Narratives of Exploration and Adventure

By John Charles Frémont; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Sutter's Fort: The San Joaquin Valley: Return to Utah Lake*

MARCH 6, 1844. . . . We continued on our road through the same surpassingly beautiful country, entirely unequaled for the pasturage of stock by anything we had ever seen. Our horses had now become so strong that they were able to carry us, and we traveled rapidly-over four miles an hour; four of us riding every alternate hour. Every few hundred yards we came upon a little band of deer; but we were too eager to reach the settlement, which we momentarily expected to discover, to halt for any other than a passing shot. In a few hours we reached a large fork, the northern branch of the river, and equal in size to that which we had descended. Together they formed a beautiful stream, 60 to 100 yards wide; which at first, ignorant of the nature of the country through which that river ran, we took to be the Sacramento.

We continued down the right bank of the river, traveling for a while over a wooded upland, where we had the delight to discover tracks of cattle. To the southwest was visible a black column of smoke, which we had frequently noticed in descending, arising from the fires we had seen from the top of the Sierra. From the upland we

____________________
*
This chapter is from Frémont's Report on his second expedition. The entry for March 6 chronicles Frémont's arrival at the junction of the North Fork of the American River with the South Fork which they had been following; the two formed the American, and not, as he at first thought, the Sacramento. The descent from the crest of the Sierra had been fairly rapid, but not without its tribulations. Frémont with seven men had gone ahead of the main party to reach Sutter's Fort and send back provisions. One of these men, his mind affected by the recent hardships, had wandered away for a time; another, Preuss, had got lost for three days, and been reduced to eating raw frogs to sustain himself. But at last they were safe, and able to look forward to the hospitality of Sutter's establishment, where they could get food and fresh mounts.

-376-

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