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August 17, 1864: Jackass Creek Drainage

August 17, 2014

Fuller Buttes 02

Jackass Rock from Fuller Buttes; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 195

[Today] we started again, putting the pack on another animal. We had a tremendous climb to begin with. First a very heavy hill, three thousand feet high, and just as steep as animals can climb. We struck the trail of Orr, the lost soldier, but we soon came to a region where there were cattle, and their abundant tracks prevented us from seeing which way he went, so we camped, and I sent out two soldiers to look for him. The search was continued for the next day. They found his tracks in places, but there were Indian tracks also and we feared that they had got him.

We had a grand view from the hill we crossed. The peaks along the summit are very black and desolate, and with much snow, and the canyons very deep and abrupt. We found cattle in the woods, and the soldiers shot a beef and we had fresh meat again, a true luxury.

August 16, 1864: Middle Fork San Joaquin

August 16, 2014

[This] morning we were off as usual, but soon found that we were “in a fix”—great granite precipices descended ahead of us. We turned back, and after much trouble found a very steep, rocky place where we could get down about one thousand feet to the river. Buckskin was so lame that I camped before noon, at the river, after going only about four miles. It was a lovely spot—a little flat of a few acres, with grand old trees, and high, naked granite cliffs around. The river runs through this, entering and leaving it by an impassable canyon. We found the river full of trout, and the boys caught a fine mess….

One of the soldiers, Win Orr, was ahead, not knowing that we had stopped….We tried to stop him but could not….

August 15, 1864: Near Middle Fork San Joaquin

August 15, 2014

Balloon Dome

Balloon Dome; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 193

[Today] we packed up and started and made a big day’s march toward the north [Middle] fork. We had rather rough going and finished by going down a steep hill about two thousand feet. The north fork runs in a very deep, rocky canyon still a thousand feet deeper. We camped at good grass, but poor water—some pools that remained in a little swamp. Near our camp the canyon is very grand—a notch in the naked granite rocks. During the day we crossed a number of streams bordered by dense thickets of alders through which we had to cut our way with our knives. In one of these, Buckskin, our pack horse, caught a leg between two rocks and bruised it badly.

August 14, 1864: North Slope LeConte Divide

August 14, 2014

Camp 189

A quiet day in camp. Read and wrote most of the day. Thunderstorm about noon and a little rain. Evening clear and lovely moonlight.

August 13, 1864: North Slope LeConte Divide

August 13, 2014

Camp 189

The soldiers brought back a lot of newspapers from the camp at Fort Miller—papers from the East, from various parts of this state—old many of them, but very acceptable. [Today], after washing my clothes, I spent the rest of the day in reading. There is a sort of fascination in reading about what is going on in the busy world without, in the noisy marts of trade and commerce, in society and politics, in the busy strife of war, of brilliant parties and gay festivities, and sad battles, and tumultuous debate, while we are here in these distant mountain solitudes, alike away from the society and the strife of the world.

August 12, 1864: North Slope LeConte Divide

August 12, 2014

South Fork San Joaquin

South Fork San Joaquin River; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 189

Supper and sleep partially restored us, but we came back here [today], a long, hard day’s work. This was necessary, for we were out of flour, rice, beans—in fact, had only tea, sugar, and bacon. This was to be our rendezvous with the soldiers, and they had got in only an hour ahead of us, with an abundance of provisions. Not a great variety, but an abundance of salt pork, flour, coffee, and sugar, so we are all right again.

August 11, 1864: North Fork Kings Headwaters

August 11, 2014

Camp 191

Notwithstanding the hard conditions, we were more refreshed than you would believe. After months of this rough life, sleeping only on the ground, in the open air, the rocky bed is not so hard in reality as it sounds when told. We actually lay “in bed” until after sunrise, waiting for Dick. They did not come; so, after our meager breakfast we started and reached camp in about nine hours. This was the hardest part. Still tired from yesterday’s exertions, weak for want of food, in this light air, it was a hard walk.

At three in the afternoon we reached camp, tired, footsore, weak, hungry. Dick had been back already over an hour, but Spratt had given out. Gardner and two soldiers, supposing that Hoffmann and I also had given out, had started with some bread to look for us. We shot off guns, and near night they came in, and at the same time Spratt straggled into camp, looking as if he had had a hard time. Dick and he did not reach the top, but got within three hundred feet of it. They traveled all night and had no food—they had eaten their lunch all up at once. Dick is very tough. He had walked thirty-two hours and had been twenty-six entirely without food; yet, on the return, he had walked in four hours what had taken Hoffmann and me eight to do.


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