The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, August 2, 1805
Lewis, August 2, 1805
Friday August 2cd 1805.
We resumed our march this morning at sunrise; the day was fair and wind from N. W. finding that the river still boar to the South I determined to pass it if possible in order to shorten our rout; this we effected by wading the river about 5 miles above our encampment of the last evening. we found the current very rapid waist deep and about 90 yd. wide bottom smooth pebble with a small mixture of coarse gravel. this is the first time that I ever dared to wade the river, tho there are many places between this and the forks where I presume it might be attempted with equal success. The vally allong which we passed today, and through which the river winds it's meandering course is from 6 to 8 miles wide and consists of a beatifull level plain with but little timber and that confined to the verge of the river; the land is tolerably fertile, and is either black or a dark yellow loam, covered with grass from 9 inches to 2 feet high. the plain ascends gradually on either side of the river to the bases of two ranges of high mountains, which lye parallel to the river and prescribe the limits of the plains. the tops of these mountains are yet covered partially with snow, while we in the valley are nearly suffocated with the intense heat of the midday sun; the nights are so cold that two blankets are not more than sufficient covering. soon after passing the river this morning Sergt. Gass lost my tommahawk in the thick brush and we were unable to find it, I regret the loss of this usefull implement, however accedents will happen in the best families, and I consoled myself with the recollection that it was not the only one we had with us. the bones of the buffaloe and their excrement of an old date are to be met with in every part of this valley but we have long since lost all hope of meeting with that animal in these mountains. we met with great quantities of currants today, two species of which were red, others yellow, deep perple and black; also black goosberries and serviceberries now ripe and in great perfection. we feasted sumptuously on our wild fruits, particularly the yellow currant and the deep perple serviceberries, which I found to be excellent. the serviceberry grows on a small bush and differs from ours only in colour size and superior excellence of it's flavour. it is somewhat larger than ours. on our way we saw an abundance of deer Antelopes, of the former we killed 2. we also saw many tracks of the Elk and bear. no recent appearance of Indians. the Indians in this part of the country appear to construct their lodges with the willow boughs and brush; they are small of a conic figure and have a small aperture on one side through which they enter. we continued our rout up this valley on the Lard. side of the river untill sunset, at which time we encamped on the Lard. bank of the river having traveled 24 miles. we had brought with us a good stock of venison of which we eat a hearty supper. I feel myself perfectly recovered of my indisposition, and do not doubt being able to pursue my rout tomorrow with the same comfort I have done today.- we saw some very large beaver dams today in the bottoms of the river several of which wer five feet high and overflowed several acres of land; these dams are formed of willow brush mud and gravel and are so closely interwoven that they resist the water perfectly. the base of this work is thick and rises nearly perpendicularly on the lower side while the upper side or that within the dam is gently sloped. the brush appear to be laid in no regular order yet acquires a strength by the irregularity with which they are placed by the beaver that it would puzzle the engenuity of man to give them.
Capt. Clark continued his rout early this morning. the rapidity of the current was such that his progress was slow, in short it required the utmost exertion of the men to get on, nor could they resist this current by any other means than that of the cord and pole. in the course of the day they passed some villages of burrowing squirrels, saw a number of beaver dams and the inhabitants of them, many young ducks both of the Duckanmallard and the redheaded fishing duck, gees, several rattle snakes, black woodpeckers, and a large gang of Elk; they found the river much crouded with island both large and small and passed a small creek on Stard. side which we called birth Creek. Capt. Clark discovers a tumor rising on the inner side of his ankle this evening which was painfull to him. they incamped in a level bottom on the Lard. side.-