October 6, 1862: Battle Creek
About ten miles east, on the north side of Battle Creek, rose a regular volcanic cone, which we resolved to visit. [Today] Rémond and I started, our pistols carefully loaded, for hostile Indians sometimes lurked about—we saw none, however. The road leads up a gentle ascent for ten miles, rising about 150 feet per mile—a table of lava all the way, in places thickly strewn with bowlders, in others more weathered into a soil supporting straggling bushes and trees. On nearing the cone, there is more soil, and as a consequence, more trees. The cone rises, a round steep hill, steep on all sides, the top apparently cut off, thus:
It is 2,500 feet high, and in the top there is a perfectly formed old crater, a funnel-shaped basin, as is shown by the dotted line in the outline sketch above. It is perfectly round, about 900 yards around it, and 250 feet deep, its sides steep, and covered with bushes. No water ever stands in it, owing to the porous nature of the rock, and large pine trees grow down in there, their tops not reaching nearly to the rim. It appeared to be a favorite resort of bears—the “signs” were everywhere. The rim was perfect on all sides. A tolerably good figure of this is given in one of the plates of the Pacific Railroad Survey, in Doctor Newberry’s report.
From the cone we descended into the canyon of Battle Creek, thinking that possibly it was cut in deep enough to cut through the lava. It is in places eight hundred or one thousand feet deep, but entirely cut in these sheets of lava. It was a terrible place to get mules down and back. We found it impassable, and had to get out again, which took us several hours.
The view from this cone was peculiarly fine. The great Sacramento Valley, the Coast Range beyond in the west—in the northwest, the rough mountains beyond Shasta, for a hundred miles—in the north, Mount Shasta, looming up grandly, all white and spotless in a fresh coat of snow—in the east, the rugged, broken volcanic chain of Lassen’s Peak, Black Butte, etc.—while just about us was the desolate volcanic region just described.