These valleys are lovely to look down upon; but the fogs much of the time hang over them like a pall, and catarrh and rheumatism render life one of misery to many of the people.
[Illustration: Above the Clouds.]
AMONG THE CLOUDS.
In the following May, 1896, I took a sky-scraping journey to the great states of Washington and Oregon. The climbing of Mt. Shasta and the Siskyo range by train presented sublime views that no language can even feebly describe. At the summits we were at least two miles in the air higher than the dome of the Massachusetts State House. As we climbed, I could see from the window of the palace car, the two engines of our train puffing for all they were worth around the curves, far ahead.
We looked down from the narrow rim of the railroad, thousands of feet perpendicular upon foaming rivers dashing themselves into rainbows and cataracts against the everlasting boulders in their courses. Here cascades, miles in length, came rushing down the mountainsides, shooting hundreds of feet into the air as they struck the giant rocks, and at one place we stopped for half an hour to drink from the soda springs pure, delicious soda water, huge geysers of it effervescing, scintillating, silvery in the sunbeams, caught in a rocky basin from which it is sent all over the world.
Above, the mighty Sacramento River has its source in a little spring, almost touching the stars—so emblematical of our human life, which begins in the infinite on high; is enveloped in a dust of earth; expands in its evolution into the angel back into the eternity from whence it came; for science reveals that the springs come from the clouds as dew and rain, run their courses, and by evaporation are taken back into their first home in the vapors of the heavens.
There are enormous log-shoots seeming like Jacob’s ladder to reach from earth to heaven, and in which, the giants of the vast mountain forests are carried by water with almost lightning speed to the mills on the river; there the splendid snow-covered dome of Shasta gleams above the clouds like the great white throne described by St. John in Revelation.
Now come glimpses of little green valleys; here and there, a few small houses and flocks of sheep show that these cases are peopled “far from the maddening crowd’s ignoble strife.”
These vast solitudes of forests are very impressive and solemn as the day of judgment; giant fir-trees, pines and spruces, beautifully clothed in perpetual green even to the lower dead limbs which nature has covered with a verdure of moss—like our dead hopes, blasted by the fires of adversity but made radiant by the fore-gleams of immortality. There the bright mistletoe is suspended from dead tree-tops, like beauteous crowns adorning the heads of those who have died rather than surrender to the low and base; there deep canyons, brilliant with the diamonds made by the sun from the scintillating drops from dashing torrents—so from the unseen heights come the dews of heaven to refresh those who walk by faith and not by sight “looking not at the things seen which are temporal, but at the things not seen which are eternal.”