How greatly is one’s sense of beauty affected by association! Lake Mono is surrounded by much grander and more varied mountain scenery than this; its waters are also very clear, and it has the advantage of several very picturesque islands; but the dead volcanoes, the wastes of volcanic sand and ashes covered only by interminable sagebrush, the bitter, alkaline, dead, slimy waters, in which nothing but worms live; the insects and flies which swarm on its surface, and which are thrown upon its shore in such quantities as to infect the air,—all these produce a sense of desolation and death which is painful; it destroys entirely the beauty of the lake itself; it unconsciously mingles with and alloys the pure enjoyment of the incomparable mountain scenery in its vicinity. On the contrary, the deep-blue, pure waters of Lake Tahoe, rivaling in purity and blueness the sky itself; its clear, bright emerald shore-waters, breaking snow-white on its clean rock and gravel shores; the Lake basin, not on a plain, with mountain scenery in the distance, but counter-sunk in the mountain’s top itself,—these produce a never-ceasing and ever-increasing sense of joy, which naturally grows into love. There would seem to be no beauty except as associated with human life and connected with a sense of fitness for human happiness. Natural beauty is but the type of spiritual beauty. Enjoyed a very refreshing swim in the Lake this afternoon. The water is much less cold than that of Lake Tenaya or the Tuolumne River, or even the Nevada River.
The party which went out fishing
returned with a very large
trout. It was delicious.
I observe on the Lake ducks,
gulls, terns, etc., and about it
many sandhill cranes—the white species, the clanging cry of
these sounds pleasant to me by early association.
August 22. Nothing to do to-day. Would be glad to sail on the Lake or fish, but too expensive hiring boats. Our funds are nearly exhausted. Would be glad to start for home, but one of our party—Pomroy—has gone to Carson City, and we must wait for him.
I went down alone to the Lake, sat down on the shore and enjoyed the scene. Nothing to do, my thoughts to-day naturally went to the dear ones at home. Oh! how I wish they could be here and enjoy with me this lovely Lake! I could dream away my life here with those I love. How delicious a dream! Of all the places I have yet seen, this is the one I could longest enjoy and love the most. Reclining thus in the shade, on the clean white sand, the waves rippling at my feet, with thoughts of Lake Tahoe and of my loved ones mingling in my mind, I fell into a delicious doze. After my doze I returned to camp, to dinner.
About 5 P.M. took another and last swim in the Lake.