October 8, 1841 — Duck Season

Friday, 8th. The swamp was clouded with wild geese, ducks &c, which rose from its surface at the report of our guns. We traveled about 6 miles and stopped to kill a couple of oxen that were unable to travel.

Jimmy John notes that they only traveled a few miles that day because their Indian guide told them that they could “get to no other watering place today.” So instead they tried to add to their store of meat by hunting geese and ducks.

They are still by the Humboldt Sink and following the remnant of Mary’s River. By going south instead of west, they are missing out on finding the Truckee River, which later wagon trains would seek out. But that would have meant crossing the “Forty Mile Desert,” a nightmarish trek for everyone who attempted it.

Dead oxen in the desert, J. Goldsborough Bruff’s depiction of the California Trail

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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