The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, May 11, 1805

Lewis, May 11, 1805

Saturday May 11th 1805. Set out this morning at an early hour, the courant strong; and river very crooked; the banks are falling in very fast; I sometimes wonder that some of our canoes or perogues are not swallowed up by means of these immence masses of earth which are eternally precipitating themselves into the river; we have had many hair breadth escapes from them but providence seems so to have ordered it that we have as yet sustained no loss in consequence of them. The wind blue very hard the forepart of last night but abated toward morning; it again arose in the after part of this day and retarded our progress very much. the high lands are broken, the hills higher and approach nearer the river, tho the soil of both hills and bottoms appear equally as furtile as below; it consists of a black looking tome with a moderate portion of sand; the hills and bluffs to the debth of 20 or thirty feet, seemed to be composed entirely of this loam; when thrown in the water it desolves as readily as loaf sugar and effervesses like marle. great appearance of quarts and mineral salts, the latter appears both on the hills and bottoms, in the bottoms of the gullies which make down from the hills it lies incrusting the earth to the debth of 2 or 3 inches, and may with a fether be swept up and collected in large quantities, I preserved several specimines of this salts. the quarts appears most commonly in the faces of the bluffs. no coal, burnt hills, or pumice stone. saw today some high hills on the Stard. whose summits were covered with pine. Capt Clark went on shore and visited them; he brought with him on his return som of the boughs of this pine it is of the pitch kind but I think the leaves somewhat longer than ours in Virginia. Capt C. also in his walk killed 2 Mule deer a beaver and two buffaloe; these last he killed about 3 miles above where we encamped this evening in the expectation that we would reach that place, but we were unable to do so from the adverse winds and other occurrences, and he came down and joined us about dark. there is a dwarf cedar growing among the pine on the hills; it rises to the hight thre sometimes 4 feet, but most generally spreads itself like a vine along the surface of the earth, which it covers very closely, puting out roots from the underside of the limbs; the leaf is finer and more delicate than the common red ceader, it's fruit and smell are the same with the red ceader. the tops of these hills which produce the pine and cedar is of a different soil from that just described; it is a light coloured poor sterile sandy soil, the base usually a yellow or white clay; it produces scarcely any grass, some scattering tuffts of sedge constitutes the greater part of it's grass. About 5 P.M. my attention was struck by one of the Party runing at a distance towards us and making signs and hollowing as if in distress, I ordered the perogues to put too, and waited untill he arrived; I now found that it was Bratton the man with the soar hand whom I had permitted to walk on shore, he arrived so much out of breath that it was several minutes before he could tell what had happened; at length he informed me that in the woody bottom on the Lard. side about 11/2 below us he had shot a brown bear which immediately turned on him and pursued him a considerable distance but he had wounded it so badly that it could not overtake him; I immediately turned out with seven of the party in quest of this monster, we at length found his trale and persued him about a mile by the blood through very thick brush of rosbushes and the large leafed willow; we finally found him concealed in some very thick brush and shot him through the skull with two balls; we proceeded dress him as soon as possible, we found him in good order; it was a monstrous beast, not quite so large as that we killed a few days past but in all other rispects much the same the hair is remarkably long fine and rich tho he appears parshally to have discharged his winter coat; we now found that Bratton had shot him through the center of the lungs, notwithstanding which he had pursued him near half a mile and had returned more than double that distance and with his tallons had prepared himself a bed in the earth of about 2 feet deep and five long and was perfectly alive when we found him which could not have been less than 2 hours after he received the wound; these bear being so hard to die reather intimedates us all; I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen and had reather fight two Indians than one bear; there is no other chance to conquer them by a single shot but by shooting them through the brains, and this becomes difficult in consequence of two large muscles which cover the sides of the forehead and the sharp projection of the center of the frontal bone, which is also of a pretty good thickness. the flece and skin were as much as two men could possibly carry. by the time we returned the sun had set and I determined to remain here all night, and directed the cooks to render the bear's oil and put it in the kegs which was done. there was about eight gallons of it.

the wild Hysop grows here and in all the country through which we have passed for many days past; tho from big Dry river to this place it has been more abundant than below, and a smaller variety of it grows on the hills, the leaves of which differ considerably being more deeply indented near it's extremity. the buffaloe deer and Elk feed on this herb in the winter season as they do also on the small willow of the sandbars. there is another growth that begins now to make it's appearance in the bottom lands and is becoming extreemly troublesome; it is a shrub which rises to the hight of from two to four feet, much branched, the bark of the trunk somewhat rough hard and of light grey colour; the wood is firm and stif, the branches beset with a great number of long, shap, strong, wooddy looking thorns; the leaf is about 3/4 or an inch long, and one 1/8 of an inch wide, it is obtuse, absolutely entire, veinless fleshy and gibbose; has no perceptable taste or smell, and no anamal appears to eat it. by way of designating when I mention it hereafter I shall call it the fleshey leafed thorn