July 29, 1864: Blackrock
[Today] we were up at dawn and started up the valley, and traveled twenty-two miles, about three-fourths of the way over deserts, the rest over grassy meadows. Many settlers have come in with cattle this year. Most of them are Secessionists from the southern part of the state. We passed the old Camp Independence, so lively a year ago—now a ranch, and the adobe buildings falling into ruin.
It was a terrible day. The thermometer ranged from 102° to 106°, often the latter, and most of the time 104°. It almost made us sick. There was some wind, but with that temperature it felt as if it came from a furnace. It came from behind us and blew the fine alkaline dust into our nostrils, making it still worse. We camped by the river and took a cooling bath….
During this day’s ride the Sierra loomed up grandly. The crest is at the extreme eastern part of the chain—grand rocky peaks, some of them over fourteen thousand feet, their cool snow, often apparently not over ten miles from us, mocking our heat.