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and Down California in 1860-1864 : The Journal of William H. Brewer
by William H. Brewer, Francis P. Farquhar (Editor)
William Brewer came to California to work for Whitney surveying the new state. He travelled around for several years, leading the field expeditions, and writing regular letters home to his family. This book is a collection of those letters. All of it is fascinating, but particularly his exploration of the Southern Sierras. He toured the Giant Sequoia groves, and headed up toward the Sierra Crest. He climbed a series of peaks, including Mt. Brewer, carrying a heavy mercury barometer and other surveying instruments. He stopped periodically to take measurements at precise times, which were matched to measurements back at base camp at these same times, to determine the altitude attained. On reaching the peak of Mt. Brewer, which they thought might be higher than anyting else in the state (and nation), they saw another ridge in the distance that was unquestionably higher (including Mt. Whitney).