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January 15, 1861: Mouth of San Gabriel Canyon

January 18, 2011

Camp 6

It is a cold evening—some frost last night. It is only seven o’clock, but the rest are in bed—gone to bed to keep warm. I will write until my fingers get cold, then go too….

This morning, after taking longitude observations, Professor Whitney stayed in camp to calculate them and at the same time take observations on the barometer to compare with those being taken at the next camp, while Mike (the cook) and I rode a few miles to climb a peculiar looking sharp peak that rises like a spire on the edge of the regular mountain chain. It is a little over 2,000 feet high above the camp, quite steep, and to our surprise we found it a great mass of lava, very perfect and very marked. It had a few large granite veins in it. We climbed to the top, but the good weather was deserting us. We had that same magnificent view I have described before, but it began to rain some and we hurried down and hastened our mules back to camp. But little rain fell. It has again cleared off cold, and the wind blows again tonight very hard. Our driver returned, and we shall move on in the morning—weather permitting….

It was blowing hard when I went to bed…The wind increased. We got up about eleven and packed the instruments. While getting ready for the worst, a hard gale took the fly of the tent and tore a rent fifteen feet long. We ran out and unfastened it, and over it went. A few minutes later the tent followed. We held on, drew it over our goods, piled carpetbags, saddles, etc., on the edges to keep it down so the wind could not get under it, crawled under again, rolled in our blankets, and whiled away the night as best we could. It was exceedingly laughable, but by no means comfortable. The wind howled and shrieked above us, the heavy tent flapped and whacked and slapped, shaking dust into our faces all the time, and last, but by no means least, multitudes of flies which had been in our tent were now caged close to us, buzzing and humming and crawling as we warmed them into life. The night was cool, but we slept some.

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