The Journals of Lewis & Clark: August 12, 1805

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
August 11, 1805
August 13, 1805

August 12, 1805

Monday August 12th 1805

This morning I sent Drewyer out as soon as it was light, to try and discover what rout the Indians had taken. he followed the track of the horse we had pursued yesterday to the mountain wher it had ascended, and returned to me in about an hour and a half. I now determined to pursue the base of the mountains which form this cove to the S. W. in the expectation of finding some Indian road which lead over the Mountains, accordingly I sent Drewyer to my right and Shields to my left with orders to look out for a road or the fresh tracks of horses either of which we should first meet with I had determined to pursue. at the distance of about 4 miles we passed 4 small rivulets near each other on which we saw som resent bowers or small conic lodges formed with willow brush. near them the indians had geathered a number of roots from the manner in which they had toarn up the ground; but I could not discover the root which they seemed to be in surch of. I saw several large hawks that were nearly black near this place we fell in with a large and plain Indian road which came into the cove from the N. E. and led along the foot of the mountains to the S. W. oliquely approaching the main stream which we had left yesterday. this road we now pursued to the S. W. at 5 miles it passed a stout stream which is a principal fork of the man stream and falls into it just above the narrow pass between the two clifts before mentioned and which we now saw below us. here we halted and breakfasted on the last of our venison, having yet a small peice of pork in reseve. after eating we continued our rout through the low bottom of the main stream along the foot of the mountains on our right the valley for 5 mes. further in a S. W. direction was from 2 to 3 miles wide the main stream now after discarding two stream on the left in this valley turns abruptly to the West through a narrow bottom betwen the mountains. the road was still plain, I therefore did not dispair of shortly finding a passage over the mountains and of taisting the waters of the great Columbia this evening. we saw an animal which we took to be of the fox kind as large or reather larger than the small wolf of the plains. it's colours were a curious mixture of black, redis-brown and yellow. Drewyer shot at him about 130 yards and knocked him dow bet he recovered and got out of our reach. it is certainly a different animal from any that we have yet seen. we also saw several of the heath cock with a long pointed tail and an uniform dark brown colour but could not kill one of them. they are much larger than the common dunghill fowls, and in their habits and manner of flying resemble the growse or prarie hen. at the distance of 4 miles further the road took us to the most distant fountain of the waters of the mighty Missouri in surch of which we have spent so many toilsome days and wristless nights. thus far I had accomplished one of those great objects on which my mind has been unalterably fixed for many years, judge then of the pleasure I felt in allying my thirst with this pure and ice cold water which issues from the base of a low mountain or hill of a gentle ascent for 1/2 a mile. the mountains are high on either hand leave this gap at the head of this rivulet through which the road passes. here I halted a few minutes and rested myself. two miles below McNeal had exultingly stood with a foot on each side of this little rivulet and thanked his god that he had lived to bestride the mighty & heretofore deemed endless Missouri. after refreshing ourselves we proceeded on to the top of the dividing ridge from which I discovered immence ranges of high mountains still to the West of us with their tops partially covered with snow. I now decended the mountain about 3/4 of a mile which I found much steeper than on the opposite side, to a handsome bold running Creek of cold Clear water. here I first tasted the water of the great Columbia river. after a short halt of a few minutes we continued our march along the Indian road which lead us over steep hills and deep hollows to a spring on the side of a mountain where we found a sufficient quantity of dry willow brush for fuel, here we encamped for the night having traveled about 20 Miles. as we had killed nothing during the day we now boiled and eat the remainder of our pork, having yet a little flour and parched meal. at the creek on this side of the mountain I observed a species of deep perple currant lower in its growth, the stem more branched and leaf doubly as large as that of the Missouri. the leaf is covered on it's under disk with a hairy pubersence. the fruit is of the ordinary size and shape of the currant and is supported in the usual manner, but is ascid & very inferior in point of flavor.

this morning Capt. Clark set out early. found the river shoally, rapid shallow, and extreemly difficult. the men in the water almost all day. they are geting weak soar and much fortiegued; they complained of the fortiegue to which the navigation subjected them and wished to go by land Capt. C. engouraged them and passifyed them. one of the canoes was very near overseting in a rapid today. they proceeded but slowly. at noon they had a thunderstorm which continued about half an hour. their hunters killed 3 deer and a fawn. they encamped in a smoth plain near a few cottonwood trees on the Lard. side.-

August 12th Monday 1805

We Set out early (Wind N E) proceeded on passed Several large Islands and three Small ones, the river much more Sholey than below which obliges us to haul the Canoes over those Sholes which Suckceed each other at Short intervales emencely laborious men much fatigued and weakened by being continualy in the water drawing the Canoes over the Sholes encamped on the Lard Side men complain verry much of the emence labour they are obliged to undergo & wish much to leave the river. I passify them. the weather Cool, and nothing to eate but venison, the hunters killed three Deer to day