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October 24, 1863: Seiad Valley

October 24, 2013
Klamath 05

View south from Devil's Peak trail; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Just north of this ranch are several high peaks of the Siskiyou Mountains. Three conspicuous points are known as the Three Devils. I climbed one of these. It was a steep slope about four thousand feet above the valley, but several higher peaks lay back of us. Two men from the ranch went up with me, merely for the pleasure of the trip. One was a German who plays the key bugle. He carried it up with him and every little while awakened the echoes of the silent mountains with its notes.

Klamath 06

Klamath River from Devil's Peak trail; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

The day was very smoky, and the landscape spread out around us rough in the extreme—the whole region a mountainous one—the peaks five thousand to seven thousand feet high, some indeed much higher—and all furrowed into deep canyons and sharp ridges, many of the former over two thousand feet deep. The hills are covered with scattered timber, not dense enough to be called forests, or in places with shrubby chaparral. With the exception of the ranch below us there is no tillable land; there is nothing to make the region ever a desirable home for any considerable population.

The whole of this wide landscape was bathed in smoky vapor, and the mountains faded in it at no great distance. On a clear day Mount Shasta is in view in the southeast, and the ocean in the southwest, but then both were invisible. It would be difficult to say where the smoky earth ceased and the smoky sky began.

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