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The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California by Brevet Col. J.C. Fremont

Part 5 out of 9

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The road at noon reached a broken ridge, on which were scattered many
boulders or blocks of granite; and, passing very small streams, where,
with a little more than the usual timber, was sometimes gathered a little
wilderness of plants, we encamped on a small stream, after a march of 22
miles, in company with a few Indians. Temperature at sunset 51 deg.; and the
night was partially clear, with a few stars visible through drifting white
clouds. The Indians made an unsuccessful attempt to steal a few horses
from us--a thing of course with them, and to prevent which the traveler is
on perpetual watch.

7th.--The day was bright, clear, pleasant, with a temperature of 45 deg.; and
we breakfasted at sunrise, the birds singing in the trees as merrily as if
we were in the midst of summer. On the upper edge of the hills on the
opposite side of the creek, the black volcanic rock appears; and ascending
these, the road passed through a basin, around which the hills swept in
such a manner as to give it the appearance of an old crater. Here were
strata and broken beds of black scoriated rock, and hills composed of the
same, on the summit of one of which there was an opening resembling a
rent. We traveled to-day through a country resembling that of yesterday,
where, although the surface was hilly, the road was good, being firm, and
entirely free from rocks and artemisia. To our left, below, was the great
sage plain; and on the right were the near mountains, which presented a
smoothly-broken character, or rather a surface waved into numberless
hills. The road was occasionally enlivened by meeting Indians, and the day
was extremely beautiful and pleasant; and we were pleased to be free from
the sage, even for a day. When we had traveled about eight miles, we were
nearly opposite to the highest portion of the mountains on the left side
of the Smoke River valley; and, continuing on a few miles beyond, we came
suddenly in sight of the broad green line of the valley of the _Riviere
Boisee_, (wooded river,) black near the gorge where it debouches into
the plains, with high precipices of basalt, between walls of which it
passes, on emerging from the mountains. Following with the eye its upward
course, it appears to be shut in among lofty mountains, confining its
valley in a very rugged country.

Descending the hills, after traveling a few miles along the high plain,
the road brought us down upon the bottoms of the river, which is a
beautiful, rapid stream, with clear mountain water; and, as the name
indicates, well wooded with some varieties of timber--among which are
handsome cottonwoods. Such a stream had become quite a novelty in this
country, and we were delighted this afternoon to make a pleasant camp
under fine old trees again. There were several Indian encampments
scattered along the river; and a number of their inhabitants, in the
course of the evening, came to the camp on horseback with dried and fresh
fish, to trade. The evening was clear, and the temperature at sunset 57 deg..

At the time of the first occupation of this region by parties engaged in
the fur-trade, a small party of men, under the command of ----- Reid,
constituting all the garrison of a small fort on this river, were
surprised and massacred by the Indians; and to this event the stream owes
its occasional name of _Reid's river_. On the 8th we traveled about
26 miles, the ridge on the right having scattered pines on the upper
parts; and, continuing the next day our road along the river bottom, after
a day's travel of 24 miles, we encamped in the evening on the right bank
of the river, a mile above the mouth, and early the next morning arrived
at Fort _Boise_. This is a simple dwelling-house on the right bank of
Snake river, about a mile below the mouth of Riviere Boisee; and on our
arrival we were received with an agreeable hospitality by Mr. Payette, an
officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, in charge of the fort, all of whose
garrison consisted in a Canadian _engage_.

Here the road recrosses the river, which is broad and deep; but, with our
good boat, aided by two canoes, which were found at the place, the camp
was very soon transferred to the left bank. Here we found ourselves again
surrounded by the sage; artemisia tridentata, and the different shrubs
which during our voyage had always made their appearance abundantly on
saline soils, being here the prevailing and almost the only plants. Among
them the surface was covered with the usual saline efflorescences, which
here consist almost entirely of carbonate of soda, with a small portion of
chloride of sodium. Mr. Payette had made but slight attempts at
cultivation, his efforts being limited to raising a few vegetables, in
which he succeeded tolerably well; the post being principally supported by
salmon. He was very hospitable and kind to us, and we made a sensible
impression upon all his comestibles; but our principal inroad was into the
dairy, which was abundantly supplied, stock appearing to thrive extremely
well; and we had an unusual luxury in a present of fresh butter, which
was, however, by no means equal to that of Fort Hall--probably from some
accidental cause. During the day we remained here, there were considerable
numbers of miserable, half-naked Indians around the fort, who had arrived
from the neighboring mountains. During the summer, the only subsistence of
these people is derived from the salmon, of which they are not provident
enough to lay up a sufficient store for the winter, during which many of
them die from absolute starvation.

Many little accounts and scattered histories, together with an
acquaintance which I gradually acquired of their modes of life, had left
the aboriginal inhabitants of this vast region pictured in my mind as a
race of people whose great and constant occupation was the means of
procuring a subsistence; and though want of space and other reasons will
prevent me from detailing the many incidents which made this familiar to
me, this great feature among the characteristics of the country will
gradually be forced upon your mind.

Pointing to the group of Indians who had just arrived from the mountains
on the left side of the valley, and who were regarding our usual
appliances of civilization with an air of bewildered curiosity, Mr.
Payette informed me that, every year since his arrival at this post, he
had unsuccessfully endeavored to induce these people to lay up a store of
salmon for their winter provision. While the summer weather and the salmon
lasted, they lived contentedly and happily, scattered along the different
streams where fish are to be found; and as soon as the winter snows began
to, fall, little smokes would be seen rising among the mountains, where
they would be found in miserable groups, starving out the winter; and
sometimes, according to the general belief, reduced to the horror of
cannibalism--the strong, of course, preying on the weak. Certain it is
they are driven to any extremity for food, and eat every insect, and every
creeping thing, however loathsome and repulsive. Snails, lizards, ants--
all are devoured with the readiness and greediness of mere animals.

In common with all the other Indians we had encountered since reaching the
Pacific waters, these people use the Shoshonee or Snake language, which
you will have occasion to remark, in the course of the narrative, is the
universal language over a very extensive region.

On the evening of the 10th, I obtained, with the usual observations, a
very excellent emersion of the first satellite, agreeing very nearly with
the chronometer. From these observations, the longitude of the fort is
116 deg. 47' 00", latitude 43 deg. 49' 22", and elevation above the sea 2,100

Sitting by the fire on the river bank, and waiting for the immersion of
the satellite, which did not take place until after midnight, we heard the
monotonous song of the Indians, with which they accompany a certain game
of which they are very fond. Of the poetry we could not judge, but the
music was miserable.

11th.--The morning was clear, with a light breeze from the east, and a
temperature at sunrise of 33 deg.. A part of a bullock purchased at the fort,
together with the boat, to assist him in crossing, was left here for Mr.
Fitzpatrick, and at 11 o'clock we resumed our journey; and directly
leaving the river, and crossing the artemisia plain, in several ascents we
reached the foot of a ridge, where the road entered a dry sandy hollow, up
which it continued to the head; and, crossing a dividing ridge, entered a
similar one. We met here two poor emigrants, (Irishmen,) who had lost
their horses two days since--probably stolen by the Indians; and were
returning to the fort, in hopes to hear something of them there. They had
recently had nothing to eat; and I halted to unpack an animal, and gave
them meat for their dinner. In this hollow, the artemisia is partially
displaced on the hill-sides by grass; and descending it -- miles, about
sunset we reached the _Riviere aux Malheurs_, (the unfortunate or
unlucky river,)--a considerable stream, with an average breadth of 50
feet, and, at this time, 18 inches' depth of water.

The bottom lands were generally one and a half mile broad, covered
principally with long dry grass; and we had difficulty to find sufficient
good grass for the camp. With the exception of a bad place of a few
hundred yards long, which occurred in rounding a point of hill to reach
the ford of the river, the road during the day had been very good.

12th.--The morning was clear and calm, and the thermometer at sunrise 23 deg..
My attention was attracted by a smoke on the right side of the river, a
little below the ford, where I found, on the low banks near the water, a
considerable number of hot springs, in which the temperature of the water
was 193 deg.. The ground, which was too hot for the naked foot, was covered
above and below the springs with an incrustation of common salt, very
white and good, and fine-grained.

Leading for five miles up a broad dry branch of the Malheurs river, the
road entered a sandy hollow, where the surface was rendered firm by the
admixture of other rock; being good and level until arriving near the head
of the ravine, where it became a little rocky, and we met with a number of
sharp ascents over an undulating surface. Crossing here a dividing ridge,
it becomes an excellent road of gradual descent down a very marked hollow;
in which, after ten miles, willows began to appear in the dry bed of a
head of the _Riviere aux Bouleaux_, (Birch river;) and descending
seven miles, we found, at its junction with another branch, a little
water, not very good or abundant, but sufficient, in case of necessity,
for a camp. Crossing Birch river, we continued for about four miles across
a point of hill; the country on the left being entirely mountainous, with
no level spot to be seen; whence we descended to Snake river--here a fine-
looking stream, with a large body of water and a smooth current; although
we hear the roar, and see below us the commencement of rapids, where it
enters among the hills. It forms here a deep bay, with a low sand island
in the midst; and its course among the mountains is agreeably exchanged
for the black volcanic rock. The weather during the day had been very
bright and extremely hot; but, as usual, so soon as the sun went down, it
was necessary to put on overcoats.

I obtained this evening an observation of an emersion of the first
satellite, and our observations of the evening place this encampment in
latitude 44 deg. 17' 36", and longitude 116 deg. 56' 45", which is the mean of the
results from the satellite and chronometer. The elevation above the sea is
1,880 feet. At this encampment, the grass is scanty and poor.

13th.--The morning was bright, with the temperature at sunrise 28 deg.. The
horses had strayed off during the night, probably in search of grass; and,
after a considerable delay, we had succeeded in finding all but two, when,
about nine o'clock, we heard the sound of an Indian song and drum
approaching; and shortly after, three Cayuse Indians appeared in sight,
bringing with them the two animals. They belonged to a party which had
been on a buffalo-hunt in the neighborhood of the Rocky mountains, and
were hurrying home in advance. We presented them with some tobacco and
other things, with which they appeared well satisfied, and, moderating
their pace, traveled in company with us.

We were now about to leave the valley of the great southern branch of the
Columbia river, to which the absence of timber, and the scarcity of water,
give the appearance of a desert, to enter a mountainous region, where the
soil is good, and in which the face of the country is covered with
nutritious grasses and dense forest--land embracing many varieties of
trees peculiar to the country, and on which the timber exhibits a
luxuriance of growth unknown to the eastern part of the continent and to
Europe. This mountainous region connects itself in the southward and
westward with the elevated country belonging to the Cascade or California
range; and, as will be remarked in the course of the narrative, forms the
eastern limit of the fertile and timbered lands along the desert and
mountainous region included within the Great Basin--a term which I apply
to the intermediate region between the Rocky mountains and the next range,
containing many lakes, with their own system of rivers and creeks, (of
which the Great Salt is the principal,) and which have no connection with
the ocean, or the great rivers which flow into it. This Great Basin is yet
to be adequately explored. And here, on quitting the banks of a sterile
river, to enter on arable mountains, the remark may be made, that, on this
western slope of our continent, the usual order or distribution of good
and bad soil is often reversed; the river and creek bottoms being often
sterile, and darkened with the gloomy and barren artemisia; while the
mountain is often fertile, and covered with rich grass, pleasant to the
eye, and good for flocks and herds.

Leaving entirely the Snake river, which is said henceforth to pursue its
way through canons, amidst rocky and impracticable mountains, where there
is no possibility of traveling with animals, we ascended a long and steep
hill; and crossing the dividing ridge, came down into the valley of
_Burnt_ river, which here looks like a hole among the hills. The
average breadth of the stream here is thirty feet; it is well fringed with
the usual small timber; and the soil in the bottoms is good, with better
grass than we had lately been accustomed to see.

We now traveled through a very mountainous country; the stream running
rather in a ravine than a valley, and the road is decidedly bad and
dangerous for single wagons, frequently crossing the stream where the
water is sometimes deep; and all the day the animals were fatigued in
climbing up and descending a succession of steep ascents, to avoid the
precipitous hill-sides; and the common trail, which leads along the
mountain-side at places where the river strikes the base, is sometimes bad
even for a horseman. The mountains along this day's journey were composed,
near the river, of a slaty calcareous rock in a metamorphic condition. It
appears originally to have been a slaty sedimentary limestone, but its
present condition indicates that it has been altered, and has become
partially crystalline--probably from the proximity of volcanic rocks. But
though traveling was slow and fatiguing to the animals, we were delighted
with the appearance of the country, which was green and refreshing after
our tedious journey down the parched valley of Snake river. The mountains
were covered with good bunch-grass, (_festuca_;) the water of the
streams was cold and pure; their bottoms were handsomely wooded with
various kinds of trees; and huge and lofty picturesque precipices where
the river cut through the mountain.

We found in the evening some good grass and rushes; and encamped among
large timber, principally birch, which had been recently burnt, and
blackened, and almost destroyed by fire. The night was calm and tolerably
clear, with the thermometer at sunset at 59 deg.. Our journey to-day was about
twenty miles.

14th.--The day was clear and calm, with a temperature at sunrise of 46 deg..
After traveling about three miles up the valley, we found the river shut
up by precipices in a kind of canon, and the road makes a circuit over the
mountains. In the afternoon we reached the river again, by another little
ravine; and, after traveling along it for a few miles, left it enclosed
among rude mountains; and, ascending a smaller branch; encamped on it
about five o'clock, very much elevated above the valley. The view was
everywhere limited by mountains, on which were no longer seen the black
and barren rocks, but a fertile soil, with excellent grass, and partly
well covered with pine. I have never seen a wagon-road equally bad in the
same space, as this of yesterday and to-day. I noticed where one wagon had
been overturned twice, in a very short distance; and it was surprising to
me that those wagons which were in the rear, and could not have had much
assistance, got through at all. Still, there is no mud; and the road has
one advantage, in being perfectly firm. The day had been warm and very
pleasant, and the night was perfectly clear.

15th.--The thermometer at daylight was 42 deg., and at sunrise 40 deg.; clouds,
which were scattered over all the sky, disappeared with the rising sun.
The trail did not much improve until we had crossed the dividing-ground
between the _Brulee_ (Burnt) and Powder rivers. The rock displayed on
the mountains, as we approached the summit, was a compact trap, decomposed
on the exposed surfaces, and apparently an altered argillaceous sandstone,
containing small crystalline nodules of anolcime, apparently filling
cavities originally existing. From the summit here, the whole horizon
shows high mountains; no high plain or level is to be seen; and on the
left, from south around by the west to north, the mountains are black with
pines; while, through the remaining space to the eastward, they are bald,
with the exception of some scattered pines. You will remark that we are
now entering a region where all the elevated parts are covered with dense
and heavy forests. From the dividing grounds we descended by a mountain
road to Powder river, on an old bed of which we encamped. Descending from
the summit, we enjoyed a picturesque view of high rocky mountains on the
right, illuminated by the setting sun.

From the heights we had looked in vain for a well known landmark on Powder
river, which had been described to me by Mr. Payette as _l'arbre
seul_, (the lone tree;) and, on arriving at the river, we found a fine
tall pine stretched on the ground, which had been felled by some
inconsiderate emigrant axe. It had been a beacon on the road for many
years past. Our Cayuses had become impatient to reach their homes, and
traveled on ahead to day; and this afternoon we were visited by several
Indians who belonged to the tribes on the Columbia. They were on
horseback, and were out on a hunting excursion, but had obtained no better
game than a large gray hare, of which each had some six or seven hanging
to his saddle. We were also visited by an Indian who had his lodge and
family in the mountain to the left. He was in want of ammunition, and
brought with him a beaver-skin to exchange, and which he valued at six
charges of powder and ball. I learned from him that there are very few of
these animals remaining in this part of the country.

The temperature at sunset was 61 deg., and the evening clear. I obtained, with
other observations, an immersion and emersion of the third satellite.
Elevation 3,100 feet.

16th.--For several weeks the weather in the daytime has been very
beautiful, clear, and warm; but the nights, in comparison, are very cold.
During the night there was ice a quarter of an inch thick in the lodge;
and at daylight the thermometer was at 16 deg., and the same at sunrise, the
weather being calm and clear. The annual vegetation now is nearly gone,
almost all the plants being out of bloom.

Last night two of our horses had run off again, which delayed us until
noon, and we made to-day but a short journey of 13 miles, the road being
very good, and encamped in a fine bottom of Powder river.

The thermometer at sunset was at 61 deg., with an easterly wind, and partially
clear sky; and the day has been quite pleasant and warm, though more
cloudy than yesterday; and the sun was frequently faint, but it grew finer
and clearer towards evening.

17th.--Thermometer at sunrise 25 deg.. The weather at daylight was fine, and
the sky without a cloud; but these came up, or were formed by the sun, and
at seven were thick over all the sky. Just now, this appears to be the
regular course--clear and brilliant during the night, and cloudy during
the day. There is snow yet visible in the neighboring mountains, which
yesterday extended along our route to the left, in a lofty and dark-blue
range, having much the appearance of the Wind River mountains. It is
probable that they have received their name of the _Blue mountains_
from the dark-blue appearance given to them by the pines. We traveled this
morning across the affluents to Powder river, the road being good, firm,
and level, and the country became constantly more pleasant and
interesting. The soil appeared to be very deep, and is black and extremely
good, as well among the hollows of the hills on the elevated plats, as on
the river bottoms, the vegetation being such as is usually found in good
ground. The following analytical result shows the precise qualities of
this soil, and will justify to science the character of fertility which
the eye attributes to it:

_Analysis of Powder river soil._

Silica ----------------- 72.30
Alumina ---------------- 6.25
Carbonate of lime ------ 6.86
Carbonate of magnesia -- 4.62
Oxide of iron ---------- 1.20
Organic matter --------- 4.50
Water and loss --------- 4.27

From the waters of this stream, the road ascended by a good and moderate
ascent to a dividing ridge, but immediately entered upon ground covered
with fragments of an altered silicious slate, which are in many places
large, and render the road racking to a carriage. In this rock the planes
of deposition are distinctly preserved, and the metamorphism is evidently
due to the proximity of volcanic rocks. On either side, the mountains here
are densely covered with tall and handsome trees; and, mingled with the
green of a variety of pines, is the yellow of the European larch,
(_pinus larix_,) which loses its leaves in the fall. From its present
color, we were enabled to see that it forms a large proportion of the
forests on the mountains, and is here a magnificent tree, attaining
sometimes the height of 200 feet, which I believe is elsewhere unknown.
About two in the afternoon we reached a high point of the dividing ridge,
from which we obtained a good view of the _Grand Rond_--a beautiful
level basin, or mountain valley, covered with good grass, on a rich soil,
abundantly watered, and surrounded by high and well-timbered mountains--
and its name descriptive of its form--the great circle. It is a place--one
of the few we have seen on our journey so far--where a farmer would
delight to establish himself, if he were content to live in the seclusion
which it imposes. It is about 20 miles in diameter, and may, in time, form
a superb county. Probably with the view of avoiding a circuit, the wagons
had directly descended into the _Rond_ by the face of a hill so very
rocky and continuously steep as to be apparently impracticable, and,
following down on their trail, we encamped on one of the branches of the
Grand Rond river, immediately at the foot of the hill. I had remarked, in
descending, some very white spots glistening on the plain, and, going out
in that direction after we had encamped, I found them to be the bed of a
dry salt lake, or marsh, very firm and bare, which was covered thickly
with a fine white powder, containing a large quantity of carbonate of
soda, (thirty-three in one hundred parts.)

The old grass had been lately burnt off from the surrounding hills, and,
wherever the fire had passed, there was a recent growth of strong, green,
and vigorous grass; and the soil of the level prairie, which sweeps
directly up to the foot of the surrounding mountains, appears to be very
rich, producing flax spontaneously and luxuriantly in various places.

_Analysis of Grand Rond soil._

Silica,---------------------------------- 70.81
Alumina,--------------------------------- 10.97
Lime and magnesia,----------------------- 1.38
Oxide of iron,--------------------------- 2.21
Vegetable matter, partly decomposed,---- 8.16
Water and loss,-------------------------- 5.46
Phosphate of lime,----------------------- 1.01

The elevation of this encampment is 2,940 feet above the sea.

18th.--It began to rain an hour before sunrise, and continued until ten
o'clock; the sky entirely overcast, and the temperature at sunrise 48 deg..

We resumed our journey somewhat later than usual, travelling in a nearly
north direction across the beautiful valley; and about noon reached a
place on one of the principal streams, where I had determined to leave the
emigrant trail, in the expectation of finding a more direct and better
road across the Blue mountains. At this place the emigrants appeared to
have held some consultation as to their further route, and finally turned
directly off to the left; reaching the foot of the mountain in about three
miles, which they ascended by a hill as steep and difficult as that by
which we had yesterday descended to the Rond. Quitting, therefore, this
road, which, after a very rough crossing, issues from the mountains by the
heads of the _Umatilah_ river, we continued our northern course
across the valley, following an Indian trail which had been indicated to
me by Mr. Payette, and encamped at the northern extremity of the Grand
Rond, on a slough-like stream of very deep water, without any apparent
current. There are some pines here on the low hills at the creek; and in
the northwest corner of the Rond is a very heavy body of timber, which
descends into the plain. The clouds, which had rested very low along the
mountain sides during the day, rose gradually up in the afternoon; and in
the evening the sky was almost entirely clear, with a temperature at
sunset of 47 deg.. Some indifferent observations placed the camp in longitude
117 deg. 28' 26", latitude 45 deg. 26' 47"; and the elevation was 2,600 feet above
the sea.

19th.--This morning the mountains were hidden by fog; there was a heavy
dew during the night, in which the exposed thermometer at daylight stood
at 32 deg., and at sunrise the temperature was 35 deg..

We passed out of the Grand Rond by a fine road along the creek, which, for
a short distance, runs in a kind of rocky chasm. Crossing a low point,
which was a little rocky, the trail conducted into the open valley of the
stream--a handsome place for farms; the soil, even of the hills, being
rich and black. Passing through a point of pines, which bore evidences of
being very much frequented by the Indians, and in which the trees were
sometimes apparently 200 feet high, and three to seven feet in diameter,
we halted for a few minutes in the afternoon at the foot of the Blue
mountains, on a branch of the Grand Rond river, at an elevation of 2,700
feet. Resuming our journey, we commenced the ascent of the mountains
through an open pine forest of large and stately trees, among which the
balsam pine made its appearance; the road being good, with the exception
of one steep ascent, with a corresponding descent, which might both have
been easily avoided by opening the way for a short distance through the
timber. It would have been well had we encamped on the stream where we had
halted below, as the night overtook us on the mountain, and we were
obliged to encamp without water, and tie up the animals to the trees for
the night. We halted on a smooth open place of a narrow ridge, which
descended very rapidly to a ravine or piny hollow, at a considerable
distance below; and it was quite a pretty spot, had there been water near.
But the fires at night look very cheerless after a day's march, when there
is no preparation for supper going on; and, after sitting some time around
the blazing logs, Mr. Preuss and Carson, with several others, volunteered
to take the India-rubber buckets and go down into the ravine in search of
water. It was a very difficult way in the darkness down the slippery side
of the steep mountain, and harder still to climb about half a mile up
again; but they found the water, and the cup of coffee (which it enabled
us to make) and bread were only enjoyed with greater pleasure.

At sunset the temperature was 46 deg.; the evening remarkably clear; and I
obtained an emersion of the first satellite, which does not give a good
result, although the observation was a very good one. The chronometric
longitude was 117 deg. 28' 34", latitude 45 deg. 38' 07", and we had ascended to
an elevation of 3,830 feet. It appeared to have snowed yesterday on the
mountains, their summits showing very white to-day.

20th.--There was a heavy white frost during the night, and at sunrise the
temperature was 37 deg..

The animals had eaten nothing during the night; and we made an early
start, continuing our route among the pines, which were more dense than
yesterday, and still retained their magnificent size. The larches cluster
together in masses on the side of the mountains, and their yellow foliage
contrasts handsomely with the green of the balsam and other pines. After a
few miles we ceased to see any pines, and the timber consisted of several
varieties of spruce, larch, and balsam pine, which have a regularly
conical figure. These trees appeared from 60 to nearly 200 feet in height;
the usual circumference being 10 to 12 feet, and in the pines sometimes 21
feet. In open places near the summit, these trees became less high and
more branching, the conical form having a greater base. The instrument
carriage occasioned much delay, it being frequently necessary to fell
trees and remove the fallen timber. The trail we were following led up a
long spur, with a very gradual and gentle rise. At the end of three miles,
we halted at an open place near the summit, from which we enjoyed a fine
view over the mountainous country where we had lately traveled, to take a
barometrical observation at the height of 4,460 feet.

After traveling occasionally through open places in the forest, we were
obliged to cut a way through a dense body of timber, from which we emerged
on an open mountain-side, where we found a number of small springs, and
encamped after a day's journey of ten miles. Our elevation here was 5,000

21st.--There was a very heavy white frost during the night, and the
thermometer at sunrise was 30 deg..

We continued to travel through the forest, in which the road was rendered
difficult by fallen trunks, and obstructed by many small trees, which it
was necessary to cut down. But these are only accidental difficulties,
which could easily be removed, and a very excellent road may be had
through this pass, with no other than very moderate ascents or
declivities. A laborious day, which had advanced us only six miles on the
road, brought us in the afternoon to an opening in the forest, in which
there was a fine mountain meadow, with good grass, and a large clear-water
stream--one of the head branches of the _Umatilah_ river. During this
day's journey, the barometer was broken; and the elevations above the sea,
hereafter given, depend upon the temperature of boiling water. Some of the
white spruces which I measured to-day were twelve feet in circumference,
and one of the larches ten; but eight feet was the average circumference
of those measured along the road. I held in my hand a tape line as I
walked along, in order to form some correct idea of the size of the
timber. Their height appeared to be from 100 to 180, and perhaps 200 feet,
and the trunks of the larches were sometimes 100 feet without a limb; but
the white spruces were generally covered with branches nearly to the root.
All these trees have their branches, particularly the lower ones,

22d.--The white frost this morning was like snow on the ground; the ice
was a quarter of an inch thick on the creek, and the thermometer at
sunrise was at 20 deg.. But, in a few hours, the day became warm and pleasant,
and our road over the mountains was delightful and full of enjoyment.

The trail passed sometimes through very thick young timber, in which there
was much cutting to be done; but, after traveling a few miles, the
mountains became more bald, and we reached a point from which there was a
very extensive view in the northwest. We were on the western verge of the
Blue mountains, long spurs of which, very precipitous on either side
extended down into the valley, the waters of the mountain roaring between
them. On our right was a mountain plateau, covered with a dense forest;
and to the westward, immediately below us, was the great _Nez Perce_
(pierced nose) prairie, in which dark lines of timber indicated the course
of many affluents to a considerable stream that was pursuing its way
across the plain towards what appeared to be the Columbia river. This I
knew to be the Walahwalah river, and occasional spots along its banks,
which resembled clearings, were supposed to be the mission or Indian
settlements; but the weather was smoky and unfavorable to far views with
the glass. The rock displayed here in the escarpments is a compact
amorphous trap, which appears to constitute the mass of the Blue mountains
in this latitude; and all the region of country through which we have
traveled since leaving the Snake river has been the seat of violent and
extensive igneous action. Along the Burnt River valley, the strata are
evidently sedimentary rocks, altered by the intrusion of volcanic
products, which in some instances have penetrated and essentially changed
their original condition. Along our line of route from this point to the
California mountains, there seems but little essential change. All our
specimens of sedimentary rocks show them much altered, and volcanic
productions appear to prevail throughout the whole intervening distance.

The road now led along the mountain side, around heads of the precipitous
ravines; and keeping men ahead to clear the road, we passed alternately
through bodies of timber and small open prairies, and encamped in a large
meadow, in view of the great prairie below.

At sunset the thermometer was at 40 deg., and the night was very clear and
bright. Water was only to be had here by descending a bad ravine, into
which we drove our animals, and had much trouble with them in a very close
growth of small pines. Mr. Preuss had walked ahead and did not get into
the camp this evening. The trees here maintained their size, and one of
the black spruces measured 15 feet in circumference. In the neighborhood
of the camp, pines have reappeared here among the timber.

23d.--The morning was very clear; there had been a heavy white frost
during the night, and at sunrise the thermometer was at 31 deg..

After cutting through two thick bodies of timber, in which I noticed some
small trees of _hemlock_ spruce, (_perusse_) the forest became
more open, and we had no longer any trouble to clear a way. The pines here
were 11 or 12 feet in circumference, and about 110 feet high, and appeared
to love the open grounds. The trail now led along one of the long spurs of
the mountain, descending gradually towards the plain; and after a few
miles traveling, we emerged finally from the forest, in full view of the
plain below, and saw the snowy mass of Mount Hood, standing high out above
the surrounding country at the distance of 180 miles. The road along the
ridge was excellent, and the grass very green and good; the old grass
having been burnt off early in the autumn. About 4 o'clock in the
afternoon we reached a little bottom of the Walahwalah river, where we
found Mr. Preuss, who yesterday had reached this place, and found himself
too far in advance of the camp to return. The stream here has just issued
from the narrow ravines, which are walled with precipices, in which the
rock has a brown and more burnt appearance than above.

At sunset the thermometer was at 48 deg., and our position was in longitude
118 deg. 00' 39", and in latitude 45 deg. 53' 35".

The morning was clear, with a temperature at sunrise of 24 deg.. Crossing the
river, we traveled over a hilly country with a good bunch-grass; the river
bottom, which generally contains the best soil in other countries, being
here a sterile level of rocks and pebbles. We had found the soil in the
Blue mountains to be of excellent quality, and it appeared also to be good
here among the lower hills. Reaching a little eminence over which the
trail passed, we had an extensive view along the course of the river,
which was divided and spread over its bottom in a network of water,
receiving several other tributaries from the mountains. There was a band
of several hundred horses grazing on the hills about two miles ahead; and
as we advanced on the road we met other bands, which Indians were driving
out to pasture also on the hills. True to its general character, the
reverse of other countries, the hills and mountains here were rich in
grass, the bottoms barren and sterile.

In six miles we crossed a principal fork, below which the scattered waters
of the river were gathered into one channel; and, passing on the way
several unfinished houses; and some cleared patches, where corn and
potatoes were cultivated, we reached, in about eight miles further, the
missionary establishment of Dr. Whitman, which consisted at this time of
one _adobe_ house--_i.e._, built of unburnt bricks as in Mexico.

I found Dr. Whitman absent on a visit to the _Dalles_ of the
Columbia; but had the pleasure to see a fine-looking family of emigrants,
men, women, and children, in robust health, all indemnifying themselves
for previous scanty fare, in a hearty consumption of potatoes, which are
produced here of a remarkably good quality. We were disappointed in our
expectation of obtaining corn-meal or flour at this station, the mill
belonging to the mission having been lately burned down; but an abundant
supply of excellent potatoes banished regrets, and furnished a grateful
substitute for bread. A small town of Nez Perce Indians gave an inhabited
and even a populous appearance to the station; and, after remaining about
an hour, we continued our route and encamped on the river about four miles
below, passing on the way an emigrant encampment.

Temperature at sunset, 49 deg..

25th..--The weather was pleasant, with a sunrise temperature of 36 deg.. Our
road to-day had nothing in it of interest; and the country offered to the
eye only a sandy, undulating plain, through which a scantily-timbered
river takes its course. We halted about three miles above the mouth, on
account of grass; and the next morning arrived at the Nez Perce fort, one
of the trading establishments of the Hudson Bay Company, a few hundred
yards above the junction of the Walahwalah with the Columbia river. Here
we had the first view of this river, and found it about 1,200 yards wide,
and presenting the appearance of a fine, navigable stream. We made our
camp in a little grove of willows on the Walahwalah, which are the only
trees to be seen in the neighborhood; but were obliged to send the animals
back to the encampment we had left, as there was scarcely a blade of grass
to be found. The post is on the bank of the Columbia, on a plain of bare
sands, from which the air was literally filled with clouds of dust and
sand, during one of the few days we remained here; this place being one of
the several points on the river which are distinguished for prevailing
high winds, that come from the sea. The appearance of the post and country
was without interest, except that we here saw, for the first time, the
great river on which the course of events for the last half century has
been directing attention and conferring historical fame. The river is,
indeed, a noble object, and has here attained its full magnitude. About
nine miles above, and in sight from the heights about this post, is the
junction of the two great forks which constitute the main stream--that on
which we had been traveling from Fort Hall, and known by the names of
Lewis's fork, Shoshonee, and Snake river; and the North fork, which has
retained the name of Columbia, as being the main stream.

We did not go up to the junction, being pressed for time; but the union of
two large streams, coming one from the southeast, and the other from the
northeast, and meeting in what may be treated as the geographical centre
of the Oregon valley, thence doubling the volume of water to the ocean,
while opening two great lines of communication with the interior
continent, constitutes a feature in the map of the country which cannot be
overlooked; and it was probably in reference to this junction of waters,
and these lines of communication, that this post was established. They are
important lines, and, from the structure of the country, must forever
remain so,--one of them leading to the South Pass and to the valley of the
Mississippi, the other to the pass at the head of the Athabasca river, and
to the countries drained by the waters of the Hudson Bay. The British fur
companies now use both lines; the Americans, in their emigration to
Oregon, have begun to follow the one which leads towards the United
States. Bateaux from tide-water ascend to the junction, and thence high up
the North fork, or Columbia. Land conveyance only is used upon the line of
Lewis's fork. To the emigrants to Oregon, the Nez Perce is a point of
great interest, as being, to those who choose it, the termination of their
overland journey. The broad expanse of the river here invites them to
embark on its bosom; and the lofty trees of the forest furnish the means
of doing so.

From the South Pass to this place is about 1,000 miles; and as it is about
the same distance from that pass to the Missouri river at the mouth of the
Kansas, it may be assumed that 2,000 miles is the _necessary_ land
travel in crossing from the United States to the Pacific ocean on this
line. From the mouth of the Great Platte it would be about 100 miles less.

Mr. McKinley, the commander of the post, received us with great civility;
and both to myself, and the heads of the emigrants who were there at the
time, extended the rights of hospitality in a comfortable dinner to which
he invited us.

By a meridional altitude of the sun, the only observation that the weather
permitted us to obtain, the mouth of the Walahwalah river is in latitude
46 deg. 03' 46"; and, by the road we had traveled, 612 miles from Fort Hall.
At the time of our arrival, a considerable body of emigrants, under the
direction of Mr. Applegate, a man of considerable resolution and energy,
had nearly completed the building of a number of Mackinaw boats, in which
they proposed to continue their further voyage down the Columbia. I had
seen, in descending the Walahwalah river, a fine drove of several hundred
cattle, which they had exchanged for California cattle, to be received at
Vancouver, and which are considered a very inferior breed. The other
portion of the emigration had preferred to complete their journey by land
along the banks of the Columbia, taking their stock and wagons with them.

Having reinforced our animals with eight fresh horses, hired from the
post, and increased our stock of provisions with dried salmon, potatoes,
and a little beef, we resumed our journey down the left bank of the
Columbia, being guided on our road by an intelligent Indian boy, whom I
had engaged to accompany us as far as the Dalles.

From an elevated point over which the road led, we obtained another far
view of Mount Hood, 150 miles distant. We obtained on the river bank an
observation of the sun at noon, which gave for the latitude 45 deg. 58' 08".
The country to-day was very unprepossessing, and our road bad; and as we
toiled slowly along through deep loose sands, and over fragments of black
volcanic rock, our laborious traveling was strongly contrasted with the
rapid progress of Mr. Applegate's fleet of boats, which suddenly came
gliding swiftly down the broad river, which here chanced to be tranquil
and smooth. At evening we encamped on the river bank, where there was very
little grass, and less timber. We frequently met Indians on the road, and
they were collected at every favorable spot along the river.

29th.--The road continued along the river, and in the course of the day
Mount St. Helens, another snowy peak of the Cascade range, was visible. We
crossed the Umatilah river at a fall near its mouth. This stream is of the
same class as the Walahwalah river, with a bed of volcanic rock, in places
split into fissures. Our encampment was similar to that of yesterday;
there was very little grass, and no wood. The Indians brought us some
pieces for sale, which were purchased to make our fires.

31st.--By observation, our camp is in latitude 45 deg. 50' 05", and longitude
119 deg. 22' 18". The night has been cold, and we have white frost this
morning, with a temperature at daylight of 25 deg., and at sunrise of 24 deg.. The
early morning was very clear, and the stars bright; but, as usual, since
we are on the Columbia, clouds formed immediately with the rising sun. The
day continued fine, the east being covered with scattered clouds, but the
west remaining clear, showing the remarkable cone-like peak of Mount Hood
brightly drawn against the sky. This was in view all day in the southwest,
but no other peaks of the range were visible. Our road was a bad one, of
very loose, deep sand. We met on the way a party of Indians unusually
well-dressed. They appeared intelligent, and, in our slight intercourse,
impressed me with the belief that they possessed some aptitude for
acquiring languages.

We continued to travel along the river, the stream being interspersed with
many sand-bars (it being the season of low water) and with many islands,
and an apparently good navigation. Small willows were the only wood; rock
and sand the prominent geological feature. The rock of this section is a
very compact and tough basalt, occurring in strata which have the
appearance of being broken into fragments, assuming the form of columnar
hills, and appearing always in escarpments, with the broken fragments
strewed at the base and over the adjoining country.

We made a late encampment on the river, and used to-night the _purshia
tridentata_ for firewood. Among the rocks which formed the bank, was
very good green grass. Latitude 45 deg. 44' 23", longitude 119 deg. 45' 09".


1st.--Mount Hood is glowing in the sunlight this morning, and the air is
pleasant, with a temperature of 38 deg.. We continued down the river, and,
passing through a pretty green valley, bounded by high precipitous rocks,
encamped at the lower end.

On the right shore, the banks of the Columbia are very high and steep; the
river is 1,690 feet broad, and dark bluffs of rock give it a picturesque

2d.--The river here entered among bluffs, leaving no longer room for a
road; and we accordingly left it, and took a more inland way among the
river hills--on which we had no sooner entered, than we found a great
improvement in the country. The sand had disappeared, and the soil was
good, and covered with excellent grass, although the surface was broken
into high hills, with uncommonly deep valleys. At noon we crossed John
Day's river, a clear and beautiful stream, with a swift current and a bed
of rolled stones. It is sunk in a deep valley, which is characteristic of
all the streams in this region; and the hill we descended to reach it well
deserves the name of mountain. Some of the emigrants had encamped on the
river, and others at the summit of the farther hill, the ascent of which
had probably cost their wagons a day's labor; and others again had halted
for the night a few miles beyond, where they had slept without water. We
also encamped in a grassy hollow without water; but, as we had been
forewarned of this privation by the guide, the animals had all been
watered at the river, and we had brought with us a sufficient quantity for
the night.

3d.--After two hours' ride through a fertile, hilly country, covered, as
all the upland here appears to be, with good green grass, we descended
again into the river bottom, along which we resumed our sterile road, and
in about four miles reached the ford of the Fall river, (_Riviere aux
Chutes_,) a considerable tributary to the Columbia. We had heard, on
reaching the Nez Perce fort, a repetition of the account in regard to the
unsettled character of the Columbia Indians at the present time; and to
our little party they had at various points manifested a not very friendly
disposition, in several attempts to steal our horses. At this place I
expected to find a badly-disposed band, who had plundered a party of 14
emigrant men a few days before, and taken away their horses; and
accordingly we made the necessary preparation for our security, but
happily met with no difficulty.

The river was high, divided into several arms, with a rocky island at its
outlet into the Columbia, which at this place it rivalled in size, and
apparently derived its highly characteristic name, which is received from
one of its many falls some forty miles up the river. It entered the
Columbia with a roar of falls and rapids, and is probably a favorite
fishing station among the Indians, with whom both banks of the river were
populous; but they scarcely paid any attention to us. The ford was very
difficult at this time, and, had they entertained any bad intentions, they
were offered a good opportunity to carry them out, as I drove directly
into the river, and during the crossing the howitzer was occasionally
several feet under water, and a number of the men appeared to be more
often below than above. Our guide was well acquainted with the ford, and
we succeeded in getting every thing safe over to the left bank. We delayed
here only a short time to put the gun in order, and, ascending a long
mountain hill, resumed our route again among the interior hills.

The roar of the _Falls of the Columbia_ is heard from the heights,
where we halted a few moments to enjoy a fine view of the river below. In
the season of high water, it would be a very interesting object to visit,
in order to witness what is related of the annual submerging of the fall
under the waters which back up from the basin below, constituting a great
natural lock at this place. But time had become an object of serious
consideration; and the Falls, in their present state, had been seen and
described by many.

After a day's journey of 17 miles, we encamped among the hills on a little
clear stream, where, as usual, the Indians immediately gathered round us.
Among them was a very old man, almost blind from age, with long and very
white hair. I happened of my own accord to give this old man a present of
tobacco, and was struck with the impression which my unpropitiated notice
made on the Indians, who appeared in a remarkable manner acquainted with
the real value of goods, and to understand the equivalents of trade. At
evening, one of them spoke a few words to his people, and, telling me that
we need entertain no uneasiness in regard to our animals, as none of them
would be disturbed, they went all quietly away. In the morning, when they
again came to the camp, I expressed to them the gratification we felt at
their reasonable conduct, making them a present of some large knives and a
few smaller articles.

4th.--The road continued among the hills, and, reaching an eminence, we
saw before us, watered by a clear stream, a tolerably large valley,
through which the trail passed.

In comparison with the Indians of the Rocky mountains and the great
eastern plain, these are disagreeably dirty in their habits. Their huts
were crowded with half-naked women and children, and the atmosphere within
was any thing but pleasant to persons who had just been riding in the
fresh morning air. We were somewhat amused with the scanty dress of a
woman, who, in common with the others, rushed out of the huts on our
arrival, and who, in default of other covering, used a child for a fig-

The road in about half an hour passed near an elevated point, from which
we overlooked the valley of the Columbia for many miles, and saw in the
distance several houses surrounded by fields, which a chief, who had
accompanied us from the village, pointed out to us as the Methodist
missionary station.

In a few miles we descended to the river, which we reached at one of its
remarkably interesting features, known as the _Dalles of the
Columbia_. The whole volume of the river at this place passed between
the walls of a chasm, which has the appearance of having been rent through
the basaltic strata which form the valley-rock of the region. At the
narrowest place we found the breadth, by measurement, 58 yards, and the
average height of the walls above the water 25 feet; forming a trough
between the rocks--whence the name, probably applied by a Canadian
voyageur. The mass of water, in the present low state of the river, passed
swiftly between, deep and black, and curled into many small whirlpools and
counter currents, but unbroken by foam, and so still that scarcely the
sound of a ripple was heard. The rock, for a considerable distance from
the river, was worn over a large portion of its surface into circular
holes and well-like cavities, by the abrasion of the river, which, at the
season of high waters, is spread out over the adjoining bottoms.

In the recent passage through this chasm, an unfortunate event had
occurred to Mr. Applegate's party, in the loss of one of their boats,
which had been carried under water in the midst of the _Dalles_, and
two of Mr. Applegate's children and one man drowned. This misfortune was
attributed only to want of skill in the steersman, as at this season there
was no impediment to navigation; although the place is entirely impassable
at high water, when boats pass safely over the great falls above, in the
submerged state in which they then find themselves.

The basalt here is precisely the same as that which constitutes the rock
of the valley higher up the Columbia, being very compact, with a few round

We passed rapidly three or four miles down the level valley and encamped
near the mission. The character of the forest growth here changes, and we
found ourselves, with pleasure, again among oaks and other forest-trees of
the east, to which we had long been strangers; and the hospitable and kind
reception with which we were welcomed among our country people at the
mission, aided the momentary illusion of home.

Two good-looking wooden dwelling-houses, and a large schoolhouse, with
stables, barn, and garden, and large cleared fields between the houses and
the river bank, on which were scattered the wooden huts of an Indian
village, gave to the valley the cheerful and busy air of civilization, and
had in our eyes an appearance of abundant and enviable comfort.

Our land journey found here its western termination. The delay involved in
getting our camp to the right bank of the Columbia, and in opening a road
through the continuous forest to Vancouver, rendered a journey along the
river impracticable; and on this side the usual road across the mountain
required strong and fresh animals, there being an interval of three days
in which they could obtain no food. I therefore wrote immediately to Mr.
Fitzpatrick, directing him to abandon the carts at the Walahwalah
missionary station, and, as soon as the necessary pack-saddles could be
made, which his party required, meet me at the Dalles, from which point I
proposed to commence our homeward journey. The day after our arrival being
Sunday, no business could be done at the mission; but on Monday, Mr.
Perkins assisted me in procuring from the Indians a large canoe, in which
I designed to complete our journey to Vancouver, where I expected to
obtain the necessary supply of provisions and stores for our winter
journey. Three Indians, from the family to whom the canoe belonged, were
engaged to assist in working her during the voyage, and, with them, our
water party consisted of Mr. Preuss and myself, with Bernier and Jacob
Dodson. In charge of the party which was to remain at the Dalles I left
Carson, with instructions to occupy the people in making pack-saddles and
refitting their equipage. The village from which we were to take the canoe
was on the right bank of the river, about ten miles below, at the mouth of
the Tinanens creek: and while Mr. Preuss proceeded down the river with the
instruments, in a little canoe paddled by two Indians, Mr. Perkins
accompanied me with the remainder of the party by land. The last of the
emigrants had just left the Dalles at the time of our arrival, traveling
some by water and others by land, making ark-like rafts, on which they had
embarked their families and households, with their large wagons and other
furniture, while their stock were driven along the shore.

For about five miles below the Dalles, the river is narrow, and probably
very deep; but during this distance it is somewhat open, with grassy
bottoms on the left. Entering, then, among the lower mountains of the
Cascade range, it assumes a general character, and high and steep rocky
hills shut it in on either side, rising abruptly in places, to the height
of fifteen hundred feet above the water, and gradually acquiring a more
mountainous character as the river approaches the Cascades.

After an hour's travel, when the sun was nearly down, we searched along
the shore for a pleasant place, and halted to prepare supper. We had been
well supplied by our friends at the mission with delicious salted salmon,
which had been taken at the fattest season; also, with potatoes, bread,
coffee, and sugar. We were delighted at a change in our mode of traveling
and living. The canoe sailed smoothly down the river; at night we encamped
upon the shore, and a plentiful supply of comfortable provisions supplied
the first of wants. We enjoyed the contrast which it presented to our late
toilsome marchings, our night watchings, and our frequent privation of
food. We were a motley group, but all happy: three unknown Indians; Jacob,
a colored man; Mr. Preuss, a German; Bernier, creole French; and myself.

Being now upon the ground explored by the South Sea expedition under
Captain Wilkes, and having accomplished the object of uniting my survey
with his, and thus presenting a connected exploration from the Mississippi
to the Pacific, and the winter being at hand, I deemed it necessary to
economize time by voyaging in the night, as is customary here, to avoid
the high winds, which rise with the morning, and decline with the day.

Accordingly, after an hour's halt, we again embarked, and resumed our
pleasant voyage down the river. The wind rose to a gale after several
hours; but the moon was very bright, and the wind was fair, and the canoe
glanced rapidly down the stream, the waves breaking into foam alongside;
and our night voyage, as the wind bore us rapidly along between the dark
mountains, was wild and interesting. About midnight we put to the shore on
a rocky beach, behind which was a dark looking pine forest. We built up
large fires among the rocks, which were in large masses round about; and,
arranging our blankets on the most sheltered places we could find, passed
a delightful night.

After an early breakfast, at daylight we resumed our journey, the weather
being clear and beautiful, and the river smooth and still. On either side
the mountains are all pine-timbered, rocky, and high. We were now
approaching one of the marked features of the lower Columbia where the
river forms a great _cascade_, with a series of rapids, in breaking
through the range of mountains to which the lofty peaks of Mount Hood and
St. Helens belong, and which rise as great pillars of snow on either side
of the passage. The main branch of the _Sacramento_ river, and the
_Tlamath_, issue in cascades from this range; and the Columbia,
breaking through it in a succession of cascades, gives the idea of
cascades to the whole range; and hence the name of CASCADE RANGE, which it
bears, and distinguishes it from the Coast Range lower down. In making a
short turn to the south, the river forms the cascades in breaking over a
point of agglomerated masses of rock, leaving a handsome bay to the right,
with several rocky, pine-covered islands, and the mountains sweep at a
distance around a cove where several small streams enter the bay. In less
than an hour we halted on the left bank, about five minutes' walk above
the cascades, where there were several Indian huts, and where our guides
signified it was customary to hire Indians to assist in making the
_portage_. When traveling with a boat as light as a canoe, which may
easily be carried on the shoulders of the Indians, this is much the better
side of the river for the portage, as the ground here is very good and
level, being a handsome bottom, which I remarked was covered (_as was
now always the case along the river_) with a growth of green and fresh-
looking grass. It was long before we could come to an understanding with
the Indians; but to length, when they had first received the price of
their assistance in goods, they went vigorously to work; and, in a shorter
time than had been occupied in making our arrangements, the canoe,
instruments, and baggage, were carried through (a distance of about half a
mile) to the bank below the main cascade, where we again embarked, the
water being white with foam among ugly rocks, and boiling into a thousand
whirlpools. The boat passed with great rapidity, crossing and recrossing
in the eddies of the current. After passing through about two miles of
broken water, we ran some wild-looking rapids, which are called the Lower
Rapids, being the last on the river, which below is tranquil and smooth--a
broad, magnificent stream. On a low broad point on the right bank of the
river, at the lower end of these rapids, were pitched many tents of the
emigrants, who were waiting here for their friends from above, or for
boats and provisions which were expected from Vancouver. In our passage
down the rapids, I had noticed their camps along the shore, or
transporting their goods across the portage. This portage makes a head of
navigation, ascending the river. It is about two miles in length; and
above, to the Dalles, is 45 miles of smooth and good navigation.

We glided on without further interruption between very rocky and high
steep mountains, which sweep along the river valley at a little distance,
covered with forests of pine, and showing occasionally lofty escarpments
of red rock. Nearer, the shore is bordered by steep escarped hills end
huge vertical rocks, from which the waters of the mountain reach the river
in a variety of beautiful falls, sometimes several hundred feet in height.
Occasionally along the river occurred pretty bottoms, covered with the
greenest verdure of the spring. To a professional farmer, however, it does
not offer many places of sufficient extent to be valuable for agriculture;
and after passing a few miles below the Dalles, I had scarcely seen a
place on the south shore where wagons could get to the river. The beauty
of the scenery was heightened by the continuance of very delightful
weather, resembling the Indian summer of the Atlantic. A few miles below
the cascades we passed a singular isolated hill; and in the course of the
next six miles occurred five very pretty falls from the heights on the
left bank, one of them being of a very picturesque character; and towards
sunset we reached a remarkable point of rocks, distinguished, on account
of prevailing high winds, and the delay it frequently occasions to the
canoe navigation, by the name of _Cape Horn_. It borders the river in
a high wall of rock, which comes boldly down into deep water; and in
violent gales down the river, and from the opposite shore, which is the
prevailing direction of strong winds, the water is dashed against it with
considerable violence. It appears to form a serious obstacle to canoe
traveling; and I was informed by Mr. Perkins, that in a voyage up the
river he had been detained two weeks at this place, and was finally
obliged to return to Vancouver.

The winds of this region deserve a particular study. They blow in
currents, which show them to be governed by fixed laws; and it is a
problem how far they may come from the mountains, or from the ocean
through the breaks in the mountains which let out the river.

The hills here had lost something of their rocky appearance, and had
already begun to decline. As the sun went down, we searched along the
river for an inviting spot; and, finding a clean rocky beach, where some
large dry trees were lying on the ground, we ran our boat to the shore;
and, after another comfortable supper, ploughed our way along the river in
darkness. Heavy clouds covered the sky this evening, and the wind began to
sweep in gusts among the trees, as if bad weather were coming. As we
advanced, the hills on both sides grew constantly lower; on the right,
retreating from the shore, and forming a somewhat extensive bottom of
intermingled prairie and wooded land. In the course of a few hours, and
opposite to a small stream corning in from the north, called the
_Tea Prairie_ river, the highlands on the left declined to
the plains, and three or four miles more disappeared entirely on both
sides, and the river entered the low country. The river had gradually
expanded; and when we emerged from the highlands, the opposite shores were
so distant as to appear indistinct in the uncertainty of the light. About
ten o'clock our pilots halted, apparently to confer about the course; and,
after a little hesitation, pulled directly across an open expansion of the
river, where the waves were somewhat rough for a canoe, the wind blowing
very fresh. Much to our surprise, a few minutes afterwards we ran aground.
Backing off our boat, we made repeated trials at various places to cross
what appeared to be a point of shifting sand-bars, where we had attempted
to shorten the way by a cut-off. Finally, one of our Indians got into the
water, and waded about until he found a channel sufficiently deep, through
which we wound along after him, and in a few minutes again entered the
deep water below. As we paddled rapidly down the river, we heard the noise
of a saw-mill at work on the right bank; and, letting our boat float
quietly down, we listened with pleasure to the unusual sounds, and before
midnight, encamped on the bank of the river, about a mile above Fort
Vancouver. Our fine dry weather had given place to a dark cloudy night. At
midnight it began to rain; and we found ourselves suddenly in the gloomy
and humid season, which, in the narrow region lying between the Pacific
and the Cascade mountains, and for a considerable distance along the
coast, supplies the place of winter.

In the morning, the first object that attracted my attention was the
barque Columbia, lying at anchor near the landing. She was about to start
on a voyage to England, and was now ready for sea; being detained only in
waiting the arrival of the express bateaux, which descend the Columbia and
its north fork with the overland mail from Canada and Hudson's Bay, which
had been delayed beyond the usual time. I immediately waited upon Dr.
McLaughlin, the executive officer of the Hudson Bay Company, in the
territory west of the Rocky mountains, who received me with the courtesy
and hospitality for which he has been eminently distinguished, and which
makes a forcible and delightful impression on a traveler from the long
wilderness from which we had issued. I was immediately supplied by him
with the necessary stores and provisions to refit and support my party in
our contemplated winter journey to the States; and also with a Mackinaw
boat and canoes, manned with Canadian and Iroquois voyageurs and Indians,
for their transportation to the Dalles of the Columbia. In addition to
this efficient kindness in furnishing me with these necessary supplies, I
received from him a warm and gratifying sympathy in the suffering which
his great experience led him to anticipate for us in our homeward journey,
and a letter of recommendation and credit for any officers of the Hudson
Bay Company into whose posts we might be driven by unexpected misfortune.

Of course, the future supplies for my party were paid for, bills on the
Government of the United States being readily taken; but every hospitable
attention was extended to me, and I accepted an invitation to take a room
in the fort, "_and to make myself at home while I stayed_."

I found many American emigrants at the fort; others had already crossed
the river into their land of promise--the Walahmette valley. Others were
daily arriving; and all of them have been furnished with shelter, so far
as it could be afforded by the buildings connected with the establishment.
Necessary clothing and provisions (the latter to be returned in kind from
the produce of their labor) were also furnished. This friendly assistance
was of very great value to the emigrants, whose families were otherwise
exposed to much suffering in the winter rains, which had now commenced; at
the same time they were in want of all the common necessaries of life.
Those who had taken a water conveyance at the Nez Perce fort continued to
arrive safely, with no other accident than has been already mentioned. The
party which had crossed over the Cascade mountains were reported to have
lost a number of their animals; and those who had driven their stock down
the Columbia had brought them safely in, and found for them a ready and
very profitable market, and were already proposing to return to the States
in the spring for another supply. In the space of two days our
preparations had been completed, and we were ready to set out on our
return. It would have been very gratifying to have gone down to the
Pacific, and, solely in the interest and love of geography, to have seen
the ocean on the western as well as on the eastern side of the continent,
so as to give a satisfactory completeness to the geographical picture
which had been formed in our minds; but the rainy season had now regularly
set in, and the air was filled with fogs and rain, which left no beauty in
any scenery, and obstructed observations. The object of my instructions
had been entirely fulfilled in having connected our reconnoissance with
the surveys of Captain Wilkes; and although it would have been agreeable
and satisfactory to terminate here also our ruder astronomical
observations, I was not, for such a reason, justified to make a delay in
waiting for favorable weather.

Near sunset of the 10th, the boats left the fort, and encamped after
making only a few miles. Our flotilla consisted of a Mackinaw barge and
three canoes--one of them that in which we had descended the river; and a
party in all of twenty men. One of the emigrants, Mr. Burnet, of Missouri,
who had left his family and property at the Dalles, availed himself of the
opportunity afforded by the return of our boats to bring them down to
Vancouver. This gentleman, as well as the Messrs. Applegate, and others of
the emigrants whom I saw, possessed intelligence and character, with the
moral and intellectual stamina, as well as the enterprise, which give
solidity and respectability to the foundation of colonies.

11th.--The morning was rainy and misty. We did not move with the practised
celerity of my own camp; and it was nearly nine o'clock when our motley
crew had finished their breakfast and were ready to start. Once afloat,
however, they worked steadily and well, and we advanced at a good rate up
the river; and in the afternoon a breeze sprung up, which enabled us to
add a sail to the oars. At evening we encamped on a warm-looking beach, on
the right bank, at the foot of the high river-hill, immediately at the
lower end of Cape Horn. On the opposite shore is said to be a singular
hole in the mountain, from which the Indians believe comes the wind
producing these gales. It is called the Devil's hole; and the Indians, I
was told, had been resolving to send down one of their slaves to explore
the region below. At dark, the wind shifted into its stormy quarter,
gradually increasing to a gale from the southwest; and the sky becoming
clear, I obtained a good observation of an emersion of the first
satellite; the result of which being an absolute observation, I have
adopted for the longitude of the place.

12th.--The wind during the night had increased to so much violence that
the broad river this morning was angry and white; the waves breaking with
considerable force against this rocky wall of the cape. Our old Iroquois
pilot was unwilling to risk the boats around the point, and I was not
disposed to hazard the stores of our voyage for the delay of a day.
Further observations were obtained during the day, giving for the latitude
of the place 45 deg. 33' 09"; and the longitude obtained from the satellite is
122 deg. 6' 15".

13th.--We had a day of disagreeable and cold rain and, late in the
afternoon, began to approach the rapids of the cascades. There is here a
high timbered island on the left shore, below which, in descending, I had
remarked, in a bluff of the river, the extremities of trunks of trees,
appearing to be imbedded in the rock. Landing here this afternoon, I
found, in the lower part of the escarpment, a stratum of coal and forest-
trees, imbedded between strata of altered clay, containing the remains of
vegetables, the leaves of which indicate that the plants wore
dicotyledonous. Among these, the stems of some of the ferns are not
mineralized, but merely charred, retaining still their vegetable structure
and substance; and in this condition a portion of the trees remain. The
indurated appearance and compactness of the strata, as well, perhaps, as
the mineralized condition of the coal, are probably due to igneous action.
Some portions of the coal precisely resemble in aspect the canal coal of
England, and, with the accompanying fossils, have been referred to the
tertiary formation.

These strata appear to rest upon a mass of agglomerated rock, being but a
few feet above the water of the river; and over them is the escarpment of
perhaps 80 feet, rising gradually in the rear towards the mountains. The
wet and cold evening, and near approach of night, prevented me from making
any other than a slight examination.

The current was now very swift, and we were obliged to _cordelle_ the
boat along the left shore, where the bank was covered with large masses of
rocks. Night overtook us at the upper end of the island, a short distance
below the cascades, and we halted on the open point. In the mean time, the
lighter canoes, paddled altogether by Indians, had passed ahead, and were
out of sight. With them was the lodge, which was the only shelter we had,
with most of the bedding and provisions. We shouted, and fired guns; but
all to no purpose, as it was impossible for them to hear above the roar of
the river; and we remained all night without shelter, the rain pouring
down all the time. The old voyageurs did not appear to mind it much, but
covered themselves up as well as they could, and lay down on the sand-
beach, where they remained quiet until morning. The rest of us spent a
rather miserable night; and, to add to our discomfort, the incessant rain
extinguished our fires; and we were glad when at last daylight appeared,
and we again embarked.

Crossing to the right bank, we _cordelled_ the boat along the shore,
there being no longer any use of the paddles, and put into a little bay
below the upper rapids. Here we found a lodge pitched, and about 20
Indians sitting around a blazing fire within, making a luxurious breakfast
with salmon, bread, butter, sugar, coffee, and other provisions. In the
forest, on the edge of the high bluff overlooking the river, is an Indian
graveyard, consisting of a collection of tombs, in each of which were the
scattered bones of many skeletons. The tombs were made of boards, which
were ornamented with many figures of men and animals of the natural size--
from their appearance, constituting the armorial device by which, among
Indians, the chiefs are usually known.

The masses of rock displayed along the shores of the ravine in the
neighborhood of the cascades, are clearly volcanic products. Between this
cove, which I called Graveyard bay, and another spot of smooth water
above, on the right, called Luders bay, sheltered by a jutting point of
huge rocky masses at the foot of the cascades, the shore along the
intervening rapids is lined with precipices of distinct strata of red and
variously-colored lavas, in inclined positions.

The masses of rock forming the point at Luders bay consist of a porous
trap, or basalt--a volcanic product of a modern period. The rocks belong
to agglomerated masses, which form the immediate ground of the cascades,
and have been already mentioned as constituting a bed of cemented
conglomerate rocks, appearing at various places along the river. Here they
are scattered along the shores, and through the bed of the river, wearing
the character of convulsion, which forms the impressive and prominent
feature of the river at this place.

Wherever we came in contact with the rocks of these mountains, we found
them volcanic, which is probably the character of the range; and at this
time, two of the great snowy cones, Mount Regnier and St. Helens, were in
action. On the 23d of the preceding November, St. Helens had scattered its
ashes, like a white fall of snow, over the Dalles of the Columbia, 50
miles distant. A specimen of these ashes was given to me by Mr. Brewer,
one of the clergymen at the Dalles.

The lofty range of the Cascade mountains forms a distinct boundary between
the opposite climates of the regions along its western and eastern bases.
On the west, they present a barrier to the clouds of fog and rain which
roll up from the Pacific ocean and beat against their rugged sides,
forming the rainy season of the winter in the country along the coast.
Into the brighter skies of the region along their eastern base, this rainy
winter never penetrates; and at the Dalles of the Columbia the rainy
season is unknown, the brief winter being limited to a period of about two
months, during which the earth is covered with the slight snows of a
climate remarkably mild for so high a latitude. The Cascade range has an
average distance of about 130 miles from the sea-coast. It extends far
both north and south of the Columbia, and is indicated to the distant
observer, both in course and position, by the lofty volcanic peaks which
rise out of it, and which are visible to an immense distance.

During several days of constant rain, it kept our whole force laboriously
employed in getting our barge and canoes to the upper end of the Cascades.
The portage ground was occupied by emigrant families; their thin and
insufficient clothing, bareheaded and barefooted children, attesting the
length of their journey, and showing that they had, in many instances, set
out without a due preparation of what was indispensable.

A gentleman named Luders, a botanist from the city of Hamburg, arrived at
the bay I have called by his name while we were occupied in bringing up
the boats. I was delighted to meet at such a place a man of kindred
pursuits; but we had only the pleasure of a brief conversation, as his
canoe, under the guidance of two Indians, was about to run the rapids; and
I could not enjoy the satisfaction of regaling him with a breakfast,
which, after his recent journey, would have been an extraordinary luxury.
All of his few instruments and baggage were in the canoe, and he hurried
around by land to meet it at the Graveyard bay; but he was scarcely out of
sight, when, by the carelessness of the Indians, the boat was drawn into
the midst of the rapids, and glanced down the river, bottom up, with a
loss of every thing it contained. In the natural concern I felt for his
misfortune, I gave to the little cove the name of Luders bay.

15th.--We continued to-day our work at the portage.

About noon, the two barges of the express from Montreal arrived at the
upper portage landing, which, for large boats, is on the right bank of the
river. They were a fine-looking crew, and among them I remarked a fresh-
looking woman and her daughter, emigrants from Canada. It was satisfactory
to see the order and speed with which these experienced water-men effected
the portage, and passed their boats over the cascades. They had arrived at
noon, and in the evening they expected to reach Vancouver. These bateaux
carry the express of the Hudson Bay Company to the highest navigable point
of the North Fork of the Columbia, whence it is carried by an overland
party to Lake Winipec, where it is divided; part going to Montreal, and
part to Hudson Bay. Thus a regular communication is kept up between three
very remote points.

The Canadian emigrants were much chagrined at the change of climate, and
informed me that, only a few miles above, they had left a country of
bright blue sky and a shining sun. The next morning the upper parts of the
mountains which directly overlook the cascades, were white with the
freshly fallen snow, while it continued to rain steadily below.

Late in the afternoon we finished the portage, and, embarking again, moved
a little distance up the right bank, in order to clear the smaller rapids
of the cascades, and have a smooth river for the next morning. Though we
made but a few miles, the weather improved immediately; and though the
rainy country and the cloudy mountains were close behind, before us was
the bright sky; so distinctly is climate here marked by a mountain

17th.--We had to-day an opportunity to complete the sketch of that portion
of the river down which we had come by night.

Many places occur along the river, where the stumps, or rather portions of
the trunks of pine-trees, are standing along the shore, and in the water,
where they may be seen at a considerable depth below the surface, in the
beautifully clear water. These collections of dead trees are called on the
Columbia the _submerged forest_, and are supposed to have been
created by the effects of some convulsion which formed the cascades, and
which, by damming up the river, placed these trees under water and
destroyed them. But I venture to presume that the cascades are older than
the trees; and as these submerged forests occur at five or six places
along the river, I had an opportunity to satisfy myself that they have
been formed by immense landslides from the mountains, which here closely
shut in the river, and which brought down with them into the river the
pines of the mountain. At one place, on the right bank, I remarked a place
where a portion of one of these slides seemed to have planted itself, with
all the evergreen foliage, and the vegetation of the neighboring hill,
directly amidst the falling and yellow leaves of the river trees. It
occurred to me that this would have been a beautiful illustration to the
eye of a botanist.

Following the course of a slide, which was very plainly marked along the
mountain, I found that in the interior parts the trees were in their usual
erect position; but at the extremity of the slide they were rocked about,
and thrown into a confusion of inclinations.

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon we passed a sandy bar in the river,
whence we had an unexpected view of Mount Hood, bearing directly south by

During the day we used oar and sail, and at night had again a delightful
camping ground, and a dry place to sleep upon.

18th.--The day again was pleasant and bright. At 10 o'clock we passed a
rock island, on the right shore of the river, which the Indians use as a
burial ground; and halting for a short time, about an hour afterwards, at
the village of our Indian friends, early in the afternoon we arrived again
at the Dalles.

Carson had removed the camp up the river a little nearer to the hills,
where the animals had better grass. We found every thing in good order,
and arrived just in time to partake of an excellent roast of California
beef. My friend, Mr. Gilpin, had arrived in advance of the party. His
object in visiting this country had been to obtain correct information of
the Walahmette settlements; and he had reached this point in his journey,
highly pleased with the country over which he had traveled, and with
invigorated health. On the following day he continued his journey, in our
returning boats, to Vancouver.

The camp was now occupied in making the necessary preparations for our
homeward journey, which, though homeward, contemplated a new route, and a
great circuit to the south and southeast, and the exploration of the Great
Basin between the Rocky mountains and the _Sierra Nevada_. Three
principal objects were indicated, by report or by maps, as being on this
route; the character or existence of which I wished to ascertain and which
I assumed as landmarks, or leading points, on their projected line of
return. The first of those points was the _Tlamath_ lake, on the
table-land between the head of Fall river, which comes to the Columbia,
and the Sacramento, which goes to the Bay of San Francisco; and from which
lake a river of the same name makes its way westwardly direct to the
ocean. This lake and river are often called _Klamet_, but I have
chosen to write its name according to the Indian pronunciation. The
position of this lake, on the line of inland communication between Oregon
and California; its proximity to the demarcation boundary of latitude 42 deg.;
its imputed double character of lake, or meadow, according to the season
of the year; and the hostile and warlike character attributed to the
Indians about it--all made it a desirable object to visit and examine.
From this lake our course was intended to be about southeast, to a
reported lake called Mary's, at some days' journey in the Great Basin; and
thence, still on southeast, to the reputed _Buenaventura_ river,
which has had a place in so many maps, and countenanced the belief of the
existence of a great river flowing from the Rocky mountains to the Bay of
San Francisco. From the Buenaventura the next point was intended to be in
that section of the Rocky mountains which includes the heads of Arkansas
river, and of the opposite waters of the Californian gulf; and thence down
the Arkansas to Bent's fort, and home. This was our projected line of
return--a great part of it absolutely new to geographical, botanical, and
geological science--and the subject of reports in relation to lakes,
rivers, deserts, and savages hardly above the condition of mere wild
animals, which inflamed desire to know what this _terra incognita_
really contained.

It was a serious enterprise, at the commencement of winter, to undertake
the traverse of such a region, and with a party consisting only of twenty-
five persons, and they of many nations--American, French, German,
Canadian, Indian, and colored--and most of those young, several being
under twenty-one years of age. All knew that a strange country was to be
explored, and dangers and hardships to be encountered; but no one blenched
at the prospect. On the contrary, courage and confidence animated the
whole party. Cheerfulness, readiness, subordination, prompt obedience,
characterized all; nor did any extremity of peril and privation, to which
we were afterwards exposed, ever belie, or derogate from, the fine spirit
of this brave and generous commencement. The course of the narrative will
show at what point, and for what reasons, we were prevented from the
complete execution of this plan, after having made considerable progress
upon it, and how we were forced by desert plains and mountain ranges, and
deep snows, far to the south, and near to the Pacific ocean, and along the
western base of the Sierra Nevada, where, indeed, a new and ample field of
exploration opened itself before us. For the present, we must follow the
narrative, which will first lead us south along the valley of Fall river,
and the eastern base of the Cascade range, to the Tlamath lake, from
which, or its margin, three rivers go in three directions--one west, to
the ocean; another north, to the Columbia; the third south, to California.

For the support of the party, I had provided at Vancouver a supply of
provisions for not less than three months, consisting principally of
flour, peas, and tallow--the latter being used in cooking; and, in
addition to this, I had purchased at the mission some California cattle,
which were to be driven on the hoof. We had 104 mules and horses--part of
the latter procured from the Indians about the mission; and for the
sustenance of which, our reliance was upon the grass which we should find,
and the soft porous wood which was to be substituted when there was none.

Mr. Fitzpatrick, with Mr. Talbot and the remainder of the party, arrived
on the 21st; and the camp was now closely engaged in the labor of
preparation. Mr. Perkins succeeded in obtaining as a guide to the Tlamath
lake two Indians--one of whom had been there, and bore the marks of
several wounds he had received from some of the Indians in the
neighborhood; and the other went along for company. In order to enable us
to obtain horses, he dispatched messengers to the various Indian villages
in the neighborhood, informing them that we were desirous to purchase, and
appointing a day for them to bring them in.

We made, in the mean time, several excursions in the vicinity. Mr. Perkins
walked with Mr. Preuss and myself to the heights, about nine miles
distant, on the opposite side of the river, whence, in fine weather, an
extensive view may be had over the mountains, including seven great peaks
of the Cascade range; but clouds, on this occasion, destroyed the
anticipated pleasure, and we obtained bearings only to three that were
visible--Mount Regnier, St. Helens, and Mount Hood. On the heights, about
one mile south of the mission, a very fine view may be had of Mount Hood
and St. Helens. In order to determine their position with as much accuracy
as possible, the angular distances of the peaks were measured with the
sextant, at different fixed points from which they could be seen.

The Indians brought in their horses at the appointed time, and we
succeeded in obtaining a number in exchange for goods; but they were
relatively much higher here, where goods are plenty and at moderate
prices, than we had found them in the more eastern part of our voyage.
Several of the Indians inquired very anxiously to know if we had any
_dollars_; and the horses we procured were much fewer in number than
I had desired, and of thin, inferior quality; the oldest and poorest being
those that were sold to us. These horses, as ever in our journey you will
have occasion to remark, are valuable for hardihood and great endurance.

24th.--At this place one of the men was discharged; and at the request of
Mr. Perkins, a Chinook Indian, a lad of nineteen, who was extremely
desirous to "see the whites," and make some acquaintance with our
institutions, was received into the party under my special charge, with
the understanding that I would again return him to his friends. He had
lived for some time in the household of Mr. Perkins, and spoke a few words
of the English language.

25th.--We were all up early, in the excitement of turning towards home.
The stars were brilliant, and the morning cold, the thermometer at
daylight 26 deg..

Our preparations had been fully completed, and to-day we commenced our
journey. The little wagon which had hitherto carried the instruments, I
judged it necessary to abandon; and it was accordingly presented to the
mission. In all our long traveling, it had never been overturned or
injured by any accident of the road; and the only things broken were the
glass lamps, and one of the front panels, which had been kicked out by an
unruly Indian horse. The howitzer was the only wheeled carriage now
remaining. We started about noon, when the weather had become disagreeably
cold, with flurries of snow. Our friend Mr. Perkins, whose kindness had
been active and efficient during our stay, accompanied us several miles on
our road, when he bade us farewell, and consigned us to the care of our
guides. Ascending to the uplands beyond the southern fork of the
_Tinanens_ creek, we found the snow lying on the ground in frequent
patches, although the pasture appeared good, and the new short grass was
fresh and green. We traveled over high, hilly land, and encamped on a
little branch of Tinanens creek, where there were good grass and timber.
The southern bank was covered with snow, which was scattered over the
bottom; and the little creek, its borders lined with ice, had a chilly and
wintry look. A number of Indians had accompanied us so far on our road,
and remained with us during the night. Two bad-looking fellows, who were
detected in stealing, were tied and laid before the fire, and guard
mounted over them during the night. The night was cold, and partially

26th.--The morning was cloudy and misty, and but a few stars visible.
During the night water froze in the tents, and at sunrise the thermometer
was at 20 deg.. Left camp at 10 o'clock, the road leading along tributaries of
the Tinanens, and being, so far, very good. We turned to the right at the
fork of the trail, ascending by a steep ascent along a spur to the
dividing grounds between this stream and the waters of Fall river. The
creeks we had passed were timbered principally with oak and other
deciduous trees. Snow lies everywhere here on the ground, and we had a
slight fall during the morning; but towards noon the bright sky yielded to
a bright sun.

This morning we had a grand view of St. Helens and Regnier: the latter
appeared of a conical form, and very lofty, leading the eye far up into
the sky. The line of the timbered country is very distinctly marked here,
the bare hills making with it a remarkable contrast. The summit of the
ridge commanded a fine view of the Taih prairie, and the stream running
through it, which is a tributary to the Fall river, the chasm of which is
visible to the right. A steep descent of a mountain hill brought us down
into the valley, and we encamped on the stream after dark, guided by the
light of fires, which some naked Indians, belonging to a village on the
opposite side, were kindling for us on the bank. This is a large branch of
the Fall river. There was a broad band of thick ice some fifteen feet wide
on either bank, and the river current is swift and bold. The night was
cold and clear, and we made our astronomical observation this evening with
the thermometer at 20 deg..

In anticipation of coming hardship, and to spare our horses, there was
much walking done to-day; and Mr. Fitzpatrick and myself made the day's
journey on foot. Somewhere near the mouth of this stream are the falls
from which the river takes its name.

27th.--A fine view of Mount Hood this morning; a rose-colored mass of
snow, bearing S. 85 deg. W. by compass. The sky is clear, and the air cold;
the thermometer 2.5 deg. below zero, the trees and bushes glittering white,
and the rapid stream filled with floating ice.

_Stiletsi_ and _the White Crane_, two Indian chiefs who had
accompanied us thus far, took their leave, and we resumed our journey at
10 o'clock. We ascended by a steep hill from the river bottom, which is
sandy, to a volcanic plain, around which lofty hills sweep in a regular
form. It is cut up by gullies of basaltic rock, escarpments of which
appear everywhere in the hills. This plain is called the Taih prairie, and
is sprinkled with some scattered pines. The country is now far more
interesting to a traveler than the route along the Snake and Columbia
rivers. To our right we had always the mountains, from the midst of whose
dark pine forests the isolated snowy peaks were looking out like giants.
They served us for grand beacons to show the rate at which we advanced in
our journey. Mount Hood was already becoming an old acquaintance, and,
when we ascended the prairie, we obtained a bearing to Mount Jefferson, S.
23 deg. W. The Indian superstition has peopled these lofty peaks with evil
spirits, and they have never yet known the tread of a human foot. Sternly
drawn against the sky, they look so high and steep, so snowy and rocky,
that it appears almost impossible to climb them; but still a trial would
have its attractions for the adventurous traveler. A small trail takes off
through the prairie, towards a low point in the range, and perhaps there
is here a pass into the Wahlamette valley. Crossing the plain, we
descended by a rocky hill into the bed of a tributary of Fall river, and
made an early encampment. The water was in holes, and frozen over; and we
were obliged to cut through the ice for the animals to drink. An ox, which
was rather troublesome to drive, was killed here for food.

The evening was fine, the sky being very clear, and I obtained an
immersion of the third satellite, with a good observation of an emersion
of the first; the latter of which gives for the longitude, 121 deg. 02' 43";
the latitude, by observation, being 45 deg. 06' 45". The night was cold--the
thermometer during the observations standing at 9 deg..

28th.--The sky was clear in the morning, but suddenly clouded over, and at
sunrise it began to snow, with the thermometer at 18 deg..

We traversed a broken high country, partly timbered with pine, and about
noon crossed a mountainous ridge, in which, from the rock occasionally
displayed, the formation consists of compact lava. Frequent tracks of elk
were visible in the snow. On our right, in the afternoon, a high plain,
partially covered with pine, extended about ten miles, to the foot of the
Cascade mountains.

At evening we encamped in a basin narrowly surrounded by rocky hills,
after a day's journey of twenty-one miles. The surrounding rocks are
either volcanic products, or highly altered by volcanic action, consisting
of quartz and reddish-colored silicious masses.

29th.--We emerged from the basin, by a narrow pass, upon a considerable
branch of Fall river, running to the eastward through a narrow valley. The
trail, descending this stream, brought us to a locality of hot springs,
which were on either bank. Those on the left, which were formed into deep
handsome basins, would have been delightful baths, if the outer air had
not been so keen, the thermometer in these being at 89 deg.. There were others
on the opposite side, at the foot of an escarpment, in which the
temperature of the water was 134 deg.. These waters deposited around the
spring a brecciated mass of quartz and feldspar, much of it of a reddish

We crossed the stream here, and ascended again to a high plain, from an
elevated point of which we obtained a view of six of the great peaks--
Mount Jefferson, followed to the southward by two others of the same
class; and succeeding, at a still greater distance to the southward, were
three other lower peaks, clustering together in a branch ridge. These,
like the great peaks, were snowy masses, secondary only to them; and, from
the best examination our time permitted, we are inclined to believe that
the range to which they belong is a branch from the great chain which here
bears to the westward. The trail, during the remainder of the day,
followed near to the large stream on the left, which was continuously
walled in between high rocky banks. We halted for the night on a little

30th.--Our journey to-day was short. Passing over a high plain, on which
were scattered cedars, with frequent beds of volcanic rock in fragments
interspersed among the grassy grounds, we arrived suddenly on the verge of
the steep and rocky descent to the valley of the stream we had been
following, and which here ran directly across our path, emerging from the
mountains on the right. You will remark that the country is abundantly
watered with large streams, which pour down from the neighboring range.

These streams are characterized by the narrow and chasm-like valleys in
which they run, generally sunk a thousand feet below the plain. At the
verge of this plain, they frequently commence in vertical precipices of
basaltic rock, and which leave only casual places at which they can be
entered by horses. The road across the country, which would otherwise be
very good, is rendered impracticable for wagons by these streams. There is
another trail among the mountains, usually followed in the summer, which
the snows now compelled us to avoid; and I have reason to believe that
this, passing nearer the heads of these streams, would afford a much
better road.

At such places, the gun-carriage was unlimbered, and separately descended
by hand. Continuing a few miles up the left bank of the river, we encamped
early in an open bottom among the pines, a short distance below a lodge of
Indians. Here, along the river the bluffs present escarpments seven or
eight hundred feet in height, containing strata of a very fine porcelain
clay, overlaid, at the height of about five hundred feet, by a massive
stratum of compact basalt one hundred feet in thickness, which again is
succeeded above by other strata of volcanic rocks. The clay strata are
variously colored, some of them very nearly as white as chalk, and very
fine-grained. Specimens brought from these have been subjected to
microscopical examination by Professor Bailey, of West Point, and are
considered by him to constitute one of the most remarkable deposites of
fluviatile infusoria on record. While they abound in genera and species
which are common in fresh water, but which rarely thrive where the water
is even brackish, not one decidedly marine form is to be found among them;
and their fresh-water origin is therefore beyond a doubt. It is equally
certain that they lived and died at the situation where they were found,
as they could scarcely have been transported by running waters without an
admixture of sandy particles; from which, however, they are remarkably
free. Fossil infusoria of a fresh-water origin had been previously
detected by Mr. Bailey, in specimens brought by Mr. James D. Dana from the
tertiary formation of Oregon. Most of the species in those specimens
differed so much from those now living and known, that he was led to infer
that they might belong to extinct species, and considered them also as
affording proof of an alteration, in the formation from which they were
obtained, of fresh and salt-water deposites, which, common enough in
Europe, had not hitherto been noticed in the United States. Coming
evidently from a locality entirely different, our specimens show very few
species in common with those brought by Mr. Dana, but bear a much closer
resemblance to those inhabiting the northeastern states. It is possible
that they are from a more recent deposite; but the presence of a few
remarkable forms which are common to the two localities renders it more
probable that there is no great difference in their age.

I obtained here a good observation of an emersion of the second satellite;
but clouds, which rapidly overspread the sky, prevented the usual number
of observations. Those which we succeeded in obtaining, are, however,
good; and give for the latitude of the place 44 deg. 35' 23", and for the
longitude from the satellite 121 deg. 10' 25".


1st.--A short distance above our encampment, we crossed the river, which
was thickly lined along its banks with ice. In common with all these
mountain-streams the water was very clear and the current swift. It was
not everywhere fordable, and the water was three or four feet deep at our
crossing, and perhaps a hundred feet wide. As was frequently the case at
such places, one of the mules got his pack, consisting of sugar,
thoroughly wet, and turned into molasses. One of the guides informed me
that this was a "salmon-water," and pointed out several ingeniously-
contrived places to catch the fish; among the pines in the bottom I saw an
immense one, about twelve feet in diameter. A steep ascent from the
opposite bank delayed us again; and as, by the information of our guides,
grass would soon become very scarce, we encamped on the height of land, in
a marshy place among the pines, where there was an abundance of grass. We
found here a single Nez Perce family, who had a very handsome horse in
their drove, which we endeavored to obtain in exchange for a good cow; but
the man "had two hearts," or, rather, he had one and his wife had another:
she wanted the cow, but he loved the horse too much to part with it. These
people attach great value to cattle, with which they are endeavoring to
supply themselves.

2d.--In the first rays of the sun, the mountain peaks this morning
presented a beautiful appearance, the snow being entirely covered with a
hue of rosy gold. We traveled to-day over a very stony, elevated plain,
about which were scattered cedar and pine, and encamped on another branch
of Fall river. We were gradually ascending to a more elevated region,
which would have been indicated by the rapidly increasing quantities of
snow and ice, had we not known it by other means. A mule, which was packed
with our cooking-utensils, wandered off among the pines unperceived, and
several men were sent back to search for it.

3d.--Leaving Mr. Fitzpatrick with the party, I went ahead with the
howitzer and a few men, in order to gain time, as our progress with the
gun was necessarily slower. The country continued the same--very stony,
with cedar and pine; and we rode on until dark, when we encamped on a
hill-side covered with snow, which we used to-night for water, as we were
unable to reach any stream.

4th.--Our animals had taken the back track, although a great number were
hobbled; and we were consequently delayed until noon. Shortly after we had
left this encampment, the mountain trail from the Dalles joined that on
which we were traveling. After passing for several miles over an artemisia
plain, the trail entered a beautiful pine forest, through which we
traveled for several hours; and about 4 o'clock descended into the valley
of another large branch, on the bottom of which were spaces of open pines,
with occasional meadows of good grass, in one of which we encamped. The
stream is very swift and deep, and about 40 feet wide, and nearly half
frozen over. Among the timber here, are larches 140 feet high, and over
three feet in diameter. We had to-night the rare sight of a lunar rainbow.

5th.--To-day the country was all pine forest, and beautiful weather made
our journey delightful. It was too warm at noon for winter clothes; and
the snow, which lay everywhere in patches through the forest, was melting
rapidly. After a few hours' ride, we came upon a fine stream in the midst
of the forest, which proved to be the principal branch of the Fall river.
It was occasionally 200 feet wide--sometimes narrowed to 50 feet--the
waters very clear, and frequently deep. We ascended along the river, which
sometimes presented sheets of foaming cascades--its banks occasionally
blackened with masses of scoriated rock--and found a good encampment on
the verge of open bottom, which had been an old camping-ground of the
Cayuse Indians. A great number of deer-horns were lying about, indicating
game in the neighborhood. The timber was uniformly large, some of the
pines measuring 22 feet in circumference at the ground, and 12 to 13 feet
at six feet above.

In all our journeying, we had never traveled through a country where the
rivers were so abounding in falls; and the name of this stream is
singularly characteristic. At every place where we come in the
neighborhood of the river, is heard the roaring of falls. The rock along
the banks of the stream, and the ledge over which it falls, is a scoriated
basalt, with a bright metallic fracture. The stream goes over in one clear
pitch, succeeded by a foaming cataract of several hundred yards. In a
little bottom above the falls, a small stream discharges into an
_entonnoir_, and disappears below.

We made an early encampment, and in the course of the evening Mr.
Fitzpatrick joined us here with the lost mule. Our lodge-poles were nearly
worn out, and we found here a handsome set, leaning against one of the
trees, very white, and cleanly scraped. Had the owners been here, we would
have purchased them; but as they were not, we merely left the old ones in
their place, with a small quantity of tobacco.

6th.--The morning was frosty and clear. We continued up the stream on
undulating forest ground, over which there was scattered much falling
timber. We met here a village of Nez Perce Indians, who appeared to be
coming down from the mountains, and had with them fine bands of horses.
With them were a few Snake Indians of the root-digging species. From the
forest we emerged into an open valley ten or twelve miles wide, through
which the stream was flowing tranquilly, upwards of two hundred feet
broad, with occasional islands, and bordered with fine broad bottoms.
Crossing the river, which here issues from a great mountain ridge on the
right, we continued up the southern and smaller branch over a level
country, consisting of fine meadow-land, alternating with pine forests,
and encamped on it early in the evening. A warm sunshine made the day

7th.--To-day we had good traveling ground, the trail leading sometimes
over rather sandy soils in the pine forest, and sometimes over meadow-land
along the stream. The great beauty of the country in summer constantly
suggested itself to our imaginations; and even now we found it beautiful,
as we rode along these meadows, from half a mile to two miles wide. The
rich soil and excellent water, surrounded by noble forests, make a picture
that would delight the eye of a farmer.

I observed to-night an occultation of _a Geminorum_; which, although
at the bright limb of the moon, appears to give a very good result, that
has been adopted for the longitude. The occultation, observations of
satellites, and our position deduced from daily surveys with the compass,
agree remarkably well together, and mutually support and strengthen each
other. The latitude of the camp is 43 deg. 30' 36"; and longitude, deduced
from the occultation, 121 deg. 33' 50".

8th.--To-day we crossed the last branch of the Fall river, issuing, like
all the others we had crossed, in a southwesterly direction from the
mountains. Our direction was a little east of south, the trail leading
constantly through pine forests. The soil was generally bare, consisting,
in greater part, of a yellowish-white pumice-stone, producing varieties of
magnificent pines, but not a blade of grass; and to-night our horses were
obliged to do without food, and use snow for water. These pines are
remarkable for the red color of the bolls; and among them occurs a species
of which the Indians had informed me when leaving the Dalles. The unusual
size of the cone (16 or 18 inches long) had attracted their attention; and
they pointed it out to me among the curiosities of the country. They are
more remarkable for their large diameter than their height, which usually
averages only about 120 feet. The leaflets are short--only two or three
inches long, and five in a sheath; the bark of a red color.

9th.--The trail leads always through splendid pine forests. Crossing
dividing grounds by a very fine road, we descended very gently towards the
south. The weather was pleasant, and we halted late. The soil was very
much like that of yesterday; and on the surface of a hill near our
encampment, were displayed beds of pumice-stone; but the soil produced no
grass, and again the animals fared badly.

10th.--The country began to improve; and about eleven o'clock we reached a
spring of cold water on the edge of a savannah, or grassy meadow, which
our guides informed us was an arm of the Tlamath lake; and a few miles
further we entered upon an extensive meadow, or lake of grass, surrounded
by timbered mountains. This was the Tlamath lake. It was a picturesque and
beautiful spot, and rendered more attractive to us by the abundant and
excellent grass, which our animals, after traveling through pine forests,
so much needed; but the broad sheet of water which constitutes a lake was
not to be seen. Overlooking it, immediately west, were several snowy
knobs, belonging to what we have considered a branch of the Cascade range.
A low point, covered with pines, made out into the lake, which afforded us
a good place for an encampment, and for the security of our horses, which
were guarded in view on the open meadow. The character of courage and
hostility attributed to the Indians in this quarter induced more than
usual precaution; and, seeing smokes rising from the middle of the lake
(or savannah) and along the opposite shores, I directed the howitzer to be
fired. It was the first time our guides had seen it discharged; and the
bursting of the shell at a distance, which was something like the second
fire of the gun, amazed and bewildered them with delight. It inspired them
with triumphant feelings; but on the camps at a distance the effect was
different, for the smokes in the lake and on the shores immediately

The point on which we were encamped forms, with the opposite eastern
shore, a narrow neck, connecting the body of the lake with a deep cove or
bay which receives the principal affluent stream, and over the greater
part of which the water (or rather ice) was at this time dispersed in
shallow pools. Among the grass, and scattered over the prairie lake,
appeared to be similar marshes. It is simply a shallow basin, which, for a
short period at the time of melting snows, is covered with water from the
neighboring mountains; but this probably soon runs off, and leaves for the
remainder of the year a green savannah, through the midst of which the
river Tlamath, which flows to the ocean, winds its way to the outlet on
the south-western side.

11th.--No Indians made their appearance, and I determined to pay them a
visit. Accordingly the people were gathered together, and we rode out
towards the village in the middle of the lake which one of our guides had
previously visited. It could not be directly approached, as a large part
of the lake appeared a marsh; and there were sheets of ice among the grass
on which our horses could not keep their footing. We therefore followed
the guide for a considerable distance along the forest; and then turned
off towards the village, which we soon began to see was a few large huts,
on the tops of which were collected the Indians. When we had arrived
within half a mile of the village, two persons were seen advancing to meet
us; and, to please the fancy of our guides, we ranged ourselves into a
long line, riding abreast, while they galloped ahead to meet the

We were surprised, on riding up, to find one of them a woman, having never
before known a squaw to take any part in the business of war. They were
the village chief and his wife, who, in excitement and alarm at the
unusual event and appearance, had come out to meet their fate together.
The chief was a very prepossessing Indian, with handsome features, and a
singularly soft and agreeable voice--so remarkable as to attract general

The huts were grouped together on the bank of the river which, from being
spread out in a shallow marsh at the upper end of the lake, was collected
here into a single stream. They were large round huts, perhaps 20 feet in
diameter, with rounded tops, on which was the door by which they descended
into the interior. Within, they were supported by posts and beams.

Almost like plants, these people seem to have adapted themselves to the
soil, and to be growing on what the immediate locality afforded. Their
only subsistence at the time appeared to be a small fish, great quantities
of which, that had been smoked and dried, were suspended on strings about
the lodge. Heaps of straw were lying around; and their residence in the
midst of grass and rushes had taught them a peculiar skill in converting
this material to useful purposes. Their shoes were made of straw or grass,
which seemed well adapted for a snowy country; and the women wore on their
heads a closely-woven basket, which made a very good cap. Among other
things, were party-colored mats about four feet square, which we purchased
to lay on the snow under our blankets, and to use for table-cloths.

Numbers of singular-looking dogs, resembling wolves, were sitting on the
tops of the huts; and of these we purchased a young one, which, after its
birthplace, was named Tlamath. The language spoken by these Indians is
different from that of the Shoshonee and Columbia River tribes; and
otherwise than by signs they cannot understand each other. They made us
comprehend that they were at war with the people who lived to the
southward and to the eastward; but I could obtain from them no certain
information. The river on which they live enters the Cascade mountains on
the western side of the lake, and breaks through them by a passage
impracticable for travelers; but over the mountains, to the northward, are
passes which present no other obstacle than in the almost impenetrable
forests. Unlike any Indians we had previously seen, these wore shells in
their noses. We returned to our camp, after remaining here an hour or two,
accompanied by a number of Indians.

In order to recruit a little the strength of our animals, and obtain some
acquaintance with the locality, we remained here for the remainder of the
day. By observation, the latitude of the camp was 42 deg. 56' 51", and the
diameter of the lake, or meadow, as has been intimated, about 20 miles. It
is a picturesque and beautiful spot, and, under the hand of cultivation,
might become a little paradise. Game is found in the forest, timbered and
snowy mountains skirt it, and fertility characterizes it. Situated near
the heads of three rivers, and on the line of inland communication with
California, and near to Indians noted for treachery, it will naturally, in
the progress of the settlement of Oregon, become a point for military
occupation and settlement.

From Tlamath lake, the further continuation of our voyage assumed a
character of discovery and exploration, which, from the Indians here, we
could obtain no information to direct, and where the imaginary maps of the
country, instead of assisting, exposed us to suffering and defeat. In our
journey across the desert, Mary's lake, and the famous Buenaventura river,
were two points on which I relied to recruit the animals and repose the
party. Forming, agreeably to the best maps in my possession, a connected
water-line from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific ocean, I felt no other
anxiety than to pass safely across the intervening desert to the banks of
the Buenaventura, where, in the softer climate of a more southern
latitude, our horses might find grass to sustain them, and ourselves be
sheltered from the rigors of winter, and from the inhospitable desert. The
guides who had conducted us thus far on our journey were about to return;
and I endeavored in vain to obtain others to lead us, even for a few days,
in the direction (east) which we wished to go. The chief to whom I applied
alleged the want of horses, and the snow on the mountains across which our
course would carry us, and the sickness of his family, as reasons for
refusing to go with us.

12th.--This morning the camp was thronged with Tlamath Indians from the
southeastern shore of the lake; but, knowing the treacherous disposition
which is a remarkable characteristic of the Indians south of the Columbia,
the camp was kept constantly on its guard. I was not unmindful of the
disasters which Smith and other travelers had met with in this country,
and therefore was equally vigilant in guarding against treachery and

According to the best information I had been able to obtain from the
Indians, in a few days' traveling we should reach another large water,
probably a lake, which they indicated exactly in the course we were about
to pursue. We struck our tents at 10 o'clock, and crossed the lake in a
nearly east direction, where it has the least extension--the breadth of
the arm being here only about a mile and a half. There were ponds of ice,
with but little grass, for the greater part of the way, and it was
difficult to get the pack-animals across, which fell frequently, and could
not get up with their loads, unassisted. The morning was very unpleasant,
snow falling at intervals in large flakes, and the sky dark. In about two
hours we succeeded in getting the animals over; and, after traveling
another hour along the eastern shore of the lake, we turned up into a cove
where there was a sheltered place among the timber, with good grass, and
encamped. The Indians, who had accompanied us so far, returned to their
village on the south-eastern shore. Among the pines here, I noticed some
five or six feet in diameter.

13th.--The night has been cold; the peaks around the lake gleam out
brightly in the morning sun, and the thermometer is at zero. We continued
up the hollow formed by a small affluent to the lake, and immediately
entered an open pine forest on the mountain. The way here was sometimes
obstructed by fallen trees, and the snow was four to twelve inches deep.
The mules at the gun pulled heavily, and walking was a little laborious.
In the midst of the wood, we heard the sound of galloping horses, and were
agreeably surprised by the unexpected arrival of our Tlamath chief with
several Indians. He seemed to have found his conduct inhospitable in
letting the strangers depart without a guide through the snow, and had
come, with a few others, to pilot us a day or two on the way. After
traveling in an easterly direction through the forest for about four
hours, we reached a considerable stream, with a border of good grass; and
here, by the advice of our guides, we encamped. It is about thirty feet
wide, and two to four feet deep, the water clear, with some current; and,
according to the information of our Indians, is the principal affluent to
the lake, and the head-water of the Tlamath river.

A very clear sky enabled me to obtain here to-night good observations,
including an emersion of the first satellite of Jupiter, which gave for
the long. 121 deg. 20' 42", and for the lat. 42 deg. 51' 26". This emersion
coincides remarkably well with the result obtained from an occultation at
the encampment of December 7th to 8th, 1843; from which place, the line of
our survey gives an easting of 13 miles. The day's journey was 12 miles.

14th.--Our road was over a broad mountain, and we rode seven hours in a
thick snow-storm, always through pine forests, when we came down upon the
head-waters of another stream, on which there was grass. The snow lay deep
on the ground, and only the high swamp-grass appeared above. The Indians
were thinly clad, and I had remarked during the day that they suffered
from cold. This evening they told me that the snow was getting too deep on
the mountain, and I could not induce them to go any farther. The stream we
had struck issued from the mountain in an easterly direction, turning to
the southward a short distance below; and, drawing its course upon the
ground, they made us comprehend that it pursued its way for a long
distance in that direction, uniting with many other streams, and gradually
becoming a great river. Without the subsequent information, which
confirmed the opinion, we became immediately satisfied that this water
formed the principal stream of the Sacramento river; and, consequently,
that this main affluent of the bay of San Francisco had its source within
the limits of the United States, and opposite a tributary to the Columbia,
and near the head of the Tlamath river, which goes to the ocean north of
42 deg., and within the United States.

15th.--A present, consisting of useful goods, afforded much satisfaction
to our guides; and, showing them the national flag, I explained that it
was a symbol of our nation; and they engaged always to receive it in a
friendly manner. The chief pointed out a course, by following which we
would arrive at the big water, where no more snow was to be found.
Traveling in a direction N. 60 deg. E. by compass, which the Indians informed
me would avoid a bad mountain to the right, we crossed the Sacramento
where it turned to the southward, and entered a grassy level plain--a
smaller Grand Rond; from the lower end of which the river issued into an
inviting country of low rolling hills. Crossing a hard-frozen swamp on the
farther side of the Rond, we entered again the pine forest, in which very
deep snow made our traveling slow and laborious. We were slowly but

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