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The Best Works of John Muir Cruise of the Revenue-Steamer Corwin in AlaskaMy first Summer in the SierraSteep TrailsStickeenThe Grand Cañon of the ColoradoThe Mountains of CaliforniaThe Story of my Boyhood and YouthThe YosemiteTravels in Alaska

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The Best Collection of John Muir

Cruise of the Revenue-Steamer Corwin in Alaska

My first Summer in the Sierra

Steep Trails

Stickeen

The Grand Cañon of the Colorado

The Mountains of California

The Story of my Boyhood and Youth

The Yosemite

Travels in Alaska

Cruise of the Revenue-Steamer Corwin in by John Muir

THE EXECUTIVE DOCUMENTS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

FOR THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FORTY-SEVENTH CONGRESS.

1882-'83.

IN TWENTY-FIVE VOLUMES.

VOLUME 23.

47TH CONGRESS, } HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. { Ex. Doc. 2d Session. } { No. 105.

CRUISE OF THE REVENUE-STEAMER CORWIN IN ALASKA AND THE N. W. ARCTIC OCEAN IN 1881.

NOTES AND MEMORANDA: MEDICAL AND ANTHROPOLOGICAL; BOTANICAL; ORNITHOLOGICAL.

LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY, IN RESPONSE TO

A resolution of the House of Representatives transmitting the observations and notes made during the cruise of the revenue-cutter Corwin in 1881.

MARCH 3, 1883.--Referred to the Committee on Commerce and ordered to be printed.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT, March 3, 1883.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of resolution of the House, dated March 3, 1883, requesting that the Secretary of the Treasury furnish, as soon as convenient, to the Speaker of the House copies of documents in the possession of the Treasury Department containing observations on glaciation, birds, natural history, and the medical notes made upon cruises of revenue-cutters in the year 1881.

In reply, I transmit herewith the observations on glaciation in the Arctic Ocean and the Alaska region, made by Mr. John Muir; notes upon the birds and natural history of Bering Sea and the northwestern region, by Mr. E. W. Nelson; and medical notes and anthropological notes relating to the natives of Alaska and the northwestern Arctic region, made by Dr. Irving C. Rosse.

All these notes were made upon the cruise of the revenue-cutter Corwin in 1881.

Very respectfully,

H. F. FRENCH, Acting Secretary.

Hon. J. W. KEIFER, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

BOTANICAL NOTES ON ALASKA.

BY JOHN MUIR.

BOTANICAL NOTES.

By John Muir.

INTRODUCTORY.

The plants named in the following notes were collected at many localities on the coasts of Alaska and Siberia, and on Saint Lawrence, Wrangel, and Herald Islands, between about latitude 54° and 71°, longitude 161° and 178°, in the course of short excursions, some of them less than an hour in length.

Inasmuch as the flora of the arctic and subarctic regions is nearly the same everywhere, the discovery of many species new to science was not to be expected. The collection, however, will no doubt be valuable for comparison with the plants of other regions.

In general the physiognomy of the vegetation of the polar regions resembles that of the alpine valleys of the temperate zones; so much so that the botanist on the coast of Arctic Siberia or America might readily fancy himself on the Sierra Nevada at a height of 10,000 to 12,000 feet above the sea.

There is no line of perpetual snow on any portion of the arctic regions known to explorers. The snow disappears every summer not only from the low sandy shores and boggy tundras but also from the tops of the mountains and all the upper slopes and valleys with the exception of small patches of drifts and avalanche-heaps hardly noticeable in general views. But though nowhere excessively deep or permanent, the snow-mantle is universal during winter, and the plants are solidly frozen and buried for nearly three-fourths of the year. In this condition they enjoy a sleep and rest about as profound as death, from which they awake in the months of June and July in vigorous health, and speedily reach a far higher development of leaf and flower and fruit than is generally supposed. On the drier banks and hills about Kotzebue Sound, Cape Thompson, and Cape Lisbourne many species show but little climatic repression, and during the long summer days grow tall enough to wave in the wind, and unfold flowers in as rich profusion and as highly colored as may be found in regions lying a thousand miles farther south.

OUNALASKA.

To the botanist approaching any portion of the Aleutian chain of islands from the southward during the winter or spring months, the view is severely desolate and forbidding. The snow comes down to the water's edge in solid white, interrupted only by dark outstanding bluffs with faces too steep for snow to lie on, and by the backs of rounded rocks and long rugged reefs beaten and overswept by heavy breakers rolling in from the Pacific, while throughout nearly every month of the year the higher mountains are wrapped in gloomy dripping storm-clouds.

Nevertheless vegetation here is remarkably close and luxuriant, and crowded with showy bloom, covering almost every foot of the ground up to a height of about a thousand feet above the sea--the harsh trachytic rocks, and even the cindery bases of the craters, as well as the moraines and rough soil beds outspread on the low portions of the short narrow valleys.

On the 20th of May we found the showy Geum glaciale already in flower, also an arctostaphylos and draba, on a slope facing the south, near the harbor of Ounalaska. The willows, too, were then beginning to put forth their catkins, while a multitude of green points were springing up in sheltered spots wherever the snow had vanished. At a height of 400 and 500 feet, however, winter was still unbroken, with scarce a memory of the rich bloom of summer.

During a few short excursions along the shores of Ounalaska Harbor and on two of the adjacent mountains, towards the end of May and beginning of October we saw about fifty species of flowering plants--empetrum, vaccinium, bryanthus, pyrola, arctostaphylos, ledum, cassiope, lupinus, zeranium, epilobium, silene, draba, and saxifraga being the most telling and characteristic of the genera represented. Empetrum nigrum, a bryanthus, and three species of vaccinium make a grand display when in flower and show their massed colors at a considerable distance.

Almost the entire surface of the valleys and hills and lower slopes of the mountains is covered with a dense spongy plush of lichens and mosses similar to that which cover the tundras of the Arctic regions, making a rich green mantle on which the showy flowering plants are strikingly relieved, though these grow far more luxuriantly on the banks of the streams where the drainage is less interrupted. Here also the ferns, of which I saw three species, are taller and more abundant, some of them arching their broad delicate fronds over one's shoulders, while in similar situations the tallest of the five grasses that were seen reaches a height of nearly six feet, and forms a growth close enough for the farmer's scythe.

Not a single tree has yet been seen on any of the islands of the chain west of Kodiak, excepting a few spruces brought from Sitka and planted at Ounalaska by the Russians about fifty years ago. They are still alive in a dwarfed condition, having made scarce any appreciable growth since they were planted. These facts are the more remarkable, since in Southeastern Alaska lying both to the north and south of here, and on the many islands of the Alexander Archipelago, as well as on the mainland, forests of beautiful conifers flourish exuberantly and attain noble dimensions, while the climatic conditions generally do not appear to differ greatly from those that obtain on these treeless islands.

Wherever cattle have been introduced they have prospered and grown fat on the abundance of rich nutritious pasturage to be found almost everywhere in the deep withdrawing valleys and on the green slopes of the hills and mountains, but the wetness of the summer months will always prevent the making of hay in any considerable quantities.

The agricultural possibilities of these islands seem also to be very limited. The hardier of the cereals--rye, barley, and oats--make a good vigorous growth, and head out, but seldom or never mature, on account of insufficient sunshine and overabundance of moisture in the form of long-continued drizzling fogs and rains. Green crops, however, as potatoes, turnips, cabbages, beets, and most other common garden vegetables, thrive wherever the ground is thoroughly drained and has a southerly exposure.

SAINT LAWRENCE ISLAND.

Saint Lawrence Island, as far as our observations extended, is mostly a dreary mass of granite and lava of various forms and colors, roughened with volcanic cones, covered with snow, and rigidly bound in ocean ice for half the year.

Inasmuch as it lies broadsidewise to the direction pursued by the great ice-sheet that recently filled Bering Sea, and its rocks offered unequal resistance to the denuding action of the ice, the island is traversed by numerous ridges and low gap-like valleys all trending in the same general direction, some of the lowest of these transverse valleys having been degraded nearly to the level of the sea, showing that had the glaciation to which the island has been subjected been slightly greater we should have found several islands here instead of one.

At the time of our first visit, May 28, winter still had full possession, but eleven days later we found the dwarf willows, drabas, crizerons, saxifrages pushing up their buds and leaves, on spots bare of snow, with wonderful rapidity. This was the beginning of spring at the northwest end of the island. On July 4 the flora seemed to have reached its highest development. The bottoms of the glacial valleys were in many places covered with tall grasses and carices evenly planted and forming meadows of considerable size, while the drier portions and the sloping grounds about them were enlivened with gay highly-colored flowers from an inch to nearly two feet in height--Aconitum Napellus, L. var. delphinifolium ser. Polemonium coeruleum, L. Papaver nudicaule, Draba alpina, and Silene acaulis in large closely flowered tufts, Andromeda, LedumLinnæa, Cassiope, and several species of Vaccinium and Saxifraga.

SAINT MICHAEL'S.

The region about Saint Michael's is a magnificent tundra, crowded with Arctic lichens and mosses, which here develop under most favorable conditions. In the spongy plush formed by the lower plants, in which one sinks almost knee-deep at every step, there is a sparse growth of grasses, carices, and rushes, tall enough to wave in the wind, while empetrum, the dwarf birch, and the various heathworts flourish here in all their beauty of bright leaves and flowers. The moss mantle for the most part rests on a stratum of ice that never melts to any great extent, and the ice on a bed rock of black vesicular lava. Ridges of the lava rise here and there above the general level in rough masses, affording ground for plants that like a drier soil. Numerous hollows and watercourses also occur on the general tundra, whose well-drained banks are decked with gay flowers in lavish abundance, and meadow patches of grasses shoulder high, suggestive of regions much farther south.

The following plants and a few doubtful species not yet determined were collected here:

Linnæa borealis, Gronov.

Cassiope tetragone, Desv.

Andromeda polifolia, L.

Loiseleuria procumbeus, Desv.

VacciniumVitisIdæa, L.

Arctostaphylosalpina, Spring.

Ledum palustre, L.

Nardosmia frigida, Hook.

Saussurea alpina, Dl.

Senecio frigidus, Less.palustris, Hook.

Arnica angustifolia, Vahl.

Artemisia arctica, Bess.

Matricaria inodora, L.

Rubus chamoe morus, L. arcticus, L.

Potentilla nivea, L.

Dryas octopetala, L.

Draba alpina, L. incana, L.

Entrema arenicola, Hook?

Pedicularis sudetica, Willd.euphrasioides, Steph.

Langsdorffii, Fisch, var. lanata, Gray.

DiapensiaLapponica, L.

Polemoium coeruleum, L.

Primula borealis, Daly.

Oxytropis podocarpa, Gray.

Astragalus alpinus, L. frigidus, Gray, var. littoralis.

Lathyrus maritimus, Bigelow.

Arenaria lateriflora, L.

Stellaria longipes, Goldie.

Silene acaulis, L.

Saxifraga nivalis, L. hieracifolia, W. and K.

Anemone narcissiflora, L. parviflora, Michx.

Caltha palustris, L., var. asarifolia, Rothr.

Valeriana capitata, Willd.

Lloydia serotina, Reichmb.

Tofieldia coccinea, Richards.

Armeria vulgaris, Willd.

Corydalis pauciflora.

PinguiculaVillosa, L.

Mertensia paniculata, Desv.

Polygonum alpinum, All.

Epilobium latifolium, L.

Betula nana, L.

Alnus viridis, Dl.

Eriophorum capitatum.

Carex vulgaris, Willd, var. alpina.

Aspidium fragrans, Swartz.

WoodsiaIloensis, Bv.

GOLOVIN BAY.

The tundra flora on the west side of Golovin Bay is remarkably close and luxuriant, covering almost every foot of the ground, the hills as well as the valleys, while the sandy beach and a bank of coarsely stratified moraine material a few yards back from the beach were blooming like a garden with Lathyrus maritimus, Iris sibirica, Polemonium coeruleum, &c., diversified with clumps and patches of Elymus arenarius, Alnus viridis, and Abies alba.

This is one of the few points on the east side of Bering Sea where trees closely approach the shore. The white spruce occurs here in small groves or thickets of well developed erect trees 15 or 20 feet high, near the level of the sea, at a distance of about 6 or 8 miles from the mouth of the bay, and gradually become irregular and dwarfed as they approach the shore. Here a number of dead and dying specimens were observed, indicating that conditions of soil, climate, and relations to other plants were becoming more unfavorable, and causing the tree-line to recede from the coast.

The following collection was made here July 10:

Pinguicula villosa, L.

Vaccinium vitis Idæa, L.

Spiræa betulæfolia, Pallas.

Rubus arcticus, L.

Epilobium latifolium, L.

Polemonium coevuleum, L.

Trientalis europæa, L. var. arctica, Ledeb.

Entrema arenicola, Hook.

Iris sibirica, L.

Lloydia serotina, Reichemb.

Chrysanthemum arcticum, L.

Artemisia Tilesii, Ledeb.

Arenaria peploides, L.

Gentiana glanca, Pallas.

Elymus arenarius, L.

Poa trivialis, L.

Carexvesicaria, L. var. alpigma, Fries.

Aspidium spinulosum, Sw.

KOTZEBUE SOUND.

The flora of the region about the head of Kotzebue Sound is hardly less luxuriant and rich in species than that of other points visited by the Corwin lying several degrees farther south. Fine nutritious grasses suitable for the fattening of cattle and from 2 to 6 feet high are not of rare occurrence on meadows of considerable extent and along streambanks wherever the stagnant waters of the tundra have been drained off, while in similar localities the most showy of the Arctic plants bloom in all their freshness and beauty, manifesting no sign of frost, or unfavorable conditions of any kind whatever.

A striking result of the airing and draining of the boggy tundra soil is shown on the ice-bluffs around Escholtze Bay, where it has been undermined by the melting of the ice on which it rests. In falling down the face of the ice-wall it is well shaken and rolled before it again comes to rest on terraced or gently sloping portions of the wall. The original vegetation of the tundra is thus destroyed, and tall grasses spring up on the fresh mellow ground as it accumulates from time to time, growing lush and rank, though in many places that we noted these new soil-beds are not more than a foot in depth, and lie on the solid ice.

At the time of our last visit to this interesting region, about the middle of September, the weather was still fine, suggesting the Indian Summer of the Western States. The tundra glowed in the mellow sunshine with the colors of the ripe foliage of vaccinium, empetrum, arctostaphylos, and dwarf birch; red, purple, and yellow, in pure bright tones, while the berries, hardly less beautiful, were scattered everywhere as if they had been sown broadcast with a lavish hand, the whole blending harmoniously with the neutral tints of the furred bed of lichens and mosses on which the bright leaves and berries were painted.

On several points about the sound the white spruce occurs in small compact groves within a few miles of the shore; and pyrola, which belongs to wooded regions, is abundant where no trees are now in sight, tending to show that areas of considerable extent, now treeless, were once forested.

The plants collected are:

Pyrola rotundifolia, L. var. pumila, Hook.

Arctostaphylosalpina, Spring.

Cassiope tetragone, Desr.

Ledum palustre.

VacciniumVitisIdæa, L.

Uliginosum, L. var. mucronata, Hender.

Empetrum nigrum.

Potentilla, anserina, L. var. biflora, Willd.fruticosa.

Stellaria longipes, Goldie.

Cerastium alpinum, L. var. Behringianum.Regel.

Mertensia maritima, Derr.

Papaver nudicale, L.

Saxifraga tricuspidata, Retg.

Trientalis europæa, L. var. arctica, Ledeb.

Lupinus arcticus, Watson.

Hedysarum boreale, Nutt.

Galium boreale, L.

Armeria vulgaris, Willd, var. Arctica, Cham.

Allium schænoprasum, L.

PolygonumViviparum, L.

Castilleia pallida, Kunth.

Pedicularis sudetica, Willd.verticillata, L.

Seneciopalustris, Hook.

Salix polaris, Wahl.

Luzula hyperborea, R. Br.

CAPE THOMPSON.

The Cape Thompson flora is richer in species and individuals than that of any other point on the Arctic shores we have seen, owing no doubt mainly to the better drainage of the ground through the fissured frost-cracked limestone, which hereabouts is the principal rock.

Where the hill-slopes are steepest the rock frequently occurs in loose angular masses and is entirely bare of soil. But between these barren slopes there are valleys where the showiest of the Arctic plants bloom in rich-profusion and variety, forming brilliant masses of color--purple, yellow, and blue--where certain species form beds of considerable size, almost to the exclusion of others.

The following list was obtained here July 19:

Phlox Sibirica, L.

Polemonium humile.Willd.coeruleum, L.

Myosotis sylvatica, var. alpestris.

Eritrichium nanum, var. arctioides, Hedu.

Dodecatheon media, var. frigidum, Gray.

Androsace chamoejasme, Willd.

Anemone narcissiflora, L. multifida, Poir.parviflora, Michx. parviflora, Michx. var.

Ranunculus affinis, R. Br.

Caltha aserifolia, Dl.

Geum glaciale, Fisch.

Dryas octopetala, L.

PolygonumBistorta, L.

RumexCrispus, L.

BoykiniaRichardsonii, Gray.

Saxifraga tricuspidata, Retg.cernua, L. flagellaris, Willd. davarica, Willd. punctata, L. nivalis, L.

Nardosmia carymbosa, Hook?

Erigeron Muirii, Gray, n. sp.

Taraxacum palustre, Dl.

Senicio frigidus, Less.

Artemisia glomerata, Ledt.

Potentilla biflora, Willd.nivea, L.

Draba stellata, Jacq.var. nivalis, Regel. incana, L.

Cardamine pratensis, L.?

Cheiranthus pygmæus, Adans.

Parryanudicaulis, Regel. var. aspera, Regel.

Hedysarum borealis, Nutt.

Oxytropis podocarpa, Gray.

Cerastium alpinum, L. var. Behringianum, Regel.

Silene acaulis, L.

Arenariaverna, L. var. rubella, Hook, f. arctica, Ster.

Stellaria longipes, Goldie.

Artemisia tomentosa.

Pedicularis capitata, Adans.

Papaver nudicaule, L.

Epilobium latifolium, L.

Cassiope tetragone, Desr.

Vaccinium uliginosum, L. var. Mucronata, Hender.vitisidæa, L.

Salix polaris, Wahl, and two other species undetermined.

Festuca Sativa?

Glyceria, ----

Trisetum subspicatum, Beaur, var. Molle, Gray.

Carex variflora, Wahl.vulgaris, Fries, var. Alpina, (C. rigida, Good).

Cystoperis fragilis, Bernt.

CAPE PRINCE OF WALES.

At Cape Prince of Wales we obtained:

Loiseleuria procumbens, Desr.

Andromeda polifolia, L. forma arctica.

VacciniumVitisIdæa, L.

Androsace chamoejasme, Willd.

Tofieldia coccinæa, Richards.

Armeria arctica, Ster.

Taraxacum palustre, Dl.

TWENTY MILES EAST OF CAPE LISBOURNE.

Lychnis apetala, L.

Androsace chamoejasme, Willd.

Geum glaciate, Fisch.

Potentilla nivea, L. biflora, Willd.

Phlox Sibirica, L.

Primula borealis, Daly.

Anemone narcissiflora, L. var.

Oxytropis campestris, Dl.

Erigeron uniflorus, L.

Artemisia glomerata, Ledb.

Saxifraga escholtzii, Sternb.flagellaris, Willd.

Chrysosplenium alternifolium, L.

Draba hirta, L.

CAPE WANKEREM, SIBERIA.

Near Cape Wankerem, August 7 and 8, we collected:

Claytonia Virginica, L.?

Ranunculus pygmæus, Wahl.

PedicularisLangsdorffii, Fisch.

Chrysosplenium alternifolium, L.

Saxifraga cernua, L. stellaris, L. var. cornosa.rivularis, L. var. hyperborea, Hook.

Polemonium coeruleum, L.

Lychnis apetala, L.

Nardosmia frigida, Hook.

Chrysanthemum arcticum, L.

Senecio frigidus, Less.

Artemisia vulgaris, var. Telesii, Ledeb.

Elymus arenarius, L.

Alopocurus alpinus, Smith.

Poa arctica, R. Br.

Calamagrostisdeschampsioides, Trin.?

Luzula hyperborea, R. Br. spicato Desv.

PLOVER BAY, SIBERIA.

The mountains bounding the glacial fiord called Plover Bay, though beautiful in their combinations of curves and peaks as they are seen touching each other delicately and rising in bold, picturesque groups, are nevertheless severely desolate looking from the absence of trees and large shrubs, and indeed of vegetation of any kind dense enough to give color in telling quantities, or to soften the harsh rockiness of the steepest portions of the walls. Even the valleys opening back from the water here and there on either side are mostly bare as seen at a distance of a mile or two, and show only a faint tinge of green, derived from dwarf willows, heathworts, and sedges chiefly.

The most interesting of the plants found here are Rhododendron Kamtschaticum, Pall., and the handsome blue-flowered Saxifraga oppositifolia, L., both of which are abundant.

The following were collected July 12 and August 26:

Gentiana glauca, Pall.

Geum glaciale, Fisch.

Dryas octopetala, L.

Aconitum Napellus, L. var. delphinifolium, Ser.

Saxifraga oppositifolia, L. punctata, L. coespitosa, L.

DiapensiaLapponica, L.

Rhododendron Kamtschaticum, Pall.

Cassiope tetragona, Desv.

Anemone narcissiflora, L.

Arenaria macrocarpa, Pursh.

Draba alpina, L.

ParryaErmanni, Ledb.

Oxytropis, podocarpa, Gray.

HERALD ISLAND.

On Herald Island the common polar cryptogamous vegetation is well represented and developed. So also are the flowering plants, almost the entire surface of the island, with the exception of the sheer crumbling bluffs along the shores, being quite tellingly dotted and tufted with characteristic species. The following list was obtained:

Saxifraga punctata, L.?serpyllifolia, Pursh. sileniflora, Sternb. bronchialis, L. stellaris, L. var. comosa, Poir. rivularis, L. var. hyperborea, Hook. hieracifolia, Waldst & Kit.

Papaver nuedicaule, L.

Draba alpina, L.

GymnandraStelleri, Cham. & Schlecht.

Stellaria longipes, Goldie, var. Edwardsii T. & G.

Senecio frigidus, Less.

Potentillafrigida, Vill.?

Salaxpolaris, Wahl.

Alopecurus alpinus, Smith.

Luzula hyperborea, R. Br.

WRANGEL ISLAND.

Our stay on the one point of Wrangel Island that we touched was far too short to admit of making anything like as full a collection of the plants of so interesting a region as was desirable. We found the rock formation where we landed and for some distance along the coast to the eastward and westward to be a close-grained clay slate, cleaving freely into thin flakes, with here and there a few compact metamorphic masses that rise above the general surface. Where it is exposed along the shore bluffs and kept bare of vegetation and soil by the action of the ocean, ice, and heavy snow-drifts the rock presents a surface about as black as coal, without even a moss or lichen to enliven its sombre gloom. But when this dreary barrier is passed the surface features of the country in general are found to be finely molded and collocated, smooth valleys, wide as compared with their depth, trending back from the shore to a range of mountains that appear blue in the distance, and round-topped hills, with their side curves finely drawn, touching and blending in beautiful groups, while scarce a single rock-pile is seen or sheer-walled bluff to break the general smoothness.

The soil has evidently been derived mostly from the underlying slates, though a few fragmentary wasting moraines were observed containing traveled boulders of quartz and granite which doubtless were brought from the mountains of the interior by glaciers that have recently vanished--so recently that the outlines and sculptured hollows and grooves of the mountains have not as yet suffered sufficient post glacial denudation to mar appreciably their glacial characters.

The banks of the river at the mouth of which we landed presented a striking contrast as to vegetation to that of any other stream we had seen in the Arctic regions. The tundra vegetation was not wholly absent, but the mosses and lichens of which it is elsewhere composed are about as feebly developed as possible, and instead of forming a continuous covering they occur in small separate tufts, leaving the ground between them raw and bare as that of a newly-ploughed field. The phanerogamous plants, both on the lowest grounds and the slopes and hilltops as far as seen, were in the same severely repressed condition and as sparsely planted in tufts an inch or two in diameter, with about from one to three feet of naked soil between them. Some portions of the coast, however, farther south presented a greenish hue as seen from the ship at a distance of eight or ten miles, owing no doubt to vegetation growing under less unfavorable conditions.

From an area of about half a square mile the following plants were collected:

Saxifraga flegellaris, Willd.stellaris, L. var. cornosa, Poir. sileneflora, Sternb. hieracifolia, Waldst. & Kit.rivularis, L. var. hyperborea, Hook. bronchialis, L. serpyllifolia, Pursh.

Anemone parviflora, Michx.

Papaver nudicaule, L.

Draba alpina, L.

Cochleria officinalis, L.

Artemisia borealis, Willd.

Nardosmia frigida, Hook.

Saussurea monticola, Richards.

Senecio frigidus, Less.

Potentillanivea, L. frigida, Vill.?

Armeria macrocarpa, Pursh.vulgaris, Willd.

Stellaria longipes, Goldie, var. Edwardsii T. & G.

Cerastium alpinum, L.

Gymnandra Stelleri, Chain & Schlecht.

Salix polaris, Wahl.

Luzulu hyperborea, R. Br.

Poa arctica, R. Br.

Aira cæspitosa, L. var. Arctica.

Alopecurus alpinus, Smith.

My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir

THE WRITINGS OF JOHN MUIR

Sierra Edition

VOLUME II

[Illustration: The Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park]

MY FIRST SUMMER IN THE SIERRA

BY

JOHN MUIR

[Illustration]

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

1917

TO

THE SIERRA CLUB OF CALIFORNIA

FAITHFUL DEFENDER OF THE PEOPLE'S PLAYGROUNDS

CONTENTS

I. THROUGH THE FOOTHILLS WITH A FLOCK OF SHEEP 3

II. IN CAMP ON THE NORTH FORK OF THE MERCED 32

III. A BREAD FAMINE 75

IV. TO THE HIGH MOUNTAINS 86

V. THE YOSEMITE 115

VI. MOUNT HOFFMAN AND LAKE TENAYA 149

VII. A STRANGE EXPERIENCE 178

VIII. THE MONO TRAIL 195

IX. BLOODY CAÑON AND MONO LAKE 214

X. THE TUOLUMNE CAMP 232

XI. BACK TO THE LOWLANDS 254

INDEX 265

MY FIRST SUMMER IN THE SIERRA

CHAPTER I

THROUGH THE FOOTHILLS WITH A FLOCK OF SHEEP

In the great Central Valley of California there are only two seasons--spring and summer. The spring begins with the first rainstorm, which usually falls in November. In a few months the wonderful flowery vegetation is in full bloom, and by the end of May it is dead and dry and crisp, as if every plant had been roasted in an oven.

Then the lolling, panting flocks and herds are driven to the high, cool, green pastures of the Sierra. I was longing for the mountains about this time, but money was scarce and I couldn't see how a bread supply was to be kept up. While I was anxiously brooding on the bread problem, so troublesome to wanderers, and trying to believe that I might learn to live like the wild animals, gleaning nourishment here and there from seeds, berries, etc., sauntering and climbing in joyful independence of money or baggage, Mr. Delaney, a sheep-owner, for whom I had worked a few weeks, called on me, and offered to engage me to go with his shepherd and flock to the headwaters of the Merced and Tuolumne rivers--the very region I had most in mind. I was in the mood to accept work of any kind that would take me into the mountains whose treasures I had tasted last summer in the Yosemite region. The flock, he explained, would be moved gradually higher through the successive forest belts as the snow melted, stopping for a few weeks at the best places we came to. These I thought would be good centers of observation from which I might be able to make many telling excursions within a radius of eight or ten miles of the camps to learn something of the plants, animals, and rocks; for he assured me that I should be left perfectly free to follow my studies. I judged, however, that I was in no way the right man for the place, and freely explained my shortcomings, confessing that I was wholly unacquainted with the topography of the upper mountains, the streams that would have to be crossed, and the wild sheep-eating animals, etc.; in short that, what with bears, coyotes, rivers, cañons, and thorny, bewildering chaparral, I feared that half or more of his flock would be lost. Fortunately these shortcomings seemed insignificant to Mr. Delaney. The main thing, he said, was to have a man about the camp whom he could trust to see that the shepherd did his duty, and he assured me that the difficulties that seemed so formidable at a distance would vanish as we went on; encouraging me further by saying that the shepherd would do all the herding, that I could study plants and rocks and scenery as much as I liked, and that he would himself accompany us to the first main camp and make occasional visits to our higher ones to replenish our store of provisions and see how we prospered. Therefore I concluded to go, though still fearing, when I saw the silly sheep bouncing one by one through the narrow gate of the home corral to be counted, that of the two thousand and fifty many would never return.

I was fortunate in getting a fine St. Bernard dog for a companion. His master, a hunter with whom I was slightly acquainted, came to me as soon as he heard that I was going to spend the summer in the Sierra and begged me to take his favorite dog, Carlo, with me, for he feared that if he were compelled to stay all summer on the plains the fierce heat might be the death of him. "I think I can trust you to be kind to him," he said, "and I am sure he will be good to you. He knows all about the mountain animals, will guard the camp, assist in managing the sheep, and in every way be found able and faithful." Carlo knew we were talking about him, watched our faces, and listened so attentively that I fancied he understood us. Calling him by name, I asked him if he was willing to go with me. He looked me in the face with eyes expressing wonderful intelligence, then turned to his master, and after permission was given by a wave of the hand toward me and a farewell patting caress, he quietly followed me as if he perfectly understood all that had been said and had known me always.

* * * * *

June 3, 1869. This morning provisions, camp-kettles, blankets, plant-press, etc., were packed on two horses, the flock headed for the tawny foothills, and away we sauntered in a cloud of dust: Mr. Delaney, bony and tall, with sharply hacked profile like Don Quixote, leading the pack-horses, Billy, the proud shepherd, a Chinaman and a Digger Indian to assist in driving for the first few days in the brushy foothills, and myself with notebook tied to my belt.

The home ranch from which we set out is on the south side of the Tuolumne River near French Bar, where the foothills of metamorphic gold-bearing slates dip below the stratified deposits of the Central Valley. We had not gone more than a mile before some of the old leaders of the flock showed by the eager, inquiring way they ran and looked ahead that they were thinking of the high pastures they had enjoyed last summer. Soon the whole flock seemed to be hopefully excited, the mothers calling their lambs, the lambs replying in tones wonderfully human, their fondly quavering calls interrupted now and then by hastily snatched mouthfuls of withered grass. Amid all this seeming babel of baas as they streamed over the hills every mother and child recognized each other's voice. In case a tired lamb, half asleep in the smothering dust, should fail to answer, its mother would come running back through the flock toward the spot whence its last response was heard, and refused to be comforted until she found it, the one of a thousand, though to our eyes and ears all seemed alike.

The flock traveled at the rate of about a mile an hour, outspread in the form of an irregular triangle, about a hundred yards wide at the base, and a hundred and fifty yards long, with a crooked, ever-changing point made up of the strongest foragers, called the "leaders," which, with the most active of those scattered along the ragged sides of the "main body," hastily explored nooks in the rocks and bushes for grass and leaves; the lambs and feeble old mothers dawdling in the rear were called the "tail end."

[Illustration: Sheep in the Mountains]

About noon the heat was hard to bear; the poor sheep panted pitifully and tried to stop in the shade of every tree they came to, while we gazed with eager longing through the dim burning glare toward the snowy mountains and streams, though not one was in sight. The landscape is only wavering foothills roughened here and there with bushes and trees and outcropping masses of slate. The trees, mostly the blue oak (Quercus Douglasii), are about thirty to forty feet high, with pale blue-green leaves and white bark, sparsely planted on the thinnest soil or in crevices of rocks beyond the reach of grass fires. The slates in many places rise abruptly through the tawny grass in sharp lichen-covered slabs like tombstones in deserted burying-grounds. With the exception of the oak and four or five species of manzanita and ceanothus, the vegetation of the foothills is mostly the same as that of the plains. I saw this region in the early spring, when it was a charming landscape garden full of birds and bees and flowers. Now the scorching weather makes everything dreary. The ground is full of cracks, lizards glide about on the rocks, and ants in amazing numbers, whose tiny sparks of life only burn the brighter with the heat, fairly quiver with unquenchable energy as they run in long lines to fight and gather food. How it comes that they do not dry to a crisp in a few seconds' exposure to such sun-fire is marvelous. A few rattlesnakes lie coiled in out-of-the-way places, but are seldom seen. Magpies and crows, usually so noisy, are silent now, standing in mixed flocks on the ground beneath the best shade trees, with bills wide open and wings drooped, too breathless to speak; the quails also are trying to keep in the shade about the few tepid alkaline water-holes; cottontail rabbits are running from shade to shade among the ceanothus brush, and occasionally the long-eared hare is seen cantering gracefully across the wider openings.

After a short noon rest in a grove, the poor dust-choked flock was again driven ahead over the brushy hills, but the dim roadway we had been following faded away just where it was most needed, compelling us to stop to look about us and get our bearings. The Chinaman seemed to think we were lost, and chattered in pidgin English concerning the abundance of "litty stick" (chaparral), while the Indian silently scanned the billowy ridges and gulches for openings. Pushing through the thorny jungle, we at length discovered a road trending toward Coulterville, which we followed until an hour before sunset, when we reached a dry ranch and camped for the night.

Camping in the foothills with a flock of sheep is simple and easy, but far from pleasant. The sheep were allowed to pick what they could find in the neighborhood until after sunset, watched by the shepherd, while the others gathered wood, made a fire, cooked, unpacked and fed the horses, etc. About dusk the weary sheep were gathered on the highest open spot near camp, where they willingly bunched close together, and after each mother had found her lamb and suckled it, all lay down and required no attention until morning.

Supper was announced by the call, "Grub!" Each with a tin plate helped himself direct from the pots and pans while chatting about such camp studies as sheep-feed, mines, coyotes, bears, or adventures during the memorable gold days of pay dirt. The Indian kept in the background, saying never a word, as if he belonged to another species. The meal finished, the dogs were fed, the smokers smoked by the fire, and under the influences of fullness and tobacco the calm that settled on their faces seemed almost divine, something like the mellow meditative glow portrayed on the countenances of saints. Then suddenly, as if awakening from a dream, each with a sigh or a grunt knocked the ashes out of his pipe, yawned, gazed at the fire a few moments, said, "Well, I believe I'll turn in," and straightway vanished beneath his blankets. The fire smouldered and flickered an hour or two longer; the stars shone brighter; coons, coyotes, and owls stirred the silence here and there, while crickets and hylas made a cheerful, continuous music, so fitting and full that it seemed a part of the very body of the night. The only discordance came from a snoring sleeper, and the coughing sheep with dust in their throats. In the starlight the flock looked like a big gray blanket.

June 4. The camp was astir at daybreak; coffee, bacon, and beans formed the breakfast, followed by quick dish-washing and packing. A general bleating began about sunrise. As soon as a mother ewe arose, her lamb came bounding and bunting for its breakfast, and after the thousand youngsters had been suckled the flock began to nibble and spread. The restless wethers with ravenous appetites were the first to move, but dared not go far from the main body. Billy and the Indian and the Chinaman kept them headed along the weary road, and allowed them to pick up what little they could find on a breadth of about a quarter of a mile. But as several flocks had already gone ahead of us, scarce a leaf, green or dry, was left; therefore the starving flock had to be hurried on over the bare, hot hills to the nearest of the green pastures, about twenty or thirty miles from here.

The pack-animals were led by Don Quixote, a heavy rifle over his shoulder intended for bears and wolves. This day has been as hot and dusty as the first, leading over gently sloping brown hills, with mostly the same vegetation, excepting the strange-looking Sabine pine (Pinus Sabiniana), which here forms small groves or is scattered among the blue oaks. The trunk divides at a height of fifteen or twenty feet into two or more stems, outleaning or nearly upright, with many straggling branches and long gray needles, casting but little shade. In general appearance this tree looks more like a palm than a pine. The cones are about six or seven inches long, about five in diameter, very heavy, and last long after they fall, so that the ground beneath the trees is covered with them. They make fine resiny, light-giving camp-fires, next to ears of Indian corn the most beautiful fuel I've ever seen. The nuts, the Don tells me, are gathered in large quantities by the Digger Indians for food. They are about as large and hard-shelled as hazelnuts--food and fire fit for the gods from the same fruit.

June 5. This morning a few hours after setting out with the crawling sheep-cloud, we gained the summit of the first well-defined bench on the mountain-flank at Pino Blanco. The Sabine pines interest me greatly. They are so airy and strangely palm-like I was eager to sketch them, and was in a fever of excitement without accomplishing much. I managed to halt long enough, however, to make a tolerably fair sketch of Pino Blanco peak from the southwest side, where there is a small field and vineyard irrigated by a stream that makes a pretty fall on its way down a gorge by the roadside.

After gaining the open summit of this first bench, feeling the natural exhilaration due to the slight elevation of a thousand feet or so, and the hopes excited concerning the outlook to be obtained, a magnificent section of the Merced Valley at what is called Horseshoe Bend came full in sight--a glorious wilderness that seemed to be calling with a thousand songful voices. Bold, down-sweeping slopes, feathered with pines and clumps of manzanita with sunny, open spaces between them, make up most of the foreground; the middle and background present fold beyond fold of finely modeled hills and ridges rising into mountain-like masses in the distance, all covered with a shaggy growth of chaparral, mostly adenostoma, planted so marvelously close and even that it looks like soft, rich plush without a single tree or bare spot. As far as the eye can reach it extends, a heaving, swelling sea of green as regular and continuous as that produced by the heaths of Scotland. The sculpture of the landscape is as striking in its main lines as in its lavish richness of detail; a grand congregation of massive heights with the river shining between, each carved into smooth, graceful folds without leaving a single rocky angle exposed, as if the delicate fluting and ridging fashioned out of metamorphic slates had been carefully sandpapered. The whole landscape showed design, like man's noblest sculptures. How wonderful the power of its beauty! Gazing awe-stricken, I might have left everything for it. Glad, endless work would then be mine tracing the forces that have brought forth its features, its rocks and plants and animals and glorious weather. Beauty beyond thought everywhere, beneath, above, made and being made forever. I gazed and gazed and longed and admired until the dusty sheep and packs were far out of sight, made hurried notes and a sketch, though there was no need of either, for the colors and lines and expression of this divine landscape-countenance are so burned into mind and heart they surely can never grow dim.

[Illustration: HORSESHOE BEND, MERCED RIVER]

[Illustration: ON SECOND BENCH. EDGE OF THE MAIN FOREST BELT ABOVE COULTERVILLE, NEAR GREELEY'S MILL]

The evening of this charmed day is cool, calm, cloudless, and full of a kind of lightning I have never seen before--white glowing cloud-shaped masses down among the trees and bushes, like quick-throbbing fireflies in the Wisconsin meadows rather than the so-called "wild fire." The spreading hairs of the horses' tails and sparks from our blankets show how highly charged the air is.

June 6. We are now on what may be called the second bench or plateau of the Range, after making many small ups and downs over belts of hill-waves, with, of course, corresponding changes in the vegetation. In open spots many of the lowland compositæ are still to be found, and some of the Mariposa tulips and other conspicuous members of the lily family; but the characteristic blue oak of the foothills is left below, and its place is taken by a fine large species (Quercus Californica) with deeply lobed deciduous leaves, picturesquely divided trunk, and broad, massy, finely lobed and modeled head. Here also at a height of about twenty-five hundred feet we come to the edge of the great coniferous forest, made up mostly of yellow pine with just a few sugar pines. We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,--a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal. Just now I can hardly conceive of any bodily condition dependent on food or breath any more than the ground or the sky. How glorious a conversion, so complete and wholesome it is, scarce memory enough of old bondage days left as a standpoint to view it from! In this newness of life we seem to have been so always.

Through a meadow opening in the pine woods I see snowy peaks about the headwaters of the Merced above Yosemite. How near they seem and how clear their outlines on the blue air, or rather in the blue air; for they seem to be saturated with it. How consuming strong the invitation they extend! Shall I be allowed to go to them? Night and day I'll pray that I may, but it seems too good to be true. Some one worthy will go, able for the Godful work, yet as far as I can I must drift about these love-monument mountains, glad to be a servant of servants in so holy a wilderness.

Found a lovely lily (Calochortus albus) in a shady adenostoma thicket near Coulterville, in company with Adiantum Chilense. It is white with a faint purplish tinge inside at the base of the petals, a most impressive plant, pure as a snow crystal, one of the plant saints that all must love and be made so much the purer by it every time it is seen. It puts the roughest mountaineer on his good behavior. With this plant the whole world would seem rich though none other existed. It is not easy to keep on with the camp cloud while such plant people are standing preaching by the wayside.

During the afternoon we passed a fine meadow bounded by stately pines, mostly the arrowy yellow pine, with here and there a noble sugar pine, its feathery arms outspread above the spires of its companion species in marked contrast; a glorious tree, its cones fifteen to twenty inches long, swinging like tassels at the ends of the branches with superb ornamental effect. Saw some logs of this species at the Greeley Mill. They are round and regular as if turned in a lathe, excepting the butt cuts, which have a few buttressing projections. The fragrance of the sugary sap is delicious and scents the mill and lumber yard. How beautiful the ground beneath this pine thickly strewn with slender needles and grand cones, and the piles of cone-scales, seed-wings and shells around the instep of each tree where the squirrels have been feasting! They get the seeds by cutting off the scales at the base in regular order, following their spiral arrangement, and the two seeds at the base of each scale, a hundred or two in a cone, must make a good meal. The yellow pine cones and those of most other species and genera are held upside down on the ground by the Douglas squirrel, and turned around gradually until stripped, while he sits usually with his back to a tree, probably for safety. Strange to say, he never seems to get himself smeared with gum, not even his paws or whiskers--and how cleanly and beautiful in color the cone-litter kitchen-middens he makes.

We are now approaching the region of clouds and cool streams. Magnificent white cumuli appeared about noon above the Yosemite region,--floating fountains refreshing the glorious wilderness,--sky mountains in whose pearly hills and dales the streams take their rise,--blessing with cooling shadows and rain. No rock landscape is more varied in sculpture, none more delicately modeled than these landscapes of the sky; domes and peaks rising, swelling, white as finest marble and firmly outlined, a most impressive manifestation of world building. Every rain-cloud, however fleeting, leaves its mark, not only on trees and flowers whose pulses are quickened, and on the replenished streams and lakes, but also on the rocks are its marks engraved whether we can see them or not.

I have been examining the curious and influential shrub Adenostoma fasciculata, first noticed about Horseshoe Bend. It is very abundant on the lower slopes of the second plateau near Coulterville, forming a dense, almost impenetrable growth that looks dark in the distance. It belongs to the rose family, is about six or eight feet high, has small white flowers in racemes eight to twelve inches long, round needle-like leaves, and reddish bark that becomes shreddy when old. It grows on sun-beaten slopes, and like grass is often swept away by running fires, but is quickly renewed from the roots. Any trees that may have established themselves in its midst are at length killed by these fires, and this no doubt is the secret of the unbroken character of its broad belts. A few manzanitas, which also rise again from the root after consuming fires, make out to dwell with it, also a few bush compositæ--baccharis and linosyris, and some liliaceous plants, mostly calochortus and brodiæa, with deepset bulbs safe from fire. A multitude of birds and "wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beasties" find good homes in its deepest thickets, and the open bays and lanes that fringe the margins of its main belts offer shelter and food to the deer when winter storms drive them down from their high mountain pastures. A most admirable plant! It is now in bloom, and I like to wear its pretty fragrant racemes in my buttonhole.

Azalea occidentalis, another charming shrub, grows beside cool streams hereabouts and much higher in the Yosemite region. We found it this evening in bloom a few miles above Greeley's Mill, where we are camped for the night. It is closely related to the rhododendrons, is very showy and fragrant, and everybody must like it not only for itself but for the shady alders and willows, ferny meadows, and living water associated with it.

Another conifer was met to-day,--incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), a large tree with warm yellow-green foliage in flat plumes like those of arborvitæ, bark cinnamon-colored, and as the boles of the old trees are without limbs they make striking pillars in the woods where the sun chances to shine on them--a worthy companion of the kingly sugar and yellow pines. I feel strangely attracted to this tree. The brown close-grained wood, as well as the small scale-like leaves, is fragrant, and the flat overlapping plumes make fine beds, and must shed the rain well. It would be delightful to be storm-bound beneath one of these noble, hospitable, inviting old trees, its broad sheltering arms bent down like a tent, incense rising from the fire made from its dry fallen branches, and a hearty wind chanting overhead. But the weather is calm to-night, and our camp is only a sheep camp. We are near the North Fork of the Merced. The night wind is telling the wonders of the upper mountains, their snow fountains and gardens, forests and groves; even their topography is in its tones. And the stars, the everlasting sky lilies, how bright they are now that we have climbed above the lowland dust! The horizon is bounded and adorned by a spiry wall of pines, every tree harmoniously related to every other; definite symbols, divine hieroglyphics written with sunbeams. Would I could understand them! The stream flowing past the camp through ferns and lilies and alders makes sweet music to the ear, but the pines marshaled around the edge of the sky make a yet sweeter music to the eye. Divine beauty all. Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased, would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between us.

June 7. The sheep were sick last night, and many of them are still far from well, hardly able to leave camp, coughing, groaning, looking wretched and pitiful, all from eating the leaves of the blessed azalea. So at least say the shepherd and the Don. Having had but little grass since they left the plains, they are starving, and so eat anything green they can get. "Sheep men" call azalea "sheep-poison," and wonder what the Creator was thinking about when he made it,--so desperately does sheep business blind and degrade, though supposed to have a refining influence in the good old days we read of. The California sheep owner is in haste to get rich, and often does, now that pasturage costs nothing, while the climate is so favorable that no winter food supply, shelter-pens, or barns are required. Therefore large flocks may be kept at slight expense, and large profits realized, the money invested doubling, it is claimed, every other year. This quickly acquired wealth usually creates desire for more. Then indeed the wool is drawn close down over the poor fellow's eyes, dimming or shutting out almost everything worth seeing.

As for the shepherd, his case is still worse, especially in winter when he lives alone in a cabin. For, though stimulated at times by hopes of one day owning a flock and getting rich like his boss, he at the same time is likely to be degraded by the life he leads, and seldom reaches the dignity or advantage--or disadvantage--of ownership. The degradation in his case has for cause one not far to seek. He is solitary most of the year, and solitude to most people seems hard to bear. He seldom has much good mental work or recreation in the way of books. Coming into his dingy hovel-cabin at night, stupidly weary, he finds nothing to balance and level his life with the universe. No, after his dull drag all day after the sheep, he must get his supper; he is likely to slight this task and try to satisfy his hunger with whatever comes handy. Perhaps no bread is baked; then he just makes a few grimy flapjacks in his unwashed frying-pan, boils a handful of tea, and perhaps fries a few strips of rusty bacon. Usually there are dried peaches or apples in the cabin, but he hates to be bothered with the cooking of them, just swallows the bacon and flapjacks, and depends on the genial stupefaction of tobacco for the rest. Then to bed, often without removing the clothing worn during the day. Of course his health suffers, reacting on his mind; and seeing nobody for weeks or months, he finally becomes semi-insane or wholly so.

The shepherd in Scotland seldom thinks of being anything but a shepherd. He has probably descended from a race of shepherds and inherited a love and aptitude for the business almost as marked as that of his collie. He has but a small flock to look after, sees his family and neighbors, has time for reading in fine weather, and often carries books to the fields with which he may converse with kings. The oriental shepherd, we read, called his sheep by name; they knew his voice and followed him. The flocks must have been small and easily managed, allowing piping on the hills and ample leisure for reading and thinking. But whatever the blessings of sheep-culture in other times and countries, the California shepherd, as far as I've seen or heard, is never quite sane for any considerable time. Of all Nature's voices baa is about all he hears. Even the howls and ki-yis of coyotes might be blessings if well heard, but he hears them only through a blur of mutton and wool, and they do him no good.

The sick sheep are getting well, and the shepherd is discoursing on the various poisons lurking in these high pastures--azalea, kalmia, alkali. After crossing the North Fork of the Merced we turned to the left toward Pilot Peak, and made a considerable ascent on a rocky, brush-covered ridge to Brown's Flat, where for the first time since leaving the plains the flock is enjoying plenty of green grass. Mr. Delaney intends to seek a permanent camp somewhere in the neighborhood, to last several weeks.

Before noon we passed Bower Cave, a delightful marble palace, not dark and dripping, but filled with sunshine, which pours into it through its wide-open mouth facing the south. It has a fine, deep, clear little lake with mossy banks embowered with broad-leaved maples, all under ground, wholly unlike anything I have seen in the cave line even in Kentucky, where a large part of the State is honeycombed with caves. This curious specimen of subterranean scenery is located on a belt of marble that is said to extend from the north end of the Range to the extreme south. Many other caves occur on the belt, but none like this, as far as I have learned, combining as it does sunny outdoor brightness and vegetation with the crystalline beauty of the underworld. It is claimed by a Frenchman, who has fenced and locked it, placed a boat on the lakelet and seats on the mossy bank under the maple trees, and charges a dollar admission fee. Being on one of the ways to the Yosemite Valley, a good many tourists visit it during the travel months of summer, regarding it as an interesting addition to their Yosemite wonders.

Poison oak or poison ivy (Rhus diversiloba), both as a bush and a scrambler up trees and rocks, is common throughout the foothill region up to a height of at least three thousand feet above the sea. It is somewhat troublesome to most travelers, inflaming the skin and eyes, but blends harmoniously with its companion plants, and many a charming flower leans confidingly upon it for protection and shade. I have oftentimes found the curious twining lily (Stropholirion Californicum) climbing its branches, showing no fear but rather congenial companionship. Sheep eat it without apparent ill effects; so do horses to some extent, though not fond of it, and to many persons it is harmless. Like most other things not apparently useful to man, it has few friends, and the blind question, "Why was it made?" goes on and on with never a guess that first of all it might have been made for itself.

Brown's Flat is a shallow fertile valley on the top of the divide between the North Fork of the Merced and Bull Creek, commanding magnificent views in every direction. Here the adventurous pioneer David Brown made his headquarters for many years, dividing his time between gold-hunting and bear-hunting. Where could lonely hunter find a better solitude? Game in the woods, gold in the rocks, health and exhilaration in the air, while the colors and cloud furniture of the sky are ever inspiring through all sorts of weather. Though sternly practical, like most pioneers, old David seems to have been uncommonly fond of scenery. Mr. Delaney, who knew him well, tells me that he dearly loved to climb to the summit of a commanding ridge to gaze abroad over the forest to the snow-clad peaks and sources of the rivers, and over the foreground valleys and gulches to note where miners were at work or claims were abandoned, judging by smoke from cabins and camp-fires, the sounds of axes, etc.; and when a rifle-shot was heard, to guess who was the hunter, whether Indian or some poacher on his wide domain. His dog Sandy accompanied him everywhere, and well the little hairy mountaineer knew and loved his master and his master's aims. In deer-hunting he had but little to do, trotting behind his master as he slowly made his way through the wood, careful not to step heavily on dry twigs, scanning open spots in the chaparral, where the game loves to feed in the early morning and towards sunset; peering cautiously over ridges as new outlooks were reached, and along the meadowy borders of streams. But when bears were hunted, little Sandy became more important, and it was as a bear-hunter that Brown became famous. His hunting method, as described by Mr. Delaney, who had passed many a night with him in his lonely cabin and learned his stories, was simply to go slowly and silently through the best bear pastures, with his dog and rifle and a few pounds of flour, until he found a fresh track and then follow it to the death, paying no heed to the time required. Wherever the bear went he followed, led by little Sandy, who had a keen nose and never lost the track, however rocky the ground. When high open points were reached, the likeliest places were carefully scanned. The time of year enabled the hunter to determine approximately where the bear would be found,--in the spring and early summer on open spots about the banks of streams and springy places eating grass and clover and lupines, or in dry meadows feasting on strawberries; toward the end of summer, on dry ridges, feasting on manzanita berries, sitting on his haunches, pulling down the laden branches with his paws, and pressing them together so as to get good compact mouthfuls however much mixed with twigs and leaves; in the Indian summer, beneath the pines, chewing the cones cut off by the squirrels, or occasionally climbing a tree to gnaw and break off the fruitful branches. In late autumn, when acorns are ripe, Bruin's favorite feeding-grounds are groves of the California oak in park-like cañon flats. Always the cunning hunter knew where to look, and seldom came upon Bruin unawares. When the hot scent showed the dangerous game was nigh, a long halt was made, and the intricacies of the topography and vegetation leisurely scanned to catch a glimpse of the shaggy wanderer, or to at least determine where he was most likely to be.