To “Chokop's" Pass. Sth October, 1860.
The morning was wasted in binding two loose tires upon their respective wheels; it was past noon before we were en route. We shook hands cordially with Uncle Billy, whose generosity—a virtue highly prized by those who, rarely practicing, expect it to be practiced upon them—has won for him the sobriquet of the “Bighearted Father.” He had vainly, however, attempted to rescue my silver pen-holder, whose glitter was too much for Indian virtue. Our route lay over a long divide, cold but not unpicturesque, a scene of light-tinted mountain mahogany, black cedar, pure snowy hill, and pink sky. After ten miles we reached the place where the road forks; that to the right, passing through Pine Valley, falls into the gravelly ford of the Humboldt River, distant from this point eighty to eighty-five miles. After surmounting the water-shed we descended over bench-land into a raw and dreary plain, in which greasewood was more plentiful than sage-bush. “Huntingdon Valley” is traversed by Smith's Fork, which flows northward to the Humboldt River; when we crossed it it was a mere rivulet. Our camping-ground was at the farther end of the plain, under a Pass called after the chief Chokop; the kanyon emitted a cold draught like the breathing caves of Kentucky. We alighted at a water near the entrance, and found bunch-grass, besides a little fuel. After two hours the wagon came up with the stock, which was now becoming weary, and we had the usual supper of dough, butter, and coffee. I should have slept comfortably enough upon a shovel and a layer of carpet-bags had not the furious south wind howled like the distant whooping of Indians.
To the Wilderness again. 9th October.
The frosty night was followed by a thaw in the morning. We hastened to ascend Chokop's Pass by a bad, steep dugway: it lies south of “Railroad Kanyon," which is said to be nearly flat-soled. A descent led into “Moonshine," called by the Yutas Pahannap Valley, and we saw with pleasure the bench rising at the foot of the pass. The station is named Diamond Springs, from an eye of warm, but sweet and beautifully clear water bubbling up from the earth. A little below it drains off in a deep rushy ditch, with a gravel bottom, containing equal parts of comminuted shells: we found it an agreeable and opportune bath. Hard work had begun to tell upon the temper of the party. The judge, who ever preferred monologue to dialogue, aweary of the rolling prairies and barren plains, the bald and rocky ridges, the muddy flats, saleratus ponds, and sandy wastes, sighed monotonously for the woodland shades and the rustling of living leaves near his Pennsylvanian home. The marshal, with true Anglo-American impetuosity, could not endure Paddy Kennedy's “slow and shyure" style of travel; and after a colloquy, in which the holiest of words were freely used as adjectives, participles, and exclamations, offered to fight him by way of quickening his pace. The boys—four or five in number—ate for breakfast a quarter of beef, as though they had been Kaffirs or Esquimaux, and were threatened with ration-cutting. The station folks were Mormons, but not particularly civil: they afterward had to fly before the savages, which, perhaps, they will be pleased to consider a "judgment” upon them.
Shortly after noon we left Diamond Springs, and carried on for a stretch of seven miles to our lunching-ground, a rushy water, black where it overlies mud, and bluish-green where light gravel and shells form the bottom : the taste is sulphury, and it abounds in confervæ and animalculæ like leeches and little tadpoles. After playing a tidy bowie-knife, we remounted, and passed over to the rough divide lying westward of Moonshine Valley. As night had closed in, we found some difficulty in choosing a camping place: at length we pitched upon a prairillon under the lee of a hill, where we had bunch-grass and fuel, but no water. The wind blew sternly through the livelong night, and those who suffered from cramps in cold feet had little to do with the "sweet restorer, balmy sleep."