Abbildungen der Seite

pocket but buttons, or in his memory but villainies. Nowhere out of California or old Spain can there exist such a modern survivor of the days of Gil Blas ! Too happy in the recovery of Clark's and our own animals to waste time in hue and cry, I loaded my two reclaimed pack-beasts with all that our commissariat needed,—nooned at Clark's, on my way back, the third day after leaving the Valley for Mariposa, and that same night was among my rejoicing comrades at the head of the great Yo-Semite. That afternoon they had come to the bottom of the flourbag, after living for three days on unleavened slapjacks without either butter or sirup. I have seen people who professed to relish the Jewish Passoverbread; but, after such an experience as our party's, I venture to say they would have regarded it worthy of a place among the other abolished types of the Mosaic dispensation. As for me and the mule; we felt our hearts swell within us as if we had come to raise the siege of Leyden. In that same enthusiasm shared our artists, savans, and gentlemen, embracing the shaggy neck of the mule as he had been a brother what time they realized that his panniers were full. Can any one wonder at my early words, “A slapjack may be the last plank between the woodsman and starvation ?” Just before I started after supplies, our party moved its camp to a position five miles up the Walley beyond Camp Rattlesnake, in a beautiful grove of oaks and cedars, close upon the most sinuous part of the Merced margin, with rich pasture for our animals immediately across the stream, and the loftiest cataract in the world roaring over the bleak precipice opposite. This is the Yo-Semite Fall proper, or, in the Indian,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic]

“Cho-looke.” By the most recent geological surveys this fall is credited with the astounding height of twenty-eight hundred feet. At an early period the entire mass of water must have plunged that distance without break. At this day a single ledge of slant projection changes the headlong flood from cataract to rapids for about four hundred feet; but the unbroken upper fall is fifteen hundred feet, and the lower thirteen hundred. In the spring and early summer no more magnificent sight can be imagined than the tourist obtains from a stand-point right in the midst of the spray, driven, as by a wind blowing thirty miles an hour, from the thundering basin of the lower fall. At all seasons Cho-looke is the grandest mountain-waterfall in the known world. While I am speaking of waterfalls, let me not omit “Po-ho-nó,” or “The Bridal Weil,” which was passed on the southern side in our way to the second and about a mile above the first camp. As Tis-sa-ack was a good, so is Po-ho-nó an evil spirit of the Indian mythology. This tradition is scientifically accounted for, in the fact that many Indians have been carried over the fall by the tremendous current both of wind and water forever rushing down a cañon through which the stream breaks from its feeding-lake twelve or fifteen miles before it falls. The savage lowers his voice to a whisper and crouches trembling past Poho-nó; while the very utterance of the name is so dreaded by him that the discoverers of the Valley obtained it with great difficulty. This fall drops on a heap of giant boulders in one unbroken sheet of a thousand feet perpendicular, thus being the next in height among all the Walley cataracts to the Yo-Semite itself, and having a width of fifty feet. Its name of “The Bridal Veil” is one of the few successes in fantastic nomenclature; for, to one viewing it in profile, its snowy sheet, broken into the filmy silver lace of spray, and falling quite free of the brow of the precipice, might well seem the veil worn by the earth at her granite wedding, —no commemorator of any fifty years' bagatelle like the golden one, but crowning the one millionth anniversary of her nuptials. On either side of Po-ho-nó the sky-line of the precipice is magnificently varied. The fall itself cuts a deep gorge into the crown of the battlement. On the southwest border of the fall stands a nobly bold, but nameless rock, three thousand feet in height. Near by is Sentinel Rock, a solitary truncate pinnacle, towering to thirty-three hundred feet. A little further are “Eleachas,” or “The Three Brothers,” flush with the front surface of the precipice, but their upper posterior bounding-planes tilted in three tiers, which reach a height of thirty-four hundred and fifty feet. One of the loveliest places in the Valley is the shore of Lake Ah-wi-yah, a crystal pond of several acres in extent, fed by the north fork of the valley stream, and lying right at the mouth of the narrow strait between the North and South Domes. By this tranquil water we pitched our third camp, and when the rising sun began to shine through the mighty cleft before us, the play of color and chiaroscuro on its rugged walls was something for which an artist apt to oversleep himself might well have sat up all the night. No such precaution was needed by ourselves. Painters, sages, and gentlemen at large, all turned out by dawn; for the studies were grander, the grouse and quail plentier, and the butterflies more gorgeous

« ZurückWeiter »