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thousand five hundred feet elevation), where we had supper, bed, and breakfast.
Next day was much more enjoyable. The road was wonderfully varied, always going up or down, diving into deep wooded valleys with clear and rapid streams, then up the slope, winding round spurs, crossing ridges, and down again into valleys, but always mounting higher and higher. And as we got deeper into the sierra, the vegetation continually changed, the pines became finer both in form, size, and beauty. At about three thousand feet we first saw the beautiful Douglas fir, and the cedar (Libocedruo decurrens), both common in our gardens; then still higher there were silver firs and the fine Picea nobilis, as well as a few of the Big Trees (Sequoia gigantea), the road being cut right through the middle of one of these (at about five thousand eight hundred feet). Higher up still we saw the tamarisk pine (Pinus contorta) and the grand sugar-pine (Pinus Lambertiana) the resin of which is quite sugary, with very little of the turpentine taste; and among these, especially on the valley slopes, is an undergrowth of the beautiful white azalea and the handsome dogwood (Cornus Nuttallii), with very large white bracts. Then on the highest spur (seven thousand feet), where there were still patches of snow, we saw many of the strange snow plants (Sarcodes sanguinea), a thick fleshy root-parasite with a dense spike of flowers of a blood-red colour. It belongs to the heath family, and is allied to our Monotropa hypopitys. The sarcodes is figured in one of Miss North's pictures at Kew. From the summit we descended towards the valley, and then down a steep zigzag road, with the beautiful Bridal Veil Fall opposite, and the grand precipice of El Capitan before us, then into the valley itself with its rushing river, to the hotel in the dusk.
As both hotel and excursions were here very costly, we only stayed two clear days, and went one “excursion” to the Nevada Fall, the grandest, if not the most beautiful, in the
alley. My brother and niece rode up, but I walked to enjoy the scenery, and especially the flowers and ferns and the fine glaciated rocks of the higher valley. The rest of my time I VOL. II.
spent roaming about the valley itself and some of its lower precipices, looking after its flowers, and pondering over its strange, wild, majestic beauty and the mode of its formation. On the latter point I have given my views in an article on "Inaccessible Valleys,” reprinted in my “Studies.” The hotel dining-room looks out upon the Yosemite Falls, which, seen one behind the other, have the appearance of a single broken cascade of more than two thousand five hundred feet. I walked up about a thousand feet to get a nearer view of the upper fall, which, in its ever-changing vapour-streams and water-rockets, is wonderfully beautiful. To enjoy this valley and its surroundings in perfection, a small party should come with baggage-mules and tents, as early in the season as possible when the falls are at their grandest and the flowers in their spring beauty, and where, by camping at different stations in the valley and in the mountains and valleys around it, all its wonderful scenes of grandeur and beauty could be explored and enjoyed. It is one of the regrets of my American tour that I was unable to do this.
Returning from the Nevada Falls on foot, I had the advantage of passing close to the lower Vernal Fall, where a natural parapet of rock enables one to look over and almost touch the water at the brink of the fall, which shoots clear of the rock and falls four hundred feet. Here, with great skill and daring, a series of ladders has been constructed from ledge to ledge to near the foot of the fall, whence a thoroughly alpine path leads down to the main valley. Growing in clefts of the rock, and wetted by the spray of the fall, was the beautiful Pentstemon Newberryi-a dwarf shrub with deep-red flowers, more like those of some ericaceous plant than a pentstemon. On the return journey I noted several interesting plants. At Crockett's (where we dined), a little beyond the summit, there was a vase full of the beautiful orchis Cypripedium montanum, which they told me grew in the bogs near; and I also found the brilliant scarlet Silene Californica. Lower down, the Calochortus venustus was abundant and in richly varied colour, the curious Brodiæa volubilis, and the handsome blue B. grandiflora.
On our way back I turned off at the foot of the hills to visit the Calaveras Grove of big trees which my brother and niece had seen before, and I had to sleep on the way. I stayed three days, examining and measuring the trees, collecting flowers, and walking one day to the much larger south grove six miles off, where there are said to be over a thousand full-grown trees. The walk was very interesting, over hill and valley, through forest all the way, except one small clearing. At a small rocky stream I found the large Saxifraga peltata growing in crevices of rocks just under water, and I passed numbers of fine trees of all the chief pines, firs, and cypresses. At the grove there were numbers of very fine trees, but none quite so large as the largest in the Calaveras Grove. Many of them are named. Agassiz” is thirty-three feet wide at base, and has an enormous hole burnt in it eighteen feet wide and the same depth, and extending upwards ninety feet like a large cavern; yet the tree is in vigorous growth. The Sequoias are here thickly scattered among other pines and firs, sometimes singly, sometimes in groups of five or six together. There are many twin trees growing as a single stem up to twenty or thirty feet, and then dividing. But the chief feature of this grove is the abundance of trees to be seen in every direction, of large or moderate size, and with clean, straight stems showing the brilliant orange-brown tint and silky or plush-like glossy surface, characteristic of the bark of this noble tree when in full health and vigorous growth. In no forest that I am acquainted with is there any tree with so beautiful a bark or with one so thick and elastic.
In the chapter on “Flowers and Forests of the Far West” (in my “Studies "), I have given a summary of the chief facts known about these trees, with particulars of their dimensions and probable age. I need not, therefore, repeat these particulars here. But of all the natural wonders I saw in America, nothing impressed me so much as these glorious trees. Like Niagara, their majesty grows upon one by living among them. The forests of which they form a part contain a number of the finest conifers in the world-trees that
in Europe or in any other Northern forest would take the very first rank. These grand pines are often from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet high, and seven or eight feet in diameter at five feet above the ground, where they spread out to about ten feet. Looked at alone, these are noble trees, and there is every gradation of size up to these. But the Sequoias take a sudden leap, so that the average fullgrown trees are twice this diameter, and the largest three times the diameter of these largest pines ; so that when first found the accounts of the discoveries were disbelieved. My brother told me an interesting story of this discovery. The early miners used to keep a hunter in each camp to procure game for them, venison, and especially bear's meat being highly esteemed. These men used to search the forests for ten or twenty miles round the camps while hunting. The hunter of the highest camp on the Stanislaus river came home one evening, and after supper told them of a big tree he had found that beat all he had ever seen before. It had three times as big a trunk as any tree within ten miles round. Of course they all laughed at him, told him they were not fools: they knew what trees were as well as he did; and
Then he offered to show it them, but none would go ; they would not tramp ten or twelve miles to be made fools of. So the hunter had to bide his time. A week or two afterwards he came home one Saturday night with a small bag of game; but he excused himself by saying that he had got the finest and fattest bear he had ever killed, and as next day was Sunday he thought that six or eight of them would come with him and bring the meat home.
The next morning a large party started early, and after a long walk the hunter brought them suddenly up to the big tree, and, clapping his hand on it, said, “Here's my fat bear. When I called it a tree, you wouldn't believe me. Who's the fool now?” This was the great pavilion tree of the Calaveras Grove, twenty-six feet in diameter at five feet from the ground-over eighty feet in circumference, so that it would (require fourteen tall men with arms outstretched to go round it. This tree was cut down by boring
into the trunk at six feet from the ground with long pumpaugers from each side, so as to meet in the centre. The first fourteen feet was then cut into sections, and one supplied to each of the older States. The rest remains as it fell, and can be walked on to a distance of about two hundred and ten feet from the stump, and here it is still six feet in diameter. To examine this wonderful wreck of the grandest tree then living on our globe is most impressive. The rings on the stump of this tree have been very carefully counted by Professor Bradley, of the University of California, and were found to be 1240, which no doubt gives the age of the tree very accurately, as the winters are here severe, and the season of growth very well marked.
On reaching Stockton, on Saturday evening, I found a letter from Senator Leland Stanford, one of the Californian millionaires whom I had met at Washington, inviting me to visit him at his country house at Menlo Park on the following Monday. Senator Stanford's father was a large farmer near Albany, New York State, who was also the first railroad contractor in America. Up to twenty years of age he had lived and worked for his father. He then became a lawyer, and when his studies were completed, went to Wisconsin to practise. A few years later he removed to California, where he had several brothers who were merchants, and after keeping a store of his own, and thus acquiring business knowledge, he joined them. In 1861 he became Governor of California and President of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, of which he was one of the founders, and by means of which, with the large State and Union subsidies to help its construction and the enormous grants of land which became of value through the making of the railroad, he acquired his great fortune of five or six millions sterling.
When I met him and Mrs. Stanford in Washington, through the introduction of Mrs. Beecher Hooker, it was as a spiritualist, and to talk about spiritualism. Their only son, a youth of sixteen, had died three years before at Florence, and they both assured me that they had since had longcontinued intercourse through several different mediums, and