A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
Isabella L. Bird, Iris Bass
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Inspired by the sheer rawness of the west, Isabella Bird paints a vivid verbal scenery of the joys and hardships she encountered during her travels through the Rocky Mountains. Her descriptions of the land, the air, and the sounds of the wilds are utterly factual, yet ravishing. The mesmerizing letters to her sister relate unpredictable anecdotes of eating nothing but raisins for fourteen hours, and of a blond-ringlet, one-eyed desperado suitor called "Rocky Mountain Jim." While she doesn't paint a rosy picture of everyone and everything, she nonetheless celebrates Colorado in its purest and most powerful state.
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains began as a series of magazine articles solicited by Leisure Hour. Published in book form in October 1879, it sold out within a week.
wheels made neither sound nor indentation as we drove over the short, dry grass, and there was no cheerful clatter of horses’ hoofs. The sky was cloudy and the air hot and still. In one place we passed the carcass of a mule, and a number of vultures soared up 40 a lady’s life in the rocky mountains from it, to descend again immediately. Skeletons and bones of animals were often to be seen. A range of low, grassy hills, called the Foot Hills, rose from the plain, featureless and monotonous,
a lady’s life in the rocky mountains and mosquitoes do not appear to be known here. Coming almost direct from the tropics, one is dissatisfied with the uniformity of the foliage; indeed, foliage can hardly be written of, as the trees properly so called at this height are exclusively Coniferæ, and bear needles instead of leaves. In places there are patches of spindly aspens, which have turned a lemon-yellow, and along the streams bear-cherries, vines, and roses lighten the gulches with their
with some of the better known parts of Colorado. You would be amused if you could see our cabin just now. There are nine men in the room and three women. For want of seats most of the men are lying on the floor; all are smoking, and the blithe young French Canadian who plays so beautifully, and catches about fifty speckled trout for each meal, is playing the harmonium with a pipe in his mouth. Three men who have camped in Black Canyon for a week are lying like dogs on the floor. They are all over
leave to-morrow. The cold has moderated, the sky is bluer than ever, the snow is evaporating, and a hunter who has joined us to-day says that there are no drifts on the trail which one cannot get through. LONGMOUNT, COLORADO, October 20. “The Island Valley of Avillon” is left, but how shall I finally tear myself from its freedom and enchant150 a lady’s life in the rocky mountains ments? I see Long’s snowy peak rising into the night sky, and know and long after the magnificence of the blue
very easy of access. It did look very grand as we entered it by a narrow pass guarded by two buttes, or isolated upright masses of rock, bright red, and about 300 feet in height. The pines were very large, and the narrow canyons which came down on the Park gloomily magnificent. It is remarkable also from a quantity of “monumental” rocks, from 50 to 300 feet in height, bright vermilion, green, buff, orange, and sometimes all combined, their gay tinting a con164 a lady’s life in the rocky