Entering the Lake.—Dangerous Navigation.—The Return to Camp.—Feast upon Horse Flesh.—Meeting the Indians.—Joyful Meeting.—Return to Fort Hall.—Feasting at the Fort.—The Party Diminished.—The Journey down Snake River.—Crossing the Sierra Nevada.—Carson Rescues Fremont.—Fort Sutter.—Heroic Achievement of Carson.—Disbanding the Party.—The third Expedition.—Crossing the Desert.—Threatened by the Mexicans.—Fight with the Indians.—The Surprise.—Chastisement of the Indians.
The morning of the ninth of September dawned upon our voyagers remarkably serene and beautiful. They hurried through breakfast to make an early start. The water was found so shallow, at the mouth of the river, that it would not float the boat. They were compelled to take off their clothes and wade through the soft mud for the distance of a mile, dragging the boat, when they came to deep water. The whole wide marshy expanse seemed to be covered with waterfowl of every description, filling the air with their discordant voices. Though it was calm, there was quite a heavy swell upon the ocean-like lake. The waters were of crystal clearness, though so thoroughly saturated with salt that the spray left a saline crust upon the clothing.
They reached the island and ascended its loftiest peak, which was about eight hundred feet high. It is almost certain that never since the creation had a white man’s foot trod that summit.
“As we looked,” writes Colonel Fremont, “over the vast expanse of water spread out beneath us, and strained our eyes along the silent shore, over which hung so much doubt and uncertainty, I could hardly repress the desire to continue our exploration. But the lengthening snow on the mountains, spreading farther and farther, was a plain indication of the advancing season, and our frail linen boat appeared so insecure that I was unwilling to trust our lives to the uncertainties of the lake. I therefore unwillingly resolved to terminate our survey here and to remain satisfied for the present with what we had been able to add to the unknown geography of the region. We felt also pleasure in remembering that we were the first who, in the traditionary annals of the country, had visited the island and broken with the cheerful sound of human voices, the long solitude of the place.
“Out of the drift-wood on the beach, we made ourselves pleasant little lodges, open to the water, and, after having kindled large fires, to excite the wonder of any straggling savage on the lake shores, lay down, for the first time in a long journey, in perfect security, no one thinking about his arms. The evening was extremely bright and pleasant. But the wind rose during the night, and the waves began to break heavily, making our island tremble. I had not expected, in our inland journey, to hear the roar of an ocean surf. The strangeness of our situation, and the excitement we felt, in the associated interests of the place, made this one of the most interesting nights I remember during our long expedition.”