A Final Farewell

     It was the spring of 1896 when the old cowboy first laid his eyes on that snow covered mountain these Californians called Shasta, he had been two full years on the trail. And it was here that he said a final farewell to the two half wolves who had traveled with him halfway across this grand country. Here the old cowboy got the first word of the family of Russian emigrants he sought.

     Quite by accident he had ridden into the camp of the wildest old man he had ever met; a man named John Muir. This old man was a writer, poet and naturalist who spent the majority of his time in the high country of California. It was from him he learned the name of the magnificent mountain on whose flank they camped that night. Although originally named Mt. Sastise after the Indians of the region, all of California now called it “Shasta”

     Old cowboy traveled with this pack train for the next four days, it seemed as if the magnetism of the mountain poet brought this high and beautiful land to life. His first trip to this mountain was in 1874, and now he told of his dreams of all this becoming a National Park one of these days. From his retreat in Yosemite the old Scotsman had covered the length and breadth of this wild country. He learned this was the southern-most mountain of the Cascade Range and remained snow clad year around.

     Muir also told of a small group of Russian Emigrants who had passed this way just five years before; how they had told of starving out in Dakota, missing the gold rush in California, and had come through the Sacramento Valley on their way north to Oregon and on to Seattle. They told of dreams of the Klondike, where a man could find nuggets of pure gold as big as trout’s eyes, free for the taking. One of the horse wranglers had told the old cowboy he had overheard them talking about a place called Dawson Creek.

     So, although the old cowboy would miss the two half-wolves; he now had a fresh trail of the object of his quest…

© 2003/2010 ~ David L. Griffith

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