Passage of the Blue Mountains - Sufferings from thirst - Utalla river - A transformation - A novel meal - Walla-walla river - Columbia river and Fort Walla-walla - A dinner with the missionaries - Anecdote of Mr. Lee - A noble repast - Brief notice of the Fort - Departure of the missionaries - Notice of the Walla-walla Indians - Departure for Fort Vancouver - Wild ducks - Indian graves - Indian horses - Visits from Indians - Ophthalmia, a prevalent disease - Rough travelling - A company of Chinook Indians - The Dalles - The party joined by Captain Wyeth - Embarkation in canoes - A heavy gale - Dangerous navigation - Pusillanimous conduct of an Indian helmsman - A zealous botanist - Departure of Captain Wyeth with five men - Cascades - A portage - Meeting with the missionaries - Loss of a canoe - A toilsome duty - Arrival at Fort Vancouver - reflections suggested by it - Dr. John McLoughlin, the chief factor - Domiciliation of the travellers at Fort Vancouver.
September 1st. The path through the valley, in which we encamped last night, was level and smooth for about a mile; we then mounted a short, steep hill, and began immediately to descend. The road down the mountain wound constantly, and we travelled in short, zig-zag lines, in order to avoid the extremely abrupt declivities; but occasionally, we were compelled to descend in places that made us pause before making the attempt: they were, some of them, almost perpendicular, and our horses would frequently slide several yards, before they could recover. To this must be added enormous jagged masses of rock, obstructing the road in many places, and pine trees projecting their horizontal branches across the path.
The road continued, as I have described it, to the valley in the plain, and a full hour was consumed before we reached it. The country then became comparatively level again to the next range, where a mountain was to be ascended of the same height as the last. Here we dismounted and led our horses, it being impracticable, in their present state, to ride them. It was the most toilsome march I ever made, and we were all so much fatigued, when we arrived at the summit, that rest was as indispensable to us as to our poor jaded horses. Here we made a noon camp, with a handful of grass and no water. This last article appears very scarce, the ravines affording none, and our dried salmon and kamas bread were eaten unmoistened. The route, in the afternoon, was over the top of the mountain, the road tolerably level, but crowded with stones. Towards evening, we commenced descending again, and in every ravine and gulley we cast our anxious eyes in search of water; we even explored several of them, where there appeared to exist any probability of success, but not one drop did we find. Night at length came on, dark and pitchy, without a moon or a single star to give us a ray of light; but still we proceeded, depending solely upon the vision and sagacity of our horses to keep the track. We travelled steadily until 9 o'clock, when we saw ahead the dark outline of a high mountain, and soon after heard the men who rode in front, cry out, joyously, at the top of their voices, "water! water!" It was truly a cheering sound, and the words were echoed loudly by every man in the company. We had not tasted water since morning, and both horses and men have been suffering considerably for the want of it.
2d. - Captain W. and two men, left us early this morning for Walla-walla, where they expect to arrive this evening, and send us some provision, of which we shall be in need, to-morrow.
Our camp moved soon after, under the direction of Captain Thing, and in about four miles reached Utalla river, where it stopped, and remained until 12 o'clock.
As we were approaching so near the abode of those in whose eyes we wished to appear like fellow Christians, we concluded that there would be a propriety in attempting to remove at least one of the heathenish badges which we had worn throughout the journey; so Mr. N.'s razor was fished out from its hiding place in the bottom of his trunk, and in a few minutes our encumbered chins lost their long cherished ornaments; we performed our ablutions in the river, arrayed ourselves in clean linen, trimmed our long hair, and then arranged our toilet before a mirror, with great self-complacence and satisfaction. I admired my own appearance considerably, (and this is, probably, an acknowledgement that few would make,) but I could not refrain from laughing at the strange, party-colored appearance of my physiognomy, the lower portion being fair, like a woman's, and the upper, brown and swarthy as an Indian.
Having nothing prepared for dinner to-day, I strolled along the stream above the camp, and made a meal on rose buds, of which I collected an abundance; and on returning, I was surprised to find Mr. N. and Captain T. picking the last bones of a bird which they had cooked. Upon inquiry, I ascertained that the subject was an unfortunate owl which I had killed in the morning, and had intended to preserve, as a specimen. The temptation was too great to be resisted by the hungry Captain and naturalist, and the bird of wisdom lost the immortality which he might otherwise have acquired.
In the afternoon, soon after leaving the Utalla, we ascended a high and very steep hill, and came immediately in view of a beautiful, and regularly undulating country of great extent. We have now probably done with high, rugged mountains; the sun shines clear, the air is bracing and elastic, and we are all in fine spirits.
The next day, the road being generally level, and tolerably free from stones, we were enabled to keep our horses at the swiftest gait to which we dare urge them. We have been somewhat disappointed in not receiving the expected supplies from Walla-walla, but have not suffered for provision, as the grouse and hares are very abundant here, and we have shot as many as we wished.
At about noon we struck the Walla-walla river, a very pretty stream of fifty or sixty yards in width, fringed with tall willows, and containing a number of salmon, which we can see frequently leaping from the water. The pasture here, being good, we allowed our horses an hour's rest to feed, and then travelled on over the plain, until near dark, when, on rising a sandy hill, the noble Columbia burst at once upon our view. I could scarcely repress a loud exclamation of delight and pleasure, as I gazed upon the magnificent river, flowing silently and majestically on, and reflected that I had actually crossed the vast American continent, and now stood upon a stream that poured its waters directly into the Pacific. This, then, was the great Oregon, the first appearance of which gave Lewis and Clark so many emotions of joy and pleasure, and on this stream our indefatigable countrymen wintered, after the toils and privations of a long, and protracted journey through the wilderness. My reverie was suddenly interrupted by one of the men exclaiming from his position in advance, "there is the fort" We had, in truth approached very near, without being conscious of it. There stood the fort on the bank of the river; horses and horned cattle were roaming about the vicinity, and on the borders of the little Walla-walla, we recognized the white tent of our long lost missionaries. These we soon joined, and were met and received by them like brethren. Mr. N. and myself were invited to sup with them upon a dish of stewed hares which they had just prepared, and it is almost needless to say that we did full justice to the good men's cookery. They told us that they had travelled comfortably from Fort Hall, without any unusual fatigue, and like ourselves, had no particularly stirring adventures. Their route, although somewhat longer, was a much less toilsome and difficult one, and they suffered but little for food, being well provided with dried buffalo meat, which had been prepared near Fort Hall.
Mr. Walker, (a young gentleman attached to the band,) related an anecdote of Mr. Lee, the principal, which I thought eminently characteristic. The missionaries were, on one occasion, at a considerable distance behind the main body, and had stopped for a few moments to regale themselves on a cup of milk from a cow which they were driving. Mr. L. had unstrapped the tin pan from his saddle, and was about applying himself to the task, when a band of a dozen Indians was descried at a distance, approaching the little party at full gallop. There was but little time for consideration. The rifles were looked to, the horses were mounted in eager haste, and all were ready for a long run, except Mr. Lee himself, who declared that nothing should deprive him of his cup of milk, and that he meant to "lighten the old cow before he moved." He accordingly proceeded coolly to fill his tin pan, and, after a hearty drink, grasped his rifle, and mounted his horse, at the very moment that the Indians had arrived to within speaking distance. To the great relief of most of the party, these proved to be of the friendly Nez Perce tribe, and after a cordial greeting, they travelled on together.
The missionaries informed us that they had engaged a large barge to convey themselves and baggage to Fort Vancouver, and that Captain Stewart and Mr. Ashworth were to be of the party. Mr. N. and myself were very anxious to take a seat with them, but to our disappointment, were told that the boat would scarcely accommodate those already engaged. We had therefore to relinquish it, and prepare for a journey on horseback to the Dalles, about eighty miles below, to which place Captain W. would precede us in the barge, and engage canoes to convey us to the lower fort.
This evening, we purchased a large bag of Indian meal, of which we made a kettle of mush, and mixed with it a considerable quantity of horse tallow and salt. This was, I think, one of the best meals I ever made. We all ate heartily of it, and pronounced it princely food. We had been long without bread stuff of any kind, and the coarsest farinaceous substance, with a proper allowance of grease, would have been highly prized.
The next morning, we visited Walla-walla Fort, and were introduced, by Captain W., to Lieutenant Pierre S. Pambrun, the superintendent. Wyeth and Mr. Pambrun had met before, and were well acquainted; they had, therefore, many reminiscences of by-gone days to recount, and long conversations, relative to the variety of incidents which had occurred to each, since last they parted.
The fort is built of drift logs, and surrounded by a stoccade of the same, with two bastions, and a gallery around the inside. It stands about a hundred yards from the river, on the south bank, in a bleak and unprotected situation, surrounded on every side by a great, sandy plain, which supports little vegetation, except the wormwood and thorn-bushes. On the banks of the little river, however, there are narrow strips of rich soil, and here Mr. Pambrun raises the few garden vegetables necessary for the support of his family. Potatoes, turnips, carrots, &c., thrive well, and Indian corn produces eighty bushels to the acre.
At about 10 o'clock, the barge got under way, and soon after, our company with its baggage, crossed the river in canoes, and encamped on the opposite shore.
There is a considerable number of Indians resident here, Kayouse's and a collateral band of the same tribe, called Walla-wallas. They live along the bank of the river, in shantys or wigwams of drift wood, covered with buffalo or deer skins. They are a miserable, squalid looking people, are constantly lolling around and in the fort, and annoy visitors by the importunate manner in which they endeavor to force them into some petty trade for a pipe, a hare, or a grouse. All the industrious and enterprising men of this tribe are away trading salmon, kamas root, &c. to the mountain companies.
Notwithstanding the truly wretched plight in which these poor people live, and the privations which they must necessarily have to suffer, they are said to be remarkably honest and upright in their dealings, and generally correct in their moral deportment. Although they doubtless have the acquisitive qualities so characteristic of the race, they are rarely known to violate the principles of common honesty. A man may leave his tent unguarded, and richly stored with every thing which ordinarily excites the cupidity of the Indian, yet, on returning after a long absence, he may find all safe. What a commentary is this on the habits and conduct of our Christian communities!
The river is here about three-fourths of a mile in width, a clear, deep, and rapid stream, the current being generally from three to four miles an hour. It is the noblest looking river I have seen since leaving our Delaware. The banks are in many places high and rocky, occasionally interrupted by broad, level sandy beaches. The only vegetation along the margin, is the wormwood, and other low, arid plants, but some of the bottoms are covered with heavy, rank grass, affording excellent pasture for horses.
5th. This morning we commenced our march down the Columbia. We have no provision with us except flour and horse tallow, but we have little doubt of meeting Indians daily, with whom we can trade for fish. Our road will now be a rather monotonous one along the bank of the river, tolerably level, but often rocky, so that very rapid travelling is inadmissible. The mallard duck, the widgeon, and the green-winged teal are tolerably abundant in the little estuaries of the river. Our men have killed several, but they are poor, and not good.
6th. We have observed to-day several high, conical stacks of drift-wood near the river. These are the graves of the Indians. Some of these cemeteries are of considerable extent, and probably contain a great number of bodies. I had the curiosity to peep into several of them, and even to remove some of the coverings, but found nothing to compensate for the trouble.
We bought some salmon from Indians whom we met to-day, which, with our flour and tallow, enable us to live very comfortably.
7th. We frequently fall in with large bands of Indian horses. There are among them some very beautiful animals, but they are generally almost as wild as deer, seldom permitting an approach to within a hundred yards or more. They generally have owners, as we observe upon many of them strange hieroglyphic looking characters, but there are no doubt some that have never known the bit, and will probably always roam the prairie uncontrolled. When the Indians wish to catch a horse from one of these bands, they adopt the same plan pursued by the South Americans for taking the wild animal.
8th. Our road to-day has been less monotonous, and much more hilly than hitherto. Along the bank of the river, are high mountains, composed of basaltic rock and sand, and along their bases enormous drifts of the latter material. Large, rocky promontories connected with these mountains extend into the river to considerable distances, and numerous islands of the same dot its surface.
We are visited frequently as we travel along, by Indians of the Walla-walla and other tribes, whose wigwams we see on the opposite side of the river. As we approach these rude huts, the inhabitants are seen to come forth in a body; a canoe is immediately launched, the light bark skims the water like a bird, and in an incredibly short time its inmates are with us. Sometimes a few salmon are brought to barter for our tobacco, paint, &c., but more frequently they seem impelled to the visit by mere curiosity. To-day a considerable number have visited us, and among them some very handsome young girls. I could not but admire the gaiety and cheerfulness which seemed to animate them. They were in high spirits, and evidently very much pleased with the unusual privilege which they were enjoying.
At our camp in the evening, eight Walla-walla's came to see us. The chief was a remarkably fine looking man, but he, as well as several of his party, was suffering from a severe purulent ophthalmia which had almost deprived him of sight. He pointed to his eyes, and contorting his features to indicate the pain he suffered, asked me by signs to give him medicine to cure him. I was very sorry that my small stock of simples did not contain anything suited to his complaint, and I endeavored to tell him so. I have observed that this disease is rather prevalent among the Indians residing on the river, and I understood from the chief's signs that most of the Indians towards the lower country were similarly affected.
9th. The character of the country has changed considerably since we left Walla-walla. The river has become gradually more narrow, until it is now but about two hundred yards in width, and completely hemmed in by enormous rocks on both sides. Many of these extend for considerable distances into the stream in perpendicular columns, and the water dashes and breaks against them until all around is foam. The current is here very swift, probably six or seven miles to the hour; and the Indian canoes in passing down, seem literally to fly along its surface. The road to-day has been rugged to the very last degree. We have passed over continuous masses of sharp rock for hours together, sometimes picking our way along the very edge of the river, several hundred feet above it; again, gaining the back land, by passing through any casual chasm or opening in the rocks, where we were compelled to dismount, and lead our horses.
This evening, we are surrounded by a large company of Chinook Indians, of both sexes, whose temporary wigwams are on the bank of the river. Many of the squaws have young children sewed up in the usual Indian fashion, wrapped in a skin, and tied firmly to a board, so that nothing but the head of the little individual is seen.
These Indians are very peaceable and friendly. They have no weapons except bows, and these are used more for amusement and exercise, than as a means of procuring them sustenance, their sole dependence being fish and beaver, with perhaps a few hares and grouse, which are taken in traps. We traded with these people for a few fish and beaver skins, and some roots, and before we retired for the night, arranged the men in a circle, and gave them a smoke in token of our friendship.
10th. This afternoon we reached the Dalles. The entire water of the river here flows through channels of about fifteen feet in width, and between high, perpendicular rocks; there are several of these channels at distances of from half a mile to a mile apart, and the water foams and boils through them like an enormous cauldron.
On the opposite side of the river there is a large Indian village, belonging to a chief named Tilki, and containing probably five hundred wigwams. As we approached, the natives swarmed like bees to the shore, launched their canoes, and joined us in a few minutes. We were disappointed in not seeing Captain W. here, as this was the spot where we expected to meet him; the chief, however, told us that we should find him about twelve miles below, at the next village. We were accordingly soon on the move again, and urging our horses to their fastest gait, we arrived about sunset. The captain, the chief of the village, and several other Indians, came out to meet us and make us welcome. Captain W. has been here two days, and we were pleased to learn that he had completed all the necessary arrangements for transporting ourselves and baggage to Vancouver in canoes. The route by land is said to be a very tedious and difficult one, and, in some places, almost impassable, but even were it otherwise, I believe we should all much prefer the water conveyance, as we have become very tired of riding.
Since leaving the upper village this afternoon, we have been followed by scores of Indians on foot and on horseback; some of the animals carrying three at a time; and although we travelled rapidly, the pedestrians were seldom far behind us.
We have concluded to leave our horses here, in charge of the chief of the village, who has promised to attend to them during the winter, and deliver them to our order in the spring. Captain W. having been acquainted with this man before, is willing to trust him.
11th. Early this morning, we launched our three canoes, and each being provided with an Indian, as helmsman, we applied ourselves to our paddles, and were soon moving briskly down the river. In about an hour after, the wind came out dead ahead, and although the current was in favor, our progress was sensibly checked. As we proceeded, the wind rose to a heavy gale, and the waves ran to a prodigious height. At one moment our frail bark danced upon the crest of a wave, and at the next, fell with a surge into the trough of the sea, and as we looked at the swell before us, it seemed that in an instant we must inevitably be engulphed. At such times, the canoe ahead of us was entirely hidden from view, but she was observed to rise again like a seagull, and hurry on into the same danger. The Indian in my canoe soon became completely frightened; he frequently hid his face with his hands, and sang, in a low melancholy voice, a prayer which we had often heard from his people, while at their evening devotions. As our dangers were every moment increasing, the man became at length absolutely childish, and with all our persuasion and threats, we could not induce him to lay his paddle into the water. We were all soon compelled to put in shore, which we did without sustaining any damage; the boats were hauled up high and dry, and we concluded to remain in our quarters until to-morrow, or until there was a cessation of wind. In about an hour it lulled a little, and Captain W. ordered the boats to be again launched, in the hope of being able to weather a point about five miles below, before the gale again commenced, where we could lie by until it should be safe to proceed. The calm proved, as some of us had suspected, a treacherous one; in a very few minutes after we got under way, we were contending with the same difficulties as before, and again our cowardly helmsman laid by his paddle and began mumbling his prayer. It was too irritating to be borne. Our canoe had swung round broad side to the surge, and was shipping gallons of water at every dash.
At this time it was absolutely necessary that every man on board should exert himself to the utmost to head up the canoe and make the shore as soon as possible. Our Indian, however, still sat with his eyes covered, the most abject and contemptible looking thing I ever saw. We took him by the shoulders and threatened to throw him overboard, if he did not immediately lend his assistance: we might as well have spoken to a stone. He was finally aroused, however, by our presenting a loaded gun at his breast; he dashed the muzzle away, seized his paddle again, and worked with a kind of desperate and wild energy, until he sank back in the canoe completely exhausted. In the mean time the boat had become half full of water, shipping a part of every surf that struck her, and as we gained the shallows every man sprang overboard, breast deep, and began hauling the canoe to shore. This was even a more difficult task than that of propelling her with the oars; the water still broke over her, and the bottom was a deep kind of quicksand, in which we sank almost to the knees at every step, the surf at the same time dashing against us with such violence as to throw us repeatedly upon our faces. We at length reached the shore, and hauled the canoe up out of reach of the breakers. She was then unloaded as soon as possible, and turned bottom upwards. The goods had suffered considerably by the wetting; they were all unbaled and dried by a large fire, which we built on the shore.
We were soon visited by several men from the other boats, which were ahead, and learned that their situation had been almost precisely similar to our own, except that their Indians had not evinced, to so great a degree, the same unmanly terror which had rendered ours so inefficient and useless. They were, however, considerably frightened, much more so than the white men. It would seem strange that Indians, who have been born, and have lived during their whole lives, upon the edge of the water, who have been accustomed, from infancy, to the management of a canoe, and in whose childish sports and manly pastimes these frail barks have always been employed, should exhibit, on occasions like this, such craven and womanly fears; but the probability is, as their business is seldom of a very urgent nature, that they refrain from making excursions of any considerable extent in situations known to be dangerous, except during calm weather; it is possible, also, that such gales may be rare, and they have not been accustomed to them. Immediately after we landed, our redoubtable helmsman broke away from us, and ran at full speed back towards the village. We have doubtless lost him entirely, but we do not much regret his departure, as he proved himself so entirely unequal to the task he had undertaken.
12th. The gale continues with the same violence as yesterday, and we do not therefore think it expedient to leave our camp. Mr. N.'s large and beautiful collection of new and rare plants was considerably injured by the wetting it received; he has been constantly engaged since we landed yesterday, in opening and drying them. In this task he exhibits a degree of patience and perseverance which is truly astonishing; sitting on the ground, and steaming over the enormous fire, for hours together, drying the papers, and re-arranging the whole collection, specimen by specimen, while the great drops of perspiration roll unheeded from his brow. Throughout the whole of our long journey, I have had constantly to admire the ardor and perfect indefatigability with which he has devoted himself to the grand object of his tour. No difficulty, no danger, no fatigue has ever daunted him, and he finds his rich reward in the addition of nearly a thousand new species of American plants, which he has been enabled to make to the already teeming flora of our vast continent. My bale of birds, which was equally exposed to the action of the water, escaped without any material injury.
In the afternoon, the gale not having abated, Captain W. became impatient to proceed, as he feared his business at Vancouver would suffer by delay; he accordingly proposed taking one canoe, and braving the fury of the elements, saying that he wished five men, who were not afraid of water, to accompany him. A dozen of our fearless fellows volunteered in a moment, and the captain selecting such as he thought would best suit his purpose, lost no time in launching his canoe, and away she went over the foaming waters, dashing the spray from her bows, and laboring through the heavy swells until she was lost to our view. The more sedate amongst us did not much approve of this somewhat hasty measure of our principal; it appeared like a useless and daring exposure of human life, not warranted by the exigencies of the case. Mr. N. remarked that he would rather lose all his plants than venture his life in that canoe.
On the 13th the wind shifted to due north, and was blowing somewhat less furiously than on the previous day. At about noon we loaded our canoes, and embarked; our progress, however, during the afternoon, was slow; the current was not rapid, and the wind was setting up stream so strongly that we could not make much headway against it; we had, also, as before, to contend with turbulent waves, but we found we could weather them with much less difficulty, since the change of the wind.
14th. Before sunrise, a light rain commenced, which increased towards mid-day to a heavy shower, and continued steadily during the afternoon and night. There was, in the morning, a dead calm, the water was perfectly smooth, and disturbed only by the light rain pattering upon its surface. We made an early start, and proceeded on very expeditiously until about noon, when we arrived at the "cascades," and came to a halt above them, near a small Indian village. These cascades, or cataracts are formed by a collection of large rocks, in the bed of the river, which extend, for perhaps half a mile. The current for a short distance above them, is exceedingly rapid, and there is said to be a gradual fall, or declivity of the river, of about twenty feet in the mile. Over these rocks, and across the whole river, the water dashes and foams most furiously, and with a roar which we heard distinctly at the distance of several miles.
It is wholly impossible for any craft to make its way through these difficulties, and our light canoes would not live an instant in them. It is, therefore, necessary to make a portage, either by carrying the canoes over land to the opposite side of the cataracts, or by wading in the water near the shore, where the surges are lightest, and dragging the unloaded boat through them by a cable. Our people chose the latter method, as the canoes felt very heavy and cumbersome, being saturated with the rain which was still falling rapidly. They were accordingly immediately unloaded, the baggage placed on the shore, and the men entered the water to their necks, headed by Captain Thing, and addressed themselves to the troublesome and laborious task. In the meantime, Mr. N., and myself were sent ahead to take the best care of ourselves that our situation and the surrounding circumstances permitted. We found a small Indian trail on the river bank, which we followed in all its devious windings, up and down hills, over enormous piles of rough flinty rocks, through brier bushes, and pools of water, &c. &c., for about a mile, and descending near the edge of the river, we observed a number of white men who had just succeeded in forcing a large barge through the torrent, and were then warping her into still water near the shore.
Upon approaching them more closely, we recognised, to our astonishment, our old friend Captain Stewart, with the good missionaries, and all the rest who left us at Walla-walla on the 4th. Poor fellows! Every man of them had been over breast deep in water, and the rain, which was still falling in torrents, was more than sufficient to drench what the waves did not cover, so that they were most abundantly soaked and bedraggled. I felt sadly inclined to laugh heartily at them, but a single glance at the sorry appearance of myself and my companion was sufficient to check the feeling. We joined them, and aided in kindling a fire to warm and dry ourselves a little, as there was not a dry rag on us, and we were all in an ague with cold. After a very considerable time, we succeeded in igniting the wet timber, and had a tolerably large fire. We all seated ourselves on the ground around it, and related our adventures. They had, like ourselves, suffered somewhat from the head-wind and heavy swells, but unlike us they had a craft that would weather it easily; even they, however, shipped some water, and made very little progress for the last two days. They informed us that Captain W.'s canoe had been dashed to pieces on the rocks above, and that he and all his crew were thrown into the water, and forced to swim for their lives. They all escaped, and proceeded down the river, this morning, in a canoe, hired of the Indians here, one of whom accompanied them, as pilot.
After a hasty meal of fish, purchased on the spot, our friends reloaded their boat and got under way, hoping to reach Vancouver by next morning. Mr. N. and myself remained some time longer here, expecting intelligence from our people behind; we had begun to feel a little uneasy about them, and thought of returning to look into their situation, when Captain T. came in haste towards us, with the mortifying intelligence that one canoe had been stove upon the rocks, and the other so badly split, that he feared she would not float; the latter was, however, brought on by the men, and moored where we had stopped. A man was then despatched to an Indian village, about five miles below, to endeavor to procure one or two canoes and a pilot. In the mean time, we had all to walk back along the circuitous and almost impassable Indian trail, and carry our wet and heavy baggage from the spot where the boats had been unloaded. The distance, as I have stated, was a full mile, and the road so rough and encumbered as to be scarcely passable. In walking over many of the large and steep rocks, it was often necessary that the hands should be used to raise and support the body; this, with a load, was inconvenient. Again, in ascending and descending the steep and slippery hills, a single mis-step was certain to throw us in the mud, and bruise us upon the sharp rocks which were planted all around. This accident occurred several times with us all.
Over this most miserable of all roads, with the cold rain dashing and pelting upon us during the whole time, until we felt as though we were frozen to the very marrow, did we all have to travel and return four separate times, before our baggage was properly deposited. It was by far the most fatiguing, cheerless, and uncomfortable business in which I was ever engaged, and truly glad was I to lie down at night on the cold, wet ground, wrapped in my blankets, out of which I had just wrung the water, and I think I never slept more soundly or comfortably than that night. [ I could not but recollect at that time, the last injunction of my dear old grandmother, not to sleep in damp beds!]
I arose the next morning rested and refreshed, though somewhat sore from sundry bruises received on the hills to which I have alluded.
15th. The rain still continued falling, but lightly, the weather calm and cool. The water immediately below the cascades foams and boils in a thousand eddies, forming little whirlpools, which, however insignificant they may appear, are exceedingly dangerous for light canoes, whirling their bows around to the current, and capsising them in an instant. Near the shore, at the foot of the cataract, there is a strong backward tow, through which it is necessary to drag the canoe, by a line, for the distance of a hundred yards; here it feels the force of the opposite current, and is carried on at the rate of seven or eight miles to the hour.
The man whom we sent yesterday to the village, returned this morning; he stated that one canoe only could be had, but that three Indians, accustomed to the navigation, would accompany us; that they would soon be with us, and endeavor to repair our damaged boat. In an hour they came, and after the necessary clamping and caulking of our leaky vessel, we loaded, and were soon moving rapidly down the river. The rain ceased about noon, but the sun did not appear during the day.
16th. The day was a delightful one; the sky was robed in a large flaky cumulus, the glorious sun occasionally bursting through among the clouds, with dazzling splendor. We rose in the morning in fine spirits, our Indians assuring us that " King George," as they called the fort, was but a short distance from us. At about 11 o'clock, we arrived, and stepped on shore at the end of our journey.
It is now three days over six months since I left my beloved home. I, as well as the rest, have been in some situations of danger, of trial, and of difficulty, but I have passed through them all unharmed, with a constitution strengthened, and invigorated by healthful exercise, and a heart which I trust can feel deeply, sincerely thankful to that kind and overruling Providence who has watched over and protected me.
We have passed for months through a country swarming with Indians who thirsted for our blood, and whose greatest pride and glory consisted in securing the scalp of a white man. Enemies, sworn, determined enemies to all, both white and red, who intrude upon his hunting grounds, the Blackfoot roams the prairie like a wolf seeking his prey, and springing upon it when unprepared, and at the moment when it supposes itself most secure. To those who have always enjoyed the comforts and security of civilized life, it may seem strange that persons who know themselves to be constantly exposed to such dangers who never lie down at night without the weapons of death firmly grasped in their hands, and who are in hourly expectation of hearing the terrific war whoop of the savage, should yet sleep soundly and refreshingly, and feel themselves at ease; such however is the fact. I never in my life enjoyed rest more than when travelling through the country of which I speak. I had become accustomed to it: I felt constant apprehension certainly, but not to such an extent as to deprive me of any of the few comforts which I could command in such an uncomfortable country. The guard might pass our tent, and cry " all's well," in his loudest key, without disturbing my slumbers: but if the slightest unusual noise occurred, I was awake in an instant, and listening painfully for a repetition of it.
On the beach in front of the fort, we were met by Mr. Lee, the missionary,
and Dr. John McLoughlin, the chief factor, and Governor of the Hudson's Bay
posts in this vicinity. The Dr. is a large, dignified and very noble looking
man, with a fine expressive countenance, and remarkably bland and pleasing
manners. The missionary introduced Mr. N. and myself in due form, and we were
greeted and received with a frank and unassuming politeness which was most
peculiarly grateful to our feelings. He requested us to consider his house our
home, provided a separate room for our use, a servant to wait upon us, and
furnished us with every convenience which we could possibly wish for. I shall
never cease to feel grateful to him for his disinterested kindness to the poor
houseless and travel-worn strangers.