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October 7, 1861: Clayton

October 7, 2011

Black Diamond Mines 01

Hillside, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 57

[Today], we sent Averill to Martinez to take barometrical observations, to determine the height of our camp at Clayton, the basis of all our observations about Mount Diablo. Professor Whitney remained to take observations at camp. I took my mule, to visit the hills eight or ten miles to the north and northeast of camp. A very lonely ride, first through the Kirker Pass, then among rounded hills, almost bare of grass or herbage, in places entirely so—no trees to cheer the eye, no water in the many canyons and ravines. I found much of geological interest, quantities of fossil wood—of the hardest flint, yet the finest grain of the wood preserved in the minutest details—fossil shells of more than ordinary beauty, immense beds of sandstone, and thick strata, over a hundred feet thick, of volcanic pumice stone and lava. I had no lunch along, and found no water for self or mule, except some alkaline springs which neither mule nor I could drink. The day was hot, and it was long, too, being without either water or lunch. I got so many specimens that I packed them on my saddle and led my mule, walking eight or ten miles back to camp, where I arrived just at sundown. Didn’t my supper taste good, and a drink taste better!

A few clouds were in the sky during the day, light fleecy clouds, and the barometer fell rapidly and all prophesied rain, for it is now getting time for it. Night came on and the clouds vanished. No rain, but instead, a windstorm. Whew! how it blew! The wind just shrieked—clouds of dust—dried leaves—pieces of grass—etc. It was hard work to keep one’s blankets on, and the wind blew through the blankets, cold and rheumatic. The ground is so dry that a wind raises much dust, and in the tent it is much worse, for the tent flaps in the wind and raises an “infamous” air. Professor Whitney slept in the tent and came out in the morning looking decidedly grimy. He reported a miserable night inside.

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