August 28, 1863: Middle Fork American River
[Today] we were up and off early. It rained a little the evening before, but not much. We struck up Squaw Valley, a pretty little grassy valley, then rose the steep ridge to the pass, which is between eight thousand and nine thousand feet. We stopped and lunched there, while I took observations for the altitude of the place. We had a grand view of the mountains south, spotted with snow, and the dim ones east, far in Nevada Territory, and of the western slope fading into blue haze.
We crossed the summit and sank into the canyon of the Middle Fork of the American River, then rose a high hill. We had heard that there was abundant grass on the road, but we found it only partly true. For the rest of the day we followed a volcanic lava ridge—in places only a sharp ridge, with a canyon a thousand feet deep on each side. It was grand, but a very rough trail, in fact, “awful bad,” and, what was worse, no water. We traveled until camp time, then three hours later—for water to camp by. The sun set and the full moon rose long before we struck water. At last, however, we found it—it was nearly nine o’clock before we got our supper. Of course it tasted good after our fatigue and fast. We stopped hungry, thirsty, fatigued, and, as a result, in bad humor; after supper and a big beefsteak we were in fine humor again. The moon was peculiarly bright, the night warm and balmy, just right to sleep well.