The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, June 20, 1805

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Clark, June 20, 1805

June 20th Thursday 1805

a Cloudy morning, a hard wind all night and this morning, I direct Stakes to be Cut to Stick up in the prarie to Show the way for the party to transport the baggage &c. &c. we Set out early on the portage, Soon after we Set out it began to rain and continued a Short time we proceeded on thro a tolerable leavel plain, and found the hollow of a Deep rivein to obstruct our rout as it Could not be passed with Canos & baggage for Some distance above the place we Struck it I examined it for Some time and finding it late deturmined to Strike the river & take its Course & distance to Camp which I accordingly did the wind hard from the S. W. a fair after noon, the river on both Sides Cut with raveins Some of which is passes thro Steep Clifts into the river, the Countrey above the falls & up the Medison river is leavel, with low banks, a chain of mountains to the west Some part of which particuler those to the N W. & S W are Covered with Snow and appear verry high- I Saw a rattle Snake in an open plain 2 miles from any Creek or wood. When I arrived at Camp found all well with great quantites of meet, the Canoes Capt. Lewis had Carried up the Creek 1 mile to a good place to assend the band & taken up. Not haveing Seen the Snake Indians or knowing in fact whither to Calculate on their friendship or hostillity, we have Conceived our party Sufficiently Small, and therefore have Concluded not to dispatch a Canoe with a part of our men to St. Louis as we have intended early in the Spring. we fear also that Such a measure might also discourage those who would in Such Case remain, and migh possibly hazard the fate of the expedition. we have never hinted to any one of the party that we had Such a Scheem in contemplation, and all appear perfectly to have made up their minds, to Succeed in the expedition or perish in the attempt. we all believe that we are about to enter on the most perilous and dificuelt part of our Voyage, yet I See no one repineing; all appear ready to meet those dificuelties which await us with resolution and becomeing fortitude.

We had a heavy dew this morning. the Clouds near those mountains rise Suddonly and discharge their Contents partially on the neighbouring Plains; the Same Cloud discharge hail alone in one part, hail and rain in another and rain only in a third all within the Space of a fiew Miles; and on the Mountains to the South & S. E. of us Sometimes Snow. at present there is no Snow on those mountains; that which covered them a fiew days ago has all disappeared. the Mountains to the N. W. and West of us are Still entirely Covered are white and glitter with the reflection of the Sun.

I do not believe that the Clouds that pervale at this Season of the year reach the Summits of those lofty mountains; and if they do the probability is that they deposit Snow only for there has been no proceptable diminution of the Snow which they Contain Since we first Saw them. I have thought it probable that these mountains might have derived their appellation of Shineing Mountains, from their glittering appearance when the Sun Shines in certain directions on the Snow which Cover them.

Dureing the time of my being on the Plains and above the falls I as also all my party repeatedly heard a nois which proceeded from a Direction a little to the N. of West, as loud and resembling precisely the discharge of a piece of ordinance of 6 pounds at the distance of 5 or six miles. I was informed of it Several times by the men J. Fields particularly before I paid any attention to it, thinking it was thunder most probably which they had mistaken. at length walking in the plains yesterday near the most extreem S. E. bend of the River above the falls I heard this nois very distinctly, it was perfectly calm clear and not a Cloud to be Seen, I halted and listened attentively about two hour dureing which time I heard two other discharges, and took the direction of the Sound with my pocket Compass which was as nearly West from me as I could estimate from the Sound. I have no doubt but if I had leasure I could find from whence it issued. I have thought it probable that it might be caused by running water in Some of the caverns of those emence mountains, on the principal of the blowing caverns; but in Such case the Sounds would be periodical and regular, which is not the Case with this, being Sometimes heard once only and at other times Several discharges in quick Succession. it is heard also at different times of the day and night. I am at a great loss to account for this Phenomenon. I well recollect hereing the Minitarees Say that those Rocky Mountains make a great noise, but they could not tell me the Cause, neither Could they inform me of any remarkable substance or situation in these mountains which would autherise a conjecture of a probable cause of this noise-. it is probable that the large river just above those Great falls which heads in the detection of the noise has taken it's name Medicine River from this unaccountable rumbling Sound, which like all unacountable thing with the Indians of the Missouri is Called Medicine.

The Ricaras inform us of the black mountains making a Simalar noise &c. &c. and maney other wonderfull tales of those Rocky mountains and those great falls.