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knives, to dig it out and enlarge it. By the time that Mr. Nuttall and myself arrived, they had excavated a large space, which was filled to overflowing with muddy water. We did not wait for it to settle, however, but throwing ourselves upon the ground, drank till we were ready to burst. The tales which I had read of suffering travelers in the Arabian deserts then recurred with some force to my recollection, and I thought I could, though in a very small measure, appreciate their sufferings by deprivation, and their unmingled delight and satisfaction in the opportunity of assuaging them.
"Poor Jim, the mulatto man, was found by one of the people who went back in search of him, lying where he had first fallen, and, either in a real or pretended swoon, still obstinate about dying, and scarcely heeding the assurances of the other that water was within a mile of him. He was, however, at length dragged and carried into camp, and soused head foremost into the mud-puddle, where he drank till his eyes seemed ready to burst from his head, and he was lifted out and laid dripping and flaccid upon the ground."
The ground over which the party was traveling was becoming more and more rugged and rocky. They entered a defile between the mountains, about five hundred yards wide, cov
ered like the surrounding country with pines; and as they proceeded, the timber grew so closely, added to a thick undergrowth of bushes, that it appeared almost impossible to proceed with their horses. The farther they advanced the more their difficulties seemed to increase; obstacles of various kinds impeded their progress—fallen trees, their branches tangled and matted together; large rocks and deep ravines; holes in the ground, into which their animals would be precipitated without the possibility of avoiding them; and a hundred other difficulties.
After traveling for six miles through this defile, two of the party, Captain Wyeth and the experienced hunter Richardson, set out to explore the foreground, and look for a pass through the mountains. They returned next morning with the mortifying intelligence that no pass could be found. They had climbed to the very summit of the highest peaks above the snow and the reach of vegetation, and the only prospect they had was a confused mass of huge angular rocks, over which a wild goat could scarcely make his way. The Captain also had a narrow escape from being dashed to pieces during the excursion. He was walking on a ridge which sloped from the top at an angle of about forty degrees, and terminated at its lower part in a perpendicular precipice of a thousand
or twelve hundred feet. He was moving along in the snow cautiously, near the lower edge, in order to attain a more level spot beyond, when his feet slipped and he fell. Before he could attempt to fix himself firmly, he slid down the declivity till within a few feet of the frightful precipice. At the instant of his fall, he had the presence of mind to plant the rifle which he held in one hand, and his knife which he drew from the scabbard with the other, into the snow, and as he almost tottered on the verge, he succeeded in checking himself, and holding his body perfectly still. He then gradually moved, first the rifle and then the knife, backward up the slanting hill behind him, and fixing them firmly, drew up his body parallel to them. In this way he moved slowly and surely till he gained his former position, when, without further difficulty, he succeeded in reaching the more level land.
Disappointed in finding a pass through the mountains at this point, the party altered the bearing of their route, and at last they came upon the remains of a recent encampment of Indians. “Following the trail of these Indians, we entered a valley similar to that which we had just explored, and terminating in a path over the mountains. The commencement of the Alpine path was, however, far better than we had
expected, and we entertained the hope that the passage could be made without difficulty or much toil; but the farther we progressed, the more laborious the traveling became. Sometimes we mounted steep banks of intermingled flinty rock and friable slate, where our horses could scarcely obtain a footing, frequently sliding down several feet on the loose, broken stones. Again we passed along the extreme verge of tremendous precipices at a giddy hight, where at almost every step the stones and earth would roll from under our horses' feet, and we could hear them strike with a dull, leaden sound on the craggy rocks below. The whole journey to-day, from the time we arrived at the hights till we had crossed the mountain, has been a most fearful
For myself, I might have diminished the danger very considerably by adopting the plan pursued by the rest of the company, that of walking and leading my horse over the most dangerous places; but I have been suffering for several days with a lame foot, and am wholly incapable of such exertion. I soon discovered that an attempt to guide my horse over the most rugged and steepest ranges was worse than useless; so I dropped the rein upon the animal's neck, and allowed him to take his own course, closing my eyes, and keeping as quiet as possible in the saddle. But I could not forbear
starting occasionally when the feet of my horse would slip on a stone, and one side of him would slide rapidly toward the edge of the precipice; but I always recovered myself by a desperate effort, and it was fortunate for me that I did so.'
The party continued its march for several days through this rugged and inhospitable region, coming into occasional contact with parties of the Snake Indians, and subsisting on the kamas, a kind of root resembling the potato, which is found in the prairie ; on cherries, berries, and small fruit, which they found growing on bushes; and an occasional chance prize of animal food. 66 At about daylight on the morning of the 20th, having charge of the last guard of the night, I observed a beautiful, sleek little colt, of about four months old, trot into the camp, whinnying with great apparent pleasure, and dancing and curveting gayly among our sober and sedate band. I had no doubt that he had strayed from Indians, who were probably in the neighborhood; but as here every animal that comes near us is fair game, and as we were hungry, not having eaten any thing of consequence since yesterday morning, I thought the little stranger would make a good breakfast for
Concluding, however, that it would be best for us to act advisedly in the matter, I put my head into Captain Wyeth's tent, and telling him