They then pressed on, two or three hundred miles directly west, through the south pass of the Rocky mountains, along the route now followed by the Central Pacific Railroad, to Soda Springs, on Bear river. From this point Kit Carson was sent, with one companion and a relay of mules, about forty miles in a northwesterly direction to Fort Hall, on Snake river, to obtain supplies. He was directed to meet the remaining party at the extreme end of the Great Salt Lake. As usual he successfully accomplished his mission and rejoined his companions.
The whole body then journeyed down the eastern shores of this immense inland sea, about twenty miles. They were delighted with the beauty of the scenery opening before them, and were very busy in taking observations and exploring the country through which they passed. Far out in the lake there was seen a very attractive and densely wooded island. Colonel Fremont had with him an india rubber boat, which, with inflated air chambers, was very buoyant. Improvidently the plates of the boat had been gummed together only, instead of being also sewed. Thus the boat was very frail and could not endure the strain of a heavy sea.
It was the latter part of August, 1843, when Colonel Fremont encamped on these shores. Though this was but thirty years ago, that now quite populous region, had then been visited only by trappers in search of beaver streams. Colonel Fremont decided to visit the island. He selected a pleasant spot for encampment, in a grove on one of the banks of Bear river, near its entrance into the lake. He felled timber so as to make a large pen for the animals. He then erected a rude fort, which would protect the company from any ordinary band of Indians. The boat was repaired with gum, and the air chambers inflated. Game was found to be scarce, and their provisions were about exhausted. He therefore sent back one half his party to Fort Hall for supplies.
Leaving two or three to guard the fort and the horses, Colonel Fremont, with Carson and three other men, set out on their expedition to explore the island. It was a very beautiful morning, the eighth of September. Slowly they floated down the romantic stream, frequently stopping to get a shot at the wild geese and ducks they met on their way. It was not until the edge of the evening that they reached the outlet of the river.
They encamped in a small willow grove, where they found an abundance of drift-wood for their camp fire. The game they had taken furnished their supper. They made for themselves soft beds of the tender willow twigs, and in a mild atmosphere, beneath a starlit sky, slept soundly till morning. The voices of millions of waterfowl, around them, did not disturb their slumbers.
Marches and Battles.