Infomotions, Inc.Tenting To-night A Chronicle of Sport and Adventure in Glacier Park and the Cascade Mountains / Rinehart, Mary Roberts, 1876-1958



Author: Rinehart, Mary Roberts, 1876-1958
Title: Tenting To-night A Chronicle of Sport and Adventure in Glacier Park and the Cascade Mountains
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): glacier; lake; dan devore; trout; glacier park; bowman lake; lake chelan; trail; outfit; flathead river; camp; park; glacier national; cascade pass; pack; lyman lake; forest; trip; mountain
Contributor(s): Swinburne, Gwendolen H. [Compiler]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 36,606 words (really short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 68 (easy)
Identifier: etext19475
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Title: Tenting To-night
       A Chronicle of Sport and Adventure in Glacier Park and the
       Cascade Mountains

Author: Mary Roberts Rinehart

Release Date: October 5, 2006 [EBook #19475]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

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TENTING
TO-NIGHT


_A Chronicle of Sport and Adventure in Glacier Park and the Cascade
Mountains by_

MARY ROBERTS RINEHART


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

[Illustration]

          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
          HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
          =The Riverside Press Cambridge=
          1918




          COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE
          COMPANY (COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE)

          COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY MARY ROBERTS RINEHART

          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

          _Published April 1918_


[Illustration: _Chiwawa Mountain and Lyman Lake_]



CONTENTS


             I. THE TRAIL                                      1

            II. THE BIG ADVENTURE                             10

           III. BRIDGE CREEK TO BOWMAN LAKE                   24

            IV. A FISHERMAN'S PARADISE                        39

             V. TO KINTLA LAKE                                50

            VI. RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE FLATHEAD            63

           VII. THE SECOND DAY ON THE FLATHEAD                71

          VIII. THROUGH THE FLATHEAD CANON                    80

            IX. THE ROUND-UP AT KALISPELL                     90

             X. OFF FOR CASCADE PASS                         100

            XI. LAKE CHELAN TO LYMAN LAKE                    111

           XII. CLOUDY PASS AND THE AGNES CREEK VALLEY       129

          XIII. CANON FISHING AND A TELEGRAM                 142

           XIV. DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE                         150

            XV. DOUBTFUL LAKE                                158

           XVI. OVER CASCADE PASS                            167

          XVII. OUT TO CIVILIZATION                          180




ILLUSTRATIONS

  CHIWAWA MOUNTAIN AND LYMAN LAKE                       _Frontispiece_

  TRAIL OVER GUNSIGHT PASS, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK                    2
  _Photograph by Fred H. Kiser, Portland, Oregon_

  THE AUTHOR, THE MIDDLE BOY, AND THE LITTLE BOY                     6

  LOOKING SOUTH FROM POLLOCK PASS, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK            14
  _Photograph by Kiser Photo Co._

  LAKE ELIZABETH FROM PTARMIGAN PASS, GLACIER NATIONAL PARK         22
  _Photograph by A. J. Baker, Kalispell, Mont._

  A MOUNTAIN LAKE IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK                          36
  _Photograph by Fred H. Kiser_

  GETTING READY FOR THE DAY'S FISHING AT CAMP ON BOWMAN LAKE        40
  _Photograph by R. E. Marble, Glacier Park_

  THE HORSES IN THE ROPE CORRAL                                     44
  _Photograph by A. J. Baker_

  BEAR-GRASS                                                        56
  _Photograph by Fred H. Kiser_

  A GLACIER PARK LAKE                                               60
  _Photograph by A. J. Baker_

  STILL-WATER FISHING                                               68
  _Photograph by R. E. Marble_

  MOUNTAINS OF GLACIER NATIONAL PARK FROM THE NORTH FORK OF THE
    FLATHEAD RIVER                                                  74
  _Photograph by R. E. Marble_

  THE BEGINNING OF THE CANON, MIDDLE FORK OF THE FLATHEAD RIVER     82
  _Photograph by R. E. Marble_

  PI-TA-MAK-AN, OR RUNNING EAGLE (MRS. RINEHART), WITH TWO OTHER
    MEMBERS OF THE BLACKFOOT TRIBE                                  96
  _Photograph by Haynes, St. Paul_

  A HIGH MOUNTAIN MEADOW                                           100
  _Photograph by L. D. Lindsley, Lake Chelan_

  SITTING BULL MOUNTAIN, LAKE CHELAN                               112
  _Photograph by L. D. Lindsley_

  LOOKING OUT OF ICE-CAVE, LYMAN GLACIER                           126
  _Photograph by L. D. Lindsley_

  LOOKING SOUTHEAST FROM CLOUDY PASS                               132
  _Photograph by L. D. Lindsley_

  STREAM FISHING                                                   144
  _Photograph by Haynes, St. Paul_

  MOUNTAIN MILES: THE TRAIL UP SWIFTCURRENT PASS, GLACIER NATIONAL
    PARK                                                           152
  _Photograph by A. J. Baker_

  WHERE THE ROCK-SLIDES START (GLACIER NATIONAL PARK)              156
  _Photograph by A. J. Baker_

  SWITCHBACKS ON THE TRAIL (GLACIER NATIONAL PARK)                 160
  _Photograph by Fred H. Kiser_

  WATCHING THE PACK-TRAIN COMING DOWN AT CASCADE PASS              174

  A FIELD OF BEAR-GRASS                                            182
  _Photograph by Fred H. Kiser_




TENTING TO-NIGHT




I

THE TRAIL


The trail is narrow--often but the width of the pony's feet, a tiny path
that leads on and on. It is always ahead, sometimes bold and wide, as
when it leads the way through the forest; often narrow, as when it hugs
the sides of the precipice; sometimes even hiding for a time in river
bottom or swamp, or covered by the debris of last winter's avalanche.
Sometimes it picks its precarious way over snow-fields which hang at
dizzy heights, and again it flounders through mountain streams, where
the tired horses must struggle for footing, and do not even dare to
stoop and drink.

It is dusty; it is wet. It climbs; it falls; it is beautiful and
terrible. But always it skirts the coast of adventure. Always it goes
on, and always it calls to those that follow it. Tiny path that it is,
worn by the feet of earth's wanderers, it is the thread which has knit
together the solid places of the earth. The path of feet in the
wilderness is the onward march of life itself.

City-dwellers know nothing of the trail. Poor followers of the
pavements, what to them is this six-inch path of glory? Life for many of
them is but a thing of avenues and streets, fixed and unmysterious, a
matter of numbers and lights and post-boxes and people. They know
whither their streets lead. There is no surprise about them, no sudden
discovery of a river to be forded, no glimpse of deer in full flight or
of an eagle poised over a stream. No heights, no depths. To know if it
rains at night, they look down at shining pavements; they do not hold
their faces to the sky.

[Illustration: _Trail over Gunsight Pass, Glacier National Park_]

Now, I am a near-city-dweller. For ten months in the year, I am
particular about mail-delivery, and eat an evening dinner, and
occasionally agitate the matter of having a telephone in every room in
the house. I run the usual gamut of dinners, dances, and bridge, with
the usual country-club setting as the spring goes on. And each May I
order a number of flimsy frocks, in the conviction that I have done all
the hard going I need to, and that this summer we shall go to the New
England coast. And then--about the first of June there comes a day when
I find myself going over the fishing-tackle unearthed by the spring
house-cleaning and sorting out of inextricable confusion the family's
supply of sweaters, old riding-breeches, puttees, rough shoes,
trout-flies, quirts, ponchos, spurs, reels, and old felt hats. Some of
the hats still have a few dejected flies fastened to the ribbon,
melancholy hackles, sadly ruffled Royal Coachmen, and here and there the
determined gayety of the Parmachene Belle.

I look at my worn and rubbed high-laced boots, at my riding-clothes,
snagged with many briers and patched from many saddles, at my old brown
velours hat, survival of many storms in many countries. It has been
rained on in Flanders, slept on in France, and has carried many a
refreshing draft to my lips in my "ain countree."

I put my fishing-rod together and give it a tentative flick across the
bed, and--I am lost.

The family professes surprise, but it is acquiescent. And that night, or
the next day, we wire that we will not take the house in Maine, and I
discover that the family has never expected to go to Maine, but has been
buying more trout-flies right along.

As a family, we are always buying trout-flies. We buy a great many. I do
not know what becomes of them. To those whose lives are limited to the
unexciting sport of buying golf-balls, which have endless names but no
variety, I will explain that the trout do not eat the flies, but merely
attempt to. So that one of the eternal mysteries is how our flies
disappear. I have seen a junior Rinehart start out with a boat, a rod,
six large cakes of chocolate, and four dollars' worth of flies, and
return a few hours later with one fish, one Professor, one Doctor, and
one Black Moth minus the hook. And the boat had not upset.

June, after the decision, becomes a time of subdued excitement. For
fear we shall forget to pack them, things are set out early. Stringers
hang from chandeliers, quirts from doorknobs. Shoe-polish and disgorgers
and adhesive plaster litter the dressing-tables. Rows of boots line the
walls. And, in the evenings, those of us who are at home pore over maps
and lists.

This last year, our plans were ambitious. They took in two complete
expeditions, each with our own pack-outfit. The first was to take
ourselves, some eight packers, guides, and cooks, and enough horses to
carry our outfit--thirty-one in all--through the western and practically
unknown side of Glacier National Park, in northwestern Montana, to the
Canadian border. If we survived that, we intended to go by rail to the
Chelan country in northern Washington and there, again with a
pack-train, cross the Cascades over totally unknown country to Puget
Sound.

We did both, to the eternal credit of our guides and horses.

The family, luckily for those of us who have the _Wanderlust_, is four
fifths masculine. I am the odd fifth--unlike the story of King George
the Fifth and Queen Mary the other four fifths. It consists of the head
of the family, to be known hereafter as the Head, the Big Boy, the
Middle Boy, the Little Boy, and myself. As the Big Boy is very, very
big, and the Little Boy is not really very little, being on the verge of
long trousers, we make a comfortable traveling unit. And, because we
were leaving the beaten path and going a-gypsying, with a new camp each
night no one knew exactly where, the party gradually augmented.

First, we added an optimist named Bob. Then we added a "movie"-man,
called Joe for short and because it was his name, and a "still"
photographer, who was literally still most of the time. Some of these
pictures are his. He did some beautiful work, but he really needed a
mouth only to eat with.

(The "movie"-man is unpopular with the junior members of the family just
now, because he hid his camera in the bushes and took the Little Boy
in a state of goose flesh on the bank of Bowman Lake.)

[Illustration: _The Author, the Middle Boy, and the Little Boy_]

But, of course, we have not got to Bowman Lake yet.

During the year before, I had ridden over the better-known trails of
Glacier Park with Howard Eaton's riding party, and when I had crossed
the Gunsight Pass, we had looked north and west to a great country of
mountains capped with snow, with dense forests on the lower slopes and
in the valleys.

"What is it?" I had asked the ranger who had accompanied us across the
pass.

"It is the west side of Glacier Park," he explained. "It is not yet
opened up for tourist travel. Once or twice in a year, a camping party
goes up through this part of the park. That is all."

"What is it like?" I asked.

"Wonderful!"

So, sitting there on my horse, I made up my mind that sometime _I_ would
go up the west side of Glacier Park to the Canadian border.

Roughly speaking, there are at least six hundred square miles of
Glacier Park on the west side that are easily accessible, but that are
practically unknown. Probably the area is more nearly a thousand square
miles. And this does not include the fastnesses of the range itself. It
comprehends only the slopes on the west side to the border-line of the
Flathead River.

The reason for the isolation of the west side of Glacier Park is easily
understood. The park is divided into two halves by the Rocky Mountain
range, which traverses it from northwest to southeast. Over it there is
no single wagon-road of any sort between the Canadian border and Helena,
perhaps two hundred and fifty miles. A railroad crosses at the Marias
Pass. But from that to the Canadian line, one hundred miles, travel from
the east is cut off over the range, except by trail.

To reach the west side of Glacier Park at the present time, the tourist,
having seen the wonders of the east side, must return to Glacier Park
Station, take a train over the Marias Pass, and get out at Belton. Even
then, he can only go by boat up to Lewis's Hotel on Lake McDonald, a
trifling distance. There are no hotels beyond Lewis's, and no roads.

Naturally, this tremendous area is unknown and unvisited.

It is being planned, however, by the new Department of National Parks to
build a road this coming year along Lake McDonald. Eventually, this
much-needed highway will connect with the Canadian roads, and thus
indirectly with Banff and Lake Louise. The opening-up of the west side
of Glacier Park will make it perhaps the most unique of all our parks,
as it is undoubtedly the most magnificent. The grandeur of the east side
will be tempered by the more smiling and equally lovely western slopes.
And when, between the east and the west sides, there is constructed the
great motor-highway which will lead across the range, we shall have,
perhaps, the most scenic motor-road in the United States--until, in the
fullness of time, we build another road across Cascade Pass in
Washington.




II

THE BIG ADVENTURE


Came at last the day to start west. In spite of warnings, we found that
our irreducible minimum of luggage filled five wardrobe-trunks. In vain
we went over our lists and cast out such bulky things as extra
handkerchiefs and silk socks and fancy neckties and toilet-silver. We
started with all five. It was boiling hot; the sun beat in at the
windows of the transcontinental train and stifled us. Over the prairies,
dust blew in great clouds, covering the window-sills with white. The Big
Boy and the Middle Boy and the Little Boy referred scornfully to the
flannels and sweaters on which I had been so insistent. The Head slept
across the continent. The Little Boy counted prairie-dogs.

Then, almost suddenly, we were in the mountains--for the Rockies seem to
rise out of a great plain. The air was stimulating. There had been a
great deal of snow last winter, and the wind from the ice-capped peaks
overhead blew down and chilled us. We threw back our heads and breathed.

Before going to Belton for our trip with the pack-outfit, we rode again
for two weeks with the Howard Eaton party through the east side of the
park, crossing again those great passes, for each one of which, like the
Indians, the traveler counts a _coup_--Mount Morgan, a mile high and the
width of an army-mule on top; old Piegan, under the shadow of the Garden
Wall; Mount Henry, where the wind blows always a steady gale. We had
scaled Dawson with the aid of ropes, since snowslides covered the trail,
and crossed the Cut Bank in a hailstorm. Like the noble Duke of York,
Howard Eaton had led us "up a hill one day and led us down again." Only,
he did it every day.

Once, in my notebook, I wrote on top of a mountain my definition of a
mountain pass. I have used it before, but because it was written with
shaking fingers and was torn from my very soul, I cannot better it. This
is what I wrote:--

          A pass is a blood-curdling spot up which one's
          horse climbs like a goat and down the other side
          of which it slides as you lead it, trampling ever
          and anon on a tender part of your foot. A pass is
          the highest place between two peaks. A pass is not
          an opening, but a barrier which you climb with
          chills and descend with prayer. A pass is a thing
          which you try to forget at the time, and which you
          boast about when you get back home.

At last came the day when we crossed the Gunsight Pass and, under Sperry
Glacier, looked down and across to the north and west. It was sunset and
cold. The day had been a long and trying one. We had ridden across an
ice-field which sloped gently off--into China, I dare say. I did not
look over. Our horses were weary, and we were saddle-sore and hungry.

Pete, our big guide, whose name is really not Pete at all, waved an airy
hand toward the massed peaks beyond--the land of our dreams.

"Well," he said, "there it is!"

And there it was.

       *       *       *       *       *

Getting a pack-outfit ready for a long trip into the wilderness is a
serious matter. We were taking thirty-one horses, guides, packers, and
a cook. But we were doing more than that--we were taking two boats! This
was Bob's idea. Any highly original idea, such as taking boats where not
even tourists had gone before, or putting eggs on a bucking horse, or
carrying grapefruit for breakfast into the wilderness, was Bob's idea.

"You see, I figure it out like this," he said, when, on our arrival at
Belton, we found the boats among our equipment: "If we can get those
boats up to the Canadian line and come down the Flathead rapids all the
way, it will only take about four days on the river. It's a stunt that's
never been pulled off."

"Do you mean," I said, "that we are going to run four days of rapids
that have never been run?"

"That's it."

I looked around. There, in a group, were the Head and the Big Boy and
the Middle Boy and the Little Boy. And a fortune-teller at Atlantic City
had told me to beware of water!

"At the worst places," the Optimist continued, "we can send Joe ahead
in one boat with the 'movie' outfit, and get you as you come along."

"I dare say," I observed, with some bitterness. "Of course we may upset.
But if we do, I'll try to go down for the third time in front of the
camera."

But even then the boats were being hoisted into a wagon-bed filled with
hay. And I knew that I was going to run four days of rapids. It was
written.

It was a bright morning. In a corral, the horses were waiting to be
packed. Rolls of blankets, crates of food, and camping-utensils lay
everywhere. The Big Boy marshaled the fishing-tackle. Bill, the cook,
was searching the town for the top of an old stove to bake on. We had
provided two reflector ovens, but he regarded them with suspicion. They
would, he suspected, not do justice to his specialty, the corn-meal
saddle-bag, a sort of sublimated hot cake.

I strolled to the corral and cast a horsewoman's eye on my mount.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY KISER PHOTO CO.
  _Looking south from Pollock Pass, Glacier National Park_]

"He looks like a very nice horse," I said. "He's quite handsome."

Pete tightened up the cinch.

"Yes," he observed; "he's all right. He's a pretty good mare."

The Head was wandering around with lists in his hand. His conversation
ran something like this:--

"Pocket-flashes, chocolate, jam, medicine-case, reels, landing-nets,
cigarettes, tooth-powder, slickers, matches."

He was always accumulating matches. One moment, a box of matches would
be in plain sight and the next it had disappeared. He became a sort of
match-magazine, so that if anybody had struck him violently, in almost
any spot, he would have exploded.

Hours went by. The sun was getting high and hot. The crowd which had
been watching gradually disappeared about its business. The two
boats--big, sturdy river-boats they were--had rumbled along toward the
wilderness, one on top of the other, with George Locke and Mike Shannon
as pilots, watching for breakers ahead. In the corral, our supplies
were being packed on the horses, Bill Shea and Pete, Tom Sullivan and
Tom Farmer and their assistants working against time. In crates were our
cooking-utensils, ham, bacon, canned salmon, jam, flour, corn-meal,
eggs, baking-powder, flies, rods, and reels, reflector ovens, sunburn
lotion, coffee, cocoa, and so on. Cocoa is the cowboy's friend.
Innumerable blankets, "tarp" beds, and war-sacks lay rolled ready for
the pack-saddles. The cook was declaiming loudly that some one had
opened his pack and taken out his cleaver.

For a pack-outfit, the west side of Glacier Park is ideal. The east side
is much the best so far for those who wish to make short trips along the
trails into the mountains, although as yet only a small part,
comparatively, of the eastern wonderland is open. There, one may spend a
day, or several days, in the midst of the wildest possible country and
yet return at night to excellent hotels.

On the west side, however, a pack-outfit is necessary. There is but one
hotel, Lewis's, on Lake McDonald. To get to the Canadian line, there
must be camping facilities for at least eight days if there are no
stop-overs. And not to stop over is to lose the joy of the trip. It is
an ideal two to three weeks' jaunt with a pack-train. A woman who can
sit a horse--and every one can ride in a Western saddle--a woman can
make the land trip not only with comfort but with joy. That is, a woman
who likes the outdoors.

What did we wear, that bright morning when, all ready at last, the cook
on the chuck-wagon, the boats ambling ahead, with Bill Hossick, the
teamster, driving the long line of heavily packed horses and our own
saddlers lined up for the adventure, we moved out on to the trail?

Well, the men wore khaki riding-trousers and flannel shirts,
broad-brimmed felt hats, army socks drawn up over the cuff of the
breeches, and pack-shoes. A pack-shoe is one in which the leather of the
upper part makes the sole also, without a seam. On to this soft sole is
sewed a heavy leather one. The pack-shoe has a fastened tongue and is
waterproof.

And I? I had not counted on the "movie"-man, and I was dressed for
comfort in the woods. I had buckskin riding-breeches and high boots, and
over my thin riding-shirt I wore a cloth coat. I had packed in my warbag
a divided skirt also, and a linen suit, for hot days, of breeches and
coat. But of this latter the least said the better. It betrayed me and,
in portions, deserted me.

All of us carried tin drinking-cups, which vied with the bells on the
pack-animals for jingle. Most of us had sweaters or leather
wind-jammers. The guides wore "chaps" of many colors, boots with high
heels, which put our practical packs in the shade, and gay silk
handkerchiefs.

Joe was to be a detachable unit. As a matter of fact, he became detached
rather early in the game, having been accidentally given a bucker. It
was on the second day, I think, that his horse buried his head between
his fore legs, and dramatized one of the best bits of the trip when Joe
was totally unable to photograph it.

He had his own guide and extra horse for the camera. It had been our
expectation that, at the most hazardous parts of the journey, he would
perch on some crag and show us courageously risking our necks to have a
good time. But on the really bad places he had his own life to save, and
he never fully trusted Maud, I think, after the first day. Maud was his
horse.

Besides, when he did climb to some aerie, and photographed me, for
instance, in a sort of Napoleon-crossing-the-Alps attitude, sitting my
horse on the brink of eternity and being reassured from safety by the
Optimist--outside the picture, of course--the developed film flattened
out the landscape. So that, although I was on the edge of a canon a mile
deep, I might as well have been posing on the bank of the Ohio River.

On the east side of the Park I had ridden Highball. It is not
particularly significant that I started the summer on Highball and ended
it on Budweiser. Now I had Angel, a huge white mare with a pink nose, a
loving disposition, and a gait that kept me swallowing my tongue for
fear I would bite the end off it. The Little Boy had Prince, a small
pony which ran exactly like an Airedale dog, and in every canter beat
out the entire string. The Head had H----, and considered him well
indicated. One bronco was called "Bronchitis." The top horse of the
string was Bill Shea's Dynamite, according to Bill Shea. There were
Dusty, Shorty, Sally Goodwin, Buffalo Tom, Chalk-Eye, Comet, and
Swapping Tater--Swapping Tater being a pacer who, when he hit the
ground, swapped feet. Bob had Sister Sarah.

At last, everything was ready. The pack-train got slowly under way. We
leaped into our saddles--"leaped" being a figurative term which grew
more and more figurative as time went on and we grew saddle-weary and
stiff--and, passing the pack-train on a canter, led off for the
wilderness.

All that first day we rode, now in the sun, now in deep forest.
Luncheon-time came, but the pack-train was far behind. We waited, but
we could not hear so much as the tinkle of its bells. So we munched
cakes of chocolate from the pockets of our riding-coats and went grimly
on.

The wagon with the boats had made good time. It was several miles along
the wagon-trail before we caught up with it. It had found a quiet harbor
beside the road, and the boatmen were demanding food. We tossed them
what was left of the chocolate and went on.

The presence of a wagon-trail in that empty land, unvisited and unknown,
requires explanation. In the first place, it was not really a road. It
was a trail, and in places barely that. But, sixteen years before, a
road had been cleared through the forest by some people who believed
there was oil near the Canadian line. They cut down trees and built
corduroy bridges. But in sixteen years it has not been used. No wheels
have worn it smooth. It takes its leisurely way, now through wilderness,
now through burnt country where the trees stand stark and dead, now
through prairie or creek-bottom, now up, now down, always with the
range rising abruptly to the east, and with the Flathead River somewhere
to the west.

It will not take much expenditure to make that old wagon-trail into a
good road. It has its faults. It goes down steep slopes--on the second
day out, the chuck-wagon got away, and, fetching up at the bottom, threw
out Bill the cook and nearly broke his neck. It climbs like a cat after
a young robin. It is rocky or muddy or both. But it is, potentially, a
road.

The Rocky Mountains run northwest and southeast, and in numerous basins,
fed by melting glaciers and snow-fields, are deep and quiet lakes. These
lakes, on the west side, discharge their overflow through roaring and
precipitous streams to the Flathead, which flows south and east. While
our general direction was north, it was our intention to turn off east
and camp at the different lakes, coming back again to the wagon-trail to
resume our journey.

[Illustration: _Lake Elizabeth from Ptarmigan Pass, Glacier National
Park_]

Therefore, it became necessary, day after day, to take our boats off the
wagon-road and haul them along foot-trails none too good. The log of the
two boats is in itself a thrilling story. There were days and days
when the wagon was mired, when it stuck in the fords of streams or in
soft places on the trail. It was a land flotilla by day, and, with its
straw, a couch at night. And there came, toward the end of the journey,
that one nerve-racking day when, over a sixty-foot cliff down a
foot-trail, it was necessary to rope wagon, boats, and all, to get the
boats into the Flathead River.

But all this was before us then. We only knew it was summer, that the
days were warm and the nights cool, that the streams were full of trout,
that such things as telegraphs and telephones were falling far in our
rear, and that before us was the Big Adventure.




III

BRIDGE CREEK TO BOWMAN LAKE


The first night we camped at Bridge Creek on a river-flat. Beside us,
the creek rolled and foamed. The horses, in their rope corral, lay down
and rolled in sheer ecstasy when their heavy packs were removed. The
cook set up his sheet-iron stove beside the creek, built a wood fire,
lifted the stove over it, fried meat, boiled potatoes, heated beans, and
made coffee while the tents were going up. From a thicket near by came
the thud of an axe as branches were cut for bough beds.

I have slept on all kinds of bough beds. They may be divided into three
classes. There is the one which is high in the middle and slopes down at
the side--there is nothing so slippery as pine-needles--so that by
morning you are quite likely to be not only off the bed but out of the
tent. And there is the bough bed made by the guide when he is in a great
hurry, which consists of large branches and not very many needles. So
that in the morning, on rising, one is as furrowed as a waffle off the
iron. And there is the third kind, which is the real bough bed, but
which cannot be tossed off in a moment, like a poem, but must be the
result of calculation, time, and much labor. It is to this bough bed
that I shall some day indite an ode.

This is the way you go about it: First, you take a large and healthy
woodsman with an axe, who cuts down a tree--a substantial tree. Because
this is the frame of your bed. But on no account do this yourself. One
of the joys of a bough bed is seeing somebody else build it.

The tree is an essential. It is cut into six-foot lengths--unless one is
more than six feet long. If the bed is intended for one, two side pieces
with one at the head and one at the foot are enough, laid flat on a
level place, making a sort of boxed-in rectangle. If the bed is intended
for two, another log down the center divides it into two bunks and
prevents quarreling.

Now begins the real work of constructing the bough bed. If one is a good
manager, while the frame is being made, the younger members of the
family have been performing the loving task of getting the branches
together. When a sufficient number of small branches has been
accumulated, this number varying from one ton to three, judging by size
and labor, the bough bed is built by the simple expedient of sticking
the branches into the enclosed space like flowers into a vase. They must
be packed very closely, stem down. This is a slow and not particularly
agreeable task for one's loving family and friends, owing to the
tendency of pine-and balsam-needles to jag. Indeed, I have known it to
happen that, after a try or two, some one in the outfit is delegated to
the task of official bed-maker, and a slight coldness is noticeable when
one refers to dusk and bedtime.

Over these soft and feathery plumes of balsam--soft and feathery only
through six blankets--is laid the bedding, and on this couch the wearied
and saddle-sore tourist may sleep as comfortably as in his grandaunt's
feather bed.

But, dear traveler, it is much simpler to take an air-mattress and a
foot-pump. True, even this has its disadvantages. It is not safe to
stick pins into it while disrobing at night. Occasionally, a faulty
valve lets go, and the sleeper dreams he is falling from the Woolworth
Tower. But lacking a sturdy woodsman and a loving family to collect
branches, I advise the air-bed.

Fishing at Bridge Creek, that first evening, was poor. We caught dozens
of small trout. But it would have taken hundreds to satisfy us after our
lunchless day, and there were other reasons.

One casts for trout. There is no sitting on a mossy stone and watching a
worm guilefully struggling to attract a fish to the hooks. No; one
casts.

Now, I have learned to cast fairly well. On the lawn at home, or in the
middle of a ten-acre lot, cleared, or the center of a lake, I can put
out quite a lot of line. In one cast out of three, I can drop a fly so
that it appears to be committing suicide--which is the correct way. But
in a thicket I am lost. I hold the woman's record for getting the hook
in my hair or the lobe of the Little Boy's ear. I have hung fish high in
trees more times than phonographs have hanged Danny Deever. I can, under
such circumstances (i.e., the thicket), leave camp with a rod, four
six-foot leaders, an expensive English line, and a smile, and return an
hour later with a six-inch trout, a bandaged hand, a hundred and eighty
mosquito bites, no leaders, and no smile.

So we fished little that first evening, and, on the discovery that
candles had been left out of the cook's outfit, we retired early to our
bough beds, which were, as it happened that night, of class A.

There was a deer-lick on our camp-ground there at Bridge Creek, and
during the night deer came down and strayed through the camp. One of the
guides saw a black bear also. We saw nothing. Some day I shall write an
article called: "Wild Animals I Have Missed."

We had made fourteen miles the first day, with a late start. It was not
bad, but the next day we determined to do better. At five o'clock we
were up, and at five-thirty tents were down and breakfast under way. We
had had a visitor the night before--that curious anomaly, a young
hermit. He had been a very well-known pugilist in the light-weight class
and, his health failing, he had sought the wilderness. There he had
lived for seven years alone.

We asked him if he never cared to see people. But he replied that trees
were all the company he wanted. Deer came and browsed around his tiny
shack there in the woods. All the trout he could use played in his front
garden. He had a dog and a horse, and he wanted nothing else. He came to
see us off the next morning, and I think we amused him. We seemed to
need so much. He stared at our thirty-one horses, sixteen of them packed
with things he had learned to live without. But I think he rather hated
to see us go. We had brought a little excitement into his quiet life.

The first bough bed had been a failure. For--note you--I had not then
learned of the bough bed _de luxe_. This information, which I have given
you so freely, dear reader, what has it not cost me in sleepless nights
and family coldness and aching muscles!

So I find this note in my daily journal, written that day on horseback,
and therefore not very legible:--

          Mem: After this, must lie over the camp-ground
          until I find a place that fits me to sleep on.
          Then have the tent erected over it.

There was a little dissension in the party that morning, Joe having
wakened in the night while being violently shoved out under the edge of
his tent by his companion, who was a restless sleeper. But ill-temper
cannot live long in the open. We settled to the swinging walk of the
trail. In the mountain meadows there were carpets of flowers. They
furnished highly esthetic if not very substantial food for our horses
during our brief rests. They were very brief, those rests. All too soon,
Pete would bring Angel to me, and I would vault into the
saddle--extremely figurative, this--and we would fall into line, Pete
swaying with the cowboy's roll in the saddle, the Optimist bouncing
freely, Joe with an eye on that pack-horse which carried the delicacies
of the trip, the Big Boy with long legs that almost touched the ground,
the Middle Boy with eyes roving for adventure, the Little Boy deadly
serious and hoping for a bear. And somewhere in the rear, where he could
watch all responsibilities and supply the smokers with matches, the
Head.

That second day, we crossed Dutch Ridge and approached the Flathead.
What I have called here the Flathead is known locally as the North Fork.
The pack-outfit had started first. Long before we caught up with them,
we heard the bells on the lead horses ringing faintly.

Passing a pack-outfit on the trail is a difficult matter. The wise
little horses, traveling free and looked after only by a wrangler or
two, do not like to be passed. One of two things happens when the
saddle-outfit tries to pass the pack. Either the pack starts on a smart
canter ahead, or it turns wildly off into the forest to the
accompaniment of much complaint by the drivers. A pack-horse loose on a
narrow trail is a dangerous matter. With its bulging pack, it worms its
way past anything on the trail, and bad accidents have followed. Here,
however, there was room for us to pass.

Tiny gophers sat up beside the trail and squeaked at us. A coyote
yelped. Bumping over fallen trees, creaking and groaning and swaying,
came the boat-wagon. Mike had found a fishing-line somewhere, and
pretended to cast from the bow.

"Ship ahoy!" he cried, when he saw us, and his instructions to the
driver were purely nautical. "Hard astern!" he yelled, going down a
hill, and instead of "Gee" or "Haw" he shouted "Port" or "Starboard."

An acquaintance of George and Mike has built a boat which is intended to
go up-stream by the force of the water rushing against it and turning a
propeller. We had a spirited discussion about it.

"Because," as one of the men objected, "it's all right until you get to
the head of the stream. Then what are you going to do?" he asked.
"She'll only go up--she won't go down."

Pete, the chief guide, was a German. He was rather uneasy for fear we
intended to cross the Canadian line. But we reassured him. A big blond
in a wide-flapping Stetson, black Angora chaps, and flannel shirt with a
bandana, he led our little procession into the wilderness and sang as he
rode. The Head frequently sang with him. And because the only song the
Head knew very well in German was the "Lorelei," we had it hour after
hour. Being translated to one of the boatmen, he observed: "I have known
girls like that. I guess I'd leave most any boat for them. But I'd leave
this boat for most any girl."

We were approaching the mountains, climbing slowly but steadily. We
passed through Lone Tree Prairie, where one great pine dominated the
country for miles around, and stopped by a small river for luncheon.

Of all the meals that we took in the open, perhaps luncheon was the most
delightful. Condensed milk makes marvelous cocoa. We opened tins of
things, consulted maps, eased the horses' cinches, rested our own tired
bodies for an hour or so. For the going, while much better than we had
expected, was still slow. It was rare, indeed, to be able to get the
horses out of a walk. And there is no more muscle-racking occupation
than riding a walking horse hour after hour through a long day.

By the end of the second day we were well away from even that remote
part of civilization from which we had started, and a terrible fact was
dawning on us. The cook did not like us!

Now, we all have our small vanities, and mine has always been my success
with cooks. I like cooks. As time goes on, I am increasingly dependent
on cooks. I never fuss a cook, or ask how many eggs a cake requires, or
remark that we must be using the lard on the hardwood floors. I never
make any of the small jests on that order, with which most housewives
try to reduce the cost of living.

No; I really go out of my way to ignore the left-overs, and not once on
this trip had I so much as mentioned dish-towels or anything unpleasant.
I had seen my digestion slowly going with a course of delicious but
indigestible saddle-bags, which were all we had for bread.

But--I was failing. Bill unpacked and cooked and packed up again and
rode on the chuck-wagon. But there was something wrong. Perhaps it was
the fall out of the wagon. Perhaps we were too hungry. We were that, I
know. Perhaps he looked ahead through the vista of days and saw that
formidable equipment of fishing-tackle, and mentally he was counting the
fish to clean and cook and clean and cook and clean and--

The center of a camping-trip is the cook. If, in the spring, men's
hearts turn to love, in the woods they turn to food. And cooking is a
temperamental art. No unhappy cook can make a souffle. Not, of course,
that we had souffle.

A camp cook should be of a calm and placid disposition. He has the
hardest job that I know of. He cooks with inadequate equipment on a
tiny stove in the open, where the air blows smoke into his face and
cinders into his food. He must cook either on his knees or bending over
to within a foot or so of the ground. And he must cook moving, as it
were. Worse than that, he must cook not only for the party but for a
hungry crowd of guides and packers that sits around in a circle and
watches him, and urges him, and gets under his feet, and, if he is
unpleasant, takes his food fairly out of the frying-pan under his eyes
if he is not on guard. He is the first up in the morning and the last in
bed. He has to dry his dishes on anything that comes handy, and then
pack all of his grub on an unreliable horse and start off for the next
eating-ground.

So, knowing all this, and also that we were about a thousand miles from
the nearest employment-office and several days' hard riding from a
settlement, we went to Bill with tribute. We praised his specialties. We
gave him a college lad, turned guide for the summer, to assist him. We
gathered up our own dishes. We inquired for his bruise. But gloom
hung over him like a cloud.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT BY FRED H. KISER, PORTLAND, OREGON
  _A mountain lake in Glacier National Park_]

And he _could_ cook. Well--

We had made a forced trip that day, and the last five miles were
agonizing. In vain we sat sideways on our horses, threw a leg over the
pommel, got off, and walked and led them. Bowman Lake, our objective
point, seemed to recede.

Very few people have ever seen Bowman Lake. Yet I believe it is one of
the most beautiful lakes in this country. It is not large, perhaps only
twelve miles long and from a mile to two miles in width. Save for the
lower end, it lies entirely surrounded by precipitous and inaccessible
peaks--old Rainbow, on whose mist-cap the setting sun paints a true
rainbow day after day, Square Peak, Reuter Peak, and Peabody, named with
the usual poetic instinct of the Geological Survey. They form a natural
wall, round the upper end of the lake, of solid-granite slopes which
rise over a mile in height above it. Perpetual snow covers the tops of
these mountains, and, melting in innumerable waterfalls, feeds the lake
below.

So far as I can discover, we were taking the first boat, with the
possible exception of an Indian canoe long ago, to Bowman Lake. Not the
first boat, either, for the Geological Survey had nailed a few boards
together, and the ruin of this venture was still decaying on the shore.

There was a report that Bowman Lake was full of trout. That was one of
the things we had come to find out. It was for Bowman Lake primarily
that all the reels and flies and other lure had been arranged. If it was
true, then twenty-four square miles of virgin lake were ours to fish
from.




IV

A FISHERMAN'S PARADISE


After our first view of the lake, the instant decision was to make a
permanent camp there for a few days. And this we did. Tents were put up
for the luxurious-minded, three of them. Mine was erected over me, when,
as I had pre-determined, I had found a place where I could lie
comfortably. The men belonging to the outfit, of course, slept under the
stars. A packer, a guide, or the cook with an outfit like ours has,
outside of such clothing as he wears or carries rolled in his blankets,
but one possession--and that is his tarp bed. With such a bed, a can of
tomatoes, and a gun, it is said that a cow-puncher can go anywhere.

Once or twice I was awake in the morning before the cook's loud call of
"Come and get it!" brought us from our tents. I never ceased to view
with interest this line of tarp beds, each with its sleeping occupant,
his hat on the ground beside him, ready, when the call came, to sit up
blinking in the sunlight, put on his hat, crawl out, and be ready for
the day.

The boats had traveled well. The next morning, after a breakfast of ham
and eggs, fried potatoes, coffee, and saddle-bags, we were ready to try
them out.

And here I shall be generous. For this means that next year we shall go
there and find other outfits there before us, and people in the latest
thing in riding-clothes, and fancy trout-creels and probably
sixty-dollar reels.

Bowman Lake is a fisherman's paradise. The first day on the lake we
caught sixty-nine cut-throat trout averaging a pound each, and this
without knowing where to look.

[Illustration: _Getting ready for the day's fishing at camp on Bowman
Lake_]

In the morning, we could see them lying luxuriously on shelving banks in
the sunlight, only three to six feet below the surface. They rose, like
a shot, to the flies. For some reason, George Locke, our fisherman,
resented their taking the Parmachene Belle. Perhaps because the trout of
his acquaintance had not cared for this fly. Or maybe he considered
the Belle not sportsmanly. The Brown Hackle and Royal Coachman did
well, however, and, in later fishing on this lake, we found them more
reliable than the gayer flies. In the afternoon, the shallows failed us.
But in deep holes where the brilliant walls shelved down to incredible
depths, they rose again in numbers.

It was perfectly silent. Doubtless, countless curious wild eyes watched
us from the mountain-slopes and the lake-borders. But we heard not even
the cracking of brushwood under cautious feet. The tracks of deer, where
they had come down to drink, a dead mountain-lion floating in a pool,
the slow flight of an eagle across the face of old Rainbow, and no sound
but the soft hiss of a line as it left the reel--that was Bowman Lake,
that day, as it lay among its mountains. So precipitous are the slopes,
so rank the vegetation where the forest encroaches, that we were put to
it to find a ridge large enough along the shore to serve as a foothold
for luncheon. At last we found a tiny spot, perhaps ten feet long by
three feet wide, and on that we landed. The sun went down; the rainbow
clouds gathered about the peaks above, and still the trout were rising.
When at last we turned for our ten-mile row back to camp, it was almost
dusk.

Now and then, when I am tired and the things of this world press close
and hard, I think of those long days on that lonely lake, and the
home-coming at nightfall. Toward the pin-point of glow--the distant
camp-fire which was our beacon light--the boat moved to the long, tired
sweep of the oars; around us the black forest, the mountains overhead
glowing and pink, as if lighted from within. And then, at last, the
grating of our little boat on the sand--and night.

During the day, our horses were kept in a rope corral. Sometimes they
were quiet; sometimes a spirit of mutiny seemed to possess the entire
thirty-one. There is in such a string always one bad horse that, with
ears back and teeth showing, keeps the entire bunch milling. When such a
horse begins to stir up trouble, the wrangler tries to rope him and get
him out. Mad excitement follows as the noose whips through the air. But
they stay in the corral. So curious is the equine mind that it seldom
realizes that it could duck and go under the rope, or chew it through,
or, for that matter, strain against it and break it.

At night, we turned the horses loose. Almost always in the morning, some
were missing, and had to be rounded up. The greater part, however,
stayed close to the bell-mare. It was our first night at Bowman Lake, I
think, that we heard a mountain-lion screaming. The herd immediately
stampeded. It was far away, so that we could not hear the horses
running. But we could hear the agitated and rapid ringing of the bell,
and, not long after, the great cat went whining by the camp. In the
morning, the horses were far up the mountain-side.

Sometime I shall write that article on "Wild Animals I Have Missed." We
were in a great game-country. But we had little chance to creep up on
anything but deer. The bells of the pack-outfit, our own jingling spurs,
the accouterments, the very tinkle of the tin cups on our saddles must
have made our presence known to all the wilderness-dwellers long before
we appeared.

After we had been at Bowman Lake a day or two, while at breakfast one
morning, we saw two of the guides racing their horses in a mad rush
toward the camp. Just outside, one of the ponies struck a log, turned a
somersault, and threw his rider, who, nothing daunted, came hurrying up
on foot. They had seen a bull moose not far away. Instantly all was
confusion. The horses were not saddled. One of the guides gave me his
and flung me on it. The Little Boy made his first essay at bareback
riding. In a wild scamper we were off, leaping logs and dodging trees.
The Little Boy fell off with a terrific thud, and sat up, looking
extremely surprised. And when we had got there, as clandestinely as a
steam calliope in a circus procession, the moose was gone. I sometimes
wonder, looking back, whether there really was a moose there or not. Did
I or did I not see a twinkle in Bill Shea's eye as he described the
sweep of the moose's horns? I wonder.

[Illustration: _The horses in the rope corral_]

Birds there were in plenty; wild ducks that swam across the lake at
terrific speed as we approached; plover-snipe, tiny gray birds with long
bills and white breasts, feeding along the edge of the lake peacefully
at our very feet; an eagle carrying a trout to her nest. Brown squirrels
came into the tents and ate our chocolate and wandered over us
fearlessly at night. Bears left tracks around the camp. But we saw none
after we left the Lake McDonald country.

Yet this is a great game-country. The warden reports a herd of
thirty-six moose in the neighborhood of Bowman Lake; mountain-lion,
lynx, marten, bear, and deer abound. A trapper built long ago a
substantial log shack on the north shore of the lake, and although it is
many years since it was abandoned, it is still almost weather-proof. All
of us have our dreams. Some day I should like to go back and live for a
little time in that forest cabin. In the long snow-bound days after he
set his traps, the trapper had busied himself fitting it up. A tin can
made his candle-bracket on the wall, axe-hewn planks formed a table and
a bench, and diagonally across a corner he had built his fireplace of
stones from the lakeside.

He had a simple method of constructing a chimney; he merely left without
a roof that corner of the cabin and placed slanting boards in it. He had
made a crane, too, which swung out over the fireplace. All of the Rocky
Mountains were in his back garden, and his front yard was Bowman Lake.

We had had fair weather so far. But now rain set in. Hail came first;
then a steady rain. The tents were cold. We got out our slickers and
stood out around the beach fire in the driving storm, and ate our
breakfast of hot cakes, fried ham, potatoes and onions cooked together,
and hot coffee. The cook rigged up a tarpaulin over his little stove and
stood there muttering and frying. He had refused to don a slicker, and
his red sweater, soaking up the rain, grew heavy with moisture and began
to stretch. Down it crept, down and down.

The cook straightened up from his frying-pan and looked at it. Then he
said:--

          "There, little sweater, don't you cry;
           You'll be a blanket by and by."

This little touch of humor on his part cheered us. Perhaps, seeing how
sporting we were about the weather, he was going to like us after all.
Well--

Our new tents leaked--disheartening little drips that came in and
wandered idly over our blankets, to lodge in little pools here and
there. A cold wind blew. I resorted to that camper's delight--a stone
heated in the camp-fire--to warm my chilled body. We found one or two
magazines, torn and dejected, and read them, advertisements and all. And
still, when it seemed the end of the day, it was not high noon.

By afternoon, we were saturated; the camp steamed. We ate supper after
dark, standing around the camp-fire, holding our tin plates of food in
our hands. The firelight shone on our white faces and dripping slickers.
The horses stood with their heads low against the storm. The men of the
outfit went to bed on the sodden ground with the rain beating in their
faces.

The next morning was gray, yet with a hint of something better. At eight
o'clock, the clouds began to lift. Their solidity broke. The lower edge
of the cloud-bank that had hung in a heavy gray line, straight and
ominous, grew ragged. Shreds of vapor detached themselves and moved off,
grew smaller, disappeared. Overhead, the pall was thinner. Finally it
broke, and a watery ray of sunlight came through. And, at last, old
Rainbow, at the upper end of the lake, poked her granite head through
its vapory sheathings. Angel, my white horse, also eyed the sky, and
then, putting her pink nose under the corral-rope, she gently worked her
way out. The rain was over.

The horses provided endless excitement. Whether at night being driven
off by madly circling riders to the grazing-ground or rounded up into
the corral in the morning, they gave the men all they could do. Getting
them into the corral was like playing pigs-in-clover. As soon as a few
were in, and the wrangler started for others, the captives escaped and
shot through the camp. There were times when the air seemed full of
flying hoofs and twitching ears, of swinging ropes and language.

On the last day at Bowman Lake, we realized that although the weather
had lifted, the cook's spirits had not. He was polite enough--he had
always been polite to the party. But he packed in a dejected manner.
There was something ominous in the very way he rolled up the strawberry
jam in sacking.

The breaking-up of a few days' camp is a busy time. The tents are taken
down at dawn almost over one's head. Blankets are rolled and strapped;
the pack-ponies groan and try to roll their packs off.

Bill Shea quotes a friend of his as contending that the way to keep a
pack-pony cinched is to put his pack on him, throw the diamond hitch,
cinch him as tight as possible, and then take him to a drinking-place
and fill him up with water. However, we did not resort to this.




V

TO KINTLA LAKE


We had washed at dawn in the cold lake. The rain had turned to snow in
the night, and the mountains were covered with a fresh white coating.
And then, at last, we were off, the wagons first, although we were soon
to pass them. We had lifted the boats out of the water and put them
lovingly in their straw again. And Mike and George formed the crew. The
guides were ready with facetious comments.

"Put up a sail!" they called. "Never give up the ship!" was another
favorite. The Head, who has a secret conviction that he should have had
his voice trained, warbled joyously:--

          "I'll stick to the ship, lads;
             You save your lives.
           I've no one to love me;
             You've children and wives."

And so, still in the cool of the morning, our long procession mounted
the rise which some great glacier deposited ages ago at the foot of
what is now Bowman Lake. We turned longing eyes back as we left the lake
to its winter ice and quiet. For never again, probably, will it be ours.
We have given its secret to the world.

At two o'clock we found a ranger's cabin and rode into its enclosure for
luncheon. Breakfast had been early, and we were very hungry. We had gone
long miles through the thick and silent forest, and now we wanted food.
We wanted food more than we wanted anything else in the world. We sat in
a circle on the ground and talked about food.

And, at last, the chuck-wagon drove in. It had had a long, slow trip. We
stood up and gave a hungry cheer, and then--_Bill was gone!_ Some miles
back he had halted the wagon, got out, taken his bed on his back, and
started toward civilization afoot. We stared blankly at the teamster.

"Well," we said; "what did he say?"

"All he said to me was, 'So long,'" said the teamster.

And that was all there was to it. So there we were in the wilderness,
far, far from a cook. The hub of our universe had departed. Or, to make
the figure modern, we had blown out a tire. And we had no spare one.

I made my declaration of independence at once. I could cook; but I would
not cook for that outfit. There were too many; they were too hungry.
Besides, I had come on a pleasure-trip, and the idea of cooking for
fifteen men and thirty-one horses was too much for me. I made some cocoa
and grumbled while I made it. We lunched out of tins and in savage
silence. When we spoke, it was to impose horrible punishments on the
defaulting cook. We hoped he would enjoy his long walk back to
civilization without food.

"Food!" answered one of the boys. "He's got plenty cached in that bed of
his, all right. What you should have done," he said to the teamster,
"was to take his bed from him and let him starve."

In silence we finished our luncheon; in silence, mounted our horses. In
black and hopeless silence we rode on north, farther and farther from
cooks and hotels and tables-d'hote.

We rode for an hour--two hours. And, at last, sitting in a cleared spot,
we saw a man beside the trail. He was the first man we had seen in days.
He was sitting there quite idly. Probably that man to-day thinks that he
took himself there on his own feet, of his own volition. We know better.
He was directed there for our happiness. It was a direct act of
Providence. For we rode up to him and said:--

"Do you know of any place where we can find a cook?"

And this man, who had dropped from heaven, replied:

"_I am a cook._"

So we put him on our extra saddle-horse and took him with us. He cooked
for us with might and main, day and night, until the trip was over. And
if you don't believe this story, write to Norman Lee, Kintla, Montana,
and ask him if it is true. What is more, Norman Lee could cook. He could
cook on his knees, bending over, and backward. He had been in Cuba, in
the Philippines, in the Boxer Rebellion in China, and was now a trapper;
is now a trapper, for, as I write this, Norman Lee is trapping marten
and lynx on the upper left-hand corner of Montana, in one of the empty
spaces of the world.

We were very happy. We caracoled--whatever that may be. We sang and
whistled, and we rode. How we rode! We rode, and rode, and rode, and
rode, and rode, and rode, and rode. And, at last, just when the end of
endurance had come, we reached our night camp.

Here and there upon the west side of Glacier Park are curious, sharply
defined treeless places, surrounded by a border of forest. On Round
Prairie, that night, we pitched our tents and slept the sleep of the
weary, our heads pillowed on war-bags in which the heel of a slipper,
the edge of a razor-case, a bottle of sunburn lotion, and the tooth-end
of a comb made sleeping an adventure.

It was cold. It was always cold at night. But, in the morning, we
wakened to brilliant sunlight, to the new cook's breakfast, and to
another day in the saddle. We were roused at dawn by a shrill yell.

Startled, every one leaped to the opening of his tent and stared out. It
proved, however, not to be a mountain-lion, and was, indeed, nothing
more than one of the packers struggling to get into a wet pair of socks,
and giving vent to his irritation in a wild fury of wrath.

As Pete and Bill Shea and Tom Farmer threw the diamond hitch over the
packs that morning, they explained to me that all camp cooks are of two
kinds--the good cooks, who are evil of disposition, and the tin-can
cooks, who only need a can-opener to be happy. But I lived to be able to
refute that. Norman Lee was a cook, and he was also amiable.

But that morning, in spite of the bright sunlight, started ill. For
seven horses were missing, and before they were rounded up, the guides
had ridden a good forty miles of forest and trail. But, at last, the
wanderers were brought in and we were ready to pack.

On a pack-horse there are two sets of rope. There is a sling-rope,
twenty or twenty-five feet long, and a lash-rope, which should be
thirty-five feet long. The sling-rope holds the side pack; the top pack
is held by the lash-rope and the diamond hitch. When a cow-puncher on a
bronco yells for a diamond, he does not refer to a jewel. He means a
lash-rope. When the diamond is finally thrown, the packer puts his foot
against the horse's face and pulls. The packer pulls, and the horse
grunts. If the packer pulls a shade too much, the horse bucks, and there
is an exciting time in which everybody clears and the horse has the
field--every one, that is, but Joe, whose duty it was to be on the spot
in dangerous moments. Generally, however, by the time he got his camera
set up and everything ready, the bucker was feeding placidly and the
excitement was over.

We rather stole away from Round Prairie that morning. A settler had
taken advantage of a clearing some miles away to sow a little grain.
When our seven truants were found that brilliant morning, they had eaten
up practically the grain-field and were lying gorged in the center of
it.

[Illustration: _Bear-grass_]

So "we folded our tents like the Arabs, and as silently stole away."
(This has to be used in every camping-story, and this seems to be a good
place for it.)

We had come out on to the foothills again on our way to Kintla Lake.
Again we were near the Flathead, and beyond it lay the blue and purple
of the Kootenai Hills. The Kootenais on the left, the Rockies on the
right, we were traveling north in a great flat basin.

The meadow-lands were full of flowers. There was rather less Indian
paint-brush than on the east side of the park. We were too low for much
bear-grass. But there were masses everywhere of June roses, true
forget-me-nots, and larkspur. And everywhere in the burnt areas was the
fireweed, that phoenix plant that springs up from the ashes of dead
trees.

There were, indeed, trees, flowers, birds, fish--everything but fresh
meat. We had had no fresh meat since the first day out. And now my soul
revolted at the sight of bacon. I loathed all ham with a deadly
loathing. I had eaten canned salmon until I never wanted to see it
again. And our provisions were getting low.

Just to the north, where we intended to camp, was Starvation Ridge. It
seemed to be an ominous name.

Norman Lee knew a man somewhere within a radius of one hundred
miles--they have no idea of distance there--who would kill a forty-pound
calf if we would send him word. But it seemed rather too much veal. We
passed it up.

On and on, a hot day, a beautiful trail, but no water. No little
rivulets crossing the path, no icy lakes, no rolling cataracts from the
mountains. We were tanned a blackish purple. We were saddle-sore. One of
the guides had a bottle of liniment for saddle-gall and suggested
rubbing it on the saddle. Packs slipped and were tightened. The mountain
panorama unrolled slowly to our right. And all day long the boatmen
struggled with the most serious problem yet, for the wagon-trail was now
hardly good enough for horses.

Where the trail turned off toward the mountains and Kintla Lake, we met
a solitary horseman. He had ridden sixty miles down and sixty miles back
to get his mail. There is a sort of R.F.D. in this corner of the world,
but it is not what I should call in active operation. It was then
August, and there had been just two mails since the previous Christmas!

Aside from the Geological Survey, very few people, except an occasional
trapper, have ever seen Kintla Lake. It lies, like Bowman Lake, in a
recess in the mountains. We took some photographs of Kintla Peak, taking
our boats to the upper end of the lake for the work. They are, so far as
I can discover, the only photographs ever taken of this great mountain
which towers, like Rainbow, a mile or so above the lake.

Across from Kintla, there is a magnificent range of peaks without any
name whatever. The imagination of the Geological Survey seemed to die
after Starvation Ridge; at least, they stopped there. Kintla is a
curious lemon-yellow color, a great, flat wall tapering to a point and
frequently hidden under a cap of clouds.

But Kintla Lake is a disappointment to the fisherman. With the exception
of one of the guides, who caught a four-pound bull-trout there, repeated
whippings of the lake with the united rods and energies of the entire
party failed to bring a single rise. No fish leaped of an evening; none
lay in the shallows along the bank. It appeared to be a dead lake. I
have a strong suspicion that that guide took away Kintla's only fish,
and left it without hope of posterity.

We rested at Kintla,--for a strenuous time was before us,--rested and
fasted. For supplies were now very low. Starvation Ridge loomed over us,
and starvation stared us in the face. We had counted on trout, and there
were no trout. That night, we supped off our last potatoes and off cakes
made of canned salmon browned in butter. Breakfast would have to be a
repetition minus the potatoes. We were just a little low in our minds.

[Illustration: _A Glacier Park lake_]

The last thing I saw that night was the cook's shadowy figure as he
crouched working over his camp-fire.

And we wakened in the morning to catastrophe. In spite of the fact that
we had starved our horses the day before, in order to keep them grazing
near camp that night, they had wandered. Eleven were missing, and eleven
remained missing. Up the mountain-slopes and through the woods the
wranglers rode like madmen, only to come in on dejected horses with
failure written large all over them. One half of the saddlers were gone;
my Angel had taken wings and flown away.

We sat dejectedly on the bank and fished those dead waters. We wrangled
among ourselves. Around us was the forest, thick and close save for the
tiny clearing, perhaps forty feet by forty feet. There was no open
space, no place to walk, nothing to do but sit and wait.

At last, some of us in the saddle and some afoot, we started. It looked
as though the walkers might have a long hike. But sometime about midday
there was a sound of wild cheering behind us, and the wranglers rode up
with the truants. They had been far up on the mountain-side.

It is curious how certain comparatively unimportant things stand out
about such a trip as this. Of Kintla itself, I have no very vivid
memories. But standing out very sharply is that figure of the cook
crouched over his dying fire, with the black forest all about him. There
is a picture, too, of a wild deer that came down to the edge of the lake
to drink as we sat in the first boat that had ever been on Kintla Lake,
whipping a quiet pool. And there is a clear memory of the assistant
cook, the college boy who was taking his vacation in the wilds,
whistling the Dvo[vr]ak "Humoresque" as he dried the dishes on a piece
of clean sacking.




VI

RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE FLATHEAD


It was now approaching time for Bob's great idea to materialize. For
this, and to this end, had he brought the boats on their strange
land-journey--such a journey as, I fancy, very few boats have ever had
before.

The project was, as I have said, to run the unknown reaches of the North
Fork of the Flathead from the Canadian border to the town of Columbia
Falls.

"The idea is this," Bob had said: "It's never been done before, do you
see? It makes the trip unusual and all that."

"Makes it unusually risky," I had observed.

"Well, there's a risk in pretty nearly everything," he had replied
blithely. "There's a risk in crossing a city street, for that matter.
Riding these horses is a risk, if you come to that. Anyhow, it would
make a good story."

So that is why I did it. And this is the story:

We were headed now for the Flathead just south of the Canadian line. To
reach the river, it was necessary to take the boats through a burnt
forest, without a trail of any sort. They leaped and plunged as the
wagon scrambled, jerked, careened, stuck, detoured, and finally got
through. There were miles of such going--heart-breaking miles--and at
the end we paused at the top of a sixty-foot bluff and looked down at
the river.

Now, I like water in a tub or drinking-glass or under a bridge. I am
very keen about it. But I like still water--quiet, well-behaved,
stay-at-home water. The North Fork of the Flathead River is a riotous,
debauched, and highly erratic stream. It staggers in a series of wild
zigzags for a hundred miles of waterway from the Canadian border to
Columbia Falls, our destination. And that hundred miles of whirlpools,
jagged rocks, and swift and deadly canons we were to travel. I turned
around and looked at the Family. It was my ambition that had brought
them to this. We might never again meet, as a whole. We were sure to
get to Columbia Falls, but not at all sure to get there in the boats. I
looked at the boats; they were, I believe, stout river-boats. But they
were small. Undeniably, they were very small.

The river appeared to be going about ninety miles an hour. There was one
hope, however. Perhaps they could not get the boats down over the bluff.
It seemed a foolhardy thing even to try. I suggested this to Bob. But he
replied, rather tartly, that he had not brought those boats at the risk
of his life through all those miles of wilderness to have me fail him
now.

He painted the joys of the trip. He expressed so strong a belief in them
that he said that he himself would ride with the outfit, thus permitting
most of the Family in the boats that first day. He said the river was
full of trout. I expressed a strong doubt that any trout could live in
that stream and hold their own. I felt that they had all been washed
down years ago. And again I looked at the Family.

Because I knew what would happen. The Family would insist on going
along. It was not going to let mother take this risk alone; it was
going to drown with her if necessary.

The Family jaws were set. _They were going._

The entire outfit lowered the wagon by roping it down. There was one
delicious moment when I thought boats and all were going over the edge.
But the ropes held. Nothing happened.

_They put the boats in the water._

I had one last rather pitiful thought as I took my seat in the stern of
one of them.

"This is my birthday," I said wistfully. "It's rather a queer way to
spend a birthday, I think."

But this was met with stern silence. I was to have my story whether I
wanted it or not.

Yet once in the river, the excitement got me. I had run brief spells of
rapids before. There had been a gasp or two and it was over. But this
was to be a prolonged four days' gasp, with intervals only to sleep at
night.

Fortunately for all of us, it began rather quietly. The current was
swift, so that, once out into the stream, we shot ahead as if we had
been fired out of a gun. But, for all that, the upper reaches were
comparatively free of great rocks. Friendly little sandy shoals beckoned
to us. The water was shallow. But, even then, I noticed what afterward I
found was to be a delusion of the entire trip.

This was the impression of riding downhill. I do not remember now how
much the Flathead falls per mile. I have an impression that it is ninety
feet, but as that would mean a drop of nine thousand feet, or almost two
miles, during the trip, I must be wrong somewhere. It was sixteen feet,
perhaps.

But hour after hour, on the straight stretches, there was that
sensation, on looking ahead, of staring down a toboggan-slide. It never
grew less. And always I had the impression that just beyond that glassy
slope the roaring meant uncharted falls--and destruction. It never did.

The outfit, following along the trail, was to meet us at night and have
camp ready when we appeared--if we appeared. Only a few of us could use
the boats. George Locke in one, Mike Shannon in the other, could carry
two passengers each. For the sake of my story, I was to take the entire
trip; the others were to alternate.

I do not know, but I am very confident that no other woman has ever
taken this trip. I am fairly confident that no other men have ever taken
it. We could find no one who had heard of it being taken. All that we
knew was that it was the North Fork of the Flathead River, and that if
we stayed afloat long enough, we would come out at Columbia Falls. The
boatmen knew the lower part of the river, but not the upper two thirds
of it.

[Illustration: _Still-water fishing_]

Now that it is over, I would not give up my memory of that long run for
anything. It was one of the most unique experiences in a not uneventful
career. It was beautiful always, terrible occasionally. There were
dozens of places each day where the boatmen stood up, staring ahead for
the channel, while the boats dodged wildly ahead. But always these
skillful pilots of ours found a way through. And so fast did we go that
the worst places were always behind us before we had time to be
really terrified.

The Flathead River in these upper reaches is fairly alive with trout. On
the second day, I think it was, I landed a bull-trout that weighed nine
pounds, and got it with a six-ounce rod. I am very proud of that. I have
eleven different pictures of myself holding the fish up. There were
trout everywhere. The difficulty was to stop the boat long enough to get
them. In fact, we did not stop, save in an occasional eddy in the midst
of the torrent. We whipped the stream as we flew along. Under great
boulders, where the water seethed and roared, under deep cliffs where it
flew like a mill-race, there were always fish.

It was frightful work for the boatmen. It required skill every moment.
There was not a second in the day when they could relax. Only men
trained to river rapids could have done it, and few, even, of these. To
the eternal credit of George and Mike, we got through. It was nothing
else.

On the evening of the first day, in the dusk which made the river
doubly treacherous, we saw our camp-fire far ahead.

With the going-down of the sun, the river had grown cold. We were wet
with spray, cramped from sitting still and holding on. But friendly
hands drew our boats to shore and helped us out.




VII

THE SECOND DAY ON THE FLATHEAD


In a way, this is a fairy-story. Because a good fairy had been busy
during our absence. Days before, at the ranger's cabin, unknown to most
of us, an order had gone down to civilization for food. During all those
days under Starvation Ridge, food had been on the way by
pack-horse--food and an extra cook.

So we went up to camp, expecting more canned salmon and fried trout and
little else, and beheld--

A festive board set with candles--the board, however, in this case is
figurative; it was the ground covered with a tarpaulin--fried chicken,
fresh green beans, real bread, jam, potatoes, cheese, cake, candy,
cigars, and cigarettes. And--champagne!

That champagne had traveled a hundred miles on horseback. It had been
cooled in the icy water of the river. We drank it out of tin cups. We
toasted each other. We toasted the Flathead flowing just beside us. We
toasted the full moon rising over the Kootenais. We toasted the good
fairy. The candles burned low in their sockets--this, also, is
figurative; they were stuck on pieces of wood. With due formality I was
presented with a birthday gift, a fishing-reel purchased by the Big and
the Middle and the Little Boy.

Of all the birthdays that I can remember--and I remember quite a
few--this one was the most wonderful. Over mountain-tops, glowing deep
pink as they rose above masses of white clouds, came slowly a great
yellow moon. It turned the Flathead beside us to golden glory, and
transformed the evergreen thickets into fairy glades of light and
shadow. Flickering candles inside the tents made them glow in luminous
triangles against their background of forest.

Behind us, in the valley lands at the foot of the Rockies, the horses
rested and grazed, and eased their tired backs. The men lay out in the
open and looked at the stars. The air was fragrant with pine and
balsam. Night creatures called and answered.

And, at last, we went to our tents and slept. For the morning was a new
day, and I had not got all my story.

That first day's run of the river we got fifty trout, ranging from one
half-pound to four pounds. We should have caught more, but they could
not keep up with the boat. We caught, also, the most terrific sunburn
that I have ever known anything about. We had thought that we were
thoroughly leathered, but we had not passed the primary stage,
apparently. In vain I dosed my face with cold-cream and talcum powder,
and with a liquid warranted to restore the bloom of youth to an aged
skin (mine, however, is not aged).

My journal for the second day starts something like this:--

          Cold and gray. Stood in the water fifteen minutes
          in hip-boots for a moving picture. River looks
          savage.

Of that second day, one beautiful picture stands out with distinctness.

The river is lovely; it winds and twists through deep forests with
always that marvelous background of purple mountains capped with snow.
Here and there, at long intervals, would come a quiet half-mile where,
although the current was incredibly swift, there were, at least, no
rocks. It was on coming round one of these bends that we saw, out from
shore and drinking quietly, a deer. He was incredulous at first, and
then uncertain whether to be frightened or not. He threw his head up and
watched us, and then, turning, leaped up the bank and into the forest.

Except for fish, there was surprisingly little life to be seen. Bald
eagles sat by the river, as intent on their fishing as we were on ours.
Wild ducks paddled painfully up against the current. Kingfishers fished
in quiet pools. But the real interest of the river, its real life, lay
in its fish. What piscine tragedies it conceals, with those murderous,
greedy, and powerful assassins, the bull-trout, pursuing fish, as I have
seen them, almost into the landing-net! What joyous interludes where, in
a sunny shallow, tiny baby trout played tag while we sat and watched
them!

[Illustration: _Mountains of Glacier National Park from the North Fork
of the Flathead River_]

The danger of the river is not all in the current. There are quicksands
along the Flathead, sands underlain with water, apparently secure but
reaching up clutching hands to the unwary. Our noonday luncheon, taken
along the shore, was always on some safe and gravelly bank or tiny
island.

Our second camp on the Flathead was less fortunate than the first.
Always, in such an outfit as ours, the first responsibility is the
horses. Camp must be made within reach of grazing-grounds for them, and
in these mountain and forest regions this is almost always a difficult
matter. Here and there are meadows where horses may eat their fill; but,
generally, pasture must be hunted. Often, long after we were settled for
the night, our horses were still ranging far, hunting for grass.

So, on this second night, we made an uncomfortable camp for the sake of
the horses, a camp on a steep bluff sloping into the water in a dead
forest. It had been the intention, as the river was comparatively quiet
here, to swim the animals across and graze them on the other side. But,
although generally a horse can swim when put to it, we discovered too
late that several horses in our string could not swim at all. In the
attempt to get them across, one horse with a rider was almost drowned.
So we gave that up, and they were driven back five miles into the
country to pasture.

There is something ominous and most depressing about a burnt forest.
There is no life, nothing green. It is a ghost-forest, filled with tall
tree skeletons and the mouldering bones of those that have fallen, and
draped with dry gray moss that swings in the wind. Moving through such a
forest is almost impossible. Fallen and rotten trees, black and charred
stumps cover every foot of ground. It required two hours' work with an
axe to clear a path that I might get to the little ridge on which my
tent was placed. The day had been gray, and, to add to our discomfort,
there was a soft, fine rain. The Middle Boy had developed an inflamed
knee and was badly crippled. Sitting in the drizzle beside the
camp-fire, I heated water in a tin pail and applied hot compresses
consisting of woolen socks.

It was all in the game. Eggs tasted none the worse for being fried in a
skillet into which the rain was pattering. Skins were weather-proof, if
clothes were not. And heavy tarpaulins on the ground protected our
bedding from dampness.

The outfit, coming down by trail, had passed a small store in a
clearing. They had bought a whole cheese weighing eleven pounds, a
difficult thing to transport on horseback, a wooden pail containing
nineteen pounds of chocolate chips, and six dozen eggs--our first eggs
in many days.

In the shop, while making the purchase, the Head had pulled out a box of
cigarettes. The woman who kept the little store had never seen
machine-made cigarettes before, and examined them with the greatest
interest. For in that country every man is his own cigarette-maker. The
Middle Boy later reported with wide eyes that at her elbow she kept a
loaded revolver lying, in plain view. She is alone a great deal of the
time there in the wilderness, and probably she has many strange
visitors.

It was at the shop that a terrible discovery was made. We had been in
the wilderness on the east side and then on the west side of the park
for four weeks. And days in the woods are much alike. No one had had a
calendar. The discovery was that we had celebrated my birthday on the
wrong day!

That night, in the dead forest, we gathered round the camp-fire. I made
hot compresses. The packers and guides told stories of the West, and we
matched them with ones of the East. From across the river, above the
roaring, we could hear the sharp stroke of the axe as branches were
being cut for our beds. There was nothing living, nothing green about us
where we sat.

I am aware that the camp-fire is considered one of the things about
which the camper should rave. My own experience of camp-fires is that
they come too late in the day to be more than a warming-time before
going to bed. We were generally too tired to talk. A little desultory
conversation, a cigarette or two, an outline of the next day's work, and
all were off to bed. Yet, in that evergreen forest, our fires were
always rarely beautiful. The boughs burned with a crackling white flame,
and when we threw on needles, they burst into stars and sailed far up
into the night. As the glare died down, each of us took his hot stone
from its bed of ashes and, carrying it carefully, retired with it.




VIII

THROUGH THE FLATHEAD CANON


The next morning we wakened to sunshine, and fried trout and bacon and
eggs for breakfast. The cook tossed his flapjacks skillfully. As the
only woman in the party, I sometimes found an air of festivity about my
breakfast-table. Whereas the others ate from a tarpaulin laid on the
ground, I was favored with a small box for a table and a smaller one for
a seat. On the table-box was set my graniteware plate, knife, fork, and
spoon, a paper napkin, the Prince Albert and the St. Charles. Lest this
sound strange to the uninitiated, the St. Charles was the condensed milk
and the Prince Albert was an old tin can which had once contained
tobacco but which now contained the sugar. Thus, in our camp-etiquette,
one never asked for the sugar, but always for the Prince Albert; not for
the milk, but always for the St. Charles, sometimes corrupted to the
Charlie.

I was late that morning. The men had gone about the business of
preparing the boats for the day. The packers and guides were out after
the horses. The cook, hot and weary, was packing up for the daily
exodus. He turned and surveyed that ghost-forest with a scowl.

"Another camping-place like this, and I'll be braying like a blooming
burro."

On the third day, we went through the Flathead River canon. We had
looked forward to this, both because of its beauty and its danger.
Bitterly complaining, the junior members of the family were exiled to
the trail with the exception of the Big Boy.

It had been Joe's plan to photograph the boat with the moving-picture
camera as we came down the canon. He meant, I am sure, to be on hand if
anything exciting happened. But impenetrable wilderness separated the
trail from the edge of the gorge, and that evening we reached the camp
unphotographed, unrecorded, to find Joe sulking in a corner and inclined
to blame the forest on us.

In one of the very greatest stretches of the rapids, a long
straightaway, we saw a pigmy figure, far ahead, hailing us from the
bank. "Pigmy" is a word I use generally with much caution, since a
friend of mine, in the excitement of a first baby, once published a poem
entitled "My Pigmy Counterpart," which a type-setter made, in the
magazine version, "My Pig, My Counterpart."

Nevertheless, we will use it here. Behind this pigmy figure stretched a
cliff, more than one hundred feet in height, of sheer rock overgrown
with bushes. The figure had apparently but room on which to stand.
George stood up and surveyed the prospect.

"Well," he said, in his slow drawl, "if that's lunch, I don't think we
can hit it."

The river was racing at mad speed. Great rocks caught the current,
formed whirlpools and eddies, turned us round again and again, and sent
us spinning on, drenched with spray. That part of the river the boatmen
knew--at least by reputation. It had been the scene, a few years before,
of the tragic drowning of a man they knew. For now we were getting down
into the better known portions.

[Illustration: _The beginning of the canon, Middle Fork of the Flathead
River_]

To check a boat in such a current seemed impossible. But we needed food.
We were tired and cold, and we had a long afternoon's work still before
us.

At last, by tremendous effort and great skill, the boatmen made the
landing. It was the college boy who had clambered down the cliff and
brought the lunch, and it was he who caught the boats as they were
whirling by. We had to cling like limpets--whatever a limpet is--to the
edge, and work our way over to where there was room to sit down.

It reminded the Head of Roosevelt's expression about peace raging in
Mexico. He considered that enjoyment was raging here.

Nevertheless, we ate. We made the inevitable cocoa, warmed beans, ate a
part of the great cheese purchased the day before, and, with gingersnaps
and canned fruit, managed to eke out a frugal repast. And shrieked our
words over the roar of the river.

It was here that the boats were roped down. Critical examination and
long debate with the boatmen showed no way through. On the far side,
under the towering cliff, was an opening in the rocks through which the
river boiled in a drop of twenty feet.

So it was fortunate, after all, that we had been hailed from the shore
and had stopped, dangerous as it had been. For not one of us would have
lived had we essayed that passage under the cliff. The Flathead River is
not a deep river; but the force of its flow is so great, its drop so
rapid, that the most powerful swimmer is hopeless in such a current.
Light as our flies were, again and again they were swept under and held
as though by a powerful hand.

Another year, the Flathead may be a much simpler proposition to
negotiate. Owing to the unusually heavy snows of last winter, which had
not commenced to melt on the mountain-tops until July, the river was
high. In a normal summer, I believe that this trip could be
taken--although always the boatmen must be expert in river rapids--with
comparative safety and enormous pleasure.

There is a thrill and exultation about running rapids--not for minutes,
not for an hour or two, but for days--that gets into the blood. And
when to that exultation is added the most beautiful scenery in America,
the trip becomes well worth while. However, I am not at all sure that it
is a trip for a woman to take. I can swim, but that would not have
helped at all had the boat, at any time in those four days, struck a
rock and turned over. Nor would the men of the party, all powerful
swimmers, have had any more chance than I.

We were a little nervous that afternoon. The canon grew wilder; the
current, if possible, more rapid. But there were fewer rocks; the
river-bed was clearer.

We were rapidly nearing the Middle Fork. Another day would see us there,
and from that point, the river, although swift, would lose much of its
danger.

Late the afternoon of the third day we saw our camp well ahead, on a
ledge above the river. Everything was in order when we arrived. We
unloaded ourselves solemnly out of the boats, took our fish, our poles,
our graft-hooks and landing-nets, our fly-books, my sunburn lotion, and
our weary selves up the bank. Then we solemnly shook hands all round. We
had come through; the rest was easy.

On the last day, the river became almost a smiling stream. Once again,
instead of between cliffs, we were traveling between great forests of
spruce, tamarack, white and yellow pine, fir, and cedar. A great golden
eagle flew over the water just ahead of our boat. And in the morning we
came across our first sign of civilization--a wire trolley with a cage,
extending across the river in lieu of a bridge. High up in the air at
each end, it sagged in the middle until the little car must almost have
touched the water. We had a fancy to try it, and landed to make the
experiment. But some ungenerous soul had padlocked it and had gone away
with the key.

For the first time that day, it was possible to use the trolling-lines.
We had tried them before, but the current had carried them out far ahead
of the boat. Cut-throat trout now and then take a spoon. But it is the
bull-trout which falls victim, as a rule, to the troll.

I am not gifted with the trolling-line. Sometime I shall write an
article on the humors of using it--on the soft and sibilant hiss with
which it goes out over the stern; on the rasping with which it grates on
the edge of the boat as it holds on, stanch and true, to water-weeds and
floating branches; on the low moan with which it buries itself under a
rock and dies; on the inextricable confusion into which it twists and
knots itself when, hand over hand, it is brought in for inspection.

I have spent hours over a trolling-line, hours which, otherwise, I
should have wasted in idleness. There are thirty-seven kinds of knots
which, so far, I have discovered in a trolling-line, and I am but at the
beginning of my fishing career.

"What are you doing," the Head said to me that last day, as I sat in the
stern busily working at the line. "Knitting?"

We got few fish that day, but nobody cared. The river was wide and
smooth; the mountains had receded somewhat; the forest was there to the
right and left of us. But it was an open, smiling forest. Still far
enough away, but slipping toward us with the hours, were settlements,
towns, the fertile valley of the lower river.

We lunched that night where, just a year before, I had eaten my first
lunch on the Flathead, on a shelving, sandy beach. But this time the
meal was somewhat shadowed by the fact that some one had forgotten to
put in butter and coffee and condensed milk.

However, we were now in that part of the river which our boatmen knew
well. From a secret cache back in the willows, George and Mike produced
coffee and condensed milk and even butter. So we lunched, and far away
we heard a sound which showed us how completely our wilderness days were
over--the screech of a railway locomotive.

Late that afternoon, tired, sunburned, and unkempt, we drew in at the
little wharf near Columbia Falls. It was weeks since we had seen a
mirror larger than an inch or so across. Our clothes were wrinkled from
being used to augment our bedding on cold nights. The whites of our eyes
were bloodshot with the sun. My old felt hat was battered and torn with
the fish-hooks that had been hung round the band. Each of us looked at
the other, and prayed to Heaven that he looked a little better himself.




IX

THE ROUND-UP AT KALISPELL


Columbia Falls had heard of our adventure, and was prepared to do us
honor. Automobiles awaited us on the river-bank. In a moment we were
snatched from the jaws of the river and seated in the lap of luxury. If
this is a mixed metaphor, it is due to the excitement of the change.
With one of those swift transitions of the Northwest, we were out of the
wilderness and surrounded by great yellow fields of wheat.

Cleared land or natural prairie, these valleys of the Northwest are
marvelously fertile. Wheat grows an incredible number of bushels to the
acre. Everything thrives. And on the very borders of the fields stands
still the wilderness to be conquered, the forest to be cleared. Untold
wealth is there for the man who will work and wait, land rich beyond the
dreams of fertilizer. But it costs about eighty dollars an acre, I am
told, to clear forest-land after it has been cut over. It is not a
project, this Northwestern farming, to be undertaken on a shoestring.
The wilderness must be conquered. It cannot be coaxed. And a good many
hearts have been broken in making that discovery. A little money--not
too little--infinite patience, cheerfulness, and red-blooded
effort--these are the factors which are conquering the Northwest.

I like the Northwest. In spite of its pretensions, its large cities, its
wealth, it is still peopled by essential frontiersmen. They are still
pioneers--because the wilderness encroaches still so close to them. I
like their downrightness, their pride in what they have achieved, their
hatred of sham and affectation.

And if there is to be real progress among us in this present generation,
the growth of a political and national spirit, that sturdy insistence on
better things on which our pioneer forefathers founded this nation, it
is likely to come, as a beginning, from these newer parts of our
country. These people have built for themselves. What we in the East
have inherited, they have made. They know its exact cost in blood and
sweat. They value it. And they will do their best by it.

Perhaps, after all, this is the end of this particular adventure. And
yet, what Western story is complete without a round-up?

There was to be a round-up the next day at Kalispell, farther south in
that wonderful valley.

But there was a difficulty in the way. Our horses were Glacier Park
horses. Columbia Falls was outside of Glacier Park. Kalispell was even
farther outside of Glacier Park, and horses were needed badly in the
Park. For last year Glacier Park had the greatest boom in its history
and found the concessionnaires unprepared to take care of all the
tourists. What we should do, we knew, was to deadhead our horses back
into the Park as soon as they had had a little rest.

But, on the other hand, there was Kalispell and the round-up. It would
make a difference of just one day. True, we could have gone to the
round-up on the train. But, for two reasons, this was out of the
question. First, it would not make a good story. Second, we had nothing
but riding-clothes, and ours were only good to ride in and not at all to
walk about in.

After a long and serious conclave, it was decided that Glacier Park
would not suffer by the absence of our string for twenty-four hours
more.

On the following morning, then, we set off down the white and dusty
road, a gay procession, albeit somewhat ragged. Sixteen miles in the
heat we rode that morning. It was when we were halfway there that one of
the party--it does not matter which one--revealed that he had received a
telegram from the Government demanding the immediate return of our
outfit. We halted in the road and conferred.

It is notorious of Governments that they are short-sighted, detached,
impersonal, aloof, and haughty. We gathered in the road, a gayly
bandanaed, dusty, and highly indignant crowd, and conferred.

The telegram had been imperative. It did not request. It commanded. It
unhorsed us violently at a time when it did not suit either ourselves or
our riding-clothes to be unhorsed.

We conferred. We were, we said, paying two dollars and a half a day for
each of those horses. Besides, we were out of adhesive tape, which is
useful for holding on patches. Besides, also, we had the horses. If they
wanted them, let them come and get them. Besides, this was
discrimination. Ever since the Park was opened, horses had been taken
out of it, either on to the Reservation or into Canada, to get about to
other parts of the Park. Why should the Government pick on us?

We were very bitter and abusive, and the rest of the way I wrote
mentally a dozen sarcastic telegrams. Yes; the rest of the way. Because
we went on. With a round-up ahead and the Department of the Interior in
the rear, we rode forward to our stolen holiday, now and then pausing,
an eye back to see if we were pursued. But nothing happened; no sheriff
in a buckboard drove up with a shotgun across his knees. The Government,
or its representative in Glacier Park, was contenting itself with
foaming at the mouth. We rode on through the sunlight, and sang as we
rode.

Kalispell is a flourishing and attractive town of northwestern Montana.
It is notable for many other things besides its annual round-up. But it
remains dear to me for one particular reason.

My hat was done. It had no longer the spring and elasticity of youth. It
was scarred with many rains and many fish-hooks. It had ceased to add
its necessary jaunty touch to my costume. It detracted. In its age, I
loved it, but the Family insisted cruelly on a change. So, sitting on
Angel, a new one was brought me, a chirky young thing, a cowgirl affair
of high felt crown and broad rim.

And, at this moment, a gentleman I had never seen before, but who is
green in my memory, stepped forward and presented me with his own
hat-band. It was of leather, and it bore this vigorous and inspiriting
inscription: "Give 'er pep and let 'er buck."

To-day, when I am low in my mind, I take that cowgirl hat from its
retreat and read its inscription: "Give 'er pep and let 'er buck." It is
a whole creed.

Somewhere among my papers I have the programme of that round-up at
Kalispell. It was a very fine round-up. There was a herd of buffalo;
there were wild horses and long-horned Mexican steers. There was a
cheering crowd. There was roping, and marvelous riding.

But my eyes were fixed on the grand-stand with a stony stare.

I am an adopted Blackfoot Indian, known in the tribe as "Pi-ta-mak-an,"
and only a few weeks before I had had a long conference with the chiefs
of the tribe, Two Guns, White Calf (the son of old White Calf, the great
chief who dropped dead in the White House during President Cleveland's
administration), Medicine Owl and Curly Bear and Big Spring and Bird
Plume and Wolf Plume and Bird Rattler and Bill Shute and
Stabs-by-Mistake and Eagle Child and Many Tail-Feathers--and many more.

[Illustration: _Pi-ta-mak-an, or Running Eagle (Mrs. Rinehart), with two
other members of the Blackfoot Tribe_]

And these Indians had all promised me that, as soon as our conference
was over, they were going back to the Reservation to get in their hay
and work hard for the great herd which the Government had promised to
give them. They were going to be good Indians.

So I stared at the grand-stand with a cold and fixed eye. For there,
very many miles from where they should have been, off the Reservation
without permission of the Indian agent, painted and bedecked in all the
glory of their forefathers--paint, feathers, beads, strings of thimbles
and little mirrors--handsome, bland, and enjoying every instant to the
full in their childish hearts, were my chiefs.

During the first lull in the proceedings, a delegation came to visit me
and to explain. This is what they said: First of all, they desired me to
make peace with the Indian agent. He was, they considered, most
unreasonable. There were many times when one could labor, and there was
but one round-up. They petitioned, then, that I intercede and see that
their ration-tickets were not taken away.

And even as the interpreter told me their plea, one old brave caught my
hand and pointed across to the enclosure, where a few captive buffalo
were grazing. I knew what it meant. These, my Blackfeet, had been the
great buffalo-hunters. With bow and arrow they had followed the herds
from Canada to the Far South. These chiefs had been mighty hunters. But
for many years not a single buffalo had their eyes beheld. They who had
lived by the buffalo were now dying with them. A few full-bloods shut
away on a reservation, a few buffalo penned in a corral--children of the
open spaces and of freedom, both of them, and now dying and imprisoned.
For the Blackfeet are a dying people.

They had come to see the buffalo.

But they did not say so. An Indian is a stoic. He has both imagination
and sentiment, but the latter he conceals. And this was the explanation
they gave me for the Indian agent:--

I knew that, back in my home, when a friend asked me to come to an
entertainment, I must go or that friend would be offended with me. And
so it was with the Blackfeet Indians--they had been invited to this
round-up, and they felt that they should come or they would hurt the
feelings of those who had asked them. Therefore, would I, Pi-ta-mak-an,
go to the Indian agent and make their peace for them? For, after all,
summer was short and winter was coming. The old would need their
ration-tickets again. And they, the braves, would promise to go back to
the Reservation and get in the hay, and be all that good Indians should
be.

And I, too, was as good an Indian as I knew how to be, for I scolded
them all roundly and then sat down at the first possible opportunity and
wrote to the agent.

And the agent? He is a very wise and kindly man, facing one of the
biggest problems in our country. He gave them back their ration-tickets
and wiped the slate clean, to the eternal credit of a Government that
has not often to the Indian tempered justice with mercy.




X

OFF FOR CASCADE PASS


How many secrets the mountains hold! They have forgotten things we shall
never know. And they are cruel, savagely cruel. What they want, they
take. They reach out a thousand clutching hands. They attack with
avalanche, starvation, loneliness, precipice. They lure on with green
valleys and high flowering meadows where mountain-sheep move sedately,
with sunlit peaks and hidden lakes, with silence for tired ears and
peace for weary souls. And then--they kill.

Because man is a fighting animal, he obeys their call, his wit against
their wisdom of the ages, his strength against their solidity, his
courage against their cunning. And too often he loses.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT BY L. D. LINDSLEY
  _A high mountain meadow_]

I am afraid of the mountains. I have always the feeling that they are
lying in wait. At night, their very silence is ominous. The crack of ice
as a bit of slow-moving glacier is dislodged, lightning, and the roar
of thunder somewhere below where I lie--these are the artillery of the
range, and from them I am safe. I am too small for their heavy guns. But
a shelving trail on the verge of a chasm, a slip on an ice-field, a
rolling stone under a horse's foot--these are the weapons I fear above
the timber-line.

Even below there is danger--swamps and rushing rivers, but above all the
forest. In mountain valleys it grows thick on the bodies of dead forests
beneath. It crowds. There is barely room for a tent. And all through the
night the trees protest. They creak and groan and sigh, and sometimes
they burn. In a _cul-de-sac_, with only frowning cliffs about, the
forest becomes ominous, a thing of dreadful beauty. On nights when,
through the crevices of the green roof, there are stars hung in the sky,
the weight lifts. But there are other nights when the trees close in
like ranks of hostile men and take the spirit prisoner.

The peace of the wilderness is not peace. It is waiting.

On the Glacier Park trip, there had been one subject which came up for
discussion night after night round the camp-fire. It resolved itself,
briefly, into this: Should we or should we not get out in time to go
over to the State of Washington and there perform the thrilling feat
which Bob, the Optimist, had in mind?

This was nothing more nor less than the organization of a second
pack-outfit and the crossing of the Cascade Mountains on horseback by a
virgin route. The Head, Bob, and Joe had many discussions about it. I do
not recall that my advice was ever asked. It is generally taken for
granted in these wilderness-trips of ours that I will be there, ready to
get a story when the opportunity presents itself.

Owing to the speed with which the North Fork of the Flathead River
descends from the Canadian border to civilization, we had made very good
time. And, at last, the decision was made to try this new adventure.

"It will be a bully story," said the Optimist, "and you can be dead sure
of this: it's never been done before."

So, at last, it was determined, and we set out on that wonderful
harebrain excursion of which the very memory gives me a thrill. Yet, now
that I know it can be done, I may try it again some day. It paid for
itself over and over in scenery, in health, and in thrills. But there
were several times when it seemed to me impossible that we could all get
over the range alive.

We took through thirty-one horses and nineteen people. When we got out,
our horses had had nothing to eat, not a blade of grass or a handful of
grain, for thirty-six hours, and they had had very little for five days.

On the last morning, the Head gave his horse for breakfast one
rain-soaked biscuit, an apple, two lumps of sugar, and a raw egg. The
other horses had nothing.

We dropped three pack-horses over cliffs in two days, but got them
again, cut and bruised, and we took out our outfit complete, after two
weeks of the most arduous going I have ever known anything about. When
the news that we had got over the pass penetrated to the settlements, a
pack-outfit started over Cascade Pass in our footsteps to take supplies
to a miner. They killed three horses on that same trail, and I believe
gave it up in the end.

Doubtless, by next year, a passable trail will have been built up to
Doubtful Lake and another one up that eight-hundred-foot mountain-wall
above the lake, where, when one reaches the top, there is but room to
look down again on the other side. Perhaps, too, there will be a trail
down the Agnes Creek Valley, so that parties can get through easily.
When that is done,--and it is promised by the Forest Supervisor,--one of
the most magnificent horseback trips in the country will be opened for
the first time to the traveler.

Most emphatically, the trip across the Cascades at Doubtful Lake and
Cascade Pass is not a trip for a woman in the present condition of
things, although any woman who can ride can cross Cloudy Pass and get
down Agnes Creek way. But perhaps before this is published, the Chelan
National Forest will have been made a National Park. It ought to be. It
is superb. There is no other word for it. And it ought not to be called
a forest, because it seems to have everything but trees. Rocks and
rivers and glaciers--more in one county than in all Switzerland, they
claim--and granite peaks and hair-raising precipices and lakes filled
with ice in midsummer. But not many trees, until, at Cascade Pass, one
reaches the boundaries of the Washington National Forest and begins to
descend the Pacific slope.

The personnel of our party was slightly changed. Of the original one,
there remained the Head, the Big, the Middle, and the Little Boy, Joe,
Bob, and myself. To these we added at the beginning six persons besides
our guides and packers. Two of them did not cross the pass, however--the
Forest Pathologist from Washington, who travels all over the country
watching for tree-diseases and tree-epidemics and who left us after a
few days, and the Supervisor of Chelan Forest, who had but just come
from Oregon and was making his first trip over his new territory.

We were fortunate, indeed, in having four forest-men with us, men whose
lives are spent in the big timber, who know the every mood and tense of
the wilderness. For besides these two, the Pathologist and the Forest
Supervisor, there was "Silent Lawrie" Lindsley, naturalist,
photographer, and lover of all that is wild, a young man who has spent
years wandering through the mountains around Chelan, camera and gun at
hand, the gun never raised against the wild creatures, but used to shoot
away tree-branches that interfere with pictures, or, more frequently, to
trim a tree into such outlines as fit it into the photograph.

And then there was the Man Who Went Ahead. For forty years this man, Mr.
Hilligoss, has lived in the forest. Hardly a big timber-deal in the
Northwest but was passed by him. Hardly a tree in that vast wilderness
but he knew it. He knew everything about the forest but fear--fear and
fatigue. And, with an axe and a gun, he went ahead, clearing trail,
blazing trees, and marking the detours to camp-sites by an arrow made of
bark and thrust through a slash in a tree.

Hour after hour we would struggle on, seeing everywhere evidences of his
skill on the trail, to find, just as endurance had reached its limit,
the arrow that meant camp and rest.

And--there was Dan Devore and his dog, Whiskers. Dan Devore was our
chief guide and outfitter, a soft voiced, bearded, big souled man,
neither very large nor very young. All soul and courage was Dan Devore,
and one of the proud moments of my life was when it was all over and he
told me I had done well. I wanted most awfully to have Dan Devore think
I had done well.

He was sitting on a stone at the time, I remember, and Whiskers, his old
Airedale, had his head on Dan's knee. All of his thirteen years,
Whiskers had wandered through the mountains with Dan Devore, always
within call. To see Dan was to see Whiskers; to see Whiskers was to see
Dan.

He slept on Dan's tarp bed at night, and in the daytime led our long and
winding procession. Indomitable spirit that he was, he traveled three
miles to our one, saved us from the furious onslaughts of many a marmot
and mountain-squirrel, and, in the absence of fresh meat, ate his salt
pork and scraps with the zest of a hungry traveler.

Then there were Mr. and Mrs. Fred. I call them Mr. and Mrs. Fred,
because, like Joe, that was a part of their name. I will be frank about
Mrs. Fred. I was worried about her before I knew her. I was accustomed
to roughing it; but how about another woman? Would she be putting up her
hair in curlers every night, and whimpering when, as sometimes happens,
the slow gait of her horse became intolerable? Little did I know Mrs.
Fred. She was a natural wanderer, a follower of the trail, a fine and
sound and sporting traveling companion. And I like to think that she is
typical of the women of that Western country which bred her, feminine to
the core, but strong and sweet still.

Both the Freds were great additions. Was it not after Mr. Fred that we
trailed on that famous game-hunt of ours, of which a spirited account is
coming later? Was it not Mr. Fred who, night after night, took the
junior Rineharts away from an anxious mother into the depths of the
forest or the bleakness of mountain-slopes, there to lie, armed to the
teeth, and wait for the first bears to start out for breakfast?

Now you have us, I think, except the men of the outfit, and they deserve
space I cannot give them. They were a splendid lot, and it was by their
incessant labor that we got over.

Try to see us, then, filing along through deep valleys, climbing cliffs,
stumbling, struggling, not talking much, a long line of horses and
riders. First, far ahead, Mr. Hilligoss. Then the riders, led by "Silent
Lawrie," with me just behind him, because of photographs. Then, at the
head of the pack-horses, Dan Devore. Then the long line of pack-ponies,
sturdy and willing, and piled high with our food, our bedding, and our
tents. And here, there, and everywhere, Joe, with the moving-picture
camera.

We were determined, this time, to have no repetition of the Glacier Park
fiasco, where Bill, our cook, had deserted us at a bad time--although it
is always a bad time when the cook leaves. So now we had two cooks.
Much as I love the mountains and the woods, the purple of evening
valleys, the faint pink of sunrise on snow-covered peaks, the most
really thrilling sight of a camping-trip is two cooks bending over an
iron grating above a fire, one frying trout and the other turning
flapjacks.

Our trail led us through one of the few remaining unknown portions of
the United States. It cannot long remain unknown. It is too superb, too
wonderful. And it has mineral in it, silver and copper and probably
coal. The Middle Boy, who is by way of being a chemist and has
systematically blown himself up with home-made explosives for years--the
Middle Boy found at least a dozen silver mines of fabulous value,
although the men in the party insisted that his specimens were iron
pyrites and other unromantic minerals.




XI

LAKE CHELAN TO LYMAN LAKE


Now, as to where we were--those long days of fording rivers and beating
our way through jungle or of dizzy climbs up to the snow, those short
nights, so cold that six blankets hardly kept us warm, while our tired
horses wandered far, searching for such bits of grass as grew among the
shale.

In the north-central part of the State of Washington, Nature has done a
curious thing. She has built a great lake in the eastern shoulders of
the Cascade Mountains. Lake Chelan, more than fifty miles long and
averaging a mile and a half in width, is ten hundred and seventy-five
feet above sea-level, while its bottom is four hundred feet below the
level of the ocean. It is almost completely surrounded by granite walls
and peaks which reach more than a mile and a half into the air.

The region back from the lake is practically unknown. A small part of it
has never been touched by the Geological Survey, and, in one or two
instances, we were able to check up errors on our maps. Thus, a lake
shown on our map as belonging at the head of McAllister Creek really
belongs at the head of Rainbow Creek, while McAllister Lake is not shown
at all. Mr. Coulter, a forester who was with us for a time, last year
discovered three lakes at the head of Rainbow Creek which have never
been mapped, and, so far as could be learned, had never been seen by a
white man before. Yet Lake Chelan itself is well known in the Northwest.
It is easily reached, its gateway being the famous Wenatchee Valley,
celebrated for its apples.

It was from Chelan that we were to make our start. Long before we
arrived, Dan Devore and the packers were getting the outfit ready.

[Illustration: _Sitting Bull Mountain, Lake Chelan_]

Yet the first glimpse of Chelan was not attractive. We had motored half
a day through that curious, semi-arid country, which, when irrigated,
proves the greatest of all soils in the world for fruit-raising. The
August sun had baked the soil into yellow dust which covered
everything. Arid hillsides without a leaf of green but dotted thickly
with gray sagebrush, eroded valleys, rocks and gullies--all shone a
dusty yellow in the heat. The dust penetrated everything. Wherever water
could be utilized were orchards, little trees planted in geometrical
rows and only waiting the touch of irrigation to make their owners
wealthy beyond dreams.

The lower end of Lake Chelan was surrounded by these bleak hillsides,
desert without the great spaces of the desert. Yet unquestionably, in a
few years from now, these bleak hillsides will be orchard land. Only the
lower part, however, is bleak--only an end, indeed. There is nothing
more beautiful and impressive than the upper part of that strangely deep
and quiet lake lying at the foot of its enormous cliffs.

By devious stages we reached the head of Lake Chelan, and there for four
days the outfitting went on. Horses were being brought in, saddles
fitted; provisions in great cases were arriving. To outfit a party of
our size for two weeks means labor and generous outlay. And we were
going to be comfortable. We were willing to travel hard and sleep hard.
But we meant to have plenty of food. I think we may claim the unique
distinction of being the only people who ever had grapefruit regularly
for breakfast on the top of that portion of the Cascade Range.

While we waited, we learned something about the country. It is volcanic
ash, disintegrated basalt, this great fruit-country to the right of the
range. And three things, apparently, are responsible for its marvelous
fruit-growing properties. First, the soil itself, which needs only water
to prove marvelously fertile; second, the length of the growing-season,
which around Lake Chelan is one hundred and ninety-two days in the year.
And this just south of the Canadian border! There is a third reason,
too: the valleys are sheltered from frost. Even if a frost comes,--and I
believe it is almost unknown,--the high mountains surrounding these
valleys protect the blossoms so that the frost has evaporated before the
sun strikes the trees. There is no such thing known as a killing frost.

But it is irrigation on a virgin and fertile soil that is primarily
responsible. They run the water to the orchards in conduits, and then
dig little trenches, running parallel among the trees. Then they turn it
on, and the tree-roots are bathed, soaked. And out of the desert spring
such trees of laden fruit that each branch must be supported by wires!

So we ate such apples as I had never dreamed of, and waited. Joe got his
films together. The boys practiced shooting. I rested and sharpened
lead-pencils. Bob had found a way to fold his soft hat into what he
fondly called the "Jennings do," which means a plait in the crown to
shed the rain, and which turned an amiable _ensemble_ into something
savage and extremely flat on top. The Head played croquet.

And then into our complacency came, one night, a bit of tragedy.

A man staggered into the little hotel at the head of the lake, carrying
another man on his back. He had carried him for forty hours, lowering
him down, bit by bit, from that mountain highland where he had been
hurt--forty hours of superhuman effort and heart-breaking going, over
cliffs and through wilderness.

The injured man was a sheep-herder. He had cut his leg with his
wood-axe, and blood-poisoning had set in. I do not know the rest of that
story. The sheep-herder was taken to a hospital the next day, traveling
a very long way. But whether he traveled still farther, to the land of
the Great Shepherd, I do not know. Only this I do know: that this
Western country I love is full of such stories, and of such men as the
hero of this one.

At last we were ready. Some of the horses were sent by boat the day
before, for this strange lake has little or no shore-line. Granite
mountains slope stark and sheer to the water's edge, and drop from there
to frightful depths below. There are, at the upper end, no roads, no
trails or paths that border it. So the horses and all of us went by boat
to the mouth of Railroad Creek,--so called, I suppose, because the
nearest railroad is more than forty miles away,--up which led the trail
to the great unknown. All around and above us were the cliffs, towering
seven thousand feet over the lake. And beyond those cliffs lay
adventure.

For it _was_ adventure. Even Dan Devore, experienced mountaineer and
guide that he was, had only been to Cascade Pass once, and that was
sixteen years before. He had never been across the divide. "Silent
Lawrie" Lindsley, the naturalist, had been only part-way down the Agnes
Creek Valley, which we intended to follow. Only in a general way had we
any itinerary at all.

Now a National Forest is a happy hunting-ground. Whereas in the National
Parks game is faithfully preserved, hunting is permitted in the forests.
To this end, we took with us a complete arsenal. The naturalist carried
a Colt's revolver; the Big Boy had a twelve-gauge hammerless, called a
"howitzer." We had two twenty-four-gauge shotguns in case we met an
elephant or anything similarly large and heavy, and the Little Boy
proudly carried, strapped to his saddle, a twenty-two high-power rifle,
shooting a steel-jacketed, soft-nose bullet, an express-rifle of high
velocity and great alarm to mothers. In addition to this, we had a
Savage repeater and two Winchester thirties, and the Forest Supervisor
carried his own Winchester thirty-eight. We were entirely prepared to
meet the whole German army.

It is rather sad to relate that, with all this preparation, we killed
nothing whatever. Although it is not true that, on the day we
encountered a large bear, and the three junior members of the family
were allowed to turn the artillery loose on him, at the end of the
firing the bear pulled out a flag and waved it, thinking it was the
Fourth of July.

As we started, that August midday, for the long, dusty ride up the
Railroad Creek Trail, I am sure that the three junior Rineharts had
nothing less in mind than two or three bearskins apiece for school
bedrooms. They deserved better luck than they had. Night after night,
sitting in the comparative safety of the camp-fire, I have seen my three
sons, the Big, the Middle, and the Little Boy, starting off, armed to
the teeth with deadly weapons, to sleep out under the stars and catch
the first unwary bear on his way to breakfast in the morning.

Morning after morning, I have sat breakfastless and shaken until the
weary procession of young America toiled into camp, hungry and bearless,
but, thank Heaven, whole of skin save where mosquitoes and black flies
had taken their toll of them. They would trudge five miles, sleep three
hours, hunt, walk five miles back, and then ride all day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first day was the least pleasant. We were still in the Railroad
Creek Valley; the trail was dusty; packs slipped on the sweating horses
and had to be replaced. The bucking horse of the outfit had, as usual,
been given the eggs, and, burying his head between his fore legs, threw
off about a million dollars' worth before he had been on the trail an
hour.

On that first part of the trip, we had three dogs with us--Chubb and
Doc, as well as Whiskers. They ran in the dust with their tongues out,
and lay panting under bushes at each stop. Here and there we found the
track of sheep driven into the mountain to graze. For a hundred or two
hundred feet in width, it was eaten completely clean, for sheep have a
way of tearing up even the roots of the grass so that nothing green
lives behind them. They carry blight into a country like this.

Then, at last, we found the first arrow of the journey, and turned off
the trail to camp.

On that first evening, the arrow landed us in a great spruce grove where
the trees averaged a hundred and twenty-five feet in height. Below, the
ground was cleared and level and covered with fine moss. The great gray
trunks rose to Gothic arches of green. It was a churchly place. And
running through it were little streams living with trout.

And in this saintly spot, quiet and peaceful, its only noise the
babbling of little rivers, dwelt billions on billions of mosquitoes that
were for the first time learning the delights of the human frame as
food.

There was no getting away from them. Open our mouths and we inhaled
them. They hung in dense clouds about us and fought over the best
locations. They held loud and noisy conversations about us, and got in
our ears and up our nostrils and into our coffee. They went
trout-fishing with us and put up the tents with us; dined with us and on
us. But they let us alone at night.

It is a curious thing about the mountain mosquito as I know him. He is a
lazy insect. He retires at sundown and does not begin to get in any
active work until eight o'clock the following morning. He keeps union
hours.

Something of this we had anticipated, and I had ordered
mosquito-netting, to be worn as veils. When it was unrolled, it proved
to be a brilliant scarlet, a scarlet which faded in hot weather on to
necks and faces and turned us suddenly red and hideous.

Although it was late in the afternoon when we reached that first camp,
Camp Romany, two or three of us caught more than a hundred trout before
sundown. We should have done better had it not been necessary to stop
and scratch every thirty seconds.

That night, the Woodsman built a great bonfire. We huddled about it,
glad of its warmth, for although the days were hot, the nights, with the
wind from the snow-covered peaks overhead, were very cold. The tall,
unbranching gray spruce-trunks rose round it like the pillars of a
colonnade. The forester blew up his air bed. In front of the
supper-fire, the shadowy figures of the cooks moved back and forward.
From a near-by glacier came an occasional crack, followed by a roar
which told of ice dropping into cavernous depths below. The Little Boy
cleaned his gun and dreamed of mighty exploits.

We rested all the next day at Camp Romany--rested and fished, while
three of the more adventurous spirits climbed a near-by mountain. Late
in the afternoon they rode in, bringing in their midst Joe, who had, at
the risk of his life, slid a distance which varied in the reports from
one hundred yards to a mile and a half down a snow-field, and had hung
fastened on the brink of eternity until he was rescued.

Very white was Joe that evening, white and bruised. It was twenty-four
hours before he began to regret that the camera had not been turned on
him at the time.

Not until we left Camp Romany did we feel that we were really off for
the trip. And yet that first day out from Romany was not agreeable
going. The trail was poor, although there came a time when we looked
back on it as superlative. The sun was hot, and there was no shade.
Years ago, prospectors hunting for minerals had started forest-fires to
level the ridges. The result was the burning-over of perhaps a hundred
square miles of magnificent forest. The second growth which has come up
is scrubby, a wilderness of young trees and chaparral, through which
progress was difficult and uninteresting.

Up the bottom of the great glacier-basin toward the mountain at its
head, we made our slow and painful way. More dust, more mosquitoes. Even
the beauty of the snow-capped peaks overhead could not atone for the
ugliness of that destroyed region. Yet, although it was not lovely, it
was vastly impressive. Literally, hundreds of waterfalls cascaded down
the mountain wall from hidden lakes and glaciers above, and towering
before us was the mountain wall which we were to climb later that day.

We had seen no human creature since leaving the lake, but as we halted
for luncheon by a steep little river, we suddenly found that we were not
alone. Standing beside the trail was an Italian bandit with a knife two
feet long in his hands.

Ha! Come adventure! Come romance! Come rifles and pistols and all the
arsenal, including the Little Boy, with pure joy writ large over him! A
bandit, armed to the teeth!

But this is a disappointing world. He was the cook from a mine--strange,
the way we met cooks, floating around loose in a world that seems to be
growing gradually cookless. And he carried with him his knife and his
bread-pan, which was, even then, hanging to a branch of a tree.

We fed him, and he offered to sing. The Optimist nudged me.

"Now, listen," he said; "these fellows can _sing_. Be quiet, everybody!"

The bandit twisted up his mustachios, smiled beatifically, and took up a
position in the trail, feet apart, eyes upturned.

And then--he stopped.

"I start a leetle high," he said; "I start again."

So he started again, and the woods receded from around us, and the
rushing of the river died away, and nothing was heard in that lonely
valley but the most hideous sounds that ever broke a primeval silence
into rags and tatters.

When, at last, he stopped, we got on our horses and rode on, a bitter
and disillusioned party of adventurers whose first bubble of enthusiasm
had been pricked.

It was four o'clock when we began the ascent of the switchback at the
top of the valley. Up and up we went, dismounting here and there, going
slowly but eagerly. For, once over the wall, we were beyond the reach
of civilization. So strange a thing is the human mind! We who were for
most of the year most civilized, most dependent on our kind and the
comforts it has wrought out of a primitive world, now we were savagely
resentful of it. We wanted neither men nor houses. Stirring in us had
commenced that primeval call that comes to all now and then, the longing
to be alone with Mother Earth, savage, tender, calm old Mother Earth.

And yet we were still in touch with the world. For even here man had
intruded. Hanging to the cliff were the few buildings of a small mine
which sends out its ore by pack-pony. I had already begun to feel the
aloofness of the quiet places, so it was rather disconcerting to have a
miner with a patch over one eye come to the doorway of one of the
buildings and remark that he had read some of my political articles and
agreed with them most thoroughly.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY L. D. LINDSLEY
  _Looking out of ice-cave, Lyman Glacier_]

That was a long day. We traveled from early morning until long after
late sundown. Up the switchback to a green plateau we went, meeting
our first ice there, and here again that miracle of the mountains,
meadow flowers and snow side by side.

Far behind us strung the pack-outfit, plodding doggedly along. From the
rim we could look back down that fire-swept valley toward Heart Lake and
the camp we had left. But there was little time for looking back.
Somewhere ahead was a brawling river descending in great leaps from
Lyman Lake, which lay in a basin above and beyond. Our camp, that night,
was to be on the shore of Lyman Lake, at the foot of Lyman Glacier. And
we had still far to go.

Mr. Hilligoss met us on the trail. He had found a camp-site by the lake
and had seen a bear and a deer. There were wild ducks also.

Now and then there are scenes in the mountains that defy the written
word. The view from Cloudy Pass is one; the outlook from Cascade Pass is
another. But for sheer loveliness there are few things that surpass
Lyman Lake at sunset, its great glacier turned to pink, the towering
granite cliffs which surround it dark purple below, bright rose at the
summits. And lying there, still with the stillness of the ages, the
quiet lake.

There was, as a matter of fact, nothing to disturb its quiet. Not a
fish, so far as we could discover, lived in its opalescent water, cloudy
as is all glacial water. It is only good to look at, is Lyman Lake, and
there are no people to look at it.

Set in its encircling, snow-covered mountains, it lies fifty-five
hundred feet above sea-level. We had come up in two days from eleven
hundred feet, a considerable climb. That night, for the first time, we
saw the northern lights--at first, one band like a cold finger set
across the sky, then others, shooting ribbons of cold fire, now bright,
now dim, covering the northern horizon and throwing into silhouette the
peaks over our heads.




XII

CLOUDY PASS AND THE AGNES CREEK VALLEY


I think I have said that one of the purposes of our expedition was to
hunt. We were to spend a day or two at Lyman Lake, and the sportsmen
were busy by the camp-fire that evening, getting rifles and shotguns in
order and preparing fishing-tackle.

At dawn the next morning, which was at four o'clock, one of the packers
roused the Big Boy with the information that there were wild ducks on
the lake. He was wakened with extreme difficulty, put on his bedroom
slippers, picked up his shotgun, and, still in his sleeping-garments,
walked some ten feet from the mouth of his tent. There he yawned,
discharged both barrels of his gun in the general direction of the
ducks, yawned again, and went back to bed.

I myself went on a hunting-excursion on the second day at Lyman Lake.
Now, theoretically, I am a mighty hunter. I have always expected to
shoot something worth while and be photographed with my foot on it, and
a "bearer"--whatever that may be--holding my gun in the background. So
when Mr. Fred proposed an early start and a search along the side of
Chiwawa Mountain for anything from sheep to goats, including a grizzly
if possible, my imagination was roused. So jealous were we that the
first game should be ours that the party was kept a profound secret. Mr.
Fred and Mrs. Fred, the Head, and I planned it ourselves.

We would rise early, and, armed to the teeth, would stalk the skulking
bear to his den.

Rising early is also a theory of mine. I approve of it. But I do not
consider it rising early to get up at three o'clock in the morning.
Three o'clock in the morning is late at night. The moon was still up. It
was frightfully cold. My shoes were damp and refused to go on. I could
not find any hairpins. And I recalled a number of stories of the extreme
disagreeableness of bears when not shot in a vital spot.

With all our hurry, it was four o'clock when we were ready to start. No
sun was in sight, but already a faint rose-colored tint was on the tops
of the mountains. Whiskers raised a sleepy head and looked at us from
Dan's bed. We tiptoed through the camp and started.

We climbed. Then we climbed some more. Then we kept on climbing. Mr.
Fred led the way. He had the energy of a high-powered car and the
hopefulness of a pacifist. From ledge to ledge he scrambled, turning now
and then to wave an encouraging hand. It was not long before I ceased to
have strength to wave back. Hours went on. Five hundred feet, one
thousand feet, fifteen hundred feet above the lake. I confided to the
Head, between gasps, that I was dying. We had seen no living thing; we
continued to see no living thing. Two thousand feet, twenty-five hundred
feet. There was not enough air in the world to fill my collapsed lungs.

Once Mr. Fred found a track, and scurried off in a new direction. Still
no result. The sun was up by that time, and I judged that it was about
noon. It was only six-thirty.

A sort of desperation took possession of us all. We would keep up with
Mr. Fred or die trying. And then, suddenly, we were on the very roof of
the world, on the top of Cloudy Pass. All the kingdoms of the earth lay
stretched out around us, and all the kingdoms of the earth were empty.

Now, the usual way to climb Cloudy Pass is to take a good businesslike
horse and sit on his back. Then, by devious and circuitous routes, with
frequent rests, the horse takes you up. When there is a place the horse
cannot manage, you get off and hold his tail, and he pulls you. Even at
that, it is a long business and a painful one. But it is better--oh,
far, far better!--than the way we had taken.

Have you ever reached a point where you fix your starting eyes on a
shrub or a rock ten feet ahead and struggle for it? And, having achieved
it, fix on another five feet farther on, and almost fail to get it?
Because, if you have not, you know nothing of this agony of tearing
lungs and hammering heart and throbbing muscles that is the
mountain-climber's price for achievement.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT BY L. D. LINDSLEY
  _Looking southeast from Cloudy Pass_]

And then, after all, while resting on the top of the world with our feet
hanging over, discussing dilated hearts, because I knew mine would never
go back to normal, to see a ptarmigan, and have Mr. Fred miss it because
he wanted to shoot its head neatly off!

Strange birds, those ptarmigan. Quite fearless of man, because they know
him not or his evil works, on alarm they have the faculty of almost
instantly obliterating themselves. I have seen a mother bird and her
babies, on an alarm, so hide themselves on a bare mountain-side that not
so much as a bit of feather could be seen. But unless frightened, they
will wander almost under the hunter's feet.

I dare say they do not know how very delicious they are, especially
after a diet of salt meat.

As we sat panting on Cloudy Pass, the sun rose over the cliff of the
great granite bowl. The peaks turned from red to yellow. It was
absolutely silent. No trees rustled in the morning air. There were no
trees. Only, here and there, a few stunted evergreens, two or three feet
high, had rooted on the rock and clung there, gnarled and twisted from
their winter struggles.

Ears that had grown tired of the noises of cities grew rested. But our
ears were more rested than our bodies.

I have always believed that it is easier to go downhill than to go up.
This is not true. I say it with the deepest earnestness. After the first
five hundred feet of descent, progress down became agonizing. The
something that had gone wrong with my knees became terribly wrong; they
showed a tendency to bend backward; they shook and quivered.

The last mile of that four-mile descent was one of the most dreadful
experiences of my life. A broken thing, I crept into camp and tendered
mute apologies to Budweiser, my horse, called familiarly "Buddy."
(Although he was not the sort of horse one really became familiar with.)

The remainder of that day, Mrs. Fred and I lay under a mosquito-canopy,
played solitaire, and rested our aching bodies. The Forest Supervisor
climbed Lyman Glacier. The Head and the Little Boy made the circuit of
the lake, and had to be roped across the rushing river which is its
outlet. And the horses rested for the real hardship of the trip, which
was about to commence.

One thing should be a part of the equipment of every one who intends to
camp in the mountains near the snow-fields. This is a mosquito-tent.
Ours was brought by that experienced woodsman and mountaineer, Mr.
Hilligoss, and was made with a light-muslin top three feet long by the
width of double-width muslin. To this was sewed sides of cheese-cloth,
with double seams and reinforced corners. At the bottom it had an extra
piece of netting two feet wide, to prevent the insects from crawling
under.

Erecting such a shelter is very simple. Four stakes, five feet high,
were driven into the ground and the mosquito-canopy simply hung over
them.

We had no face-masks, except the red netting, but, for such a trip, a
mask is simple to make and occasionally most acceptable. The best one I
know--and it, too, is the Woodsman's invention--consists of a four-inch
band of wire netting; above it, whipped on, a foot of light muslin to be
tied round the hat, and, below, a border of cheese-cloth two feet deep,
with a rubber band. Such a mask does not stick to the face. Through the
wire netting, it is possible to shoot with accuracy. The rubber band
round the neck allows it to be lifted with ease.

I do not wish to give the impression that there were mosquitoes
everywhere. But when there were mosquitoes, there was nothing
clandestine about it.

The next day we crossed Cloudy Pass and started down the Agnes Creek
Valley. It was to be a forced march of twenty-five miles over a trail
which no one was sure existed. There had, at one time, been a trail, but
avalanches have a way, in these mountain valleys, of destroying all
landmarks, and rock-slides come down from the great cliffs, fill
creek-beds, and form swamps. Whether we could get down at all or not was
a question. To the eternal credit of our guides, we made it. For the
upper five miles below Cloudy Pass it was touch and go. Even with the
sharp hatchet of the Woodsman ahead, with his blazes on the trees where
the trail had been obliterated, it was the hardest kind of going.

Here were ditches that the horses leaped; here were rushing streams
where they could hardly keep their footing. Again, a long mile or two of
swamp and almost impenetrable jungle, where only the Woodsman's
axe-marks gave us courage to go on. We were mired at times, and again
there were long stretches over rock-slides, where the horses scrambled
like cats.

But with every mile there came a sense of exhilaration. We were making
progress.

There was little or no life to be seen. The Woodsman, going ahead of us,
encountered a brown bear reaching up for a cluster of salmon-berries. He
ambled away, quite unconcerned, and happily ignorant of that desperate
trio of junior Rineharts, bearing down on him with almost the entire
contents of the best gun shop in Spokane.

It should have been a great place for bears, that Agnes Creek Valley.
There were ripe huckleberries, service-berries, salmon-and
manzanita-berries. There were plenty of places where, if I had been a
bear, I should have been entirely happy--caves and great rocks, and
good, cold water. And I believe they were there. But thirty-one horses
and a sort of family tendency to see if there is an echo anywhere about,
and such loud inquiries as, "Are you all right, mother?" and "Who the
dickens has any matches?"--these things are fatal to seeing wild life.

Indeed, the next time I am overcome by one of my mad desires to see a
bear, I shall go to the zoo.

It was fifteen years, I believe, since Dan Devore had seen the Agnes
Creek Valley. From the condition of the trail, I am inclined to think
that Dan was the last man who had ever used it. And such a wonderland
as it is! Such marvels of flowers as we descended, such wild
tiger-lilies and columbines and Mariposa lilies! What berries and
queen's-cup and chalice-cup and bird's-bill! There was trillium, too,
although it was not in bloom, and devil's-club, a plant which stings and
sets up a painful swelling. There were yew trees, those trees which the
Indians use for making their bows, wild white rhododendron and spirea,
cottonwood, white pine, hemlock, Douglas spruce, and white fir.
Everywhere there was mountain-ash, the berries beloved of bears. And
high up on the mountain there was always heather, beautiful to look at
but slippery, uncertain footing for horse and man.

Twenty-five miles, broken with canter and trot, is not more than I have
frequently taken on a brisk sunny morning at home. But twenty-five miles
at a slow walk, now in a creek-bed, now on the edge of a cliff, is a
different matter. The last five miles of the Agnes Creek trip were a
long despair. We found and located new muscles that the anatomists have
overlooked.--A really first-class anatomist ought never to make a chart
without first climbing a high mountain and riding all day on the
creature alluded to in this song of Bob's, which gained a certain
popularity among the male members of the party.

          "A sailor's life is bold and free.
           He lives upon the bright blue sea.
           He has to work like h----, of course,
           But he doesn't have to ride on a darned old horse."

It was dark when we reached our camp-ground at the foot of the valley. A
hundred feet below, in a gorge, ran the Stehekin River, a noisy and
turbulent stream full of trout. We groped through the darkness for our
tents that night and fell into bed more dead than alive. But at three
o'clock the next morning, the junior Rineharts, following Mr. Fred, were
off for bear, reappearing at ten, after breakfast was over, with an
excited story of having seen one very close but having unaccountably
missed it.

There was no water for the horses at camp that night, and none for them
in the morning. There was no way to get them down to the river, and the
poor animals were almost desperate with thirst. They were having little
enough to eat even then, at the beginning of the trip, and it was hard
to see them without water, too.




XIII

CANON FISHING AND A TELEGRAM


It was eleven o'clock the next morning before I led Buddy--I had
abandoned "Budweiser" in view of the drought--into a mountain stream and
let him drink. He would have rolled in it, too, but I was on his back
and I fiercely restrained him.

The next day was a comparatively short trip. There was a trapper's cabin
at the fork of Bridge Creek in the Stehekin River. There we were to
spend the night before starting on our way to Cascade Pass. As it turned
out, we spent two days there. There was a little grass for the horses,
and we learned of a canon, some five or six miles off our trail, which
was reported as full of fish.

The most ardent of us went there the next day--Mr. Hilligoss, Weaver,
and "Silent Lawrie" and the Freds and Bob and the Big Boy and the Little
Boy and Joe. And, without expecting it, we happened on adventure.

Have you ever climbed down a canon with rocky sides, a straight and
precipitous five hundred feet, clinging with your finger nails to any
bit of green that grows from the cliff, and to footholds made by an axe,
and carrying a fly-book and a trout-rod which is an infinitely precious
trout-rod? Also, a share of the midday lunch and twenty pounds more
weight than you ought to have by the beauty-scale? Because, unless you
have, you will never understand that trip.

It was a series of wild drops, of blood-curdling escapes, of slips and
recoveries, of bruises and abrasions. But at last we made it, and there
was the river!

I have still in mind a deep pool where the water, rushing at tremendous
speed over a rocky ledge, fell perhaps fifteen feet. I had fixed my eyes
on that pool early in the day, but it seemed impossible of access. To
reach it it was necessary again to scale a part of the cliff, and,
clinging to its face, to work one's way round along a ledge perhaps
three inches wide. When I had once made it, with the aid of friendly
hands and a leather belt, by which I was lowered, I knew one thing--knew
it inevitably. I was there for life. Nothing would ever take me back
over that ledge.

However, I was there, and there was no use wasting time. For there were
fish there. Now and then they jumped. But they did not take the fly. The
water seethed and boiled, and I stood still and fished, because a slip
on that spray-covered ledge and I was gone, to be washed down to Lake
Chelan, and lie below sea-level in the Cascade Mountains. Which might be
a glorious sort of tomb, but it did not appeal to me.

I tried different flies with no result. At last, with a weighted line
and a fish's eye, I got my first fish--the best of the day, and from
that time on I forgot the danger.

Some day, armed with every enticement known to the fisherman, I am going
back to that river. For there, under a log, lurks the wiliest trout I
have ever encountered. In full view he stayed during the entire time of
my sojourn. He came up to the fly, leaped over it, made faces at it.
Then he would look up at me scornfully.

[Illustration: _Stream fishing_]

"Old tricks," he seemed to say. "Old stuff--not good enough." I dare say
he is still there.

Late in the day, we got out of that canon. Got out at infinite peril and
fatigue, climbed, struggled, stumbled, held on, pulled. I slipped once
and had a bad knee for six weeks. Never once did I dare to look back and
down. It was always up, and the top was always receding. And when we
reached camp, the Head, who had been on an excursion of his own, refused
to be thrilled, and spent the evening telling how he had been climbing
over the top of the world on his hands and knees. In sheer scorn, we let
him babble.

But my hat is off to him, after all, for he had ready for us, and swears
to this day to its truth, the best fish-story of the trip.

Lying on the top of one of our packing-cases was a great bull-trout. Now
a bull-trout has teeth, and held in a vise-like grip in the teeth of
this one was a smaller trout. In the mouth of the small trout was a
gray-and-black fly. The Head maintained that he had hooked the small
fish and was about to draw it to shore when the bull-trout leaped out of
the water, caught the small fish, and held on grimly. The Head thereupon
had landed them both.

In proof of this, as I have said, he had the two fish on top of a
packing-case. But it is not a difficult matter to place a small trout
cross-wise in the jaws of a bull-trout, and to this day we are not quite
certain.

There _were_ tooth-marks on the little fish, but, as one of the guides
said, he wouldn't put it past the Head to have made them himself.

That night we received a telegram. I remember it with great
distinctness, because the man who brought it in charged fifteen dollars
for delivering it. He came at midnight, and how he had reached us no one
will ever know. The telegram notified us that a railroad strike was
about to take place and that we should get out as soon as possible.

Early the next morning we held a conference. It was about as far back as
it was to go ahead over the range. And before us still lay the Great
Adventure of the pass.

We took a vote on it at last and the "ayes" carried. We would go ahead,
making the best time we could. If the railroads had stopped when we got
out, we would merely turn our pack-outfit toward the east and keep on
moving. We had been all summer in the saddle by that time, and a matter
of thirty-five hundred miles across the continent seemed a trifle.

Dan Devore brought us other news that morning, however. Cascade Pass was
closed with snow. A miner who lived alone somewhere up the gorge had
brought in the information. It was a serious moment. We could get to
Doubtful Lake, but it was unlikely we could get any farther. The
comparatively simple matter thus became a complicated one, for Doubtful
Lake was not only a detour; it was almost inaccessible, especially for
horses. But we hated to acknowledge defeat. So again we voted to go
ahead.

That day, while the pack-outfit was being got ready, I had a long talk
with the Forest Supervisor. He told me many things about our National
Forests, things which are worth knowing and which every American, whose
playgrounds the forests are, should know.

In the first place, the Forestry Department welcomes the camper. He is
given his liberty, absolutely. He is allowed to hunt such game as is in
season, and but two restrictions are placed on him. He shall leave his
camp-ground clean, and he shall extinguish every spark of fire before he
leaves. Beyond that, it is the policy of the Government to let campers
alone. It is possible in a National Forest to secure a special permit to
put up buildings for permanent camps. An act passed on the 4th of March,
1915, gives the camper a permit for a definite period, although until
that time the Government could revoke the permit at will.

The rental is so small that it is practically negligible. All roads and
trails are open to the public; no admission can be charged to a National
Forest, and no concession will be sold. The whole idea of the National
Forest as a playground is to administer it in the public interest. Good
lots on Lake Chelan can be obtained for from five to twenty-five dollars
a year, depending on their locality. It is the intention of the
Government to pipe water to these allotments.

For the hunters, there is no protection for bear, cougar, coyotes,
bobcats, and lynx. No license is required to hunt them. And to the
persistent hunter who goes into the woods, not as we did, with an outfit
the size of a cavalry regiment, there is game to be had in abundance. We
saw goat-tracks in numbers at Cloudy Pass and the marks of Bruin
everywhere.

The Chelan National Forest is well protected against fires. A
fire-launch patrols the lake and lookouts are stationed all the time on
Strong Mountain and Crow's Hill. They live there on the summits, where
provisions and water must be carried up to them. These lookouts now have
telephones, but until last summer they used the heliograph instead.

So now we prepared, having made our decision to go on. That night, if
the trail was possible, we would camp at Doubtful Lake.




XIV

DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE


The first part of that adventurous day was quiet. We moved sedately
along on an overgrown trail, mountain walls so close on each side that
the valley lay in shadow. I rode next to Dan Devore that day, and on the
trail he stopped his horse and showed me the place where Hughie McKeever
was found.

Dan Devore and Hughie McKeever went out one November to go up to
Horseshoe Basin. Dan left before the heaviest snows came, leaving
McKeever alone. When McKeever had not appeared by February, Dan went in
for him. His cabin was empty.

He had kept a diary up to the 24th of December, when it stopped
abruptly. There were a few marten skins in the cabin, and his outfit.
That was all. In some cottonwoods, not far from the camp, they found his
hatchet and his bag hanging to a tree.

It looked for a time, as though the mystery of Hughie McKeever's
disappearance would be one of the unsolved tragedies of the mountains.
But a trapper, whose route took him along Thunder Creek that spring,
noticed that his dog made a side trip each time, away from the trail. At
last he investigated, and found the body of Hughie McKeever. He had
probably been caught in a snow-slide, for his leg was broken below the
knee. Unable to walk, he had put his snowshoes on his hands and,
dragging the broken leg, had crawled six miles through the snow and ice
of the mountain winter. When he was found, he was only a mile and a half
from his cabin and safety.

There are many other tragedies of that valley. There was a man who went
up Bridge Creek to see a claim he had located there. He was to be out
four days. But in ten days he had not appeared, which was not
surprising, for there was twenty-five feet of snow, and when the snow
had frozen so that rescuers could travel over the crust, they went up
after him. He was lying in one of the bunks of his cabin with a
mattress over him, frozen to death.

So, Dan said, they covered him in the snow with a mattress, and went
back in the spring to bury him.

Every winter, in those mountain valleys, men who cannot get their
outfits out before the snow shoot their horses or cut their throats
rather than let them freeze or starve to death. It is a grim country,
the Cascade country. One man shot nine in this very valley last winter.

Our naturalist had been caught the winter before in the first snowstorm
of the season. He was from daylight until eight o'clock at night making
two miles of trail. He had to break it, foot by foot, for the horses.

As we rode up the gorge toward the pass, it was evident, from the amount
of snow in the mountains, that stories had not been exaggerated. The
packers looked dubious. Even if we could make the climb to Doubtful
Lake, it seemed impossible that we could get farther. But the monotony
of the long ride was broken that afternoon by our first sight, as a
party, of a bear.

[Illustration: _Mountain miles: The trail up Swiftcurrent Pass, Glacier
National Park_]

It came out on a ledge of the mountain, perhaps three hundred yards
away, and proceeded, with great deliberation, to walk across a
rock-slide. It paid no attention whatever to us and to the wild
excitement which followed its discovery. Instantly, the three junior
Rineharts were off their horses, and our artillery attack was being
prepared. At the first shot, the pack-ponies went crazy. They lunged and
jumped, and even Buddy showed signs of strain, leaping what I imagine to
be some eleven feet in the air and coming back on four rigid knees.
Followed such a peppering of that cliff as it had never had before.
Little clouds of rock-dust rose above the bear, in front of him, behind
him, and below him. He stopped, mildly astonished, and looked around.
More noise, more bucking on the trail, more dust. The bear walked on a
trifle faster.

It had been arranged that the first bear was to be left for the juniors.
So the packers and the rest of the party watched and advised.

But, as I have related elsewhere in this narrative, there were no
casualties. The bear, as far as I know, is living to-day, an honored
member of his community, and still telling how he survived the great
war. At last he disappeared into a cave, and we went on without so much
as a single skin to decorate a college room.

We went on.

What odds and ends of knowledge we picked up on those long days in the
saddle! That if lightning strikes a pine even lightly, it kills, but
that a fir will ordinarily survive; that mountain miles are measured
air-line, so that twenty-five miles may really be forty, and that, even
then, they are calculated on the level, so that one is credited with
only the base of the triangle while he is laboriously climbing up its
hypotenuse. I am personally acquainted with the hypotenuses of a good
many mountains, and there is no use trying to pretend that they are
bases. They are not.

Then we learned that the purpose of the National Forests is not to
preserve timber but to conserve it. The idea is to sell and reseed.
About twenty-five per cent of the timber we saw was yellow pine. But
most of the timber we saw on the east side of the Cascades will be safe
for some time. I wouldn't undertake to carry out, from most of that
region, enough pine-needles to make a sofa-cushion. It is quite enough
to get oneself out.

Up to now it had been hard going, but not impossible. Now we were to do
the impossible.

It is a curious thing about mountains, but they have a hideous tendency
to fall down. Whole cliff-faces, a mile or so high, are suddenly seized
with a wandering disposition. Leaving the old folks at home and sliding
down into the valleys, they come awful croppers and sustain about eleven
million compound comminuted fractures.

These family breaks are known as rock-slides.

Now to travel twenty feet over a rock-slide is to twist an ankle, bruise
a shin-bone, utterly discourage a horse, and sour the most amiable
disposition.

There is no flat side to these wandering rocks. With the diabolical
ingenuity that nature can show when she goes wrong, they lie edge up. Do
you remember the little mermaid who wished to lose her tail and gain
legs so she could follow the prince? And how her penalty was that every
step was like walking on the edges of swords? That is a mountain
rock-slide, but I do not recall that the little mermaid had to drag a
frightened and slipping horse, which stepped on her now and then. Or
wear riding-boots. Or stop every now and then to be photographed, and
try to persuade her horse to stop also. Or keep looking up to see if
another family jar threatened. Or look around to see if any of the party
or the pack was rolling down over the spareribs of that ghastly
skeleton. No; the little mermaid's problem was a simple and
uncomplicated one.

We were climbing, too. Only one thing kept us going. The narrow valley
twisted, and around each cliff-face we expected the end--either death or
solid ground. But not so, or, at least, not for some hours.
Riding-boots peeled like a sunburnt face; stones dislodged and rolled
down; the sun beat down in early September fury, and still we went on.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY A. J. BAKER, KALISPELL, MONT.
  _Where the rock-slides start_ (_Glacier National Park_)]

Only three miles it was, but it was as bad a three miles as I have ever
covered. Then--the naturalist turned and smiled.

"Now we are all right," he said. "_We start to climb soon!_"




XV

DOUBTFUL LAKE


Of all the mountain-climbing I have ever done the switchback up to
Doubtful Lake is the worst. We were hours doing it. There were places
when it seemed no horse could possibly make the climb. Back and forth,
up and up, along that narrow rock-filled trail, which was lost here in a
snow-bank, there in a jungle of evergreen that hung out from the
mountain-side, we were obliged to go. There was no going back. We could
not have turned a horse around, nor could we have reversed the
pack-outfit without losing some of the horses.

As a matter of fact, we dropped two horses on that switchback. With
infinite labor the packers got them back to the trail, rolling,
tumbling, and roping them down to the ledge below, and there salvaging
them. It was heart-breaking, nerve-racking work. Near the top was an
ice-patch across a brawling waterfall. To slip on that ice-patch meant a
drop of incredible distance. From broken places in the crust it was
possible to see the stream below. Yet over the ice it was necessary to
take ourselves and the pack.

"Absolutely no riding here," was the order, given in strained tones. For
everybody's nerves were on edge.

Somehow or other, we got over. I can still see one little pack-pony
wandering away from the others and traveling across that tiny ice-field
on the very brink of death at the top of the precipice. The sun had
softened the snow so that I fell flat into it. And there was a dreadful
moment when I thought I was going to slide.

Even when I was safely over, my anxieties were just beginning. For the
Head and the Juniors were not yet over. And there was no space to stop
and see them come. It was necessary to move on up the switchback, that
the next horse behind might scramble up. Buddy went gallantly on,
leaping, slipping, his flanks heaving, his nostrils dilated. Then, at
last, the familiar call,--

"Are you all right, mother?"

And I knew it was all right with them--so far.

Three thousand feet that switchback went straight up in the air. How
many thousand feet we traveled back and forward, I do not know.

But these things have a way of getting over somehow. The last of the
pack-horses was three hours behind us in reaching Doubtful Lake. The
weary little beasts, cut, bruised, and by this time very hungry, looked
dejected and forlorn. It was bitterly cold. Doubtful Lake was full of
floating ice, and a chilling wind blew on us from the snow all about. A
bear came out on the cliff-face across the valley. But no one attempted
to shoot at him. We were too tired, too bruised and sore. We gave him no
more than a passing glance.

It had been a tremendous experience, but a most alarming one. From the
brink of that pocket on the mountain-top where we stood the earth fell
away to vast distances beneath. The little river which empties Doubtful
Lake slid greasily over a rock and disappeared without a sound into
the void.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT BY FRED H. KISER, PORTLAND, OREGON
  _Switchbacks on the trail_ (_Glacier National Park_)]

Until the pack-outfit arrived, we could have no food. We built a fire
and huddled round it, and now and then one of us would go to the edge of
the pit which lay below to listen. The summer evening was over and night
had fallen before we heard the horses coming near the top of the cliff.
We cheered them, as, one by one, they stumbled over the edge, dark
figures of horses and men, the animals with their bulging packs. They
had put up a gallant fight.

And we had no food for the horses. The few oats we had been able to
carry were gone, and there was no grass on the little plateau. There was
heather, deceptively green, but nothing else. And here, for the benefit
of those who may follow us along the trail, let me say that oats should
be carried, if two additional horses are required for the
purpose--carried, and kept in reserve for the last hard days of the
trip.

The two horses that had fallen were unpacked first. They were cut, and
on their cuts the Head poured iodine. But that was all we could do for
them. One little gray mare was trembling violently. She went over a
cliff again the next day, but I am glad to say that we took her out
finally, not much the worse except for a badly cut shoulder. The other
horse, a sorrel, had only a day or two before slid five hundred feet
down a snow-bank. He was still stiff from his previous accident, and if
ever I saw a horse whose nerve was gone, I saw one there--a poor,
tragic, shaken creature, trembling at a word.

That night, while we lay wrapped in blankets round the fire while the
cooks prepared supper at another fire near by, the Optimist produced a
bottle of claret. We drank it out of tin cups, the only wine of the
journey, and not until long afterward did we know its history--that a
very great man to whose faith the Northwest owes so much of its
development had purchased it, twenty-five years before, for the visit to
this country of Albert, King of the Belgians.

That claret, taken so casually from tin cups near the summit of the
Cascades, had been a part of the store of that great dreamer and most
abstemious of men, James J. Hill, laid in for the use of that other
great dreamer and idealist, Albert, when he was his guest. While we ate,
Weaver said suddenly,--

"Listen!"

His keen ears had caught the sound of a bell. He got up.

"Either Johnny or Buck," he said, "starting back home!"

Then commenced again that heart-breaking task of rounding up the horses.
That is a part of such an expedition. And, even at that, one escaped and
was found the next morning high up the cliffside, in a basin.

It was too late to put up all the tents that night. Mrs. Fred and I
slept in our clothes but under canvas, and the men lay out with their
faces to the sky.

Toward dawn a thunder-storm came up. For we were on the crest of the
Cascades now, where the rain-clouds empty themselves before traveling
to the arid country to the east. Just over the mountain-wall above us
lay the Pacific Slope.

The rain came down, and around the peaks overhead lightning flashed and
flamed. No one moved except Joe, who sat up in his blankets, put his hat
on, said, "Let 'er rain," and lay down to sleep again. Peanuts, the
naturalist's horse, sought human companionship in the storm, and
wandered into camp, where one of the young bear-hunters wakened to find
him stepping across his prostrate and blanketed form.

Then all was still again, except for the solid beat of the rain on
canvas and blanket, horse and man.

It cleared toward morning, and at dawn Dan was up and climbed the wall
on foot. At breakfast, on his return, we held a conference. He reported
that it was possible to reach the top--possible but difficult, and that
what lay on the other side we should have to discover later on.

A night's sleep had made Joe all business again. On the previous day he
had been too busy saving his camera and his life--camera first, of
course--to try for pictures. But now he had a brilliant idea.

"Now see here," he said to me; "I've got a great idea. How's Buddy about
water?"

"He's partial to it," I admitted, "for drinking, or for lying down and
rolling in it, especially when I am on him. Why?"

"Well, it's like this," he observed: "I'm set up on the bank of the
lake. See? And you ride him into the water and get him to scramble up on
one of those ice-cakes. Do you get it? It'll be a whale of a picture."

"Joe," I said, in a stern voice, "did you ever try to make a horse go
into an icy lake and climb on to an ice-cake? Because if you have, you
can do it now. I can turn the camera all right. Anyhow," I added firmly,
"I've been photographed enough. This film is going to look as if I'd
crossed the Cascades alone. Some of you other people ought to have a
chance."

But a moving-picture man after a picture is as determined as a cook who
does not like the suburbs.

I rode Buddy to the brink of the lake, and there spoke to him in
friendly tones. I observed that this lake was like other lakes, only
colder, and that it ought to be mere play after the day before. I also
selected a large ice-cake, which looked fairly solid, and pointed Buddy
at it.

Then I kicked him. He took a step and began to shake. Then he leaped six
feet to one side and reared, still shaking. Then he turned round and
headed for the camp.

By that I was determined on the picture. There is nothing like two wills
set in opposite directions to determine a woman. Buddy and I again and
again approached the lake, mostly sideways. But at last he went in, took
twenty steps out, felt the cold on his poor empty belly, and--refused
the ice-cake. We went out much faster than we went in, making the bank
in a great bound and a very bad humor--two very bad humors.




XVI

OVER CASCADE PASS


To get out of the Doubtful Lake plateau to Cascade Pass it was necessary
to climb eight hundred feet up a steep and very slippery cliffside. On
the other side lay the pass, but on the level of the lake. It was here
that we "went up a hill one day and then went down again" with a
vengeance. And on this cliffside it was that the little gray mare went
over again, falling straight on to a snow-bank, which saved her, and
then rolling over and over shedding parts of our equipment, and landing
far below dazed and almost senseless.

It was on the top of that wall above Doubtful Lake that I had the
greatest fright of the trip.

That morning, as a special favor, the Little Boy had been allowed to go
ahead with Mr. Hilligoss, who was to clear trail and cut footholds where
they were necessary. When we were more than halfway to the top of the
wall above the lake, two alternative routes to the top offered
themselves, one to the right across a snow-field that hugged the edge of
a cliff which dropped sheer five hundred feet to the water, another to
the left over slippery heather which threatened a slide and a casualty
at every step. The Woodsman had left no blazes, there being no tree to
mark. Holding on by clutching to the heather with our hands, we debated.
Finally, we chose the left-hand route as the one they had probably
taken. But when we reached the top, the Woodsman and the Little Boy were
not there. We hallooed, but there was no reply. And, suddenly, the
terrible silence of the mountains seemed ominous. Had they ventured
across the snow-bank and slipped?

I am not ashamed to say that, sitting on my horse on the top of that
mountain-wall, I proceeded to have a noiseless attack of hysterics.
There were too many chances of accident for any of the party to take the
matter lightly. There we gathered on that little mountain meadow, not
much bigger than a good-sized room, and waited. There was snow and ice
and silence everywhere. Below, Doubtful Lake lay like a sapphire set in
granite, and far beneath it lay the valley from which we had climbed the
day before. But no one cared for scenery.

Then it was that "Silent Lawrie" turned his horse around and went back.
Soon he hallooed, and, climbing back to us, reported that they had
crossed the ice-bank. He had found the marks of the axe making
footholds. And soon afterward there was another halloo from below, and
the missing ones rode into sight. They were blithe and gay. They had
crossed the ice-field and had seen a view which they urged we should not
miss. But I had had enough view. All I wanted was the level earth. There
could be nothing after that flat enough to suit me.

Sliding, stumbling, falling, leading our scrambling horses, we got down
the wall on the other side. It was easier going, but slippery with
heather and that green moss of the mountains, which looks so tempting
but which gives neither foothold nor nourishment. Then, at last, the
pass.

It was thirty-six hours since our horses had had anything to eat. We had
had food and sleep, but during the entire night the poor animals had
been searching those rocky mountain-sides for food and failing to find
it. They stood in a dejected group, heads down, feet well braced to
support their weary bodies.

But last summer was not a normal one. Unusually heavy snowfalls the
winter before had been followed by a late, cold spring. The snow was
only beginning to melt late in July, and by September, although almost
gone from the pass itself, it still covered deep the trail on the east
side.

So, some of those who read this may try the same great adventure
hereafter and find it unnecessary to make the Doubtful Lake detour. I
hope so. Because the pass is too wonderful not to be visited. Some day,
when this magnificent region becomes a National Park, and there is
something more than a dollar a mile to be spent on trails, a thousand
dollars or so invested in trail-work will put this roof of the world
within reach of any one who can sit a horse. And those who go there will
be the better for the going. Petty things slip away in the silent high
places. It is easy to believe in God there. And the stars and heaven
seem very close.

One thing died there forever for me--my confidence in the man who writes
the geography and who says that, representing the earth by an orange,
the highest mountains are merely as the corrugations on its skin.

On Cascade Pass is the dividing-line between the Chelan and the
Washington National Forests. For some reason we had confidently believed
that reaching the pass would see the end of our difficulties. The only
question that had ever arisen was whether we could get to the pass or
not. And now we were there.

We were all perceptibly cheered; even the horses seemed to feel that the
worst was over. Tame grouse scudded almost under our feet. They had
never seen human beings, and therefore had no terror of them.

And here occurred one of the small disappointments that the Middle Boy
will probably remember long after he has forgotten the altitude in feet
of that pass and other unimportant matters. For he scared up some
grouse, and this is the tragedy. The open season for grouse is September
1st in Chelan and September 15th across the line. And the birds would
not cross the line. They were wise birds, and must have had a calendar
about them, for, although we were vague as to the date, we knew it was
not yet the 15th. So they sat or fluttered about, and looked most
awfully good to eat. But they never went near the danger-zone or the
enemy's trenches.

We lay about and rested, and the grouse laughed at us, and a great
marmot, sentinel of his colony, sat on a near-by rock and whistled
reports of what we were doing. Joe unlimbered the moving-picture camera,
and the Head used the remainder of his small stock of iodine on the
injured horses. The sun shone on the flowers and the snow, on the pail
in which our cocoa was cooking, on the barrels of our unused guns and
the buckles of the saddles. We watched the pack-horses coming down, tiny
pin-point figures, oddly distorted by the great packs. And we rested for
the descent.

I do not know why we thought that descent from Cascade Pass on the
Pacific side was going to be easy. It was by far the most nerve-racking
part of the trip. Yet we started off blithely enough. Perhaps Buddy knew
that he was the first horse to make that desperate excursion. He
developed a strange nervousness, and took to leaping off the trail in
bad places, so that one moment I was a part of the procession and the
next was likely to be six feet above the trail on a rocky ledge, with no
apparent way to get down.

We had expected that there would be less snow on the western slope, but
at the beginning of the trip we found snow everywhere. And whereas
before the rock-slides had been wretchedly uncomfortable but at
comparatively low altitudes, now we found ourselves climbing across
slides which hugged the mountain thousands of feet above the valley.

Our nerves began to go, too, I think, on that last day. We were plainly
frightened, not for ourselves but each for the other. There were many
places where to dislodge a stone was to lose it as down a bottomless
well. There was one frightful spot where it was necessary to go through
a waterfall on a narrow ledge slippery with moss, where the water
dropped straight, uncounted feet to the valley below.

The Little Boy paused blithely, his reins over his arm, and surveyed the
scenery from the center of this death-trap.

"If anybody slipped here," he said, "he'd fall quite a distance." Then
he kicked a stone to see it go.

"_Quit that!_" said the Head, in awful tones.

Midway of the descent, we estimated that we should lose at least ten
horses. The pack was behind us, and there was no way to discover how
they were faring. But as the ledges were never wide enough for a horse
and the one leading him to move side by side, it seemed impossible that
the pack-ponies with their wide burdens could edge their way along.

[Illustration: _Watching the pack-train coming down at Cascade Pass_]

I had mounted Buddy again. I was too fatigued to walk farther, and,
besides, I had fallen so often that I felt he was more sure-footed than
I. Perhaps my narrowest escape on that trip was where a huge stone had
slipped across the ledge we were following. Buddy, afraid to climb its
slippery sides, undertook to leap it. There was one terrible moment when
he failed to make a footing with his hind feet and we hung there over
the gorge. After that, Dan Devore led him.

In spite of our difficulties, we got down to the timber-line rather
quickly. But there trouble seemed to increase rather than diminish.
Trees had fallen across the way, and dangerous detours on uncertain
footing were necessary to get round them. The warm rains of the Pacific
Slope had covered the mountain-sides with thick vegetation also. Our
way, hardly less steep than on the day before, was overgrown with
greenery that was often a trap for the unwary. And even when, at last,
we were down beyond the imminent danger of breaking our necks at every
step, there were more difficulties. The vegetation was rank,
tremendously high. We worked our way through it, lost to each other and
to the world. Wilderness snows had turned the small streams to roaring
rivers and spread them over flats through which we floundered. So long
was it since the trail had been used that it was often difficult to tell
where it took off from the other side of the stream. And our horses were
growing very weary. They had made the entire trip without grain and with
such bits of pasture as they could pick up in the mountains. Now it was
a long time since they had had even grass.

It will never be possible to know how many miles we covered in that
Cascade Pass trip. As Mr. Hilligoss said, mountain miles were measured
with a coonskin, and they threw in the tail. Often to make a mile's
advance we traveled four on the mountain-side.

So when they tell me that it was a trifle of sixteen miles from the top
of Cascade Pass to the camp-site we made that night, I know that it was
nearer thirty. In point of difficulties, it was a thousand.

Yet the last part of the trip, had we not been too weary to enjoy it,
was superbly beautiful. There was a fine rain falling. The undergrowth
was less riotous and had taken on the form of giant ferns, ten feet
high, which overhung the trail. Here were great cypress trees thirty-six
feet in circumference--a forest of them. We rode through green aisles
where even the death of the forest was covered by soft moss. Out of the
green and moss-covered trunks of dead giants, new growth had sprung, new
trees, hanging gardens of ferns.

There had been much talk of Mineral Park. It was our objective point for
camp that night, and I think I had gathered that it was to be a
settlement. I expected nothing less than a post-office and perhaps some
miners' cabins. When, at the end of that long, hard day, we reached
Mineral Park at twilight and in a heavy rain, I was doomed to
disappointment.

Mineral Park consists of a deserted shack in a clearing perhaps forty
feet square, on the bank of a mountain stream. All around it is
impenetrable forest. The mountains converge here so that the valley
becomes a canon. So dense was the growth that we put up our tents on the
trail itself.

In the little clearing round the empty shack, the horses were tied in
the cold rain. It was impossible to let them loose, for we could never
have found them again. Our hearts ached that night for the hungry
creatures; the rain had brought a cold wind and they could not even move
about to keep warm.

I was too tired to eat that night. I went to bed and lay in my tent,
listening to the sound of the rain on the canvas. The camp-stove was set
up in the trail, and the others gathered round it, eating in the rain.
But, weary as I was, I did not sleep. For the first time, terror of the
forest gripped me. It menaced; it threatened.

The roar of the river sounded like the rush of flame. I lay there and
wondered what would happen if the forest took fire. For the gentle
summer rain would do little good once a fire started. There would be no
way out. The giant cliffs would offer no refuge. We could not even have
reached them through the jungle had we tried. And forest-fires were
common enough. We had ridden over too many burned areas not to realize
that.




XVII

OUT TO CIVILIZATION


It was still raining in the morning. The skies were gray and sodden and
the air was moist. We stood round the camp-fire and ate our fried ham,
hot coffee, and biscuits. It was then that the Head, prompted by
sympathy, fed his horse the rain-soaked biscuit, the apple, the two
lumps of sugar, and the raw egg.

Yet, in spite of the weather, we were jubilant. The pack-train had come
through without the loss of a single horse. Again the impossible had
become possible. And that day was to see us out of the mountains and in
peaceful green valleys, where the horses could eat their fill.

The sun came out as we started. Had it not been for the horses, we
should have been entirely happy. But sympathy for them had become an
obsession. We rode slowly to save them; we walked when we could. It was
strange to go through that green wonderland and find not a leaf the
horses could eat. It was all moss, ferns, and evergreens.

From the semi-arid lands east of the Cascades to the rank vegetation of
the Pacific side was an extraordinary change. Trees grew to enormous
sizes. In addition to the great cedars, there were hemlocks fifteen and
eighteen feet in circumference. Only the strong trees survive in these
valleys, and by that ruthless selection of nature weak young saplings
die early. So we found cedar, hemlock, lodge-pole pine, white and
Douglas fir, cottonwood, white pine, spruce, and alder of enormous size.

The brake ferns were the most common, often growing ten feet tall. We
counted five varieties of ferns growing in profusion, among them brake
ferns, sword-ferns, and maidenhair, most beautiful and luxuriant. The
maidenhair fern grew in masses, covering dead trunks of trees and making
solid walls of delicate green beside the trail.

"Silent Lawrie" knew them all. He knew every tiniest flower and plant
that thrust its head above the leaf-mould. He saw them all, too.
Peanuts, his horse, made his own way now, and the naturalist sat a
trifle sideways in his saddle and showed me his discoveries.

I am no naturalist, so I rode behind him, notebook in hand, and I made a
list something like this. If there are any errors they are not the
naturalist's, but mine, because, although I have written a great deal on
a horse's back, I am not proof against the accident of Whiskers stirring
a yellow-jackets' nest on the trail, or of Buddy stumbling, weary beast
that he was, over a root on the path.

This is my list: red-stemmed dogwood; bunchberries, in blossom on the
higher reaches, in bloom below; service-berries, salmon-berries;
skunk-cabbage, beloved by bears, and the roots of which the Indians
roast and eat; above four thousand feet, white rhododendrons, and, above
four thousand five hundred feet, heather; hellebore also in the high
places; thimble-berries and red elderberries, tag-alder, red
honeysuckle, long stretches of willows in the creek-bottoms; vining
maples, too, and yew trees, the wood of which the Indians use for
making bows.

[Illustration: COPYRIGHT BY FRED H. KISER, PORTLAND, OREGON
  _A field of bear-grass_]

Around Cloudy Pass we found the red monkey-flower. In different places
there was the wild parsnip; the ginger-plant, with its heart-shaped leaf
and blossom, buried in the leaf-mould, its crushed leaves redolent of
ginger; masses of yellow violets, twinflowers, ox-eye daisies, and
sweet-in-death, which is sold on the streets in the West as we sell
sweet lavender. There were buttercups, purple asters, bluebells,
goat's-beard, columbines, Mariposa lilies, bird's-bill, trillium,
devil's-club, wild white heliotrope, brick-leaved spirea, wintergreen,
everlasting.

And there are still others, where Buddy collided with the yellow-jacket,
that I find I cannot read at all.

Something lifted for me that day as Buddy and I led off down that fat,
green valley, with the pass farther and farther behind--a weight off my
spirit, a deadly fear of accident, not to myself but to the Family,
which had obsessed me for the last few days. But now I could twist in
my saddle and see them all, ruddy and sound and happy, whistling as they
rode. And I knew that it was all right. It had been good for them and
good for me. It is always good to do a difficult thing. And no one has
ever fought a mountain and won who is not the better for it. The
mountains are not for the weak or the craven, or the feeble of mind or
body.

We went on, to the distant tinkle of the bell on the lead-horse of the
pack-train.

It was that day that "Silent Lawrie" spoke I remember, because he had
said so little before, and because what he said was so well worth
remembering.

"Why can't all this sort of thing be put into music?" he asked. "It _is_
music. Think of it, the drama of it all!"

Then he went on, and this is what "Silent Lawrie" wants to have written.
I pass it on to the world, and surely it can be done. It starts at dawn,
with the dew, and the whistling of the packers as they go after the
horses. Then come the bells of the horses as they come in, the smoke of
the camp-fire, the first sunlight on the mountains, the saddling and
packing. And all the time the packers are whistling.

Then the pack starts out on the trail, the bells of the leaders
jingling, the rattle and crunch of buckles and saddle-leather, the click
of the horses' feet against the rocks, the swish as they ford a singing
stream. The wind is in the trees and birds are chirping. Then comes the
long, hard day, the forest, the first sight of snow-covered peaks, the
final effort, and camp.

After that, there is the thrush's evening song, the afterglow, the
camp-fire, and the stars. And over all is the quiet of the night, and
the faint bells of grazing horses, like the silver ringing of the bell
at a mass.

I wish I could do it.

At noon that day in the Skagit Valley, we found our first civilization,
a camp where a man was cutting cedar blocks for shingles. He looked
absolutely astounded when our long procession drew in around his shanty.
He meant only one thing to us; he meant oats. If he had oats, we were
saved. If he had no oats, it meant again long hours of traveling with
our hungry horses.

He had a bag of oats. But he was not inclined, at first, to dispose of
them, and, as a matter of fact, he did not sell them to us at all. When
we finally got them from him, it was only on our promise to send back
more oats. Money was of no use to him there in the wilderness; but oats
meant everything.

Thirty-one horses we drove into that little bit of a clearing under the
cedar trees, perhaps a hundred feet by thirty. Such wild excitement as
prevailed among the horses when the distribution of oats began, such
plaintive whinnying and restless stirring! But I think they behaved much
better than human beings would have under the same circumstances. And at
last each was being fed--such a pathetically small amount, too, hardly
more than a handful apiece, it seemed. In his eagerness, the Little
Boy's horse breathed in some oats, and for a time it looked as though he
would cough himself to death.

The wood-cutter's wife was there. We were the one excitement in her
long months of isolation. I can still see her rather pathetic face as
she showed me the lace she was making, the one hundred and one ways in
which she tried to fill her lonely hours.

All through the world there are such women, shut away from their kind,
staying loyally with the man they have chosen through days of aching
isolation. That woman had children. She could not take them into the
wilderness with her, so they were in a town, and she was here in the
forest, making things for them and fretting about them and longing for
them. There was something tragic in her face as she watched us mount to
go on.

We were to reach Marblemont that day and there to leave our horses.
After they had rested and recovered, Dan Devore was to take them back
over the range again, while we went on to civilization and a railroad.

We promised the wood-cutter to send the oats back with the outfit; and
when we sent them, we sent at the same time some magazines to that
lonely wife and mother on the Skagit.

Late in the afternoon, we emerged from the forest. It was like coming
from a darkened room into the light. One moment we were in the aisles of
that great green cathedral, the next there was an open road and the
sunlight and houses. We prodded the horses with our heels and raced down
the road. Surprised inhabitants came out and stared. We waved to them;
we loved them; we loved houses and dogs and cows and apple trees. But
most of all we loved level places.

We were in time, too, for the railroad strike had not yet taken place.

As Bob got off his horse, he sang again that little ditty with which,
during the most strenuous hours of the trip, we had become familiar:--

          "Oh, a sailor's life is bold and free,
           He lives upon the bright blue sea:
           He has to work like h--, of course,
           But he doesn't have to ride on a darned old horse."


THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

The poems on pages 140 and 188, were punctuated differently. This was
retained.

On page 90, Dvorak is printed with a hacek over the r. The contraints of
text preclude this from being used in this one instance.





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