Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18, 1859, cont'd

I have found a description that suits, I believe our interest. It is in The City of The Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California by Richard F. Burton, edited with an introduction and notes by Fawn M Brodie, pub 1963 by AA Knopf, NY. This recount of entering the GSL valley begins p209. I believe it is written in 1859, dated August 25 and so is not with our pioneers.

"Hoorah!" Burton writes, "today we are to pass over the Wasatch."
They press themselves against the rougher and steeper road on Big Mountain, four miles from the previous night's camp at Bauchmin's Fork. There are springs that had the gratitude of parched travelers, and slopes grandly wooded with hemlocks, firs, balsam-pines and other varieties of abies. The varied hues of quaking asp, beech, dwarf oak, elders and wild roses. Colors of autumn were mixed with the green of summer.
Big Mountain lies 18 miles from the city, the top is a narrow crest from which the weary pilgrim first sights the object of his long wanderings, hardships and perils.
After a few minutes delay we resumed our travels with wheels rough locked descended what appeared to be an impractible slope.
The pass was cleared of lumber and so was exposed to heat of summer as well as the pests: swarms of devastating crickets, grasshoppers and blueworms. 12 miles from morning camp they came into Big Canyon creek where they drank welcome droughts of cool but rather hard water. their thermometer reading was 103 degrees! The day's travel had taken close 4 hours. From Big Canyon station to the city was "reckoned" to be seventeen miles. We waited till the bright and glaring day had somewhat burned itself out. At noon heavy clouds came up from the south and southwest, casting a grateful shade and shedding a few drops of rain.
After two miles we came to Little Mountain, the near slope shorter but steeper far than Big Mountain. The counterslope easier but by no means pleasant to contemplate with the chance of an accident...ten miles distant from our destination we were miserably bumped and jolted over the broken ground at the head of Big horrid must have been it appearance when the stout-hearted Mormon pioneers first ventured to thread the defile, breaking their way through the dense bush, creeping and clinging like flies to the sides of the hills.
Even then there were evidence of accidents- broken axles, yoke bows. In time the company entered the lower level, now called Emigration canyon which bulges out and its steep slopes fall imperceptibly into the plain. The hour about 6 pm.
The atmosphere, Burton says is touched with a dreamy haze- the mellow radiance of an American autumn, the bright interlude between the extremes of heat and cold diffused its mild soft lustre over the face of earth.
One hundred fifty years ago today, I would not have my ancestors have any other sight as they entered these valleys of the mountains!

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