Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/536

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530
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

general mass of buildings gave picturesqueness to the scene. Before us not more than a dozen miles away, and seemingly less, was Orizaba. Usually the traveler in mountain regions is disappointed in the peaks he would visit, because they are dwarfed by the neighboring hills and mountain spurs surrounding them, and seem flat and tame. But on that August morning Orizaba was the most majestic mountain that could be conceived. It was the very picture of just such a mountain as a plainsman would draw. Its sharp summit pierced the sky with such favorable perspective that the great height could be really appreciated. Snow came far down upon its sides. The treeless tract below the snow line stood out plainly and ended with thick forests which covered the

 

PSM V61 D536 Outfitting at chalchicomula for the ascent of mount orizaba.png

Fig. 2. Chalchicomula, and Outfit for the Ascent of Mount Orizaba.

 

hills rounded and piled up over the mountain's base. A well-marked trail led through the fields, some filled with black stalked corn, some bristling with thousands of that valuable cactus, called maguay in Mexico and century plant in the United States, and some entirely barren. A horseback rider with a revolver at his belt came dashing through the thicket and asked a drink of the guides. Though they were going on a three days' trip and had but a quart of wine between them they handed the man their bottle, how unwillingly I do not know. Possibly the beggar was the proprietor of the hacienda through which we were passing and took that means to levy toll. After two hours' walking we reached the forest belt and spent the remainder of the day within it. As in all mountain regions here the most common and stately trees are pines and spruce. The pines flourish from nine thousand feet