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May 31, 1861: Arroyo Seco

May 31, 2011

Arroyo Seco 07

Arroyo Seco; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 35

The shadows were dark in the canyon as we rose, and some choice cuts of venison roasted on the coals were partaken of with a relish that many a hothouse millionaire might well envy. Ah, it was good! We lingered around some; I botanized an hour—and then we took our way back, following nearly our same trail. In one place the trail led along the very brink of a precipice 250 to 300 feet high; one could look down, unobstructed, almost perpendicularly (tourists would say quite so), to the rocks and water so far below. It was as steep as the north bank of Taughannock Falls, by the house, and two-thirds as high, the path scarcely a foot wide. But the mules did not hesitate—they know their own powers—and with loose rein we let them take their way, slowly, surely, now looking steadily at the path, but often swinging their heads over and looking at the abyss below. Where the path ascended a steep slope I got off, not for greater safety so much as to ease my mule, which is most too light for me. But most of them rode here, nor spoke of danger.

We got back to Finch’s [tonight]. We found some fossil bones on our way—the backbone of a large fish, not so large as a whale, yet very large. Thousands of acres of these lower hills are covered with wild oats, as thick as a poor oat field at home. These are the “live oats” or “animated oats,” sometimes cultivated at home, and were introduced here from Spain by the old padres.

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