt on some of the faces seemed
almost old enough and thick enough to have a geological significance;
some were strangely blurred and divided into sections by seams and
wrinkles that looked like cleavage joints, and had a worn abraded look
as if they had lain exposed to the weather for ages. I tried to pass
them without stopping, but they wouldn't let me; forming a dismal circle
about me, I was closely besieged while they begged whiskey or tobacco,
and it was hard to convince them that I hadn't any. How glad I was to
get away from the gray, grim crowd and see them vanish down the trail!
Yet it seems sad to feel such desperate repulsion from one's fellow
beings, however degraded. To prefer the society of squirrels and
woodchucks to that of our own species must surely be unnatural. So with
a fresh breeze and a hill or mountain between us I must wish them
Godspeed and try to pray and sing with Burns, "It's coming yet, for a'
that, that man to man, the warld o'er, shall brothers be for a' that."

How the day passed I hardly know. By the map I have come only about ten
or twelve miles, though the sun is already low in the west, showing how
long I must have lingered, observing, sketching, taking notes among the
glaciated rocks and moraines and Alpine flower-beds.

At sundown the somber crags and peaks were inspired with the ineffable
beauty of the alpenglow, and a solemn, awful stillness hushed everything
in the landscape. Then I crept into a hollow by the side of a small lake
near the head of the cañon, smoothed a sheltered spot, and gathered a
few pine tassels for a bed. After the short twilight began to fade I
kindled a sunny fire, made a tin cupful of tea, and lay down to watch
the stars. Soon the night-wind began to flow from the snowy peaks
overhead, at first only a gentle breathing, then gaining strength, in
less than an hour rumbled in massive volume something like a boisterous
stream in a boulder-choked channel, roaring and moaning down the cañon
as if the work it had to do was tremendously important and fateful; and
mingled with these storm tones were those of the waterfalls on the
north side of the cañon, now sounding distinctly, now smothered by the
heavier cataracts of air, making a glorious psalm of savage wildness. My
fire squirmed and struggled as if ill at ease, for though in a sheltered
nook, detached masses of icy wind often fell like icebergs on top of it,
scattering sparks and coals, so that I had to keep well back to avoid
being burned. But the big resiny roots and knots of the dwarf pine could
neither be beaten out nor blown away, and the flames, now rushing up in
long lances, now flattened and twisted on the rocky ground, roared as if
trying to tell the storm stories of the trees they belonged to, as the
light given out was telling the story of the sunshine they had gathered
in centuries of summers.

The stars shone clear in the strip of sky between the huge dark cliffs;
and as I lay recalling the lessons of the day, suddenly the full moon
looked down over the cañon wall, her face apparently filled with eager
concern, which had a startling effect, as if she had left her place in
the sky and had come down to gaze on me alone, like a person entering
one's bedroom. It was hard to realize that she was in her place in the
sky, and was looking abroad on half the globe, land and sea, mountains,
plains, lakes, rivers, oceans, ships, cities with their myriads of
inhabitants sleeping and waking, sick and well. No, she seemed to be
just on the rim of Bloody Cañon and looking only at me. This was indeed
getting near to Nature. I remember watching the harvest moon rising
above the oak trees in Wisconsin apparently as big as a cart-wheel and
not farther than half a mile distant. With these exceptions I might say
I never before had seen the moon, and this night she seemed so full of
life and so near, the effect was marvelously impressive and made me
forget the Indians, the great black rocks above me, and the wild uproar
of the winds and waters making their way down the huge jagged gorge. Of
course I slept but little and gladly welcomed the dawn over the Mono
Desert. By the time I had made a cupful of tea the sunbeams were pouring
through the cañon, and I set forth, gazing eagerly at the tremendous
walls of red slates savagely hacked and scarred and apparently ready to
fall in avalanches great enough to choke the pass and fill up the chain
of lakelets. But soon its beauties came to view, and I bounded lightly
from rock to rock, admiring the polished bosses shining in the slant
sunshine with glorious effect in the general roughness of moraines and
avalanche taluses, even toward the head of the cañon near the highest
fountains of the ice. Here, too, are most of the lowly plant people seen
yesterday on the other side of the divide now opening their beautiful
eyes. None could fail to glory in Nature's tender care for them in so
wild a place. The little ouzel is flitting from rock to rock along the
rapid swirling Cañon Creek, diving for breakfast in icy pools, and
merrily singing as if the huge rugged avalanche-swept gorge was the most
delightful of all its mountain homes. Besides a high fall on the north
wall of the cañon, apparently coming direct from the sky, there are many
narrow cascades, bright silvery ribbons zigzagging down the red cliffs,
tracing the diagonal cleavage joints of the metamorphic slates, now
contracted and out of sight, now leaping from ledge to ledge in filmy
sheets through which the sunbeams sift. And on the main Cañon Creek, to
which all these are tributary, is a series of small falls, cascades, and
rapids extending all the way down to the foot of the cañon, interrupted
only by the lakes in which the tossed and beaten waters rest. One of the
finest of the cascades is outspread on the face of a precipice, its
waters separated into ribbon-like strips, and woven into a diamond-like
pattern by tracing the cleavage joints of the rock, while tufts of
bryanthus, grass, sedge, saxifrage form beautiful fringes. Who could
imagine beauty so fine in so savage a place? Gardens are blooming in all
sorts of nooks and hollows,--at the head alpine eriogonums, erigerons,
saxifrages, gentians, cowania, bush primula; in the middle region
larkspur, columbine, orthocarpus, castilleia, harebell, epilobium,
violets, mints, yarrow; near the foot sunflowers, lilies, brier rose,
iris, lonicera, clematis.

One of the smallest of the cascades, which I name the Bower Cascade, is
in the lower region of the pass, where the vegetation is snowy and
luxuriant. Wild rose and dogwood form dense masses overarching the
stream, and out of this bower the creek, grown strong with many
indashing tributaries, leaps forth into the light, and descends in a
fluted curve thick-sown with crisp flashing spray. At the foot of the
cañon there is a lake formed in part at least by the damming of the
stream by a terminal moraine. The three other lakes in the cañon are in
basins eroded from the solid rock, where the pressure of the glacier was
greatest, and the most resisting portions of the basin rims are
beautifully, tellingly polished. Below Moraine Lake at the foot of the
cañon there are several old lake-basins lying between the large lateral
moraines which extend out into the desert. These basins are now
completely filled up by the material carried in by the streams, and
changed to dry sandy flats covered mostly by grass and artemisia and
sun-loving flowers. All these lower lake-basins were evidently formed by
terminal moraine dams deposited where the receding glacier had lingered
during short periods of less waste, or greater snowfall, or both.

Looking up the cañon from the warm sunny edge of the Mono plain my
morning ramble seems a dream, so great is the change in the vegetation
and climate. The lilies on the bank of Moraine Lake are higher than my
head, and the sunshine is hot enough for palms. Yet the snow round the
arctic gardens at the summit of the pass is plainly visible, only about
four miles away, and between lie specimen zones of all the principal
climates of the globe. In little more than an hour one may swoop down
from winter to summer, from an Arctic to a torrid region, through as
great changes of climate as one would encounter in traveling from
Labrador to Florida.

The Indians I had met near the head of the cañon had camped at the foot
of it the night before they made the ascent, and I found their fire
still smoking on the side of a small tributary stream near Moraine
Lake; and on the edge of what is called the Mono Desert, four or five
miles from the lake, I came to a patch of elymus, or wild rye, growing
in magnificent waving clumps six or eight feet high, bearing heads six
to eight inches long. The crop was ripe, and Indian women were gathering
the grain in baskets by bending down large handfuls, beating out the
seed, and fanning it in the wind. The grains are about five eighths of
an inch long, dark-colored and sweet. I fancy the bread made from it
must be as good as wheat bread. A fine squirrelish employment this wild
grain gathering seems, and the women were evidently enjoying it,
laughing and chattering and looking almost natural, though most Indians
I have seen are not a whit more natural in their lives than we civilized
whites. Perhaps if I knew them better I should like them better. The
worst thing about them is their uncleanliness. Nothing truly wild is
unclean. Down on the shore of Mono Lake I saw a number of their flimsy
huts on the banks of streams that dash swiftly into that dead sea,--mere
brush tents where they lie and eat at their ease. Some of the men were
feasting on buffalo berries, lying beneath the tall bushes now red with
fruit. The berries are rather insipid, but they must needs be wholesome,
since for days and weeks the Indians, it is said, eat nothing else. In
the season they in like manner depend chiefly on the fat larvæ of a fly
that breeds in the salt water of the lake, or on the big fat corrugated
caterpillars of a species of silkworm that feeds on the leaves of the
yellow pine. Occasionally a grand rabbit-drive is organized and hundreds
are slain with clubs on the lake shore, chased and frightened into a
dense crowd by dogs, boys, girls, men and women, and rings of sage brush
fire, when of course they are quickly killed. The skins are made into
blankets. In the autumn the more enterprising of the hunters bring in a
good many deer, and rarely a wild sheep from the high peaks. Antelopes
used to be abundant on the desert at the base of the interior
mountain-ranges. Sage hens, grouse, and squirrels help to vary their
wild diet of worms; pine nuts also from the small interesting _Pinus
monophylla_, and good bread and good mush are made from acorns and wild
rye. Strange to say, they seem to like the lake larvæ best of all. Long
windrows are washed up on the shore, which they gather and dry like
grain for winter use. It is said that wars, on account of encroachments
on each other's worm-grounds, are of common occurrence among the various
tribes and families. Each claims a certain marked portion of the shore.
The pine nuts are delicious--large quantities are gathered every autumn.
The tribes of the west flank of the range trade acorns for worms and
pine nuts. The squaws carry immense loads on their backs across the
rough passes and down the range, making journeys of about forty or fifty
miles each way.

The desert around the lake is surprisingly flowery. In many places among
the sage bushes I saw mentzelia, abronia, aster, bigelovia, and gilia,
all of which seemed to enjoy the hot sunshine. The abronia, in
particular, is a delicate, fragrant, and most charming plant.

[Illustration: MONO LAKE AND VOLCANIC CONES, LOOKING SOUTH]

[Illustration: HIGHEST MONO VOLCANIC CONES (NEAR VIEW)]

Opposite the mouth of the cañon a range of volcanic cones extends
southward from the lake, rising abruptly out of the desert like a chain
of mountains. The largest of the cones are about twenty-five hundred
feet high above the lake level, have well-formed craters, and all of
them are evidently comparatively recent additions to the landscape. At a
distance of a few miles they look like heaps of loose ashes that have
never been blest by either rain or snow, but, for a' that and a' that,
yellow pines are climbing their gray slopes, trying to clothe them and
give beauty for ashes. A country of wonderful contrasts. Hot deserts
bounded by snow-laden mountains,--cinders and ashes scattered on
glacier-polished pavements,--frost and fire working together in the
making of beauty. In the lake are several volcanic islands, which show
that the waters were once mingled with fire.

Glad to get back to the green side of the mountains, though I have
greatly enjoyed the gray east side and hope to see more of it. Reading
these grand mountain manuscripts displayed through every vicissitude of
heat and cold, calm and storm, upheaving volcanoes and down-grinding
glaciers, we see that everything in Nature called destruction must be
creation--a change from beauty to beauty.

Our glacier meadow camp north of the Soda Springs seems more beautiful
every day. The grass covers all the ground though the leaves are
thread-like in fineness, and in walking on the sod it seems like a plush
carpet of marvelous richness and softness, and the purple panicles
brushing against one's feet are not felt. This is a typical glacier
meadow, occupying the basin of a vanished lake, very definitely bounded
by walls of the arrowy two-leaved pines drawn up in a handsome orderly
array like soldiers on parade. There are many other meadows of the same
kind hereabouts imbedded in the woods. The main big meadows along the
river are the same in general and extend with but little interruption
for ten or twelve miles, but none I have seen are so finely finished
and perfect as this one. It is richer in flowering plants than the
prairies of Wisconsin and Illinois were when in all their wild glory.
The showy flowers are mostly three species of gentian, a purple and
yellow orthocarpus, a golden-rod or two, a small blue pentstemon almost
like a gentian, potentilla, ivesia, pedicularis, white violet, kalmia,
and bryanthus. There are no coarse weedy plants. Through this flowery
lawn flows a stream silently gliding, swirling, slipping as if careful
not to make the slightest noise. It is only about three feet wide in
most places, widening here and there into pools six or eight feet in
diameter with no apparent current, the banks bossily rounded by the
down-curving mossy sod, grass panicles over-leaning like miniature pine
trees, and rugs of bryanthus spreading here and there over sunken
boulders. At the foot of the meadow the stream, rich with the juices of
the plants it has refreshed, sings merrily down over shelving rock
ledges on its way to the Tuolumne River. The sublime, massive Mount Dana
and its companions, green, red, and white, loom impressively above the
pines along the eastern horizon; a range or spur of gray rugged granite
crags and mountains on the north; the curiously crested and battlemented
Mount Hoffman on the west; and the Cathedral Range on the south with
its grand Cathedral Peak, Cathedral Spires, Unicorn Peak, and several
others, gray and pointed or massively rounded.



CHAPTER X

THE TUOLUMNE CAMP


_August 22._ Clouds none, cool west wind, slight hoarfrost on the
meadows. Carlo is missing; have been seeking him all day. In the thick
woods between camp and the river, among tall grass and fallen pines, I
discovered a baby fawn. At first it seemed inclined to come to me; but
when I tried to catch it, and got within a rod or two, it turned and
walked softly away, choosing its steps like a cautious, stealthy,
hunting cat. Then, as if suddenly called or alarmed, it began to buck
and run like a grown deer, jumping high above the fallen trunks, and was
soon out of sight. Possibly its mother may have called it, but I did not
hear her. I don't think fawns ever leave the home thicket or follow
their mothers until they are called or frightened. I am distressed about
Carlo. There are several other camps and dogs not many miles from here,
and I still hope to find him. He never left me before. Panthers are very
rare here, and I don't think any of these cats would dare touch him. He
knows bears too well to be caught by them, and as for Indians, they
don't want him.

_August 23._ Cool, bright day, hinting Indian summer. Mr. Delaney has
gone to the Smith Ranch, on the Tuolumne below Hetch-Hetchy Valley,
thirty-five or forty miles from here, so I'll be alone for a week or
more,--not really alone, for Carlo has come back. He was at a camp a few
miles to the northwestward. He looked sheepish and ashamed when I asked
him where he had been and why he had gone away without leave. He is now
trying to get me to caress him and show signs of forgiveness. A wondrous
wise dog. A great load is off my mind. I could not have left the
mountains without him. He seems very glad to get back to me.

Rose and crimson sunset, and soon after the stars appeared the moon rose
in most impressive majesty over the top of Mount Dana. I sauntered up
the meadow in the white light. The jet-black tree-shadows were so
wonderfully distinct and substantial looking, I often stepped high in
crossing them, taking them for black charred logs.

_August 24._ Another charming day, warm and calm soon after sunrise,
clouds only about .01,--faint, silky cirrus wisps, scarcely visible.
Slight frost, Indian summerish, the mountains growing softer in outline
and dreamy looking, their rough angles melted off, apparently. Sky at
evening with fine, dark, subdued purple, almost like the evening purple
of the San Joaquin plains in settled weather. The moon is now gazing
over the summit of Dana. Glorious exhilarating air. I wonder if in all
the world there is another mountain range of equal height blessed with
weather so fine, and so openly kind and hospitable and approachable.

_August 25._ Cool as usual in the morning, quickly changing to the
ordinary serene generous warmth and brightness. Toward evening the west
wind was cool and sent us to the camp-fire. Of all Nature's flowery
carpeted mountain halls none can be finer than this glacier meadow. Bees
and butterflies seem as abundant as ever. The birds are still here,
showing no sign of leaving for winter quarters though the frost must
bring them to mind. For my part I should like to stay here all winter or
all my life or even all eternity.

_August 26._ Frost this morning; all the meadow grass and some of the
pine needles sparkling with irised crystals,--flowers of light. Large
picturesque clouds, craggy like rocks, are piled on Mount Dana, reddish
in color like the mountain itself; the sky for a few degrees around the
horizon is pale purple, into which the pines dip their spires with fine
effect. Spent the day as usual looking about me, watching the changing
lights, the ripening autumn colors of the grass, seeds, late-blooming
gentians, asters, goldenrods; parting the meadow grass here and there
and looking down into the underworld of mosses and liverworts; watching
the busy ants and beetles and other small people at work and play like
squirrels and bears in a forest; studying the formation of lakes and
meadows, moraines, mountain sculpture; making small beginnings in these
directions, charmed by the serene beauty of everything.

The day has been extra cloudy, though bright on the whole, for the
clouds were brighter than common. Clouds about .15, which in Switzerland
would be considered extra clear. Probably more free sunshine falls on
this majestic range than on any other in the world I've ever seen or
heard of. It has the brightest weather, brightest glacier-polished
rocks, the greatest abundance of irised spray from its glorious
waterfalls, the brightest forests of silver firs and silver pines, more
star-shine, moonshine, and perhaps more crystal-shine than any other
mountain chain, and its countless mirror lakes, having more light poured
into them, glow and spangle most. And how glorious the shining after the
short summer showers and after frosty nights when the morning sunbeams
are pouring through the crystals on the grass and pine needles, and how
ineffably spiritually fine is the morning-glow on the mountain-tops and
the alpenglow of evening. Well may the Sierra be named, not the Snowy
Range, but the Range of Light.

_August 27._ Clouds only .05,--mostly white and pink cumuli over the
Hoffman spur towards evening,--frosty morning. Crystals grow in
marvelous beauty and perfection of form these still nights, every one
built as carefully as the grandest holiest temple, as if planned to
endure forever.

Contemplating the lace-like fabric of streams outspread over the
mountains, we are reminded that everything is flowing--going somewhere,
animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow
flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the
air in majestic floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores,
with streams of music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks both
in solution and in the form of mud particles, sand, pebbles, and
boulders. Rocks flow from volcanoes like water from springs, and animals
flock together and flow in currents modified by stepping, leaping,
gliding, flying, swimming, etc. While the stars go streaming through
space pulsed on and on forever like blood globules in Nature's warm
heart.

_August 28._ The dawn a glorious song of color. Sky absolutely
cloudless. A fine crop hoarfrost. Warm after ten o'clock. The gentians
don't mind the first frost though their petals seem so delicate; they
close every night as if going to sleep, and awake fresh as ever in the
morning sun-glory. The grass is a shade browner since last week, but
there are no nipped wilted plants of any sort as far as I have seen.
Butterflies and the grand host of smaller flies are benumbed every
night, but they hover and dance in the sunbeams over the meadows before
noon with no apparent lack of playful, joyful life. Soon they must all
fall like petals in an orchard, dry and wrinkled, not a wing of all the
mighty host left to tingle the air. Nevertheless new myriads will arise
in the spring, rejoicing, exulting, as if laughing cold death to scorn.

_August 29._ Clouds about .05, slight frost. Bland serene Indian summer
weather. Have been gazing all day at the mountains, watching the
changing lights. More and more plainly are they clothed with light as a
garment, white tinged with pale purple, palest during the midday hours,
richest in the morning and evening. Everything seems consciously
peaceful, thoughtful, faithfully waiting God's will.

_August 30._ This day just like yesterday. A few clouds motionless and
apparently with no work to do beyond looking beautiful. Frost enough
for crystal building,--glorious fields of ice-diamonds destined to last
but a night. How lavish is Nature building, pulling down, creating,
destroying, chasing every material particle from form to form, ever
changing, ever beautiful.

Mr. Delaney arrived this morning. Felt not a trace of loneliness while
he was gone. On the contrary, I never enjoyed grander company. The whole
wilderness seems to be alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very
stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly. No wonder when we
consider that we all have the same Father and Mother.

_August 31._ Clouds .05. Silky cirrus wisps and fringes so fine they
almost escape notice. Frost enough for another crop of crystals on the
meadows but none on the forests. The gentians, goldenrods, asters, etc.,
don't seem to feel it; neither petals nor leaves are touched though they
seem so tender. Every day opens and closes like a flower, noiseless,
effortless. Divine peace glows on all the majestic landscape like the
silent enthusiastic joy that sometimes transfigures a noble human face.

_September 1._ Clouds .05--motionless, of no particular color--ornaments
with no hint of rain or snow in them. Day all calm--another grand throb
of Nature's heart, ripening late flowers and seeds for next summer, full
of life and the thoughts and plans of life to come, and full of ripe and
ready death beautiful as life, telling divine wisdom and goodness and
immortality. Have been up Mount Dana, making haste to see as much as I
can now that the time of departure is drawing nigh. The views from the
summit reach far and wide, eastward over the Mono Lake and Desert;
mountains beyond mountains looking strangely barren and gray and bare
like heaps of ashes dumped from the sky. The lake, eight or ten miles in
diameter, shines like a burnished disk of silver, no trees about its
gray, ashy, cindery shores. Looking westward, the glorious forests are
seen sweeping over countless ridges and hills, girdling domes and
subordinate mountains, fringing in long curving lines the dividing
ridges, and filling every hollow where the glaciers have spread
soil-beds however rocky or smooth. Looking northward and southward along
the axis of the range, you see the glorious array of high mountains,
crags and peaks and snow, the fountain-heads of rivers that are flowing
west to the sea through the famous Golden Gate, and east to hot salt
lakes and deserts to evaporate and hurry back into the sky. Innumerable
lakes are shining like eyes beneath heavy rock brows, bare or tree
fringed, or imbedded in black forests. Meadow openings in the woods seem
as numerous as the lakes or perhaps more so. Far up the moraine-covered
slopes and among crumbling rocks I found many delicate hardy plants,
some of them still in flower. The best gains of this trip were the
lessons of unity and interrelation of all the features of the landscape
revealed in general views. The lakes and meadows are located just where
the ancient glaciers bore heaviest at the foot of the steepest parts of
their channels, and of course their longest diameters are approximately
parallel with each other and with the belts of forests growing in long
curving lines on the lateral and medial moraines, and in broad
outspreading fields on the terminal beds deposited toward the end of the
ice period when the glaciers were receding. The domes, ridges, and spurs
also show the influence of glacial action in their forms, which
approximately seem to be the forms of greatest strength with reference
to the stress of oversweeping, past-sweeping, down-grinding ice-streams;
survivals of the most resisting masses, or those most favorably
situated. How interesting everything is! Every rock, mountain, stream,
plant, lake, lawn, forest, garden, bird, beast, insect seems to call
and invite us to come and learn something of its history and
relationship. But shall the poor ignorant scholar be allowed to try the
lessons they offer? It seems too great and good to be true. Soon I'll be
going to the lowlands. The bread camp must soon be removed. If I had a
few sacks of flour, an axe, and some matches, I would build a cabin of
pine logs, pile up plenty of firewood about it and stay all winter to
see the grand fertile snow-storms, watch the birds and animals that
winter thus high, how they live, how the forests look snow-laden or
buried, and how the avalanches look and sound on their way down the
mountains. But now I'll have to go, for there is nothing to spare in the
way of provisions. I'll surely be back, however, surely I'll be back. No
other place has ever so overwhelmingly attracted me as this hospitable,
Godful wilderness.

[Illustration: ONE OF THE HIGHEST MOUNT RITTER FOUNTAINS]

_September 2._ A grand, red, rosy, crimson day,--a perfect glory of a
day. What it means I don't know. It is the first marked change from
tranquil sunshine with purple mornings and evenings and still, white
noons. There is nothing like a storm, however. The average cloudiness
only about .08, and there is no sighing in the woods to betoken a big
weather change. The sky was red in the morning and evening, the color
not diffused like the ordinary purple glow, but loaded upon separate
well-defined clouds that remained motionless, as if anchored around the
jagged mountain-fenced horizon. A deep-red cap, bluffy around its sides,
lingered a long time on Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs, drooping so low as
to hide most of their bases, but leaving Dana's round summit free, which
seemed to float separate and alone over the big crimson cloud. Mammoth
Mountain, to the south of Gibbs and Bloody Cañon, striped and spotted
with snow-banks and clumps of dwarf pine, was also favored with a
glorious crimson cap, in the making of which there was no trace of
economy--a huge bossy pile colored with a perfect passion of crimson
that seemed important enough to be sent off to burn among the stars in
majestic independence. One is constantly reminded of the infinite
lavishness and fertility of Nature--inexhaustible abundance amid what
seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations
that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her
material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use,
beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and
death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable
wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance
of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that
its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.

I watched the growth of these red-lands of the sky as eagerly as if new
mountain ranges were being built. Soon the group of snowy peaks in whose
recesses lie the highest fountains of the Tuolumne, Merced, and North
Fork of the San Joaquin were decorated with majestic colored clouds like
those already described, but more complicated, to correspond with the
grand fountain-heads of the rivers they overshadowed. The Sierra
Cathedral, to the south of camp, was overshadowed like Sinai. Never
before noticed so fine a union of rock and cloud in form and color and
substance, drawing earth and sky together as one; and so human is it,
every feature and tint of color goes to one's heart, and we shout,
exulting in wild enthusiasm as if all the divine show were our own. More
and more, in a place like this, we feel ourselves part of wild Nature,
kin to everything. Spent most of the day high up on the north rim of the
valley, commanding views of the clouds in all their red glory spreading
their wonderful light over all the basin, while the rocks and trees and
small Alpine plants at my feet seemed hushed and thoughtful, as if they
also were conscious spectators of the glorious new cloud-world.

Here and there, as I plodded farther and higher, I came to small
garden-patches and ferneries just where one would naturally decide that
no plant-creature could possibly live. But, as in the region about the
head of Mono Pass and the top of Dana, it was in the wildest, highest
places that the most beautiful and tender and enthusiastic plant-people
were found. Again and again, as I lingered over these charming plants, I
said, How came you here? How do you live through the winter? Our roots,
they explained, reach far down the joints of the summer-warmed rocks,
and beneath our fine snow mantle killing frosts cannot reach us, while
we sleep away the dark half of the year dreaming of spring.

Ever since I was allowed entrance into these mountains I have been
looking for cassiope, said to be the most beautiful and best loved of
the heathworts, but, strange to say, I have not yet found it. On my high
mountain walks I keep muttering, "Cassiope, cassiope." This name, as
Calvinists say, is driven in upon me, notwithstanding the glorious host
of plants that come about me uncalled as soon as I show myself. Cassiope
seems the highest name of all the small mountain-heath people, and as
if conscious of her worth, keeps out of my way. I must find her soon, if
at all this year.

_September 4._ All the vast sky dome is clear, filled only with mellow
Indian summer light. The pine and hemlock and fir cones are nearly ripe
and are falling fast from morning to night, cut off and gathered by the
busy squirrels. Almost all the plants have matured their seeds, their
summer work done; and the summer crop of birds and deer will soon be
able to follow their parents to the foothills and plains at the approach
of winter, when the snow begins to fly.

_September 5._ No clouds. Weather cool, calm, bright as if no great
thing was yet ready to be done. Have been sketching the North Tuolumne
Church. The sunset gloriously colored.

_September 6._ Still another perfectly cloudless day, purple evening and
morning, all the middle hours one mass of pure serene sunshine. Soon
after sunrise the air grew warm, and there was no wind. One naturally
halted to see what Nature intended to do. There is a suggestion of real
Indian summer in the hushed brooding, faintly hazy weather. The yellow
atmosphere, though thin, is still plainly of the same general character
as that of eastern Indian summer. The peculiar mellowness is perhaps in
part caused by myriads of ripe spores adrift in the sky.

Mr. Delaney now keeps up a solemn talk about the need of getting away
from these high mountains, telling sad stories of flocks that perished
in storms that broke suddenly into the midst of fine innocent weather
like this we are now enjoying. "In no case," said he, "will I venture to
stay so high and far back in the mountains as we now are later than the
middle of this month, no matter how warm and sunny it may be." He would
move the flock slowly at first, a few miles a day until the Yosemite
Creek basin was reached and crossed, then while lingering in the heavy
pine woods should the weather threaten he could hurry down to the
foothills, where the snow never falls deep enough to smother a sheep. Of
course I am anxious to see as much of the wilderness as possible in the
few days left me, and I say again,--May the good time come when I can
stay as long as I like with plenty of bread, far and free from trampling
flocks, though I may well be thankful for this generous foodful
inspiring summer. Anyhow we never know where we must go nor what guides
we are to get,--men, storms, guardian angels, or sheep. Perhaps almost
everybody in the least natural is guarded more than he is ever aware
of. All the wilderness seems to be full of tricks and plans to drive and
draw us up into God's Light.

Have been busy planning, and baking bread for at least one more good
wild excursion among the high peaks, and surely none, however hopefully
aiming at fortune or fame, ever felt so gloriously happily excited by
the outlook.

_September 7._ Left camp at daybreak and made direct for Cathedral Peak,
intending to strike eastward and southward from that point among the
peaks and ridges at the heads of the Tuolumne, Merced, and San Joaquin
Rivers. Down through the pine woods I made my way, across the Tuolumne
River and meadows, and up the heavily timbered slope forming the south
boundary of the upper Tuolumne basin, along the east side of Cathedral
Peak, and up to its topmost spire, which I reached at noon, having
loitered by the way to study the fine trees--two-leaved pine, mountain
pine, albicaulis pine, silver fir, and the most charming, most graceful
of all the evergreens, the mountain hemlock. High, cool, late-flowering
meadows also detained me, and lakelets and avalanche tracks and huge
quarries of moraine rocks above the forests.

[Illustration: GLACIER MEADOW STREWN WITH MORAINE BOULDERS 10,000 FEET
ABOVE THE SEA (NEAR MOUNT DANA)]

[Illustration: FRONT OF CATHEDRAL PEAK]

All the way up from the Big Meadows to the base of the Cathedral the
ground is covered with moraine material, the left lateral moraine of the
great glacier that must have completely filled this upper Tuolumne
basin. Higher there are several small terminal moraines of residual
glaciers shoved forward at right angles against the grand simple lateral
of the main Tuolumne Glacier. A fine place to study mountain sculpture
and soil making. The view from the Cathedral Spires is very fine and
telling in every direction. Innumerable peaks, ridges, domes, meadows,
lakes, and woods; the forests extending in long curving lines and broad
fields wherever the glaciers have left soil for them to grow on, while
the sides of the highest mountains show a straggling dwarf growth
clinging to rifts in the rocks apparently independent of soil. The dark
heath-like growth on the Cathedral roof I found to be dwarf snow-pressed
albicaulis pine, about three or four feet high, but very old looking.
Many of them are bearing cones, and the noisy Clarke crow is eating the
seeds, using his long bill like a woodpecker in digging them out of the
cones. A good many flowers are still in bloom about the base of the
peak, and even on the roof among the little pines, especially a woody
yellow-flowered eriogonum and a handsome aster. The body of the
Cathedral is nearly square, and the roof slopes are wonderfully regular
and symmetrical, the ridge trending northeast and southwest. This
direction has apparently been determined by structure joints in the
granite. The gable on the northeast end is magnificent in size and
simplicity, and at its base there is a big snow-bank protected by the
shadow of the building. The front is adorned with many pinnacles and a
tall spire of curious workmanship. Here too the joints in the rock are
seen to have played an important part in determining their forms and
size and general arrangement. The Cathedral is said to be about eleven
thousand feet above the sea, but the height of the building itself above
the level of the ridge it stands on is about fifteen hundred feet. A
mile or so to the westward there is a handsome lake, and the
glacier-polished granite about it is shining so brightly it is not easy
in some places to trace the line between the rock and water, both
shining alike. Of this lake with its silvery basin and bits of meadow
and groves I have a fine view from the spires; also of Lake Tenaya,
Cloud's Rest and the South Dome of Yosemite, Mount Starr King, Mount
Hoffman, the Merced peaks, and the vast multitude of snowy fountain
peaks extending far north and south along the axis of the range. No
feature, however, of all the noble landscape as seen from here seems
more wonderful than the Cathedral itself, a temple displaying Nature's
best masonry and sermons in stones. How often I have gazed at it from
the tops of hills and ridges, and through openings in the forests on my
many short excursions, devoutly wondering, admiring, longing! This I may
say is the first time I have been at church in California, led here at
last, every door graciously opened for the poor lonely worshiper. In our
best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church
and the mountains altars. And lo, here at last in front of the Cathedral
is blessed cassiope, ringing her thousands of sweet-toned bells, the
sweetest church music I ever enjoyed. Listening, admiring, until late in
the afternoon I compelled myself to hasten away eastward back of rough,
sharp, spiry, splintery peaks, all of them granite like the Cathedral,
sparkling with crystals--feldspar, quartz, hornblende, mica, tourmaline.
Had a rather difficult walk and creep across an immense snow and ice
cliff which gradually increased in steepness as I advanced until it was
almost impassable. Slipped on a dangerous place, but managed to stop by
digging my heels into the thawing surface just on the brink of a
yawning ice gulf. Camped beside a little pool and a group of crinkled
dwarf pines; and as I sit by the fire trying to write notes the shallow
pool seems fathomless with the infinite starry heavens in it, while the
onlooking rocks and trees, tiny shrubs and daisies and sedges, brought
forward in the fire-glow, seem full of thought as if about to speak
aloud and tell all their wild stories. A marvelously impressive meeting
in which every one has something worth while to tell. And beyond the
fire-beams out in the solemn darkness, how impressive is the music of a
choir of rills singing their way down from the snow to the river! And
when we call to mind that thousands of these rejoicing rills are
assembled in each one of the main streams, we wonder the less that our
Sierra rivers are songful all the way to the sea.

About sundown saw a flock of dun grayish sparrows going to roost in
crevices of a crag above the big snow-field. Charming little
mountaineers! Found a species of sedge in flower within eight or ten
feet of a snow-bank. Judging by the looks of the ground, it can hardly
have been out in the sunshine much longer than a week, and it is likely
to be buried again in fresh snow in a month or so, thus making a winter
about ten months long, while spring, summer, and autumn are crowded and
hurried into two months. How delightful it is to be alone here! How wild
everything is--wild as the sky and as pure! Never shall I forget this
big, divine day--the Cathedral and its thousands of cassiope bells, and
the landscapes around them, and this camp in the gray crags above the
woods, with its stars and streams and snow.

[Illustration: VIEW OF UPPER TUOLUMNE VALLEY, with arrow pointing to Mt
Ritter]

_September 8._ Day of climbing, scrambling, sliding on the peaks around
the highest source of the Tuolumne and Merced. Climbed three of the most
commanding of the mountains, whose names I don't know; crossed streams
and huge beds of ice and snow more than I could keep count of. Neither
could I keep count of the lakes scattered on tablelands and in the
cirques of the peaks, and in chains in the cañons, linked together by
the streams--a tremendously wild gray wilderness of hacked, shattered
crags, ridges, and peaks, a few clouds drifting over and through the
midst of them as if looking for work. In general views all the immense
round landscape seems raw and lifeless as a quarry, yet the most
charming flowers were found rejoicing in countless nooks and garden-like
patches everywhere. I must have done three or four days' climbing work
in this one. Limbs perfectly tireless until near sundown, when I
descended into the main upper Tuolumne valley at the foot of Mount
Lyell, the camp still eight or ten miles distant. Going up through the
pine woods past the Soda Springs Dome in the dark, where there is much
fallen timber, and when all the excitement of seeing things was wanting,
I was tired. Arrived at the main camp at nine o'clock, and soon was
sleeping sound as death.



CHAPTER XI

BACK TO THE LOWLANDS


_September 9._ Weariness rested away and I feel eager and ready for
another excursion a month or two long in the same wonderful wilderness.
Now, however, I must turn toward the lowlands, praying and hoping Heaven
will shove me back again.

The most telling thing learned in these mountain excursions is the
influence of cleavage joints on the features sculptured from the general
mass of the range. Evidently the denudation has been enormous, while the
inevitable outcome is subtle balanced beauty. Comprehended in general
views, the features of the wildest landscape seem to be as harmoniously
related as the features of a human face. Indeed, they look human and
radiate spiritual beauty, divine thought, however covered and concealed
by rock and snow.

Mr. Delaney has hardly had time to ask me how I enjoyed my trip, though
he has facilitated and encouraged my plans all summer, and declares I'll
be famous some day, a kind guess that seems strange and incredible to a
wandering wilderness-lover with never a thought or dream of fame while
humbly trying to trace and learn and enjoy Nature's lessons.

The camp stuff is now packed on the horses, and the flock is headed for
the home ranch. Away we go, down through the pines, leaving the lovely
lawn where we have camped so long. I wonder if I'll ever see it again.
The sod is so tough and close it is scarcely at all injured by the
sheep. Fortunately they are not fond of silky glacier meadow grass. The
day is perfectly clear, not a cloud or the faintest hint of a cloud is
visible, and there is no wind. I wonder if in all the world, at a height
of nine thousand feet, weather so steadily, faithfully calm and bright
and hospitable may anywhere else be found. We are going away fearing
destructive storms, though it is difficult to conceive weather changes
so great.

Though the water is now low in the river, the usual difficulty occurred
in getting the flock across it. Every sheep seemed to be invincibly
determined to die any sort of dry death rather than wet its feet. Carlo
has learned the sheep business as perfectly as the best shepherd, and it
is interesting to watch his intelligent efforts to push or frighten the
silly creatures into the water. They had to be fairly crowded and shoved
over the bank; and when at last one crossed because it could not push
its way back, the whole flock suddenly plunged in headlong together, as
if the river was the only desirable part of the world. Aside from mere
money profit one would rather herd wolves than sheep. As soon as they
clambered up the opposite bank, they began baaing and feeding as if
nothing unusual had happened. We crossed the meadows and drove slowly up
the south rim of the valley through the same woods I had passed on my
way to Cathedral Peak, and camped for the night by the side of a small
pond on top of the big lateral moraine.

_September 10._ In the morning at daybreak not one of the two thousand
sheep was in sight. Examining the tracks, we discovered that they had
been scattered, perhaps by a bear. In a few hours all were found and
gathered into one flock again. Had fine view of a deer. How graceful and
perfect in every way it seemed as compared with the silly, dusty,
tousled sheep! From the high ground hereabouts had another grand view to
the northward--a heaving, swelling sea of domes and round-backed ridges
fringed with pines, and bounded by innumerable sharp-pointed peaks, gray
and barren-looking, though so full of beautiful life. Another day of the
calm, cloudless kind, purple in the morning and evening. The evening
glow has been very marked for the last two or three weeks. Perhaps the
"zodiacal light."

_September 11._ Cloudless. Slight frost. Calm. Fairly started downhill,
and now are camped at the west end meadows of Lake Tenaya--a charming
place. Lake smooth as glass, mirroring its miles of glacier-polished
pavements and bold mountain walls. Find aster still in flower. Here is
about the upper limit of the dwarf form of the goldcup oak,--eight
thousand feet above sea-level,--reaching about two thousand feet higher
than the California black oak (_Quercus Californica_). Lovely evening,
the lake reflections after dark marvelously impressive.

_September 12._ Cloudless day, all pure sun-gold. Among the magnificent
silver firs once more, within two miles of the brink of Yosemite, at the
famous Portuguese bear camp. Chaparral of goldcup oak, manzanita, and
ceanothus abundant hereabouts, wanting about the Tuolumne meadows,
although the elevation is but little higher there. The two-leaved pine,
though far more abundant about the Tuolumne meadow region, reaches its
greatest size on stream-sides hereabouts and around meadows that are
rather boggy. All the best dry ground is taken by the magnificent silver
fir, which here reaches its greatest size and forms a well-defined
belt. A glorious tree. Have fine bed of its boughs to-night.

_September 13._ Camp this evening at Yosemite Creek, close to the
stream, on a little sand flat near our old camp-ground. The vegetation
is already brown and yellow and dry; the creek almost dry also. The
slender form of the two-leaved pine on its banks is, I think, the
handsomest I have anywhere seen. It might easily pass at first sight for
a distinct species, though surely only a variety (_Murrayana_), due to
crowded and rapid growth on good soil. The yellow pine is as variable,
or perhaps more so. The form here and a thousand feet higher, on
crumbling rocks, is broad branching, with closely furrowed, reddish
bark, large cones, and long leaves. It is one of the hardiest of pines,
and has wonderful vitality. The tassels of long, stout needles shining
silvery in the sun, when the wind is blowing them all in the same
direction, is one of the most splendid spectacles these glorious Sierra
forests have to show. This variety of _Pinus ponderosa_ is regarded as a
distinct species, _Pinus Jeffreyi_, by some botanists. The basin of this
famous Yosemite stream is extremely rocky,--seems fairly to be paved
with domes like a street with big cobblestones. I wonder if I shall ever
be allowed to explore it. It draws me so strongly, I would make any
sacrifice to try to read its lessons. I thank God for this glimpse of
it. The charms of these mountains are beyond all common reason,
unexplainable and mysterious as life itself.

_September 14._ Nearly all day in magnificent fir forest, the top
branches laden with superb erect gray cones shining with beads of pure
balsam. The squirrels are cutting them off at a great rate. Bump, bump,
I hear them falling, soon to be gathered and stored for winter bread.
Those that chance to be left by the industrious harvesters drop the
scales and bracts when fully ripe, and it is fine to see the
purple-winged seeds flying in swirling, merry-looking flocks seeking
their fortunes. The bole and dead limbs of nearly every tree in the main
forest-belt are ornamented by conspicuous tufts and strips of a yellow
lichen.

Camped for the night at Cascade Creek, near the Mono Trail crossing.
Manzanita berries now ripe. Cloudiness to-day about .10. The sunset very
rich, flaming purple and crimson showing gloriously through the aisles
of the woods.

_September 15._ The weather pure gold, cloudiness about .05, white
cirrus flects and pencilings around the horizon. Move two or three miles
and camp at Tamarack Flat. Wandering in the woods here back of the pines
which bound the meadows, I found very noble specimens of the
magnificent silver fir, the tallest about two hundred and forty feet
high and five feet in diameter four feet from the ground.

_September 16._ Crawled slowly four or five miles to-day through the
glorious forest to Crane Flat, where we are camped for the night. The
forests we so admired in summer seem still more beautiful and sublime in
this mellow autumn light. Lovely starry night, the tall, spiring
tree-tops relieved in jet black against the sky. I linger by the fire,
loath to go to bed.

_September 17._ Left camp early. Ran over the Tuolumne divide and down a
few miles to a grove of sequoias that I had heard of, directed by the
Don. They occupy an area of perhaps less than a hundred acres. Some of
the trees are noble, colossal old giants, surrounded by magnificent
sugar pines and Douglas spruces. The perfect specimens not burned or
broken are singularly regular and symmetrical, though not at all
conventional, showing infinite variety in general unity and harmony; the
noble shafts with rich purplish brown fluted bark, free of limbs for one
hundred and fifty feet or so, ornamented here and there with leafy
rosettes; main branches of the oldest trees very large, crooked and
rugged, zigzagging stiffly outward seemingly lawless, yet unexpectedly
stooping just at the right distance from the trunk and dissolving in
dense bossy masses of branchlets, thus making a regular though greatly
varied outline,--a cylinder of leafy, outbulging spray masses,
terminating in a noble dome, that may be recognized while yet far off
upheaved against the sky above the dark bed of pines and firs and
spruces, the king of all conifers, not only in size but in sublime
majesty of behavior and port. I found a black, charred stump about
thirty feet in diameter and eighty or ninety feet high--a venerable,
impressive old monument of a tree that in its prime may have been the
monarch of the grove; seedlings and saplings growing up here and there,
thrifty and hopeful, giving no hint of the dying out of the species. Not
any unfavorable change of climate, but only fire, threatens the
existence of these noblest of God's trees. Sorry I was not able to get a
count of the old monument's annual rings.

Camp this evening at Hazel Green, on the broad back of the dividing
ridge near our old camp-ground when we were on the way up the mountains
in the spring. This ridge has the finest sugar-pine groves and finest
manzanita and ceanothus thickets I have yet found on all this wonderful
summer journey.

_September 18._ Made a long descent on the south side of the divide to
Brown's Flat, the grand forests now left above us, though the sugar pine
still flourishes fairly well, and with the yellow pine, libocedrus, and
Douglas spruce, makes forests that would be considered most wonderful in
any other part of the world.

The Indians here, with great concern, pointed to an old garden patch on
the flat and told us to keep away from it. Perhaps some of their tribe
are buried here.

_September 19._ Camped this evening at Smith's Mill, on the first broad
mountain bench or plateau reached in ascending the range, where pines
grow large enough for good lumber. Here wheat, apples, peaches, and
grapes grow, and we were treated to wine and apples. The wine I didn't
like, but Mr. Delaney and the Indian driver and the shepherd seemed to
think the stuff divine. Compared to sparkling Sierra water fresh from
the heavens, it seemed a dull, muddy, stupid drink. But the apples, best
of fruits, how delicious they were--fit for gods or men.

On the way down from Brown's Flat we stopped at Bower Cave, and I spent
an hour in it--one of the most novel and interesting of all Nature's
underground mansions. Plenty of sunlight pours into it through the
leaves of the four maple trees growing in its mouth, illuminating its
clear, calm pool and marble chambers,--a charming place, ravishingly
beautiful, but the accessible parts of the walls sadly disfigured with
names of vandals.

_September 20._ The weather still golden and calm, but hot. We are now
in the foot-hills, and all the conifers are left behind, except the gray
Sabine pine. Camped at the Dutch Boy's Ranch, where there are extensive
barley fields now showing nothing save dusty stubble.

_September 21._ A terribly hot, dusty, sunburned day, and as nothing was
to be gained by loitering where the flock could find nothing to eat save
thorny twigs and chaparral, we made a long drive, and before sundown
reached the home ranch on the yellow San Joaquin plain.

_September 22._ The sheep were let out of the corral one by one, this
morning, and counted, and strange to say, after all their adventurous
wanderings in bewildering rocks and brush and streams, scattered by
bears, poisoned by azalea, kalmia, alkali, all are accounted for. Of the
two thousand and fifty that left the corral in the spring lean and weak,
two thousand and twenty-five have returned fat and strong. The losses
are: ten killed by bears, one by a rattlesnake, one that had to be
killed after it had broken its leg on a boulder slope, and one that ran
away in blind terror on being accidentally separated from the
flock,--thirteen all told. Of the other twelve doomed never to return,
three were sold to ranchmen and nine were made camp mutton.

Here ends my forever memorable first High Sierra excursion. I have
crossed the Range of Light, surely the brightest and best of all the
Lord has built; and rejoicing in its glory, I gladly, gratefully,
hopefully pray I may see it again.


THE END



INDEX


    _Abies concolor_ and _magnifica_. _See_ Fir, silver.

    Abronia, 228.

    _Adenostoma fasciculata_, 14, 19, 20.

    _Adiantum Chilense_, 17.

    Alpenglow, 220.

    Alvord, Gen. Benjamin, 183, 185, 186.

    Animals, domestic, afraid of bears, 107, 108.

    Animals, wild, in the Merced Valley, 43;
      clean, 18, 79;
      man-eaters, 211, 212.

    Antone, Portuguese shepherd, 209, 210.

    Ants, 8, 43-47;
      bite of, 46.

    _Arctomys monax_. _See_ Woodchuck.

    _Arctostaphylos pungens_. _See_ Manzanita.

    Avalanches, 216, 217.

    Azalea, "sheep poison," 22.

    _Azalea occidentalis_, 20.


    Baccharis, 20.

    Beans, as food, 81.

    Bear, cinnamon, adventure with, 134-37.

    Bear-hunting, 28-30.

    Bears, favorite feeding-grounds of, 28, 29;
      fond of ants, 46;
      fear of, 107, 108;
      very shy in Sierra, 108;
      raid sheep camps, 191, 192, 194, 207, 209, 210, 211.

    Billy, Mr. Delaney's shepherd, 6, 61, 62, 75, 80, 146, 147;
      his everlasting clothing, 129, 130;
      afraid of bears, 191, 193;
      quarrels with Mr. Delaney, 205.

    Birds, 68, 96;
      in the Merced Valley, 50, 65-67;
      water ouzel, 106, 107, 223;
      wrens, 170;
      on Mount Hoffman, 173-77;
      sparrows on Cathedral Peak, 251.

    Bloody Cañon, 214;
      origin of name, 215.

    Bluebottle fly, 139.

    Borer, 169.

    Boulders, in streams, 47-49;
      near Tamarack Creek, 100, 101.

    Bower Cascade, 224.

    Bower Cave, a marble palace, 25, 26, 262, 263.

    Bread, famine, 75-85;
      effects of the want of, 76, 77;
      sheep-camp, 82, 83.

    Brodiæa, 20.

    Brown, David, bear-hunter, 27-30.

    Brown's Flat, 25, 27, 262.

    Bryanthus, purple-flowered, 151, 161, 218.

    Buffalo berries, 226.

    Butler, Henry, 189, 190.

    Butler, Prof. J. D., strange experience of Muir with, 178-91.

    Butterflies, 160.


    _Calochortus albus_, 17.

    Camping, in the foothills, 10, 11;
      on the North Fork of the Merced, 32-74;
      at Tamarack Flat, 99;
      in the Yosemite, 122;
      near Soda Springs, 201, 229;
      alone, in Bloody Cañon, 220-22;
      on the Tuolumne, 232-53.

    Cañon Creek, 223.

    Carlo, St. Bernard dog, with Muir in the Sierra, 5, 6, 43, 57,
        59, 60, 62, 123, 124, 154, 181, 192, 193;
      afraid of bears, 116, 135;
      runs away, 232, 233, 255.

    Cascade Creek, 104, 259.

    Cassiope, 244, 250.

    Cathedral Peak, 154, 212, 231, 247, 250;
      well named, 146;
      a majestic temple, 198;
      view from, 248;
      height, 249.

    Cedar, incense (_Libocedrus decurrens_), 20, 21, 93.

    _Chamæbatia foliolosa_, 33, 34.

    Chinaman, shepherd's helper, 6, 9.

    Chipmunk, in the Sierra, 171, 172.

    Cleavage joints, 254.

    Clouds, 56, 73, 147, 148, 242, 243;
      sky mountains, 18, 19, 37, 39, 61, 133, 144, 145.

    Coffee, 82.

    _Corylus rostrata_, 65.

    Coulterville, 9, 17, 19.

    Crane Flat, 90, 92, 93, 260.

    Crows, 9, 248.

    Crystals, radiant, 153, 250;
      frost, 234, 236.


    Daisy, blue arctic, 218.

    Deer, black-tailed, 142.

    Delaney, Mr., sheep-owner, 6, 12, 25, 27, 36, 83, 103, 104, 112-14,
      194, 206, 233, 238, 246, 254, 262;
      engages Muir to go with his flock to the Sierra, 4, 5;
      describes David Brown's method of bear-hunting, 28-30;
      talks of bears in general, 107, 108;
      a big-hearted Irishman, 214.

    _Dendromecon rigidum_, 39.

    Devil's slides, 150.

    Dogwood, Nuttall's flowering, 64.

    Dome Creek, 121.

    Don Quixote, nickname for Mr. Delaney, 6, 12.


    Elymus (wild rye), 226.

    Emerald Pool, 189.

    Eskimo, 69.


    Fawn, baby, 232.

    Ferns, 40, 41.

    Fir, silver, 90-93, 98, 105, 257;
      cones, 91, 167, 168, 259;
      size, 143, 161, 162, 166, 260;
      age, 166, 167;
      leaves, 167.

    Fire, in woods, 19, 202, 203.

    Fishes, none in high Sierra lakes, 200.

    Flicker, 173.

    Floods, 48.

    Flowers, in Merced Valley, 33, 35, 36, 40, 58;
      at Crane Flat, 92, 93, 94;
      on Yosemite Creek, 109, 110;
      on Hoffman Range, 151, 152, 158, 160, 196;
      in Tuolumne Meadows, 199, 203;
      in Bloody Cañon, 218, 224, 225, 228, 230.

    Flowing, everything is, 236.

    Food, of bears, 28, 29, 46, 192;
      of squirrels, 18, 69, 74, 168;
      of Indians, 12, 46, 70, 226-28.

    Foothills, 3-31.

    Frogs, in the highest lakes, 200.

    Frost, crystals, 234, 236.


    Gallflies, 170.

    Glacial action, 101, 102, 196, 197, 200, 202, 203, 205, 208, 215,
        216, 224, 240, 248.

    Glacier meadows, 229, 230.

    Gold region, 55, 56;
      mines near Mono Lake, 105.

    Grasshopper, a queer fellow, 139-41.

    Greeley's Mill, 17, 20.

    Grouse, blue or dusky, 175, 176.


    Half-Dome, _or_ South Dome, 117, 122, 129.

    Hare, 9.

    Hare, little chief, 154, 155.

    Hazel, beaked, 65.

    Hazel Creek, 89.

    Hazel Green, 87, 261.

    Heat, in the foothills, 8.

    Hemlock, mountain (_Tsuga Mertensiana_), 151, 247.

    Hogs, 108.

    Horseshoe Bend, 13, 19.

    House-fly, on North Dome, 138, 139;
      on Mount Hoffman, 169.

    Hutchings, Mrs., landlady, 182.


    Illilouette, 189.

    Indian Basin, 121.

    Indian Cañon, 115, 122, 181, 186, 187.

    Indian Creek, 208.

    Indians, Digger, 12, 30, 31, 262;
      shepherd's helper with Muir, 6, 9, 10, 86, 90;
      anteaters, 46;
      their power of escaping observation, 53, 54, 58;
      an old woman, 58, 59;
      Chief Tenaya, 165;
      a hunter, 205, 206;
      food, 206, 226, 227;
      a dirty band, 218, 219;
      women gathering wild rye, 226.

    Ivy, poison, 26.


    Jack, the shepherd's little dog, 62, 63.

    Joe, Portuguese shepherd, 209, 210.

    Juniper, Sierra (_Juniperus occidentalis_), 110, 163-65.


    Lake Hoffman, 154.

    Lake Tenaya, 153, 155, 165, 195-97, 257;
      Indian name, 166.

    Landscape, sculpture of, 14;
      a glorious, 115, 116;
      features harmonious, 240, 254.

    Liberty Cap, 183.

    _Libocedrus decurrens_. _See_ Cedar, incense.

    Lichens, 259.

    Lightning, 15, 124, 125.

    Lilies, 36, 37, 59, 60, 225.

    _Lilium pardalinum_, 37.

    _Lilium parvum_, 94, 95, 121.

    Lily, twining, 50;
      on poison ivy, 26.

    Lily, Washington, 103.

    Linosyris, 20.

    Lizards, 8, 41-43, 65.


    Magpies, 9.

    Mammoth Mountain, 216, 242.

    Manzanita (_Arctostaphylos_), 88, 89;
      berries, 259.

    Meadows, three kinds of, 158, 159;
      glacier, 229, 230.

    Merced River, 189;
      North Fork of, 25;
      camp on, 32-74.

    Merced Valley, 13, 115.

    Mono Desert, 226.

    Mono Lake, 214, 226, 239;
      flowers around, 228.

    Mono Trail, 104, 109, 115, 195-213.

    Moon, startling effect of, 221, 222.

    Moraine Lake, 224, 225.

    Moraines, 102, 216, 224, 240, 248.

    Mosquitoes, Sierra, 169.

    Mount Dana, 199, 230, 233, 234, 239, 242.

    Mount Gibbs, 199, 242.

    Mount Hoffman, 230;
      height of, 149;
      watershed, 150;
      flowers, 151, 152, 158, 160;
      hemlocks and pines, 151, 152;
      crystals, 153;
      strange dove-colored bird, 176.

    Mount Lyell, 198, 253.

    Mutton, exclusive diet of, 76.


    _Neotoma_, 71-73.

    Nevada Cañon, 182.

    Nevada Fall, 187, 188, 207.

    North Dome, 131, 134;
      strange experience on, 178, 179.


    Oak, blue (_Quercus Douglasii_), 8, 15.

    Oak, California black (_Quercus Californica_), 15, 257.

    Oak, dwarf (_Quercus chrysolepis_), 161.

    Oak, goldcup, 50, 187, 257.

    Oak, mountain live, 38.

    Oak, poison, 26.

    _Oreortyx ricta_, 174, 175.


    Pictures, inadequate, 131.

    Pika, 154, 155.

    Pilot Peak Ridge, 32, 57, 65, 67, 84.

    Pine, dwarf (_Pinus albicaulis_), 152, 248;
      as fuel, 221.

    Pine, mountain (_Pinus monticola_), 152.

    Pine, Sabine, 12, 13, 263;
      cones, 12.

    Pine, silver, 52.

    Pine, sugar, 17, 18, 51, 88, 90, 93;
      cones, 50.

    Pine, two-leaved or tamarack, 99, 110, 162, 163, 257, 258.

    Pine, yellow, 15, 51, 52, 88, 93, 258;
      cones, 17, 18.

    Pino Blanco, 13.

    Poppy, bush (_Dendromecon rigidum_), 39.

    Porcupine Creek, 121, 206.

    Portuguese shepherds, 206, 207, 208-10.

    _Pseudotsuga Douglasii_, 93.

    _Pteris aquilina_, 40, 41.


    Quail, mountain (_Oreortyx ricta_), 174, 175.

    Quails, 9.

    _Quercus Californica_, 15, 257.

    _Quercus chrysolepis_, 161.

    _Quercus Douglasii_, 8, 15.


    Rabbits, cottontail, 9, 227.

    Raindrop, history of, 125-27.

    Range of Light, 236, 264.

    Rat, wood (_Neotoma_), 71-73.

    Rattlesnakes, 9;
      dog bitten by one, 63.

    _Rhus diversiloba_. _See_ Ivy, poison.

    Robin, 173, 174, 218.

    Rye, wild, 226.


    Sandy, David Brown's dog, 27, 28, 30.

    Saxifrage, giant (_Saxifraga peltata_), 35.

    Sedge, 34, 35.

    Seeds, 68.

    _Sequoia gigantea_, 93;
      grove of, 260, 261.

    Shadows, of leaves, 59;
      substantial looking, 233.

    Sheep, Mr. Delaney's flock, 5, 8, 9, 11, 61, 64, 86, 87, 256,
        263, 264;
      rate of travel, 7;
      camping, 10;
      poisoned by azalea, 22;
      profitable, 22;
      hoofed locusts, 56, 86;
      stray, 57;
      destructiveness of, 97, 195;
      crossing a creek, 111-14;
      have poor brain stuff, 114;
      raided by bears, 191, 192, 194;
      afraid of getting wet, 201, 202, 255.

    Shepherd, degrading life of the Californian, 23;
      in Scotland, 24;
      the oriental, 24;
      bed and food, 80, 81.

    Slate, metamorphic, 6, 8, 14, 34.

    Smith's Mill, 262.

    Soda Springs, 201, 229, 253.

    South Dome, 122, 129.

    Sparrows, 251.

    Spiders, 53.

    Spruce, Douglas, 93.

    Squirrel, California gray, 69, 70.

    Squirrel, Douglas, 18, 68-70, 96, 168.

    _Stropholirion Californicum_. _See_ Lily, twining.

    Sunrise, in the Yosemite, 124.

    Sunset, 53.


    Tamarack Creek, 100, 102, 106.

    Tamarack Flat, 90, 259.

    Tea, 80, 82.

    Telepathy, strange case of, 178-91.

    Tenaya, Yosemite chief, 165.

    Tenaya Creek, 156.

    Three Brothers, 207.

    Thunder, in the mountains, 122, 123, 125.

    Tissiack. _See_ Half-Dome.

    Tourists, 98, 104, 190.

    Trees and storm, 144.

    Tuolumne Camp, 232-53.

    Tuolumne Meadows, 198, 199.


    Vaccinium, dwarf, 218.

    _Veratrum Californicum_, 93, 94.

    Vernal Fall, 182, 183, 187, 188, 207.

    Volcanic cones, 228.


    Water, music of, 21, 49, 97, 106.

    Waterfalls, 34, 36, 47, 106, 118-20, 132, 187, 188, 223, 224.

    Water ouzel, 106, 107, 223.

    Waycup, 173.

    Weather, in the mountains, 36, 39, 56, 61, 67, 73, 235, 237,
        241, 245.

    Willow, dwarf, 217.

    Wind, at night, 21, 220.

    Woodchuck (_Arctomys monax_), 154, 172, 173.

    Wrens, story of a pair, 170.


    Yosemite Creek, 104, 107, 109, 118, 150, 154, 258.

    Yosemite Valley, 102, 104, 106, 107, 115-48, 187;
      a nerve-trying experience in, 118-20;
      sunrise in, 124;
      thunder storm, 124, 125;
      grandeur, 132, 133, 190.


    Zodiacal light, 257.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

    Illustration captions in CAPITALS are drawings; in _italics_ are
    photographs.

    The illustration captioned VIEW OF UPPER TUOLUMNE VALLEY had an
    arrow pointing to Mt Ritter. This has been noted in the caption
    for the illustration.

    In the original publication, page 190 in the list of illustrations
    appears before page 154. This has been changed.

    A typographical error in the TOC had page 190 occurring before
    page 154 in the original. This has been changed for ease of
    reference.

    The following changes were made:
          p. 156 Hoffman and Cathderal Park to Cathedral
          p. 166 only curly currus wisps scarce to cirrus
          p. 171 most of their acomplishments to accomplishments
          p. 267 Adenostema fasciculata to Adenostoma
          throughout text: cham[oe]batia to chamæbatia

    Inconsistent hyphenation has been retained as it appears in the
    text for the following:

        foothills and foot-hills
        goldenrod and golden-rod
        rootstocks and root-stocks
        thunderstorm and thunder-storm
        gristmill and grist-mill
        lifelong and life-long
        overleaning and over-leaning
        snowstorm and snow-storm





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