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June 17, 1861: San Juan Bautista

June 17, 2011

San Juan Bautista Rearview

San Juan Bautista Rearview; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 38

[Today], I explored alone some high sandstone hills southwest of San Juan—hills covered with wild oats, with here and there bold outcroppings of coarse red sandstone, often worn into fantastic and grotesque forms by the weather. Ledges would be perforated with numerous holes and caverns from the smallest size up to those capable of holding a hundred men. Thousands of swallows had built their nests in them, as they build in barns at home. I sat down in one of these caves, the largest I saw, opening out to the valley and commanding a lovely view. A steep ravine lay below me, brilliant and fragrant with flowers, around which swarms of humming birds were flitting, like large bees. Various species of humming birds are common, but I have nowhere seen so many as at that place. They often came in the cave, hovering in the air near me; several times they would stand in the air so close to me that I could touch them with my hand easily, then they would dart away again.

The aspect of the scenery around San Juan is peculiar—a level valley, enclosed in large fields, hills rising beyond; all covered with oats, now ripe. The hills have a dry, soft, straw-colored look, which, in the twilight, or by moonlight, is peculiarly rich.

Specimens collected, June 14-17: Veronica americana; Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus; Camissonia strigulosa; Navarretia atractyloides; Verbena lasiostachys var. lasiostachys; Rubus parviflorus; Acaena pinnatifida var. californica; Rhamnus cathartica; Eriogonum nudum var. auriculatum; Dudleya lanceolata; Holodiscus discolor; Cirsium douglasii var. breweri; Corethrogyne filaginifolia.

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