Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805 - Part Eleven
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Journals of Lewis and Clark
Dates: August 23, 1805 - August 25, 1805


This article provides interesting facts about their historic journey taken from the Journals of Lewis and Clark dates August 23, 1805 - August 25, 1805.

Lewis and cClark Expedition: Jounal Dates August 23, 1805 - August 25, 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 1805

The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Dates August 23, 1805 - August 25, 1805
The following excerpts are taken from entries of the Journals of Lewis and Clark. Dates: August 23, 1805 - August 25, 1805

August 23, 1805
Friday 23. Captain Clarke set off very early, but as his route lay along the steep side of a mountain, over irregular and broken masses of rocks, which wounded the horses' feet, he was obliged to proceed slowly. At the distance of four miles he reached the river, but the rocks here became so steep, and projected so far into the river, that there was no mode of passing, except through the water. This he did for some distance, though the river was very rapid, and so deep that they were forced to swim their horses. After following the edge of the water for about a mile under this steep cliff, he reached a small meadow, below which the whole current of the river beat against the right shore on which he was, and which was formed of a solid rock perfectly inaccessible to horses. Here too, the little track which he had been pursuing terminated. He therefore resolved to leave the horses and the greater part of the men at this place, and examine the river still further, in order to determine if there were any possibility of descending it in canoes. Having killed nothing except a single goose to-day, and the whole of our provision being consumed last evening, it was by no means advisable to remain any length of time where they were. He now directed the men to fish and hunt at this place till his return, and then with his guide and three men he proceeded, clambering over immense rocks, and along the side of lofty precipices which bordered the river, when at about twelve miles distance he reached a small meadow, the first he had seen on the river since he left his party.

A little below this meadow, a large creek twelve yards wide, and of some depth, discharges itself from the north. Here were some recent signs of an Indian encampment, and the tracks of a number of horses, who must have come along a plain Indian path, which he now saw following the course of the creek. This stream his guide said led towards a large river running to the north, and was frequented by another nation for the purpose of catching fish. He remained here two hours, and having taken some small fish, made a dinner on them with the addition of a few berries. From the place where he had left the party, to the mouth of this creek, it presents one continued rapid, in which are five shoals, neither of which could be passed with loaded canoes; and the baggage must therefore be transported for a considerable distance over the steep mountains, where it would be impossible to employ horses for the relief of the men. Even the empty canoes must be let down the rapids by means of cords, and not even in that way without great risk both to the canoes as well as to the men. At one of these shoals, indeed the rocks rise so perpendicularly from the water as to leave no hope of a passage or even a portage without great labor in removing rocks, and in some instances cutting away the earth. To surmount these difficulties would exhaust the strength of the party, and what is equally discouraging would waste our time and consume our provisions, of neither of which have we much to spare. The season is now far advanced, and the Indians tell us we shall shortly have snow: the salmon too have so far declined that the natives themselves are hastening from the country, and not an animal of any kind larger than a pheasant or a squirrel, and of even these a few only will then be seen in this part of the mountains: after which we shall be obliged to rely on our own stock of provisions, which will not support us more than ten days.

These circumstances combine to render a passage by water impracticable in our present situation. To descend the course of the river on horseback is the other alternative, and scarcely a more inviting one. The river is so deep that there are only a few places where it can be forded, and the rocks approach so near the water as to render it impossible to make a route along the waters' edge. In crossing the mountains themselves we should have to encounter, besides their steepness, one barren surface of broken masses of rock, down which in certain seasons the torrents sweep vast quantities of stone into the river. These rocks are of a whitish brown, and towards the base of a gray color, and so hard, that on striking them with steel, they yield a fire like flint. This somber appearance is in some places scarcely relieved by a single tree, though near the river and on the creeks there is more timber, among which are some tall pine: several of these might be made into canoes, and by lashing two of them together, one of tolerable size might be formed.

After dinner he continued his route, and at the distance of half a mile passed another creek about five yards wide. Here his guide informed him that by ascending the creek for some distance he would have a better road, and cut off a considerable bend of the river towards the south. He therefore pursued a well-beaten Indian track up this creek for about six miles, when leaving the creek to the right he passed over a ridge, and after walking a mile again met the river, where it flows through a meadow of about eighty acres in extent. This they passed and then ascended a high and steep point of a mountain, from which the guide now pointed out where the river broke through the mountains about twenty miles distant. Near the base of the mountains a small river falls in from the south: this view was terminated by one of the loftiest mountains captain Clarke had ever seen, which was perfectly covered with snow. Towards this formidable barrier the river went directly on, and there it was, as the guide observed, that the difficulties and dangers of which he and Cameahwait had spoken commenced.

After reaching the mountain, he said, the river continues its course towards the north for many miles, between high perpendicular rocks, which were scattered through its bed: it then penetrated the mountain through a narrow gap, on each side of which arose perpendicularly a rock as high as the top of the mountain before them; that the river then made a bend which concealed its future course from view, and as it was alike impossible to descend the river or clamber over that vast mountain, eternally covered with snow, neither he nor any of his nation had ever been lower than at a place where they could see the gap made by the river on entering the mountain. To that place he said he would conduct captain Clarke if he desired it by the next evening. But he was in need of no further evidence to convince him of the utter impracticability of the route before him. He had already witnessed the difficulties of part of the road, yet after all these dangers his guide, whose intelligence and fidelity he could not doubt, now assured him that the difficulties were only commencing, and what he saw before him too clearly convinced him of the Indian's veracity. He therefore determined to abandon this route, and returned to the upper part of the last creek we had passed, and reaching it an hour after dark encamped for the night: on this creek he had seen in the morning an Indian road coming in from the north.

Disappointed in finding a route by water, captain Clarke now questioned his guide more particularly as to the direction of this road which he seemed to understand perfectly. He drew a map on the sand, and represented this road as well as that we passed yesterday on Berry creek as both leading towards two forks of the same great river, where resided a nation called Tushepaws, who having no salmon on their river, came by these roads to the fish weirs on Lewis's river. He had himself been among these Tushepaws, and having once accompanied them on a fishing party to another river he had there seen Indians who had come across the rocky mountains. After a great deal of conversation, or rather signs, and a second and more particular map from his guide, captain Clarke felt persuaded that his guide knew of a road from the Shoshone village they had left, to the great river to the north, without coming so low down as this on a route impracticable for horses. He was desirous of hastening his return, and therefore set out early,

August 24, 1805
Saturday 24, and after descending the creek to the river, stopped to breakfast on berries in the meadow above the second creek. He then went on, but unfortunately fell from a rock and injured his leg very much; he however walked on as rapidly as he could, and at four in the afternoon rejoined his men. During his absence they had killed one of the mountain cocks, a few pheasants, and some small fish, on which with haws and serviceberries they had subsisted. Captain Clarke immediately sent forward a man on horseback with a note to Captain Lewis, apprising him of the result of his inquiries, and late in the afternoon set out with the rest of the party and encamped at the distance of two miles. The men were much disheartened at the bad prospect of escaping from the mountains, and having nothing to eat but a few berries which have made several of them sick, they all passed a disagreeable night, which was rendered more uncomfortable by a heavy dew.

August 25, 1805
Sunday 25. The want of provisions urged captain Clarke to return as soon as possible; he therefore set out early, and halted an hour in passing the Indian camp near the fish weirs. These people treated them with great kindness, and though poor and dirty they willingly give what little they possess; they gave the whole party boiled salmon and dried berries, which were not however in sufficient quantities to appease their hunger. They soon resumed their old road, but as the abstinence or strange diet had given one of the men a very severe illness, they were detained very much on his account, and it was not till late in the day they reached the cliff under which they had encamped on the twenty-first. They immediately began to fish and hunt, in order to procure a meal. We caught several small fish, and by means of our guide, obtained two salmon from a small party of women and children, who, with one man, were going below to gather berries. This supplied us with about half a meal, but after dark we were regaled with a beaver which one of the hunters brought in. The other game seen in the course of the day were one deer, and a party of elk among the pines on the sides of the mountains.

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