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July 1, 1861: Gabilan Range

July 1, 2011

Young Ground Squirrel on Fremont Peak

Young ground squirrel on Fremont Peak; by Elaine with Grey Cats, on Flickr

Camp 38

toward the Salinas Valley, Fremont Peak State Park, October 26, 2008 (2)

Salinas Valley from Fremont Peak; by //ichael Patric|{, on Flickr

[Today] I climbed a high steep peak1 about eight miles distant, a hot, toilsome day’s trip. We rode up a valley about three miles, then struck up a narrow, deep side canyon about one or two miles farther, beside a small stream. A cattle trail led up the stream, often steep and slanting, but our trusty mules managed it. Arriving at the end of this trail, we unsaddled and tied our mules beneath some trees, and mounted the ridge. It was very steep, of a rotten granite that was decomposed into a sand that slid beneath the feet and reflected the intense heat of the sun with fearful effect. It seemed as if it would broil us, and the perspiration flowed in streams. Often not a breath of wind stirred the parched, scorching air. A wet hankerchief was worn in the crown of the hat, as we do now all the time when in the sun, to save from a possible sunstroke.

Leopard Lily 02

Lilium pardalinum; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

A ridge was gained, which ran transverse to the main ridge we wished to reach. Three miles more along this ridge, sometimes down, sometimes up, now over sand, then over rocks and bushes, sometimes in a scorching heat, at others fanned by a breeze—at last we planted our compass on the highest crest of the Gabilan, a very sharp, steep, bold peak, some 2,500 to 3,000 feet high, probably nearer the latter. We had a most magnificent and extensive view of the dry landscape—the Salinas plain, Monterey and the Santa Lucia, the sea, the hills north of Santa Cruz, San Juan and its valley, the valley of Santa Clara beyond, an immense stretch of landscape beside.

Our canteens were exhausted and our lunch dispatched before we had arrived at the top, but the descent was easier, although the last slope before reaching our mules was intensely hot. A fine, clear, cold stream flowed in the canyon—and how sweet it tasted!—but it sinks before entering the valley of San Juan. A ride back to camp, a sumptuous dinner prepared by Peter, then a lounge under the large oak that stands by our camp, in the delicious breeze, then the comet in the west at night, made us forget the toils of the day.

Buckwheat 01

Eriogonum nudum; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

There is a very curious meteorological fact connected with these hills. It is cooler in the large valleys, and hotter on the hills. A delicious cool breeze draws up the larger valleys from the sea, sometimes far too violent for comfort, but always cooling. It often does not reach the hills, so that rising a thousand feet ofen brings us into a hotter instead of cooler air. The hot weather is now upon us, much hotter than in the immediate vicinity of the sea. One does not so notice it if still or in the shade. Today it is by no means oppressive in the shade for there is a delicious breeze. It has not been above 90° F. under the tree where I write this during the day, but out in the sun or in exercise it is hot, very hot.

Specimens collected: Lilium pardalinum; Eriogonum nudum var. auriculatum; Sedum stenopetalum; Orobanche bulbosa.

1Fremont Peak, then called Gavilan Peak.

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