Part 1 out of 5
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THROUGH THE GRAND CANYON FROM WYOMING TO MEXICO
By E.L. Kolb
With a Foreword by Owen Wister
With Additional Illustrations
From Photographs by the Author and His Brother
TO THE MANY FRIENDS WHO "PULLED" FOR US, IF NOT WITH US DURING THE ONE
HUNDRED ONE DAYS OF OUR RIVER TRIP, THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY
It is a dogged courage of which the author of this book is the serene
possessor--shared equally by his daring brother; and evidence of this
bravery is made plain throughout the following pages. Every youth who
has in him a spark of adventure will kindle with desire to battle his
way also from Green River to the foot of Bright Angel Trail; while
every man whose bones have been stiffened and his breath made short by
the years, will remember wistfully such wild tastes of risk and
conquest that he, too, rejoiced in when he was young.
Whether it deal with the climbing of dangerous peaks, or the descent
(as here) of some fourteen hundred miles of water both mysterious and
ferocious, the well-told tale of a perilous journey, planned with head
and carried through with dauntless persistence, always holds the
attention of its readers and gives them many a thrill. This tale is
very well told. Though it is the third of its kind, it differs from
its predecessors more than enough to hold its own: no previous
explorers have attempted to take moving pictures of the Colorado River
with themselves weltering in its foam. More than this: while the human
race lasts it will be true, that any man who is lucky enough to fix
upon a hard goal and win it, and can in direct and simple words tell
us how he won it, will write a good book.
Perhaps this planet does somewhere else contain a thing like the
Colorado River--but that is no matter; we at any rate in our continent
possess one of nature's very vastest works. After The River and its
tributaries have done with all sight of the upper world, have left
behind the bordering plains and streamed through the various gashes
which their floods have sliced in the mountains that once stopped
their way, then the culminating wonder begins. The River has been
flowing through the loneliest part which remains to us of that large
space once denominated "The Great American Desert" by the vague maps
in our old geographies. It has passed through regions of emptiness
still as wild as they were before Columbus came; where not only no man
lives now nor any mark is found of those forgotten men of the cliffs,
but the very surface of the earth itself looks monstrous and extinct.
Upon one such region in particular the author of these pages dwells,
when he climbs up out of the gulf in whose bottom he has left his boat
by the River, to look out upon a world of round gray humps and hollows
which seem as if it were made of the backs of huge elephants. Through
such a country as this, scarcely belonging to our era any more than
the mammoth or the pterodactyl, scarcely belonging to time at all,
does the Colorado approach and enter its culminating marvel. Then, for
283 miles it inhabits a nether world of its own. The few that have
ventured through these places and lived are a handful to those who
went in and were never seen again. The white bones of some have been
found on the shores; but most were drowned; and in this water no
bodies ever rise, because the thick sand that its torrent churns along
clogs and sinks them.
This place exerts a magnetic spell. The sky is there above it, but not
of it. Its being is apart; its climate; its light; its own. The beams
of the sun come into it like visitors. Its own winds blow through it,
not those of outside, where we live. The River streams down its
mysterious reaches, hurrying ceaselessly; sometimes a smooth sliding
lap, sometimes a falling, broken wilderness of billows and whirlpools.
Above stand its walls, rising through space upon space of silence.
They glow, they gloom, they shine. Bend after bend they reveal
themselves, endlessly new in endlessly changing veils of colour. A
swimming and jewelled blue predominates, as of sapphires being melted
and spun into skeins of shifting cobweb. Bend after bend this trance
of beauty and awe goes on, terrible as the Day of Judgment, sublime as
the Psalms of David. Five thousand feet below the opens and barrens of
Arizona, this canyon seems like an avenue conducting to the secret of
the universe and the presence of the gods.
Is much wonder to be felt that its beckoning enchantment should have
drawn two young men to dwell beside it for many years; to give
themselves wholly to it; to descend and ascend among its buttressed
pinnacles; to discover caves and waterfalls hidden in its labyrinths;
to climb, to creep, to hang in mid-air, in order to learn more and
more of it, and at last to gratify wholly their passion in the great
adventure of this journey through it from end to end? No siren song
could have lured travellers more than the siren silence of the Grand
Canyon: but these young men did not leave their bones to whiten upon
its shores. The courage that brought them out whole is plain
throughout this narrative, in spite of its modesty.--OWEN WISTER.
This is a simple narrative of our recent photographic trip down the
Green and Colorado rivers in rowboats--our observations and
impressions. It is not intended to replace in any way the books
published by others covering a similar journey. Major J.W. Powell's
report of the original exploration, for instance, is a classic,
literary and geological; and searchers after excellence may well be
recommended to his admirable work.
Neither is this chronicle intended as a handbook of the territory
traversed--such as Mr. F.S. Dellenbaugh's two volumes: "The Romance of
the Grand Canyon," and "A Canyon Voyage." We could hardly hope to add
anything of value to his wealth of detail. In fact, much of the data
given here--such as distances, elevations, and records of other
expeditions--is borrowed from the latter volume. And I take this
opportunity of expressing our appreciation to Mr. Dellenbaugh for his
most excellent and entertaining books.
We are indebted to Mr. Julius F. Stone, of Columbus, Ohio, for much
valuable information and assistance. Mr. Stone organized a party and
made the complete trip down the Green and Colorado rivers in the fall
and winter of 1909, arriving at Needles, California, on November 27,
1909. He freely gave us the benefit of his experience and presented us
with the complete plans of the boats he used.
One member of this party was Nathan Galloway, of Richfield, Utah. To
him we owe much of the success of our journey. Mr. Galloway hunts and
traps through the wilds of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, and has a fame
for skill and nerve throughout this entire region. He makes a yearly
trip through the upper canyons, usually in a boat of his own
construction; and in addition has the record of being the only person
who has made two complete trips through the entire series of canyons,
clear to Needles. He it is who has worked out the type of boats we
used, and their management in the dangerous waters of the Colorado.
We have tried to make this narrative not only simple, as we say, but
truthful. However, no two people can see things in exactly the same
light. To some, nothing looks big; to others, every little danger is
unconsciously magnified out of all proportion. For instance, we can
recall rapids which appeared rather insignificant at first, but which
seemed decidedly otherwise after we had been overturned in them and
had felt their power--especially at the moment when we were sure we
had swallowed a large part of the water that composed them.
The reader will kindly excuse the use of the first person, both
singular and plural. It is our own story, after all, and there seems
to be no other way than to tell it as you find it here.
I. PREPARATIONS AT GREEN RIVER CITY, WYOMING 1
II. INTERESTING SIGHTS OF SOUTHERN WYOMING 12
III. THE GATEWAY OF ALL THE CANYONS 22
IV. SUSPICIOUS HOSTS 36
V. THE BATTLE WITH LODORE 50
VI. HELL'S HALF MILE 64
VII. JIMMY GOES OVER THE MOUNTAIN 71
VIII. AN INLAND EXCURSION 83
IX. CANYON OF DESOLATION 93
X. HOSPITABLE RANCHMEN 102
XI. WONDERS OF EROSION 111
XII. COULD WE SUCCEED? 121
XIII. A COMPANION VOYAGER 129
XIV. A PATIENT AMID THE CATARACTS 142
XV. PLACER GOLD 156
XVI. A WARNING 169
XVII. A NIGHT OF THRILLS 178
XVIII. MARBLE HALLS AND MARBLE WALLS 190
XIX. SIGNALLING OUR CANYON HOME 203
XX. ONE MONTH LATER 219
XXI. WHAT CHRISTMAS EVE BROUGHT 235
XXII. SHORT OF PROVISIONS IN A SUNLESS GORGE 249
XXIII. THE LAST PORTAGE AND THE LAST RAPIDS 267
XXIV. ON THE CREST OF A FLOOD 280
XXV. FOUR DAYS TO YUMA 290
XXVI. ACROSS THE MEXICO BORDER 303
XXVII. THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA 321
The Grand Canyon near the mouth of Ha Va Su Creek _Frontispiece_
After a difficult picture. E. C. Kolb on rope................... 2
In the Grand Canyon near the Little Colorado.................... 6
The start at Green River, Wyoming............................... 10
Fire Hole Chimneys.............................................. 10
A typical butte formation....................................... 14
Boats and crew. Photo taken in the Grand Canyon................. 18
Skeleton found in the Grand Canyon.............................. 22
Inside of the first canyons..................................... 26
Tilted rocks at Kingfisher Canyon............................... 26
"Immense rocks had fallen from the cliff"....................... 36
Ashley Falls, looking down-stream............................... 40
The rocks were dark red; occasional pines grew on the ledges,
making a charming combination of colour....................... 44
"We stopped at one hay ranch close to the Utah-Colorado line"... 48
Remarkable entrance to Lodore Canyon............................ 52
"The river cut a channel under the walls" at Lower Disaster
"Everything was wet"............................................ 56
A Colorado River salmon......................................... 60
Lodore Canyon as seen from Brown's Park......................... 60
"The Canyon was gloomy and darkened with shreds of clouds"...... 64
"It took nine loads to empty one boat".......................... 68
"An upright log was found wedged between the boulders".......... 68
Echo Cliffs. "This was the end of Lodore"....................... 72
End of Echo Cliffs. The mouth of the Yampa River is on the
Marvels of erosion.............................................. 76
"Here was one end of the rainbow of rock that began on the
other side of the mountains".................................. 80
Pat Lynch: the canyon hermit.................................... 84
Each bed was placed in a rubber and a canvas sack............... 90
"Now for a fish story" ......................................... 100
The centre of three symmetrical formations in the Double Bow
The Buttes of the Cross......................................... 118
"The Land of Standing Rocks was like a maze".................... 122
Rocks overhanging the Colorado's Gorge.......................... 122
Thirteen hundred feet above the Green River..................... 124
The junction of the Green and the Grand Rivers.................. 128
Looking west into Cataract Canyon............................... 132
Charles Smith and his boat...................................... 132
A narrow channel at Rapid No. 22................................ 136
Developing tests................................................ 136
Rapid No. 22 in Cataract Canyon................................. 140
The _Edith_ in a cataract....................................... 144
A seventy-five-foot drop in three-fourths of a mile............. 144
Camp in the heart of Cataract Canyon............................ 148
Lower Cataract Canyon. Boats tandem............................. 152
Beginning of a natural bridge. Glen Canyon...................... 152
Pictographs in Glen Canyon...................................... 158
Cliff ruins near San Juan River................................. 162
Rainbow Natural Bridge, looking south........................... 162
Rainbow Natural Bridge, looking north........................... 166
Glen Canyon near Navajo Mountain................................ 170
Upper Marble Canyon............................................. 170
Placer dredge at Lee's Ferry.................................... 174
Badger Creek Rapid.............................................. 180
Bands of marble in Marble Canyon................................ 180
A peaceful camp in Marble Canyon................................ 184
The Soap Creek Rapid; a little above lowest stage. Photo
published by permission of Julius F. Stone.................... 188
"It was too good a camp to miss"................................ 192
Arch in Marble Canyon........................................... 192
Walls of Marble Canyon.......................................... 196
Approaching the Grand Canyon.................................... 200
End of Marble Canyon, from the mouth of the Little Colorado..... 204
Cataracts of the Little Colorado River.......................... 204
End of Hance Trail. Small white line is an intrusion of quartz
in the algonkian.............................................. 208
Below the Sockdologer........................................... 210
The Rust Tramway. Span four hundred and fifty feet.............. 214
Bright Angel Creek and Canyon................................... 218
Leaving home, Dec. 19, 1911..................................... 222
A composite picture of Marble Canyon walls and a Grand Canyon
The _Edith_ (on left of central rock) in Granite Falls.......... 226
Rough water in Hermit Creek Rapid............................... 230
Type of rapid in the granite near Bass Trail.................... 234
The inner plateau, thirteen hundred feet above the river........ 238
Bert Lauzon, above Separation Rapid............................. 238
The break in the _Edith_........................................ 242
Merry Christmas. The repair was made with bilge boards, canvas,
paint, and tin................................................ 242
Pulling clear of a rock......................................... 246
A shower bath................................................... 246
Grand Canyon at the mouth of Ha Va Su Canyon. Medium high
water. Frontispiece shows same place in low water............. 250
"Morning revealed a little snow," on the top.................... 252
New Year's Eve was spent in this section between the highest
sheer walls in the lower gorge................................ 252
Lava Falls. Lava on left, hot springs on right.................. 254
Swift water in Tapeets Creek Rapid.............................. 260
Lauzon, equipped with a life preserver on a rope, on guard
below a rapid................................................. 260
In the last granite gorge....................................... 260
Capt. Burro: a Ha Va Supai...................................... 266
The Last Portage. The rocks were ice-filmed. Note potholes...... 270
Mooney Falls: Ha Va Su Canyon................................... 274
Watching for the signal fire. Mrs. Emery and Edith Kolb......... 278
The granite gorge near Bright Angel Trail....................... 282
The Grand Canyon from the head of Bright Angel Trail............ 286
The Cork Screw: lower end of Bright Angel Trail................. 290
Zoroaster Temple from the end of Bright Angel Trail............. 298
Winter in the Grand Canyon from the Rim......................... 308
Winter in the Grand Canyon at the River......................... 308
A vaquero in the making......................................... 318
Cliff swallows' nests. Found from Wyoming to Mexico............. 318
Steam vents beside Volcanic Lake................................ 326
Cocopah Mountain, Mexico........................................ 326
Ten miles from the Gulf of California. Coming up on a
twenty-foot tide.............................................. 332
Sunset on the lower Colorado River.............................. 332
THROUGH THE GRAND CANYON FROM WYOMING TO MEXICO
PREPARATIONS AT GREEN RIVER CITY, WYOMING
Early in September of 1911 my brother Emery and I landed in Green
River City, Wyoming, ready for the launching of our boats on our
long-planned trip down the Green and Colorado rivers.
For ten years previous to this time we had lived at the Grand Canyon
of Arizona, following the work of scenic photography. In a general way
we had covered much of the country adjacent to our home, following our
pack animals over ancient and little-used trails, climbing the walls
of tributary canyons, dropping over the ledges with ropes when
necessary, always in search of the interesting and unusual.
After ten years of such work many of our plans in connection with a
pictorial exploration of the Grand Canyon were crowned with success.
Yet all the while our real ambition remained unsatisfied.
We wanted to make the "Big Trip"--as we called it; in other words, we
wanted a pictorial record of the entire series of canyons on the Green
and Colorado rivers.
The time had come at last, after years of hoping, after long months of
We stood at the freight window of the station at Green River City
asking for news of our boats. They had arrived and could be seen in
their crates shoved away in a corner. It was too late to do anything
with them that day; so we let them remain where they were, and went
out to look over the town.
Green River City proved to be a busy little place noisy with switch
engines, crowded with cattle-men and cowboys, and with hunting parties
outfitting for the Jackson Hole country. A thoroughly Western town of
the better sort, with all the picturesqueness of people and
surroundings that the name implies.
It was busier than usual, even, that evening; for a noisy but
good-natured crowd had gathered around the telegraph office, eager for
news of a wrestling match then taking place in an Eastern city. As we
came up they broke into a cheer at the news that the American wrestler
had defeated his foreign opponent. There was a discussion as to what
constituted the "toe-hold," three boys ran an impromptu foot-race,
there was some talk on the poor condition of the range, and the party
began to break up.
The little excitement over, we returned to the hotel; feeling, in
spite of our enthusiasm, somewhat lonesome and very much out of place.
Our sleep that night was fitful and broken by dreams wherein the
places we had known were strangely interwoven with these new scenes
and events. Through it all we seemed to hear the roar of the Rio
We looked out of the window the next morning, on a landscape that was
novel, yet somehow familiar. The river, a quarter of a mile away, very
clear and unruffled under its groves of cottonwood, wound through low
barren hills, as unlike as could be to the cliffs and chasms we knew
so well. But the colours--gray, red, and umber, just as Moran has
painted them--reassured us. We seemed not so far from home, after all.
It was Wyoming weather, though; clear and cold, after a windy night.
When, after breakfast, we went down to the river, we found that a
little ice had formed along the margin.
The days of final preparation passed quickly--with unpacking of
innumerable boxes and bundles, checking off each article against our
lists; and with a long and careful overhauling of our photographic
This last was a most important task, for the success of our expedition
depended on our success as photographers. We could not hope to add
anything of importance to the scientific and topographic knowledge of
the canyons already existing: and merely to come out alive at the
other end did not make a strong appeal to our vanity. We were there as
scenic photographers in love with their work, and determined to
reproduce the marvels of the Colorado's canyons, as far as we could do
In addition to three film cameras we had 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 plate
cameras; a plentiful supply of plates and films; a large cloth
dark-room; and whatever chemicals we should need for tests. Most
important of all, we had brought a motion-picture camera. We had no
real assurance that so delicate an apparatus, always difficult to use
and regulate, could even survive the journey--much less, in such
inexperienced hands as ours, reproduce its wonders. But this,
nevertheless, was our secret hope, hardly admitted to our most
intimate friends--that we could bring out a record of the Colorado as
it is, a live thing, armed as it were with teeth, ready to crush and
There was shopping to do; for the purchases of provisions, with a few
exceptions, had been left to the last. There were callers, too--an
embarrassing number of them. We had camped on a small island near the
town, not knowing when we did so that it had recently been put aside
for a public park. The whole of Green River City, it seemed, had
learned of our project, and came to inspect, or advise, or jeer at us.
The kindest of them wished us well; the other sort told us "it would
serve us right"; but not one of our callers had any encouragement to
offer. Many were the stories of disaster and death with which they
entertained us. One story in particular, as it seems never to have
reached print--though unquestionably true--ought to be set down here.
Three years before two young men from St. Louis had embarked here,
intending to follow the river throughout its whole course. They were
expert canoeists, powerful swimmers, and equipped with a steel boat,
we were told, built somewhat after the style of a canoe. They chose
the time of high water--not knowing, probably, that while high water
decreases the labour of the passage, it greatly increases the danger
of it. They came to the first difficult rapid in Red Canyon, seventy
odd miles below Green River City. It looked bad to them. They landed
above it and stripped to their underclothing and socks. Then they
pushed out into the stream.
Almost at once they lost control of the boat. It overturned; it rolled
over and over; it flung them off and left them swimming for their
lives. In some way, possibly the currents favouring, they reached the
shore. The boat, with all its contents, was gone. There they were,
almost naked, without food, without weapons, without the means of
building a fire; and in an uninhabited and utterly inhospitable
For four days they wandered, blistered by the sun by day; nearly
frozen at night, bruised by the rocks, and torn by the brambles.
Finally they reached the ranch at the head of the canyons and were
found by a half-breed Indian, who cared for them. Their underwear had
been made into bindings for their lacerated feet; they were nearly
starved, and on the verge of mental collapse. After two weeks'
treatment in the hospital at Green River City they were partially
restored to health. Quite likely they spent many of the long hours of
their convalescence on the river bank, or on the little island,
watching the unruffled stream glide underneath the cottonwoods.
Such tales as this added nothing to our fears, of course--for the
whole history of the Colorado is one long story of hardship and
disaster, and we knew, even better than our advisors, what risks lay
before us. We told our newfound friends, in fact, that we had lived
for years on the brink of the Grand Canyon itself, a gorge deeper and
more awful, even, than Lodore; with a volume of water ten times
greater. We knew, of course, of the river's vast length, of the
terrible gorges that confined it, of the hundreds of rapids through
which a boat would have to pass.
We knew, too, how Major Powell, undismayed by legends of underground
channels, impassable cataracts, and whirlpools; of bloodthirsty tribes
haunting its recesses,--had passed through the canyons in safety,
measuring and surveying as he went. We also knew of the many other
attempts that had been made--most of them ending in disaster or death,
a very few being successful.
Well, it had been done; it could be done again--this was our answer
to their premonitions.
We had present worries enough to keep us from dwelling too much on the
future. It had been our intention to start two weeks earlier, but
there had been numerous unavoidable delays. The river was low; "the
lowest they had seen it in years" they told us, and falling lower
every day. There were the usual difficulties of arranging a lot of new
material, and putting it in working order.
At last we were ready for the boats, and you may be sure we lost no
time in having them hauled to the river, and launching them.
They were beauties--these two boats of ours--graceful, yet strong in
line, floating easily, well up in the water, in spite of their five
hundred pounds' weight. They were flat-bottomed, with a ten-inch rake
or raise at either end; built of white cedar, with unusually high
sides; with arched decks in bow and stern, for the safe storing of
supplies. Sealed air chambers were placed in each end, large enough to
keep the boats afloat even if filled with water. The compartment at
the bow was lined with tin, carefully soldered, so that even a leak in
the bottom would not admit water to our precious cargoes. We had
placed no limit on their cost, only insisting that they should be of
materials and workmanship of the very best, and strictly in accordance
with our specifications. In every respect but one they pleased us.
Imagine our consternation when we discovered that the hatch covers
were anything but water-tight, though we had insisted more upon this,
perhaps, than upon any other detail. Loose boards, with cross-pieces,
fastened with little thumbscrews--there they were, ready to admit the
water at the very first upset.
There was nothing to be done. It was too late to rebuild the hatches
even if we had had the proper material. Owing to the stage of water it
was imperative that we should start at once. Bad as it would be to
have water in our cargo, it would be worse to have too little water in
the rock-obstructed channels of Red Canyon, or in the "flats" at
Brown's Park for instance.
Certainly the boats acted so beautifully in the water that we could
almost overlook the defective hatches. Emery rowed upstream for a
hundred yards, against a stiff current, and came back jubilant.
"They're great--simply great!" he exclaimed.
We had one real cause for worry, for actual anxiety, though; and as
each hour brought us nearer to the time of departure, we grew more and
more desperate. What about our third man?
We were convinced that a third man was needed; if not for the duties
of camp making, helping with the cooking and portaging; at least, for
turning the crank of the motion-picture camera. Emery and I could not
very well be running rapids, and photographing ourselves in the rapids
at the same time. Without a capable assistant, therefore, much of the
real purpose would be defeated.
Our first move, accordingly, had been to secure the services of a
strong, level-headed, and competent man. Friends strongly advised us
to engage a Canadian canoe-man, or at least some one familiar with the
management of boats in rough water. It was suggested, also, that we
might secure the help of some one of the voyagers who had been members
of one of the previous expeditions.
But--we may as well be frank about it--we did not wish to be piloted
through the Colorado by a guide. We wanted to make our own trip in our
own way. If we failed, we would have no one but ourselves to blame; if
we succeeded, we would have all the satisfaction that comes from
original, personal exploration. In other words, we wanted a man to
execute orders, not to give them. But that man was hard to find!
There had been many applicants; some of them from distant parts of the
country. One by one they were sifted out. At length we decided on one
man; but later he withdrew. We turned elsewhere, but these
applications were withdrawn, until there remained but a single letter,
from a young man in San Francisco. He seemed in every way qualified.
We wrote accepting his application, but while waiting to hear from us
a civil service position had been offered and accepted. "He was
sorry"; and so were we, for his references proved that he was a
capable man. Later he wrote that he had secured a substitute. We
replied on the instant, by wiring money for transportation, with
instructions for the new man to report at once at Green River. We took
very much for granted, having confidence in our friends' sincerity and
knowledge of just what was required.
The time had passed, two days before; but--no sign of our man! We
wrote, we telegraphed, we walked back and forth to every train; but
still he did not come. Had this man, too, failed us?
Then "Jimmy" came--just the night before we were to leave. And never
was a man more heartily welcome!
With James Fagen of San Francisco our party was complete. He was an
Irish-American, aged 22 years, a strong, active, and willing chap. To
be sure, he was younger, and not so experienced at "roughing it" as we
had hoped. But his good qualities, we were sure, would make up for
what was lacking.
Evening found us encamped a half mile below the town, the county
bridge. Our preparations were finished--even to the final purchase of
odds and ends; with ammunition for shot-gun and rifle. We threw our
sleeping-bags on the dry ground close to the river's edge, and, all
our anxieties gone, we turned our faces to the stars and slept.
At daybreak we were aroused by the thunder of hoofs on the bridge
above us, and the shouts of cowboys driving a large herd of
half-broken horses. We tumbled into our clothes, splashed our faces
with ice-cold water from the river, and hurried over to the hotel for
a last breakfast.
Then we sat down--in the little hotel at Green River City--as others
had done before, to write last messages to those who were nearest and
dearest to us. A telegram to our parents in an Eastern city; and
another to Emery's wife and little girl, at Bright Angel, more than
eight hundred miles down this self-same river--these, somehow, took
longer to write than the letters themselves. But whatever we may have
felt, we finished this final correspondence in silence, and hurried
back to the river.
Something of a crowd had gathered on the bridge to wish us _bon
voyage_. Shouting up to them our thanks for their hospitality, and
telling them to "look pleasant," we focussed the motion-picture camera
on them, Emery turning the crank, as the boat swung out into the
So began our journey, on Friday, September the 8th, 1911, at 9.30
A.M., as entered in my journal.
INTERESTING SIGHTS OF SOUTHERN WYOMING
All this preparation--and still more, the vexatious delays--had been a
heavy tax upon us. We needed a vacation. We took it--six pleasant
care-free days--hunting and fishing as we drifted through the sixty
miles of southern Wyoming. There were ducks and geese on the river to
test our skill with the shot-gun. Only two miles below Green River
City Emery secured our first duck, a promise of good sport to follow.
An occasional cottontail rabbit was seen, scurrying to cover through
the sage-brush, when we made a detour from the boats. We saw many
jack-rabbits too--with their long legs, and exaggerated
ears--creatures swifter, even, than the coyotes themselves.
We saw few people, though an occasional rancher hailed us from the
shore. Men of the open themselves, the character of our expedition
appealed to them. Their invitations to "come up to the ranch, and
spend the evening" were always hearty, and could seldom be refused if
the day was nearly gone.
The Logan boys' ranch, for instance, was our first camp; but will be
one of the last to be forgotten. The two Logan boys were sturdy,
companionable young men, full of pranks, and of that bubbling,
generous humour that flourishes in this Western air. We were amused by
their kindly offer to allow Jimmy to ride "the little bay"--a
beautiful animal, with the shifty eye of a criminal. But Jimmy, though
city-bred, was not to be trapped, and declined; very wisely, as we
thought. We photographed their favourite horses, and the cabin; also
helped them with their own camera, and developed some plates in the
underground storm-cellar,--a perfect dark-room, as it happened.
We took advantage of this pleasant camp to make a few alterations
about our boats. Certain mechanical details had been neglected in our
desire to be off, our intention being to look after them as occasion
demanded. Our short run had already shown us where we were weak or
unprepared. The rowlocks needed strengthening. One had come apart in
our first brush with a little riffle. The rowlocks were of a
little-used type, but very serviceable in dangerous waters. Inside the
usual rowlock a heavy ring was hung, kept in place by strong
set-screws, but allowing full play in every direction. These rings
were slipped over the oars; then the usual leather collar was nailed
on the oar, making it impossible for the rings to become separated
from the oars. The holes for the set-screws were too shallow, so we
went over the entire lot to deepen them. We foresaw where a break
might occur, and hung another lock of the open type on a cord, beside
each oar, ready for instant use in case of emergency.
The Logan boys, seeing our difficulties in making some of these
changes, came to our relief. "Help yourselves to the blacksmith shop,"
they said heartily. Here was an opportunity. Much time was consumed in
providing a device to hold our extra oars--out of the way on top of
the deck, but available at a moment's notice. Thanks to the Logan boys
and their blacksmith shop, these and many other little details were
corrected once for all; and we launched our boats in confidence on the
morning of September 10.
A few miles below we came to the locally famous Fire Hole Chimneys,
interesting examples of the butte formation, so typical of the West.
There were several of these buttes, about 800 feet high, composed of
stratified rock; in colour quite similar to the rocks at Green River
City, but capped with rock of a peculiar burnt appearance, though not
of volcanic origin. Some of the buttes sloped up from the very edge of
the river; others were separated from the river by low flats, covered
with sage-brush and bunch-grass,--that nutritious food of the range
stock. At the water's edge was the usual fringe of willows,
cottonwoods, and shrubs innumerable,--all mirrored in the limpid
surface of Green River.
At the foot of the cliffs were a number of wild burros, old and
young--fuzzy little baby-burros, looking ridiculously like
jack-rabbits--snorting their indignation at our invasion of their
privacy. Strange, by the way, how quickly these wild asses lose their
wildness of carriage when broken, and lapse into the utmost docility!
Just below the Chimneys Emery caught sight of fish gathered in a deep
pool, under the foliage of a cottonwood tree which had fallen into the
river. Our most tempting bait failed to interest them; so Emery, ever
clever with hook and line, "snagged" one just to teach them better
manners. It was a Colorado River salmon or whitefish. That evening I
"snagged" a catfish and used this for salmon bait, a fourteen-pound
specimen rewarding the attempt.
These salmon were old friends of ours, being found from one end to the
other of the Colorado, and on all its tributaries. They sometimes
weigh twenty-five or thirty pounds, and are common at twenty pounds;
being stockily built fish, with large, flat heads. They are not gamey,
but afford a lot of meat with a very satisfying flavour.
On September 11, about forty miles below Green River, we passed
Black's Fork, a tributary entering from the west. It is a stream of
considerable length, but was of little volume at that time. The banks
were cliffs about 300 feet high, rugged, dark, and overhanging. Here
were a half dozen eagles and many old nests--proof enough, if proof
were needed, that we were in a little visited country. What strong,
splendid birds they were; how powerful and graceful their flight as
they circled up, and up, into the clear blue sky!
Our next camp was at the Holmes' ranch, a few miles below Black's
Fork. We tried to buy some eggs of Walter Holmes, and were told that
we could have them on one condition--that we visit him that evening.
This was a price we were only too glad to pay, and the evening will
linger long in our memories.
Mr. Holmes entertained us with stories of hunting trips--after big
game in the wilds of Colorado; and among the lakes of the Wind River
Mountains, the distant source of the Green River. Mrs. Holmes and two
young ladies entertained us with music; and Jimmy, much to our
surprise, joined in with a full, rich baritone. It was late that night
when we rolled ourselves in our blankets, on the banks twenty feet
above the river.
Next morning we were shown a group of Mrs. Holmes' pets--several young
rabbits and a kitten, romping together in the utmost good fellowship.
The rabbits had been rescued from a watery grave in an irrigation
ditch and carefully nursed back to life. We helped her search for a
lame wild duck that had spurned the offer of a good home with
civilized ducklings, and had taken to the sage-brush. Mrs. Holmes'
love of wild animals, however, failed to include the bald-headed eagle
that had shown such an appetite for her spring chickens.
A few miles below this ranch we passed Bridger Crossing, a ford on an
old trail through southern Wyoming. In pioneer days Jim Bridger's home
was on this very spot. But those romantic days are long since past;
and where this world-famous scout once watched through the loopholes
of his barricade, was an amazed youngster ten or eleven years old who
gazed on us, then ran to the cabin and emerged with a rifle in his
hands. We thought little of this incident at the time, but later we
met the father of the boy and were told that the children had been
left alone with the small boy as their only protector, and that he
stood ready to defend the home against any possible marauders. No
doubt we looked bad enough to him.
Just below the ford the channel widened, and the river became very
shallow, the low rolling hills falling away into a wide green prairie.
We camped that night on a small island, low and treeless, but covered
with deep, rank grass. Next morning our sleeping-bags were wet with
frost and dew. A hard pull against a heavy wind between gradually
deepening rocky banks made us more than glad to pitch camp at noon a
short distance above the mouth of Henry's Fork, a considerable stream
flowing from the west. In the afternoon Emery and I decided to walk to
Linwood, lying just across the Utah line, four miles up Henry's Fork.
Jimmy preferred to remain with the boats.
Between the river and a low mesa lay a large ranch of a different
appearance from those others which we had passed. Those past were
cattle ranches, with stock on the open range, and with little ground
fit for cultivation, owing to the elevation. Here we found great,
broad acres, fenced and cultivated, with thoroughbred stock--horses
and cattle--contentedly grazing.
This pastoral scene, with a background of rugged mountains, appealed
strongly to our photographic instincts. After three or four exposures,
we climbed the farthest fence and passing from alfalfa to sage-brush
in one step, were at the foot of the mesa.
Climbing to the summit, we beheld the village in the distance, in a
beautiful green valley--a splendid example of Mormon irrigation and
farming methods. Linwood proved to be the market-place for all the
ranchers of this region. Dotting the foot-hills where water was less
plentiful were occasional cabins, set down in the middle of hay
ranches. All this husbandry only emphasized the surrounding
desolation. Just beyond, dark in the southern sky, rose the great
peaks of the Uintah range, the mountains we were so soon to enter.
Storm-clouds had been gathering about one great snow-covered peak, far
in the distance. These clouds spread and darkened, moving rapidly
forward. We had taken the hint and were already making all possible
haste toward the town, hoping to reach it before the storm broke. But
it was useless. Long before we had gained the edge of the valley the
rain had commenced in the mountains,--small local storms, resembling
delicate violet-coloured veils, hung in the dense pall of the clouds.
There were far flashes of lightning, and the subdued roar of distant
thunder, rapidly growing louder as the storm approached. Unable to
escape a drenching, we paused a moment to wonder at the sight; to
marvel--and shrink a little too--at the wild, incessant lightning. The
peaks themselves seemed to be tumbling together, such was the
continuous roar of thunder, punctuated by frequent deafening crashes.
Then the storm came down upon us. Such torrents of rain we have seldom
witnessed: such gusts of driving wind! At times we could scarcely make
headway against it, but after most strenuous effort we neared the
village. We hoped to find shelter under a bridge, but found
innumerable muddy streams running through the planks. So we resumed
our plodding, slipping and sliding in the black, bottomless mud.
The storm by this time had passed as quickly as it came. Wet to our
skins, we crawled into the little store and post-office combined,
and found it filled with ranch hands, waiting for the weekly mail.
We made a few purchases, wrote some letters, then went to a large
boarding-house near by and fortified ourselves with a generous,
There were comments by some of the men on our venture, but they lacked
the true Green River tang. Here, close to the upper canyons, the
unreasonable fear of the rapids gave way to a reasonable respect for
them. Here we heard again of the two young men from St. Louis, and the
mishaps that had befallen them. Here too we were to hear for the first
time of the two Snyders, father and son, and the misfortunes that had
overtaken them in Lodore Canyon, twenty years before. We were to hear
more of these men later.
We made what haste we could back to our boats, soon being overtaken by
a horseman, a big-hearted Swede who insisted on carrying our load as
long as we were going in his direction. How many just such instances
of kindliness we were to experience on our journey down the river! How
the West abounds with such men! It was dark when he left us a mile
from the river. Here there was no road to follow, and we found that
what had been numerous dry gullies before were now streams of muddy
water. Two or three of these streams had to be crossed, and we had a
disagreeable half hour in a marsh. Finally we reached the river, but
not at the point where we had left our boats. We were uncertain
whether the camp was above or below us, and called loudly for Jimmy,
but received no answer.
Emery felt sure that camp was upstream. So upstream we went, keeping
back of the bushes that fringed the banks, carefully searching for a
sign. After a few minutes' hunt we heard a sound: a subdued rumble,
not unlike the distant thunder heard that afternoon, or of boats being
dragged over the pebbles. What could it be? We listened again,
carefully this time, and discovered that it came from a point about
thirty feet away, on the opposite side of the bushes. It could be only
one thing. Jimmy's snore had brought us home!
Hurriedly securing some dry clothes from the rubber sacks, which
contained our sleeping-bags as well, we made a quick change, and slid
into the beds, inflating the air mattresses with our lungs after we
were inside. Then we lay down contentedly to rest.
THE GATEWAY OF ALL THE CANYONS
We awoke the next morning full of anticipation. Something new lay
ahead of us, a promise of variety. In plain sight of our camp lay the
entrance to Flaming Gorge, the gateway to the entire series of
canyons. Hurriedly finishing our camp duties, we loaded the boats,
fastened down the hatches, and shoved off into the current, eager to
be on our way.
It was cloudy overhead and looked as if we were to have more rain.
Even then it must have been raining away to the north, for a dirty,
clay-colored torrent rushed through the dry arroyo of the night
before, a stream large enough to discolour the water of the Green
itself. But we thought little of this. We were used to seeing muddy
water in the Colorado's gorges; in fact we were surprised to find
clear water at all, even in the Green River. Rowing downstream we
found that the country sloped gently towards the mountains. The river
skirted the edge of these foot-hills as if looking for a possible
escape, then turned and entered the mountain at a sharp angle. The
walls sloped back considerably at first, and there was a little shore
on either side.
Somewhere near this point runs the dividing line of Wyoming and Utah.
We considered the gateway a subject worthy of a motion picture, if
taken from the deck of the boat; but doubted if it would be a success
owing to the condition of the light and the motion of the boat. Still
it was considered worthy of a trial, and the film was run through.
The colour of the rocks at the entrance was a light red, but not out
of the ordinary in brilliancy. The rock formation was stratified, but
displaced; standing at an angle and flexed over on top with a ragged
break here and there, showing plainly the great pressure to which the
rocks had been subjected. The upheaval was not violent, the scientists
tell us, but slow and even, allowing the river to maintain its old
channel, sawing its way through the sandstone. The broken canyon
walls, when well inside the gorge, were about 600 to 700 feet high.
The mountains beyond and on either side were much higher. The growth
on the mountain sides was principally evergreen; Douglas fir, the
bull-pine and yellow pine. There was a species of juniper, somewhat
different from the Utah juniper, with which we were familiar at the
Grand Canyon. Bushes and undergrowth were dense above the steep canyon
walls, which were bare. Willows, alder-thickets, and a few cottonwood
trees lined the shores.
Meanwhile the current had quickened, almost imperceptibly at first,
but enough to put us on our guard. While there were no rapids, use was
made of what swift water we found by practising on the method we would
use in making a passage through the bad rapids. As to this method,
unused as yet by either of us, we had received careful verbal
instruction from Mr. Stone, who had made the trip two years before our
own venture; and from other friends of Nathan Galloway, the trapper,
the man who first introduced the method on the Green and Colorado
Our experience on water of any kind was rather limited. Emery could
row a boat, and row it well, before we left Green River, but had never
gone over any large rapids. While he was not nearly so large or heavy
as I,--weighing no more than 130 pounds, while I weighed 170
pounds,--he made up for his lighter weight by a quickness and strength
that often surprised me. He was always neat and clever in his method
of handling his boat, taking a great deal of pride in keeping it free
from marks, and avoiding rocks when making a landing. I had done very
little rowing before leaving Green River, so little that I had
difficulty in getting both oars in the water at the same time. Of
course it did not take me long to learn that; but I did not have the
knack of making clean landings, and bumped many rocks that my brother
missed. Still I was improving all the time and was anxious to get into
the rough water, feeling sure I would get through somehow, but doing
my best in the meantime to get the knack of handling the boat properly
before the rough water was reached.
An occasional rock would stick up above the surface; the swift water
would rush up on it, or drive past on either side. Instead of pulling
downstream with might and main, and depending on a steersman with a
sweep-oar to keep us clear of obstructions--the method usually adopted
on large rivers, and by the earlier parties on the Colorado--by our
method the single oarsman reversed his boat so that it was turned with
the stern downstream, giving the oarsman a view of what was ahead;
then by pulling upstream the boat was held in check. We allowed
ourselves to be carried in a direct line with the rocks ahead,
approaching them as closely as we dared; then, with a pull on one oar,
the boat was turned slightly at an angle to the current, and swung to
one side or the other; just as a ferry is headed into the current, the
water itself helping to force it across. The ferry is held by a cable;
the boat, by the oarsman; the results are quite similar.
The boats, too, were somewhat unusual in design, having been carefully
worked out by Galloway after much experience with the problem, and
after building many boats. He finally settled on the design furnished
us by Mr. Stone. The flat bottom, sloping up from the centre to either
end, placed the boats on a pivot one might say, so that they could be
turned very quickly, much more quickly than if they had had a keel.
There was a four foot skag or keel under the stern end of the boat,
but this was only used when in quiet water; and as it was never
replaced after being once removed we seldom refer to it. Being
flat-bottomed, they drew comparatively little water, a matter quite
important on low water such as we found in the Green River. While each
boat carried a weight of seven hundred pounds in addition to its own
five hundred pounds, they often passed over rocks less than ten inches
below the surface, and did so without touching. While the boats were
quite large, the arched decks made them look even larger. A
considerable amount of material could be stored under these decks. The
only part of the boat that was entirely open or unprotected from the
waves was the cockpit, or mid-section occupied by the oarsman. This
was only large enough for one man. A second man had to sit on the deck
behind the oarsman, with his feet hanging into the cockpit. Jimmy
occupied this place of honour as we drifted through the placid water;
first on one boat, then on the other, entertaining us meanwhile with
We encountered two splashy little rapids this day, but with no rocks,
or any dangerous feature whatever. Any method, or none at all, was
safe enough in these rapids.
The colouring of the rocks changed as we proceeded, and at the lower
end of the short canyon we saw the flaming patch of colour that had
suggested its name to Major Powell, forty-two years before.
Intensified on that occasion by the reflected light of a gorgeous
sunset, it must have been a most brilliant spectacle.
Two beavers slid into the water when we were close beside them, then
rose to the surface to stare curiously when we had passed. We left
them undisturbed. Some geese decoyed us into an attempt to ambush
them, but they kept always just out of reach of our guns. Wise
fellows, those geese!
A geological fault accompanied by the breaking down of the walls marks
the division between Flaming Gorge and Horseshoe Canyon, which
immediately follows. We nooned here, opposite a deserted cabin. A
trail dropped by easy stages over the slope on the east side; and
fresh tracks showed that sheep had recently been driven down to the
Passing through Horseshoe,--another very short canyon,--we found deep,
placid pools, and sheer, light red walls rising about four hundred
feet on either side, then sloping back steeply to the tree-covered
mountains. In the middle of this canyon Emery was startled out of a
day-dream by a rock falling into the water close beside him, with
never a sound of warning. Years spent in the canyons had accustomed
Emery and me to such occurrences; but Jimmy, unused to great gorges
and towering cliffs, was much impressed by this incident. After all,
it is only the unusual that is terrible. Jimmy was ready enough to
take his chances at dodging bricks hurled by a San Francisco
earthquake, but never got quite used to rocks descending from a source
altogether out of sight. Small wonder, after all! Later we were to
experience more of this thing, and on a scale to startle a stoic!
We halted at the end of Horseshoe, early in the afternoon of September
14, 1911, one week out from Green River City. Camp No. 6 was pitched
on a gravelly shore beside Sheep Creek, a clear sparkling stream,
coming in from the slopes of the Uintah range. Just above us, on the
west, rose three jagged cliffs, about five hundred feet high,
reminding one by their shape of the Three Brothers of Yosemite Valley.
Here, again, we were treated to another wonderful example of geologic
displacement, the rocks of Horseshoe Canyon lying in level strata;
while those of Kingfisher, which followed, were standing on end. Sheep
Creek, flowing from the west, finds an easy course through the fault,
at the division of the canyons. The balance of this day was spent in
carefully packing our material and rearranging it in our boats, for we
expected hard work to follow.
Tempted by the rippling song of the brook, and by tales of fish to be
found therein, we spent two hours fishing from its banks on the
morning of the 15th. But the foliage of overhanging trees and shrubs
was dense, making it difficult to cast our lines, or even to climb
along its shores, and our small catch of two trout, which were fried
with a strip of bacon to add flavour, only whetted our appetites for
It was a little late in the season for many birds. Here in Kingfisher
Canyon were a few of the fish-catching birds from which the canyon
took its name. There were many of the tireless cliff-swallows
scattered all through these canyons, wheeling and darting, ever on the
wing. These, with the noisy crested jays, an occasional "camp-robber,"
the little nuthatches, the cheerful canyon wren with his rollicking
song, the happy water-ousel, "kill-deer," and road-runners and the
water birds,--ducks, geese, and mud-hens, with an occasional
crane,--made up the bird life seen in the open country and in these
upper canyons. Earlier in the season it must be a bird's paradise, for
berries and seeds would then be plentiful.
We resumed our journey at 10 A.M., a very short run bringing us to the
end of Kingfisher Canyon. The three canyons passed through approximate
hardly more than ten miles in length, different names being given for
geological reasons, as they really form only one canyon. The walls at
the end were broken down, and brilliantly tinted talus of many hues
covered the slopes, the different colours intermingling near the
bottom. The canyon-walled river turned southeast here, and continued
in this general direction for many miles, but with many twists and
We had previously been informed that Red Canyon, the next to follow,
while not considered bad when compared to others, gave one the
experience most necessary to combat the rapids farther down. It was
not without danger, however, as a review of previous expeditions
showed: some had lost their lives, still others, their boats; and one
of Major Powell's parties had upset a boat in a Red Canyon rapid. The
stage of water was so different on these previous attempts that their
experiences were of little value to us one way or the other. A
reference to pictures taken by two of these parties showed us there
was considerable more water when they went through--six, and even
eight feet higher in places. Possibly this would be the best stage on
which to make the voyage in heavy boats. The unfortunate ones had
taken the spring rise, or flood water, with disastrous results to
themselves or their boats.
We soon found that our passage was to be hard on account of having too
little water. In the quiet water above we had been seldom bothered
with shoals; but now that we were in swifter water, there was scarcely
any depth to it at all, except in the quiet pools between the rapids.
For a description of our passage through this upper end of Red Canyon
we refer to our journal: sketchy notes jotted down, usually in the
evening just before retiring, by the light of a camp-fire, or the
flickering flame of a candle. Under the date of Friday, September the
15th, we find the following:
"End of Kingfisher: long, quiet pools and shoals where we
grounded a few times; several small, splashy rapids; then a
larger one near an old boat landing. Looked the rapid over
from the shore. Jim remained at the lower end with a
life-preserver on a rope, while we ran the rapid. Struck one
or two rocks, lightly; but made the run in safety."
"At the third rapid we saw some geese--but they got away. At
noon we ate a cold lunch and because of the low water
removed the skags, carrying them in the cockpit. The scenery
in upper Red Canyon is impressive: pines and fir come down
on the sloping sides to the river's edge; the rocks are
reddish brown in colour, often broken in squares, and
looking like great building blocks piled one upon another.
The canyon is about fifteen hundred feet deep; the river is
clear again, and averages about two hundred feet in width.
We have seen a few deer tracks, but have not seen any deer.
We also saw some jumping trout in a splashy little rapid.
Doubtless they came from a little creek, close by, for we
never heard of trout being found in the Green River."
"We made a motion picture, while dropping our boats down
with lines, over the first rapid we considered bad. Emery
remained in the boats, keeping clear of the rocks with a
pole. Powell's second party records an upset here. We passed
Kettle Creek about 5 P.M. In the fifth rapids below Kettle
Creek I got on the wrong side of the river and was carried
into a very rocky rapid--the worst so far encountered. I
touched a rock or two at the start, but made the run in
safety; while Emery ran the opposite side without trouble.
We camped beside a small stream on the south, where there
were signs of an old camp."
"_Saturday, September 16_. Clear and cold in the early
morning. Started about 9 A.M. Lined our boats past a
difficult rapid. Too many rocks, not enough water. Two or
three miles below this I had some difficulty in a rapid, as
the pin of a rowlock lifted out of the socket when in the
middle of rough water. Emery snapped a picture just as it
happened. A little later E.C. ran a rocky rapid, but had
so much trouble that we concluded to line my boat. Noon.
Just a cold lunch, but with hot coffee from the vacuum
bottles. Then at it again."
"The scenery is wonderful; the canyon is deeper than above;
the river is swift and has a decided drop. We proceed
cautiously, and make slow progress. We camp for the day on
the north side close to a little, dry gully, on a level sage
and bunch-grass covered bottom back from the river's edge.
An abruptly descending canyon banked with small cottonwood
trees coming in from the opposite side contains a small
stream. Put up our tent for the second time since leaving
Green River, Wyoming. We are all weary, and glad to-morrow
is Sunday--a day of rest."
"_Sunday, September 17._ E.C. and I follow a fresh deer
track up a game trail and get--a rabbit. Climb out about
1300 feet above the river to the top of the narrow canyon.
Here is a sloping plateau, dotted with bunch-grass and
grease-wood, a fourth of a mile wide. Then rounded mountains
rise beyond the plateau, some of the peaks reaching a height
of 4000 feet above the river. The opposite side is much the
same, but with a wider plateau. We had no idea before what a
wonderful country this is. It is a picture to tempt an
artist. High on the mountain tops is the dark blue-green of
pines and firs, reds and yellows are mixed in the quaking
aspen,--for the frost comes early enough to catch the sap in
the leaves; little openings, or parks with no trees, are
tinted a beautiful soft gray; 'brownstone fronts' are found
in the canyon walls; and a very light green in the
willow-leafed cottonwoods at the river's edge, and in all
side canyons where there is a running stream. The river
glistens in the sunlight, as it winds around the base of the
wall on which we stand, and then disappears around a bend in
the canyon. Turn where we will, we see no sign of an
opening, nothing but the rounded tops of wooded mountains,
red and green, far as the eye can reach, until they
disappear in the hazy blue. Finally Emery's keen eyes, aided
by the binoculars, discover a log cabin at the foot of a
mountain, on the plateau opposite us about three miles
"We hurry back to camp and write some letters; then Jim and
I cross the river and climb out over the rocky walls to the
plateau above. In two hours we reach the cabin. It is
new--not yet finished. A woman and four children are looking
over a garden when we arrive. They are a little frightened
at first, but soon recover. The woman gladly promises to
take out our mail when they go to the nearest town, which
happens to be Vernal, Utah, forty-five miles away. Three
other families live near by, all recently moved in from
Vernal. The woman tells us that Galloway hunts bear in these
timbered mountains, and has killed some with a price on
their heads--bear with a perverted taste for fresh beef."
"Thanking the woman, we make our way back to the river. We
see some dried-out elk horns along our trail; though it is
doubtful if elk get this far south at present. A deer trail,
leading down a ravine, makes our homeward journey much
easier. It has turned quite cold this evening, after sunset.
We finish our notes and prepare to roll into our beds a
little earlier than usual."
We awoke bright and early the next morning, much refreshed by our day
of rest and variety. With an early start we were soon pulling down the
river, and noon found us several miles below the camp, having run
eleven rapids with no particular difficulty. A reference in my notes
reads: "Last one has a thousand rocks, and we could not miss them all.
My rowing is improving, and we both got through fairly well." In the
afternoon they continued to come--an endless succession of small
rapids, with here and there a larger one. The canyon was similar to
that at our camp above, dark red walls with occasional pines on the
ledges,--a most charming combination of colour. At 2.30 P.M. we
reached Ashley Falls, a rapid we had been expecting to see for some
time. It was a place of singular beauty. A dozen immense rocks had
fallen from the cliff on the left, almost completely blocking the
channel--or so it seemed from one point of view. But there was a
crooked channel, not more than twelve wide in places, through which
the water shot like a stream from a nozzle.
We wanted a motion picture of our dash through the chute. But the
location for the camera was hard to secure, for a sheer bank of rock
or low wall prevented us from climbing out on the right side. We
overcame this by landing on a little bank at the base of the wall and
by dropping a boat down with a line to the head of the rapid where a
break occurred in the wall. Jimmy was left with the camera, the boat
was pulled back, and we prepared to run the rapid.
We first had to pass between two square rocks rising eight feet above
the water so close together that we could not use the oars; then, when
past these, pull ten feet to the right in order to clear the large
rock at the end of the main dam, or barrier, not more than twenty feet
below. To pull down bow first and try to make the turn, would mean to
smash broadside against this rock. It could only be done by dropping
stern first, and pulling to the right under the protection of the
first rocks; though it was doubtful if even this could be
accomplished, the current was so swift. The _Defiance_ was ready
first, the _Edith_ was to follow as closely as safety allowed.
Almost before I knew it I was in the narrow channel, so close to the
right rock that I had to ship that oar, and pull altogether on the
left one. As soon as I was through I made a few quick strokes, but the
current was too strong for me; and a corner of the stern struck a bang
when I was almost clear. She paused as a wave rolled over the decks,
then rose quickly; a side current caught the boat, whirling it around,
and the bow struck. I was still pulling with all my might, but
everything happened so quickly,--with the boat whirling first this
way, then that,--that my efforts were almost useless. But after that
second strike I did get in a few strokes, and pulled into the quiet
pool below the line of boulders.
Emery held his boat in better position than I had done, and it looked
for a while as if he would make it. But the _Edith_ struck on the
stern, much as mine had done. Then he pulled clear and joined me in
the shelter of the large rock, as cool and smiling as if he had been
rowing on a mill-pond. We were delighted to find that our boats had
suffered no damage from the blows they had received. Striking on the
ends as they did, the shock was distributed throughout the whole boat.
This completed our run for that day, and we went into camp just below
the "Falls." Emery painted the name _Edith_ on the bow of his boat, at
this camp. The name was given in honour of his four-year-old daughter,
waiting for us at the Grand Canyon. I remarked that as no one loved
me, I would name my boat the _Defiance_. But I hesitated about putting
this name on the bow. I would look rather foolish, I thought, if the
_Defiance_ should be wrecked in the first bad rapid. So the
christening of my boat was left until such time as should have earned
the title, although she was constantly referred to as the _Defiance_.
We remained until noon of the following day at Ashley Falls,
exploring, repairing, and photographing this picturesque spot. The
canyon walls here dropped down to beautiful, rolling foot-hills eight
or nine hundred feet high tree covered as before but more open. The
diversity of rocks and hills was alluring. There was work to be done
and no pleasanter spot could be found in which to do it. Among other
things that had to be looked after were some adjustments to the
motion-picture camera--usually referred to by us as the M.P.C.--this
delicate work always falling to Emery, for he alone could do it.
There was much to interest us here. Major Powell reported finding the
name "Ashley" painted under an overhanging rock on the left side of
the river. Underneath was a date, rather indistinct, but found to have
been 1825, by Dellenbaugh, after carefully tracing the career of
Colonel Ashley who was responsible for the record. Accompanied by a
number of trappers, he made the passage through this canyon at that
early day. We found a trace of the record. There were three
letters--A-s-h--the first two quite distinct, and underneath were
black spots. It must have been pretty good paint to leave a trace
after eighty-six years!
Resuming our journey we passed into deep canyon again,--the deepest we
had found up to this time,--with steeply sloping, verdure-covered
walls about 2700 feet high. The rapids still continued. At one rapid
the remark was made that "Two feet of water would cover two hundred
rocks so that our boats would pass over them." But we did not have the
two feet needed.
We had previously been informed that some of these mountains were the
hiding-places of men who were "wanted" in the three states which
bordered near here. Some escaping prisoners had also been traced to
the mountains in this direction; then all tracks had ceased. The few
peaceable ranchers who lived in these mountains were much alarmed over
these reports. We found one such rancher on the plateau above the
canyon, whom we will call Johnson for convenience,--living in one of
the upper canyons. He sold us some provisions. In return he asked us
to help him swim some of his horses across the river. He said the high
water had taken out his own boat. The horses were rounded up in a
mountain-hidden valley and driven into the water ahead of the boat.
After securing the horses, Johnson's welcome seemed to turn to
suspicion and he questioned our reasons for being there, wanting to
know what we could find in that wild country to interest us. Johnson's
sons, of whom there were several, seemed to put in most of their time
at hunting and trapping, never leaving the house without a gun. The
cabin home looked like an arsenal, revolvers and guns hanging on all
the walls--even his daughters being familiar with their use. Although
we had been very well treated after all, Mrs. Johnson especially
having been very kind to us, we felt just a little relieved when the
Johnson ranch was left behind. We use, in fact, a fictious name, not
caring to visit on them the suspicions we ourselves felt in return.
Another morning passed in repairing the M.P. camera, and another
afternoon's work was necessary to get us out of the walls and the
rapids of Red Canyon. But on the evening of the 20th, we did get out,
and pulled into an open country known as Brown's Park, one week after
entering Flaming Gorge. It had not been very fast travelling; but we
were through, and with no mishap more serious than a split board on
the side of my boat. Under favourable conditions, and in experienced
hands, this distance might have been covered in three days. But
meanwhile, we were gaining a lot of experience.
About the lower end of Red Canyon the river turned directly east,
paralleling the northern boundary of Utah, and continued to flow in
this general direction until it crossed into Colorado.
On emerging from Red Canyon we spied a ranch house or log cabin close
to the river. The doors were open and there were many tracks in the
sand, so we thought some one must be about. On approaching the house,
however, we found the place was deserted, but with furniture, books,
and pictures piled on the floor in the utmost confusion, as if the
occupants had left in a great hurry. This surmise afterward proved to
be correct; for we learned that the rancher had been murdered for his
money, his body having been found in a boat farther down the river.
Suspicion pointed to an old employee who had been seen lurking near
the place. He was traced to the railroad, over a hundred miles to the
north; but made his escape and was never caught.
We found Brown's Park, once known as Brown's Hole, to be a beautiful
valley several miles in width, and thirty-five or forty miles in
length. The upper end of the valley was rugged in places, with rocky
hills two or three hundred feet high. To the south, a few miles away,
were the mountains, a continuation of those we had come through. We
saw many cattle scattered over some of these rocky hills, grazing on
the bunch-grass. At one place our course led us through a little
canyon about two miles long, and scarcely more than two hundred feet
deep. This was Swallow Canyon--a name suggested by the many birds of
that species which had covered the canyon's walls with their little
clay nests. The openings of some of these nests were so small that it
scarcely seemed possible for a bird to enter.
The water was deep and quiet in this short canyon, and a hard wind
blowing up the stream made it difficult for us to gain any headway. In
this case, too, the forms of the boat were against us. With the keel
removed and with their high sides catching the wind, they were carried
back and forth like small balloons. Well, we could put up with it for
a while, for those very features would prove most valuable in the
rough-water canyons which were to follow!
Emerging from the canyon at last, we saw a ferry loaded with sheep
crossing the stream. On the left shore was a large corral, also filled
with sheep which a half dozen men were driving back and forth into
different compartments. Later these men told us there were 2400 sheep
in the flock. We took their word for it, making no attempt to count
them. The foreman of the ranch agreed to sell us some sugar and
honey,--these two articles being a welcome addition to our list of
supplies, which were beginning to show the effects of our voracious
We found many other log cabins and ranches as we proceeded. Some of
them were deserted; at others men were busily engaged in cutting hay
or the wild grass that grew in the bottoms. The fragrance of new-mown
hay was in the air. Young boys and women were among these busy
workers, some of the women being seated on large harvesters, handling
the horses with as much dexterity as any of the men.
The entire trip through this pretty valley was full of interest. We
were hailed from the shore by some of the hay ranchers, it being a
novel sight to them to see a river expedition. At one or two of these
places we asked the reason for the deserted ranches above, and were
given evasive answers. Finally we were told that cattle rustlers from
the mountains made it so hard for the ranchers in the valleys that
there was nothing for them to do but get out. They told us, also, that
we were fortunate to get away from Johnson's ranch with our valuables!
Our former host, we were told, had committed many depredations and had
served one term for cattle stealing. Officers, disguised as
prospectors, had taken employment with him and helped him kill and
skin some cattle; the skins, with their telltale brands, having been
partially burned and buried. On this evidence he was afterwards
Our cool welcome by the Johnsons, their suspicions of us, the sinister
arsenal of guns and pistols, all was explained! Quite likely some of
these weapons had been trained against us by the trappers on the
chance that we were either officers of the law, or competitors in the
horse-stealing industry. For that matter we were actually guilty of
the latter count, for come to think of it, we ourselves had helped
them steal eight horses and a colt!
The entire trip through this pretty valley was full of interest. It
was all so different from anything seen above. There were great
bottoms that gave evidence of having recently been overflooded, though
now covered with cottonwood trees, gorgeous in their autumn foliage.
We had often wondered where all the driftwood that floated down the
Colorado came from; but after seeing those unnumbered acres of
cottonwoods we ceased to wonder.
There were many beaver slides on the banks; and in places, numberless
trees had been felled by these industrious animals. On one or two
occasions we narrowly escaped splitting the sides of our boats on
snags of trees which the beavers had buried in the bottom of the
stream. We saw no beaver dams on the river; they were not necessary,
for deep, quiet pools existed everywhere in Brown's Park. We saw two
beavers in this section. One of these rose, porpoise-like, to the top
of the water, stared at us a moment, then brought his tail down with a
resounding smack on the top of the water, and disappeared, to enter
his home by the subterranean route, no doubt. The river was gradually
losing its clear colour, for the sand-bars were beginning to "work
out," or break, making the water quite roily. In some sections of
Brown's Park we grounded on these sand-bars, making it necessary for
us to get out into the water, pushing and pulling on the boats until
deeper water was reached. Sometimes the deep water came when least
expected, the sand-bars having a disconcerting way of dropping off
abruptly on the downstream side. Jimmy stepped off the edge of one of
these hidden ledges while working with a boat and was for some time in
no condition to appreciate our ill-concealed mirth.
Often we would be passing along on perfectly smooth water, when
suddenly a turmoil would rise all about us as though a geyser had
broken out below the surface. If we happened to be directly over it,
the boat would be rocked back and forth for a while; then all would be
peaceful again. This was most often caused by the ledges of sand,
anywhere from three to ten feet high breaking down or falling forward
as their bases were undermined. In a single night a bar of this kind
will work upstream for a distance of several feet; then the sand will
be carried down with the current to lodge again in some quiet pool,
and again be carried on as before. This action gives rise to long
lines of regular waves or swells extending for some distance down the
stream. These are usually referred to as sand-waves. These waves
increase in size in high water; and the monotonous thump, thump of the
boat's bottom upon them is anything but pleasant, especially if one is
trying to make fast time.
So, with something new at every turn, we pulled lazily through Brown's
Park, shooting at ducks and geese when we came near them, snapping our
cameras when a picture presented itself, and observing the animal life
along the stream.
We stopped at one hay-ranch close to the Utah-Colorado line and
chatted awhile with the workers. A pleasant-faced woman named Mrs.
Chew asked us to deliver a message at a ranch a mile or two below.
Here also was the post-office of Lodore, Colorado, located a short
distance above the canyon of the same name. Mrs. Chew informed us that
they had another ranch at the lower end of Lodore Canyon and asked us
to look them up when we got through, remarking: "You may have trouble,
you know. Two of my sons once tried it. They lost their boat, had to
climb out, and nearly starved before they reached home."
The post-office at the ranch, found as described, without another home
in sight, was a welcome sight to us for several reasons. One reason
was that it afforded shelter from a heavy downpour of rain that
greeted us as we neared it, and a better reason still was, that it
gave us a chance to write and mail some letters to those who would be
most anxious to hear from us.
Among the messages we mailed was a picture post-card of Coney Island
at night. In some way this card had slipped between the leaves of a
book that I had brought from the East. I sent it out, addressed to a
friend who would understand the joke; writing underneath the picture,
"We have an abundance of such scenery here." The young woman who had
charge of the office looked at the card in amazement. It was evidently
something new to her. She told us she had never been to the railroad,
and that her brother took the mail out on horse-back to Steamboat,
Colorado, 140 miles distant.
The rain having ceased, we returned to our boats pausing to admire a
rainbow that arched above the canyon in the mountains, toward which we
were headed. We remarked, jokingly, to Jimmy that this was a good
sign. He replied without smiling that he "hoped so." Jimmy's songs had
long since ceased, and we suspected him of homesickness. With the
exception of a short visit to some friends on a large ranch, Jimmy had
never been away from his home in San Francisco. This present
experience was quite a contrast, to be sure! We did what we could to
keep him cheered up, but with little success. Jimmy had intimated that
he would prefer to leave at the first opportunity to reach a railroad,
and we willingly agreed to help him in every possible way. Emery and I
also agreed between ourselves that we would not take any unnecessary
risks with him; but would leave him out of the boats at all rapids, if
there was any passage around them.
The river had taken a sharp turn to the south soon after passing the
post-office, heading directly towards the mountains. Camp was pitched
just above the mouth of Lodore. This twenty-mile canyon bears a very
unsavory reputation, having a descent of 425 feet in that short
distance, the greater part of the fall occurring in a space of twelve
miles. This would mean wild water somewhere!
We were camped on a spot recently occupied by some engineers of the
United States Conservation Department, who had been trying to
determine if it was feasible to dam the river at this place. The plan
was to flood the hole of Brown's Park and divert the water through the
mountains by a tunnel to land suitable for cultivation and in
addition, allow the muddy water to settle and so prevent the vast
amount of silt from being washed on down, eventually to the mouth of
the Colorado. The location seemed admirably suited for this stupendous
project. But holes drilled beside the river failed to find bottom, as
nothing but quicksand existed even at a depth of nearly three hundred
feet; and without a strong foundation, such a dam would be utterly
THE BATTLE WITH LODORE
Camp routine was hurriedly disposed of the next morning, Saturday,
September the 23d. Everything was made snug beneath the hatches,
except the two guns, which were too long to go under the decks, and
had to be carried in the open cockpits. "Camp No. 13, at the head of
Lodore," as it is entered in my journal, was soon hidden by a bend in
the river. The open, sun-lit country, with its pleasant ranches and
its grazing cattle, its rolling, gray, sage-covered hills and its wild
grass and cottonwood-covered bottoms, was left behind, and we were
back in the realm of the rock-walled canyon, and beetle-browed,
frowning cliffs with pines and cedars clutching at the scanty ledges.
We paused long enough to make a picture or two, with the hope that the
photographic record would give to others some idea of the geological
and scenic wonder--said to be the greatest known example of its
kind--which lay before us. Here is an obstructing mountain raised
directly in the river's path. Yet with no deviation whatever the
stream has cut through the very centre of the peak! The walls are
almost sheer, especially at the the bottom, and are quite close
together at the top. A mile inside the mountain on the left or east
side of the gorge is 2700 feet high. Geologists say that the river was
here first and that the mountain was slowly raised in its pathway--so
slowly that the river could saw away and maintain its old channel. The
quicksand found below the present level would seem to indicate that
the walls were once even higher than at present, and that a subsidence
had taken place after the cutting.
The river at the entrance of this rock-walled canyon was nothing
alarming, four small rapids being passed without event. Then a fifth
was reached that looked worse. The _Edith_ was lined down. This was
hard work, and dangerous too, owing to the strength of the current and
the many rocks; so I concluded that my own boat, the _Defiance_, must
run the rapid. Jimmy went below, with a life-preserver on a rope.
Emery stood beside the rapid with a camera and made a picture as I
shot past him. Fortunately I got through without mishap. I refused to
upset even to please my brother.
We were beginning to think that Lodore was not so bad after all. Rapid
followed rapid in quick succession, and all were run without trouble;
then we came to a large one. It was Upper Disaster Falls; so named by
Major Powell, for it was here that one of his boats was wrecked on his
first voyage of exploration. This boat failed to make the landing
above the rapid and was carried over. She struck a rock broadside,
turned around and struck again, breaking the boat completely in two.
This boat was built of 3/4-inch oak reenforced with bulkheads. When
this fact is taken into consideration, some idea may be had of the
great power of these rapids. The three men who occupied the boat saved
themselves by reaching an island a short distance below.
This all happened on a stage of water much higher than the present
one, so we did not let the occurrence influence us one way or the
other, except to make us careful to land above the rapid. We found a
very narrow channel between two submerged boulders, the water plunging
and foaming for a short distance below, over many hidden rocks. Still,
there was only one large rock near the lower end that we greatly
feared, and by careful work that might be avoided.
The _Edith_ went first and grazed the boulder slightly, but no harm
was done as E.C. held his boat well in hand. I followed, and struck
rocks at the same instant on both sides of the narrow channel with my
oars. It will be remembered that we ran all these dangerous rapids
facing downstream. The effect of this was to shoot the ends of both
oars up past my face. The operator said that I made a grimace just as
he took a picture of the scrimmage.
We landed on the island below and talked of camping for the night, as
it was getting late; but the island so rocky and inhospitable that we
concluded to try the lower part of the rapid. This had no descent like
the upper end; but it was very shallow, and we soon found ourselves on
rocks, unable to proceed any farther. It took an hour of hard labour
to work our heavy boats safely to the shore.
We had been hoping for a rest the next day--Sunday--but the island was
such a disagreeable place to camp that it seemed necessary to cross to
the mainland at least. A coil of strong, pliable wire had been
included in our material. Here was a chance to use it to advantage.
The stream on the left side of the island could be waded, although it
was very swift; and we managed to get the wire across and well
fastened at both ends. Elevating the wire above the water with
cross-sticks, our tent and camp material were run across on a pulley,
and camp was pitched a hundred yards below, on the left shore of the
There were fitful showers in the afternoon, and we rested from our
labour, obtaining a great deal of comfort from our tent, which was put
up here for the third time since leaving Green River City. Always,
when the weather was clear, we slept in the open.
Monday, the 25th, found us at the same camp. Having concluded that
Disaster Falls was an ideal place for a moving picture, we sent the
balance of the material across on the pulley and wire, making a
picture of the operation; stopping often because it continued to
shower. Between showers we resumed our work and picture making.
The picture was to have been concluded with the operation of lining
the boat across. E.C. stood on the shore about sixty feet away,
working with the camera; Jimmy was on the island, paying out the rope;
while I waded in the water, holding the bow of the boat as I worked
her between the rocks. Having reached the end of the rope, I coiled it
up, advising Jimmy to go up to a safe crossing and join my brother
while I proceeded with the boat. All was going well, and I was nearing
the shore, when I found myself suddenly carried off my feet into water
beyond my depth, and drifting for the lower end of the rapid.
Meanwhile I was holding to the bow of the boat, and calling lustily to
my brother to save me. At first he did not notice that anything was
wrong, as he was looking intently through the finder. Then he suddenly
awoke to the fact that something was amiss, and came running down the
boulder-strewn shore, but he could not help me, as we had neglected to
leave a rope with him. Things were beginning to look pretty serious,
when the boat stopped against a rock and I found myself once more with
solid footing under me. It was too good a picture to miss; and I found
the operator at the machine, turning the crank as I climbed out.
We developed some films and plates that evening, securing some
satisfactory results from these tests. It continued to rain all that
night, with intermittent showers next morning. The rain made little
difference to us, for we were in the water much of the following day
as he boats were taken along the edge of another unrunnable rapid, a
good companion rapid for the one just passed.
This was Lower Disaster Falls, the first of many similar rapids we
were to see, but this was one of the worst of its kind. The
swift-rushing river found its channel blocked by the canyon wall on
the right side, the cliff running at right angles to the course of the
stream. The river, attacking the limestones, had cut a channel under
the wall, then turned and ran with the wall, emerging about two
hundred feet below. Standing on a rock and holding one end of a
twenty-five foot string we threw a stone attached to the other end
across to the opposite wall. The overhanging wall was within two feet
of the rushing river; a higher stage of water would hide the cut
completely from view. Think what would happen if a boat were carried
against or under that wall! We thought of it many times as we
carefully worked our boats along the shore.
Between the delays of rain, with stops for picture making, portaging
our material, and "lining" our boats, we spent almost three days in
getting past the rapids called Upper and Lower Disaster Falls, with
their combined fall of 50 feet in little more than half a mile. On the
evening of September the 26th we camped almost within sight of this
same place, at the base of a 3000-foot sugar-loaf mountain on the
right, tree-covered from top to bottom.
Things were going too easily for us, it seemed; but we were in for a
few reverses. It stormed much of the night and still drizzled when we
embarked on the following morning. The narrow canyon was gloomy and
darkened with shreds of clouds drifting far below the rim. The first
rapid was narrow, and contained some large boulders. The _Edith_ was
caught on one of these and turned on her side, so that the water
flowed in, filling the cockpit. The boat was taken off without
difficulty, and bailed out. We found that the bulkheads failed to keep
the water out of the hatches. Some material from the _Edith_ was
transferred to the _Defiance_. A bed, in a protecting sack of rubber
and canvas, was shoved under the seat and we proceeded.
Less than an hour later I repeated my brother's performance, but I was
not so fortunate as he. The _Defiance_ was carried against one rock as
I tried to pull clear of another, and in an instant she was on her
side, held by the rush of water. I caught the gunwale, and, climbing
on to the rock that caused the disaster, I managed to catch the rope
and held the boat. In the meantime Emery was in a whirlpool below,
trying to land on the right side; but was having a difficult time of
it. Jimmy stood on the shore unable to help. The bed was washed out of
the boat and went bobbing over the waves, then before I knew what had
happened, the rope was jerked from my hands and I was left stranded on
my rock. Seeing this, Jimmy ran with all his might for a pool at the
end of the rapid, bravely rescuing the boat and the bed as well, just
as the _Edith_ was landed. A rope was soon thrown to me, after the
inevitable picture was made. Then I jumped and was pulled to shore.
On making an inventory we found that our guns were lost from the boat.
Being too long to go under the hatches, they had been left in the
cockpit. The _Defiance_ had an ugly rap on the bottom, where she
struck a rock, the wood being smashed or jammed, but not broken out.
Nearly all material in the two boats was wet, so we took everything
out and piled it on a piece of canvas, spread out on the sand. We
worked rapidly, for another storm had been threatening all the
We were engaged in putting up our little tent when a violent wind
which swept up the canyon, followed by a downpour of rain interrupted
our work; and if anything missed a soaking before, it certainly
received it then. The sand was beaten into our cameras and everything
was scattered helter-skelter over the shore. We were fortunate in only
one respect. The wind was away from the river instead of toward it. We
finally got the tent up, then threw everything into it in an
indiscriminate pile, and waited for the storm to pass. Emery proposed
that we do a song and dance just to show how good we felt; but any
appearance of merriment was rather forced.
Had the builders of the boats been there, we fear they would have had
an uncomfortable half-hour; for nearly all this loss could have been
avoided had our instructions regarding the hatch covers been followed.
And for the sake of their saving a few dollars we had to suffer!
The rain soon passed and we went to work, first starting a fire and
getting a hurried lunch, for we had not eaten our noon meal, and it
was then 4 P.M. We put up our dark-room tent, then went to work to
find what was saved, and what was lost. We were surprised to find that
all our small films and plates had escaped a soaking. Protected in tin
and cardboard boxes, wrapped with adhesive tape, and covered with a
coating of paraffine melted and poured over them, they had turned the
water in nearly every instance. The motion-picture film was not so
fortunate. The paraffine had worn off the tin boxes in spots, the
water soaked through the tape in some instances, and entered to the
film. One roll, tightly wrapped, became wet on the edges; the gelatine
swelled and stuck to the other film, thus sealing the inner portion or
picture part of the film, so that roll was saved.
The motion-picture camera was filled with water, mud and sand; and the
other cameras fared likewise. We cleaned them out as best we could,
drying them over small alcohol lamp which we had included in our
duffle. Our job seemed endless. Jimmy had retired early, for he could
help us but little in this work. It rained again in torrents, and the
wind howled about the tent. After midnight, as we still toiled, a
land-slide, loosened by the soaking rains, thundered down the mountain
side about a fourth of a mile below our camp. We hoped Jimmy would not
hear it. We retired soon after this. Smaller slides followed at
intervals, descending over the 3000-foot precipices. Thunder
reverberated through the canyon, and altogether it was a night long to
be remembered. These slides made one feel a little uncomfortable. "It
would be most inconvenient," as we have heard some one say, "to wake
in the morning and find ourselves wrapped up in a few tons of earth
Emery woke me the next morning to report that the river had risen
about six feet; and that my boat--rolled out on the sand but left
untied--was just on the Point of going out with the water. It had
proven fortunate for us all Emery was a light sleeper! There was no
travelling this day, as the boat had to be repaired. Emery, being the
ship's carpenter, set to work at once, while Jimmy and I stretched our
ropes back and forth, and hung up the wet clothes. Then we built a
number of fires underneath and soon had our belongings in a steam.
Things were beginning to look cheerful again. The rain stopped, too,
for a time at least.
A little later Jimmy ran into camp with a fish which he had caught
with his hands. It was of the kind commonly called the bony-tail or
humpback or buffalo-fish, a peculiar species found in many of the
rivers of the Southwest. It is distinguished by a small flat head with
a hump directly behind it; the end of the body being round, very
slender, and equipped with large tail-fins. This specimen was about
sixteen inches long, the usual length for a full-grown fish of this
Now for a fish story! On going down to the river we found a great many
fish swimming in a small whirlpool, evidently trying to escape from
the thick, slimy mud which was carried in the water. In a half-hour we
secured fourteen fish, killing most of them with our oars. There were
suckers and one catfish in the lot. You can judge for yourself how
thick the water was, that such mudfishes as these should have been
choked to helplessness. Our captured fish were given a bath in a
bucket of rain-water, and we had a fish dinner.
In the afternoon we made a test of the water from the river, and found
that it contained 20 per cent of an alkaline silt. When we had to use
this water, we bruised the leaf of a prickly pear cactus, and placed
it in a bucket of water. This method, repeated two or three times,
usually clears the muddiest water. We also dug holes in the sand at
the side of the river. The water, filtering through the sand, was
often clear enough to develop the tests we made with our films.
Jimmy continued to feel downhearted; and this afternoon he told us his
story. Our surmise about his being homesick was correct, but it was a
little more than that. He had an invalid mother, it seemed, and, aided
by an older brother, he had always looked after the needs of the
family. When the proposition of making the river trip came up, serious
objections were raised by the family; but when the transportation
arrived he had determined to go, in spite of their objections. Now he
feared that his mother would not live, or that we would be wrecked,
and he would not know where to turn, or what to do. No wonder he felt
All we could do was to promise to help him leave the river at the very
first opportunity. This would quite likely be at Jensen, Utah, still
fifty miles farther downstream.
It continued to rain by spells that night and the next morning. About
11 A.M. we resumed our work on the river. A short distance below our
camp we saw the land-slide which we heard the night before--tons of
earth and shattered rock wrapped about the split and stripped trunks
of a half-dozen pines. The slide was started by the dislodged section
of a sheer wall close to the top of the 2700-foot cliff. We also saw a
boat of crude construction, pulled above the high-water mark;
evidently abandoned a great while before. Any person who had to climb
the walls at that place had a hard job to tackle, although we could
pick out breaks where it looked feasible; there were a few places
behind us where it would be next to impossible. We had only gone over
a few rapids when we found a long pool, with driftwood eddying
upstream, and knew that our run for the day was over--the Triplet
Rapids were ahead of us. We found this rapid to be about a fourth of a
mile long, divided into three sections as its name indicated, and
filled with great boulders at the base of a sheer cliff on the
right--another unrunnable rapid.
Taking the camp material from the boats, we carried it down and
pitched our tent first of all, then, while Emery prepared supper,
Jimmy and I carried the remaining duffle down to camp. One of the
boats was lined down also. Then after supper we enjoyed the first rest
we had taken for some time.
Camp Ideal we called it, and it well deserved the name. At the bottom
of a tree-covered precipice reaching a height of 2700 feet, was a
strip of firm, level sand, tapering off with a slope down to the
water, making a perfect landing and dooryard. A great mass of
driftwood, piled up at the end of the rapid, furnished us with all
fuel we needed with small effort on our part. Our tent was backed
against a large rock, while other flat rocks near at hand made
convenient shelves on which to lay our camp dishes and kettles. It
started to drizzle again that night, but what cared we? With a roaring
fire in front of the tent we all cleaned up for a change, sewed
patches on our tattered garments, and, sitting on our beds, wrote the
day's happenings in our journals. Then we crawled into our comfortable
beds, and I was soon dreaming of my boyhood days when I "played
hookey" from school and went fishing in a creek that emptied into the
Allegheny River, or climbed its rocky banks; to be awakened by Jimmy
crying out in his sleep, "There she goes over the rapids."
Jimmy was soon informed that he and the boats were perfectly safe, and
I was brought back to a realization of the fact that I was not going
to get a "whaling" for going swimming in dog-days; but instead was
holed up in Lodore Canyon, in the extreme northwestern corner of
HELL'S HALF MILE
We began our work the next morning where we left off the night before
by bringing the remaining boat down along the edge of the "Triplets."
Then, while Emery cooked the breakfast, Jimmy and I "broke camp." The
beds came first. The air had been released from the mattresses before
we got up,--one way of saving time. A change of dry clothing was
placed with each bed, and they were rolled as tightly as the two of us
could do it, after which they were strapped, placed in a rubber sack,
with a canvas sack over that, both these sacks being laced at the top.
The tent--one of those so-called balloon silk compositions--made a
very small roll; the dark-room tent, with its three plies of cloth,
made the largest bundle of the lot. Everything had been taken from the
boats, and made quite a pile of dunnage, when it was all collected in
a pile ready for loading. After the dishes were washed they were
packed in a box, the smoke-covered pots and pans being placed in a
sack. Everything was sorted and piled before the loading commenced. An
equal division of nearly everything was made, so that the loss of one
boat and its cargo would only partially cripple the expedition. The
photographic plates and films, in protecting canvas sacks, were first
disposed of, being stored in the tin-lined hatches in the bow of the
boats. Two of the smaller rolls containing bedding, or clothing; a
sack of flour, and half of the cameras completed the loads for the
forward compartments. Five or six tin and wooden boxes, filled with
provisions, went into the large compartments under the stern. A box
containing tools and hardware for the inevitable repairs, and the
weightier provisions--such as canned milk and canned meats--went in
first. This served as ballast for the boats. Then the other provisions
followed, the remaining rolls of bedding and tents being squeezed in
on top. This compartment, with careful packing, would hold as much as
two ordinary-sized trunks, but squeezing it all in through the small
hatchway, or opening on top, was not an easy job. One thing we guarded
very carefully from this time on was a waterproofed sack containing
sugar. The muddy water had entered the top of this sack in our upset,
and a liquefied sugar, or brown-coloured syrup, was used in our coffee