Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific.
after its junction with the Unjighah, north of the Lake of the Mountains, takes the name of Slave river, as far the lake of that name, and afterward that of M’Kenzie river, till it empties into, or is lost in, the Frozen ocean.  Having cut a large pile of wood, and having, by tedious labor for nearly an hour, got through the ice to the clear water of the lake on which we were encamped, we supped frugally on pounded maize, arranged our bivouac, and passed a pretty good night, though it was bitterly cold.  The most common wood of the locality was cedar and stunted pine.  The heat of our fire made the snow melt, and by morning the embers had reached the solid ice:  the depth from the snow surface was about five feet.

On the 15th, we continued our route, and soon began to descend the mountain.  At the end of three hours, we reached the banks of a stream—­the outlet of the second lake above mentioned—­here and there frozen over, and then again tumbling down over rock and pebbly bottom in a thousand fantastic gambols; and very soon we had to ford it.  After a tiresome march, by an extremely difficult path in the midst of woods, we encamped in the evening under some cypresses.  I had hit my right knee against the branch of a fallen tree on the first day of our march, and now began to suffer acutely with it.  It was impossible, however, to flinch, as I must keep up with the party or be left to perish.

On the 16th, our path lay through thick swamps and forest; we recrossed the small stream we had forded the day before, and our guide conducted us to the banks of the Athabasca, which we also forded.  As this passage was the last to be made, we dried our clothes, and pursued our journey through a more agreeable country than on the preceding days.  In the evening we camped on the margin of a verdant plain, which, the guide informed us, was called Coro prairie.  We had met in the course of the day several buffalo tracks, and a number of the bones of that quadruped bleached by time.  Our flesh-meat having given out entirely, our supper consisted in some handfuls of corn, which we parched in a pan.

We resumed our route very early on the 17th, and after passing a forest of trembling poplar or aspen, we again came in sight of the river which we had left the day before.  Arriving then at an elevated promontory or cape, our guide made us turn back in order to pass it at its most accessible point.  After crossing it, not without difficulty, we soon came upon fresh horse-prints, a sure indication that there were some of those animals in our neighborhood.  Emerging from the forest, each took the direction which he thought would lead soonest to an encampment.  We all presently arrived at an old house which the traders of the N.W.  Company had once constructed, but which had been abandoned for some four or five years.  The site of this trading post is the most charming that can be imagined:  suffice to say that it

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Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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