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September 7, 1862: Sacramento River Upper Ferry

September 7, 2012

Pit River Bridge - Shasta Lake, CA

Pit River Bridge, Lake Shasta; by ronWLS (Ron Lute), on Flickr

Camp 96

[Today] we were all up at dawn and started before seven. We had hoped to be at Mount Shasta at full moon, but the detentions had so delayed us that we must travel Sunday and were yet three days behind time. Five miles over a hilly road brought us to Pit River. Here let me say that the upper Sacramento, above where it turns from the east to the south, is here known altogether as the Pit River, while the name Sacramento is retained for the branch that runs nearly straight south from the west base of Mount Shasta.

Ninebark 02

Physocarpus capitatus; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

We crossed the ferry, crossed some hills to McCloud’s Fork, a swift stream of pure, cold water, green as the Niagara and cold from the snows of the mountains beyond. We followed up that a few miles, then crossed the ridges to the Sacramento Fork, where we camped for the night. Such a hilly road—all up and down—now winding along a mere shelf hundreds of feet above the river, then descending into ravines. The country between these forks is dry, the hills mostly covered with bushes and scattering trees, but after this day we had very different scenery, for we were in a wilderness of mountains and continually rising. We were glad enough to get into camp, for all were tired. We had had a hard day’s drive, although we had come but twenty-one miles.

We had seen a number of Indians, and at the ferry where we camped that night there were a number more. We heard that many had recently died. There were some graves on a knoll near camp, and a number of squaws kept up an incessant howling, moaning, screeching, and thumping on something until dark. Their noise was positively hideous, but then this is their way of showing respect for the dead. They ceased when it got dark, but commenced again soon after dawn.

Specimens collected: Physocarpus capitatus; Spiraea douglasii; Quercus vacciniifolia; Pycnanthemum californicum.

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