Mollie Adams Diary of her Journey in the Canadian Rockies August 5, 1908

The High Camp.

(Mt. Hardisty Camp.)

Wednesday, Aug. 5.

               An. 4200 ft.  Started off at 8.20 and travelled till 1 P.M.  The trail continued in its evil ways for almost 2 hrs, logs to be continually, alder and willow brush to push through, queer scrubby corners between rock ridges and old moraines, and such steep pitches up and down that it felt as if Bugler would certainly fall off backward, or turn a somersault.  When we struck an ordinarily respectable train again where the river left its canyon, it seemed too good to be true and too good to last, but for a wonder it did.  We did not see the mouth of the Whirlpool as we were back from the river for a good while.  Camped where we struck the river again considerably below it.  Cree Indian teepees [sic] here, they must have made a big kill of sheep last fall by the masses of hair, etc., on the ground.  A Buffalo bird followed us all the way from the last camp.  U. said he rode on Baldy’s back a good part of the way.  Muggins was very funny getting excited and trying to catch him occasionally.  We saw an eagle sitting in a dead tree close to the trail.  W. took a shot at him with the 22, but it was not heavy enough to kill him.  He just dropped a feather and flew away slowly.  An. At Prairie Camp 3650 ft.

Burnt Camp on North Fork, Mary Schaffer fonds,

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (V439 / PS1 - 15)

Prairie Camp.

Thursday, Aug. 6.

               Travelled from 7.45 A.M. to 1.30 P.M.  Fairly good open going, but the greater part of the time we were not on the trail.  We suspect it went way back and along the base of the mts., whereas we kept rather near the river on terraces, moraine deposits, etc.  We crossed several “stretches of prairie” mentioned by Coleman and we did not care much for his “brooks shaded by clumps of willow.”  They were horrid things to cross.  The growth in any damp spot is very luxuriant, we went through lots of grass that was up to our knees as we rode along, and we saw some which grew more sparsely which was at least 6 ft. high.  And lots of gorgeous flowers – asters and goldenrod among them, looking like New England.  Pretty much the whole country had been burned over many times, most of today’s journey was through the remains of a fire not more than a year or two old.  The Miette River seemed farther away than it looked; the sun was hot, the sandflies very pestiferous, and the ground in the burned districts dusty, and perpetual stopping over and around burned logs grew monotonous after several hours of it.  However, we finally arrived at a spot where there seemed to be only one ridge between us and its junction with the Athabasca.  W. went off to see whether we had to go over, or at the bane of a rock bluff, to get around the ridge, and while we were waiting we heard horse bells on the opposite side of the river, and a little later, a rifle shot.  It was the first sound connected with any human beings outside our own family that we have heard since June 21st when John Wilson came to say goodbye to us at Mosquito Camp near the mouth of Bear Creek.  We count not see any signs of life, however, neither man, horse, nor tent, although we had an extended view over long stretches of rather matchsticky looking terraces and hillsides, with some grass and green timber intermingled, moderately high mts. behind, and the Miette valley at the right.  We soon proceeded on our way, stopping again long enough for W. to shot three prairie chickens, and camped on the river’s edge just above the mouth of the Miette.  After lunch W. went prospecting ahead as usual, and found we were not so pleasantly situated as we had thought, for there was a rock bluff extending right across the valley from the river to the mts.  The one we were able to go around this morning being the first of three – the second we could circumnavigate by crossing a small channel of the river to an island – but the third went right up from the deep water.  He found just one place where he thought it might be possible to get the horses down it, by taking off their packs and leading them one by one.  He said it was very steep, but they would not have to slide more than 12 ft., and there were to slight “projecting footholds” in the middle of the slide!  U. went off back of camp to the mts. and found the trail about 3 miles away, going around the mt. end of the rock bluff, and it would be a day’s travel and perhaps a hard one, to go back and across to it and around that way.  So W. decided to take a chance on his slide – to try one horse, and if it did not refuse utterly to go down, and did not come to grief, to follow with the bunch.  The poor horses were fearfully tormented with the sand flies until well after sunset – almost till it was quite dark.  U. made a smudge for them before he went out, and they took a snooze in the smoke and then went out to feed again.  But just as we were flattering ourselves that the flies had left for the night, we heard the bells ringing madly and a great clinking of hobbles, and back came the family on the dead sail.  They tore through the camp, Blue Peter giving extra special roars and plunges in his rage.  M. lit up their smudge again and when the boys came in soon after, W. made several more, and the horses crowded around them in ghostly groups as it grew darker.  Old Frank is by this time nearly bald and his forelock is half burned off.  W. is a little afraid he may hurt himself by walking into the fire some day.  Mr. Dowling’s outfit lost a horse that way last year.  An. 3350 ft.


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