Mollie Adams Diary of her Journey in the Canadian Rockies, August 18, 1908

First Glimpse of Mount Robson, Moore Family Fonds,

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (V439 / PS - 53)

Grand Forks

Monday Aug. 18.

               Mr. Barra was off before we were up, as he means to make the Cache tonight, a distance of 23 miles in a straight line according to McEvoy. We started at 9 and travelled only 6 hrs. to the Grand Fork. The trail was not so bad as yesterday, although it had quite a few places which would seem queer to the tenderfoot. We were expecting something quite sporty, as McEvoy says “at one place the trail is forced to seek a passage by a narrow foothold scooped out of the face of the crumbling rock overhanging the river”, but the Grand Trunk people must have done some improving along there, for although it certainly is a precipitous rock face, the footing is perfectly good and the trail a foot or more wide. The first glimpse of Robson Peak was quite surprising, to me, although I was looking for it to appear just where it did at any moment, for we were coming around the last shoulder between us and the Grand Fork valley, but it looked so astonishingly near and so glaring white. As we got out where there was a clear view of it, we were getting farther away from it all the time. The others did a lot of snorting and thought it was not much to look at, but I consider it a pretty good mountain, as such. Of course, the surrounding scenery is hideous, compared to the general average near the C.P.R. – rock slab mountains about 9000 ft. high, no snow on them, rather broad valleys with scrubby or burned timber. I hope we can get up near the base of it, where there is supposed to be a lake. We camped about a mile below the mouth of the Grand Fork, on a sort of island. Decided to go on down to the Tete Jaune Cache tomorrow, as it seems a shame to be so near and not see what it is like, we have heard and read so much about it. The first time I ever heard there was such a place was summer before last – we were camped at the West Branch (Sask), Wood Tick Camp, and M. was putting a rather facetious register on a tree, Joe Baker looking on. And he said “you ought to put that we are bound for the Yellowhead Pass and the T John Cache”, and we said “where’s that?” And then I thought I was awfully clever because I guessed what “T John” meant. That is what it is usually called. It was a yellow headed Indian the place is named for, who used to cache his winter’s catch of furs there.

               Quite fine northern lights just before we turned in. I stayed out some time watching them do stunts. Robson Peak showed up his outline well against a low arch, almost a straight stripe at times, of greenish light. There was a much larger arch too, much fainter, which sometimes went up above the North Star, and a pale light all between the two, so the stars looked very feeble through it. And several times two or three streamers shot up from the outer arch.

Swift Current Camp.

Saturday, Aug. 22.

               We started off gaily after breakfast with just saddle horses to up the Grand Fork to the lake at the base of Robson Pk.  Saw be the tracks that the Indian berry pickers from the Cache had been up there recently.  Came to a camp where we recognized the style of fireplace as Dr. Coleman’s.  He tried to get to Robson this way first last year, so Mr. Reading said, found it could not be climbed from this side, then tried to go up behind the Rainbow Mts. from farther up the river, but the snow came and stopped him.  The Grand Fork valley grows narrow and steep sided a few miles up, but we found a very bad trail blazed leading up along the side which we followed, doing some great log jumping, until it stopped short in a windfall.  I stopped short too, and reposed myself in a berry patch near the horses, while the others crawled away somewhat further, but did not see anything much worth while, and the thermometer was 86°, the sun blazing and the bugs were all there – all kinds of them.  So we thought we would leave that problematical lake for someone else.  Mr Reading said he had been at the head of Swift Current River where he could get a look down into the Grand Fork Valley and he had not seen anything resembling a lake there.  He also told us that the Grand Fork surveyors had measured Robson Pk. from a base line a mile long and say it is only 12,760 ft. high instead of 13,700 as McEvoy gives it – or 14,700 as it is on my little geol. map.  The air was smokier than ever today, and clouds gathering around Robson as well, so we did not get any photos of it from there.  The smoke had been getting worse every day since we came in here, when we first noticed it down the Fraser valley toward the Cache.  They told us there that they though the fire had probably been started by two fellows who had been there recently, and who had said in disgust that the only thing that country was fit for was to be burned up.  They went on down the river – and the smoke came drifting back up the river.  We got home to camp about 2 P. M. and were just sitting down to a snack, when W. announced that an outfit was coming from the direction of the Cache.  We knew it must be Mr. Kaeke and Mr. Sommer as they were about leaving to go up the Grand Fork for a few days prospecting, or hunting, or both.  W. went out and spoke to them and they said they were going to go camp at the Grand Fork.  After about an hour we heard their horses coming up near us and wondered if they had crossed the river on them or if they were camped on this side.

Swift Current Camp.

Sunday, Aug. 23.

               Cloudy morning and began to rain before packing was done, so we started out wearing slickers although the chances were we should see the prospectors as we passed.  Their horses did cross the river on them, Mr. K. was up after them quite early and said he had to swim for it.  They grinned cheerfully as we rode past their camp, and Mr. Sommer (“The Chicago Kid” which he said was his only name while in Alaska), said they would soon be with us again, as they had decided to go on to Dominion Prairie, horse feed being so poor at the Grand Fork.  M. assured them there was good feed a little way up, but they did not seem to care about it, so we shall probably have the pleasure of their company for several days, as all outfits have to camp at about the same places along this road.  We made the drive to Moose Lake Camp in 5½ hrs. – rain most of the way.  I had not realized how much brush we scrubbed through till it was dripping wet and poured quarts of water on us as we passed.  The Chicago Kid and his partner blew into camp about half an hour after we did, and greeted us with cheerful shouts “everybody wet and happy?”  Most of us spent what was left of the afternoon, drying out, and a great big fire felt pretty good – quite a change from yesterday when we rode along sweltering in the sun.  The others came over in the evening and we had some more assorted yarns, Klondike and others.


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