July 19, 1864: Kings Canyon
We left there [this] morning and worked up the valley about ten miles. Next to Yosemite this is the grandest canyon I have ever seen. It much resembles Yosemite and almost rivals it. A pretty valley or flat half a mile wide lies along the river, in places rough and strewn with bowlders, and in others level and covered with trees. On both sides rise tremendous granite precipices, of every shape, often nearly perpendicular, rising from 2,500 feet to above 4,000 feet. They did not form a continuous wall, but rose in high points, with canyons coming down here and there, and with fissures, gashes, and gorges. The whole scene was sublime—the valley below, the swift river roaring by, the stupendous cliffs standing against a sky of intensest blue, the forests through which we rode. We would look up through the branches and see the clear sky and grand rocks, or occasionally, as we crossed an open space, we would get more comprehensive views.We camped at the head of this valley by a fine grassy meadow where the stream forked. On both sides rose grand walls of granite about three thousand feet high, while between the forks was a stupendous rock, bare and rugged, over four thousand feet high. We luxuriated on trout for the next two meals. The rattlesnakes were thick—four were killed this day.