The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, May 26, 1805

Clark, May 26, 1805

May 26th Sunday 1805

We Set out early and proceeded as yesterday wind from the S. W. the river enclosed with very high hills on either Side. I took one man and walked out this morning, and ascended the high countrey to view the mountains which I thought I Saw yesterday, from the first Sumit of the hill I could plainly See the Mountains on either Side which I Saw yesterday and at no great distance from me, those on the Stard Side is an errigular range, the two extremities of which bore West and N. West from me. those Mountains on the Lard. Side appeared to be Several detached Knobs or mountains riseing from a leven open Countrey, at different distances from me, from South West to South East, on one the most S. Westerly of those Mountains there appeared to be Snow. I crossed a Deep holler and assended a part of the plain elevated much higher than where I first viewed the above mountains; from this point I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time with Certainty, I could only discover a fiew of the most elivated points above the horizon. the most remarkable of which by my pocket Compas I found bore S. 60 W. those points of the rocky Mountain were Covered with Snow and the Sun Shown on it in Such a manner as to give me a most plain and Satisfactory view. whilst I viewed those mountains I felt a Secret pleasure in finding myself So near the head of the heretofore Conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this Snowey barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific Ocean, and the Sufferings and hardships of my Self and party in them, it in Some measure Counter ballanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it little Short of Criminality to anticipate evils I will allow it to be a good Comfortable road untill I am Compelled to believe otherwise The high Country in which we are at present and have been passing for Some days I take to be a continuation of what the Indians as well as the French Engages call the Black hills. This tract of Country So Called Consists of a Collection of high broken and irregular hills and Short Chains of Mountains, sometimes 100 miles in width and again becoming much narrower, but always much higher than the Country on either Side; they commence about the head of the Kanzas river and to the west of that river near the Arkansaw river, from whence they take their Cource a little to the west of N. W. approaching the Rocky Mountains obliquely passing the river Platt near the forks, and intersepting the River Rochejhone near the big bend of that river, and passing the Missouri at this place-, and probably Continueing to Swell the Country as far North as the Saskashawan river. tho they are lower here than they are discribed to the South and may therefore termonate before they reach the Saskashawan. the Black hills in their Course northerly appear to approach more nearly the Rocky Mountains. I Saw a great number of white brant, also the common brown brant, Geese of the common Size & kind and a Small Species of geese, which differs considerably from the Common or Canadian Goose; their necks, head and backs are considerably thicker, Shorter and larger than the other in propotion to its Size they are also more than a third Smaller, and their note more like that of the brant or young goose which has not perfectly acquired his note, in all other respect they are the Same in Colour habits and the number of feathers in the tail, they frequently also ascocate with the large Geese when in flocks, but never Saw them pared off with the larger or common goose. The white Brant ascocates in very large flocks, they do not appear to be mated or pared off as if they intended to raise their young in this quarter, I therefore doubt whether they reside here dureing the Summer for that purpose. this bird is larger than the Common brown brant or 2/3 of the common goose. it is not So long by Six inches from point to point of the wings when extended as the other; the back head and neck are also larger and Stronger; their beak, legs and feet are of a redish flesh coloured white. the eye of a moderate Size, the puple of a deep Sea green encircled with a ring of yellowish brown. it has 16 feathers of equal length in the tail their note differs but little from the Common brant. they are of a pure white except the large feathers of the 1st and 2d joint of the wings which are jut black.

The country which borders the river is high broken and rocky, generally imbeded with a Soft Sand Stone higher up the hill the Stone is of a brownish yellow hard and gritty those Stones wash down from the hills into the river and cause the Shore to be rocky &c. which we find troublesom to assend there is Scerce any bottom between the Hills & river and but a fiew trees to be Seen on either Side except Scattering pine on the Sides of the emence hills; we passed 2 Creeks on the Stard Side both of them had running water in one of those Creek Capt Lewis tells me he saw Soft Shell Turtle Capt Lewis in his walk killed a fat Buffalow which we were in want of our hunters killed 2 Mountain rams or bighorns in the evening late we passed a rapid which extended quite across the river we assended it by the assistance of a Cord & poles on the Lard. Side the Cliffs jut over, the opposit Side is a Small leavel bottom, we Camped a little above in a Small grove of Cotton trees on the Lard. Side in the rapid we saw a Dow Elk & her faun, which gave rise to the name of Elk & faun Riffle we had a few drops of rain at Dark.- the Salts Coal & Burnt hills & Pumicston Still Continue, game Scerce this Countrey may with propriety I think be termed the Deserts of America, as I do not Conceive any part can ever be Settled, as it is deficent in water, Timber & too Steep to be tilled. We pass old Indian lodges in the woody points everry day & 2 at our camp &c