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August 17, 1863: Round Top

August 17, 2013

Round Top 01

Round Top from near Woods Lake; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 136

Red Top

Round Top from Devil's Corral; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

[Today] I climbed alone a high peak south, over 10,500 feet high—a steep, heavy climb. I had to carry barometer, bag with lunch, thermometer, levels, hammer, etc., a canteen, and my botanical box. We have had high winds for several days, and in the morning clouds enveloped the summit of the peak, but they fled before I reached it. The last eight hundred or a thousand feet rise in a steep volcanic mass, so steep as to be only accessible in one place, around cliffs and up steep slopes on the rocks, but there was no serious difficulty or danger. A cold, raw, and fierce wind swept over the summit, but the day was very clear and the view sublime. The peak is just south of Carson Pass, and some twenty to twenty-five miles south of Lake Tahoe (Bigler). The lake was in full view its whole extent—my first sight of it—its waters intensely blue, high, bold mountains rising from its shores. I am higher than the great crest of the Sierra here and hundreds of snowy peaks are in sight. Hope Valley lies beneath, green and lovely—high mountains, eleven thousand feet high rising beyond it. Besides Lake Tahoe, there are ten smaller lakes in sight, from two miles long down to mere ponds (which were not counted)—all blue, of clear snow water. It was, indeed, a grand view.

I descended by getting on a steep slope of snow, down which I came a thousand feet in a few minutes where it had taken two hours’ hard labor to get up. I had some time so I returned via the summit of Carson Pass, which was but two miles from camp. The pass is about 8,800 feet high. I got back to camp tired enough, and, of course, slept well after the fatigue of the day, although it froze in the night.

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