Whitney landscape. Photo by Dan Hurt
Whitney landscape | Photo by Dan Hurt | CC BY SA 2.0

Bakersfield, Cal.
Aug 17, 1883

My Dear Ones,

As I have just an hour to spare I’ll try to give you a short sketch of our trip.  (Let me hug you all around first & say I am so happy because you’re so happy I’m happy that you are coming down and that I didn’t have to tease much for my “Chug um whirl” (camp language for “Little Girl”).  It was a dark spring morning (in July) when we started (at 3 o’clock) & it was sundown when we arrived at Mr. Carvers.  I have written you of the country dance – the trip to the meadows & more or less of the meadows.  We staid there ten days camping mainly in “Tobias” partly at “Alec’s camp.” We explored the whole country round under “Weller’s” leadership.  We were roasted one night by the boys, we had concerts, we gave the boys a big dinner with four courses & button bole bouquets.  I made a flag & presented it & after the boys had worked an hour to hoist it Willie discovered that the “J” was turned the wrong way – Thuswise Sketch.  Finally Jeff Carver (jolly young chap attended school in S. Jose 3 yrs & knows all our friends there Toss.) and Sam Allen came up all ready to start for Whitney.  Our party in the meadows had varied from 8 to 12 but now Willie wasn’t able to go & we numbered 6 as we started over the grades took 3 packs.  Sketch.

We were several days going to the lake & camped in beautiful green meadows all the way.  The lake is 100 miles from Glennville & is on Kern River – it was caused by a great landslide which blocked up the river & left a narrow channel for its egress.  It is a mile long shut in among the hills like the Swiss lakes.  Is only 35 miles from Lone Pine & the German fisherman said that Jo Thomson was coming over the following week – just missed him.  There were four boats (dugouts) on the lake & had some fine rides.  Pushed on to Whitney creek & found Mr. Vrooman & Louis Chittenden. They joined me with a friend & we went farther up & stopped to fish.  Golden Trout – lovelier than gold fish with red splashes on their sides – hundreds of them.  We all fished – I caught a dozen – they’d bite at anything – Jack caught 20 with a bare hook.  Jonnie threw one out into the meadow a hundred ft. & hit Jerusalem in the eye.  Tore ourselves away & one day towards evening when we were walking to keep warm & had on the boys coats, there came a great shout “The lake – the picture in Harpors”, & Yawoo (or Jeff) fired off his rifle & there was joy in camp.  We camped there & found fine feed for the horses.

Next morning climbed a peak supposing it was Whitney.  Surveyors had made same mistake & had named it “Duels Peak.” Walked 12 miles that day.  I nearly fainted going up – change in altitude.  Tried Whitney again next day. Louis & Mr. V. went home – friend sick.  Jennie got sick & Jeff & Jack went exploring, Sam & I brought up the horses & packs to the very edge of the timber line.  The, boys came home at night tired out – had been on a high mt., from which they could see the monument on Whitney.

Next morn, we started at four with our lunch in knapsacks.  At ten could see Whitney – ate some lunch.  Walked & walked – over rocks – great boulders, around precipices, bordering on little lakes (saw 20 in all) & finally gave out, Jeff & Sam were ahead prospecting, Jack & Charlie, Jennie & I all lay down in the blistering sun & slept for half an hour – a sleep of exhaustion. Then Jeff yelled to Sam & Sam yelled to us – from peak to peak “Mt. Whitney wood & water – come on” & we saw a figure in the dim distance waving a flag wildly from a rocky peak.  This put new life into us.  Had been eating snow & our throats were parched. Reached the top finally.  Read all the papers & made copies.  Saw the stand for mounting telescope, etc.  Rested an hour & lunched – found delicious melted snow water & some wood which bad been carried up.  Could see Lone Pine, Independence & Owens Lake on one side, & Tulare & Fresno on the other.  The view was grand – but we were so tired. The blood looked like it might come through our finger tips, there was a sense of fullness in the ears & everyone seemed to be talking from the foot of a long hill.  This was our longest rest all day.

The boys asked if we could go back, Jennie said “yes” – I said I would try.  Down hill it was easy enough but when it came to climbing again, when the sun went down & we were scaling along the precipices on the lakes then we had to bedragged.  Jeff & Charlie had gone ahead & built a great fire which we could see for miles. Sam & Jack said they would give any sum of money or any number of years if they only had the “chug um whirls” safe in camp.

Finally, at ten o’clock we reached camp.  I had been too dizzy to stand alone a moment for miles.  We had walked 20 miles that day – think of it.  But we had done what every one had said we couldn’t do & we were happy. But we were anxious to get out of there & camped on Whitney creek that night.  After that we camped three nights (in different places) on Kern River – I forgot the lake – camped there first – fine time.  Good fishing but bad places to get out of.  One morning It took the boys 5 hours to get the horses up 300 ft.  Got down there by accident every time.  Tore my suit to tatters – had to rig up a bathing suit & wear it.  All the shoes in the crowd were in pieces.  Reached the meadows with a pan full of flour – some salt & three slices of bacon & nothing else.  Geo. Price was there & he & Neut. Allen fired us a salute of 25 shots & gave us a fine dinner – how we did eat.  They had three hammocks hung up in a triangle & a sign up which read: (Camp Hammock – Rest for the Weary) and lo! the “a’s” were turned the wrong way.  We were treated like queens (J & I) & not allowed to do a single thing.

The boys say they’ll warrant us to go around the world without a murmur for we were the best natured party.  I’ll tell you some of the funny things in my next.

Toss, is Bessie home yet? Give her & all my friends especially Mrs. R. – love.

Be good and success to you.

Yours lovingly,

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