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August 2, 1864: Mono Creek

August 2, 2014

Ruby Lake

Mono Pass Trail, east side; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


Camp 188

[Today] we were off in good season. As soon as we started the signal smokes again showed that we were watched. I will not repeat, but let it suffice to say that all of our movements up to the present time have been thus telegraphed. As soon as we stop, smokes rise, when we start they appear, and at night their blaze is seen on the heights—so the Indians know all of our movements.

Summit Lake

Summit Lake, just east of Mono Pass; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

We crossed the summit [today]. As we approached it, it seemed impassable—great banks of snow, above which rose great walls and precipices of granite—but a little side canyon, invisible from the front, let us through. The pass is very high, nearly or quite twelve thousand feet on the summit. The horses cross over the snow. So far as I know it is the highest pass crossed by horses in North America. There is no regular trail, but Indians had taken horses over it before the soldiers did. The region about the pass is desolate in the extreme—snow and rock, or granite sand, constitute the landscape.

Golden Creek

Mono Rock & Mono Creek valley; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

We came down a very steep slope 2,500 feet and camped on the middle fork of the San Joaquin, near its head.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2014 11:34 am

    They’d have a fine view of the French Fire. I’m thinking they’re camped under Lake Edison. Does that seem right? Or are they a little further down, closer to Mono Hot Springs?

  2. William H. Brewer permalink*
    August 2, 2014 2:26 pm

    I think they’re higher up than that. Brewer says they dropped 2500 feet, which would put them in the 9400-9600 range–between the turnoff to Third Recess Lake and the turnoff to Hopkins Basin, more or less. But [SPOILER ALERT] they do end up camping in Vermillion Valley, i.e., under Edison.

    (There was a fire in the same general area as the French Fire last year, but fortunately it cleared up before I did my trip.)

  3. August 3, 2014 10:39 am

    Ah. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the elevation. I’m from Huntington, at least in Summer. The Aspen (Creek) Fire–last year’s fire–was nasty. We’ve got another week of thunder storms coming in, this week, so it’s a wee bit nerve-wreaking.

    • William H. Brewer permalink*
      August 3, 2014 10:59 am

      A year this dry…yeah, I imagine it would be nerve-wracking.

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