...we enter upon the night ride through Bridger's Pass, from the Atlantic to the Pacific slopes of the Rocky Mountains. You need to be told what you are doing. There is no slow hill-climbing; the horses trot the stage along; and the soldier escort gallop behind. Not through valleys still, but apparently along and up the beds of departed rivers, with mountain walls on either hand,--sometimes ten or twenty miles wide, and again narrowing to rods, but oftenest miles in width; on one side bare, perpendicular walls of rock, thrown into all imaginable and unscientific combinations of the original or sub-original formations, and since carved and fluted by wind and sand and rain into all and every shape that architecture ever created, or imagination fancied; on the other, rounded hill-side with scant verdure and occasional stunted tree and frequent snow-bank. Not in one continuous bed or valley, was our upward course, but a succession of such, leading one into another.
So we rode on through the clear twilight, that lingers till nine and ten o'clock in this region, into the rich moonlight that only gave new form and beauty to the rocks; and out into the morning dawn that hastens on at two to three; watching the water to see which way it ran, and building Pacific Railroads along these easy grades back to home and forward to fame and fortune. I was in the saddle, galloping with the captain of the escort; but the earlier and more enthusiastic lieutenant-governor of Illinois, who kept guard with the driver on the box, shouted out the passage over the line--it was no more than a "thank-ye-marm" in a New England's winter sleigh-ride, yet it separates the various and vast waters of a Continent, and marks the fountains of the two great oceans of the globe. But it was difficult to be long enthusiastic over this infinitesimal point of mud; the night was very cold, and I was sore in unpoetical parts from unaccustomed saddles, and I got down from all my high horses, and into my corner of the stage, at the next station. [pages 74-75]