Notes: On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer

On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer

By Francisco Tomás Hermenegildo Garcés, Elliott Coues

Crossing the Sierra

Mar. 21. Leaving the river I set forth southwest- ward, and having gone two leagues through a Canada and some hills, I arrived at a rancheria of five huts (xacales) on the bank of the river.

I continued on a course to the south and entered into a Canada of much wood, grass, and water; I saw many cottonwoods, alders, oaks, very tall firs, and beautiful junipers (sabinos); and having gone one league I arrived at a rancheria of about 80 souls, which I named (Rancheria) de San Benito. I was received with great joy, and they made me the same obeisance.

Mar. 22. I went three leagues and passed over the sierra by the southsouthwest.

Map showing Old Spanish Trail and commonly accepted trails of Garces and Jed Smith with possible alternate route by Garces.

The woods that I said yesterday reach to the summit of this sierra, whence I saw clearly the sea, the Rio de Santa Anna, and the Valle de San Joseph. Its descent is little wooded. At a little distance from its foot I found another rancheria where the Indians received me very joyfully. I continued westsouthwest, and having traveled three leagues along the skirt of the sierra, I halted in the Arroyo de los Alisos.

Mar. 23. I traveled half a league westsouthwest, and one south, at the instance of some Indians who met me and made me go to eat at their rancheria. Thereafter having gone another league westsouthwest I came upon the road of the expedition, which . . .