Mollie Adams Diary of her Journey in the Canadian Rockies August 3, 1908

Shirt Camp II.

Monday Aug. 3.

               Started at 8.30 and travelled 5 hrs.  All went well over the part they cut out yesterday, and until 11 A.M.; then troubles began again.  Recent fires, windfalls, trails washed off into the river, etc., made lots of cutting, wriggling around bad places, and hunting up of the elusive trail necessary.  We passed a dreary looking camp in a dark, gloomy patch of tall, partly burnt timber, where an Indian had evidently spent part of last winter, probably trapping, although green timber is so scarce that trapping must be pretty poor.  There was a brush teepee [sic], a pair of rather tired snowshoes, and a general look of untidiness, and M. thought spookiness about the place.  U. picked up a tom-tom as he came through, made of a piece of skin stretched over a rim of wood, with a queer drawing on it.  The Indians play them to keep off evil spirits.  The trail then went through a little hillside meadow filled with a mass of rank, tangly growth of what I called “weeds” much to M’s disgust, covering fallen burnt logs.  There were raspberry bushes among them with ripe fruit.  Then, after some waiting and prospecting, we climbed up and up until we were on top of a clay cut-bank probably 100 or more feet high.  The trail of course ran close to the edge to avoid fallen timber, and of course the edge was being constantly more and more undermined, so that what looked like solid ground was often only a thin shelf of roots, moss, etc., and if a horse had stepped on it, he would have dropped through and gone “a-slippin’ and a-slidin’ “down into the river below.  It looked a long way down, too, as we sidled past the bad spots.  W. cut small pine trees and laid them along the edge to keep the pack horses at a safe distance, and all went well.  The place is evidently a great salt lick and meeting place for many goats, their tracks thick everywhere.  We had hoped we could get as far as Buffalo Prairie near the south of the Whirlpool R., today, but at 1.30, seeing nothing but timber ahead, we camped.  An. 3850 ft.  All to bed at 8.30.  The usual rule now seems to be bed at 8.30 and up in the morning at 5:30.

Salt Lick Camp.

Tuesday, Aug. 4.

               Started at 8.30, travelled 6 hrs. and covered probably 6 miles.  We went along pretty well till we came to the canyon, perhaps 4 miles below Salt Lick Camp.  The falls and canyon are quite fine.  We were on the lookout for it, and at a slight turn of the river saw a cloud of spray rising like a miniature Niagara, It is a good deal like the falls at the lower Su-Wapta canyon, but a much greater volume of water, or course, and there is some great pothole work going on below.  The gorge is very narrow for a few hundred yds. below the falls, cut up the dip in quartzite and conglomerate.  The first drop of the falls is probably about 60 ft. and the gorge not more than 30 to 40 ft. wide.  The river continues to be in a broader canyon as far as we went, and as far as we can see plainly ahead.  When we left the falls, the trail got away from us, and we backed and filled among all kinds of bad timber, matchstick (young burnt pines, 1 to 2 inches in diameter strewed thickly everywhere like jackstraws), prevailing with everything else.  The sandflies were very bad in the intervals of waiting, sometime the pack would move in a slow procession around and over small trees and bushes to scrape the flies off.  U. made a little smudge for them at one place, and old Frank as usual got the front seat, and stayed with it till he was coughing with the smoke, would have singed his eyelashes off, only it has been done already.  Presently we came to a tributary creek – also in a canyon – this was about 11.30 A. M.  A little before 1.30 P.M. we had advanced a few yards and were across the little canyon, having slid down one side and gone up the other with a jump and a bounce by a wonderful trail W. cut out while we waited, after they had run up and down stream a few miles.  Another slight advance through matchstick etc., then we came bang up against another difficult piece of navigation.  A series of rock ridges formed by the outcropping quartzite conglomerate.  The dip was about 20° s.e. and we were going n.w., so it meant climbing up the slopes and dropping off the other side.  As W. said, we might be there till dark, trying to wriggle the horses through if we did not have the trail, so he went off to find it, or bust – and did shortly, and we did not let it get away from us again.  But for anything dignified by the name of trail, it takes the cake.  Over the rock ridges we had many steep flights of stairs to go down, each step one to two ft. high, the rock well glaciated and smooth for the horses to slip on, and many windings back and forth.  Then we had a piece of very bad “matchstick”.  Then both together.  The horses tumbled along somehow without breaking any legs, and at 2.30, still no prairie nor the mouth of the Whirlpool River in sight, we camped on an open hillside quite high above the river, with a slough behind us.  We had a good view both up and down the river, and up the Whirlpool valley.  Great consulting and criticising of maps and reports, as usual.  I was able to spot the Miette valley, with the field glasses, by the geology of it as described by McEvoy.  An. 4100 ft.  Heavy clouds all day.


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