We now proceeded along the right bank of the North Fork, and on the opposite side we caught a glimpse of a party of Indians at work, which we afterwards learned were that of Mr. Sinclair. In one week this party had gathered sixteen pounds troy of fine washed gold dust. They worked hard, were well fed, and had liberal rations of “strong water” daily. We rested a couple of hours at noon, in a pleasant bottom, heavily timbered, and afterwards, striking away from the river at an acute angle, moved leisurely on through a broken country, intersected by many water-courses, and overgrown with dense clusters of trees.
During our afternoon march we passed several deserted Indian villages—the round-shaped skeletons of the huts alone remaining to mark the former settlements. Not a member of the tribe, however, was to be seen; the beaver may build and the deer pasture hereabouts in peace. Towards evening we entered the valley drained by the stream called Weber’s Creek. Its appearance was very beautiful, and the stream descended along a steep rocky bed, foaming round large boulder stones, and tumbling down low ledges of granite. The grassy slopes of the valley are cut up in all directions with rivulets, the courses of which are marked by luxuriant underwood, rank grass, and groves of stunted oaks. Two or three arbours were to be seen with one or two rude-looking tents, all with blazing fires before them. We encamped forthwith, hoping the next day to reach a station which we could make available for our purpose.
We were early on the move this morning, and soon saw several parties of threes and fours washing in the bed of the river, or exploring the mountain gorges with their shovels and mattocks. The weather was getting oppressively hot; indeed, the further we got from the Sacramento the hotter did it become. The sea-breeze never penetrates here to refresh us, and, except when an occasional squall comes sweeping down from the hills, the air is very oppressive.
We travelled but slowly, still in an hour or so we reached a station, about fifteen miles as the crow flies, or about twenty by the windings of the stream, from the point of its junction with the Americanos, where we determined to try our luck. There was quite a camp here—not to the same extent as the Mormon diggings, but still the washers were numerous, and the larger part of them were Indians. Some few worked in the bed of the river, but the great majority were engaged in the ravines leading up the mountains. The greatest quantity of gold dust was found in the former, while the latter yielded the best specimens of lump and scale gold. We were told that, though the side gullies were very rich, yet they were more uncertain than the main stream. Lumps of gold, weighing several ounces, were continually met with, but a morning was often wasted and nothing found; whereas, if a man stuck to the main stream, and washed all day long, he was sure of his ounce or