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September 27, 1861: Clayton

September 27, 2011

Camp 57

[Today] we visited the hills east of the mountain. One of the localities visited was a so-called “borax spring,” for which we were told the owner had refused $17,000. We examined it, found it only a salt spring, and a poor one at that, not worth 17,000 cents at most.

The region north and northwest of Mount Diablo is a beautiful one—pretty valleys scattered over with oaks, many of enormous size, with wide branches often drooping like the elm. The rugged mountain rises against the clear sky, and when illumined by the setting sun is an object of peculiar beauty. Our camp was in a very pretty place, with great trees around, and the mountain in full view.


Raccoons; by randomtruth, on Flickr

[This] evening we had a little incident. We were camped near a Mr. Clayton’s house. His dog treed a large coon close by camp, up a very large and wide-branching oak. Mike and Pete built a fire under it, we all got around but no coon could be seen. Pete climbed the tree, no easy feat as the trunk was four or five feet in diameter. Up in the branches—still no coon—built another fire—it lit up the foliage, and the scenery around—caught a glimpse of him—Pete followed him out to the end of a lofty limb sixty or eighty feet from the ground and shot him with his revolver. It was exciting, as he got higher and higher, shooting and missing, in the dark, until he had but one more load left, then following him out to near the end, and that ball brought him. He was a huge fellow, much like our eastern coon, but rather larger, and of a different species.

While in the city I had caught cold and I had slept badly, but the clear sky and ground soon brought sound and refreshing sleep. This is no affectation, but plain truth. I have now caught cold five times, each time very hoarse and with more or less sore throat, each time that I have slept indoors for the last ten months, and these are the only colds I have had, and each vanished as soon as I took to the open air again! I have slept in the open air, under the open sky, for the last three months—sometimes with fog like rain—I have slept in the rain itself, slept in wet blankets for night after night, and not taken cold, yet go into a house, sleep in a bed, and I am sure to take cold! And my case is not peculiar. It is the general experience here—need we stronger proof that colds are owing to a close and artificial mode of life? It has long been known that those who sleep in small or close and warm rooms are more subject to colds than those who sleep in large and well-ventilated rooms.

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