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... nches in depth. Captain Clark walked in front to find the trail, which was near impossible, due to the snow. Captain Clark wrote, I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life (De Voto 240). At noon, the party halted on the top of the mountain to warm and dry themselves a little while the horses grazed on some near by grass. All of the men were in fear of freezing. They were able to hike six more miles before setting up camp.
Here, they were forced to kill a second colt to eat. That night, while the men slept, the horses, which were near starvation, strayed in search of grass. September 17, it took the men the whole morning to find the horses and bring them in. At one in the afternoon, the expedition team set out again. The road was extremely bad, so the entire day, they were only able to travel ten miles forward. That night, the men killed the last of the three colts to fulfill their appetites.
That same evening, at the camp, Lewis and Clark got together to evaluate their situation. The mens spirits were low. They were approaching the limits of physical endurance, the food supply was extremely low, and they were in no hope of finding game. Lewis and Clark realized that the men, and they themselves, had reached a breaking point (Ambros 289). They found they had no choice but to press on, but to do so would require desperate measures. They concluded that in the morning, Clark would move on ahead with six hunters.
Lewis wrote, To hurry on to level country ahead in their hunt to provide some provisions, to send back to the main party (Ambros 289). The main party would follow Lewis. The morning of September 18, Clark left with his band of hunters at first light. They covered thirty-two miles that day. During travel, they found a stray Indian horse and killed it. After eating what they could, they hung the remainder of it for the main party, which would be along later. Lewis and his men ate what was left of the colt, which they had killed the previous night, and broke camp at 8:30 a.m.
Lewis and his men covered eighteen miles that day and set camp on the side of the mountain. The situation was critical. Lewis wrote, The only recourses being our gun and pack horses (Ambros 289). That night, the men feasted on small portions of portable soup. The next morning, Lewis was able to get the party started shortly after sunrise. After traveling about six miles, the ridge came to an end at present day Sherman Creek. Here is where the party caught sight of a plain, which seemed to be about sixty miles away. However, the Indian guide assured Lewis that they would be at the border of the plain by the next day.
Lewis pushed his weakened men on. The road was extremely dangerous. It had a narrow and rocky path to travel on, with a dangerously steep cliff off to one side. By this time the men had become sick with dysentery, suffering from breaking out of the skin. September 20, after traveling two miles, Lewis and the main party found the greater part of the horse, which Clark had left behind. Clark left a note on the horse saying that he and his party intended to proceed to the plain and hunt, until Lewis met him there. Lewis described the horsemeat: The party made a hearty meal on the horse meat much to the comfort of our hungry stomachs (Ambros 292).
While they ate, Lewis discovered that his packhorse had strayed away. He sent two men in search of the horse, and proceeded on with the rest of the party. That night, the men finished the horse that Clark had provided. Meanwhile that same day, Clark and his six men entered modern day Weippe Prairie, which he called, Camas Flats. There, he and his hunting party met some hospitable Nez Perce Indians, who resided in two villages, about two miles apart. The following day after the Lewis horses were all brought in, the party set out on the trail. The trail was a heavily timbered creek bottom, where fallen trees were so bad that it was almost impractical to proceed. After eleven miles, Lewis and the main party came to a small opening, and made camp.
Captain Lewis ordered all of the horses be tied up that night, to prevent any further delays. Lewis was determined to march the next day to reach open country. Lewis wrote, I find myself growing weak for the want of food, and most of the men have complained of a similar deficiency and have fallen off very much (Ambros 293). September 22, despite Lewis order, a few horses strayed during the night. The party was not able to get started until 11:30 a.m. The main party had only proceeded about two miles, when they encountered a member of Clarks hunting party.
He provided Lewis with some dry fish and roots, which were obtained from the Nez Perce Indians. The provider, Reubin Field, told Lewis of an Indian village seven miles further. He also told him that Clark had made friendly contact with the Nez Perce Indians. After eating, the party proceeded to the village, which they reached at 5:00 p.m. They had covered 160 miles in eleven days, marking one of the greatest forced marches in American History. When Lewis arrived at Weippe, he tried to describe his emotions: The pleasure I now felt in having triumphed over the Rocky Mountains and descending once more to a level in fertile country where there was every rational hope of finding comfortable subsistence for myself and party can be more readily conceived than expressed nor was the flattering prospect of the final success of the expedition less pleading (Ambros 293).
Lewis and Clarks amazing leadership kept the men together in the face of adversity. The men never sulked, lashed out, or demanded to retreat. They followed the captains without question, which helped them reach the Weippe Valley. From the Weippe Valley the party was able to continue on to the Pacific Ocean with little trouble. Bibliography: MacGregor, Carol Lynn. Journals Of Patrick Gass.Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publication Company 1997 De Voto, Bernard. The Journals of Lewis and Clark.
Boston: Houghton Mifflion Company 1953 Ambros, Stephen. Undaunted Courage. New York: Simon and Schuster 1996.
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