Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Friday July 31

We got up about seven but did not start away till about twelve.

Dandy had a sore foot and had to be led. The way was over a regular road which was awfully dusty and hot with no shelter.  We passed many homesteads where they were clearing the land—lots of smoke from the burning stumps which didn’t make us feel any cooler.  Passed one couple and the man was carrying their baby in a sack on his back and it was looking out of the top quite contentedly.  

Reached Rio Grande at about six and after a duck in the Red Willow had supper.  Leslie phoned Olive from the store and brought back some chocolates which were a great treat after two weeks of porridge.  I went to sleep after supper, thus missing the dishes.  The rest, except Monica who kindly stayed behind and guarded my unconscious remains, went over to the store, returning for us about nine.  We all went over and saw a lynx hide.  Two friends of Leslie’s had come out, bringing Kenneth and we to take us in that night.  We made tea for them and had some fresh current biscuits which were made while I slept and after giving Kenneth a ride on the horses, we said good-bye to the kids and Leslie and I went in to Beaver Lodge, the others getting in the next day, reporting later that the nearer Tony got to his stables the slower he got.  Each took a turn riding him but not for pleasure.  Judd was taken for a native by some white men, but by all the dirt and tan to say nothing of sunburn we could all have been real Indians after the third day.

Thursday July 30

Got up early this morning to find it had frozen during the night.  This is the only place we have found frost.  There were little cow birds which looked very much like the ordinary sparrows hopping around the horses and came within half a foot of us without any fear.  We got away about 9:30—there was no sign of our Indian guides. They had evidently become tired of waiting for us.  The trail was well marked so we took it.  We forded the Nose which wasn’t very deep and up the bank on the other side.

Passed more Indian graves, some just out by themselves with their roof like tops and enclosed fence.  Then we went through first alders the forest of pine and white poplars.  The sun could not penetrate through the spruce but when we came to the poplars it shone bright thought on the deep undergrowth beneath the trees. We passed a company of Indians, about two dozen men, women and children.  Their pack bags were made of hide with the hair on the outside.  Each woman had children tied on behind her and also in front.  They all wore straight black straw hats with usually a bright red flower in them.  We later found where they had camped cutting spruce boughs for a bed.  

About one o’clock we met three men who had come from Beaver Lodge and who were on their way to the mountain.  They said they had been travelling since 9 a.m and that we were only half way to the Jasper ford and that they knew nothing of this new ford.  Later we met two Indians who said to watch for blazes on the left and this trail would take us there.  We went on through woods where strawberries and blueberries were growing, also found cherries.  The saskatoons could be reached on horseback.  We reached the new trail which took us over a lot of swampy grass and through dense alders.  Then down a steep hill and around many roots of tees.  This trip has been hard on the horses because of going over so many stumps and dead fall.  

After we had come down the steep hill for ages we came to the Wapiti.  We gave the horses a drink and then started to ford the river, Judd in the lead.  We did not have to have the men lead our horses this time. It was a good ford and although we were quite wet it was because of the splashing.  Fording a stream is just like having a horse sidestep through the water to the bank from which you started till you wake up and find him on the opposite bank.  On the other side we came to a saw mill and later a house belonging to Mr. Lingrel.  Judd went to inquire for a good camp and we were kept busy keeping our horses and the pack hoses from rolling in the soft ground.  Leslie’s horse, finding himself not allowed to, began slowly to sink, so slowly that Leslie didn’t notice it and he was half way down before someone noticed him there with bended knees and Leslie quite unconscious of it on his back.  

While the macaroni was cooking, Marion, Isabel, Monica and I went down for a bath.  Our trips lasted till 4:30 and we were all pretty tired but after a huge dinner we sat late around a campfire while Judd and John swapped stores of the war, but remembering some of the stories which they have already told us we are not going to repeat any of these as really authentic.  Tomorrow will likely be a short trip.

Wednesday July 29

All last night the coyotes set up a terrible din and the horses were very restless, at least Monica says so—I slept right through.  I got into a little hollow and nothing could budge me.  We got off about 10:30 after having a huge breakfast of porridge, bannock, meat and stewed apricots.  We expected a hard day with a lot of climbing but there was not nearly so much, although the first part of the trip was awfully monotonous.

Up one hill covered with alders, they are not high enough to shade you but are adept at springing back and catching your ear or face and giving you a stinging swat on a sunburned shoulder.  After crashing through these for a while we would come to a sand ridge from which the yellow dust rose in clouds.  After the sand ridge we would go downhill and there was always a bog full of mud in the bottom.  When you had done all this you just started over and did it again.  This kept up for two and a half hours and then we came to Pierre’s Lake.  There were more loons laughing on the lake and in amongst the water lilies small families of ducks floated.  Up from the grass and mint grew huge fireweed, all in blossom, some of the spikes being almost two feet tall—behind this was the taller while wild parsnip and behind that the willows.  It looked as if it had been planed there for show, but you couldn’t get near it because of the marshes and all kept right in the path. 

Before coming to the lake Vashti had decided to strike out for herself going up a hill instead of following the path, but she soon got tired and Judd found her whinnying for the rest of the horses. 

After leaving Pierre’s Lake we came into a stretch of white poplars and tall larkspur.  We saw lots of cranberries which have ripened up since we were here before.  Also the little yellow flowers which grow in muddy places.  We have found the grandest big violets and yellow asters and the paintbrush is beginning to turn pink again. 

We reached the camp at Nose River at 4:45 and soon had a fire going and just as we were ready to eat an Indian appeared on horseback.  We invited him to stay.  He is looking for horses and is quite well educated.  He advised us to take the trail that comes out at Rio Grande and as he is leaving for there tomorrow we may go that way and see some new country.  It was not long before another Indian appeared, also on horseback but this time we didn’t ask him to eat not knowing how many more might appear.  Later we waded the river and went over to the Indian Graves.  Our shoes and stockings are now soaking wet but it is not the first time and somehow it doesn’t seem to matter.  We had our usual onion sandwiches before going to bed about eleven when it was just twilight.  It is full moon these nights.  The moon above the lake at Nose Mountain was beautiful but it was quite cold and we usually sat around a roaring campfire.

Tuesday July 28

Tying a half-hitch
I was up early this morning and sat by the lake till the rest got up.  The sun was up and everything was beautiful.  After breakfast we packed up for a move.  We got away about two o’clock, too a short cut through the bushes and over some deadfall and reached the edge much sooner that had we gone around by the lake.  We had not gone  
far when we turned in a bit from the edge to escape a steep hill, when Vahsti, “The horse from the Bible,” as Leslie calls her, broke her cinch and the pack slipped and she started bucking.  We had a regular exhibition which would have been interesting had it not been so dangerous.  We were afraid she’d go over the edge before we got to her.  She went over deadfall scattering pots and pans in every direction, the saddle swinging beneath her, while the other horses weren’t sure but they’d imitate her.  Finally she mired in a bog, Marion reached her first and held her head down till Judd came and sat on it till they got off the broken pack saddle.  They got her up and after about an hour’s work we were ready to start again, the bedding having been packed on her.  All the horses were anxious to step out except Tony who was a livery horse and knew he would have to go back to the barn.  He preferred the great open spaces. 
We discovered that going down the mountain that many of the hills were much steeper than we though and were glad to be going down instead of up.  The alders were very thick below and often we couldn’t see the person in front for them.  We reached the Little Nose Creek about six, much to our surprise as we expected to go much farther. 

John, Judd, Les, Isabel, Monica
While the biscuits which Marion was making were cooking we went down to the creek and had a good bath, which was slighted marred after by us finding the body of a deer in the last stages up the first bend in the creek.  The boys played rummy, John went fishing—caught one about three inches long and had just announced that fishing here is too tame for him.  Leslie is doing everything to get out of taking a duck in the creek.  He has now gathered up enough wood to last a week and is still going strong.  Judd has promised faithfully to take one at our next camp tomorrow.  John stepped in mud about to his knees but is not making any move towards the creek.  Monica is reading the diary to Marion who is about asleep in the tent.  Isabel and Judd are out finding the trail although it’s clearly marked as far as we can see.  Tomorrow will be a hard day of climbing up hills and down, so we’ll have the usual onion sandwiches and get to bed early.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday July 27

"Nose Mountain Heaven"
It rained most of the night and the horses were very restless.  John had to get up and see about them a number of times.  This morning we stayed around camp for each time we decided to do anything it began to rain.  We had fish for dinner again and tonight John brought in more trout.  After dinner we went to the edge of the mountains, Isabel, Monica and Judd walking across country and getting there sooner.  It was misty over the mountains but the view was wonderful.  There was no sign of game.  We saw a gap which we believed to be the Wapiti valley.  The poplar trees covered the edge of the mountain but came no father and the top was covered with evergreens.  Isabel found a big bunch of scarlet columbine. We tied our horses and sat at the edge looking over for awhile watching the storms going up and down the valleys and how quickly they were followed by sunshine. Monica, Isabel and Judd walked on farther around it about two miles and saw some wonderful scenery.  The mountains seemed so much nearer and had a lot of snow on them. 

Marion had stayed at the camp to watch the horses and when we got back she had grand hot cakes and tea for us.  There are two loons on the lake today which have been diving and splashing and now they are beginning their crazy laugh.  It’s all right now but I hope they stop it before it gets dark.  Today at the mountains it was five o’clock and the sun was almost over our heads. 

The men are now out on their raft fishing and trying to find the outlet to the lake.  The river that runs down in front of the camp is an inlet instead of outlets at we thought.  It is very deep and still with tall reeds and most on its banks.  The lack has no outlet that they can find.  The water looks black and forbidding in the river.  Along the edge suckers swim through the reeds, making a queer sucking sound as they get the flies.  In the stream the fish are jumping for the flies dancing on the surface. We are not likely to see moose tonight as the wind is blowing from the camp. 

Isabel and Marion have just come in with a huge bouquet of wild rhododendrons.  They are white and wax-like. The men are shooting fish on the lake and are making a terrible sound which is frightening the horses.  Each explosion reverberates around the hills of the lake.  There’ll be no moose down tonight, but perhaps the loons will cease to laugh.  The clouds over the lake are tinged with pink and behind us there are deep blue grey clouds edged with rose showing above the spruce.  Everything is so calm and beautiful that the thoughts of starting back tomorrow are not so hot.  We have planned to go out to the edge of camp and see the sunrise on the mountains.

Sunday July 26

Early this morning I woke up to hear a strange sound.  As if some large animal were licking a dish.  The more I listened the more sure I became that a bear was having a good meal on our honey.  So gathering up all my available courage I crept out of the tent to save the bacon, but all was quiet and there was no bear.  Up in a tree a little chipmunk was chuckling to itself.  It was great to crawl back into bed and know that we could sleep as long as we liked.  

   When we did wake up the boys had caught three grayling and two speckled trout so we had a grand breakfast of porridge, fresh hot cakes made by Marion and fried fish.  I tied to catch some again but no luck.  After the dished we had a general clean up. Judd went off to look for deer while Leslie and John rigged up a raft out of the poles we found by the lake.  They roped cross poles on them and were soon off into the water with all kinds of instructions as to what to do if they never returned.  Leslie has just shouted that they got a nibble but lost it. Judd has just come back, he saw two moose but no deer. One moose was only 50 yards away.  It was eight years old having eight points on its horns.  He didn’t shoot it as we couldn’t have eaten a quarter of it on the trip.  It has just started to rain and the men have come home with their crazy raft.  After supper Judd and Isabel went out and hunted moose and while they were away one came leisurely down to the lake right in front of our camp, went into the water and had a grand time splashing and ducking in the water.  Before they got back another moose was in the water farther down and stayed there for some time.  We sat around the fire for a while and after we had got to bed it began to rain.

Saturday July 25

This morning everything was so wet that we didn’t leave camp till ten.  The sky was clear and the sun soon dried things.  A little squirrel had had a good feed on our flour during the night. 

We followed the creek then started to climb. Isabel’s horse lost a shoe. We climbed through alder stretches which were very thick. The wild parsnips were growing so high that you were hidden in them while on foot. Some places were very steep and we had to get off and hang on to the horses’ tails to help us along. Tony refused to let me grab his tail so old Frank often had a double burden.

We reached the top in about two hours and found ourselves facing a very strong cold wind which was a complete change to the heat of the valley below.  We stopped and got out our sweaters and warm things but we were still frozen.  The mountain is a flat plateau and for over eight miles we rode along the edge. The path is sometimes no more than a half a foot from sheer cliffs. 
Down below was a wonderful scene—stretches of valleys and hills, with patches of green amongst the darker shades of the trees. These patches look like smooth lawns with daisies on them.  The daisies were the huge blossoms of the wild parsnips, some of these clusters being over a foot across the top.  While going around the edge we looked down and there in full view was a large moose with immense horns. We saw him standing there fully a minute before he located us and was off with a bound. Later we saw two beautiful deer feed on the green patch away down in the valley.  They only looked about two inches long and there was a young hurricane of a wind blowing against us, but when we shouted they heard us, showing their keen sense of hearing. They floated away as if on air.  After that we saw no more game.  We came to a stump carved out as a head and some Indian writing o it.  Then we turned inland and came to a spruce forest and later reached the lake.
Nose Mountain

It covers about 150 acres and is surrounded by huge pine trees. The river flowing out is very still and deep.  We found a fine spring under the trees and tonight we sleep on deep moss under pine trees.  We tried fishing. Leslie and I had no luck but John caught two.  There is a deserted Indian encampment near, with teepee poles, a pail up in the tree and a suspicious looking mound where there are evidently things hidden.  There are four huge logs, each shaped at the end down but the lake, two large paddles shaped out of trees, own down by the lake the other hidden in a tree.  Then there are small flat paddles about two feet long evidently used as floaters for there are poles stuck slanting in the ground at the edge of the lake which must be where they dry their nets.  There are also night lines with huge hooks.  We couldn’t decide what they would catch till  baited them with large pieces of meat and we decided he was out after whale, there was also some talk of a sea serpent. 
"at the top of the mountain"

We ate late around the camp fire, pine makes a bright hot fire and after the cold winds of the cliff’s edge we appreciated it.  Before going to bed we had onion sandwiches which is one way of keeping the mosquitos from bothering you.  The woodpeckers were making a hollow rapping across the lake and everything was still except that John wanted to know, just as we had about got to sleep , if it were proper to wear his hat to bed, but nobody was interested if it was or not so be was left to decide for himself and as he was up long before any of us in the morning we never found out.