Friday, 2nd. Continued to coast up the N. fork; the bottoms of the river were in many places completely covered with Glauber Salts, so much so that even handfuls could be taken up perfectly white.
A man (Mr. Belden) was hunting a short distance from the company, and left his horse tied while he crept in pursuit of a buffalo, but he was not able to find the same place again and consequently lost his horse. Though the country is perfectly free from timber, excepting near the river, yet there is so great a similarity in the hills that experienced hunters are frequently bewildered in a clear day, when attempting to find a certain place a second time.
Glauber’s salt is a hydrous sodium sulfate mineral, also known as sal mirabilis (wonderful or miraculous salt). It was formerly used as a laxative, much as Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) was, until gentler methods came along. Now the mineral is mainly used in the manufacture of detergents, and in paper pulping. Bidwell saw it everywhere is the West.
Josiah Belden was the man who lost his horse. James John reports that he and another man went looking for it the next day and found the place where it was tied, but the horse was gone — a severe loss for Mr. Belden.
Nevertheless, he had a successful business career in California and became quite wealthy.