Emery woke me the next morning to report that the river had risen about six feet; and that my boat—rolled out on the sand but left untied—was just on the Point of going out with the water. It had proven fortunate for us all Emery was a light sleeper! There was no travelling this day, as the boat had to be repaired. Emery, being the ship's carpenter, set to work at once, while Jimmy and I stretched our ropes back and forth, and hung up the wet clothes. Then we built a number of fires underneath and soon had our belongings in a steam. Things were beginning to look cheerful again. The rain stopped, too, for a time at least.
A little later Jimmy ran into camp with a fish which he had caught with his hands. It was of the kind commonly called the bony-tail or humpback or buffalo-fish, a peculiar species found in many of the rivers of the Southwest. It is distinguished by a small flat head with a hump directly behind it; the end of the body being round, very slender, and equipped with large tail-fins. This specimen was about sixteen inches long, the usual length for a full-grown fish of this species.
Now for a fish story! On going down to the river we found a great many fish swimming in a small whirlpool, evidently trying to escape from the thick, slimy mud which was carried in the water. In a half-hour we secured fourteen fish, killing most of them with our oars. There were suckers and one catfish in the lot. You can judge for yourself how thick the water was, that such mudfishes as these should have been choked to helplessness. Our captured fish were given a bath in a bucket of rain-water, and we had a fish dinner.
In the afternoon we made a test of the water from the river, and found that it contained 20 per cent of an alkaline silt. When we had to use this water, we bruised the leaf of a prickly pear cactus, and placed it in a bucket of water. This method, repeated two or three times, usually clears the muddiest water. We also dug holes in the sand at the side of the river. The water, filtering through the sand, was often clear enough to develop the tests we made with our films.
Jimmy continued to feel downhearted; and this afternoon he told us his story. Our surmise about his being homesick was correct, but it was a little more than that. He had an invalid mother, it seemed, and, aided by an older brother, he had always looked after the needs of the family. When the proposition of making the river trip came up, serious objections were raised by the family; but when the transportation arrived he had determined to go, in spite of their objections. Now he feared that his mother would not live, or that we would be wrecked, and he would not know where to turn, or what to do. No wonder he felt blue!
All we could do was to promise to help him leave the river at the very first opportunity. This would quite likely be at Jensen, Utah, still fifty miles farther downstream.
It continued to rain by spells that night and the next morning. About 11 A.M. we resumed our work on the river. A short distance below our camp we saw the land-slide which we heard the night before—tons of earth and shattered rock wrapped about the split and stripped trunks of a half-dozen pines. The slide was started by the dislodged section of a sheer wall close to the top of the 2700-foot cliff. We also saw a boat of crude construction, pulled above the high-water mark; evidently abandoned a great while before. Any person who had to climb the walls at that place had a hard job to tackle, although we could pick out breaks where it looked feasible; there were a few places behind us where it would be next to impossible. We had only gone over a few rapids when we found a long pool, with driftwood eddying upstream, and knew that our run for the day was over—the Triplet Rapids were ahead of us. We found this rapid to be about a fourth of a mile long, divided into three sections as its name indicated, and filled with great boulders at the base of a sheer cliff on the right—another unrunnable rapid.
Taking the camp material from the boats, we carried it down and pitched our tent first of all, then, while Emery prepared supper, Jimmy and I carried the remaining duffle down to camp. One of the boats was lined down also. Then after supper we enjoyed the first rest we had taken for some time.
Camp Ideal we called it, and it well deserved the name. At the bottom of a tree-covered precipice reaching a height of 2700 feet, was a strip of firm, level sand, tapering off with a slope down to the water, making a perfect landing and dooryard. A great mass of driftwood, piled up at the end of the rapid, furnished us with all fuel we needed with small effort on our part. Our tent was backed against a large rock, while other flat rocks near at hand made convenient shelves on which to lay our camp dishes and kettles. It started to drizzle again that night, but what cared we? With a roaring fire in front of the tent we all cleaned up for a change, sewed patches on our tattered garments, and, sitting on our beds, wrote the day's happenings in our journals. Then we crawled into our comfortable beds, and I was soon dreaming of my boyhood days when I "played hookey" from school and went fishing in a creek that emptied into the Allegheny River, or climbed its rocky banks; to be awakened by Jimmy crying out in his sleep, "There she goes over the rapids."
Jimmy was soon informed that he and the boats were perfectly safe, and I was brought back to a realization of the fact that I was not going to get a "whaling" for going swimming in dog-days; but instead was holed up in Lodore Canyon, in the extreme northwestern corner of Colorado.
HELL'S HALF MILE
We began our work the next morning where we left off the night before by bringing the remaining boat down along the edge of the "Triplets." Then, while Emery cooked the breakfast, Jimmy and I "broke camp." The beds came first. The air had been released from the mattresses before we got up,—one way of saving time. A change of dry clothing was placed with each bed, and they were rolled as tightly as the two of us could do it, after which they were strapped, placed in a rubber sack, with a canvas sack over that, both these sacks being laced at the top. The tent—one of those so-called balloon silk compositions—made a very small roll; the dark-room tent, with its three plies of cloth, made the largest bundle of the lot. Everything had been taken from the boats, and made quite a pile of dunnage, when it was all collected in a pile ready for loading. After the dishes were washed they were packed in a box, the smoke-covered pots and pans being placed in a sack. Everything was sorted and piled before the loading commenced. An equal division of nearly everything was made, so that the loss of one boat and its cargo would only partially cripple the expedition. The photographic plates and films, in protecting canvas sacks, were first disposed of, being stored in the tin-lined hatches in the bow of the boats. Two of the smaller rolls containing bedding, or clothing; a sack of flour, and half of the cameras completed the loads for the forward compartments. Five or six tin and wooden boxes, filled with provisions, went into the large compartments under the stern. A box containing tools and hardware for the inevitable repairs, and the weightier provisions—such as canned milk and canned meats—went in first. This served as ballast for the boats. Then the other provisions followed, the remaining rolls of bedding and tents being squeezed in on top. This compartment, with careful packing, would hold as much as two ordinary-sized trunks, but squeezing it all in through the small hatchway, or opening on top, was not an easy job. One thing we guarded very carefully from this time on was a waterproofed sack containing sugar. The muddy water had entered the top of this sack in our upset, and a liquefied sugar, or brown-coloured syrup, was used in our coffee and on our breakfast foods after that. It gradually dried out, and our emptied cups would contain a sediment of mud in the bottom.
Such was our morning routine, although it was not often that everything was taken from the boats, and it only happened in this case because we made a portage the night before.
Our work was all undone an hour later, when we came to the sharp descent known as Hell's Half Mile, A section of a cliff had fallen from above, and was shattered into a hundred fragments, large and small; gigantic rocks were scattered on both shores and through the river bed, not an orderly array of rocks such as that found at Ashley Falls, but a riotous mass, looking as though they had been hurled from the sky above. The stripped trunk of an eight-foot tree, with roots extending over the river, had been deposited by a recent flood on top of the principal barrier. All this was found about fifty yards below the beginning of the most violent descent in Lodore Canyon. It would have been difficult enough without this last complication; the barrier seemed next to insurmountable, tired and handicapped with heavy boats as we were.
With a weary sigh we dropped our boats to the head of the rapid and prepared to make the portage. Our previous work was as nothing to this. Rounded limestone boulders, hard as flint and covered with a thin slime of mud from the recent rise, caused us to slip and fall many times. Then we dragged ourselves and loads up the sloping walls. They were cut with gullies from the recent rains; low scraggy cedars caught at our loads, or tore our clothes, as we staggered along; the muddy earth stuck to our shoes, or caused our feet to slip from under us as we climbed, first two or three hundred feet above the water, then close to the river's edge. Three-fourths of a mile of such work brought us a level place below the rapid. It took nine loads to empty one boat.
Darkness came on before our boats were emptied, so they were securely tied in quiet water at the head of the rapid, and left for the morning.
The next day found Emery and me at work on the boats, while Jimmy was stationed on the shore with the motion-picture camera. This wild scene, with its score of shooting currents, was too good a view to miss. With life-preservers inflated and adjusted, Emery sat in the boat at the oars, pulling against the current, lessening the velocity with which the boat was carried down toward the main barrier, while I followed on the shore, holding a rope, and dropped him down, a little at a time, until the water became too rough and the rocks too numerous. All directions were given with signals; the human voice was of little avail in the turmoil. We kept the boats in the water as long as it was safe to do so, for it greatly lessened the hard work of a portage. With one end of the boat floating on the water, an ordinary lift would take the other end over a rock with insufficient water above it to float the boat. Then the boat was balanced on the rock, the opposite end was lifted, she was shoved forward and dropped in the water again and another threatening rock was passed. Foot by foot we fought our way, now on the shore, now waist deep in the water below some protecting boulder, threatened every moment by the whirling water that struggled to drag us into the torrent. The sand and water collecting in our clothes weighted us down; the chill of standing in the cold water numbed our limbs. Finally the barrier was reached and the boats were run out close to the end, and tied in a quiet pool, while we devised some method of getting them past or over this obstruction.
Directly underneath and beyond the roots of the tree were large rounded boulders, covered with slippery mud. Past this barrier the full force of the water raced, to hurl itself and divide its current against another rock. It was useless to try to take a boat around the end of the rock. The boat's sides, three-eighths of an inch thick, would be crushed like a cardboard box. If lifted into the V-shaped groove, the weight of the boats would wedge them and crush their sides. Fortunately an upright log was found tightly wedged between these boulders. A strong limb, with one end resting on a rock opposite, was nailed to this log; a triangle of stout sticks, with the point down, was placed opposite this first limb, on the same level, and was fastened to the upright log with still another piece; and another difficulty was overcome.
With a short rope fastened to the iron bar or hand-hold on the stern, this end was lifted on to the cross-piece, the bow sticking into the water at a sharp angle. The short rope was tied to the stump, so we would not lose that we had gained. The longer rope from the bow was thrown over the roots of the tree above, then we both pulled on the rope, until finally the bow was on a level with the stern. She was pulled forward, the ropes were loosened and the boat rested on the cross-pieces. The motion-picture camera was transferred so as to command a view of the lower side of the barrier, then the boat was carefully tilted, and slid forward, a little at a time, until she finally gained headway, nearly jerking the rope from our hands, and shot into the pool below.
We enjoyed the wildest ride we had experienced up to this time in running the lower end of this rapid. The balance of the day was spent in the same camp below the rapid. Our tent was put up in a group of box elder trees,—the first trees of this species we had seen. Red cedar trees dotted the rocky slopes, while the larger pines became scarce at the river's edge, and gathered near the top of the canyon's walls. The dark red rocks near the bottom were covered with a light blue-tinted stratum of limestone, similar to the fallen rocks found in the rapid above. In one land-slide, evidently struck with some rolling rock, lay the body of a small deer. We saw many mountain sheep tracks, but failed to see the sheep. Many dead fish, their gills filled with the slimy mud from the recent rise, floated past us, or lay half buried in the mud. These things were noticed as we went about our duties, for we were too weary to do any exploring.
The next morning, Monday, October the 2d saw us making arrangements for the final run that would take us out of Lodore Canyon. No doubt it was a beautiful and a wonderful place, but none of us seemed sorry to leave it behind. For ten days we had not had a single day entirely free from rain, and instead of having a chance to run rapids, it seemed as if we had spent an entire week in carrying our loads, or in lining our boats through the canyon. The canyon walls lost much of their precipitous character as we neared the end of the canyon.
A short run took us over the few rapids that remained, and at a turn ahead we saw a 300-foot ridge, brilliantly tinted in many colours,—light and golden yellows, orange and red, purple and lavender,—and composed of numberless wafer-like layers of rock, uptilted, so that the broken ends looked like the spines of a gigantic fish's back. A sharp turn to the left soon brought us to the end of this ridge, close to the bottom of a smooth, sheer wall. Across a wide, level point of sand we could see a large stream, the Yampa River, flowing from the East to join its waters with those of the Green. This was the end of Lodore Canyon.
JIMMY GOES OVER THE MOUNTAIN
The Yampa, or Bear River, was a welcome sight to us in spite of its disagreeable whitish yellow, clay colour; quite different from the red water of the Green River. The new stream meant more water in the channel, something we needed badly, as our past tribulations showed. The recent rise on the Green had subsided a little, but we now had a much higher stage than when we entered Lodore. Quite likely the new conditions gave us six feet of water above the low water on which we had been travelling. Would it increase or diminish our dangers? We were willing, Emery and I, even anxious, to risk our chances on the higher water.
Directly opposite the Yampa, the right shore of the Green went up sheer about 700 feet high, indeed it seemed to overhang a trifle. This had been named Echo Cliffs by Powell's party. The cliffs gave a remarkable echo, repeating seven words plainly when shouted from the edge of the Yampa a hundred yards away, and would doubtless repeat more if shouted from the farther shore of the Yampa. Echo Cliffs, we found, were in the form of a peninsula and terminated just below this point where we stood, the river doubling back on the other side of the cliff. On the left side of the river, the walls fell back, leaving a flat, level space of about twenty-five acres. Here was a little ranch of which Mrs. Chew had told us. The Chew ranch lay back from the river on top of the cliffs. We found no one at home here at this first ranch, but there was evidence of recent habitation. There were a few peach trees, and a small garden, while beyond this were two buildings,—little shacks in a dilapidated condition. The doors were off their hinges and leaned against the building, a few logs being placed against the doors. Past the dooryard, coming out of a small canyon above the ranch, ran a little brook; up this canyon was a trail, the outlet to the ranch above. We camped near the mouth of the stream.
It had been agreed upon the night before, that we should endeavour to make arrangements to have Jimmy taken out on horseback over the mountains. Before looking for the ranch, however, we asked him if he did not wish to reconsider his decision to leave here. We pointed out that Jensen, Utah, was only fifty miles away, half that distance being in quiet water, and that the worst canyon was behind us. But he said he had enough of the river and preferred to see what could be done. While I busied myself about camp, he and Emery left for the ranch.
About seven o'clock that evening they returned in great spirits. They had found the ranch without any trouble nearly three miles from our camp. Mrs. Chew was there and gave them a hearty welcome. She had often wondered what had become of us. She invited the boys to remain for supper, which they did. They talked over the matter of transportation for Jimmy. As luck would have it, Mrs. Chew was going to drive over to Jensen, and Vernal, Utah, in two days' time, and agreed to take Jimmy along.
Early the next morning two boys, one about fourteen years old the other a little older, rode down from the ranch. Some of their horses were pastured across the river and they had come after these. After a short visit they got into the Edith with Emery and prepared to cross over to the pasture, which was a mile or more downstream. They were soon out of our sight. Jimmy and I remained at the camp, taking pictures, packing his belongings, and finding many odd jobs to be done. In about three hours the boys returned with their horses. The horses were quite gentle, and they had no difficulty in swimming them across. A young colt, too feeble to swim, placed its fore feet on its mother's flanks and was ferried across in that way. Then they were driven over a narrow trail skirting the cliff, 300 feet above the river. No one, looking from the river, would have imagined that any trail, over which horses could be driven, existed.
The boys informed us that we were expected at the ranch for dinner, and would listen to no refusal so up we went, although we would have to make a second trip that day. The view of the ranch was another of those wonderful scenic changes which we were to meet with everywhere in this region. The flat on which we stood was simply a pocket, shut in by the round-domed mountains, with a pass, or an opening, to the east side. A small stream ran down a mountain side, spreading over the rocks, and glistening in the sunlight. This same stream passed the ranch, and ran on down through the narrow canyon up which we had come. The ranch itself was refreshing. The buildings were new, some were under construction; but there was considerable ground under cultivation. Cattle were scattered up the valley, or dotted the rocky slopes below the mountains. A wild spot this, on the borderland of the three states. None but people of fortitude, or even of daring, would think of taking up a homestead in this secluded spot. The same rumours of the escaped prisoners had drifted in here. It was Mr. Chew who gave us the information we have previously quoted concerning the murdered man. He had found the body in the boat, in front of the post-office. He further stated that others in the mountains would not hesitate at anything to drive out those who were trying to improve a homestead as he was doing, and that it was a common event to find the carcasses of his own horses or cattle which had been ruthlessly slaughtered. This was the reason for putting the horses across the river. There they were safe, for none could approach them save by going past the ranch, or coming through Lodore Canyon.
Mr. Chew also told us of the Snyders, who had lost their boat in upper Lodore Canyon, and of how he had given them a horse and provisions to aid them in reaching the settlements. This did not prevent the elder Snyder from coming back to trap the next year, much to Mr. Chew's disgust. He thought one experience should be enough for any man.
While we were talking, a very old, bearded man rode in on a horse. He was Pat Lynch, the owner of the little ranch by the river. He was a real old-timer, having been in Brown's Park when Major Powell was surveying that section of the country. He told us that he had been hired to get some meat for the party, and had killed five mountain sheep. He was so old that he scarcely knew what he was talking about, rambling from one subject to another; and would have us listening with impatience to hear the end of some wonderful tale of the early days, when he would suddenly switch off on to an entirely different subject, leaving the first unfinished.
In spite of his years he was quite active, having broken the horses on which he rode, bareback, without assistance. We were told that he placed a spring or trap gun in his houses at the river, ready to greet any prying marauder The last we saw of him he was on his way to the post-office, miles away, to draw his pension for service in the Civil War.
Returning to the transportation of Jimmy, it was settled that the Chews were to leave early the next morning. They also agreed to take out our exposed films and plate for us—something we had not counted on, but too good a chance to lose. We all three returned to the boats and packed the stuff that was to go out; then went back to the ranch with Jimmy. It was late—after midnight—when we reached there, and we did not disturb any one. Jimmy's blankets were unrolled in the wagon, so there would be no question about his going out. He was to go to Jensen, or Vernal, and there await us, keeping our films until we arrived. We knew they were in good hands. It was with some difficulty that we found our way back to our camp. The trail was difficult and it was pitch dark. My boat had been taken down to where Emery left the Edith when the horses were driven across, and this extra distance was added to our walk.
We were laggard the next morning, and in no hurry to resume our work. We rearranged our loads in the boats; with one less man and considerable less baggage as well, they were lighter by far. Our chances looked much more favourable for an easier passage. Not only were these things in our favour, but in addition we felt that we had served our apprenticeship at navigation in rapid water, and we were just as capable of meeting the rapids to follow as if we had years of experience to our record. On summing up we found that the river had dropped 1000 feet since leaving Green River, Wyoming, and that 5000 feet remained, to put us on a level with the ocean. Our difficulties would depend, of course, on how this fall was distributed. Most of the fall behind was found in Lodore and Red canyons. It was doubtful indeed if any section would have a more rapid fall than Lodore Canyon.
There is a certain verse of wisdom which says that "Pride goeth before a fall," but perhaps it was just as well for us if we were a little bit elated by our past achievements as long as we had to go through with the balance of our self-imposed task. Confidence, in a proper degree, is a great help when real difficulties have to be surmounted. We were full of confidence that day when we pulled away about noon into Whirlpool Canyon, Whirlpool Canyon being next on the list. The camp we were about to leave was directly opposite Lodore Canyon, where it ran against the upended cliff. The gorgeous colours were the same as those on the opposite side, and, to a certain degree, were also found in Whirlpool Canyon.
Our two and a half hours' dash through the fourteen miles of rapid water in Whirlpool Canyon put us in a joyful frame of mind. Rapid after rapid was left behind us without a pause in our rowing, with only a hasty survey standing on the deck of the boats before going over. Others that were free from rocks were rowed in bow first, the big waves breaking over our boats and ourselves. We bailed while drifting in the quiet stretches, then got ready for the next rapids. Two large rapids only were looked over from the shore and these were run in the same manner. We could hardly believe it was true when we emerged from the mountain so quickly into a little flat park or valley sheltered in the hills. This was Island or Rainbow Park, the latter name being suggested by the brilliant colouring of the rocks, in the mountains to our left. Perhaps the form of the rocks themselves helped a little, for here was one end of the rainbow of rock which began on the other side of the mountains. Jagged-edged canyons looking almost as if their sides had been rent asunder came out of these mountains. There was very little dark red here except away on top, 2300 feet above, where a covering of pines made a soft background for light-cream and gorgeous yellow-coloured pinnacles, or rocky walls of pink and purple and delicate shades of various hues. Large cottonwoods appeared again along the river banks, in brilliant autumn colours, adding to the beauties of the scene. Back from the river, to the west, stretched the level park, well covered with bunch-grass on which some cattle grazed, an occasional small prickly pear cactus, and the ever present, pungent sage. Verdure-covered islands dotted the course of the stream, which was quiet and sluggish, doubling back and forth like a serpent over many a useless mile. Nine miles of rowing brought us back to a point about three miles from the mouth of Whirlpool Canyon; where the river again enters the mountain, deliberately choosing this course to one, unobstructed for several miles, to the right.
The next gorge was Split Mountain Canyon, so named because the stream divided the ridge length-wise, from one end to the other. It was short, only nine miles long, with a depth of 2700 feet in the centre of the canyon. Three miles of the nine were put behind us before we camped that evening. These were run in the same manner as the rapids of Whirlpool, scarcely pausing to look them over, but these rapids were bigger, much bigger. One we thought was just formed or at least increased in size by a great slide of rock that had fallen since the recent rains. We just escaped trouble in this rapid, both boats going over a large rock with a great cresting wave below, and followed by a very rough rapid. Emery was standing on top of a fifteen-foot rock below the rapid when I went over, and for a few moments could see nothing of my boat, hardly believing it possible that I had come through without a scratch. These rapids with the high water looked more like rapids we had seen in the Grand Canyon, and were very unlike the shallow water of a week previous. We had only travelled a half day, but felt as if it had been a very complete day when we camped at the foot of a rock slide on the right, just above another big rapid.
On Thursday, October 5, Camp No. 20 was left behind. The rapid below the camp was big, big enough for a moving picture, so we took each other in turns as we ran the rapid. More rapids followed, but these were not so large. A few sharp-pointed spires of tinted rock lifted above us a thousand feet or more. Framed in with the branches of the near-by cottonwood trees, they made a charming picture. Less than three hours brought us to the end of Split Mountain Canyon, and the last bad water we were to have for some time. Just before leaving the canyon, we came to some curious grottos, or alcoves, under the rock walls on the left shore. The river has cut into these until they overhang, some of them twenty-five feet or over. In one of these was a beaver lying on a pile of floating sticks. Although we passed quite close, the beaver never moved, and we did not molest it.
Another shower greeted us as we emerged into the Uinta Valley as it is called by the Ute Indians. This valley is eighty-seven miles long. It did not have the fertileness of Brown's Park, being raised in bare rolling hills, runnelled and gullied by the elements. The water was quiet here, and hard rowing was necessary to make any progress. We had gone about seven miles when we spied a large placer dredge close to the river. To the uninitiated this dredge would look much like a dredging steamboat out of water, but digging its own channel, which is what it really does.
Great beds of gravel lay on either side of the river and placer gold in large or small quantities, but usually the latter is likely to exist in these beds. When a dredge like the one found here is to be installed, an opening is made in the river's bank leading to an excavation which has been made, then a large flatboat is floated in this. The dredging machinery is on this float, as well as most of the machinery through which the gravel is passed accompanied by a stream of water; then with quicksilver and rockers of various designs, the gold is separated from the gravel and sand.
Numerous small buildings were standing near the dredge, but the buildings were empty, and the dredge lay idle. We saw many fresh tracks of men and horses aid were welcomed by a sleek, well-fed cat, but found the place was deserted. All buildings were open and in one was a telephone. We were anxious to hear just where we were, so we used the telephone and explained what we wanted to know. The "Central" informed us that we were about nine miles from Jensen, so we returned to the boats and pulled with a will through a land that was no longer barren, but with cozy ranch houses, surrounded by rows of stately poplars, bending with the wind, for it was storming in earnest now. About six o'clock that evening we caught sight of the top of the Jensen bridge; then, as we neared the village, the sun broke through the pall of cloud and mist, and a rainbow appeared in the sky above, and was mirrored in the swollen stream, rainbow and replica combined nearly completing the wondrous arc. There was a small inn beside the bridge, and arrangements were made for staying there that night. We were told that Jim and Mrs. Chew had passed through Jensen about four hours before we arrived. They had left word that they would go on through to Vernal, fifteen miles distant from the river.
AN INLAND EXCURSION
Jensen was a small village with two stores and a post-office. A few scattered houses completed the village proper, but prosperous-looking ranches spread out on the lowland for two or three miles in all directions on the west side of the river. Avenues of poplar trees, fruit trees, and fields of alfalfa gave these ranches a different appearance from any others we had passed.
We found some mail awaiting us at the post-office, and were soon busily engaged in reading the news from home. We conversed awhile with the few people at the hotel, then retired, but first made arrangements for saddle horses for the ride to Vernal.
Next morning we found two spirited animals, saddled and waiting for us. We had some misgivings concerning these horses, but were assured that they were "all right." A group of grinning cowboys and ranch hands craning their necks from a barn, a hundred yards distant, rather inclined us to think that perhaps our informant might be mistaken. Nothing is more amusing to these men of the range than to see a man thrown from his horse, and a horse that is "all right" for one of them might be anything else to persons such as we who never rode anything except gentle horses, and rode those indifferently. We mounted quickly though, trying to appear unconcerned. The horses, much to our relief, behaved quite well, Emery's mount rearing back on his hind legs but not bucking. After that, all went smoothly.
Leaving the irrigated ranches on the bottom lands, we ascended a low, rolling mesa, composed of gravel and clay, unwatered and unfertile, from which we caught occasional glimpses of the mountains and the gorge from which we had emerged, their brilliant colours softened and beautified by that swimming blue haze which belongs to this plateau region. Then we rode down into the beautiful Ashley Valley, watered by Ashley Creek, a good-sized stream even after it was used to irrigate all the country for miles above. The valley was several miles wide. The stream emptied into the river about a mile below Jensen. All parts of the valley were under cultivation. It is famous for its splendid deciduous fruits, apples, pears, peaches; splendid both in appearance and flavour. It excelled not only in fruits, however, but in all products of the field as well. "Vernal honey," which is marketed far and near, has a reputation for fine flavour wherever it is known. A thick growth of the bee-blossom or bee-weed crowded the road sides and hugged the fences. The fragrance of the flower can easily be noticed in the sweetness of the honey. The pity of it was that bushels of fruit lay rotting on the ground, for there were no transportation facilities, the nearest railroad being 90 miles distant. There were stock ranches too, with blooded stock in the fence-enclosed fields. Some of the splendid horses paced along beside us on the other side of the fence. We heard the rippling song of some meadow-larks this day, the only birds of this species we remember having seen on the Western plateaus.
All these ranches were laid out in true Mormon style, that is, squared off in sections, fenced, and planted with shade-trees before being worked. The roads are usually wide and the streets exceptionally so. Except in the business streets, a large garden usually surrounds the home building, each family endeavouring to raise all their own vegetables, fruits, and poultry. They usually succeed.
The shade trees about Vernal were Lombardy poplars. They attained a height that would give ample shade under most conditions, and too much when we were there, for the roads were very muddy, although they had dried in all other sections. Nearing Vernal, we passed Nathan Galloway's home, a cozy place set back some distance from the road. We had hoped to meet Galloway and have an opportunity of talking over his experiences with him, but found he was absent on a hunting trip, in fact was up in the mountains we had come through.
On nearing the town we were greeted by a busy scene. Numerous wagons and horses stood in squares reserved for that purpose, or were tied to hitching posts in front of the many stores. Ranchers and their families were everywhere in evidence; there were numerous prospectors in their high-topped boots just returning from the mountains, and oil men in similar garb, muddy from head to foot. Later we learned that oil had recently been discovered about forty miles distant, this fact accounting for much of the activity.
The town itself was a surprise; we found it to be very much up-to-date considering its isolated position. Two of the streets were paved and oiled and were supplied with drinking fountains. There were two prosperous looking banks, two well-stocked and up-to-date drug stores, several mercantile stores, and many others, all busy. Many of the buildings were of brick; all were substantial.
Near a hotel we observed a group of men surrounding some one who was evidently keeping them interested. On approaching them we found it was Jimmy, giving a graphic description of some of our difficulties. His story was not finished, for he saw us and ran to greet us, as pleased to see us as we were to see him. He had little idea we would be along for two or three days and naturally was much surprised.
On entering the hotel we were greeted by an old Grand Canyon friend, a civil engineer named Duff, who with a crew of men had been mapping the mountains near Whirlpool Canyon. You can imagine that it was a gratifying surprise to all concerned to find we were not altogether among strangers, though they were as hospitable as strangers could be. The hotel was a lively place that night. There was some musical talent among Duff's men, and Duff himself was an artist on the piano. Many of the young people of the town had dropped in that evening, as some one had passed the word that there might be an impromptu entertainment at the hotel. There was. Duff played and the boys sang. Jimmy was himself again and added his rich baritone. The town itself was not without musical talent, and altogether it was a restful change for us.
Perhaps we should have felt even better if we had been dressed differently, for we wore much the same clothes as those in which we did our work on the river—a woollen shirt and overalls. Besides, neither Emery nor I had shaved since starting, and it is quite likely that we looked just a little uncouth. Appearances count for little with these people in the little-settled districts, and it is a common enough sight to them to see men dressed as we were. They did everything they could to make us feel at ease. As one person remarked, "The wealthiest cattle man, or the owner of the richest mine in the country, usually looks worse than all others after a month on the range or in the hills."
If wealth were indicated on an inverse ratio to one's good appearance, we should have been very wealthy indeed. We felt as if it would take us a week to get rested and lost little time in getting to bed when the party broke up. We imagine most of the residents of Vernal were Mormons. It is part of their creed to give "the stranger within their gates" a cordial welcome. This however, was accorded to us, not only among the Mormons, but in every section of our journey on the Green and Colorado rivers.
The following day was a busy one. Arrangements had been made with a local photographer to get the use of his dark room, and we proceeded to develop all plates and many of our films. These were then to be packed and shipped out. We were informed at the local express office, that it might be some time before they would go, as the recent rains had been very bad in Colorado and had washed out most of the bridges.
Vernal had passenger transportation to the railway—a branch of the D. & R.G. running north into Colorado—by automobile, the route lying across the Green and also across the White River, a tributary to the Green. A steel structure had been washed away on the White River, making it impossible to get through to the station. The high water below here must have been a flood, judging from all reports. About ten bridges, large and small, were reported as being washed away on numerous branch streams leading into the Green River. Fortunately Vernal had another means of communication. This was a stage running southwest from Vernal, over 125 miles of rough road to Price, Utah—Price being a station on the main line of the D. & R.G.
Jimmy concluded that he would take this road, in preference to the uncertainties of the other route, and noon that day found him on board the stage. He promised to write to us, and was anxious to hear of our success, but remarked that when he once got home he would "never leave San Francisco again." There was a final hand clasp, a cheer from the small group of men, and the stage drove away with Jimmy, a happy boy indeed.
Our work on the developing progressed well, and with very satisfying results on the whole, and that evening found us with all plates packed ready for shipment to our home. The moving-picture film was also packed and shipped to be developed at once. This was quite a load off our minds.
The following day we prepared to depart, but did not leave until the afternoon. Then, with promises to let them know the outcome of our venture, we parted from our friends and rode back to Jensen.
We planned on leaving the following morning. The river had fallen one foot since we had landed, and we were anxious to have the benefit of the high water. We were told that it was six feet above the low-water stage of two weeks before.
On Monday, October the 9th, after loading our boat with a new stock of provisions,—in which was included few jars of honey, and a few dozen of eggs, packed in sawdust,—we began what might be called the second stage of our journey; the 175-mile run to Blake or Green River, Utah, a little west of south from Jensen. Ten miles below Jensen was a ferry used by the auto and wagons. Here also was a ranch house, with a number of people in the yard. We were invited to land and did so. They had been informed by telephone of our coming and were looking for us; indeed they had even prepared dinner for us, hoping we would reach there in time. Not knowing all this, we had eaten our cold lunch half an hour before. The women were busy preserving fruits and garden truck, and insisted on us taking two or three jars along. This was a welcome change to the dried fruit, which was one of our principal foods. These people made the usual request—"Drop us a post card if you get through."
The memory of these people that we met on this journey will linger with us as long as we live. They were always anxious to help us or cheer us on our way.
We passed a dredge that evening and saw a man at work with a team and scoop shovel, the method being to scoop up the gravel and sand, then dump it in an iron car. This was then pulled by the horses to the top of a derrick up a sloping track and dumped. A stream of water pumped up from the river mixed with the gravel, the entire mass descended a long zigzagging chute. We paused a few minutes only and did not examine the complicated process of separating the mineral from the gravel. This dredge had been recently installed. We camped early, half a mile below the dredge.
Emery had been feeling poorly all this day. He blamed his indisposition to having eaten too many good things when in Vernal—a break in training, as it were. This was our excuse for a short run that day. I played nurse and gave him some simple remedy from the little supply that we carried; and, after he was in his sleeping bag, I filled some hot-water bags for the first time on the trip, and soon had him feeling quite comfortable.
A hard wind came up that night, and a little rain fell. I had a busy half-hour keeping our camp from being blown away. The storm was of short duration, and all was soon quiet again. On the following morning Emery felt so good that I had a hard time in keeping up with him and I wondered if he would ever stop. Towards evening, after a long pull, we neared the reservation of the Uinta Utes, and saw a few Indians camped away from the river. Here, again, were the cottonwood bottoms, banked by the barren, gravelly hills. We had been informed that there was a settlement called Ouray, some distance down the river, and we were anxious to reach it before night. But the river was sluggish, with devious and twisting channels, and it was dark when we finally landed at the Ouray ferry.
CANYON OF DESOLATION
Ouray, Utah, consisted of a large store to supply the wants of the Indians and ranchers, a small hotel, and a few dwellings. The agency proper was located some distance up the Uinta River, which stream emptied into the Green, just below Ouray.
Supper was taken at the hotel, after which we visited a young man in charge of the store, looking over his curios and listening to tales of his life here among these Indians. They were peaceable enough now, but in years gone by were a danger to be reckoned with. We slept in our own beds close to our boats by the river.
The following morning, when we were ready to leave, a small crowd gathered, a few Indians among them. Most of the Indians were big, fat, and sleepy-looking. Apparently they enjoyed the care of the government. A mile below we passed several squaws and numerous children under some trees, while on a high mound stood a lone buck Indian looking at us as we sped by, but without a single movement that we could see. He still stood there as we passed from sight a mile below. It might be interesting if one could know just what was in his mind as he watched us.
A mile below the Uinta River, which entered on the west, we passed another stream, the White River, entering from the east, the two streams adding considerable water to the Green River. We passed another idle dredge, also some mineral workings in tunnels, and saw two men camped on the shore beside them. We saw numerous Indian carvings on the rocks, but judged they were recent because horses figured in most of them. In all the open country the river was fringed with large cottonwood trees, alders and willow thickets. A number of islands followed, one of them very symmetrical in shape, with cottonwood trees in the centre, while around the edge ran a fringe of bushes looking almost like a trimmed hedge. The autumn colouring added to its beauty. The hedge, as we called it, was dark red, brown, yellow, and green; the cottonwoods were a light yellow. After we had passed this island, a deer, confused by our voices, jumped into the river fifty yards behind us, leaping and swimming as he made for the shore. We had no gun, but Emery had the moving-picture camera at hand, and turned it on the deer. The hour was late, however, and we had little hopes of its success as a picture. The country back from the river stretched in rolling, barren hills 200 or 300 feet high—a continuation of the Bad Lands of Utah, which lay off to the west.
With the next day's travel the hills lost some of their barren appearance. Some cattle were seen early in the afternoon of the following day. We passed a cattle man working at a ferry, who had just taken some stock across, which other men had driven on ahead. He was busy, so we did not interrupt him, merely calling to him from the boats, drifting meanwhile with the current. Soon we saw him riding down the shore and waited for him to catch up. He invited us to camp with him that evening, remarking that he had "just killed a beef." We thanked him, but declined, as it was early and we had only travelled a short distance that day. We chatted awhile, and he told us to look out for rapids ahead. He was rather surprised when he learned that we had started at Green River, Wyoming, and had already come through a few rapids.
"Where are you going to stop?" he then asked.
On being told that our destination was Needles, California, he threw up his hands with an expressive gesture, then added soberly, "Well, boys, I sure wish you luck," and rode back to his camp.
We had difficulty in making a suitable landing that evening, as the high water had deposited great quantities of black mud over everything, making it very disagreeable when we left the boats. We finally found a place with less mud to wade through than on most of the banks seen, and tied up to the roots of a tree.
While lying in our beds that night looking at the starlit sky—such a sky as is found only on these high plateaus—we discovered a comet directly above us. An astronomer would have enjoyed our opportunities for observing the heavens. No doubt this comet had been heralded far and wide, but we doubt if any one saw it to better advantage than did we.
Later, some coyotes, possibly in chase of a rabbit, gave vent to their yodeling cry, and awakened us from a sound sleep. They were in a little lateral canyon, which magnified and gave a weird, organ-like echo to their calls long after the coyotes themselves had passed from hearing.
The nights were getting warmer as we travelled south, but not so warm that we were bothered with insects. The same reason accounted for the absence of snakes or scorpions, for no doubt there were plenty of both in warm weather in this dry country. When there was no wind, the silence of the nights was impressive, with no sound save the lapping of the water against the banks. Sometimes a bird in the trees above would start up with a twitter, then quiet down again. On occasions the air chambers in our boats would contract on cooling off, making a noise like the boom of a distant gun, every little sound being magnified by the utter stillness of the night.
There were other times when it was not so quiet. Hundreds of birds, geese, ducks and mud-hens had been seen the last few days. Also there were occasional cranes and herons, over a thousand miles from their breeding place at the mouth of the Colorado. As dusk settled, we would see these birds abandon their feeding in the mud, and line up on the shore, or on an island, and go to sleep. Occasionally one of these birds would start up out of a sound sleep with an unearthly squawk. Possibly an otter had interrupted its dreams, or a fox had pounced on one as it slept. It may be that it was only a bad dream of these enemies that caused their fright, but whatever it was, that first call would start up the entire flock and they would circle in confusion like a stampeded herd of cattle, their discordant cries putting an end to the stillness of the night. Finally they would settle down in a new spot, and all would be quiet once more.
We saw a few birds that were strangers to us,—water birds which we imagined belonged to the salt water rather than the inland streams, making a little excursion, perhaps, away from their accustomed haunts. One type we saw on two occasions, much like a gull, but smaller, pure white as far as we could tell, soaring in graceful flight above the river.
Camp No. 26 was close to the beginning of a new canyon. The country had been changing in appearance from rather flat plains to small bare hills, gradually increasing in height with smooth, rounded sides, and going up to a point, usually of a dirty clay colour, with little vegetation of any kind on them. The river for miles past had swept in long graceful curves, the hills being close to the river on the outside of the curve, leaving a big flat on the inside. This flat gradually sloped back to hills of an equal height to those opposite. Then the curve would reverse, and the same conditions would be met with again, but on opposite sides from the previous bend. After passing a creek the evening before, the hills became higher, and from our camp we could see the first place where they came close on both sides to the river. We felt now that our beautiful tree-covered canyons were behind us and from now on we would be hemmed in by the great eroded canyons of the Southwest. We were sorry to leave those others behind, and could easily understand why Major Powell had named this Desolation Canyon.
As the canyon deepened the cliffs were cut into fantastic shapes, as is usual in rocks unprotected by vegetation. There was a hard rock near the top in places which overhung a softer formation. This would erode, giving a cornice-like effect to the cliffs. Others were surmounted by square towers and these were capped by a border of little squares, making the whole look much like a castle on the Rhine. For half a day we found no rapids, but pulled away on a good current. The walls gradually grew higher and were more rugged; a few trees cropped out on their sides. At noon our boats were lashed together and lunch was eaten as we drifted. We covered about three miles in this way, taking in the scenery as we passed. We saw a great stone arch, or natural bridge, high on a stupendous cliff to our right, and wondered if any one had ever climbed up to it. Our lunch was no more than finished when the first rapid was heard ahead of us. Quickly unlashing our boats, we prepared for strenuous work. Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky day; thirteen large rapids and thirteen small ones were placed behind us before we camped at Rock Creek—a splashing, laughing mountain stream, no doubt containing trout.
The following morning we found there was a little ranch house below us, but, though we called from our boats, no one came out. We wondered how any one could reach this out-of-the-way place, as a road would be almost an impossibility. Later we found a well-constructed trail on the right-hand side all the way through the canyon. We saw a great many cattle travelling this trail. Some were drinking at the river when we swept into view. Our boats filled them with alarm, and they scrambled for the hillsides, looking after us with frightened expressions as we left them to the rear.
We put in a full day at running rapids, one after another, until fifteen large ones were passed, no count being kept of the smaller ones. Some of these rapids resembled dams from six to twelve feet high, with the water falling abruptly over a steep slope. Others were long and rough, with swift water in places. Above one of these we had landed, then found we could get a much better view from the opposite shore. Emery crossed and landed, I followed. We had been having heavy winds all day. When crossing here I was caught by a sudden gust of wind and carried to the head of the rapid. I heard Emery call, "Look out for the big rock!" then over I went. The wind and water together had turned my boat sideways, and try as I would I could not get it turned around. I saw the rock Emery referred to straight ahead of me. It was about fifteen feet square and about fourteen feet from the shore, with a powerful current shooting between the rock and the shore. It seemed as if I must strike the rock broadside, and I ceased my struggle, but held out an oar with both hands, hoping to break the blow. But it never came. The water struck this rock with great force, then rebounded, and actually kept me from even touching the rock with the oar, but it caught the boat and shot it through the narrow channel, bow first, as neatly as it could possibly be done, then, turned the boat around again as I scrambled to regain my hold on both oars. No other rocks threatened however, and besides filling the cockpit with water, no damage was done.
Emery had no desire to follow my passage and crossed back to the other side. Shooting over the upper end of the rapid, his boat ran up on a rounded rock, the stern sticking high in the air; it paused a moment, the current slowly turning it around as if on a pivot, and the boat slid off; then down he came lurching and plunging, but with no more difficulty. Many times in such places as these we saw the advantage of our flat-bottomed boats over one with a keel, for these would surely be upset when running up on such a rock.
The appearance of Desolation Canyon had changed entirely in the lower end. Instead of a straight canyon without a break, we were surrounded by mountain peaks nearly 2500 feet high, with many side canyon between them and with little level parks at the end of the canyons beside the river. The tops were pine-covered; cedars clung to the rocky slopes. Some of these peaks were not unlike the formations of the Grand Canyon, as seen from the inner plateau, and the red colouring was once more found in the rocks.
These peaks were gradually dropping down in height; and at one open section, with alfalfa and hay fields on gently sloping hillsides, we found a small ranch, the buildings being set back from the river. We concluded to call and found three men, the rancher and two young cowboys, at work in a blacksmith shop. Emery had forgotten to remove his life-preserver, and the men looked at him with some astonishment, as he was still soaking wet from the splashing waves of the last rapid.
When I joined him he was explaining that no one had been drowned, and that we were merely making an excursion down the river. Mr. McPherson, the rancher, we learned, owned all the cattle seen up the river. The little cabin at our last camp was a sort of headquarters for his cowboys. The cattle were just being driven from the mountains before the snows came, and were to be wintered here in the canyons. Some of these cattle were much above the usual grade of range cattle, being thoroughbreds, although most of them ran loose on the range. This ranch had recently lost a valuable bull which had been killed by a bear up in the mountains—not unlike similar conflicts in more civilized sections of the country. McPherson camped on this bear's trail for several days and nights before he finally hung his pelt on a tree. He was a large cinnamon-coloured grizzly. Four other bears had been killed this same year, in these mountains.
McPherson's home had burned down a short time before our visit, and his family had removed to Green River, Utah. A number of tents were erected, neatly boarded up, and we were informed that one of these was reserved for company, so we need not think of going any farther that day. These men, while absolutely fearless in the saddle, over these rough mountain trails, had "no use for the river" they told us; in fact, we found this was the usual attitude of the cattle men wherever we met them. McPherson's respect for the river was not without reason, as his father, with two others, had been drowned while making a crossing in a light boat near this point, some years before. Some accident occurred, possibly the breaking of a rowlock, and they were carried into a rapid. McPherson's men found it necessary to cross their cattle back and forth, but always took the wise precaution to have on some life-preservers. The cork preservers hung in the blacksmith shop, where they could easily be reached at a moment's notice.
Desolation Canyon, with a slight breaking down of the walls for a short distance only, gave place to Gray Canyon below the McPherson Ranch. A good sized mountain stream, part of which irrigated the ranch above, found its way through this division. We had been told that more rapids lay ahead of us in Gray Canyon, but they were not so numerous in our next day's travel. What we did find were usually large, but we ran them all without difficulty. About noon we met five men in a boat, rowing up the stream in a long, still stretch. They told us they were working on a dam, a mile or two below. They followed us down to see us make the passage through the rapid which lay above their camp. The rapid was long and rocky, having a seventeen-foot fall in a half mile. We picked our channel by standing up in the boat before entering the rapid and were soon at the bottom with no worse mishap than bumping a rock or two rather lightly. We had bailed out and were tying our boats, when the men came panting down the hill up which they had climbed to see us make this plunge. A number of men were at work here, but this being Sunday, most of them had gone to Green River, Utah, twenty-one miles distant.
Among the little crowd who came down to see us resume our rowing was a lady and a little girl who lived in a rock building, near the other buildings erected for the working-men. Emery showed the child a picture of his four-year-old daughter, Edith, with her mother—a picture he always carried in a note-book. Then he had her get in the boat with him, and we made a photograph of them. They were very good friends before we left.
In a few hours we emerged from the low-walled canyon into a level country. A large butte, perhaps 700 feet high, stood out by itself, a mile from the main cliffs. This was Gunnison Butte, an old landmark near the Gunnison trail. We were anxious to reach Blake or Green River, Utah, not many miles below, that evening; but we failed to make it. There were several rapids, some of them quite large, and we had run them all when we came to a low dam that obstructed our passage, While looking it over, seeing how best to make a portage, a young man whom we had just seen remarked: "Well, boys, you had better tie up and I will help you in the morning."
It was 5.30 then, and we were still six miles from Green River, so we took his advice and camped. On seeing our sleeping bags, tightly strapped and making rather small roll, he remarked: "Well, you fellows are not Mormons; I can tell by the size of your beds!"
Our new friend gave the name of Wolverton. There was another man named Wilson who owned a ranch just below the dam. Both of these men were much interested in our experiences. Wolverton had considerable knowledge of the river and of boats; very little persuasion would have been necessary to have had him for a companion on the balance of our journey. But we had made up our minds to make it alone, now, as it looked feasible. Both Wilson and Wolverton knew the country below Green River, Utah, having made surveys through much of the surrounding territory. Wolverton said we must surely see his father, who lived down the river and who was an enthusiast on motor boats. A few minutes' work the next morning sufficed to get our boats over the dam. The dam was constructed of loose rock and piles, chinked with brush and covered with sloping planks,—just a small dam to raise the water for irrigation purposes. Much of the water ran through the canal; in places the planks were dry, in others some water ran over. The boats, being unloaded were pulled up on these planks, then slid into the water below. Wilson had a large water wheel for irrigation purposes, the first of several such wheels which we were to see this day. These wheels, twenty feet or more in height,—with slender metal buckets each holding gallons of water, fastened at intervals on either side,—were placed in a swift current, anchored on the shore to stout piles, or erected over mill-races cut in the banks. There they revolved, the buckets filling and emptying automatically, the water running off in troughs above the level of the river back to the fertile soil. Some of these wheels had ingenious floating arrangements whereby they accommodated themselves to the different stages of a rising or falling river. We took a few pictures of Wilson's place before leaving. He informed us that he had telephoned to certain people in Green River who would help us in various ways. Two hours' rowing, past many pretty little ranches, brought us to the railroad bridge, a grateful sight to us. A pumping plant stood beside the bridge under charge of Captain Yokey, one of Wilson's friends. Yokey owned a large motor boat, which was tied up to the shore. Our boats were left in his charge while we went up to the town, a mile distant. Another of Wilson's friends met us, and secured a dark room for us so that we could do a little developing and we prepared for work on the following day.
That night a newspaper reporter hunted us out, anxious for a story. We gave him what we had, making light of our previous difficulties, which were exciting enough at times; but owing to the comparatively small size of the stream, we seldom thought our lives were in any great danger. The papers made the most of these things, and the stories that came out had little semblance to our original statements. We have since learned that no matter how much one minimizes such things, they are seldom published as reported.
We put in a busy day unpacking new films and plates developing all films from the smaller cameras and sending these home. A new stock of provisions had to be purchased, enough for one month at least, for there was no chance of securing supplies until we reached our canyon home, about 425 miles below.
We had a valuable addition to our cargo in two metal boxes that had been shipped here, as it was not possible to get them before leaving Wyoming. These cases or trunks were sent from England, and were water-tight, if not waterproof, there being a slight difference. Well constructed, with rubber gaskets and heavy clamps, every possible precaution had been taken, it seemed, to exclude the water and still render them easy of access. They were about thirty inches long, fifteen wide, and twelve high, just the thing for our photographic material. Up to this time everything had to be kept under the deck when in bad water. These boxes were placed in the open section in front of us, and were thoroughly fastened to the ribs to prevent loss, ready to be opened or closed in a moment, quite a convenience when pictures had to be taken hurriedly.
The following day we went over the boats, caulking few leaks. The bottoms of the boats were considerably the worse for wear, owing to our difficulties in the first canyons. We got some thin oak strips and nailed them on the bottom to help protect them, when portaging. Sliding the boats on the scouring sand and rough-surfaced rock was hard on the half-inch boards on the bottom of the boats. This work was all completed that day, and everything was ready for the next plunge.
In passing the station, we noticed the elevation above sea-level was placed at 4085 feet, and remembered that Green River, Wyoming, was 6080 feet, showing that our descent in the past 425 miles had been close to 2000 feet. We had not found it necessary to line or portage any rapids since leaving Lodore Canyon; we were hopeful that our good luck would continue.
Nothing was to be feared from what remained of the Green River, 120 miles or more, for motor boats made the journey to its junction with the Grand, and we were told even ascended the Grand for some distance. Below this junction was the Colorado River, a different stream from the one we were still to navigate.
Before leaving, we ate a final hearty breakfast at the boarding-house where we had been taking our meals. A number of young men, clerks in some of the business houses here, were among the boarders. The landlady a whole-souled German woman and an excellent cook, was greatly worried over their small appetites, thinking it was a reflection on her table. She remarked that she hoped we had good appetites, and I am sure she had no complaint to make so far as we were concerned. We had never stinted ourselves when on the river, but the change and the rest seemed to give us an abnormal appetite that could not be satisfied, and we would simply quit eating because we were ashamed to eat more. Less than half an hour after one of these big meals, I was surprised to see my brother in a restaurant with a sheepish grin on his face, and with a good-sized lunch before him.
WONDERS OF EROSION
Thursday, October the 19th. We embarked again with two of our new-found friends on board as passengers for a short ride, their intention being to hunt as they walked back. They left us at a ranch beside the San Rafael River, a small stream entering from the west. They left some mail with us to be delivered to Mr. Wolverton, whose son we had met above. About 20 miles below Green River we reached his home. Judging by a number of boats—both motor and row boats—tied to his landing, Mr. Wolverton was an enthusiastic river-man. After glancing over his mail, he asked how we had come and was interested when he learned that we were making a boating trip. He was decidedly interested when he saw the boats and learned that we were going to our home in the Grand Canyon. His first impression was that we were merely making a little pleasure trip on the quiet water.
Going carefully over the boats, he remarked that they met with his approval with one exception. They seemed to be a little bit short for the heavy rapids of the Colorado, he thought. He agreed that our experience in the upper rapids had been good training, but said there was no comparison in the rapids. We would have a river ten times as great as in Lodore to contend with; and in numerous places, for short distances, the descent was as abrupt as anything we had seen on the Green. Wolverton was personally acquainted with a number of the men who had made the river trip, and, with the one exception of Major Powell's expeditions, had met all the parties who had successfully navigated its waters. This not only included Galloway's and Stone's respective expeditions, which had made the entire trip, but included two other expeditions which began at Green River, Utah, and had gone through the canyons of the Colorado. These were the Brown-Stanton expedition, which made a railroad survey through the canyons of the Colorado; and another commonly known as the Russell-Monnette expedition, two of the party making the complete trip, arriving at Needles after a voyage filled with adventure and many narrow escapes. Mr. Wolverton remarked that every one knew of those who had navigated the entire series of canyons, but that few people knew of those who had been unsuccessful. He knew of seven parties that had failed to get through Cataract Canyon's forty-one miles of rapids, with their boats, most of them never being heard of again.
These unsuccessful parties were often miners or prospectors who wished to get into the comparatively flat country which began about fifty miles below the Junction of the Green and the Grand rivers. Here lay Glen Canyon, with 150 miles of quiet water. Nothing need be feared in this, or in the 120 miles of good boating from Green River, Utah, to the junction. Between these two points, however, lay Cataract Canyon, beginning at the junction of the two rivers. Judging by its unsavory record, Cataract Canyon was something to be feared.
Among these parties who had made short trips on the river was one composed of two men. Phil Foote was a gambler, stage robber, and bad man in general. He had broken out of jail in Salt Lake City and, accompanied by another of similar character, stole a boat at Green River, Utah, and proceeded down the river. Soon after entering Cataract Canyon, they lost their boat and provisions. Finding a tent which had been washed down the river, they tore it into strips and constructed a raft out driftwood, tying the logs together with the strips of canvas. Days of hardship followed, and starvation stared them in the face; until finally Foote's partner gave up, said he would drown himself. With an oath Foote drew his revolver, saying he had enough of such cowardice and would save him the trouble. His companion then begged for his life, saying he would stick to the end, and they finally got through to the Hite ranch, which lay a short distance below. They were taken care of here, and terminated their voyage a short distance beyond, going out over land. Foote was afterwards shot and killed while holding up a stage in Nevada.
The Hite ranch also proved to be a place of refuge for others, the sole survivors of two other parties who were wrecked, one person escaping on each occasion. Hite's ranch, and Lee's Ferry, 140 miles below Hite, had mail service. We had left instructions at the post-office to forward our mail to one or the other of these points. These were also the only places on our 425-mile run to Bright Angel Trail where we could expect to see any people, so we were informed. We were about to descend into what is, possibly, the least inhabited portion of the United States of America.
A party of civil engineers working here, joined us that evening at Wolverton's home. A young man in the party asked us if we would consent to carry a letter through with us and mail it at our destination. He thought it would be an interesting souvenir for the person to whom it was addressed. We agreed to do our best, but would not guarantee delivery. The next morning two letters were given us to mail, and were accepted with this one reservation. Before leaving Mr. Wolverton showed us his motor boat with much pardonable pride. On this boat he sometimes took small parties down to the beginning of the Colorado River, and up the Grand, a round trip of three hundred miles or more. The boat had never been taken down the Colorado for the simple reason that the rapids began almost immediately below the junction.
Wolverton, while he had never been through the rapids in a boat, had followed the river on foot for several miles and was thoroughly familiar with their nature. On parting he remarked,
"Well, boys, you are going to tackle a mighty hard proposition, but I'm sure you can make it if you are only careful. But look out and go easy."
Wolverton was no novice, speaking from much experience in bad water, and we were greatly impressed by what he had to say.
Five uneventful days were spent in Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons, through which the Green peacefully completed its rather violent descent. In the upper end we usually found rough water in the canyons and quiet water in the open sections. Here at least were two canyons, varying from 300 feet at their beginning to 1300 in depth, both without a rapid. The first of these was Labyrinth Canyon, so named from its elaborately winding course as well as its wonderful intricate system of dry, lateral canyons, and its reproduction in rock of architectural forms, castles, arches, and grottos; even animals and people were represented in every varying form.
Our Sunday camp was beside what might be called a serpentine curve or series of loops in the river. This was at the centre of what is known as the Double Bow Knot, three rounded loops, very symmetrical in form, with an almost circular formation of flat-topped rock, a mile or more in diameter in the centre of each loop. A narrow neck of rock connects these formations to the main mesa, all being on the same level, about 700 feet above the river. The upper half of the rock walls was sheer; below was a steep boulder-covered slope. The centre formation is the largest and most perfect, being nearly two miles in diameter and almost round; so much so, that a very few minutes are necessary to climb over the narrow neck which connects this formation to the mesa. It took 45 minutes of hard rowing on a good current to take us around this one loop. The neck is being rapidly eroded, two hundred feet having disappeared from the top, and at some distant day will doubtless disappear entirely, making a short cut for the river, and will leave a rounded island of rock standing seven hundred feet above the river. A bird's-eye view of the three loops would compare well in shape to the little mechanical contrivance known as the "eye" in the combination of "hook and eye." All women and many men will get a clear idea the shape of the Double Bow Knot from this comparison.
We recorded an interesting experiment with the thermometer at this camp, showing a great variety of temperatures, unbelievable almost to one who knows nothing of conditions in these semi-arid plateaus. A little ice had formed the night before. Under a clear sky the next day at noon, our thermometer recorded 54 degrees in the shade, but ran up to 102 degrees in the sun. At the same time the water in the river was 52 degrees Far. The effect of being deluged in ice-cold waves, then running into deep sunless canyons with a cold wind sweeping down from the snow on top, can be easier imagined than described. This is what we could expect to meet later.
The colouring of the rocks varied greatly in many localities, a light red predominating. In some places the red rock was capped by a gray, flint-like limestone; in others this had disappeared, but underneath the red were regular strata of various-coloured rocks, pink, brown, light yellow, even blue and green being found in two or three sections.
The forms of erosion were as varied as the rock itself, each different-coloured rock stratum presenting a different surface. In one place the surface was broken into rounded forms like the backs of a herd of elephants. In others we saw reproductions of images, carved by the drifting sands—a Diana, with uplifted arm, as large as the Goddess of Liberty; a Billiken on a throne with a hundred worshippers bowed around. Covered with nature-made ruins and magnificent rock structures, as this section is, it is not entirely without utility. It is a grazing country. Great numbers of contented cattle, white-faced, with red and white, or black and white patches of colour on their well-filled hides, were found in the open spaces between the sheer-walled cliffs. Dusty, well-beaten trails led down through these wide canyons, trails which undoubtedly gained the top of the level, rocky plateau a few miles back from the river. As is usual in a cattle country at the end of the summer season, the bunch-grass, close to the water supply—which in this case happened to the river—was nibbled close to the roots. The cattle only came here to drink, then travelled many miles, no doubt, to the better grazing on the upper plateaus. The sage, always gray, was grayer still, with dust raised by many passing herds. There was a band of range horses too, those splendid wild-eyed animals with kingly bearing, and wind-blown tails and manes, lean like a race-horse, strong-muscled and tough-sinewed, pawing and neighing, half defiant and half afraid of the sight of men, the only thing alive to which they pay tribute.
It is a never ending source of wonder, to those unacquainted with the semi-arid country, how these animals can exist in a land which, to them, seems utterly destitute and barren. To many such, a meadow carpeted with blue grass or timothy is the only pasture on which grazing horses or grazing cattle can exist; the dried-out looking tufts of bunch-grass, scattered here and there or sheltered at the roots of the sage, mean nothing; the grama-grass hidden in the grease-wood is unnoticed or mistaken for a weed.
But if the land was bare of verdure, the rock saved it from being monotonous. Varied in colour, the red rock predominated—blood-red at mid-day, orange-tinted at sunset, with gauze-like purple shadows, and with the delicate blue outlines always found in the Western distances; such a land could never be called uninteresting.
The banks of the stream, here in the open, were always green. From an elevation they appeared like two emerald bands through a land of red, bordering a stream the tint of the aged pottery found along its shores. We were continually finding new trees and strange shrubs. Beside the cottonwoods and the willows there was an occasional wild-cherry tree; in the shrubs were the service-berry, and the squaw-berry, with sticky, acid-tasting fruit. The cacti were small, and excepting the prickly pear were confined nearly altogether to a small "pin-cushion" cactus, growing a little larger as we travelled south. And always in the mornings when out of the deep canyons the moist, pungent odour of the sage greeted our nostrils. It is inseparable from the West. There is no stuffy germ-laden air there, out in the sage; one is glad to live, simply to breathe it in and exhale and breathe again.
In Stillwater Canyon the walls ran up to 1300 feet in height, a narrow canyon, with precipitous sides. Occasionally we could see great columns of rock standing on top of the mesa. Late one evening we saw some small cliff dwellings several hundred feet above the river, and a few crude ladders leaning against the cliff below the dwellings. A suitable camp could not be made here, or we would have stopped to examine them. The shores were slippery with mud and quicksands, and there was no fire-wood in sight. From here to the end of the canyons we would have to depend almost entirely on the drift-piles for fire-wood.
A landing was finally made where a section of a cliff had toppled from above, affording a solid footing leading up to the higher bank. We judged from our maps that we were within a very few miles of the Colorado River. Here some footprints and signs of an old boat landing, apparently about a week old, were seen in the sand. This surprised us somewhat, as we had heard of no one coming down ahead of us.
COULD WE SUCCEED?
An hour or two at the oars the next morning sufficed to bring us to the junction of the Green and the Grand rivers. We tied up our boats, and prepared to climb out on top, as we had a desire to see the view from above. A mile back on the Green we had noticed a sort of canyon or slope breaking down on the west side, affording a chance to reach the top. Loading ourselves with a light lunch, a full canteen, and our smaller cameras, we returned to this point and proceeded to climb out. Powell's second expedition had climbed out at this same place; Wolverton had also mentioned the fact that he had been out; so we were quite sure of a successful attempt before we made the climb.
The walk close to the river, over rocks and along narrow ledges, was hard work; the climb out was even more so. The contour maps which we carried credited these walls with 1300 feet height. If we had any doubt concerning the accuracy of this, it disappeared before we finally reached the top. What we saw, however, was worth all the discomfort we had undergone. Close the top, three branches of dry, rock-bottomed gullies carved from a gritty, homogeneous sandstone, spread out from the slope we had been climbing. These were less precipitous. Taking the extreme left-hand gully, we found the climb to the top much easier. At the very end we found an irregular hole a few feet in diameter not a cave, but an opening left between some immense rocks, touching at the top, seemingly rolled together.
Gazing down through this opening, we were amazed to find that we were directly above the Colorado itself. It was so confusing at first that we had to climb to the very top to see which river it was, I contending that it was the Green, until satisfied that I was mistaken. The view from the top was overwhelming, and words can hardly describe what we saw, or how we were affected by it.
We found ourselves on top of an irregular plateau of solid rock, with no earth or vegetation save a few little bushes and some very small cedars in cracks in the rocks. Branching canyons, three or four hundred feet in depth, and great fissures ran down in this rock at intervals. Some were dark and crooked, and the bottom could not be seen. Between these cracks, the rock rounded like elephants backs sloping steeply on either side. Some could be crossed, some could not. Others resembled a "maze," the puzzle being how to get from one point to another a few away. The rock was a sandstone and presented a rough surface affording a good hold, so there was little danger of slipping. We usually sat down and "inched" way to the edge of the cracks, jumping across to little ledges when possible, always helping each other.
The rock at the very edge of the main canyon overhung, in places 75 to 100 feet, and the great mass of gigantic boulders—sections of shattered cliffs—on the steep slope near the river gave evidence of a continual breaking away of these immense rocks.
To the north, across the canyon up which we had climbed, were a great number of smooth formations, from one hundred to four hundred feet high, rounded on top in domes, reminding one of Bagdad and tales from the Arabian Nights. "The Land of Standing Rocks," the Utes call it. The rock on which we stood was light gray or nearly white; the river walls at the base for a thousand feet above the river were dark red or chocolate-brown; while the tops of the formations above this level were a beautiful light red tint.
But there were other wonders. On the south side of the Colorado's gorge, miles away, were great spires, pointing heavenward, singly and in groups, looking like a city of churches. Beyond the spires were the Blue Mountains, to the east the hazy LaSalle range, and nearest of all on the west just north of the Colorado lay the snow-covered peaks of the Henry Mountains. Directly below us was the Colorado River, muddy, swirllng, and forbidding. A mile away boomed a rapid, beyond that was another, then the river was lost to view.