May 28, 1862: Marsh’s Ranch
[Today], we came on, but neither letters nor money had arrived. So I left Gabb at Clayton. We went on to Marsh’s, about fourteen miles east. The road led down a canyon torn by last winter’s floods. The road was considered passable, but one not used to our life would pronounce it utterly impassable for any wagon, yet we brought our wagon through with only one slight break, making the fourteen miles in four and a half hours.
Before the canyon emerges into the San Joaquin plain it winds into a flat of perhaps two or three hundred acres surrounded by low rolling hills and covered with oaks scattered here and there, like a park. And such oaks! How I wish you could see them—nearly worthless for timber, but surely the most magnificent trees one could desire to see. I measured the circumference of about thirty, near camp, that were over fifteen feet around three and a half or four feet from the ground—eighteen, nineteen, or twenty feet are not uncommon—with wide branching heads over a hundred feet across—one was seven feet in diameter with a head a hundred and thirty feet across.