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look hard-worked, but they look like me. Good bye I God bless you! I hope to make a visit to the East next summer, and then we will get together somewhere by the sea. Good bye!"
He went down the ladder. When the steamer glided off, his bright face sent benedictions after us as far as we could see; and then, for the last time on earth, that great, that good, that beloved man faded from our sight, — but, oh! never from our hearts, either in the here or the hereafter. "We shall see him, but not now." We shall be together with him "in the summer, by the sea "; but that summer shall have other glory than the sun to lighten it, and the sea shall be of crystal.
King was to have joined us in our YoSemite trip. We little knew that we were losing, for this world, our last opportunity of close daily intercourse with his sweet spirit, though we were grievously disappointed when he told us, on the eve of our setting out, that work for the nation must detain him in San Francisco, after all.
If report was true, we were going to the original site of the Garden of Eden, — into a region which out - Bendemered Bendemerc, out - valleyed the valley of Rasselas, surpassed the Alps in its waterfalls, and the Himmal'yeh in its precipices. As for the two former subjects of comparison, we never met any tourist who could adjust the question from his own experience; but the superiority of the Yo-Semite to the Alpme cataracts was a matter put beyond doubt by repeated judgments, and a couple of English officers who had explored the wildest Himmal'yeh scenery told Starr King that there was no precipice in Asia to be compared for height or grandeur. with Tu-toch-anula and Tis-sa-ack.
We were going into the vale whose giant domes and battlements had months before thrown their photographic shadow through Watkins's camera across the mysterious wide continent, causing exclamations of awe at Goupil's window, and eestasy in Dr. Holmes's study. At
Goupil's counter and in Starr King's drawing-room we had gazed on them by the hour already,—I, let me confess it, half a Thomas-a-Didymus to Nature, unwilling to believe the utmost true of her till I could put my finger in her very prints. Now we were going to test her reported largess for ourselves.
No Saratoga affair, this! A total lack of tall trunks, frills, and curling-kids. Driven by the oestrum of a Yo-Semite pilgrimage, the San - Francisco belle forsakes (the Western vernacular is "goes back on") her back-hair, abandons her capillary "waterfalls" for those of the Sierra, and, like John Phoenix's old lady who had her whole osseous system removed by the patent tooth-puller, departs, leaving her "skeleton" behind her. . The bachelor who cares to see uuhooped womanhood once more before he dies should go to the Yo-Semite. The scene was three or four times presented to us during our seven weeks' camp there, —though the trip is one which might well cost a feeble woman her life.
Our male preparations were of the most pioneer description. One wintry day since my return I was riding in a train on the New-York Central, wheu an undaunted herdsman, returning Westward, flushed with the sale of beeves, accosted me with the question,—" Friend, ycou 've travelled consid'able, and believe in the religion of Natur', don't ye ? * "Why so?" I responded. "Them boots," replied my new acquaintance, pointing at a pair with high knee-caps, like those our party wore to the Yo-Semite. Otherwise, we took the oldest clothes we had, — and it is not difficult to find that variety in the trunk of a recent overland stager. We were armed with Ballard rifles, shot-guns, and Colt's revolvers which had come with us across the continent; our ammunition wo got in Sau Francisco, together with all such commissariat-luxuries as were worth transportation: our necessaries we left to be purchased at that jumping-off place of civilization, Mariposa, whence we were to Start our pack-mules into the wilderness Let me recommend tourists like ourselves to include in the former catalogue plenty of canned fruits, sardines, and applebutter, — in the latter, a jug of sirup for the inevitable camp slapjacks. No woodsman, as will presently appear in our narrative, can tell when a slapjack may be the last plank between him and starvation; and to this plank how powerfully sirup enables him to stick I
The only portion of our outfit which would have pleased an exquisite (and he must be rather of the Count -Devereux than the Foppington-Flutter school) was our horseflesh. That greatest of luxuries, a really good saddle-animal, is readily and reasonably attainable in California. Everybody rides there; if you wish to create a sensation with your horsemanship in the streets of San Francisco, you must ride ill, not well: everybody does this last . Even since the horse-railroad has begun to clutter Montgomery Street (the San-Franciscan Boulevards) with its cars, it is a daily matter to see capitalists and statesmen charging through that thoroughfare on a gallop, which, if repeated in Broadway by Henry G. Stebbins, would cost him his reputation on 'Change and his seat in the next Congress. The nation of beggars-on-horseback which first colonized California has left behind it many traditions unworthy of conservation, and multitudinous fleas not at all traditional, but even less keepworthy; but all honor be to the Spaniards, Greasers, and Mixed-Breeds for having rooted the noble idea of horsemanship so firmly in the country that even street-railroads cannot uproot it, and that Americans who never sat even so little as an Atlantic-State's pony, on coming here presently take to the saddle with all their hearts. In most of the smaller Californian towns, a very serviceable half- or quarter-breed saddle-horse is to be had for forty dollars, — the "breed" portion of his blood being drawn from an Eastern stallion, the remaining fraction being native or Mustang stock. This animal, if need be, will live on road-side croppings nearly as well as a mule, —
travel all day long on an easy "lope," never offering to stop till fatigue makes him fall, — and, if you let him, will take you through chaparrals, and up and down precipices at whose bare suggestion an Eastern horse would break his le,gs. Our party, seeking rather more ambitious mounts, supplied itself, after a tour through the San-Francisco stables, with saddle-animals at an average of seventy dollars apiece. This, payable in gold, then amounted to one hundred dollars in notes; but the New-York market could not have furnished us with such horses for one hundred and fifty dollars.
It may seem as if, like most cavalcades, we should never get started, but I must linger a moment to do justice to our accoutrements. If there be a more perfect saddle than the Californian, I would ride bare-back a good way to get it. Anything more unlike the slippery little pad on which we of the East amble about parks and suburban roads cannot be imagined. It is not for a day, but for all time, and for those who spend nearly the latter in it. Its wooden skeleton is as scientifically fitted to the rider's form as an old " incroyable'.i" pair of pantaloons. There is no such thing as getting tired hi or of it. Rising to the lower lumbar vertebrae behind, and in front terminating gracefully in a broad-topped pommel, it enables one to lean back in descending, forward in climbing, the great ridges on the path of California travel,—thus affording capital relief both to one's self and one's horse, and bringing in both from a fifty-miles' march comparatively unjaded.
The stirrups of this saddle are broad hickory hoops, shaped nearly like an Omega upside-down (jj), left unpolished so as to afford the most unshakable footing, covered with a half-shoe of the stoutest leather, which renders it impossible for the toe to slip through or the ankle to foul under any circumstances. Attached to the straps from which these swing is a wide and neatly ornamented stirrup-leather, which effectually prevents the grazing of the rider's leg. The surcingle, or, Californice, the cinch, is a broad strip of hair-cloth with a padded ring at either end through which you reeve and fasten with a half-hitch stout straps sewed to other rings under the saddle-flaps. This arrangement is not only far securer than our Eastern buckle, but enables you to graduate the tightness of your girth much more delicately, and make a far snugger fit .
The only particular in which I could not commend and adopt the native practice was the Mexican bit . It is a dreadful instrument of torture, putting immense leverage in the rider's hands, and enabling him at will to tear the mouth of his horse to pieces; indeed, the horse on which it is used is guided entirely by pressure on the opposite side of the neck from that in which one seeks to turn him. Our Eastern way of drawing his head around would so lift the bit as to drive him frantic. There are very few horses of any breed, even the Mustang, that never stumble; and as I prefer lifting my horse to letting him break his knees or neck, I want a bridle I can pull upon without tearing his mouth. So, in spite of its handsome appearance and the very manageable single white cord into which its two reins are braided, I eschewed the Mexican head-gear, and took the ordinary Eastern snaffle and curb. Immense spurs completed our accoutrement, — whips being here unknown.
I may as well make a word-map of our route before going farther. Pilgrims to the Yo-Scmite ship themselves and their horses from San Francisco by steamer to Stockton. This town is on the San Joaquin, the most northerly of a series of rivers fed directly from the Sierra Nevada water-shed, and here through the middle portion of the State, — a scries, indeed, continued through much of the still lower Pacific coast to the Isthmns of Nicaragua. The Sacramento drains quite a different region, that of the broad plains between the Sierra and Coast ranges, occupying the northern portion of the State, —resembling in its physical features, much more than any of the Pacific streams beside, the large isolated
trunks which drain the east slope of the Alleghanies. The Colorado is almost the only other large river created from many tributaries, which debouches between the Columbia and the Isthmus,—and that rises east of the mathematical axis of the Rocky Mountains. The Yo-Semite valley is one of the cradles through which the short Sierra-draining rivers reach the ocean; its threading stream is the Merced; and if on any good United-States Survey-map you will please to follow that river back to the mountains, when your finger-nail touches the Sierra it will be (or would, were the maps somewhat correcter) in the Great Yo-Semite. You will then see that our course led us across three streams, after leaving the San Joarluin at Stockton en route for Mariposa, — the Stanislaus, the Tuolomne, and the Main Merced. The distance from Stockton to Mariposa is about one hundred miles, a small part of the way between fenced ranches, a much greater part on wide, open, rolling plains, somewhat like those of Nebraska, embraced between the two great ranges of the State. Here and there you find an isolated herdsman or a small settlement dropped down in this not unfruitful waste, and thrice you come to a hybrid town, with a Spanish plaza, and Yankee notions sold around it. We went the distance leisurely, consuming four days to Mariposa, for we stopped here and there to sketch, "peep, and botanize "; besides, we were dragging with us a Jersey wagon, bought second-hand in Stockton, in which we carried our heavier outfit till we should get our extra pack-beasts at Mariposa, and to which we had harnessed for their first time an implacable white mule with an incapable white horse, to neither of which each other's society or their own new trade was congenial.
I shall not linger here as we did there. To an ornithologist the whole road is interesting,— especially to one making a specialty of owls. The only game within easy reach is the dove and the California ground-squirrel,— a big fellow, much like our Northeastern gray, barring the former's subterranean habits. On the plains threaded by the road the pasture is good, save in the extremest drought of summer, when the great herds which usually feed at large on and between the river - bottoms are driven-to the rich green grass in the high valleys of the Sierra, — or ought to be: many cattle died along the San Joaquin last summer for want of this care. Occasionally the road winds through the refreshing shadow of a grove of live - oaks, standing far from any water on a sandy knoll. But the most magnificent trees of the oak family that I ever beheld were growing on the banks of the Tuolomne River, where we forded it at Roberts's Ferry. They were not merely in dimension superior to the finest white-oaks of the East, but surpassed in beauty every tradition of their genus. Their vast gnarled branches followed as exquisite curves as belong to any elm on a NewEngland meadow, and wept at the extremities like those of that else matchless tree,—possessing, moreover, a sumptuous affluence of leafage, an arboreal embonpoint, unknown to their graceful sister of our lowlands. Be sure that we lingered long among their shadows with book and pencil, and look for a desirable acquaintance with new Dryads when they grow into the life of color from our artists' hands.
At Princeton, a thriving suburb of Mariposa, we completed our cavalcade of pack-animals, transferred our wagonload to their backs, (the average mulepack weighs from two hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds,) roped it there in the most approved muletero - fashion, and started into the wilderness.
Let us call the roll. Beside Bierstadt and the two other gentlemen who with myself had formed the original overlandparty, we numbered two young artists of great merit now sojourning for a short time in California, Williams, an old Roman, and Perry, an ancient Diisseldorf friend,—also a highly scientific metallurgist and physicist generally, Dr. John Hewston of San Francisco.
To serve the party we secured a man and a boy. Regarding the former, perhaps the more truthful assertion would be that he secured us; for, as will shortly appear, though We bought his services, he sold us in return. We picked him up in a San-Francisco employment-office, after looking all over the city for a respectable groom and camp-cook, and finding that in a scarce-labor country like California even fifty gold dollars per month, with keep and expenses, were no sufficient bait for the catch we wanted. He was a meagre, wiry fellow, with sandy hair, serviceable - looking hands, and no end to self-recommendations; but then it was impossible to ask after him at his "last place," that having been General Johnston's camp during Buchanan's forcible-feeble occupation of Utah. As he said he had been a teamster, and knew that soup-meat went into cold water, we rushed blindly into an engagement with him, marriage - service fashion, and took him for better or worse. The thing which I think finally " fired our Northern hearts" and clinched the matter was his assertion of nephewship to the Secession Governor Vance, whose name he bore, combined with unswerving personal loyalty. Lest by some future D'Israeli this be written down among the traditional greennesses of learned men, let me say that he was our pis-oiler, — we finding ourselves within two hours of the Stockton boat, with nobody to help pack our mules or care for them and the horses.
The boy we obtained near Mariposa. He was an independent squire to the man of whom we got the extra animals, and accompanied them as a sort of trustee and prochein amy to an orphan family of mules. At fifteen years and in jackets, he was one of the keenest speculators in fire-arms I ever saw; could swap horses or play poker with anybody; and, take him for all in all, in the Eastern States, at least, I shall never look upon his like again.
Thus manned, and leading, turn-about, four or five pack-beasts by as many towlines, we struck up into the well-wooded Sierra foot-hills, commencing our climb at the very outset from Mariposa. The whole distance to the Valley was fifty miles. For twelve of these wo pursued a road in some degree practicable to cart', and leading to one of those inevitable steam saw-mills with which a Yankee always cuts his first swath into the tall grass of Barbarism. Passing the sawmill in the very act of astonishing the wilderness with a dinner - whistle, we struck a trail and fell into single file. Thenceforward our way was almost a continuous alternation of descent and climb over outlying ridges of the Sierra. Our raw - recruited mules, and the elementary condition of our intellects in the science of professional packing, spun out this portion of our journey to three days, — though allowance is to be made for the fact of our stopping at noon of the second day and not resuming our trail till the morning of the third. This interim we spent in visiting the Big Trees, which are situated four or five miles off the Yo-Semite track.
"Clark's," where tourists stop for this purpose, is just half-way between Mariposa and the great Valley. "Clark" himself is one of the best-informed men, one of the very best guides, I ever met in the Californian or any other wilderness. He is a fine-looking, stalwart old grizzly - hunter and miner of the '49 days, wears a noble full beard hued like his favorite game, but no head-covering of any kind since he recovered from a fever which left his head intolerant of even a slouch. He lives among folk, near Mariposa, in the winter, and in summer occupies a hermitage built by himself in one of the loveliest lofty valleys of the Sierra. Here he gives travellers a surprise by the nicest poached eggs and rashers of bacon, home - made bread and wild - strawberry sweetmeats, which they will find in the State.
Before reaching Clark's we had been astonished at the dimensions of the ordinary pines and firs, our trail for miles at a time running through forests where trees one hundred and fifty feet high
were very common and trees of two hundred feet by no means rare, while some of the very largest must have considerably surpassed the latter measurement.
But these were in their turn dwarfed by the Big Trees proper, as thoroughly as themselves would have dwarfed a common Green-Mountain forest, I find no one on this side the continent who believes the literal truth which travellers tell about these marvellous giants. People sometimes think they do, but that is only because they fail to realize the proposition. They have no concrete idea of how the asserted proportions look. Tell a carpenter, or any other man at home with the look of dimensions, what you have seen in the Mariposa-County groves, and his eye grows incredulous in a moment. I freely confess, that, though I always thought I fiad believed travellers in their recitals on this subject, when I saw the trees I found I had bargained to credit no such story as that, and for a moment felt half-reproachful towards the friends who had cheated me of my faith under a misapprehension.
Take the dry statisties of the matter. Out of one hundred and thirty - two trees which have been measured, not one underruns twenty-eight feet in circumference; five range between thirty-two and thirty-six feet; fifty-eight between forty and fifty feet; thirty-four between fifty and sixty; fourteen between sixty and seventy; thirteen between seventy and eighty; two between eighty and ninety ; two between ninety and one hundred; two are just one hundred; and one is one hundred and two. This last, before the storms truncated it, had a height of four hundred feet, I found a rough ladder laid against its trunk,—for it is prostrate,— and climbed upon its side by that and steps cut in the bark. I mounted the swell of the trunk to the butt and there made the measurement which ascertained its diameter as thirty-four feet, — its circumference one hundred and two feet plus a fraction. Of course the thickness of its bark is various, but I cut off some of it to a foot in depth and