Mollie Adams Diary of her Journey in the Canadian Rockies, August 7, 1908






A smudge where our horses were soon at peace in the choking smoke,


Mary Schäffer Fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (V527 / PS1 - 48)




Miette Camp.


Friday, Aug. 7.


               A warm morning.  When I woke and looked out there were already swarms of sand flies jigging around in the sunshine outside our bug net.  Smudges for the horses again while they were tied up and being saddled.  We got away at 9 o’clock.   Black Bess was in rather a bucky mood; not an unusual circumstance (perhaps M’s. washrag which she chewed up and swallowed the greater part of before breakfast, lay heavy on her conscience), but we were thankful she was toward the rear of the procession when we met a hornet’s nest on our way up the back of the rock bluff.  It was at a pretty bad place – we had climbed up a steepish hill and were coasting along doing the sidehill-gouger act, on a steep shaly slope, which dropped off a little below us in a cliff right down into the river.  W. was leading Dandy, who suddenly began to jump around in a way which was decidedly disconcerting, considering how near he was to the edge of nothing, and how easy it would be to slip down to it, and considering how the bunch go off at a tangent when they meet hornets in the ordinary course of events.  W. yelled to us and M. and I turned hastily and took a “sachez” farther up the hill and the pack horses after some hesitation and a few sticks thrown at them, decided to follow us.  When we came to the place for the great descent, they tied up the horses at the top, went down and cleared the way of trees and brush, and then Blue Peter was led down and prepared for the sacrifice by having his saddle taken off.  He runs light all the time now, as he has a sore back – an old sore broken out.  They took the sling rope off the saddle and tied it to the end of the halter shank so that W. could be a good distance below to lead him, and have a chance to dodge if Peter fell, or slid too fast.  Blue Peter did nobly, however, did not need much urging to start, and only gave one somewhat ominous looking sideways lurch, and landed with a hop, skip and a jump, after the slide, in the meadow below.  So it was with only very small misgivings that I saw Bugler go next.  He did not much want to start, but did the act even better than Blue.  Then Nibs went – still more loath to take the first step got busy.  And then M. and I crawled and slid down with our cameras, and got busy. The light, of course, was as bad as could be. One after the other they were led down. From the photographic position I had taken up, I could just see the horse’s head as he stood on a little shelf above being unpacked, just enough to see who was coming next. In the process of unpacking, all the stuff that would not be injured was sent flying down without ceremony. Pack mantles, ropes, blankets, etc., came hurling out into space and fell with a bang in front of me. And once, hearing a strange noise, I looked up and there were our duffle bags on a mad career, rolling and bouncing and banging down, and then dashing out on the level below. When eleven horses were safely down, someone said “I wonder what will happen to the thirteenth?” Brownie and Silver were still aloft, and old Brown came down twelfth in great style. And Silver, usually so unlucky and in trouble if there is any trouble in sight, also covered himself with glory and did the best of the bunch -- never hesitated a second but slowly and surely felt his way down. Baldy was the one who gave the most trouble, by refusing to start. U did not dare to hit him hard, nor W to pull, for fear of making him jump and fall, and language and gestures had not the slightest effect for a long time. But he came in the finish, as well as most of them. That act was over at 11.15 and U then saddled Pinto and rode away down the river to get to Swift’s if possible and see if he could put us across. W made camp, toted the rest of the stuff down, etc. M went gooseberrying instead of strawberrying, for a change. This is quite a berry country. We have found several kinds of blueberries, raspberries, wild currants black and red, and a vibernum, known here as the high bush cranberry. After lunch M climbed up on the hill for photos, and I made gooseberry jam – pretty fair, only I was a little stingy with the sugar. The last thing U said before leaving was “don’t worry if I am not back till tomorrow,” and he wasn’t. When we went to bed at 9 o’clock by bright moonlight he had not come. An. 3200 ft.


Rock Bluff Camp
Saturday, Aug. 8.
               I was waked at 5.10 A.M by footsteps at our front door, and opened my eyes to see a shadow picture of U and Pinto going by.  We thought him getting in so early did not look as if the quest had been successful, and W. told us a tale of woe at breakfast, U. having gone to have a sleep.  He found a good trail, leading into the river and out the other side.  The water was clear and harmless looking, just as it was where he tried it before at the outlet of the lake; and it treated him in just about the same way, tipped them over and he and Pinto got a bath in the Athabasca instead of walking out on the other shore of the Maligne.  So then he tied up Pinto and went around by the canyon by falling a tree across the narrow part, finding it an unexpectedly long and difficult way, but possible to get horses around with a good deal of cutting.  Having found out this much, and Pinto having been already tied up quite some few hours, he started to return to him.  He was then quite near Pinto, but on the other side of the Maligne, and thinking of the miles of weary climbing and clawing through burnt timber he would save if he could cross the river, he decided to fall a tree.  There were two in an appropriate position and he chose the smaller one, which thought would probably reach across.  It didn’t – and was carried away down the river like a straw.  So then, nothing daunted, he attached the other, a tree about two feet through.  By this time night was falling and he was working by the light of the moon.  The big tree shivered its timbers and letting off snaps and cracks like rifle shots, it came smashing down.  It reached across all right, but the force of the current was so great against the branches, that it, too, was carried out, and went sailing away into the Athabasca, and with it U’s. hope of avoiding the canyon.  So he was stodging along all night, except about 1 hr when it was too dark between the setting of the moon and dawn.  And that hour was not a very happy one, for having been swimming in the Athabasca, he had no dry matches to light a fire, and the food he had was insufficient, to speak mildly.  W. said got things together and ready and we would pack and move off down to the mouth of the Maligne when U. woke, and see what next.  Hot sun and bugs were not conducive to naps, so we got started about 10 A.M.  Passed several robins’ egg blue lakes, teepee [sic] camps near them.  Saw a large fish which looked like a pike in one.  Camped at 12 o’clock just opposite the ruins of Henry House, nothing left of it now but two fallen stone chimneys in a little clearing.  Thermom. 80° in the shade.  An. 3200 ft. at 2 P.M.  A good breeze during the afternoon, but sand flies fierce towards sunset.  Horses came in for their smudge brining millions with them.



Rock Bluff Camp
Saturday, Aug. 8.
               I was waked at 5.10 A.M by footsteps at our front door, and opened my eyes to see a shadow picture of U and Pinto going by.  We thought him getting in so early did not look as if the quest had been successful, and W. told us a tale of woe at breakfast, U. having gone to have a sleep.  He found a good trail, leading into the river and out the other side.  The water was clear and harmless looking, just as it was where he tried it before at the outlet of the lake; and it treated him in just about the same way, tipped them over and he and Pinto got a bath in the Athabasca instead of walking out on the other shore of the Maligne.  So then he tied up Pinto and went around by the canyon by falling a tree across the narrow part, finding it an unexpectedly long and difficult way, but possible to get horses around with a good deal of cutting.  Having found out this much, and Pinto having been already tied up quite some few hours, he started to return to him.  He was then quite near Pinto, but on the other side of the Maligne, and thinking of the miles of weary climbing and clawing through burnt timber he would save if he could cross the river, he decided to fall a tree.  There were two in an appropriate position and he chose the smaller one, which thought would probably reach across.  It didn’t – and was carried away down the river like a straw.  So then, nothing daunted, he attached the other, a tree about two feet through.  By this time night was falling and he was working by the light of the moon.  The big tree shivered its timbers and letting off snaps and cracks like rifle shots, it came smashing down.  It reached across all right, but the force of the current was so great against the branches, that it, too, was carried out, and went sailing away into the Athabasca, and with it U’s. hope of avoiding the canyon.  So he was stodging along all night, except about 1 hr when it was too dark between the setting of the moon and dawn.  And that hour was not a very happy one, for having been swimming in the Athabasca, he had no dry matches to light a fire, and the food he had was insufficient, to speak mildly.  W. said got things together and ready and we would pack and move off down to the mouth of the Maligne when U. woke, and see what next.  Hot sun and bugs were not conducive to naps, so we got started about 10 A.M.  Passed several robins’ egg blue lakes, teepee [sic] camps near them.  Saw a large fish which looked like a pike in one.  Camped at 12 o’clock just opposite the ruins of Henry House, nothing left of it now but two fallen stone chimneys in a little clearing.  Thermom. 80° in the shade.  An. 3200 ft. at 2 P.M.  A good breeze during the afternoon, but sand flies fierce towards sunset.  Horses came in for their smudge brining millions with them.




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