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June 6, 1862: Lone Tree Canyon

June 6, 2012

Camp 73

[Today] we were up early and out upon the plain, passed up a few miles and turned into Lone Tree Canyon, Camp 73. Here another canyon opens into the plain, a lone tree stands near its mouth and gives the canyon a name. We went up the canyon about one and a half miles to where another tree stands, a poor apology for a cottonwood, but still a tree. Here we camped. A man lives here, and has a flock of sheep, and feeds them over the hills. He seemed a very intelligent man, and lived the best of all of these sheep herders that we have seen, although living entirely alone. He was glad to see us, for we were the first human beings he had seen for three weeks, and as many more weeks may pass before he sees any others. What a lonely life must be his! Summer and winter he must be here—his visitors few and far between. Sunday and week day are alike to him. Up at dawn, he gets his breakfast, and drives his sheep out in the early cool air of morning twilight. He carries a little bag in which is his noon meal. He watches his sheep among the hills the entire day, and at night brings them into the fold, or “corral,” beside which he sleeps, to keep away coyotes, wolves, and bears. Such is the monotonous life of hundreds of sheep herders in California.

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