The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Clark, June 17, 1806
Clark, June 17, 1806
Tuesday June 17th 1806
We Collected our horses and Set out early; we proceeded down hungary Creek about 7 miles passing it twice; we found it dificuelt and dangerous to pass the creek in consequence of it's debth and rapidity; we avoided two other passes of the creek, by assending a Steep rockey and difficuelt hill. beyond this Creek the road assends the mountain to the hight of the main leading ridges, which divides the waters of the Kooskooske and Chopunnish Riv's. This mountain we ascended about 3 miles when we found ourselves invelloped in snow from 8 to 12 feet deep even on the South Side of the mountain. I was in front and Could only prosue the derection of the road by the trees which had been peeled by the nativs for the iner bark of which they Scraped and eate, as those pealed trees were only to be found Scattered promisquisley, I with great difficulty prosued the direction of the road one mile further to the top of the mountain where I found the Snow from 12 to 15 feet deep, but fiew trees with the fairest exposure to the Sun; here was Winter with all it's rigors; the air was Cold my hands and feet were benumed. we knew that it would require four days to reach the fish weare at the enterance of Colt Creek, provided we were So fortunate as to be enabled to follow the poper ridge of the mountains to lead us to that place; of this all of our most expert woodsmen and principal guides were extreemly doubtfull; Short of that point we could not hope for any food for our horses not even under wood itself as the whole was covered many feet deep in Snow. if we proceeded and Should git bewildered in those Mountains the Certainty was that we Should lose all of our horses and consequencely our baggage enstrements perhaps our papers and thus eventially resque the loss of our discoveries which we had already made if we Should be So fortunate as to escape with life. the Snow bore our horses very well and the traveling was therefore infinately better than the obstruction of rocks and fallen timber which we met with in our passage over last fall when the Snow lay on this part of the ridge in detached spops only. under these Circumstances we Conceived it madness in this stage of the expedition to proceed without a guide who Could Certainly Conduct us to the fishwears on the Kooskooske, as our horses could not possibly Sustain a journey of more than 4 or 5 days without food. we therefore Come to the resolution to return with our horses while they were yet strong and in good order, and indeaver to keep them So untill we could precure an indian to conduct us over the Snowey Mountains, and again to proceed as soon as we could precure Such a guide, knowing from the appearance of the snows that if we remained untill it had disolved Sufficiently for us to follow the road that we Should not be enabled to return to the United States within this Season. having come to this resolution, we ordered the party to make a deposit of all the baggage which we had not imediate use for, and also all the roots and bread of Cows which they had except an allowance for a fiew days to enable them to return to Some place at which we could Subsist by hunting untill we precured a guide. we left our instrements, and I even left the most of my papers believing them Safer here than to Wrisk them on horseback over the road, rocks and water which we had passed. our baggage being laid on Scaffolds and well covered, we began our retragrade march at 1 P.M. haveing remain'd about three hours on this Snowey mountain. we returned by the rout we had advanced to hungary Creek, which we assended about 2 miles and encamped. we had here more grass for our horses than the proceeding evening, yet it was but scant. the party were a good deel dejected, tho not as much So as I had apprehended they would have been. this is the first time Since we have been on this long tour that we have ever been compelled to retreat or make a retragrade march. it rained on us the most of this evening. on the top of the Mountain the Weather was very fluctiating and uncertain snowed cloudy & fair in a few minets.