Several speeches were made by the chiefs during the council, all expressive in the highest degree of their friendly disposition towards our government, and their conduct in every particular manifested the sincerity of their declarations.
The weather was fine, the valleys literally covered with buffaloe, and everything seemed to promise a safe and speedy movement to the first grove of timber on my route, supposed to be about ten days' march.
The principal or highest part of the mountain having changed its direction to east and west, I ascended it in such manner as to leave its most elevated ranges to the south and travelled north west over a very rough and broken country generally covered with snow.
We continued to move forward without loss of time, hoping to be able to reach the wood described by the Indians before all our horses should become exhausted.
After an unremitting and severe labour of two days, we returned to our old encampment with the loss of some of my horses, and my men excessively fatigued.
As my men could profitably employ themselves on these streams, I moved slowly along, averaging not more than five or six miles per day and sometimes remained two days at the same encampment.
After the departure of the land parties, I embarked with six men on thursday, the 21st april, on board my newly made boat and began the descent of the river.
These people were well dressed in skins, had some guns, but armed generally with bows and arrows and such other instruments of war as are common among the Indians of the Missouri.
Many of their lodges remained as perfect as when occupied. They were made of poles two or three inches in diameter, set up in circular form, and covered with cedar bark.
Having now reached a point where danger might be reasonably apprehended from strolling war parties of Indians, spies were kept in advance and strict diligence observed in the duty of sentinels.
They urged me to take up winter quarters at the forks of the Platt, stating that if I attempted to advance further until spring, I would endanger the lives of my whole party.
These mountains appear to be almost entirely composed of stratas of rock of various colours (mostly red) and are partially covered with a dwarfish growth of pine and cedar, which are the only species of timber to be seen.
Some of them profess to be well acquainted with all the principal waters of the Columbia, with which they assured me these waters had no connection short of the ocean.
We remained at our encampment of this day until the morning of the 7th, when we descended ten miles lower down and encamped on a spot of ground where several thousand Indians had wintered during the past season.
We were therefore obliged to unload our boats of their cargoes and pass them empty over the falls by means of long cords which we had provided for such purposes.