Lewis and Clark The story Essay

This essay has a total of 2186 words and 9 pages.

Lewis and Clark The story



The Lewis and Clark expedition across the present day United States began May 14, 1804.
With the approval of President Jefferson and the U.S. Congress, Lewis and Clark gathered
an exploration party of about four dozen men. These men headed off to discover Western
America. On September 1, 1805, they arrived at the Bitterroot Mountains, near present day
Idaho. This began a nightmare that would not end until they reached modern-day Weippe.

September 1, 1805, the explorers set out traveling west, heading into rough, seldom
traveled, mountainous country. They stopped at today’s North Fork of the Salmon River,
known as Fish Creek to Lewis and Clark, where they caught five fish, and were able to kill
a deer (MacGregor 125). Some of the men’s feet and horse’s hooves were injured due to the
rough, rocky terrain.

The next day, they were entering mountains far more difficult to pass than any American
had ever attempted (Ambros 284). Clark describes the route: “Throu’ thickets in which we
were obliged to cut a road, over rocky hillsides where horses were in perpetual danger of
slipping to their certain distruction and up and down steep hills…” (De Voto 232).
Traveling along the steep hills, several horses fell. One was crippled, and two gave out.
Patrick Gass described the trip that day as, “…the worst road (If road it can be called)
that was ever traveled” (MacGregor 125). To make conditions even worse, it rained that
afternoon, which made the trail even more treacherous. The party was only able to travel
five miles that day.

On September 3, snow fell and the team’s last thermometer broke. Several more horsed
slipped and injured themselves. Later that day, the snow turned into sleet. The
expedition family consumed the last of their salt pork and fish and began their descent
into the Bitterroot Valley. That night, was the coldest yet.

The next day, the party went down a very steep descent to a river that Lewis named,
Clark’s River, (Today known as The Bitterroot River.) There, they encountered a band of
Salish Indians, whom the captains called Flatheads. They stayed there with the Indians
the next couple of days to trade. They acquired thirteen new Appaloosa Horses, including
three colts, for seven worn out horses. The Salish Indians shared berries and roots with
the men for their meals.

On September 6, they set off traveling northward along the Bitterroot River for about ten
miles. They camped that night with nothing to eat but some berries and corn. Along their
travel they viewed the Saw-toothed Bitterroot Range to the west of the valley. The next
two days were spent traveling north, trying to find a safe passage over the Saw-toothed
Bitterroot Range.

September 10, Captain Lewis sent out all of the hunters. They returned with some game.
John Colter brought back three Indians from a tribe that lived across the mountains,
probably Nez Perce. The Indians were in pursuit of a band of Shoshones that had stolen
more than twenty horses from the Nez Perce Indians. This was proof to Lewis and Clark
that the Bitterroot Mountains could be crossed. One of the three Indians agreed to remain
with the Americans to introduce them to his tribe. Their tribe resided in the plain below
the mountains, on the Columbia River. The Indian said that it would require five sleeps
to reach his tribe (De Voto 237). That evening, the party put their packs in order and
made final preparations for crossing the Bitterroot Mountains.

On September 11, two of the party’s horses had strayed. This delayed the explorers from
leaving until late that afternoon. They were able to travel seven miles before they had
to set up camp for the night. The hunters, who had been previously sent out, returned
having killed nothing. Clark described the day as, “Verrey Worm” (De Voto 237).

The next day, the terrain began to get really rough. They had reached the mountains,
which were very steep. The road through the mountain was covered with fallen timber and
undergrowth. Captain Clark described the road as, “intolerable” (De Voto 237). They
traveled eight miles along the steep mountains without water. They made camp on the
hillside next to Traveler’s Rest Creek. Some of the party did not arrive until after ten
that night. Both the men and horses were extremely fatigued. They had just finished the
first day of the most agonizing part of the journey to the Weippe Prairie.

On September 13, they passed several hot springs that were so hot the water was nearly
boiling. Captain Lewis was curious about this naturally hot water, so he tasted it. The
road that day was fairly level, except for a small part. Some of the mountains that they
could see from the path were covered in snow.

On September 14, it began to snow. Old Toby, who was an Indian guide from the Shoshone
tribe, got the party lost. He led the party down to a fishing camp, near a creek.
Indians had recently been there, and their ponies had eaten all of the grass. The road
they were traveling was much worse than the day before. It was covered with thick
underbrush and fallen timber. Since the hunters were unsuccessful this day, the
expedition party killed a colt for meat. They named the creek they found Colt Killed
Creek.

The next day, the party reached elevations as high as seven thousand feet, on today’s
Wendover Ridge. Travel was incredibly difficult. There was a steep descent that was
made even more difficult, by the excessive quantity of fallen timber. Several horses
slipped and crashed down the hills. The horse carrying Captain Clark’s field desk rolled
down the hill for forty yards, until it lodged against a tree. The desk was smashed, but
the horse was uninjured. Captain Lewis said, “Two of our horses gave out, pore and too
much hurt to proceed on and left in the rear” (De Voto 239). When the party reached the
ridgeline, they made camp. Having no water, the men had to melt snow to drink. Patrick
Gass said, “There was here no water; but a bank of snow answered as a substitute”
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