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The Two Rivers of Lewis & Clark
Entries For June 12:
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This morning I felt myself quite revived, took another portion of my decoction, and set out at sunrise. I now bore out from the river in order to avoid the steep ravines of the river, which usually make out in the plain to the distance of one or two miles. After gaining the level plain, my course was a little to the west of S.W. Having traveled about 12 miles by 9 in the morning, the sun became warm, and I bore a little to the south in order to gain the river, as well to obtain water to allay my thirst as to kill something for breakfast. For the plain through which we had been passing possesses no water, and is so level that we cannot approach the buffalo within shot before they discover us and take to flight. We arrived at the river about 10 A.M. having traveled about 15 miles. At this place there is a handsome open bottom with some cottonwood timber. Here we met with two large bear and killed them both at the first fire, a circumstance which, I believe, has never happened with the party in killing the brown bear before. We dressed the bear, breakfasted on a part of one of them, and hung the meat and skins on the trees out of the reach of the wolves. I left a note on a stick near the river for Captain Clark informing him of my progress, &c. After refreshing ourselves about two hours, we again ascended the bluffs and gained the high plain. Saw a great number of burrowing squirrels in the plains today, also wolves, antelopes, mule deer, and immense herds of buffalo. We passed a ridge of land considerably higher than the adjacent plain on either side. From this height, we had a most beautiful and picturesque view of the Rocky Mountains which were perfectly covered with snow, and reaching from S.E. to the N. of N W. They appear to be formed of several ranges, each succeeding range rising higher than the preceding one, until the most distant appear to lose their snowy tops in the clouds. This was an august spectacle and still rendered more formidable by the recollection that we had them to pass. We traveled about twelve miles when we again struck the Missouri at a handsome little bottom of cottonwood timber, and although the sun had not yet set, I felt myself somewhat weary, being weakened, I presume, by my late disorder and therefore determined to remain here during the balance of the day and night, having marched about 27 miles today. On our way, in the evening, we had killed a buffalo, an antelope, and three mule deer, and taken a sufficient quantity of the best of the flesh of these animals for three meals, which we had brought with us. This evening I ate very heartily, and after penning the transactions of the day amused myself catching those white fish mentioned yesterday. They are here in great abundance. I caught upwards of a dozen in a few minutes.
Reprinted by permission of the American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia.
The complete text can also be downloaded for printing from their website.