The Journals of Lewis & Clark: May 21, 1806

by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
May 20, 1806
May 22, 1806

May 21, 1806

Wednesday May 21st 1806. It rained a few hours this morning. Sheilds and Gibson set out to hunt towards the mountains. Collins came to camp at noon and remained about 2 hours; he has killed nothing since he left us last. we set five men at work to make a canoe for the purpose of fishing and passing the river. the Indians have already promised us a horse for this canoe when we have no longer any uce for her. as our tent was not sufficient to shelter us from the rain we had a lodge constructed of willow poles and grass in the form of the orning of a waggon closed at one end. this we had made sufficiently large to sleep in and to shelter the most important part of our baggage. it is perfectly secure against the rain sun and wind and affords us much the most comfortable shelter we have had since we left Fort Clatsop. today we divided the remnant of our store of merchandize among our party with a view that each should purchase therewith a parsel of roots and bread from the natives as his stores for the rocky mountains for there seems but little probability that we shall be enabled to make any dryed meat for that purpose and we cannot as yet form any just idea what resource the fish will furnish us. each man's stock in trade amounts to no more than one awl, one Kniting pin, a half an ounce of vermillion, two nedles, a few scanes of thead and about a yard of ribbon; a slender stock indeed with which to lay in a store of provision for that dreary wilderness. we would make the men collect these roots themselves but there are several speceis of hemlock which are so much like the cows that it is difficult to discriminate them from the cows and we are affraid that they might poison themselves. the indians have given us another horse to kill for provision which we keep as a reserved store. our dependence for subsistence is on our guns, the fish we may perhaps take, the roots we can purchase from the natives and as the last alternative our horses. we eat the last morsel of meat which we had for dinner this evening, yet nobody seems much conserned about the state of provision. Willard, Sergt. Ordway and Goodrich were permitted to visit the village today; the former returned in the evening with some roots and bread, the two last remaining all night. one of our party brought in a young sandhill crain it was about the size of a pateridge and of a redish brown colour, it appeared to be about 5 or six days old; these crains are abundant in this neighbourhood.

Wednesday 21st May 1806

rained this morning. Shields and Gibson Set out to hunt towards the mountains. Collins Came in to day and Stayed in about two hours, he has killed nothing Since he went out last. we Set 5 Men at work to build a Canoe for the purpose of takeing fish and passing the river and for which we can get a good horse. as our tent is not Sufficient to keep off the rain we are Compelled to have Some other resort for a Security from the repeeted Showers which fall. we have a small half circular place made and Covered with grass which makes a very Secure Shelter for us to Sleep under. We devided our Store of merchindize amongst our party for the purpose of precureing Some roots &c. of the nativs to each mans part amounted to about an awl Knitting pin a little paint and Some thread & 2 Needles which is but a Scanty dependance for roots to take us over those Great Snowey Barriers (rocky mountains) which is and will be the Cause of our Detention in this neighbourhood probably untill the 10 or 15 of June. they are at this time Covered deep with Snow. the plains on the high Country above us is also covered with Snow. Serjt. Ordway, Goodrich, & Willard went to the village to day to precure a fiew roots. we eate the last of our meat for Dinner to day, and our only Certain dependance is the roots we Can precure from the nativs for the fiew articles we have left those roots with what Game we Can precure from the wods will probably last us untill the arival of the Salmon. if they Should not; we have a horse in Store ready to be killed which the indians have offered to us. Willard returned from the Village. Sergt. Ordway and Goodrich Continued all night. one of the men brought me a young Sandhill Crain which was about 5 or 6 days old it was of a yellowish brown Colour, about the Size of a partridge. Those Crains are very abundant in every part of this country in pars of two, and Sometimes three together.

the party had gathered roots with leaves still attached they probably could have been sorted with Indian assistance. However, the parsley family (Apiaceae) is one of the most diverse and confusing plant families in the region, and Lewis could not be sure that the men would not bring back some other poisonous species not well known to the Indians. The decision to purchase roots was probably prudent.