October 2, 1841 — Turning Westward

Saturday, 2nd.  Having traveled about 5 miles, we all beheld with delight the course of the river change to S. W.  Here was excellent grass–it was 3 or 4 feet high, and stood thick like a meadow, it was a kind of bluegrass. The whole valley seemed to be swarming with Indians, but they were very timid.  Their sable heads were seen in groups of 15 or 20, just above the tops of the grass to catch a view of us passing by. Whenever we approached their huts, they beckoned us to go on — they are extremely filthy in their habits. Game was scarce, tho’ the Indians looked fat and fine. They were Shashonees.

The Indians may have actually been Northern Paiute. They lived in a harsh environment, but they had learned to make the most of the resources available to them.

The Humboldt River takes a westward turn about 25 miles east of Winnemucca, Nevada. Then it meanders westward until just north of Winnemucca, where it takes a definite turn to the southwest. Seeing the river turn in the expected direction was a great relief to Bidwell and friends. They were now pretty sure that they were on the right track.

Somewhere along the trail https://emigranttrailswest.org/virtual-tour/california-trail/

They were tired though. In Echoes of the Past Bidwell writes:

From the time we left our wagons many had to walk, and more and more as we advanced. Going down the Humboldt at least half were on foot [including Bidwell]. Provisions had given out, . . . we saw no game except antelope, and they were scarce and hard to kill; and walking was very fatiguing.

So they pressed on, wondering “How much farther to California?”

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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