The third option, which Green and his party opted for, presented a challenging hike over the Panama Isthmus. This involved arriving in the Chagres River, hiking on an old Spanish trail through the jungle and picking up a Pacific-based mail steamer or other trader plying their way up the west coast of Panama. The hike through the jungle required a hardy constitution able to withstand sustained effort in unfriendly conditions, exhausting heat and humidity, malaria, yellow fever and more. Still, at 8 weeks, this route often proved faster than taking the route across the Great Plains.
Green and party made it across the isthmus with little to report and managed to secure passage on a small schooner headed north. That’s when things turned for the worse. In what the San Francisco Call termed “a terrific southeaster” the schooner was driven into the cliffs and wrecked near San Luis Bay and Pismo Beach.
Dragging himself from the surf, Green discovered all his carefully prepared provisions and tools from back east, hauled over the isthmus and onto the ship had been completely lost. Starvation seemed imminent and the closest settlement far north in Monterey. The party set out on foot, hoping to eventually reach the town of Yerba Buena (today’s San Francisco).
According to the Call, “For days the party subsisted on roots, acorns … and rattlesnakes. The reptiles were plentiful and were prepared for consumption much after the manner that eels are cooked.”