On the morning of August 17, 1910, the party of seventeen disembarked from the Stockton boat, followed by four fine municipal automobiles. When the men and the machines were satisfactorily supplied with fuel and the outfit was appropriately photographed, the procession started mountainward. For some time the good roads, fairly well watered, passed over level, fruitful country, with comfortable homes. Then came gently rolling land and soon the foothills, with gravelly soil and scattered pines. A few orchards and ranches were passed, but not much that was really attractive. Then we reached the scenes of early-day mining and half-deserted towns known to Bret Harte and the days of gold. Knight’s Ferry became a memory instead of a name. Chinese Camp, once harboring thousands, is now a handful of houses and a few lonely stores and saloons. It had cast sixty-five votes a few days before our visit.
Then came a stratum of mills and mines, mostly deserted, a few operating sufficiently to discolor with the crushed mineral the streams flowing by. Soon we reached the Tuolumne, with clear, pellucid water in limited quantities, for the snow was not very plentiful the previous winter and it melted early.
Following its banks for a time, the road turned to climb a hill, and well along in the afternoon we reached “Priests,” a favorite roadhouse of the early stage line to the Yosemite. Here a good dinner was enjoyed, the machines were overhauled, and on we went. Then Big Oak Flat, a mining town of some importance, was passed, and a few miles farther Groveland, where a quite active community turned out en masse to welcome the distinguished travelers. The day’s work was done and the citizens showed a pathetic interest which testified to how little ordinarily happened. The shades of night were well down when Hamilton’s was reached—a stopping-place once well known, but now off the line of travel. Here we were hospitably entertained and slept soundly after a full day’s exercise. In the memory of all, perhaps the abundance of fried chicken for breakfast stands out as the distinguishing feature. A few will always remember it as the spot where for the first time they found themselves aboard a horse, and no kind chronicler would refer to which side of the animal they selected for the ascent. The municipally chartered pack-train, with cooks and supplies for man and beast, numbered over sixty animals, and chaparejos and cowboys, real and near, were numerous.
The ride to the rim of the South Fork of the Tuolumne was short. The new trail was not sufficiently settled to be safe for the sharp descents, and for three-quarters of a mile the horses and mules were turned loose and the company dropped down the mountainside on foot. The lovely stream of water running between mountainous, wooded banks was followed up for many miles.
About midday a charming spot for luncheon was found, where Corral Creek tumbles in a fine cascade on its way to the river. The day was warm, and when the mouth of Eleanor Creek was reached many enjoyed a good swim in an attractive deep basin.