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December 15, 1860: Santa Monica Mountains

December 15, 2010

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive by Kristo, on Flickr

[This] morning four of us started, muleback, for the center of the Sierra. The gentlest mule carried the Professor, with a barometer to measure heights; I went to botanize; another to guide; another (Spaniard) to hunt. With no little trepidation, which I was ashamed to show, I mounted my mule. He is one of the most spirited in the crowd—our driver says the best in the lot—and quite wild. I expected a scene when I took my botanical box (tin) on him, but managed him better than I anticipated or even hoped for; but, cunning brute, he knows I am both awkward and green, and takes advantage accordingly.

Well, we rode up the canyon a few miles, rugged (but not high) mountains on either side, with here and there a crabbed tree and a stunted, shrubby vegetation. We at last tied our mules, ascended a ridge, took some observations (but did not reach the highest peak), found some fossils, or rather, found where to get them, then returned.

On our return, we came near having an accident. It was necessary to jump our mules over a log. The first two mules required much urging, but when mine came he not only jumped the log but sailed over a steep bank, the steepness and depth of which were concealed by bushes. Visions of his rolling over me popped into my head as I caught a glimpse of where I was and of the distance below me, but thanks to his wisdom and strength we got out, I don’t know how even yet. No horse could have saved himself as that mule did. He was hurt some, and I have not ridden him since, nor will I for a week to come, except just to move our camp.

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