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view. To select and try one was, however, the only chance.
After a careful study, one was chosen that revealed indications of a trickle of water coming from some upper snowbank, and seemed to be more winding in its course than the others; hence, would offer more protection than these from rolling stones. The climbers, therefore, worked their way from the knife-edge down, and laboriously across several other troughs until, finally reaching the selected one, they turned their faces upward again. There was much loose rock in the trough, and some small, but troublesome, cliffs running across it; but by skillful work it was successfully followed to a point where a short acrobatic scramble gave them the very summit. By half-past two the three men stood, or rather crouched, closely together on the dizzying point of the highest pinnacle of the mountain - and the Black Kaweah was no longer the unconquered peak it had so long remained. The near-by Red and Gray Kaweahs had surrendered in earlier years. So the Sierra Club has no more scalps to bring home from that fine mountain group. But there are still other peaks, both in the main Sierran crest and in some of the great lateral spurs, or 'divides,' that run out west from it, which offer pressing invitation to climbers who like to be the first to scale untrodden summits.
For example, while the three more venturesome members of our party were capturing the Black Kaweah, when one is soft from five or six years of being kept away from high altitudes, and has had only a few days to accustom heart and muscles to severe work in them, one must not be among the more venturesome, I busied myself with providing one of the courses of a proper dinner that should be ready for the returned climbers. Right past our camp ran the clear, cold water of a stream that had its sources only a mile or two farther up the cañon, in the snowfed lakes of a great glacial basin, or cirque, of successively higher levels under the Kaweah summits. Nine Lake Basin contains even more clear little green lakes than its name indicates, and their overflow makes a stream that has helped materially to deepen the great glacial gorge that extends from the upper cirques down to the Grand Cañon of the Kern. In this stream swarm hard-fighting, firm-fleshed rainbow trout, not too sophisticated, or yet too inexperienced. A Royal Coachman and a Black Gnat made a good killing combination, and I soon had a sufficient number to furnish the second course of the camp dinner.
And then there was time for some rambling and scrambling over the granite faces and great rough blocks of the upper cirques, and even over a low divide that separates the Kern from the Kaweah watershed; to look down the precipitous gorge of trivially named Deer Creek, what a confusing host of Deer and Sheep and Bear Creeks there are in the mountains! - which finds its swift and tumultuous westward way into the Middle Fork of the Kaweah, or 'crow water,' as the Indian name translates itself. Along the upper stretches of this magnificent gorge or cañon, to give its character its proper due are some vertical cliffs and
sky-scraping pinnacles and smoothsurfaced, onion-skinned granite domes, which are yet to have their fame in chronicles of Sierran scenery.
The trout-fishing in the higher Sierras and Rockies is a kind of fishing apart from other kinds, even from other fishing for trout. To get to it is an adventure; to live a few weeks, or even days, where it may be had is an exalting experience. It is so much more than fishing. It is realizing how the primitive granite core of the earth, and ice and water and time have combined to make great mountains, great basins, great moraines, great cañons. It is learning to know the giant trees and dwarfed alpine flowers. It is seeing close at hand the realities of the bitter struggle of life with boreal nature. "Timber-line' is one of the strange and revealing places of earth, with its misshapen, scarred, fighting pines and fir and juniper, and swiftly growing fragrant flowers, which expand their brilliant colors in the short season of warm sun and melting snow, to attract the few hardy butterflies and bees that flit away their brief lives amid surroundings that awe and humble the greater animals and even man. Shrillbarking marmots and curious little squeaking guinea-pig-like conies perch on great granite blocks, to stare and challenge the human intruder in these upper levels of earth, and dive out of sight in the dark crevices as he turns to stare back at them.
But the trout themselves are reassuring. They may even be of the very sort you know in the meandering brooks of New England meadows. For many of the Sierran lakes and streams have been stocked with trout varieties foreign to their geography. One meets speckled Eastern Brook and brown Loch Leven in some of these waters. Most famous and most wonderful to see are the bizarre Golden trout, originally
of Volcano Creek, which flows into the Kern from the foot of Mount Whitney. These trout were originally isolated in that part of the stream which is above the high falls, not far from the streammouth; but they have been transplanted into numerous streams and lakes of the Kern and Kings watersheds. They have a brilliant scarlet belly, roseate lateral rainbow line, and general yellowishred tinge over the whole body. They do not seem to grow very large, but are curiously long and slender for their weight. They are reputed to be unusually vigorous fighters; but the few that I caught in the single stocked lake of Five Lake Basin above the Big Arroyo were tame compared with the native Rainbows of the Arroyo itself.
Besides trout, the Sierran and Rocky Mountain streams are the home of a few other interesting animals. There used to be many beaver, especially in the reaches where the Colorado streams flowed through the more level glacial parks, which are characteristic of the Rockies just as the narrow, flat-floored, vertical-walled cañons like the Yosemite, Hetch-Hetchy, Tehipite, and the Grand Cañons of the Kings and Kern are characteristic of the Sierra Nevada.
And there are the fascinating waterbraving ouzels, that teeter, half-submerged, on the lips of little falls, as they seek out the larvæ of the water-insects. Among these insects are stone-flies and may-flies and, especially, many kinds of caddice-flies, which make their protecting cases out of tiny pebbles or granite grains, and sometimes out of glittering golden bits of iron pyrites and half-transparent mica - houses of gold and glass and shining jewels.
Finally, there are the curious netwinged midges, known unfortunately only to professional entomologists, and to too few of them, whose few species are scattered all over the world where swift, clear, and cold mountain streams
are. The small, slug-like larvæ of these delicate flies cling by ventral suckers to the smooth surfaces of the stream-bed over which shallow water is running swiftly. They cannot tolerate sluggish or soiled water. Their food is chiefly minute fresh-water diatoms, which often grow in felt-like masses on their own backs. The slender-legged, thinwinged flies may be seen occasionally flitting about in the overhanging foliage of the stream-side, or among the great boulders that half block the streams where they break through terminal moraines.
But besides the streams that help give the mountain regions beauty and interest and life, and provide the purest, softest water for the mountaineer's drink and bath, there are the great for
forests great in extent and made of great trees. These forests are of special magnificence in the Sierra Nevada, but the lower pines and upper spruces of the Rocky Mountains form fine forests, the spruce, particularly, often running along the range-flanks in a miles-long unbroken zone, at an altitude of (roughly) from nine to eleven thousand feet and even higher. The trees are not large, as large trees go, but are nearly uniform in size, and the forest is almost clear of undergrowth, and is soft and dark and still.
Of birds there are few, but some of them are of special interest. Among these are the noiseless, ghostly camp robbers, or moose birds, which suddenly appear from nowhere in your forest camp, boldly flying down to your very food-bags or camp-fire to beg or steal a free meal. Less quiet are their cousins, the Clark crows, or jays. But most beautiful of voice are the Western hermit thrushes, which fling out their rippling liquid notes at early dawn and twilight, to echo through the long forest aisles.
I remember one special adventure in
the Great Spruce Forest on the flanks of Flat Top and Hallet's Peak in the Front Range of the Rockies, near Long's Peak, in which the hermit thrushes played a part. A college companion, Fred Funston, later the hero of the capture of Aguinaldo and one of the best-known major-generals of the American army, and I had gone up into the forest, with a single burro as packanimal, from our summer camp on the Big Thompson in Willow Park, to try to get a deer, in order to vary our longcontinued camp diet of bacon and trout. We were rank tyros as hunters, and probably could not have injured any deer with even the best of opportunities; but we had no chance to prove or disprove this, as we saw no venison despite all care and pains.
We did see, however, an animal we had not come to see. This was a big mountain lion. We had made a hasty camp in the upper reaches of the forest in the later afternoon of our arriving, and had turned Billy, the burro, loose, to nibble at anything he considered edible in the camp neighborhood. Then we had hurried out with our guns, each by himself, to post himself at what he should think a vantage-point to see such deer as should come conveniently wandering through the forest. I had lain doggo for some time near an old trail, and dusk had come on so rapidly, and the forest had become so unnecessarily still, that I had decided to get back to the cheering companionship and comfort of the camp-fire, when I was suddenly frozen into immobility by the sight of a great mountain lion silently padding along the old trail only a few rods from me. What with long lean body and long lifted tail, that lion took an amazingly long time in passing a given point. And just as it was by, and out of my sight, it carelessly let slip from its throat a blood-curdling cry, half-bestial, half-human. That
completed my demoralization. As soon as the apparition had passed from my sight and the echoes of that howl from my ears, I got my numb muscles into action and speedily made for campnot by way of the old trail.
As I came near it, I was further startled to see a great, roaring fire, and found my companion, later the reckless hero of many a dangerous, self-chosen venture in war, piling ever more fuel on the camp-fire. I asked him the reason for the conflagration, and he blurted out, without interrupting his good work, 'I have just seen the biggest cougar in Colorado.' Evidently both of us had had the same good fortune.
In the safety of the fire-zone we made a peaceful supper, without venison; and after a final heaping-on of logs, rolled up in our blankets by the fire. In the middle of the night I was awakened by a blow on the chest. I promptly sat up, with the conviction that I was being mauled by the lion. The fire had gone down, and it was very dark. But Funston, who had punched me into wakefulness, whispered hoarsely, "That cat is prowling around the camp. I have heard it several times. We must build up the fire.'
I strongly agreed, and we soon had another reassuring pyrotechnic effect. Again we turned in, and I was soon uneasily asleep again, only to be wakened by another blow. This time Funston was really excited. 'He's still around,' he said. "There, you can hear him now.'
I listened intently. I certainly heard something moving off somewhere beyond the piled-up pack-saddle and kyaks on the other side of the smouldering fire. I stared hard in that direction. It was the first gray of a welcome morning. As quickly as the light had faded out of the forest the evening before, it now invaded it. Even as we stared through the cold gray, it became light enough for us to see our faith
ful burro browsing on a bit of brush a couple of rods from our bed!
It was a great relief, and we rolled over for a real nap, when from far down the mountain-side came the clear rippling call of a hermit thrush. And then another, higher up, answered, and then another, almost over our heads, and, finally, still another from farther up the mountain-flank. It was the most beautiful, most thrilling bird-song I have ever heard. We lay entranced. And then Funston, sitting up in his blankets to glance around the echoing forest, stretched out again with a grunt of comfort, and murmuring, 'Say, it's damn religious up here,' drew his blankets up to his eyes for the needed nap.
We were boys in those days, and we thought more of new peaks to be won, possible elk and bighorn and bear and deer to be shot at, and trout to be caught, cooked, and eaten, with wild red raspberries for dessert, than of the religion of Nature expressed in her greatness and beauty. But some of this religion did reach us occasionally, and once ours, it has never been lost. I have loitered in the incense-dimmed aisles of many a great cathedral and listened to the rolling of the organs and hypnotic chanting of the priests; but each time I have been reminded of the longer, more fragrant forest aisles and the low repeated rumblings of thunder among the great peaks of the mountain regions I know; and it has been those memories that have given me the greater hope in something still above cathedral towers and mountain summits.
Funston and I had another boys' adventure in the Rockies - this time with a third college mate, now a wise college professor that I am minded to tell. The three of us, with our longsuffering burro, had started on a rather
longer excursion than usual from headquarters camp, which was to carry us some twenty or twenty-five miles northwest toward the Wyoming line, to an old crater called Specimen Mountain. This crater rose just above a high pass that divided the headwaters of the Cache-de-la-Poudre, which flow first into the Platte, and then into the Missouri, and finally, by way of the Mississippi, into the Gulf of Mexico, from those of the Grand, which, after joining with the Green from Wyoming to make the Colorado, and enjoying much experience of cañon and desert, reach the Gulf of California. In fact, on this pass, which is but a few hundred feet below timber-line, there are two tiny lakes hardly a stone's throw apart, which send their overflow to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, respectively.
Our way carried us to the bottom and up and out of a long, weird, fire-swept cañon, known as Windy Gulch, with its sides bristling with the stark, gray skeletons of burned trees, and its top leading out on to the broad low summit of the Range, stretching away for a dozen miles or more above timberline to the pass I have spoken of.
On this trip we had our guns, as we always had in those earlier days before the protection of the law had been thrown around the disappearing elk and bighorn. Near the top of Windy Gulch we saw a bear a rather small bear- lumbering its way toward the summit. We immediately gave chase. The bear turned toward a rock-ridge not far away, and disappeared. But on reaching the ridge we made out what seemed the only hole or cave it could have gone into, and there expectantly awaited the coming-out of the bear.
But it did not come out, and Funston finally made the rather startling proposal that he should crawl into the hole and stir up the bear, which, he argued, would undoubtedly chase him out.
VOL. 128-NO. 4
We other two were to stand by the hole with cocked rifles, and were to shoot, not at the first thing that came out, which Funston fondly hoped would be himself, but at the second, which would presumably be an irate bear.
After careful consideration of this proposition, entirely generous on Funston's part, as one must admit, Franklin and I finally declined it, on the ground that in our excitement we should be almost certain to shoot at the first creature that appeared from the hole, and if this were Funston, as it probably would be if he came out at all, and we should hit him, we should have to answer to his parents. As his father was a Congressman, these parents seemed formidable. Also, if Funston, by any rub of the green, did not come out at all, we should have to help the burro carry Funston's pack back to camp. The final vote, therefore, was two to one against the proposal of the future general.
This Specimen Mountain was a famous place for bighorn; I hope it still is. The wild sheep used to come to the old crater from many miles away, to lick at its beds of green and yellowish deposits; and we rarely failed to find a band of from six to thirty of the wary animals in the crater's depths. In our later trips to the mountain, after the game-protection laws of Colorado were in force, we used to hunt the sheep with cameras instead of guns. The rim of the crater was sharp, and we could crawl up to it from the mountain-flanks and peer over into it, all unperceived. The inner slopes were covered with volcanic ash and broken lava, and great plutonic breccia crags or 'castles' lifted their bulk from various points. By getting one of these castles between us and the sheep, we could work our way carefully down into the crater and fairly near the animals, without startling them.