Fisher now worked his way out and crossed in the same manner. But Frank was too heavy for such gymnastics. Fisher therefore took a firm grip on the pine, inserted his toe in the crevice, and hung on with all his strength while Frank crossed on his shoulders!
THE SECOND AND THIRD CLIMBS
Once more, lured by the promise of the tracks we had seen, we climbed this same mountain, but again without results. By now, you may be sure, we had found an easier way home! This was a very hard day’s work, but uneventful.
Now, four days later, I crossed the river and set off above to explore in the direction of the Continental Divide. Of course I had no intention of climbing for goats, or, indeed, of hunting very hard for anything. My object was an idle go-look-see. Equally, of course, after I had rammed around most happily for a while up the wooded stream-bed of that canon, I turned sharp to the right and began to climb the slope of the spur, running out at right angles to the main ranges that constituted one wall of my canon. It was fifteen hundred nearly perpendicular feet of hard scrambling through windfalls. Then when I had gained the ridge, I thought I might as well keep along it a little distance. And then, naturally, I saw the main peaks not so very far away; and was in for it!
On either side of me the mountain dropped away abruptly. I walked on a knife edge, steeply rising. Great canons yawned close at either hand, and over across were leagues of snow mountains.
In the canon from which I had emerged a fine rain had been falling. Here it had turned to wet sleet. As I mounted, the slush underfoot grew firmer, froze, then changed to dry, powdery snow. This change was interesting and beautiful, but rather uncomfortable, for my boots, soaked through by the slush, now froze solid and scraped various patches of skin from my feet. It was interesting, too, to trace the change in bird life as the altitude increased. At snow line the species had narrowed down to a few ravens, a Canada jay, a blue grouse or so, nuthatches, and brown creepers. I saw one fresh elk track, innumerable marten, and the pad of a very large grizzly.
The ridge mounted steadily. After I had gained to 2,300 feet above the canon I found that the ridge dipped to a saddle 600 feet lower. It really grieved me to give up that hard-earned six hundred, and then to buy it back again by another hard, slow, toilsome climb. Again I found my way barred by some unsuspected cliffs about sixty feet in height. Fortunately, they were well broken; and I worked my way to the top by means of ledges.