Getting Closer — October 28, 1841

Thursday, 28th. Surely no horses nor mules with less experience than ours could have descended the difficult steeps and defiles which we encountered in this day’s journey. Even as it was, several horses and mules fell from the mountain’s side and rolling like huge stones, landed at the foot of the precipices. The mountains began to grow obtuse, but we could see no prospect of their termination. We eat the last of our beef this evening and killed a mule to finish our supper. Distance 6 miles.

Yum! old mule meat. How John Bidwell must have longed for a loaf of bread. And those poor animals, done to death at the bottom of a cliff. It’s a wonder there was anyone with a horse left by the time they got out of the mountains.


Nancy Kelsey in later years

Nancy Kelsey recalled in 1893:

At one place four pack animals fell over a bluff, and they went so far that we never attempted to recover the packs. We were then out of provisions, having killed and eaten all our cattle. We lived on roasted acorns for two days.

My husband came very near dying with cramps, and it was suggested to leave him, but I said I would never do that. We ate a horse and remained over the next day; then he was able to travel.


About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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