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The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Lewis, April 1, 1806

Tuesday April 1st 1806. This morning early we dispatched Sergt. Pryar with two men in a small canoe up quicksand river with orders to proceed as far as he could and return this evening. we also sent a party of three hunters over the river to hunt a large bottom of woodland and prarie above the entrance of the Quicksand river; the ballance of the hunters we sent out in different directions on this side of the Columbia and employed those about camp in making a rope of Elkskin. the Indians who encamped near us last evening continued with us untill about midday. they informed us that the quicksand river which we have heretofore deemed so considerable, only extendes through the Western mountains as far as the S. Western side of mount hood where it takes it's source. this mountain bears E from this place and is distant about 40 miles. this information was corroborated by that of sundry other indians who visited us in the course of the day. we were now convinced that there must be some other considerable river which flowed into the columbia on it's south side below us which we have not yet seen, as the extensive valley on that side of the river lying between the mountainous country of the Coast and the Western mountains must be watered by some stream which we had heretofore supposed was the quicksand river. but if it be a fact that the quicksand river heads in Mount Hood it must leave the valley within a few miles of it's entrance and runs nearly parallel with the Columbia river upwards. we indeavoured to ascertain by what stream the southern portion of the Columbian valley was watered but could obtain no satisfactory information of the natives on this head. they informed us that the quicksand river is navigable a short distance only in consequence of falls and rapids; and that no nation inhabits it.- Sergt. Pryar returned in the evening and reported that he had ascended the river six miles; that above the point at which it divides itself into two channels it is about 300 yds wide tho the channel is not more than 50 yds and only 6 ft deep. this is a large vollume of water to collect in so short a distance; I therefore think it probable that there are some large creeks falling into it from the S. W. the bed of this stream is formed entirely of quicksand; it's banks are low and at preasent overflows. the water is turbid and current rapid.the following are the courses taken by Sergt. Pryor. S. 10° W. 1 M. to a point on the Lard. side passing a large Island on Stard. S. 24° E. 2 m. to the head of an Island near the Lard. shore. S 33° E. 4 m. to a stard. point passing several islands on the Lard. side and a creek 50 yds. wide on Stard at 11/2 miles. the river from hence appeared to bend to the East. he heard falls of water. several different tribes informed us that it heads at Mount Hood. We were visited by several canoes of natives in the course of the day; most of whom were decending the river with their women and children. they informed us that they resided at the great rapids and that their relations at that place were much streightened at that place for the want of food; that they had consumed their winter store of dryed fish and that those of the present season had not yet arrived. I could not learn wheather they took the Sturgeon but presume if they do it is in but small quantities as they complained much of the scarcity of food among them. they informed us that the nations above them were in the same situation & that they did not expect the Salmon to arrive untill the full of the next moon which happens on the 2d of May. we did not doubt the varacity of these people who seemed to be on their way with their families and effects in surch of subsistence which they find it easy to procure in this fertile valley.- This information gave us much uneasiness with rispect to our future means of subsistence. above falls or through the plains from thence to the Chopunnish there are no deer Antelope nor Elk on which we can depend for subsistence; their horses are very poor most probably at this season, and if they have no fish their dogs must be in the same situation. under these circumstances there seems to be but a gloomy prospect for subsistence on any terms; we therefore took it into serious consideration what measures we were to pursue on this occasion; it was at once deemed inexpedient to wait the arrival of the salmon as that would detain us so large a portion of the season that it is probable we should not reach the United States before the ice would close the Missouri; or at all events would hazard our horses which we lelft in charge of the Chopunnish who informed us that they intended passing the rocky mountains to the Missouri as early as the season would permit them wich is as we believe about the begining of May. should these people leave their situation near kooskooske before our arrival we may probably find much difficulty in recovering our horses; without which there will be but little possibility of repassing the mountains; we are therefore determined to loose as little time as possible in geting to the Chopunnish Village. at 3 P.M. the hunters who were sent over the river returned having killed 4 Elk and two deer; the Elk were in good order but the deer extreemly poor. they informed us that game is very plenty in that quarter. the hunters on this side of the river also returned but had killed nothing; they saw a few Elk and deer. there was also much sign of the black bear seen on the other side of the river. we sent a party to bring in the flesh of the Elk and deer that were killed. they did not return this evening. I purchased a canoe from an Indian today for which I gave him six fathoms of wampum beads; he seemed satisfyed with his bargain and departed in another canoe but shortly after returned and canceled the bargain; took his canoe and returned the beads. this is frequently the case in their method of traiding and is deemed fair by them. The last evening and this morning were so cloudy that I could neither obtain any Lunar observations nor equal altitudes.-