June 26, 1864: JO Pass
Our present camp is by a little meadow, at an altitude of about 9,500 feet. The barometer stands at less than 21 1/2 inches, water boils at 193.5 degrees. Yet when one is still and not climbing he does not perceive the lightness of the air. It is a calm Sunday. The sky is intensely blue, a few white clouds float above, but it is cold in the shade, only 43° to 44°, and my fingers are cold enough.
Since writing the above we have got dinner and the weather has become warmer, a few degrees. We had a most glorious venison soup. We eat venison three times a day. A few days ago, before we got the deer, the boys shot a large arctic owl, an enormous fellow. They dressed and cooked him. I have often heard of “biled owl,” but this is the first time that I have practically tested it, and it is nothing to brag of—strong, tough, and with a rather mousy taste.
We have a book of sermous in camp, and thus far we have had one read aloud each Sunday. A laborious week lies ahead….
After a late dinner….we climbed a steep hill, and came suddenly to a precipice. Beyond was a great basin, or valley, the head of which is an immense rocky amphitheater, the rocky sides very steep, in places tremendous perpendicular precipices. There is a little lake in this basin, about 1,600 feet below the brink of the cliffs. From this there widens a valley, which runs directly back toward the crest of the Sierra a few miles and then turns, the waters finding their way to Kings River by a deep canyon….The snow peaks lay beyond partly obscured by clouds.