Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday July 20

Left camp at 10:00, terribly hard getting down the banks of the Wapiti, had to lead horses down, a new experience for me but my horse knew more than I did and so we got down without much rolling.

Crossing the Wapiti, Judd Perry far right
Art Hall went across the river first to show us that wouldn’t have to swim. The water was up past our ankles. The horses seemed to sidestep all the time and if you looked down you would become dizzy. The men led our horses. I was at the last and often thought that were off the trail for the others seemed to be going in a different direction.  Got across by eleven and after coming up the other bank with us for a bit Art Hall left and went back.

We went along a trail, although I couldn’t see it, till we got to one of his log cabins.  It was all closed up and no sign of water, there were two large eagles siting on the rood, they looked us over and then flew away. We were to go a mile west and hit a faint trail, the 3 miles south to the main trail.  On the way we west we came to small creek and had to go around it.  No sign of any trail after that and soon we were lost.  First we led our horses through brush- very hard to get the pack horses through as it was so thick, then we rode with trees slapping you on both sides and poking you from every angle. We kept close together so that no one would get lost.  Often we could only see the back of the horse in front, the alders were so thick.  Then, we went through burnt country, huge trees to step over, and into dry muskeg- moss very thick and apparently dry but the horses tried every step.  We often sank half way to our knees in it. It is generally a light orange, as if it were burnt by the sun, and horribly dry.  Then we went into long grass and water underneath.

Hit a faint trail here and there but generally moose trails which soon petered out. There were lots of moose tracks and bear scratches on the tree and fresh turned over ant-hills showed where bears were near.  Blistering hot and hopeless.  Got our bearings for south and then turned in another direction to escape muskeg.  Pack often slipped sideways or ripped off by the trees, all of us were sunburned and then a branch would swat you in the sorest place.  No water till 5 o’clock—we had struck a sort of main trail by going the wrong way,  This we had not noticed till we had gone on it about two miles.  Turned back and had a good trail for a couple of hours, then it disappeared—went through on our won, directly south-got into awful muskeg and swampy country, hat to lead our horses, up to your knees in muddy water, horses floundering behind have a worse time than you had.  I was sure my horse was going to jump on the same dry spot that I did at the same time and I knew which one would go off into the mud again.  Then for a while on to some kind of trail only to get into the bog again.  Every once in a while Leslie’s pack horse sat down and refused to go farther. Judd kept up our spirits by telling us what we would have for supper when we reached Dead Pinto Creek. 

John McNaught
Finally we came out into the open to find a huge dead-fall stopping us.  Trees in every direction as if giants had come and tried to see how much trouble they could make in a short time.  Had to go around it.  Finally we hit a blazed trail and followed it.  More bogs, but smaller, deep though, Leslie’s horse fell in one, he jumped clear and it got out all right.  Each ridge seemed to be the last, but when we got to the top there was a bigger one ahead.  The trail was all blazed, but it was a winter one and many bogs on it. 

At last we came out to clear land again but no trail and lots of deadfall.  It was getting dark so we retraced our steps to the edge of the forest and made camp at 8:30, having been in the saddle for ten hours and only an orange to help us along.  Boiled water from a mud hole—a huge tree uprooted by the wind, the roots were higher than I could reach, and water had settled in the hole.  It was a sort of spring if you say it fast. Judd and Isabel made tomato soup and that helped us a lot but we were all pretty hopeless.  The horses were very nervous in the bush.  We just got to bed when it began to rain and we had to put up the tents. Judd kept the fire up all night. The rain didn’t amount to much.
Camping under the trees

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