Captain Clark set out early this morning with five men to examine the country and survey the river and portage, as had been concerted last evening. I set six men at work to prepare four sets of truck wheels with couplings, tongues and bodies, that they might either be used without the bodies for transporting our canoes, or with them in transporting our baggage. I found that the elk skins I had prepared for my boat were insufficient to complete her, some of them having become damaged by the weather and being frequently wet. To make up this deficiency, I sent out two hunters this morning to hunt elk.
The balance of the party I employed first in unloading the white pirogue, which we intend leaving at this place, and bringing the whole of our baggage together and arranging it in proper order near our camp. This duty being completed, I employed them in taking five of the small canoes up the creek, which we now call Portage Creek, about 1 3/4 miles. Here I had them taken out and laid in the sun to dry.
From this place there is a gradual ascent to the top of the high plain, to which we can now take them with ease. The bluffs of this creek below and those of the river above its entrance are so steep that it would be almost impracticable to have gotten them on the plain.
We found much difficulty in getting the canoes up this creek to the distance we were compelled to take them, in consequence of the rapids and rocks which obstruct the channel of the creek. One of the canoes overset and was very near injuring 2 men essentially. Just above the canoes, the creek has a perpendicular fall of 5 feet and the cliffs again become very steep and high. We were fortunate enough to find one cottonwood tree, just below the entrance of Portage Creek, that was large enough to make our carriage wheels about 22 inches in diameter. Fortunate I say, because I do not believe that we could find another of the same size, perfectly sound, within 20 miles of us. The cottonwood which we are obliged to employ in the other parts of the work is extremely illy calculated for it, being soft and brittle.
We have made two axletrees of the mast of the white pirogue, which I hope will answer tolerably well, though it is rather small. The Indian woman much better today. I have still continued the same course of medicine. She is free from pain, clear of fever, her pulse regular, and eats as heartily as I am willing to permit her, of broiled buffalo well seasoned with pepper and salt, and rich soup of the same meat. I think, therefore, that there is every rational hope of her recovery.
Saw a vast number of buffalo feeding in every direction around us in the plains, others coming down in large herds to water at the river. The fragments of many carcasses of these poor animals daily pass down the river, thus mangled I presume, in descending those immense cataracts above us. As the buffalo generally go in large herds to water, and the passages to the river about the falls are narrow and steep, the hinder part of the herd press those in front out of their depth, and the water instantly takes them over the cataracts, where they are instantly crushed to death without the possibility of escaping. In this manner, I have seen ten or a dozen disappear in a few minutes. Their mangled carcasses lie along the shores below the falls in considerable quantities and afford fine amusement for the bear, wolves, and birds of prey. This may be one reason- and I think not a bad one, either-that the bear are so tenacious of their right of spoil in this neighborhood.
A fine morning. Wind as usual. Captain Lewis with the party unloaded the pirogue, and he determined to keep the party employed in getting the loading to the creek about one mile over a low hill, in my absence on the portage.
I set out with 5 men at 8 o'clock, and proceeded on up the creek some distance, to examine that and, if possible ascend that sufficiently high, that a straight course to the mouth of Medicine River would head the two ravines. The creek I found confined, rapid, and shallow, generally passed through an open rolling prairie, so as to head the two ravines.
After heading two, we steered our course so as to strike the river below the great pitch. On our course to the river, crossed a deep ravine near its mouth, with steep cliffs. This ravine had running water which was very fine. The river at this place is narrow, and confined in perpendicular cliffs of 170 feet. From the tops of those cliffs, the country rises with a steep ascent for about 250 feet more.
We proceeded up the river, passing a succession of rapids and cascades, to the Falls, which we had heard for several miles, making a deadly sound. I beheld those cataracts with astonishment. The whole of the water of this great river confined in a channel of 280 yards and pitching over a rock of 97 feet 3/4 of an inch. From the foot of the Falls rises a continued mist which is extended for 150 yards down and to near the top of the cliffs on L. side.
The river below is confined in a narrow channel of 93 yards, leaving a small bottom of timber on the starboard side which is defended by a rock, ranging crosswise the river a little below the chute. A short distance below this cataract a large rock divides the stream. In descending the cliffs to take the height of the fall, I was near slipping into the water, at which place I must have been sucked under in an instant, and with difficulty and great risk I ascended again, and descended the cliff lower down (but few places can be descended to the river), and took the height with as much accuracy as possible, with a spirit level, &c. Dined at a fine spring 200 yards below the pitch, near which place 4 cotton willow trees grew. On one of them I marked my name, the date, and height of the falls. We then proceeded on up the river, passing a continued cascade and rapid to a fall of 19 feet at 4 small islands. This fall is diagonally across the river from the larboard side, forming an angle of 3/4 of the width for the larboard, from which side it pitches for 2,/3 of that distance. On the starboard side is a rapid decline. Below this chute, a deep ravine falls in, in which we camped for the night, which was cold.
The mountains in every direction have snow on them. The plain to our left is level. We saw one bear and innumerable numbers of buffalo. I saw 2 herds of those animals watering immediately above a considerable rapid. They descended by a narrow pass, &c., the bottom small. The river forced those forward into the water, some of which were taken down in an instant, and seen no more. Others made shore with difficulty. I beheld 40 or 50 of those swimming at the same time. Those animals in this way are lost, and accounts for the number of buffalo carcasses below the rapids.
This morning I employed all hands in drawing the pirogue on shore in a thick bunch of willow bushes some little distance below our camp. Fastened her securely, drove out the plugs of the gauge holes of her bottom, and covered her with bushes and driftwood to shelter her from the sun. I now selected a place for a cache and set three men at work to complete it and employed all others- except those about the wagons- in overhauling, airing, and repacking our Indian goods, ammunition, provision, and stores of every description which required inspection. Examined the frame of my iron boat and found all the parts complete except one screw, which the ingenuity of Shields can readily replace- a resource which we have very frequent occasion for.
About twelve o'clock, the hunters returned. They had killed ten deer but no elk. I begin to fear that we shall have some difficulty in procuring skins for the boat. I would prefer those of the elk because I believe them more durable and strong than those of the buffalo, and that they will not shrink so much in drying.
We saw a herd of buffalo come down to water at the sulfur spring this evening. I dispatched some hunters to kill some of them, and a man also for a cask of mineral water. The hunters soon killed two of them, in fine order and returned with a good quantity of the flesh, having left the remainder in a situation that it will not spoil provided the wolves do not visit it. The wagons are completed this evening, and appear as if they would answer the purpose very well if the axletrees prove sufficiently strong. The wind blew violently this evening, as they frequently do in this open country where there is not a tree to break or oppose their force.
The Indian woman is recovering fast. She sat up the greater part of the day, and walked out for the first time since she arrived here. She eats heartily, and is free from fever or pain. I continue same course of medicine and regimen except that I added one dose of 15 drops of the oil of vitriol today, about noon.
We set out early and arrived at the second great cataract about 200 yards above the last, of 19 feet pitch. This is one of the grandest views in nature, and by far exceeds anything I ever saw: the Missouri falling over a shelving rock for 47 feet 8 inches, with a cascade, &c., of 14 feet 7 inches above the chute, for 1/4 mile. I descended the cliff below this cataract with ease, measured the height of the perpendicular fall of 47 feet 8 inches, at which place the river is 473 yards wide, as also the height of the cascade, &c. A continual mist quite across this fall.
After which, we proceeded on up the river a little more than a mile to the largest fountain or spring I ever saw, and doubt if it is not the largest in America known. This water boils up from under the rocks near the edge of the river and falls immediately into the river eight feet, and keeps its color for 1/2 a mile, which is immensely clear and of a bluish cast.
Proceeded on up the river past a succession of rapids to the next great fall of 26 feet 5 inches, river 580 yards wide. This fall is not entirely perpendicular. A short bench gives a curve to the water as it falls. A beautiful small island at the foot of this fall near the center of the channel, covered with trees.
This evening one man, A. Willard, going for a load of meat at 170 yards distance on an island, was attacked by a white bear, and very near being caught. Pursued within 40 yards of camp, where I was, with one man. I collected three others of the party and pursued the bear (who had pursued my track from a buffalo I had killed on the island at about 300 yards distance and chanced to meet Willard), for fear of his attacking one man, Colter, at the lower point of the island. Before we had got down, the bear had alarmed the man and pursued him into the water. At our approach he retreated, and we relieved the man in the water. I saw the bear, but the bushes were so thick that I could not shoot him and it was nearly dark. The wind from the S.W. and cool. Killed a beaver and an elk for their skins this evening.
This morning I sent over several men for the meat which was killed yesterday. A few hours after, they returned with it; the wolves had not discovered it. I also dispatched George Drouilliard, Reuben Fields, and George Shannon on the north side of the Missouri with orders to proceed to the entrance of Medicine River, and endeavor to kill some elk in that neighborhood. As there is more timber on that river than the Missouri, I expect that the elk are more plenty. The cache completed today. The wind blew violently the greater part of the day.
The Indian woman was much better this morning. She walked out and gathered a considerable quantity of the white apples, of which she ate so heartily in their raw state, together with a considerable quanity of dried fish without my knowledge, that she complained very much and her fever returned. I rebuked Charbonneau severly for suffering her to indulge herself with such food, he being privy to it and having been previously told what she must only eat. I now gave her broken doses of diluted niter until it produced perspiration, and at 10 P.M., 30 drops of laudanum, which gave her a tolerable nights rest.
This morning I employed the greater part of the men in transporting a part of the baggage over Portage Creek to the top of the high plain about three miles in advance on the portage. I also had one canoe carried on truck wheels to the same place and put the baggage in it, in order to make an early start in the morning, as the route of our portage is not yet entirely settled, and it would be inconvenient to remain in the open plain all night at a distance from water which would probably be the case if we did not set out early, as the latter part of the route is destitute of water for about 8 miles.
Having determined to go to the upper part of the portage tomorrow, in order to prepare my boat and receive and take care of the stores as they were transported, I caused the iron frame of the boat and the necessary tools, my private baggage, and instruments to be taken as a part of this load; also the baggage of Joseph Fields, Sergeant Gass, and John Shields, whom I had selected to assist me in constructing the leather boat.
Three men were employed today in shaving the elk skins which had been collected for the boat. The balance of the party were employed in cutting the meat we had killed yesterday into thin flitches and drying it, and in bringing in the balance of what had been left over the river with three men last evening. I readily perceive several difficulties in preparing the leather boat, which are the want of convenient and proper timber, bark, skins, and above all, that of pitch to pay her seams, a deficiency that I really know not how to surmount, unless it be by means of tallow and pounded charcoal, which mixture has answered a very good purpose on our wooden canoes heretofore.
This morning early, Captain Clark and myself with all the party except Sergeant Ordway, Charbonneau, Goodrich, York, and the Indian woman, set out to pass the portage with the canoe and baggage to the Whitebear Island where we intend that this portage shall end. Captain Clark piloted us through the plains. About noon we reached a little stream about 8 miles on the portage, where we halted and dined. We were obliged here to renew both axletrees and the tongues and horns of one set of wheels, which took us no more than 2 hours. These parts of our carriage had been made of cottonwood and one axletree of an old mast, all of which proved deficient and had broken down several times before we reached this place. We have now renewed them with the sweet willow and hope that they will answer better. After dark, we had reached within half a mile of our intended camp when the tongues gave way and we were obliged to leave the canoe. Each man took as much of the baggage as he could carry on his back and proceeded to the ever, where we formed our encampment, much fatigued. The prickly pears were extremely troublesome to us, sticking our feet through our moccasins.
This morning early, I selected a place for the purpose of constructing my boat, near the water under some shady willows. Captain Clark had the canoe and baggage brought up, after which we breakfasted and nearly consumed the meat which he had left here. He now set out on his return with the party. I employed the three men with me in the forenoon clearing away the brush and forming our camp, and putting the frame of the boat together.
This being done, I sent Shields and Gass to look out for the necessary timber, and with J. Fields descended the river in the canoe to the mouth of Medicine River, in search of the hunters whom I had dispatched thither on the 19th inst. and from whom we had not heard a sentence. I entered the mouth of Medicine River and ascended it about half a mile, when we landed and walked up the starboard side, frequently whooping as we went on in order to find the hunters. At length, after ascending the river about five miles, we found Shannon, who had passed the Medicine River and fixed his camp on the larboard side, where he had killed seven deer and several buffalo, and dried about 600 pounds of buffalo meat; but had killed no elk.
Shannon could give me no further account of R. Fields and Drouilliard than that he had left them about noon on the 19th at the Great Falls and had come on to the mouth of Medicine River to hunt elk as he had been directed, and never had seen them since. The evening being now far spent I thought it better to pass the Medicine River and remain all night at Shannon's camp. I passed the river on a raft which we soon constructed for the purpose.
Supposing that Drouilliard and R. Fields might possibly be still higher up Medicine River, I dispatched J. Fields up the river with orders to proceed about four miles and then return, whether he found them or not, and join Shannon at this camp. I set out early and walked down the southwest side of the river, and sent Shannon down the opposite side, to bring the canoe over to me and put me across the Missouri. Having landed on the larboard side of the Missouri, I sent Shannon back with the canoe to meet J. Fields and bring the dried meat at that place to the camp at Whitebear Island, which he accomplished, and arrived with Fields this morning.
The party also arrived this evening with two canoes from the lower camp. They were wet and fatigued. Gave them a dram. R. Fields came with them and gave me an account of his and Droullliard's hunt, and informed me that Drouillard was still at their camp with the meat they had dried. The iron frame of my boat is 36 feet long, 41/2 feet in the beam, and 26 inches in the hold.
This morning early I sent the party back to the lower camp; dispatched Frazer down with the canoe for Drouilliard and the meat he had collected, and Joseph Fields up the Missouri to hunt elk. At eight o'clock, sent Gass and Shields over to the large island for bark and timber.
About noon Fields returned and informed me that he had seen two white bear near the river a few miles above and, in attempting to get a shot at them, had stumbled upon a third, which immediately made at him, being only a few steps distant; that in running in order to escape from the bear he had leaped down a steep bank of the river on a stony bar, where he fell, cut his hand, bruised his knees and bent his gun; that fortunately for him the bank hid him from the bear when he fell; and that by that means he had escaped. This man has been truly unfortunate with these bear. This is the second time that he has narrowly escaped from them.
The party that returned this evening to the lower camp reached it in time to take one canoe on the plain and prepare their baggage for an early start in the morning, after which such as were able to shake a foot amused themselves in dancing on the green to the music of the violin, which Cruzat plays extremely well. Captain Clark somewhat unwell today. He made Charbonneau cook for the party against their return.
It is worthy of remark that the winds are sometimes so strong in these plains that the men informed me that they hoisted a sail in the canoe and it had driven her along on the truck wheels. This is really sailing on dry land.
Set Frazer to work to sew the skins together for the covering of the boat. Shields and Gass I sent over the river to search a small timbered bottom on that side, opposite to the islands, for timber and bark. And to myself I assign the duty of cook as well for those present as for the party which l expect again to arrive this evening from the lower camp. I collected my wood and water, boiled a large quantity of excellent dried buffalo meat, and made each man a large suet dumpling by way of a treat.
About 4 P.M., Shields and Gass returned with a better supply of timber than they had yet collected, though not by any means enough. They brought some bark, principally of the cottonwood, which I found was too brittle and soft for the purpose. For this article, I find my only dependence is the sweet willow, which has a tough and strong bark.
Shields and Gass had killed seven buffalo in their absence, the skins of which and a part of the best of the meat they brought with them. If I cannot procure a sufficient quantity of elk skins, I shall substitute those of the buffalo. Late in the evening, the party arrived with two more canoe and another portion of the baggage.
Whitehouse, one of them, much heated and fatigued on his arrival, drank a very hearty draught of water and was taken almost instantly extremely ill. His pulse was full, and I therefore bled him plentifully, from which he felt great relief. I had no other instrument with which to perform this operation but my penknife; however, it answered very well. The wind being from S.E. today and favorable, the men made considerable progress by means of their sails.
At the Lower Camp. The party set out very early from this place, and took with them two canoes and a second a lotment of baggage, consisting of parched meal, pork powder, lead, axes, tools, biscuit, portable soup, some merchandise, and clothing. Captain Clark gave Sergeant Pryor a dose of salts this morning, and employed Charbonneau in rendering the buffalo tallow which had been collected there. He obtained a sufficient quantity to fill three empty kegs.
Captain Clark also selected the articles to be deposited in the cache, consisting of my desk- which I had left for that purpose and in which I had left some books, my specimens of plants, minerals, &c., collected from Fort Mandan to that place- also 2 kegs of pork, 1/2 a keg of flour, two blunderbusses, 1/2 a keg of fixed ammunition, and some other small articles belonging to the party which could be dispensed with. Deposited the swivel and carriage under the rocks, a tattle above the camp, near the river.
At 1 P.M. a cloud arose to the southwest, and shortly after came on, attended with violent thunder, lightning, and hail. Soon after this storm was over, Drouilliard and J. Fields returned. They were about 4 miles above us during the storm. The hail was of no uncommon size where they were.
Set Drouilliard to shaving the elk skins, Fields to make the cross stays for the boat, Prazer and Whitehouse continue their operation with the skins, Shields and Gass finish the horizontal bars of the sections, after which I sent them in search of willow bark, a sufficient supply of which they now obtained to line the boat.
The white bear have become so troublesome to us that I do not think it prudent to send one man alone on an errand of any kind, particularly where he has to pass through the brush. We have seen two of them on the large island opposite to us today, but are so much engaged that we could not spare the time to hunt them, but will make a frolic of it when the party returns, and drive them from these islands. They come close around our camp every night but have never yet ventured to attack us, and our dog gives us timely notice of their visits. He keeps constantly patrolling all night. I have made the men sleep with their arms by them as usual, for fear of accidents.
Not having seen the large fountain of which Captain Clark spoke, I determined to visit it today, as I could better spare this day from my attention to the boat than probably any other when the work would be further advanced. Accordingly, after setting the hands at their several employments, I took Drouilliard and set out for the fountain, and passed through a level beautiful plain for about six miles, when I reached the break of the river hills. Here we were overtaken by a violent gust of wind and rain from the S.W., attended with thunder and lightning. I expected a hailstorm probably from this cloud and therefore took refuge in a little gully, where there were some broad stones with which I purposed protecting my head if we should have a repetition of the scene of the 27th. But fortunately, we had but little hail and that not large. I sat very composedly for about an hour without shelter and took a copious drenching of rain.
After the shower was over I continued my route to the fountain, which I found much as Captain Clark had described, and think it may well be retained on the list of prodigies of this neighborhood, toward which Nature seems to have dealt with a liberal hand, for I have scarcely experienced a day since my first arrival in this quarter without experiencing some novel occurrence among the party or witnessing the appearance of some uncommon object. I think this fountain the largest I ever beheld, and the handsome cascade which it affords over some steep and irregular rocks in its passage to the river adds not a little to its beauty. It is about 25 yards from the river, situated in a pretty little level plain, and has a sudden descent of about 6 feet in one part of its course. The water of this fountain is extremely transparent and cold, nor is it impregnated with lime or any other extraneous matter which I can discover, but is very pure and pleasant. Its waters mark their passage, as Captain Clark observes, for a considerable distance down the Missouri, notwithstanding its rapidity and force. The water of the fountain boils up with such force near its center that its surface in that part seems even higher than the surrounding earth, which is a firm handsome turf of fine green grass.
Finding that the prairie was so wet as to render it impossible to pass on to the end of the portage, determined to send back to the top of the hill at the creek for the remaining part of the baggage left at that place yesterday, leaving one man to take care of the baggage at this place, I determined to proceed on to the falls and take the river. Accordingly, we all set out. I took my servant and one man. Charbonneau our interpreter, and his squaw accompanied. Soon after I arrived at the falls, I perceived a cloud which appeared black and threatened immediate rain. I looked out for a shelter but could see no place without being in great danger of being blown into the river if the wind should prove as turbulent as it is at some times.
About 1/4 of a mile above the falls, I observed a deep ravine in which were shelving rocks under which we took shelter near the river, and placed our guns, the compass, &c., under a shelving rock on the upper side of the creek, in a place which was very secure from rain. The first shower was moderate, accompanied with a violent wind, the effects of which we did not feel. Soon after, a torrent of rain and hail fell, more violent than ever I saw before. The rain fell like one volley of water falling from the heavens and gave us time only to get out of the way of a torrent of water which was pouring down the hill into the river with immense force, tearing everything before it, taking with it large rocks and mud.
I took my gun and shot pouch in my left hand and with the right scrambled up the hill, pushing the interpreter's wife- who had her child in her arms- before me, the interpreter himself making attempts to pull up his wife by the hand, much scared and nearly without motion. We at length reached the top of the hill safely, where I found my servant in search of us, greatly agitated for our welfare. Before I got out of the bottom of the ravine, which was a flat dry rock when I entered it, the water was up to my waist and wet my watch. I scarcely got out before it rose 10 feet deep with a torrent which was terrible to behold, and by the time I reached the top of the hill, at least 15 feet water. I directed the party to return to the camp, at the run, as fast as possible to get to our load, where clothes could be got to cover the child, whose clothes were all lost; and the woman, who was but just recovering from a severe indisposition and was wet and cold, I was fearful of a relapse. I caused her, as also the others of the party, to take a little spirits, which my servant had in a canteen, which revived them very much. On arrival at the camp on the willow run, met the party, who had returned in great confusion to the run, leaving their loads in the plain, the hail and wind being so large and violent in the plains, and them naked; they were much bruised, and some nearly killed-one knocked down three times-and others without hats or anything on their heads, bloody and complained very much. I refreshed them with a little grog.
I set four men to make new axletrees and repair the carriages, others to take the load across the river, which had fallen and is about 3 feet water. Men complain of being sore this day, dull and lolling about. The two men dispatched in search of the articles lost yesterday returned and brought the compass, which they found in the mud and stones near the mouth of the ravine. No other articles found. The place I sheltered under filled up with huge rocks. I set the party out at 11 o'clock to take a load to the 6-mile stake and return this evening, and I intend to take on the balance to the river tomorrow if the prairie will permit. At 3 o'clock a storm of wind from the S.W., after which we had a clear evening. Great numbers of buffalo in every direction. I think 10,000 may be seen in a view.
This morning I set Frazer and Whitehouse to sewing the leather on the sides of the sections of the boat, Shields and J. Fields to collect and split light wood and prepare a pit to make tar. Gass I set to work to make the way strips out of some willow limbs, which, though indifferent, were the best which could be obtained. Drouilliard and myself completed the operation of rendering the tallow. We obtained about 100 pounds.
By evening the skins were all attached to their sections, and I returned them again to the water. All matters were now in readiness to commence the operation of putting the parts of the boat together in the morning. The way strips are not yet ready but will be done in time, as I have obtained the necessary timber. The difficulty in obtaining the necessary materials has retarded my operations in forming this boat-extremely tedious and troublesome. And as it was a novel piece of mechanism to all who were employed, my constant attention was necessary to every part of the work. This, together with the duties of chief cook, has kept me pretty well employed.
At 3 P.M., Captain Clark arrived with the party, all very much fatigued. He brought with him all the baggage except what he had deposited yesterday at the six-mile stake, for which the party were too much fatigued to return this evening. We gave them a dram, and suffered them to rest from their labors this evening. I directed Bratton to assist in making the tar tomorrow, and selected several others to assist in putting the boat together. The day has been warm and the mosquitoes troublesome, of course. The bear were about our camp all last night. We have therefore determined to beat up their quarters tomorrow, and kill them or drive them from their haunts about this place.
After I had completed my observation of equal altitudes today, Captain Clark, myself, and 12 men passed over to the large islands to hunt bear. The brush in that part of it where the bear frequent is an almost impenetrable thicket of the broad-leafed willow. This brush we entered in small parties of three or four together and searched in every part. We found only one, which made at Drouilliard, and he shot him in the breast at the distance of about 20 feet. The ball fortunately passed through his heart. The stroke knocked the bear down and gave Drouilliard time to get out of his sight. The bear changed his course. We pursued him about 100 yards by the blood and found him dead. We searched the thicket in every part but found no other, and therefore returned. This was a young male and would weigh about 400 pounds.
Yesterday we permitted Sergeant Gass, McNeal, and several others who had not yet seen the Falls to visit them. No appearance of tar yet, and I am now confident that we shall not be able to obtain any-a serious misfortune. I employed a number of hands on the boat today, and by 4 P.M. in the evening completed her except the most difficult part of the work-that of making her seams secure. I had her turned up and some small fires kindled underneath to dry her.
Captain Clark completed a draft of the river from Fort Mandan to this place which we intend depositing at this place in order to guard against accidents. Not having seen the Snake Indians or knowing in fact whether to calculate on their friendship or hostility, we have conceived our party sufficiently small, and therefore have concluded not to dispatch a canoe with a part of our men to St. Louis as we had intended early in the spring.
We fear also that such a measure might possibly discourage those who would in such case remain, and might possibly hazard the fate of the expedition. We have never once hinted to any one of the party that we had such a scheme in contemplation, and all appear perfectly to have made up their minds to succeed in the expedition or perish in the attempt. We all believe that we are now about to enter on the most perilous and difficult part of our voyage, yet I see no one repining. All appear ready to meet those difficulties which await us with resolution and becoming fortitude.
The mountains to the N.W. and W. of us are still entirely covered, are white, and glitter with the reflection of the sun. I do not believe that the clouds which prevail at this season of the year reach the summits of those lofty mountains, and if they do, the probability is that they deposit snow only, for there has been no perceptible diminution of the snow which they contain since we first saw them. I have thought it probable that these mountains might have derived their appellation of "Shining Mountains" from their glittering appearance when the sun shines in certain directions on the snow which covers them.
The wind continued violent until late in the evening, by which time we discovered that a greater part of the composition had separated from the skins, and left the seams of the boat exposed to the water, and she leaked in such manner that she would not answer. I need not add that this circumstance mortified me not a little; and to prevent her leaking without pitch was impossible with us, and to obtain this article was equally impossible, therefore the evil was irreparable. I now found that the section formed of the buffalo hides on which some hair had been left, answered much the best purpose. This leaked but little, and the parts which were well covered with hair about l/8 of an inch in length retained the composition perfectly and remained sound and dry. From these circumstances I am persuaded that had I formed her with buffalo skins, singed not quite as close as I had done those I employed, she would have answered even with this composition. But to make any further experiments in our present situation seemed to me madness. The buffalo had principally deserted us, and the season was now advancing fast. I therefore relinquished all further hope of my favorite boat, and ordered her to be sunk in the water, that the skins might become soft in order the better to take her to pieces tomorrow, and deposited the iron frame at this place as it could probably be of no further service to us.
We eat an immensity of meat. It requires 4 deer, an elk and a deer, or one buffalo, to supply us plentifully 24 hours. Meat now forms our food principally, as we reserve our flour, parched meal, and corn as much as possible for the Rocky Mountains, which we are shortly to enter, and where, from the Indian account, game is not very abundant.
At 10 A.M., we once more saw ourselves fairly under way much to my joy, and I believe that of every individual who compose the party. I walked on shore and killed two elk near one of which the party halted and dined. We took the skins, marrowbones, and a part of the flesh of these elk. In order to lighten the burden of the canoes, I continued my walk all the evening, and took our only invalids, Potts and Lepage, with me.
Set out early this morning. Previous to our departure, saw a large herd of the big-horned animals on the immensely high and nearly perpendicular cliff opposite to us. On the face of this cliff they walked about and bounded from rock to rock with apparent unconcern where it appeared to me that no quadruped could have stood, and from which, had they made one false step, they must have been precipitated at least 500 feet. This animal appears to frequent such precipices and cliffs, where in fact they are perfectly secure from the pursuit of the wolf, bear, or even man himself.
As we were anxious now to meet with the Shoshones, or Snake Indians, as soon as possible, in order to obtain information relative to the geography of the country, and also, if necessary, some horses, we thought it better for one of us- either Captain Clark or myself- to take a small party and proceed on up the river some distance, before the canoes, in order to discover them should they be on the river, before the daily discharge of our guns, which was necessary in procuring subsistence for the party, should alarm and cause them to retreat to the mountains and conceal themselves, supposing us to be their enemies who visit them usually by way of this river. Accordingly, Captain Clark set out this morning after breakfast with Joseph Field, Potts, and his servant York.
A fine morning. We proceeded on through a valley, leaving the river about 6 miles to our left, and fell into an Indian road which took us to the river above the mouth of a creek, 18 miles. The mosquitoes very troublesome. My man York nearly tired out. The bottoms of my feet blistered. I observe a smoke rise to our right, up the valley of the last creek, about 12 miles distant. The cause of this smoke I can't account for certainly, though think it probable that the Indians have heard the shooting of the party below, and set the prairies or valley on fire to alarm their camps, supposing our party to be a war party coming against them. I left signs to show the Indians if they should come on our trail that we were not their enemies. Camped on the river. The feet of the men with me so stuck with prickly pear and cut with stones that they were scarcely able to march at a slow gait this afternoon.
Set out early this morning and passed a bad rapid where the river enters the mountain, about 1 mile from our camp of last evening. The cliffs high, and covered with fragments of broken rocks. The current strong. We employed the towrope principally, and also the poles, as the river is not now so deep but rather wider and much more rapid. Our progress was therefore slow and laborious. We saw three swans this morning, which, like the geese, have not yet recovered the feathers of the wings and could not fly. We killed two of them; the third escaped by diving and passed down with the current. They had no young ones with them, therefore presume they do not breed in this country. These are the first we have seen on the river for a great distance We daily see great numbers of geese with their young which are perfectly feathered except the wings, which are deficient in both young and old. My dog caught several today, as he frequently does.
The Indian woman recognizes the country and assures us that this is the river on which her relations live, and that the Three Forks are at no great distance. This piece of information has cheered the spirits of the party, who now begin to console themselves with the anticipation of shortly seeing the head of the Missouri, yet unknown to the civilized world. The large creek which we passed on starboard, 15 yards, we call White Earth Creek from the circumstance of the natives procuring a white paint on this creek.
I ordered the canoes to hoist their small flags in order that should the Indians see us, they might discover that we were not Indians, nor their enemies. We made great use of our setting poles and cords, the use of both which the river and banks favored. Most of our small sockets were lost, and the stones were so smooth that the points of their poles slipped m such manner that it increased the labor of navigating the canoes very considerably. I recollected a parcel of gigs which I had brought on, and made the men each attach one of these to the lower ends of their poles with strong wire, which answered the desired purpose.
The valley through which the river passed today is much as that of yesterday, nor is there any difference in the appearance of the mountains. They still continue high and seem to rise in some places like an amphitheater, one range above another, as they recede from the river, until the most distant and lofty have their tops clad with snow. The adjacent mountains commonly rise so high as to conceal the more distant and lofty mountains from our view.
I fear every day that we shall meet with some considerable falls or obstruction in the river notwithstanding the information of the Indian woman to the contrary, who assures us that the river continues much as we see it. I can scarcely form an idea of a river running to great extent through such a rough, mountainous country without having its stream intercepted by some difficult and dangerous rapids or falls. We daily pass a great number of small rapids or riffles, which descend one, two, or three feet in 150 yards, but we are rarely incommoded with fixed or standing rocks, and although strong rapid water, they are nevertheless quite practicable and by no means dangerous.
This morning Captain Clark set out early and pursued the Indian road, which took him up a creek some miles. About 10 A.M., he discovered a horse about six miles distant, on his left. He changed his route toward the horse. On approaching him, he found the horse in fine order but so wild he could not get within less than several hundred paces of him. He still saw much Indian sign, but none of recent date. From this horse he directed his course obliquely to the river, where, on his arrival, he killed a deer and dined.
A fine morning. We proceeded on a few miles to the Three Forks of the Missouri. Those three forks are nearly of a size. The north fork appears to have the most water and must be considered as the one best calculated for us to ascend. Middle fork is quite as large- about 90 yards wide. The south fork is about 70 yards wide, and falls in about 400 yards below the middle fork. Those forks appear to be very rapid, and contain some timber in their bottoms which are very extensive.
On the north side the Indians have latterly set the prairies on fire- the cause I can't account for. I saw one horsetrack going up the river, about four or 5 days past.
After breakfast- which we made on the ribs of a buck killed yesterday- I wrote a note informing Captain Lewis the route I intended to take, and proceeded on up the main north fork through a valley, the day very hot.
About 6 or 8 miles up the north fork, a small rapid river falls in on the larboard side, which affords a great deal of water, and appears to head in the snow mountains to the S.W. This little river falls into the Missouri by three mouths, having separated after it arrives in the river bottoms, and contains, as also all the water courses in this quarter, immense numbers of beaver and otter. Many thousand inhabit the river and creeks near the Three Forks (Philosopher's River) . We camped on the same side. We ascended starboard 20 miles on a direct line up the N. fork. Charbonneau, our interpreter, nearly tired out; one of his ankles failing him. The bottoms are extensive and tolerable land covered with tall grass and prickly pears. The hills and mountains are high, steep, and rocky. The river very much divided by islands.
The high lands are thin, meager soil, covered with dry, low sedge and a species of grass, also dry, the seeds of which are armed with a long, twisted, hard beard at the upper extremity, while the lower point is a sharp, subulate, firm point beset at its base with little stiff bristles standing with their points in a contrary direction to the subulate point, to which they answer as a barb and serve also to press it forward when once entered a small distance. These barbed seeds penetrate our moccasins and leather leggings and give us great pain until they are removed. My poor dog suffers with them excessively. He is constantly biting and scratching himself as if in a rack of pain.
The prickly pear also grow here as abundantly as usual. There is another species of the prickly pear of a globular form, composed of an assemblage of little conic leaves springing from a common root, to which their small points are attached as a common center; and the base of the cone forms the apex of the leaf, which is garnished with a circular range of sharp thorns, quite as stiff and more keen than the more common species with the flat leaf, like the cochineal plant.
On entering this open valley, I saw the snow-clad tops of distant mountains before us. The timber and mountains much as heretofore. Saw a number of beaver today and some otter; killed one of the former, also four deer. Found a deer's skin which had been left by Captain Clark, with a note informing me of his having met with a horse, but had seen no fresh appearance of the Indians.
I determined to leave Charbonneau and one man who had sore feet to rest, and proceed on with the other two to the top of a mountain 12 miles distant, west, and from thence view the river and valleys ahead. We, with great difficulty and much fatigue, reached the top at 11 o'clock. From the top of this mountain I could see the course of the north fork about ten miles, meandering through a valley, but could discover no Indians or sign which was fresh. I could also see some distance up the small river below, and also the middle fork. After satisfying myself, returned to the two men by an old Indian path.
On this path, and in the mountain, we came to a spring of excessive cold water, which we drank rather freely of, as we were almost famished. Notwithstanding the precautions of wetting my face, hands, and feet, I soon felt the effects of the water. We continued through a deep valley without a tree to shade us, scorching with heat, to the men who had killed a poor deer. I was fatigued. My feet with several blisters, and stuck with prickly pears.
Ascended the S.W. fork 1 3/4 miles and encamped at a larboard bend in a handsome, level, smooth plain just below a bayou, having passed the entrance of the middle fork at 1/2 a mile. Here I encamped to wait the return of Captain Clark, and to give the men a little rest, which seemed absolutely necessary to them. At the junction of the S.W. and middle forks, I found a note which had been left by Captain Clark informing me of his intended route, and that he would join me at this place, provided he did not fall in with any fresh sign of Indians, in which case he intended to pursue until he overtook them, calculating on my taking the S.W. fork, which I most certainly prefer, as its direction is much more promising than any other.
Believing this to be an essential point in the geography of this western part of the continent, I determined to remain at all events until I obtained the necessary data for fixing its latitude, longitude, &c. After fixing my camp, I had the canoes all unloaded and the baggage stowed away and securely covered on shore, and then permitted several men to hunt.
I walked down to the middle fork and examined and compared it with the S.W. fork, but could not satisfy myself which was the largest stream of the two; in fact they appeared as if they had been cast in the same mold, there being no difference in character or size. Therefore, to call either of these streams the Missouri would be giving it a preference which its size does not warrant, as it is not larger than the other. They are each 90 yards wide. In these meadows I saw a number of the mallard duck with their young, which are now nearly grown.
Captain Clark arrived very sick, with a high fever on him, and much fatigued and exhausted. He informed me that he was very sick all last night, had a high fever and frequent chills and constant aching pains in all his muscles. This morning, notwithstanding his indisposition, he pursued his intended route to the middle fork, about 8 miles, and finding no recent sign of Indians, rested about an hour, and came down the middle fork to this place.
Captain Clark thought himself somewhat bilious and had not had a passage for several days. I prevailed on him to take a dose of Rush's pills, which I have always found sovereign in such cases, and to bathe his feet in warm water and rest himself. Captain Clark's indisposition was a further inducement for my remaining here a couple of days. I therefore informed the men of my intention, and they put their deer skins in the water in order to prepare them for dressing tomorrow.
We begin to feel considerable anxiety with respect to the Snake Indians. If we do not find them or some other nation who have horses, I fear the successful issue of our voyage will be very doubtful, or at all events much more difficult in its accomplishment. We are now several hundred miles within the bosom of this wild and mountainous country, where game may rationally be expected shortly to become scarce and subsistence precarious without any information with respect to the country, not knowing how far these mountains continue, or where to direct our course to pass them to advantage or intercept a navigable branch of the Columbia; or even were we on such an one, the probability is that we should not find any timber within these mountains large enough for canoes, if we judge from the portion of them through which we have passed.
However, I still hope for the best, and intend taking a tramp myself in a few days to find these yellow 2 gentlemen if possible. My two principal consolations are that from our present position it is impossible that the S.W. fork can head with the waters of any other river but the Columbia, and that if any Indians can subsist in the form of a nation in these mountains with the means they have of acquiring food, we can also subsist.
My friend Captain Clark was very sick all last night but feels himself somewhat better this morning, since his medicine has operated. I dispatched two men early this morning up the S.E. fork to examine the river, and permitted sundry others to hunt in the neighborhood of this place. Both Captain Clark and myself corresponded in opinion with respect to the impropriety of calling either of these streams the Missouri, and accordingly agreed to name them after the President of the United States and the Secretaries of the Treasury and State, having previously named one river in honor of the Secretaries of War and Navy.
In pursuance of this resolution, we called the S.W. fork- that which we meant to ascend- Jefferson's River, in honor of that illustrious personage, Thomas Jefferson [the author of our enterprise]. The middle fork we called Madison's River, in honor of James Madison; and the S.E. fork we called Gallatin's River, in honor of Albert Gallatin. The two first are 90 yards wide, and the last is 70 yards. All of them run with great velocity and throw out large bodies of water. Gallatin's River is rather more rapid than either of the others, is not quite as deep, but from all appearances may be navigated to a considerable distance.
Captain Clark, who came down Madison's River yesterday and has also seen Jefferson's some distance, thinks Madison's rather the most rapid, but it is not as much so, by any means, as Gallatin's. The beds of all these streams are formed of smooth pebble and gravel, and their waters perfectly transparent; in short, they are three noble streams.
Our present camp is precisely on the spot that the Snake Indians were encamped at the time the Minnetarees of the Knife River first came in sight of them five years since. From hence they retreated about three miles up Jefferson's River and concealed themselves in the woods. The Minnetarees pursued, attacked them, killed four men, four women, a number of boys, and made prisoners of all the females and four boys. Sacagawea, our Indian woman, was one of the female prisoners taken at that time, though I cannot discover that she shows any emotion of sorrow in recollecting this event, or of joy in being again restored to her native country. If she has enough to eat and a few trinkets to wear, I believe she would be perfectly content anywhere.
Captain Clark set out this morning as usual. He walked on shore a small distance this morning and killed a deer. In the course of his walk he saw a track which he supposed to be that of an Indian from the circumstance of the large toes turning inward. He pursued the track and found that the person had ascended a point of a hill from which his camp of the last evening was visible. This circumstance also confirmed the belief of its being an Indian who had thus discovered them, and ran off.
We set out this morning very early on our return to the Forks. Having nothing to eat, I sent Drouilliard to the wood-lands to my left in order to kit a deer; sent Sergeant Gass to the right with orders to keep sufficiently near to discover Captain Clark and the party should they be on their way up that stream; and, with Charbonneau, I directed my course to the main Forks through the bottom, directing the others to meet us there.
About five miles above the Forks, I heard the whooping of the party to my left and changed my route toward them. On my arrival, found that they had taken the rapid fork and learned from Captain Clark that he had not found the note which I had left for him at that place and the reasons which had induced him to ascend this stream. It was easiest and more in our direction, and appeared to contain as much water. He had, however, previously to my coming up with him, met Drouilliard, who informed him of the state of the two rivers and was on his return.
One of their canoes had just overset and all the baggage wet- the medicine box, among other articles- and several articles lost, a shot pouch and horn with all the implements for one rifle lost and never recovered. I walked down to the point where I waited their return.
On their arrival, found that two other canoes had filled with water and wet their cargoes completely. Whitehouse had been thrown out of one of the canoes as she swung in a rapid current, and the canoe had rubbed him and pressed him to the bottom as she passed over him, and had the water been two inches shallower must inevitably have crushed him to death. Our parched meal, corn, Indian presents, and a great part of our most valuable stores were wet and much damaged on this occasion. To examine, dry, and arrange our stores was the first object. We therefore passed over to the larboard side, opposite to the entrance of the rapid fork, where there was a large gravelly bar that answered our purposes. Wood was also convenient and plenty. Here we fixed our camp and unloaded all our canoes, and opened, and exposed to dry, such articles as had been wet.
A part of the load of each canoe consisted of the leaden canisters of powder, which were not in the least injured though some of them had remained upwards of an hour under water. About 20 pounds of powder which we had in a tight keg, or at least one which we thought sufficiently so, got wet and entirely spoiled. This would have been the case with the other had it not been for the expedient which I had fallen on of securing the powder by means of the lead, having the latter formed into canisters which were filled with the necessary proportion of powder to discharge the lead when used, and those canisters well secured with corks and wax.
Shannon had been dispatched up the rapid fork this morning to hunt by Captain Clark before he met with Drouilliard or learned his mistake in the rivers. When he returned, he sent Drouilliard in search of him, but he rejoined us this evening and reported that he had been several miles up the river and could find nothing of him. We had the trumpet sounded and fired several guns, but he did not join us this evening. I am fearful he is lost again. This is the same man who was separated from us fifteen days as we came up the Missouri, and subsisted nine days of that time on grapes only.
Whitehouse is in much pain this evening with the injury one of his legs sustained from the canoe today, at the time it upset and swung over him. Captain Clark's ankle is also very painful to him. We should have given the party a day's rest somewhere near this place had not this accident happened, as I had determined to take some observations to fix the latitude and longitude of these forks. Our merchandise, medicine, &c., are not sufficiently dry this evening. We covered them securely for the evening. Captain Clark had ascended the river about nine miles from this place on course of S 30° W before he met with Drouilliard.
We believe that the N.W. or rapid fork is the drain of the melting snows of the mountains, and that it is not as long as the middle fork, and does not at all seasons of the year supply anything like as much water as the other, and that about this season it rises to its greatest height. This last appears from the apparent bed of the river, which is now overflowed, and the water in many places spreads through old channels which have their bottoms covered with grass that has grown this season, and is such as appears on the parts of the bottom not inundated. We therefore determined that the middle fork was that which ought of right to bear the name we had given to the lower portion, or River Jefferson; and called the bold, rapid, and clear stream Wisdom; and the more mild and placid one which flows in from the S.E. Philanthropy, in commemoration of two of those cardinal virtues which have so eminently marked that deservedly celebrated character through life.
At one o'clock all our baggage was dry. We therefore packed it up, reloaded the canoes, and the party proceeded with Captain Clark up Jefferson's River. I remained with Sergeant Gass to complete the observation of equal altitudes and joined them in the evening at their camp. We have not heard anything from Shannon yet; we expect that he has pursued Wisdom River upwards for some distance, probably killed some heavy animal, and is awaiting our arrival. The large biting fly, or hare fly as they are sometimes called, are very troublesome to us. I observe two kinds of them- a large black species, and a small brown species with a green head.
The Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right, which, she informed us, was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation, on a river beyond the mountains which runs to the west. This hill, she says, her nation calls the Beaver's Head, from a conceived resemblance of its figure to the head of that animal. She assures us that we shall either find her people on this river, or on the river immediately west of its source, which, from its present size, cannot be very distant.
As it is now all-important with us to meet with those people as soon as possible, I determined to proceed tomorrow with a small party to the source of the principal stream of this river and pass the mountains to the Columbia, and down that river until I found the Indians. In short, it is my resolution to find them or some others who have horses, if it should cause me a trip of one month. For, without horses we shall be obliged to leave a great part of our stores, of which it appears to me that we have a stock already sufficiently small for the length of the voyage before us.
The morning was fair and fine; we set out at an early hour and proceeded on very well. I walked on shore across the land to a point which I presumed they would reach by 8 A.M., our usual time of halting. The party did not arrive, and I returned about a mile and met them. Here they halted and we breakfasted. While we halted here, Shannon arrived and informed us that, having missed the party the day on which he set out, he had returned the next morning to the place from whence he had set out and, not finding them, that he had supposed that they were above him; that he had then marched one day up Wisdom River, by which time he was convinced that they were not above him, as the river could not be navigated; he had then returned to the Forks and pursued us up this river. He had lived very plentifully this trip, but looked a good deal worried with his march.
We set out very early this morning, but the track which we had pursued last evening soon disappeared. I therefore resolved to proceed to the narrow pass on the creek, about 10 miles west, in hopes that I should again find the Indian road at that place. Accordingly, I passed the river, which was about 12 yards wide and barred in several places entirely across by beaver dams, and proceeded through the level plain directly to the pass. I now sent Drouilliard to keep near the creek to my right and Shields to my left, with orders to search for the road, which if they found, they were to notify me by placing a hat on the muzzle of their gun. I kept McNeal with me.
After having marched in this order for about five miles, I discovered an Indian on horseback about two miles distant, coming down the plain toward us. With my glass, I discovered from his dress that he was of a different nation from any that we had yet seen, and was satisfied of his being a Shoshone. His arms were a bow and quiver of arrows, and he was mounted on an elegant horse without a saddle, and a small string which was attached to the under jaw of the horse which answered as a bridle. I was overjoyed at the sight of this stranger, and had no doubt of obtaining a friendly introduction to his nation, provided I could get near enough to him to convince him of our being white men. I therefore proceeded toward him at my usual pace.
When I had arrived within about a mile, he made a halt, which I did also; and unloosing my blanket from my pack, I made him the signal of friendship known to the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and those of the Missouri - which is, by holding the mantle or robe in your hands at two corners and then throwing it up in the air higher than the head, bringing it to the earth as if in the act of spreading it, thus repeating three times. This signal of the robe has arisen from a custom among all those nations of spreading a robe or skin for their guests to sit on when they are visited.
This signal had not the desired effect. He still kept his position, and seemed to view Drouilliard and Shields, who were now coming in sight on either hand, with an air of suspicion. I would willingly have made them halt, but they were too far distant to hear me, and I feared to make any signal to them lest it should increase the suspicion in the mind of the Indian of our having some unfriendly design upon him.
I therefore hastened to take out of my sack some beads a looking glass, and a few trinkets, which I had brought with me for this purpose and, leaving my gun and pouch with McNeal, advanced unarmed toward him. He remained in the same steadfast posture until I arrived in about 200 paces of him, when he turned his horse about and began to move off slowly from me.
I now called to him in as loud a voice as I could command, repeating the word "tab-ba-bone," which, in their language, signifies "white man." But, looking over his shoulder, he still kept his eye on Drouilliard and Shields, who were still advancing, neither of them having sagacity enough to recollect the impropriety of advancing when they saw me thus in parley with the Indian. I now made a signal to these men to halt. Drouilliard obeyed; but Shields, who afterward told me that he did not observe the signal, still kept on.
The Indian halted again, and turned his horse about as if to wait for me, and I believe he would have remained until I came up with him had it not been for Shields, who still pressed forward. When I arrived within about 150 paces, I again repeated the word, "tab-ba-bone," and held up the trinkets in my hands, and stripped up my shirt sleeve to give him an opportunity of seeing the color of my skin, and advanced leisurely toward him. But he did not remain until I got nearer than about 100 paces, when he suddenly turned his horse about, gave him the whip, leaped the creek, and disappeared in the willow brush in an instant; and with him vanished all my hopes of obtaining horses for the present.
I now felt quite as much mortification and disappointment as I had pleasure and expectation at the first sight of this Indian. I felt sorely chagrined at the conduct of the men, particularly Shields, to whom I principally attributed this failure in obtaining an introduction to the natives. I now called the men to me and could not forbear upbraiding them a little for their want of attention, and imprudence, on this occasion.
We now set out on the track of the horse, hoping, by that means, to be led to an Indian camp, the trail of inhabitants of which- should they abscond- we should probably be enabled to pursue to the body of the nation, to which they would most probably fly for safety. This route led us across a large island framed by nearly an equal division of the creek in this bottom. After passing to the open ground on the N. side of the creek, we observed that the track made out toward the high hills about 3 miles distant in that direction.
I thought it probable that their camp might probably be among those hills and that they would reconnoiter us from the tops of them, and that if we advanced hastily toward them that they would become alarmed and probably run off. I therefore halted in an elevated situation near the creek, had a fire kindled of willow brush, cooked and took breakfast. During this leisure, I prepared a small assortment of trinkets consisting of some moccasin awls, a few strands of several kinds of beads, some paint, a looking glass, &c., which I attached to the end of a pole and planted it near our fire in order that, should the Indians return in search of us, they might from this token discover that we were friendly, and white persons. Before we had finished our meal a heavy shower of rain came on with some hail, which continued about 20 minutes and wet us to the skin.
After this shower we pursued the track of the horse, but as the rain had raised the grass which he had trodden down it was with difficulty that we could follow it. We pursued it, however, about 4 miles- it turning up the valley to the left under the foot of the hills. We passed several places where the Indians appeared to have been digging roots today, and saw the fresh tracks of 8 or ten horses, but they had been wandering about in such a confused manner that we not only lost track of the horse which we had been pursuing but could make nothing of them. In the head of this valley we passed a large bog covered with tall grass and moss in which were a great number of springs of cold pure water. We now turned a little to the left along the foot of the high hills and arrived at a small branch on which we encamped for the night, having traveled in different directions about 20 miles and about 10 from the camp of last evening on a direct line. After meeting with the Indian today, I fixed a small flag of the U.S. to a pole which I made McNeal carry, and planted in the ground where we halted or encamped.
This morning I sent Drouilliard out as soon as it was light, to try and discover what route the Indians had taken. He followed the track of the horse we had pursued yesterday to the mountain where it had ascended, and returned to me in about an hour and a half.
I now determined to pursue the base of the mountains which form this cove to the S.W. in the expectation of finding some Indian road which leads over the mountains. Accordingly, I sent Drouilliard to my right and Shields to my left with orders to look out for a road, or the fresh tracks of horses, either of which we should first meet with, I had determined to pursue. At the distance of about 4 miles, we passed 4 small rivulets near each other on which we saw some recent bowers or small conic lodges formed with willow brush. Near them the Indians had gathered a number of roots, from the manner in which they had torn up the ground.
Near this place, we fell in with a large and plain Indian road, which came into the cove from the northeast and led along the foot of the mountains to the southwest, obliquely approaching the main stream, which we had left yesterday. This road we now pursued to the southwest. At 5 miles it passed a stout stream which is a principal fork of the main stream and falls into it just above the narrow pass between the two cliffs before mentioned, which we now saw below us. Here we halted and breakfasted on the last of our venison, having yet a small piece of pork in reserve. After eating, we continued our route through the low bottom of the main stream along the foot of the mountains on our right. The valley for 5 miles farther in a southwest direction was from 2 to 3 miles wide.
At the distance of 4 miles further, the road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the mighty Missouri in search of which we have spent so many toilsome days and restless nights. Thus far I had accomplished one of those great objects on which my mind has been unalterably fixed for many years. Judge, then, of the pleasure I felt in allaying my thirst with this pure and ice-cold water which issues from the base of a low mountain or hill of a gentle ascent for l/2 a mile. The mountains are high on either hand, leave this gap at the head of this rivulet through which the road passes. Here I halted a few minutes and rested myself. Two miles below, McNeal had exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his God that he had lived to bestride the mighty, and heretofore deemed endless, Missouri.
After refreshing ourselves, we proceeded on to the top of the dividing ridge, from which I discovered immense ranges of high mountains still to the west of us, with their tops partially covered with snow. I now descended the mountain about 3/4 of a mile, which I found much steeper than on the opposite side, to a handsome bold running creek of cold, clear water. Here I first tasted the water of the great Columbia River.
After a short halt of a few minutes, we continued our march along the Indian road which led us over steep hills and deep hollows to a spring on the side of a mountain where we found a sufficient quantity of dry willow brush for fuel. Here we encamped for the night. As we had killed nothing during the day, we now boiled and ate the remainder of our pork, having yet a little flour and parched meal. At the creek on this side of the mountain I observed a species of deep purple currant, lower in its growth the stem more branched, and leaf doubly as large as that of the Missouri. The leaf is covered on its under disk with a hairy pubescence. The fruit is of the ordinary size and shape of the currant and is supported in the usual manner, but is acid and very inferior in point of flavor.
This morning Captain Clark set out early. Found the river shoaly, rapid, shallow, and extremely difficult. The men in the water almost all day. They are getting weak, sore, and much fatigued. They complained of the fatigue to which the navigation subjected them and wished to go by land. Captain Clark encouraged them and pacified them. One of the canoes was very near oversetting in a rapid today. They proceeded but slowly.
We had proceeded about four miles through a wavy plain parallel to the valley or river bottom when, at the distance of about a mile, we saw two women, a man, and some dogs on an eminence immediately before us. They appeared to view us with attention, and two of them, after a few minutes, sat down as if to wait our arrival. We continued our usual pace toward them. When we had arrived within half a mile of them, I directed the party to halt, and leaving my pack and rifle, I took the flag, which I unfurled, and advanced singly toward them. The women soon disappeared behind the hill. The man continued until I arrived within a hundred yards of him and then likewise, absconded, though I frequently repeated the word "tab-ba-bone" sufficiently loud for him to have heard it.
I now hastened to the top of the hill where they had stood but could see nothing of them. The dogs were less shy than their masters; they came about me pretty close. I therefore thought of tying a handkerchief about one of their necks, with some beads and other trinkets, and then let them loose to search their fugitive owners, thinking by this means to convince them of our pacific disposition toward them. But the dogs would not suffer me to take hold of them. They also soon disappeared.
I now made a signal for the men to come on. They joined me and we pursued the back track of these Indians, which led us along the same road which we had been traveling. The road was dusty and appeared to have been much traveled lately both by men and horses. We had not continued our route more than a mile when we were so fortunate as to meet with three female savages. The short and steep ravines which we passed concealed us from each other until we arrived within 30 paces. A young woman immediately took to flight. An elderly woman and a girl of about 12 years old remained. I instantly laid by my gun and advanced toward them. They appeared much alarmed but saw that we were too near for them to escape by flight. They therefore seated themselves on the ground, holding down their heads as if reconciled to die, which they expected no doubt would be their fate.
I took the elderly woman by the hand and raised her up, repeated the word "tab-ba-bone," and stripped up my shirt sleeve to show her my skin to prove to her the truth of the assertion that I was a white man, for my face and hands, which have been constantly exposed to the sun, were quite as dark as their own. They appeared instantly reconciled; and the men coming up, I gave these women some beads, a few moccasin awls, some pewter looking glasses, and a little paint. I directed Drouilliard to request the old woman to recall the young woman, who had run off to some distance by this time, fearing she might alarm the camp before we approached and might so exasperate the natives that they would perhaps attack us without inquiring who we were.
The old woman did as she was requested, and the fugitive soon returned, almost out of breath. I bestowed an equivalent portion of trinkets on her with the others. I now painted their tawny cheeks with some vermilion, which, with this nation, is emblematic of peace. After they had become composed, I informed them by signs that I wished them to conduct us to their camp; that we were anxious to become acquainted with the chiefs and warriors of their nation. They readily obeyed, and we set out, still pursuing the road down the river.
We had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors, mounted on excellent horses, who came in nearly full speed. When they arrived, I advanced toward them with the flag, leaving my gun with the party about 50 paces behind me. The chief and two others, who were a little in advance of the main body, spoke to the women, and they informed them who we were and exultingly showed the presents which had been given them. These men then advanced and embraced me very affectionately in their way, which is by putting their left arm over your right shoulder, clasping your back, while they apply their left cheek to yours, and frequently vociferate the word "âh-hí-e, âh-hí-e"-that is, "I am much pleased; I am much rejoiced." Both parties now advanced, and we were all caressed and besmeared with their grease and paint until I was heartily tired of the national hug.
I now had the pipe lit and gave them smoke. They seated themselves in a circle around us and pulled off their moccasins, before they would receive or smoke the pipe. This is a custom among them, as I afterward learned, indicative of a sacred obligation of sincerity in their profession of friendship, given by the act of receiving and smoking the pipe of a stranger; which is as much as to say, that they wish they may always go barefoot if they are not sincere- a pretty heavy penalty, if they are to march through the plains of their country! After smoking a few pipes with them, I distributed some trifles among them with which they seemed much pleased, particularly with the blue beads and vermilion.
I now informed the chief that the object of our visit was a friendly one, that after we would reach his camp I would undertake to explain to him fully those objects-who we were, from whence we had come, and whither we were going; that, in the meantime, I did not care how soon we were in motion, as the sun was very warm and no water at hand. They now put on their moccasins, and the principal chief, Cameâhwait, made a short speech to the warriors. I gave him the flag which, I informed him, was an emblem of peace among white men, and now that it had been received by him it was to be respected as the bond of union between us. I desired him to march on, which he did, and we followed him. The dragoons moved on in squadron in our rear.
After we had marched about a mile in this order, he halted them and gave a second harangue, after which six or eight of the young men rode forward to their encampment, and no further regularity was observed in the order of march.
I afterwards understood that the Indians we had first seen this morning had returned and alarmed the camp. These men had come out armed cap à pie for action, expecting to meet with their enemies, the Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie, whom they call Pahkees. They were armed with bows, arrows, and shields, except three whom I observed with small pieces such as the North-West Company furnish the natives with, which they had obtained from the Rocky Mountain Indians on the Yellowstone River, with whom they are at peace.
On our arrival at their encampment on the river in a handsome level and fertile bottom, at the distance of 4 miles from where we had first met them, they introduced us to a lodge made of willow brush and an old leather lodge, which had been prepared for our reception by the young men which the chief had dispatched for that purpose. Here we were seated on green boughs and the skins of antelopes. One of the warriors then pulled up the grass in the center of the lodge, forming a small circle about 2 feet in diameter.
The chief next produced his pipe and native tobacco and began a long ceremony of the pipe, when we were requested to take off our moccasins, the chief having previously taken off his, as well as all the warriors present. This we complied with. The chief then lit his pipe at the fire, kindled in this little magic circle, and, standing on the opposite side of the circle, uttered a speech of several minutes in length, at the conclusion of which he pointed the stem to the four cardinal points of the heavens, first beginning at the east and ending with the north. He now presented the pipe to me as if desirous that I should smoke, but when I reached my hand to receive it, he drew it back and repeated the same ceremony three times, after which he pointed the stem first to the heavens, then to the center of the magic circle, smoked himself with three whiffs, and held the pipe until I took as many as I thought proper. He then held it to each of the white persons and then gave it to be consumed by his warriors.
This pipe was made of a dense semitransparent green stone, very highly polished, about 21/2 inches long and of an oval figure, the bowl being in the same direction with the stem. A small piece of burned clay is placed in the bottom of the bowl to separate the tobacco from the end of the stem and is of an irregularly rounded figure not fitting the tube perfectly close in order that the smoke may pass. This is the form of the pipe. Their tobacco is of the same kind as that used by the Minnetarees, Mandans, and Arikaras of the Missouri. The Shoshones do not cultivate this plant, but obtain it from the Rocky Mountain Indians and some of the bands of their own nation who live further south. I now explained to them the objects of our journey, &c.
All the women and children of the camp were shortly collected about the lodge to indulge themselves with looking at us, we being the first white persons they had ever seen. After the ceremony of the pipe was over, I distributed the remainder of the small articles I had brought with me, among the women and children. By this time it was late in the evening and we had not tasted any food since the evening before. The chief informed us that they had nothing but berries to eat and gave us some cakes of serviceberries and chokecherries which had been dried in the sun. Of these I made a hearty meal and then walked to the river, which I found about 40 yards wide, very rapid, clear, and about 3 feet deep. The banks low and abrupt as those of the upper part of the Missouri, and the bed formed of loose stones and gravel. Cameâhwait informed me that this stream discharged itself into another doubly as large, at the distance of half a day's march, which came from the S.W. But, he added on further inquiry, that there was but little more timber below the junction of those rivers than I saw here, and that the river was confined between inaccessible mountains, was very rapid and rocky insomuch that it was impossible for us to pass either by land or water down this river to the great lake where the white men lived, as he had been informed. This was unwelcome information but I still hoped that this account had been exaggerated with a view to detain us among them. As to timber, I could discover not any that would answer the purpose of constructing canoes, or, in short, more than was barely necessary for fuel.
On my return to my lodge, an Indian called me into his bower and gave me a small morsel of the flesh of an antelope, boiled, and a piece of a fresh salmon roasted, both of which I ate with a very good relish. This was the first salmon I had seen, and perfectly convinced me that we were on the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The course of this river is a little to the north of west as far as I can discover it, and is bounded on each side by a range of high mountains, though those on the east side are lowest and more distant from the river.
This evening, the Indians entertained us with their dancing nearly all night. At 12 o'clock l grew sleepy and retired to rest, leaving the men to amuse themselves with the Indians. I observe no essential difference between the music and manner of dancing among this nation and those of the Missouri. I was several times awakened in the course of the night by their yells, but was too much fatigued to be deprived of a tolerable sound night's repose.