Lewis and Clark Title Timeline.1805


Camp Fortunate, MT to Canoe Camp, ID

August 24 to October 6, 1805

 NOTE: The following is an abbreviated summary for each day of the Lewis and Clark journey, combining the journal entries of Lewis, Clark, Ordway, Floyd, Gass and Whitehouse into one seamless account. As much as possible, the original thoughts were retained. In cases of quotes or unique information, the individual who made the statement is added in parenthesis (). The original journal entries have also been corrected for spelling, grammar and readability. Click to view the journals in their original state.

The Corps of Discovery officially began their journey to the Pacific on May 14, 1804.




August 24

"Leaving Fortunate Camp"


Lewis traded, with the band of Shoshone headed down river to the Three Forks of the Missouri, some battle axes, knives, clothing and other small articles for three horses and a mule. The price was double what he hoped to pay, but the mule was a “great acquisition.” Lewis had acquired twelve horses and a mule for his stock (he needs another 12-14 to transport everything). The Corps loaded the animals with their baggage (while the Shoshone women carried the rest), and left Camp Fortunate at noon. Lewis rode on a horse from one of the Indians, which he “cheerfully” accepted.

Six miles into the ride, a Shoshone informed Lewis that Weiser was “very sick” and unable to continue. Lewis halted the party and rode two miles back to the private and found him in “a fit of the cholic.” The captain gave Weiser a dose of “peppermint and laudanum” that seemed to help him, so Lewis left the private his horse and returned on foot. By the time he rejoined his party, despite the hour still being early, both the Indians and his men had unloaded their gear, pastured their horses and set their camp. So Lewis called it a day.

Goodrich (their principal fisherman) caught several fine trout for supper. Lewis gave the Shoshone women who carried their baggage some corn. He told Chief Cameahwait (which means “one who never walks”) that his food stock was too low to feed everyone and encouraged those who weren’t helping to carry their baggage to go ahead tomorrow to their main camp.

Lewis also learned Cameahwait had another name: Too-et-te-con-e or “black gun.” Evidently the more “distinguished characters” in the Shoshone culture were given additional names. They earn these names through heroic and “distinguishing acts” like “killing and scalping an enemy,” killing a grizzly, leading a successful war party, or stealing horses from enemies. Getting a scalp was more honorable than the kill (leading some Indians to focus on scalping rather than killing). Lewis wrote: “Among the Shoshones, as well as all the Indians of America, bravery is esteemed the primary virtue; nor can any one become eminent among them who has not as some period of his life given proofs of his possessing this virtue.” Lewis concluded that it’s difficult to sell the Indians on a “state of peace” because war was more “advantageous” (proving opportunity for bravery and heroic acts). War was particularly necessary for identifying future chiefs.

The Shoshones, Lewis further noted, only possess a few guns and such are reserved “almost exclusively” for war. They still rely on bow and arrow for hunting. A few of the Shoshone wore mountain goat skin clothing. The Shoshone painted their favorite horses, decorated their manes and tails, and “cut their ears into various shapes.” They preferred a Spanish bridle whenever they could obtain one. “They are excellent horsemen,” Lewis journaled, “and extremely expert in casting the cord about the neck of a horse.”

Clark left early and traveled further down river, but saw nothing but more obstacles. Toby informed Clark there’s a way to the Pacific Ocean through the Bitterroot valley and over Lolo Pass to the Clearwater River (where the Nez Perce live). Clark carved his name into a pine tree, breakfasted on berries and then retraced his steps back to his men.

In the return hike, Clark fell and “bruised [his] leg very much on a rock.” He rejoined Sgt. Gass and the other men around 1 p.m. Clark penned Lewis a description of the Salmon River and surrounding country, as well as their poor prospects for taking this route, then sent Colter to find Lewis with the message. He ordered the men to pack up and prepare to head back to the main Shoshone camp. There was nothing to eat but chokecherries and Columbian hawthorn berries (which made them sick). That night the dew was so heavy their beds were soaked and cold.

Clark developed three possible plans moving forward:

1) Procure as many horses (one per man, if possible) and use “Toby” to find “some navigable” route over the mountains to the Columbia River and on to the ocean;

2) Divide the Corps, one party to “attempt” traveling by the Salmon river and the other to “pass by land on horseback”; and,

3) One party travel the Bitterroot river toward the Lolo Trail and another return to Missouri and travel to Great Falls to “collect provisions” they stored there. Then return via the Sun River to rejoin the other party.



August 25

"A Change of Plans"


Lewis and his men loaded their horses and left at sunrise (along with the few Shoshone who helped carry baggage). They stopped at noon to dine on venison their hunters had killed. Charbonneau casually informed Lewis that Chief Cameahwait had sent one of his Shoshone men ahead to the main camp with orders for all his tribe to “meet them tomorrow” and they’d head east to the Missouri River. This under-the-table plan would leave Lewis and his baggage stranded in the mountains.

Lewis was angry at this new development...and out of patience with the “folly” of Charbonneau (who wasn’t wise enough to understand the “consequences” of such a decision by the Shoshone). Evidently, Sacagawea had told Charbonneau of this decision by Cameahwait “early in the morning,” but the French interpreter didn’t tell Lewis until after noon.

Lewis knew that he needed to change Cameahwait’s mind and get those orders to move rescinded. If this plan went through, they’d not be able to procure more horses or get their baggage to the river that led to the ocean. Lewis immediately gathered the three chiefs, including Cameahwait, and smoked a peace pipe. Then he asked them if they were “men of their words” and whether he could depend on them for assistance—including their baggage—across the mountains. They all answered yes. Then Lewis asked they why they planned to move the tribe and strand Lewis and the Corps in the mountains. He reminded them of the need for more horses. And how they wished the white men to be their friends. He reminded the Shoshone of their need for firearms and ammunition. He reminded them of how many times he went the extra mile to prove his word, show his integrity and to create trust. He even gave meat they hunted and food they needed to the Shoshone.

Lewis then told the chiefs that they needed to immediately send another messenger to their main camp and tell their people to wait. Two of the chiefs told Lewis they were still his friend and willing to assist. However, Chief Cameahwait had made this decision on his own. Cameahwait remained silent...but eventually admitted his wrong in the matter. He promised to give assistance to Lewis. He then sent one of his young men to tell the tribe to remain in place. That night the hunters killed another deer and Lewis distributed the meat to the Shoshone women and children (while the Lewis party went “supperless”).

Earlier that same day, Frazier fired his musket at some ducks about 60 yards from Lewis. The musket ball skipped across the water and nearly struck Lewis. It was another close call.

Clark's party broke camp early and began his return to the main Shoshone camp (although Windsor was sick and forced the group to go slow). After an hour, everyone stopped for a breakfast of boiled salmon and berries (thanks to the Indians). They traveled all day before stopping for the night. The men went out to fish and hunt. Shannon trapped a beaver and along with a couple salmon and trout, they ate a fine supper.



August 26

"Past the Great Divide"


Lewis and his party awoke to an “excessively cold” morning with a quarter inch layer of ice in their vessels of water. They gathered their horses and left at sunrise. Once again, Lewis arrived at the “fountainhead” that he believed was the “extreme source of the Missouri River.” The men enjoyed a few minutes of respite to drink the cold, clear water and “console” themselves with arriving at this point.

Then they traveled to the spring on the opposite side of the ridge and stopped for dinner. Whitehouse penned, “We stopped at a very large spring and drank out of it. This spring is the headwaters or source of the Missouri River, and lies under a ridge of high mountains...3,124 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River. We crossed this high ridge of mountains and proceeded on about one mile, and came to another large spring which we supposed to be the headwaters or source of the Columbia Rivers, it running a west course. Our party also drank out of this spring, so that we might all have it in our power to say that we had drank water from...the head springs or source of both these great rivers.”

At the supper meal, Lewis gave a pint of corn to each Shoshone who carried their baggage. One of his female baggage handlers was detained and behind them. When Lewis inquired of Cameahwait the reason for her delay, he was told she gave birth to her fourth child. An hour later she and the newborn infant passed their party. Lewis was impressed by the Shoshone’s ability to “have their children with...convenience...and...rare...difficulty in childbirth.” However, he also felt, by both observation and anecdotal evidence, that Indian women pregnant with children of white fathers tended to “experience more difficulty in childbirth.”

Lewis also noted the “high and irregular mountains...covered with snow” in their path. After their lunch, the party continued towards the Shoshone main camp. As they approached the camp around 6 p.m., Chief Cameahwait asked the captain to discharge their guns in full view of his village. Lewis complied and mustered the men “in a single rank” and commanded them to shoot two rounds. The Shoshone were impressed and “gratified” by the exhibition.

From there Lewis and his party went to a large lodge in the center of the camp. Colter arrived with Clark’s message and the three options. Lewis decided not to travel the Salmon in canoe, but also knew he needed more horses if they were going to traverse the steep mountains. Lewis informed Cameahwait of his intentions to go overland and wished to buy 20 more horses. When he inquired of a guide, Cameahwait recommended “Toby” (who was with Clark) was the best pick for navigating the mountains.

But Lewis had a deeper worry. What if the Shoshone changed their mind about selling their horses? Lewis penned: "I directed the fiddle to be played and the party danced very merrily much to the amusement and gratification of the natives, though I must confess that the state of my own mind at this moment did not well accord with the prevailing mirth as I somewhat feared that the caprice of the Indians might suddenly induce them to withhold their horses from us..." Consequently, it was in the interest of the Corps of Discovery, to keep the Shoshone “in a good humor.” The captain ate nothing but a little parched corn for supper.

The Clark party awoke to a problem: their horses were missing. Clark dispatched several men to hunt for fresh meat, and another man to look for the horses. Consequently, they departed late. More men (including their guide Toby) went to look for their horses. Finally, their Shoshone guide finally spotted them. The party traveled to the Indian camps (with the fishing weir) and halted for the night. They were starving. The hunters returned empty. The fishermen caught a few small fish and one of the men shot a salmon in the river. Thankfully, the Indians gave the party two more boiled salmon for supper. It was lean pickings. Clark had the men mend their moccasins and prepare to hunt and fish at sunrise. They needed bigger game to eat. Presently they’re only seeing large numbers of grasshoppers, ground lizards, some wild hares and a few birds.

NOTE: Lewis will not write another journal entry until September 9 (14 days).



August 27

"Flag Ceremony"


The entire Clark party went hunting, save the sick Windsor. A young Shoshone informed the captain that Lewis planned to meet him around noon. It was another lean breakfast. Nothing more than a couple salmon (one gifted by the Shoshone). Clark noted how these  “poor” Shoshone Indians were dependent upon fish for food, were starving, and yet appeared contented. In contrast, his party complained about “their wretched situation” and doubt they’d survive without bigger game to feast upon. Thankfully, a Shoshone showed up with five salmon. Clark bought two to feed his small detachment of men for supper. Lewis never showed.

At the Lewis camp, four men went hunting on horses. The Corps hoisted a large U.S. flag that Lewis gave to Chief Cameahwait. The captain paid off the Shoshone women who carried their baggage and traded for horses (he bought 8 “for a small quantity of merchandise,” according to Whitehouse). The Shoshone were reluctant to sell more horses at such low prices. Charbonneau bought a horse in trade for his red cloak.

That evening the hunters returned with four deer and 8-10 large salmon. The Shoshone held a war dance. Three or four warriors danced with their guns (among the few Shoshone to own a gun). Their women sang with them but didn’t dance. The Shoshone had different kinds of games. Ordway wrote, “They appear to be easy and well contented [to] let the world go as it may.”



August 28

"A Letter Exchange"


Another frosty morning and unseasonably cold. The Corps hoisted their U.S. flag and the Shoshone hoisted their “star spangled banner” as well. Several men went out hunting or fishing, while Lewis continued to trade for horses. He gave considerably more today. The senior captain picked up five or six more horses, according to Ordway (total: 25). The men in Lewis’ camp made pack saddles. His hunters killed nothing. In the evening two Shoshone “strangers” from the South arrived. Cameahwait, his chiefs and principal men held a council to hear any news they carried. Ordway noticed these Shoshone were fond of salt. “[It’s] the first we have seen that would taste it,” wrote Ordway.

At the Clark camp, the Shoshone caught several salmon in their fishing weir and gave his party a couple (while the captain purchased two more). The hunters continued to bring back no fresh meat, even from places that were promising. Clark dispatched Sgt. Gass to the main Shoshone camp to inquire if Lewis was coming. Gass returned in the evening with a message that Lewis was trading for horses and currently had 22 for their next leg over the mountains. Lewis wanted Clark to ride to the main Shoshone camp and get their horses.

Clark bought some fish eggs from the Shoshone for three small fishhooks (which the Indians love and “readily” use). The day wasn’t totally unproductive, as Clark’s crew made three pack saddles for their rented horses. The lack of food was getting to Clark, who wrote: “Those salmon which I live on at present are pleasant eating, notwithstanding they weaken me very fast and my flesh, I find, is declining.” 



August 29

"Upper Village Reunion"


At 8 a.m., several Shoshone arrived at the main camp (where Lewis and his party were camped). These Indians had been absent for a long time and the reunion was a very happy occasion. But the news wasn’t all good. One of the Shoshone warriors had been killed and another scalped by an unknown war party back on the prairie (which caused their relatives to weep loudly).

Lewis spent the day trading for more horses and managed to acquire two more. However the Shoshone were growing reticent to sell more horses “unless they could get arms and ammunition in return” (Ordway). Both Lewis and Clark told the Shoshone they wouldn’t part with their guns. Nevertheless, Clark purchased a horse for his pistol, 100 balls, powder and a knife. The Corps of Discovery had collected 27 horses and planned to depart the next day to find their way through the mountains.

Around 1 p.m., Clark arrived with his detachment and found Lewis deep in trading negotiations. Sgt. Gass and another man stayed behind to guard their baggage at their Lemhi River camp. Clark’s men told the others about how the mountains were “amazing high and rough” and “almost impossible to pass.” However, they also had their Shoshone guide “Toby” with them...and he promised to get them through.



August 30

"Leaving the Shoshone"


With the prospects dim for purchase more horses with trade goods, and still in need of a horse for each member of the Corps of Discovery, Clark traded his "fuzee" (trade gun) to one of his men for a musket, then sold the musket for a horse. Eventually Lewis and Clark procured 29 horses total. They also traded for pack cords and saddles. They paid “great attention,” however, to their horse stock because “nearly all [had] sore backs.” Several were weak or young. The horses were not used to packing baggage, so their loads were limited. The good news? They got the whole lot for about $100.

Sgt. Ordway wrote about their path: “The guide who has engaged with us to go on to the ocean tells us that there is two ways to go, but the one bearing south of the river is plains and a desert country without game or water. But the road to the north of the river is rough and mountainous ... he [said] he could take us in ten days to a large fork of the river...where the river would be navigable or in about 15 days we could go to where the tide came up and salt water. So we concluded to go that road.”

The Corps departed the main Shoshone camp around 1 p.m. and traveled down the Lemhi River, led by their elderly Shoshone guide “Toby,” plus his three sons and another Indian. Prior to departure their hunters killed three deer. 12 miles



August 31

"Leaving the Lemhi"


The Corps left before sunrise and shortly arrived at the camp where Gass and another man had stayed to guard their baggage. While there they purchased several large salmon from the Lemhi Shoshones. Then they joined the party and “proceeded on” for about three more hours, halting on the Salmon River to let their horses graze. Clark met an Indian (possibly a Flathead) on horseback who had informed tribes ahead of the expedition that “enemies” were coming, armed with guns. He left in a hurry and some Shoshones chased him, but he got away.

Clark noted smoke signals covered the skies: "The country is set on fire for the purpose of collecting the different [Indian] bands, and a band of the Flatheads [Salish] to go to the Missouri [River] where they intend passing the winter near the buffalo."

The Corps of Discovery and their Shoshone entourage crossed to the east side of the Lemhi River, then followed it to the Salmon River and eventually headed up Tower Creek, where they camped for the night. 22 miles



September 1

"Up the North Fork of the Salmon River"


The Corps left at dawn and traveled over “high rugged hills” to the north fork of the Salmon River. One mountainside was “nearly as steep as the roof of a house” (Whitehouse). One of their horses “fell backward and rolled over” on one of the steep pitches. They crossed several icy creeks. Rain at noon and in the evening forced the men to call it a day earlier than preferred. York’s feet were very sore and the captains allowed him to ride on horseback.

A couple men were dispatched to purchase dried fish (about 25 pounds) from the Indians. They also “gigged” for salmon (catching four) and killed a deer. They also feasted upon service berries and chokecherries (which were abundant, “very sweet and good” according to Ordway). Only Toby, their elderly Shoshone guide, continued to travel with them. The rest of the Shoshone left them. 23 miles



September 2

"Leaving the Indian Road"


The Corps left early and “proceeded on” with cloudy and wet weather. At one point it was necessary to “cut a road” through the thickets. The path was slick and the horses constantly slipped. It proved particularly dangerous on the steep mountainsides, populated with fallen trees and rocks.

At one spot it proved excessively muddy due to beaver dams creating small reservoirs that Ordway called a “dismal swamp.” It was a “very lonesome place” (Ordway). Several horses fell, flipped and slid back down the mountain. One horse was crippled and two more simply “gave out.” It was a difficult and risky day. The hunters killed nothing but a few pheasants, ducks and a small squirrel. The food provisions were down to “a small quantity of dried salmon.” Toby’s son joined them today. 13 miles



September 3

"Wet, Hungry and Cold"


Cloudy and cool morning. The Corps ate the last of their salmon for breakfast. The travel through the thickly timbered and steep mountains remained risky, difficult and fatiguing. Several horses slipped on the rocks and fell. Some were nearly killed. For supper they ate the last of their pork and a “small portion of flour.” The hunters were now finding nothing. Rain and snow fell. Temperatures were “extremely cold for the season” (Gass). They camped at the head of a creek, but it wasn’t the place Toby, their Shoshone guide, preferred. It was a miserable night. “Wet, hungry and cold,” according to Whitehouse. 11 miles



September 4

"Meeting the Salish Flatheads"


The Corps was detained in the morning due to everything being frozen. The ground was covered with snow. Their fingers ached from the cold. They ate a little parched corn for breakfast. The hunters killed a deer (their Shoshone guide Toby and his son ate the deer’s guts).

The party came across a Flathead Indian camp of 33 lodges (about 400 in population). They owned at least 500 horses. The Flatheads received the Corps with friendship, threw white robes over their shoulders and smoked peace pipes. They were well-dressed, stout and light complexion. They gave the party service berries and pounded chokecherry cakes. The chiefs “harangued” the captains until late into the night, but after smoking a pipe with them, appeared satisfied. Clark was the first white man to ever be on the waters of the Flathead River (now called “Clark’s River”). 10 miles



September 5

"Council with the Salish Flatheads"


Lewis and Clark counciled with the Flathead chiefs and warriors. Their translation passed “through several languages” (Salish/Flathead to Shoshone to Hidatsa to French to English). It was “the strangest language of any we have ever yet seen (Ordway).” As was the norm, the captains informed the chiefs of “who” they were, “where” they came from, “where” they’re headed and “for what purpose.” The captains gave each of the four chiefs a medal, flags and “several small articles with tobacco.”

The Flatheads’ response was “very friendly.” They’re likable and honest too. Gass observed they were “the whitest Indians” he had ever seen. Their women brought them “a few berries and roots to eat.” The principal chief also awarded the captains a badger, otter, mountain goat (2) and antelope (2) skins. Lewis and Clark also purchased 11 horses in exchange for seven plus “a few articles of merchandise.”

Ordway noted the cold morning temperatures (able to freeze any standing water) and the “ravenous” Indian dogs who consumed several pairs of their moccasins.



September 6

"To the Bitterroot River"


A little rain today. The captains purchased two more horses and recorded a vocabulary of the Flathead language. They now have 40 good pack horses and three colts (Ordway). Then they packed up and headed out around 2 p.m. over Sula Peak. The Flatheads departed in the opposite direction to meet with the Shoshone at Three Forks, MT.

The Corps crossed the east fork of the Bitterroot River and eventually camped a few miles northwest of Sula, MT. They had nothing to eat but berries and a little corn. The flour was gone. The hunters shot a couple pheasants. They secured their horses and set a watch during the night to insure against theft or wandering horses. 10 miles



September 7

"Trusting to Providence"


A cloudy and rainy day. The party “proceeded on” down the river through a valley. They saw two stray Indian horses that were as “wild” as a elk. One of the hunters lost his horse overnight. Another hunter killed an elk but was unable to catch up to the party. Two deer were killed, plus a goose, crane, several pheasants, and a hawk. This was “a subject of much joy and congratulation” (Gass).

Whitehouse wrote: “Our party seemed revived at the success that the hunters had met with, however in all the hardship that they had yet undergone, they never once complained, trusting to Providence and the conduct of our Officers in all our difficulties.”

The Corps camped at dark on the east side of the Bitterroot River. 22 miles



September 8

"Mountains to the Left and Right"


The Corps left at dawn. The northwest wind was cold and there’s snow on the mountains on their left (Bitterroots) and right (Sapphires). They found no timber except along the bank of the creeks. A hard rain (with some hail) fell all night. The men were cold and wet. One of the hunters found two tame mares and a colt. Clark observed a “peculiar” type of prickly pear cacti that grew in “great quantities.” The party killed an elk and a deer (Clark shot a prairie fowl). 23 miles



September 9

"Reaching Traveler's Rest"


The Expedition departed at 7 a.m. and proceeded down the Flathead (now Clark’s River). They stopped for breakfast and ate a “scant proportion of meat.” The hunters killed geese, ducks and pheasants. Another hunter brought in a redheaded woodpecker (the first Lewis had seen since leaving Illinois). Drouillard arrived late with two deer. They also dined on chokecherries.

The party arrived at “an excellent pass” which their elderly Shoshone guide Toby told them would take them to the Missouri River in four days. He also told the captains they needed to “leave the river” and travel overland through the mountains. The weather was cooperating, so Lewis decided to rest the horses for a day. They called the place “Traveler’s Rest” alongside Lolo Creek. 21 miles



September 10

"The Travelers Rest"


Lewis dispatched all the hunters. The Hidatsa Indians had informed the captains there was a large river not too far away, to the west. In the evening, Colter returned with three Flathead Indians. On first meeting, these Flatheads “prepared for battle” but their fears were “relieved” when Colter laid down his gun and advanced peaceably. Evidently, they heard the Corps had guns and were “afraid” to approach the larger party. Their elderly Shoshone guide Toby did not know their language but was able to communicate through sign.

Lewis and Clark learned these Indians were pursuing a couple Shoshones who stole 23 horses from them. The captains gave them some boiled venison. The captains gave them a “ring fish hook” and tied a ribbon into their hair (which pleased them). Lewis also gave them a steel and some gun power (to make fire).

Two of the Indians left after sunset (while the third remained to help guide the Corps). He also desired to introduce the captains to his tribal family, who resided “in the plain below the mountains on the Columbia River.” The Indian visitor told him that river would take them to the ocean. He added it was only six days travel to where his family lived.

NOTE: It’s likely these were not Flathead but rather Nez Perce Indians, based on the description of their country. Sometimes “Flathead” was used to describe many of the tribes west of the Continental Divide.

Whitehouse journaled: “The day continued to grow warm, but the snow did not melt on the mountains, a short distance from us...The snow on the mountains have the appearance of the middle of winter.”

The hunters killed four deer, several ducks and geese, a beaver and three grouse. The men busy with making moccasins.



September 11

"The Northern Nez Perce Trail"


It's a fair morning and a very warm day. The Corps departed at 3 p.m. and “proceeded on” from the “Traveler’s Rest” along Lolo Creek, accompanied by their new Flathead/Nez Perce guide. The loss of two horses detained the party. They passed a tree with several shapes painted upon it by the natives. A grizzly bear skin hung on a tree nearby. Whitehouse assumed it was “a place of worship” for the Indians.

They camped at some old Indian lodges. The hunters killed nothing.

The hills on the right are “high and rugged” while the mountains on the left are also “high and covered with snow.” Gass wrote, “The country is poor and mountainous.” 7 miles



September 12

"Intolerable Road"


The party awoke to frost. They continued to follow Lolo Creek through Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot mountains. The road through the country is “very bad” and “hilly,” with “steep hollows” and “fallen timber.” They traveled up a long and steep mountain for miles without water.

Finally the Corps found a place to camp on a hill side in a rather “inconvenient place” (Gass). Some of the party didn’t catch up to them until 10 p.m., two hours after they made camp. The Indians have peeled several Ponderosa pine trees to eat the “under bark.” The hunters killed four deer and a pheasant (Ordway). Very little feed for the horses. According to Clark, the entire party and horses are “much fatigued.” 17.5 miles



September 13

"Lolo Hot Springs to Packer Meadows"


Lewis and one of the guides lost their horses overnight, so the captain and four men went to hunt for them (while the rest of the party proceeded on). They eventually came to a “hot spring” that the Indians had dammed for baths (Lolo Hot Springs). Clark sipped the water and found it hot and tasty (with sulphur). In some places the “nearly boiling water” spouted from the rocks. Clark dipped his finger in the water and couldn’t keep it immersed more than a second.

On the way out of the springs, their elderly Shoshone guide Toby took a wrong road and followed an “intolerable” path (for a few miles). Clark halted to wait for Lewis, and eventually sent two men to search for him. The red-headed captain killed four pheasants. There are more mountains in view, covered with snow. They crossed "an open swamp" (Packer Meadows) and camped on Glade Creek. 12 miles



September 14

"Colt Killed Creek"


It's a cloudy day with a little rain, thunder and “hail.” Some snow fell too. The party continued through the mountains, including one that was “very high” and “steep” (even worse than the previous day). The party arrived at a couple vacated Indian fish weirs (used to catch salmon). No sign of Indians, fish, or grass for horses as they moved through the area.

The party crossed the Lochsa River and camped a couple miles near another “swift and stoney” river. Due to a lack of food (with only unsatisfying portable soup left to consume), the captains gave the men permission to kill a fat colt for supper. Gass wrote: “...none of the hunters killed any thing except 2 or 3 pheasants; on which, without a miracle it was impossible to feed 30 hungry men and upwards, besides some Indians. So Capt. Lewis gave out some portable soup, which he had along, to be used in cases of necessity. Some of the men did not relish this soup, and agreed to kill a colt; with they immediately did, and set about roasting it; and which appeared to me to be good eating.”

In honor of the meal they named the river “Killed Colt Creek.” Both horse and men were much fatigued. 17 miles



September 15

"Climbing to Snowbank Camp"


The party left at dawn and proceeded down the right side of the Lochsa River and, as before, up a steep mountain. Four miles up the mountain, Clark found a spring and halted the party let the horses feed and rest. Several horses slipped, fell and rolled down the steep mountainsides (producing injuries). It took 8-10 men to get the horses righted and back on trail. The horse that carried Clark’s desk and small trunk fell down the mountain forty yards and “lodged against a tree” (smashing the desk). Clark notes there were snow-covered mountains ahead with bald peaks.

They finally summited the rugged mountain and camped near an old snowbank three feet deep. For supper, the Corps melted the snow for water to drink and boiled the rest of the colt they killed. They also dined on more portable soup and a handful of parched corn, because the hunters shot only two pheasants. The meager meal left the men very hungry. The evening was cold. Two horses “gave out” and were left behind. 12 miles



September 16

"The Most Terrible Mountains"


It's another day of difficult, steep “mountain passing” with fallen timber and rockslides. The Corps awoke covered with 4” of new snow...and the flakes continued to fall all day long. Before they broke camp, the men mended their moccasins. Some men had no socks, so they “wrapped rags on their feet” (Whitehouse). The party departed without anything to eat.

By evening 6-8 inches of new snow had accumulated, making it extremely difficult to find and follow any path. Gass noted how the Corps "proceeded over the most terrible mountains I ever beheld." The snow was a wet snow...and the temperatures cold. “I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life,” wrote Clark, “indeed, I was at one time fearful my feet would freeze in the thin moccasins which I wore.” The red-headed captain counted eight distinct types of pines during their hike through the alpine mountaintop.

The party camped alongside a small creek “in a thickly timbered bottom, which was scarcely large enough for us to lie level,” penned Clark. Joseph Whitehouse called it a "lonesome cove." For lunch they melted snow for water and “drank” more of the portable soup. Ordway noted how the clouds hung low all day and limited their ability to see. Gass agreed. It was hard to see more than 200 yards. They butchered their second colt for a hearty supper. Clark had spotted four mule deer earlier in the day, but the wet conditions kept his rifle from firing properly. 13 miles



September 17

"High Knobs and Drains"


Another cloudy morning. The horses had scattered, detaining their departure until 1 p.m. to look for them. Between new fallen snow and snow falling from the trees above, the Corps stayed wet throughout the day. They continued to work through the high mountain passages.

The hunters shot a few pheasants, and another pursued a bear but came up empty. In the end, the pheasant meat was hardly enough to fill their bellies, so the men butchered yet another colt (since it was “the most useless part of [their] stock,” claimed Clark). Two horses fell and seriously injured themselves. The party camped on a high mountain "knob" or point for the night, near a "sink hole" filled with water. They could hear wolves howling in the distance. 10 miles



September 18

"Seeking the Low Plains"


It was clear and cold day. To “revive the spirits” of the men, Clark took six hunters and worked ahead in hopes of finding larger game and “more level country.” But all they found was more difficult, high and steep terrain...and no sign of larger game (like deer). Clark named a creek they passed “Hungery (sic) Creek” as they had nothing to eat.

Lewis remained behind with the rest of the party. The party was once again detained due to a missing horse. This time Alexander Willard did not properly secure his mount. Lewis sent him back down the mountain to search, while everyone else continued their march forward. About 4 p.m., Willard caught back up to Lewis and the Corps...but without his horse.

The traveling was, once again, very difficult. The men suffered from thirst most of the day (with no nearby creeks or springs). They also felt hunger pangs. For breakfast the Corps finished off the colt. For lunch and supper they dined on “scant” portions of their portable soup and melted snow. The soup, purchased by Lewis in Philadelphia, was either a dry powder or thick liquid. It was used by armies for some years, and required only the addition of water.

The Corps were down to their final canisters. Other than their packhorses, guns, powder and ammo, the men had but a little bear oil and about 20 lbs of candles still in storage. Other than small pheasants, squirrels and songbirds, there was no game anywhere. 18 miles



September 19

"Spirits Revived"


Clark and his six hunters continued in search of game and level country. They happened upon a wild horse, which Clark ordered killed, butchered and hung for Lewis’ party. They also enjoyed some of the horse for breakfast. They continued to follow westerly creeks headed through the mountains. Clark shot two pheasants.

The Lewis party left at dawn and continued their route through the high mountains of northern Idaho. From one vantage point, they spotted a “large trace of prairie county.” The Indians told them the Columbia River could be found in that area. “The appearance of this country, our only hope for subsistence,” wrote Lewis, “greatly revived the spirits of the party.” They found two different creeks, that they named “Hungery” and “Doubt.” Gass penned: “We have, however, some hopes of getting soon out of this horrible mountainous desert, as we have discovered the appearance of a valley...about 40 miles ahead. When this discovery was made there was much joy and rejoicing among the Corps, as happens among passengers at sea, who have experienced a dangerous and protracted voyage, when they first discover land on the long looked for coast.”

The slick, steep path was “excessively dangerous” to traverse. Frazier’s horse slipped and fell 100 yards into the creek below, but “to [the party's] astonishment” when they removed it’s load (containing 2 boxes of ammo) the horse sprung to its feet with little injury. Twenty minutes later he was back to packing their stuff. Lewis called it “the most wonderful escape [he] ever witnessed.” The Corps camped in a little ravine and dined on a “small quantity of portable soup.” Gass noted the “men are becoming lean and debilitated” due to little food. Their horses hooves are also becoming sore. The men went to bed very tired. Several in the party have dysentery, as well as skin irritations, blisters, and rashes. 18 miles



September 20

"First Contact with the Nez Perce"


Lewis observed several new species of birds in the mountains, including a “varied thrush.” Once again, the party was detained until mid-morning due to missing horses. They also found the horse that Clark's hunters had killed and left for them. In a note to Lewis, the junior captain told him to proceed quickly to the plains that laid to the southwest. The Corps halted for a "hearty" horse meat meal that brought much “comfort [to] our hungry stomachs” (Lewis).

They also discovered a packhorse was missing (Lewis sent LaPage to find him), but he returned a few hours later without the horse. The load of that packhorse included all of Lewis’ winter clothing, plus valuable merchandise for trading. Consequently, Lewis dispatched two of his best woodsmen to search for the horse. Other horses were getting badly stung by yellow jacket wasps.

The Lewis party camped on a ridge with little grass for their horses and water was a fair distance away. However, their horse meat supper took their minds off the meager situation. Lewis noted they spied huckleberry, honeysuckle, arborvitae and alder.

Clark and his hunters continued through the rugged country. They traveled down the mountains into the valleys and plains, eventually encountering many Indian lodges in the Weippe prairie. The party startled three Indian boys (who ran and hid). Clark searched the grass, found the boys, gave them some food, then sent them back to their village. He soon learned the chief and his warriors were away to “war.” No one was in the main camp but a few men, women and children. The Indian women gave Clark and his men buffalo meat, dried salmon, berries and roots (most notably the camas).

This tribe, Clark wrote in his journal, called themselves “Chopunnish” or “Pierced Noses” (Nez Perce or Nimiipuu). Not long after consuming the salmon and roots, Clark felt sick the rest of the evening. He ate too much (“too freely”), he said. 17 miles



September 21

"The Main Party Struggles"


Once again, the Lewis party was detained until late morning due to missing horses. But once underway, they followed the path Clark and his party had cut the previous day. When they stopped for the night, Lewis ordered all horses hobbled to prevent more delays. They killed a few pheasants and Lewis shot a coyote. They also found crayfish in the creek. It was a very “hearty” meal that evening. Lewis, however, noted that he found himself “growing weak for the want of food and most of the men complain of a similar deficiency.” Morale is low.

Clark sent his hunters in all directions to “kill something.” He wanted to remain among the Nez Perce to squelch any suspicion and gather as much information as he could. One of the Nez Perce drew him a map of the river—including the Snake and Columbia rivers—and the tribes that inhabit the area.  The day was warm, and Clark enjoyed the visits of two chiefs from nearby tribes. The hunters returned empty-handed. Clark loaded a horse with roots and three salmon, then sent Robert Fields and a Nez Perce to find Lewis.

Clark took the other hunters and traveled down a steep, rugged hill to a river in search of the Nez Perce chief named Twisted Hair. Around 11 p.m. he arrived at a camp with five Indian women, a boy and two girls. They gave him more dried salmon.

One of the women had been captured by the Hidatsa and had seen white men before. NOTE: According Nimiipuu oral tradition, there was an elderly woman in their camp who saved the Corps of Discovery from being killed by the Nez Perce because she had been rescued and lived among the whites in her younger years. Her name was Watkuweis. Could this be that same woman mentioned by Clark here? It's possible. 

Their Nez Perce guide beckoned Twisted Hair, who was fishing the river across the river from the camp, to come meet Clark. The captain found him to be a cheerful old chief in his mid-60s. Clark gave him a peace medal and they smoked together.

Clark remained very sick to his stomach. Only after vomiting, did he find any relief.



September 22

"Bitterroot Mountain Triumph"


Lewis’ command to hobble the horses was honored by all but one unnamed corpsman (who “plead ignorance of the order”). Consequently, the Corps was, once again, delayed until nearly noon to round up a missing horse. About two and a half miles after departure, they met Reuben Fields, carrying the dried salmon and roots for their party. Lewis immediately halted the Corps, divided up the food and “was happy” to “satisfy completely all [their] appetites.”

After their lunch, they proceeded through heavy timber, broken and descending, to the Nez Perce village in the Weippe Prairie, arriving at 5 p.m. As Lewis’ party approached the village of 18 lodges, the women and children fled on horseback into the woods. This was an unexpected turn, wrote Lewis, because he figured Clark had already warned them of their “pacific intentions” and arrival time. It didn’t matter, however, as the Nez Perce men showed little concern and met them without their guns.

Clark proceeded down the river about a mile or so and encountered Twisted Hair, approaching him in his canoe. After greetings, Clark boarded the canoe and crossed over to his camp. Following a meal of salmon, Clark returned to meet Lewis (taking the chief and his son with him). He soon discovered Shields had shot three deer. Clark ate a little venison and then continued to the camp on his horse as it was “fresh.” However, Shield’s horse bucked off Clark three times and hurt his hip.

Finally, at dark, Clark found Lewis at the Nez Perce camp. The men were very tired, but the supply of salmon, berries and roots (especially camas) meant another hearty meal. Clark cautioned the men about eating too much fish and roots. Clark noted how “the plains appeared covered with spectators” curious about their party. The Corps remained weak for lack of food. Frazier had some small articles, including his compass and steel, stolen by the Nez Perce. Lewis and Clark tried to buy it back but could not, as they had no interpreter.  Two horses were also still missing (or stolen).

The captains learned from Twisted Hair that they’re only a couple days from the Snake River and five days away from the Columbia (with Celilo Falls another five days beyond that point). They’re told a great number of Indians reside along the way, as well as some white establishments. Gass noted the Nez Perce “received [them] kindly, appeared pleased to see us, and gave us such provision as they had.” With rivers ahead to carry the Corps, it appeared a good sign to be back on the water.

Lewis journaled a summary of their travels through the mountains: "The pleasure I now felt in having triumphed over the Rocky Mountains and descending once more to a level and fertile country where there was every rational hope of finding a 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 pleasuring."



September 23

"Nez Perce Council"


It was a warm autumn day. Lewis and Clark spent the day trading with the Nez Perce. They traded for “considerable amounts” of salmon, camas roots, bread, berries and skins to make shirts (because the Indians gave them no provisions as they did the day before). The captains also met with three Nez Perce chiefs and awarded each leader a medal, plus tobacco, handkerchief, knives, and flag. They also left a U.S. flag and handkerchiefs for their “great chief” (who was still off to war). The Nez Perce, including Twisted Hair, seemed satisfied with their message of peace and commerce.

Ordway noted the Nez Perce have “fine copper kettles and different kinds of trinkets.” They’re especially fond of the blue beads and other merchandise the Corps possessed. The Nez Perce live prosperous, are well dressed and own a large horse herd. Most of them have leather lodges...and some are joined together.

That evening the Corps moved to the second Nez Perce village two miles downriver. Lewis and two men were seriously sick. Clark’s hip continued to be painful. The men traded a “few old tin cannisters” for an elk skin to make some shirts. The captains enjoyed a salmon supper with Twisted Hair. They noted his lodge was “nothing more than pine bushes and bark.”



September 24

"Moving to the Clearwater"


Clark dispatched Colter back into the mountains to search for their horses...and bring back the ammunition that was left behind. The Corps left at 10 a.m., headed for the Clearwater River and down to [China] island where Clark had first met Twisted Hair a few days earlier. It’s here that the Corps set their camp.

Lewis is very sick, as are 8-9 other men. They complain of abdominal cramps (likely due to the change in diet). Lewis could hardly ride even the gentlest horse. Some of the men were so sick that they laid on the side of the road for relief. Clark administered Benjamin Rush’s “Thunderbolt” purgative pills to the ill men.

It was another hot day. Several Nez Perce and their horse herds followed them downriver and camped with the Corps. The hunters brought in four deer and two salmon. The hills had spotty pine trees and none were large enough to make canoes. Lewis and Clark decided to leave their horses with the Nez Perce once they’re back on the river.



September 25

"Searching for a Canoe Camp"


It's another very hot day. Most of the party was complaining. Two more men were sick. Clark set out early with Twisted Hair and two young Indians to find timber for building canoes. At one point, they halted and one of the young Indian men gigged for salmon (and caught six). They roasted two for lunch.

Eventually they spotted some Ponderosa pine, a perfect wood for canoes. When Clark returned to camp, he found Lewis very ill. Gass also journaled he was sick. Clark gave all the sick men some salts and tarter. Clark decided to move the camp to where they found the Ponderosa pines. The hunters killed a small mountain lion and a pheasant.


September 26

"Setting Up Canoe Camp"


The Corps left at dawn and proceeded down the Clearwater to form their “Canoe Camp” near a stand of Ponderosa pines (about 5 miles west of present-day Orofino, ID). It’s another very hot day. The men built handles for their axes and prepared to chop trees. The axe heads are small and not great for digging out canoes made of such large pines.

The men built a pen near the officer’s tents for their baggage. Gass noted some of the natives wore an extremely soft, white wool robe (mountain goat). They also had a buffalo robe that had the finest and softest fur (as soft as a beaver). Lewis traded his buffalo robe for that “curiosity.”

Lewis remained very sick, and more men sickened on their way to the new camp. Clark administered salts, tartar and Jalap (a powdered root of a Mexican plant that worked as a purgative). Clark also began to sicken. Two Nez Perce chiefs and their families followed the Corps to their new camp. Other natives brought their horse herds along. For supper they purchased fresh salmon from the Indians.



September 27

"Nearly All The Men Sick"


It’s another very hot day. All the able-bodied men started to build five canoes. However, several more got sick during the day. The hunters all returned sick (and with no kills today). Clark noted that “nearly all the men” are sick...and Lewis is “very sick.”

Colter finally caught up to the Corps at mid-morning. He had found one of the horses and the canister of ammunition. He had also killed a deer (and shared half with the natives). Clark purchased several fresh salmon from the Nez Perce. Several Indians traveled upriver from a camp below and, according to Gass, three or four of their “leading men” were given medals by the captains. Gass also noted the “river below the fork is about 200 yards wide” and it’s water was “crystal clear.” It's also “abounding with salmon of an excellent quality.”



September 28

"Carving Canoes and Paddles"


It’s another warm, sultry day. The abdominal illness continued to keep several Corpsmen sidelined. They remained on medication to ease "heaviness" in the stomach and the diarrhea. Today, Drouillard went down sick. Some of the men were improving, but the sickness even has pricked the curiosity of the Indians. No game was killed (so they bought fresh salmon from the natives). A few men built gigging poles and tried to fish. However, as Gass penned regarding their diet of fish and roots, it does not “appear a suitable diet for us.” Salt was also scarce and the salmon was “poor and insipid” without the spice.

All those able to build canoes continued to work that job. Several Indians left the Corps and continued down river. One old Indian informed the captains he had been to white man’s “fort” at Celilo Falls. It’s the place he had procured his white beads. However, his story proved hard to believe. In the end, no one took him seriously.



September 29

"Fresh Deer and Salmon"


Finally, it's a cooler morning. Five or six of the men remained ill with abdominal pains, according to Clark. Lewis remained “very sick.” The rest continued to build canoes. Drouillard killed two deer and Colter shot another. It was a welcome sight to see, claimed Gass. The Nez Perce also traded "a number of salmon, which [they] purchased [from] them for some trifling articles" (Whitehouse).



September 30

"Slow Progress"


Clark took some observations. It was a fine, fair morning. A lot of Indians moved up and down the river. The sick men were recovering their health, except two who remained very sick. Ordway noted the canoe building was very slow due to few available hands, who are “weak” and fatigued.

Two hunters stayed out all night. One of them shot a deer and a pheasant. Ordway gave a mileage update. Since they started on the Missouri (in St. Louis), the Corps had traveled by water or land a total of 4,120 miles.



October 1:

"Burning Out The Canoes"


On a cool morning, with some wind, the men continued to build canoes. They learned from the Nez Perce how to “burn out” a canoe by building a fire on top the pine. After the burned out a cavity into the tree, the men easily chopped out the charcoal.

Clark inspected and dried their clothing. He also laid out a small assortment for possible trade with the natives. There’s nothing to eat except dried fish, but the men resist anything but fresh salmon. It’s the dried fish that made them sick. The good news is Lewis was feeling much better. Several Indians visited from the different tribes below, including some from the Snake River region. The hunters killed nothing today.



October 2

"Hungry Canoe Builders"


It’s an excessively hot day. Clark dispatched Frazier and Goodrich, plus a Nez Perce, to go back to the first village and buy some salmon, roots and berries. A diet of roots only gives the men “violent pains in their bowels” (especially if they eat too much). The junior captain gave a small piece of tobacco, three broaches and two rings with his last handkerchief to some visiting Indians to share amongst themselves.

Clark then went to hunt on a steep and high hill. He spotted a deer but couldn’t kill it. The men now preferred the method of burning out their canoes. It’s “something better” and faster than a straight dug out (with axe) canoe to build.

Nothing but a coyote killed today. The provisions are all out, save what few fresh salmon and camas they purchased from the natives. To save themselves from getting sick, the captains ordered a horse slaughtered for the evening meal. Whitehouse wrote: “The party [is] so weak [from] working without any kind of meat, that we concluded to kill a horse...and we eat the meat with good stomachs as ever we did fat beef in the States.”



October 3:

"Canoes Nearly Finished"


Another cool morning with an easterly wind. All the men were feeling better, and most were now working to complete the "nearly finished" five canoes. Whitehouse penned: “The men employed working on the canoes went on, with much better spirit than they had done for several days past, being refreshed by the horse meat that they had [ate].” The Indians who visited from below departed early.



October 4:

"Dried Fish and Roots"


A eastern mountain wind helped to cool an otherwise warm day. Clark “displeased an Indian by refusing him a piece of tobacco” he had stolen from their storage. Three natives from the Columbia River region visited the Corps. Frazier and Goodrich purchased more dried fish and roots from a local village. A few in the party purchased a “fat dog” (Ordway), the first time they've consumed canine meat. With the horse now consumed, the party is down to these meager provisions and, as Clark noted, that’s “disagreeable” to their stomachs (as most are still recovering from food poisoning). Lewis remained sick but is now walking a little.



October 5:

"Two Nez Perce Guides"


It's another cool morning, with frost at their camp on the Clearwater River. The men collected all their horses, branded and cropped their manes. They had 38 total. The Nez Perce agreed to watch and care for them until the Corps returned. Clark gave the Indians who said they'd care for their horses a few gifts, including a knife. The hills are high and rugged, the woods too dry to hunt deer...the only big game in their area. They traded beads with several Indian women for dried fish and roots.

Clark journaled: “Nothing to eat but dried roots and dried fish. Capt. Lewis and myself ate a supper of roots boiled, which filled us so full of wind that we were scarcely able to breath all night [from] the effects of it.” Lewis’ stomach illness worsened.

The Corps “lanced” or “dressed off” the final two canoes. One leaked a little but the other proved “a very good one.” They have four large canoes and one small one. Two Nez Perce chiefs—Twisted Hair and Tetoharsky—agreed to guide the Corps further downriver.



October 6:

"Ready for Departure"


The winds from the mountains continued to blow cold during the night. The men buried their saddles, black powder and some ammunition. All the canoes (and oars) were finished and ready to roll. Clark was sick with stomach and bowel pains. He suspected it’s from the roots they consumed the night before. A hunter killed two ducks.