Whatever was passing in the mind of the old man, it was no part of sense or of delicacy to disturb him. Silently retracing my footsteps, I descended the glen until I came to a point where I could climb the steep precipices that shut it in, and gain the side of the mountain. Looking up, I saw a tall peak rising among the woods. Something impelled me to climb; I had not felt for many a day such strength and elasticity of limb. An hour and a half of slow and often intermittent labor brought me to the very summit; and emerging from the dark shadows of the rocks and pines, I stepped forth into the light, and walking along the sunny verge of a precipice, seated myself on its extreme point. Looking between the mountain peaks to the westward, the pale blue prairie was stretching to the farthest horizon like a serene and tranquil ocean. The surrounding mountains were in themselves sufficiently striking and impressive, but this contrast gave redoubled effect to their stern features.
PASSAGE OF THE MOUNTAINS
When I took leave of Shaw at La Bonte’s Camp, I promised that I would meet him at Fort Laramie on the 1st of August. That day, according to my reckoning, was now close at hand. It was impossible, at best, to fulfill my engagement exactly, and my meeting with him must have been postponed until many days after the appointed time, had not the plans of the Indians very well coincided with my own. They too, intended to pass the mountains and move toward the fort. To do so at this point was impossible, because there was no opening; and in order to find a passage we were obliged to go twelve or fourteen miles southward. Late in the afternoon the camp got in motion, defiling back through the mountains along the same narrow passage by which they had entered.