Portola Expedition: Tuesday, October 31, 1769

To San Pedro Creek
California Historical Landmark No. 24

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Gaspar de Portolá


We traveled for two hours on a very bad road up the slopes of a very high mountain.

Miguel Costansó


We halted on the summit where twenty-five natives came to our camp and the sergeant with eight soldiers was sent ... to explore. Having seen some small islands, a point of land, and a bay, we decided that we were in the neighborhood of the Port of San Francisco as described in the account of Cabrera Bueno. Here we remained for four days.

The hills which prevented our passage along the shore, although ease of access for the ascent, had, on the other side, a very difficult and rough descent. The pioneers went out in the morning with the sergeant to make a road over it, and, afterwards, at eleven o'clock, we followed him with the pack-animals.

From the summit we saw to the northwest a large bay formed by a point of land which extended a long distance into the sea, and about which many had disputed on the preceding day, as to whether or not it was an island; it was not possible at that time to see it as clearly as now on account of the mist that covered it. Farther out, about west-northwest from us, seven rocky, white islands could be seen; and, casting the eye back upon the bay, one could see farther to the north some perpendicular white cliffs. Looking to the northeast, one could see the mouth of an estuary which appeared to extend inland. In consideration of these indications we consulted the sailing-directions of the pilot Cabrera Bueno, and it seemed to us beyond all question that what we were looking upon was the port of San Francisco; and thus we were convinced that the port of Monterey had been left behind. The latitude of 37° and 33' or 35', according to the reckoning of the engineer in which we found ourselves, confirmed our opinion. And thus the point which appeared seawards, and which had seemed to many to be an island, must have been the Punta de los Reyes, although the above mentioned pilot places it in 38° 30'; that is, one degree farther to the north. The authority of this author, however, in the opinion of all intelligent people, and of those who were guided by them, was of little weight, for the test which has been made of his latitudes, shows that they err in being too large. And so, what is there to be wondered at if he places the Punta de los Reyes one degree farther north than it really is when he does the same with the Punta de la Concepción, which he places in 35° 30' when, from repeated observations, it is certain that it is in 34° 30'; and when, according to the same author, the port of San Diego is in 34°, when it is indisputable that its latitude [only] exceeds 32° and a half by some minutes?

We descended to the port, and pitched our camp at a short distance from the beach, near a stream of running water which sank into the ground and formed a marsh of considerable extent, reaching nearly to the sea. The country had plenty of pasture, and was surrounded by very high hills which formed a hollow, open only to the northwest of the bay. We traveled for one league.


Fray Juan Crespi


The high hills, which are without rocks, prevent passage by the beach, and although the ascent to them is not difficult the descent in any place is arduous. For this reason the sergeant started out early in the day with the soldiers to prepare the descent, and we set out about ten in the morning. As soon as we ascended to the summit we descried a great bay formed by a point of land which runs far out into the open sea and looks like an island.

Farther out, about west-northwest from where we stood and a little to the southwest of the point, six or seven white Farallones of different sizes were to be seen. Following the coast of the bay to the north some white cliffs are visible, and to the northwest is the mouth of an estuary which seems to penetrate into the land. In view of these signs, and of what is stated in the itinerary of the pilot Cabrera Bueno, we came to the recognition of this port; it is that of Our Father San Francisco, and we have left that of Monterey behind. Filled with these doubts and arguments, we descended from the hill and pitched camp in the middle of a small valley, some six hundred varas long and about a hundred wide, which has plenty of water in two small arroyos which unite to enter the sea. The valley has a great deal of reed grass and many blackberries and roses; there are a few trees in the beds of the arroyos, and some moderate-sized willows, but on the hills there was not a single tree to be seen except some on a mountain range which encircles this bay. Not far from the camp we found a village of very friendly heathen, who, as soon as we arrived, came to visit us with their present of tamales made of black seeds. Judging by the fires that we have seen on the beach it must be well populated with villages. From this beach the Farallones lie west by south-west and the point which I believe to be Point Reyes, and is the one that forms and encloses the bay at the northern end, lies west by northwest. All the signs that we find here we read in the itinerary of the pilot Cabrera Bueno, from which we conclude that this is the port of San Francisco, and we are confirmed in this by the latitude in which we find ourselves, which is a full thirty-seven and a half degrees; for although that author places it in thirty-eight and a half, that does not disturb me, considering that we have observed that this happens in all his reckonings whenever he describes this coast and its latitudes. For example, he puts the harbor of San Diego in thirty-four degrees, while in the observations repeatedly made there it came out a little more than thirty-two degrees and a half. Point Concepcion, we found in thirty-four and one-half degrees while he puts it in thirty-five and a half. And so it would not be surprising if this harbor, which is in full thirty-seven and a half degrees, should turn out to be that of our father San Francisco, since we find all the other signs that the author gives for the port referred to some of our party do not yet believe that we have left the port of Monterey behind or that we are on that of my father San Francisco. In order to clear it up entirely the commander ordered that during the day Sergeant Ortega should go out with a party of soldiers to explore, and that we should wait until their return.


October 30 To Martini Creek (SRL 25).
November 1 Day two at San Pedro Creek
Portola Expedition 1769 Diaries