Valparaiso -- Portillo Pass -- Sagacity of Mules -- Mountain- torrents -- Mines, how discovered -- Proofs of the gradual Elevation of the Cordillera -- Effect of Snow on Rocks -- Geological Structure of the two main Ranges, their distinct Origin and Upheaval -- Great Subsidence -- Red Snow -- Winds -- Pinnacles of Snow -- Dry and clear Atmosphere -- Electricity -- Pampas -- Zoology of the opposite Side of the Andes -- Locusts -- Great Bugs -- Mendoza -- Uspallata Pass -- Silicified Trees buried as they grew -- Incas Bridge -- Badness of the Passes exaggerated -- Cumbre -- Casuchas -- Valparaiso.
There are very few valleys which lead to the central ranges, and the mountains are quite impassable in other parts by beasts of burden.
Having crossed the Peuquenes, we descended into a mountainous country, intermediate between the two main ranges, and then took up our quarters for the night.
Standing all around the clearing were a good many cookstoves, ranges
and grills, of all sizes and shapes, and besides these there were several kitchen cabinets and cupboards and a few kitchen tables.
Our first step now was to move our camp upward to the very edge of the perpetual snows which cap this lofty range. Here we built a snug, secure little hut, which we provisioned and stored with fuel for its di-minutive fireplace.
With our hut as a base we sallied forth in search of a pass across the range.
The captain was convinced, however, that the stream was too insignificant to drain so wide a valley and the adjacent mountains: he encamped, therefore, at an early hour, on its borders, that he might take the whole of the next day to reach the main river; which he presumed to flow between him and the distant range
of western hills.
It was eight o'clock when the train passed through the defiles of the Humboldt Range
, and half-past nine when it penetrated Utah, the region of the Great Salt Lake, the singular colony of the Mormons.
The mountain on which they stood, elevated perhaps a thousand feet in the air, was a high cone that rose a little in advance of that range which stretches for miles along the western shores of the lake, until meeting its sisters miles beyond the water, it ran off toward the Canadas, in confused and broken masses of rock, thinly sprinkled with evergreens.
"Give me the range!" said Hawkeye, bending to catch a glimpse of the direction, and then instantly moving onward.
This view of the necessity of a large stock of the same species for its preservation, explains, I believe, some singular facts in nature, such as that of very rare plants being sometimes extremely abundant in the few spots where they do occur; and that of some social plants being social, that is, abounding in individuals, even on the extreme confines of their range. For in such cases, we may believe, that a plant could exist only where the conditions of its life were so favourable that many could exist together, and thus save each other from utter destruction.
Look at a plant in the midst of its range, why does it not double or quadruple its numbers?