Thomas Starr King: 1850-1900

Passage by Thomas Starr King in the Sierra Nevada Mountains*
July, 1860


"Tourists generally are content with the toil and the views that are gained when they reach the foot of the "Nevada." I climbed with one of our party above it, and on a mountain behind it, up and up, till we overtopped the obelisk that shoots from the side of the cataract. And still up we climbed in the hope of seeing a line of the kingly summits of the Sierra chain. My companion killed a rattlesnake that buzzed generously near our legs before making us acquainted with his fangs. And dangling his seven rattles as a trophy, without fear of any others, we still mounted, till we stood on a ridge that showed other obelisks of naked granite shooting up at the east. and very near us on the north, the great "Castle Peaks" which stand guard over the Mono silver region, - themselves frosted with silver on their summits that are borne up nearly 14,000 feet above the sea. With this picture of the taller "exclamation notes" of California in our mind, we hastened down to the base of the Nevada fall; then to the parapet of the beautiful Piwyack [Vernal Falls] where we rejoined our companions; then down the frightful ladders, and through the notch, to our horses in the larger gorge of the Yosemite; - and around our campfire in the evening, in front of the hotel, for one, believed what travelers from Europe, from Sinai, from the wildest passes of the Peruvian Andes, told us, while the music of the highest cataract was in our ears, - that nowhere had they seen such rocks and such waterfalls as those among which we had passed three glorious summer days.

*Read Thomas Starr King's articles on-line at http://www.walden.org/times/18610112_Boston_Transcript/00first.htm