September 20, 1841

Monday, 20th. Passed along one of the highest mountains we had seen in our whole journey, seeking a place to scale it, as we wished to travel W. instead of S., being convinced that we were already far enough south. At length passed through and descended into a beautiful valley, inclining towards the W. All now felt confident that we were close of the headwaters of Mary’s river — distance 25 miles. Two hunter slept out last night, the Company taking a different direction from that which they expected.

There were indeed already far enough south. The trouble with Nevada is that it is covered with numerous small mountain ranges, all of which run north- south. These create a barrier for anyone trying to travel west. If at this point they had gone north, they would have reached the headwaters of Mary’s River, at Humboldt Wells. That would not have been difficult.

If they could have gone due west, they would have hit the river about where Elko is today. But there were mountains in the way in that direction. Either trip would have been about 25 miles. Instead, they will take a roundabout way, south through the Ruby Valley before turning north. The mountain they see may be Humboldt Peak, the southernmost high summit in the East Humboldt Range.

Humboldt Peak, Nevada

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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