“Started for Capt. Sutter’s on the 21st and arrived there on the 28th. This place is situated nearly due N. of Marsh’s, on the Sacramento river, and about 75 miles. We were received by Capt. Sutter with great kindness, and found here J. John, who had left us in the mountains on the 10th of last month. Oct. He arrived one day sooner at this place than we did at Marsh’s.”
So wrote Bidwell in the revision of his journal. Both Marsh and the Mexicans told the men that if they were looking for work, to go see Sutter, who had only recently acquired his vast land grant where the Sacramento and American Rivers converge.
The Mexicans had colonized the land along the coast, and along the Mission Trail, but they had not ventured inland very far. Sutter persuaded them to give him a huge peice of the inland valley, where he planned to build his own independent empire.
“Dr. Marsh said we could make the journey in two days, but it took us eight. Winter had come in earnest, and winter in California then, as now, meant rain. I had three companions. It was wet when we started, and much of the time we traveled through a pouring rain. Streams were out of their banks; gulches were swimming; plains were inundated; indeed, most of the country was overflowed. There were no roads, merely paths, trodden only by Indians and wild game. We were compelled to follow the paths, even when they were under water, for the moment our animals stepped to one side down they went into the mire.”
How they could see the path in the pouring rain is hard to imagine. They must have gone into the mire time and again. The trip is certainly easier nowadays, in a car, whether it’s raining or the sun is shining.