September 14, 1863: Genesee
[This] morning…I laid in supplies and went to Genesee Valley, about twenty-three miles northeast. We crossed the lovely American Valley, then a high range of hills about ten miles wide, then sank into Indian Valley, one of the loveliest valleys in the state. It is a basin, elevated about 3,500 feet above the sea, entirely surrounded by mountains, which rise several thousand feet higher, sheltered from winds—in fact, containing all the elements of beauty. It is about ten miles long and three or four wide, and covered with fine farms.
From this we passed up the canyon of Genesee Creek, which after a few miles opens out into another pretty basin, but smaller and less fertile than Indian Valley. It is also higher and colder. My object in coming here was to look for fossils said to occur here in the auriferous slates. We found them, a most important matter geologically.
This was my birthday—I am thirty-five—half my “three-score years and ten” are past. As I lay in my blankets [tonight], long I reflected on it as I watched the stars in the cloudless sky.