Tuesday, January 20 – Warner Pass, CA

We stop back at the “three trail hill” to catch some photos with better lighting, then drive over to what is known as “Little Pass” or “Foot and Walker Pass.” Here we sit in the car and listen to President Barak Obama’s inaugural speech. “Sacrifice” was a major theme, one our Battalion predecessors understood very well by the time they arrived at this place. It’s a great speech and calls us all to do better for each other.

This is a mini version of Campbell Grade which we passed on Monday. It’s only fifty feet high or so, but still a formidable barrier. One explanation is that “Foot and Walker” means the stagecoach passengers had to get out and hike across the hill being too difficult for the animals to carry a loaded wagon.

The old trail is visible paralleling highway S-2 as we draw close to Scissors crossing, the site of the San Filipe village in 1847. Journalists indicate only a few deserted native dwellings near where they stopped to water the animals. The marsh was nearly eight miles from where they spent the prior cold night with little fuel and completely without water after passing the Box Canyon. They killed two beeves which they had to eat without salt – or much of anything else with nearly all rations depleted. Still, there was a little flour left in camp, because Levi Hancock says he got nearly a pound from the assistant commisarian.

As we walk along we cross the Pacific Coast Trail, our “Big Brother” trail that goes north-south along the mountain crests. Now, that’s a trail I don’t think I’d ever attempt. I’m not that rugged.

We pass Paroli Spring, the “brisk running stream” near where the 1847 camp was located for this night. No flowing water anymore; it’s been tapped for farming and the road crosses the old waterbed. And just about here, we start seeing stands of the “live oak” trees which gave joy to the Battalion. There are acorns – long, slender ones. Levi Hancock and others used them to supplement their rations. The area starts showing signs of green – even at this early time of year. Colonel Cooke drilled the men at the campsite while waiting for the wagons to arrive.

The guide Jean Baptiste Charbonneau returned this night from San Diego “with others” carrying information about the military situation and supplies. Due to his report, Cooke decides to press for Los Angeles rather than San Diego. It’s significant because from here, there’s a fairly direct animal path to San Diego. With this strategic decision that Cooke explains in his journal, the Battalion will head north-westward towards Temecula.

Our hike takes us to the pass above Paroli Spring camp. We can see somewhat into the Warners’ Spring area where we will be tomorrow night.

It’s been Peter, Jon, Terry and I most of the day. Denny hiked some and we got strung out along the highway – typically walking in pairs. Terry tells Denny that he’s enjoyed his days with us. It’s given him time to reflect and it hasn’t been chaotic for him. Well, I’m glad someone doesn’t think it’s been chaotic!

Part of our evening is spent preparing to move tomorrow to our next camp area. Southern California – especially San Diego County – doesn’t have many places for our little gypsy caravan. Deb and Duane Jenson have us for dinner and some table games. It has been a very pleasant time here for us. No pressure and lots of tender loving care. Thanks Deb and Duane. We’ve appreciated it very much.

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