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The Outcasts of Poker Flat

by Bret Harte

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Why does Mr. Oakhurst think it is a bad idea to make camp before they reach Sandy Bar?

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Mr. Oakhurst is the leader of the party from the beginning. In fact, he is the only sober one in the party of four, and he advises them that Sandy Bar is "distant a day’s severe travel" from Poker Flat. He also reports when they stop that "scarcely half the journey to Sandy Bar was accomplished, and the party were not equipped or provisioned for delay." Of course, they ignore him as they have already had quite a bit of alcohol by that point. As the group leaves Poker Flat, in fact, they travel from "the moist, temperate regions of the foot-hills into the dry, cold, bracing air of the Sierras," indicating that there could be trouble ahead in terms of cold and snow if they stop.

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