The Portage Was Not Completed Until July Second.
They Were Often Delayed By The Breaking Down Of Their
And during the last stage of their journey
much of their luggage was carried on the backs of the men.
They were also very much annoyed with the spines of the prickly pear,
a species of cactus, which, growing low on the ground,
is certain to be trampled upon by the wayfarer. The spines ran
through the moccasins of the men and sorely wounded their feet.
Thus, under date of June twenty-fourth, the journal says
(It should be understood that the portage was worked from above
and below the rapids): -
"On going down yesterday Captain Clark cut off several angles
of the former route, so as to shorten the portage considerably,
and marked it with stakes. He arrived there in time to have two
of the canoes carried up in the high plain, about a mile in advance.
Here they all repaired their moccasins, and put on double soles to protect
them from the prickly pear, and from the sharp points of earth which have
been formed by the trampling of the buffalo during the late rains.
This of itself is sufficient to render the portage disagreeable
to one who has no burden; but as the men are loaded as heavily
as their strength will permit, the crossing is really painful.
Some are limping with the soreness of their feet; others are scarcely
able to stand for more than a few minutes, from the heat and fatigue.
They are all obliged to halt and rest frequently; at almost every
stopping-place they fall, and many of them are asleep in an instant;
yet no one complains, and they go on with great cheerfulness.
At the camp, midway in the portage, Drewyer and Fields joined them;
for, while Captain Lewis was looking for them at Medicine River,
they returned to report the absence of Shannon, about whom they had
been very uneasy.
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