Monday, November 17, 2008

Part 8: Three Forks to Weippe Idaho:
Over the Continental Divide ~ On foot!

Above: The Jefferson River a few days upstream from Three Forks.

Aug 2, 2004:

My friend Verlen Kruger passed away last night after suffering with a long bought of cancer. Verlen has been very inspirational and without his encouragement over the years I probably would never have attempted this journey or my 1998 trip to the Arctic. I first saw and read about Verlen when I was a young child growing up in Grayling, Michigan. He was passing through town on a 28,000 mile (3 1/2 year) canoe journey throughout North America. I was amazed that so many miles could be traveled by canoe throughout the continent and more amazed that this man who was already in his 60's and attempting such an undertaking. Back in 1997 when I was making plans to retrace the trail of Alexander Mackenzie through Canada I contacted Verlen at his home along the Grand River in Lansing Michigan. He sent me his book "One Incredible Journey", which was about a canoe trip across Canada he took in the 70's. He signed the book for me along with a few other words that said "If you can dream it, you can do it." Since I had been dreaming about my journey for a long time, his inspiration set the ball rolling for me and fired me up with the desire to do such a journey. I eventually went to Lansing and paddled with Verlen and purchased one of his solo expedition canoes. I was amazed at the comfort and efficiency his canoes handled. I have been in contact with Verlen over the years. We had occasionally chatted on the phone or wrote one another an email (Verlen didn't like to email, it was too complicated). Prior to my Lewis and Clark journey Verlen offered many words of encouragement and in his voice I could sense that he had a desire to come along. Well, Verlen has come along with me since the start of my journey and will continue to be with me when I reach the Pacific. Take care Verlen and enjoy that big canoe expedition in the sky! You will be missed.

Above: The Jefferson River.

Aug, 11, 1805"found the river shallow and rapid, insomuch that the men wer compelled to be in the water a considerable proportion of the day in drageing the canoes over the shouals and riffles." M. Lewis (Near Dillon, Montana)

I touched the headwaters and source of the Missouri as Lewis discovered it. (This is actually not the true source of the Missouri but it is none the less a branch of the river in which they followed since St. Louis until it became as wide as my boot is long). I can just imagine the joy the expedition experienced upon reaching it. I can also imagine the almost "sick" feeling they had when the looked over Lemhi Pass and seeing the Rocky Mountains stretch out before them to the horizon. They had thought it would be a 1 day's journey across them. I also attempted to locate the route to the controversial September 3rd, 1805 camp. I was using the map descriptions by historian and author Gene Eastman as well as the compass bearing and maps drawn by William Clark. In places I believe I found as old "Indian" trail that they had used. It was still visible in portions, matched up with Clarks map as well as his description of its location. This was not a "game trail" since, the animal use trails that go from food and water sources, where as the Indian Trails stayed high on ridges and were more in a direct line to avoid confrontations with their enemies etc. The terrain was relentless with thick trees and downed deadfall. Lots of bear sign (scat and areas where the tree stumps were ripped up in search of food.)The weather is cool and even chilly at night.

Several forest fires are burning in the region with large crews of firefighters and helicopter hovering above with 300 gallon buckets of water suspended under them. I had another close encounter with a LARGE rattlesnake. I may have stepped on it. I was not sure but I immediately heard rattling and saw it coiled near my foot. Yikes!

Above: The Corp passed through this valley once they left their canoes behind and were seeking
horses from the Shoshone Indians which they did.

Above: Believe it or not this rivulet of water pouring out of the rocks is exactly
where Lewis stood when he mentioned he had arrived at the "source of the Missouri
River". I wonder if any of this has changed?

Aug 12, 1805"the main stream now after discarding two streams on the left in this valley turns abruptly to the west through a narrow bottom between the moutains. The road was still plain, I therefore did not dispair of shortly finding a passage over the mountains and of taisting the waters of the great Columbia this evening. M. Lewis (Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, MT)

Aug 13, 1805"we had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors mounted on excellent horses who came in nearly full speed, when they arrived I advanced towards them with the flag leaving my gun with the party about 50 paces behind me." M. Lewis

Above: Self explanitory. This rock however was not here 200 years ago.

Above: Looking west from just over Lemhi Pass.

Above and below: Plenty of rugged terrain to hike through. Little has changed in 200 years.

Above: Looking down into Ross Hole where L & C camped.

July 31, 1805"we have a lame crew just now, tow with tumers or bad boils on various parts of them, one with a bad stone bruise, one with his arm accedently dislocated but fortunately well replaced, and a fifth has streigned his back by sliping and falling backwards on the gunwall of the canoe." M. Lewis
Aug 1, 1805"the mountains are extremely bare of timber and out rout lay through the steep valleys exposed to the heat of the sun without shade and scarcely a breath of air…" M Lewis
Aug 5, 1805"the river today they found streighter and more rapid even than yesterday, and the labour and difficulty of the navigation was proportionably increased, they therefore proceeded but slowly and with great pain as the men had become very languid from working in the water and many of their feet swolen and so painful that they could scarcely walk." M Lewis
Aug 7, 1805"Camped on the Lard side above the mouth of a bold running stream 12 yards wide, which we call turf Creek from the number of bogs & quanty of turf in its waters." Wm. Clark
Aug, 10, 1805"we proceeded on passed a remarkable Clift point on the Stard side about 150 feet high, which clift the Indians call the Beavers head, opposite at 300 yards is a low clift of 50 feet which is a spur from the mountains…" Wm.Clark

Aug, 11, 1805"found the river shallow and rapid, insomuch that the men wer compelled to be in the water a considerable proportion of the day in drageing the canoes over the shouals and riffles." M. Lewis (Near Dillon, Montana)
Aug 12, 1805"the main stream now after discarding two streams on the left in this valley turns abruptly to the west through a narrow bottom between the moutains. The road was still plain, I therefore did not dispair of shortly finding a passage over the mountains and of taisting the waters of the great Columbia this evening. M. Lewis (Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass, MT)
Aug 13, 1805"we had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors mounted on excellent horses who came in nearly full speed, when they arrived I advanced towards them with the flag leaving my gun with the party about 50 paces behind me." M. Lewis
Aug, 16, 1805"I sent Drewyer and Shields before this morning in order to kill some meat as neither the Indians nor oursleves had any thing to eat." M. Lewis
Aug 17, 1805" I had not proceeded on one mile before I saw at a distance several Indians on horsback comeing towards me, the interpreter & Squaw who were before me at some distance danced for the joyful sight, and she made signs to me that they were her nation…" Wm Clark (Sacagewea meets her people including her brother Chief Cameahwait)
Aug 18, 1805Purchased of the Indians three horses for which we gave a chiefs coat some handkerchiefs a shirt legins & a fiew arrow points &c." Wm Clark

August 11th, 2004
Several helicopter were transporting fire crews to the nearby forest fire that was started by a recent lightning strike. Very little smoke was present as the crews had it pretty much contained. I was leery about hiking towards the Lewis and Clark camp of September3, 1805 due to the possibility of being near a fire. I checked with the local fire crews and it was much further away than where I would be so I headed out through the forest.It was a cool day with temperatures only in the 70's. Using a topographic maps with the possible areas marked in black ink as to where the camp was located I felt confident I would be in the vicinity of where they spent a difficult night in the snow. The terrain was very steep with loose shale and scree making my progress very slow. Several bighorn sheep tracks were present but none were spotted. I eventually made it to the area where I thought looked like a possible "camping" place. It was the only flat area around and looked big enough for 30+ men and horses. All the major historians have disagreed as to this particular camps location and its true location may never be determined.I arrived in Lolo, Montana yesterday and stayed the night with my friend Graeme whom I worked with in Yellowstone years ago. Graeme's house is located a few miles from Travelers Rest where Lewis and Clark stayed a few days before heading over the Lolo Trail into what is now Idaho. The original fire ring and latrine were located last year by scientist using a device that detects mercury in the soil. While the expedition camped here many of the men were ill and given Dr. Rush's Pills, that contained mercury, which eventually ended up at the place, used as a "bathroom". The place was busy with tourist many arriving by bus and guided through the area that is now a state park.

Above: The Bitterroot Valley of Montana

Aug, 16, 1805"I sent Drewyer and Shields before this morning in order to kill some meat as neither the Indians nor oursleves had any thing to eat." M. Lewis

Aug 17, 1805" I had not proceeded on one mile before I saw at a distance several Indians on horsback comeing towards me, the interpreter & Squaw who were before me at some distance danced for the joyful sight, and she made signs to me that they were her nation…" Wm Clark (Sacagewea meets her people including her brother Chief Cameahwait)

Aug 18, 1805Purchased of the Indians three horses for which we gave a chiefs coat some handkerchiefs a shirt legins & a fiew arrow points &c." Wm Clark

Above: Travelers Rest near Lolo Montana. This is the exact spot that
Lewis & Clark camped. Scientist were able to discover the latreen built by the Corps as
high levels of mercury were found here. Mercury was the main ingredient in Dr. Rush's pills taken by the men when ill.

Above: Gene photographing the "original" Lolo Trail, still evident
after two centuries. Most likely has not been used since Chief Joseph fled across here
in 1865 headed to Canada.

Above: Me at Packer Meadows. This was actually taken 4-years after my journey
in Sept of 2008...the same month that L & C were here so the vegetation
probably looks just like it did in 1805.

Above: Packer Meadows. Virtually unchanged in 200 years!

August 23-27, 2004
He introduced himself as Eb Tide from Russellville, Mo. His long white hair and beard along with his ability to recite Robert Service poetry gave him the appearance of having just stepped off the Klondike Gold rush Trail in Dawson City, Yukon. He is well known almost to cult status in the hiking world as the Nimble Nomad. At 67 years old Eb left St. Louis on foot back in May and is headed for the Pacific Ocean. A retired optometrist by trade Eb has traded in the simple uncluttered life by traveling on foot and backpack throughout North America. He has walked the Appalachian Trail, Key West to Newfoundland and Missouri to San Diego logging somewhere between 20-30 miles daily. His backpack weighed only 11 pounds which is almost unbelievable considering my camera equipment alone weighs 13 lbs. He poked fun at my heavy pack and water soaked boots as I tried to warm my cold and wet body up near the roaring fire. Sparks flew high like fireflies while the cold rain tried to beat out the flames. I had just descended down through steep terrain in hail and rain from what Lewis and Clark called "Snowbank Camp". It was here that they camped one miserable night using snow to cook with for there was no water nearby. My traveling companion for the last week is author and historian Gene Eastman. Gene has extensively researched the historic Lolo (Nee-Mee-Poo and Lewis and Clark) Trail over the Bitterroots Mountains. This trail also known as the Lolo Trail was in a sense the highway system for the Nez Perce and other Indian Tribes traveling to the summer Buffalo hunting grounds in the east and the fall Salmon fisheries along the Columbia. It was this trail that Lewis and Clark and the Corp. of Discovery traveled by horse over the snowy mountains to the waters of the Columbia led by an Indian guide whom they called "old Toby". Lewis and Clark nearly died from the cold and starvation only to survive by eating rations of portable soup, candles, and a few horses they had shot.

Above: Packer Meadows near Lolo Pass. This low spot is the
original crossing for horses used by L&C. The rest of the stream banks
are too steep and the water too deep for safe horse crossing. One could
also see the deep trail tread before and aft of this crossing. Clark drew
these crossing on his detailed maps of the area.

Above: Gene inspecting Indian peeled tree. The Indians peeled the
bark off to use as feed for their horses and themselves. We found hundreds
such trees during our hike over the trail.

Above: Gene and I looking over copies of Clarks Maps and compass
reading. The original trail was evident throughout our journey using
the journals and Clarks maps.

Above: Ponderosa Pines along the real L & C Trail.

Above: Lewis and Clark found fishing weirs built along this stream
when they passed. This is near the old village along Crooked Fork.

The Lolo Trail is perhaps our countries oldest if not the longest intact ancient trail, having been used for centuries by Native Americans. Gene along with his wife Mollie have been researching the location and history of the Lolo Trail as well as trying to get the U.S. Forest Service to recognize this trail as a significant part of our national heritage. The Eastman's have stacks of old maps, historic journals, aerial photos, Forest Service records and other information dating back to the 1800's. Over the last few decades the Clearwater National Forest has initiated Trail Obliteration projects which have literally been destroying portions of the Lolo Trail. These projects are a violation of the National Heritage Prevention Act of 1966 and the Protection of Historic and Cultural Properties Law (Title 36-CFR).
Mollie has a 1995 Forest Service handbook stating that they intend to spend as much money covering and destroying abandoned trail as they have in the past in creating trails. I have witnessed for myself areas of the trail that have been filled in with logs and dirt as well as entire areas where trees were cut down across the old trail. Please read the note at the bottom of this page and click on the link to Gene Eastmans report on the destruction of this National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Forest Service.In the week I have spent hiking the trail with Eastman I have witnessed huge clearcuts in which skidder roads were built overtop the historic trail.
The U.S. Forest Service claims the original trail doesn't exist. The trail that is "advertised" as the real Lolo Trail is actually a Forest Service improvement trail or system of trails that have slowly evolved over time beginning in the 1930's. The original trail was used by the Indian nations up until the late 1800's. In 1866 Dr. Bird and Major Truax received a contract to construct the Virginia City to Lewiston Wagon Road. Instead of a road they constructed a packhorse trail over the mountains which parallels the Lolo Trail and sometimes even uses the original trail itself. In the 1907-1930's with the development of the U.S. Forest Service, trails were constructed using portions of the original trail but making it more user friendly by installing switchbacks and shortening sections to avoid the often steep terrain the Indians traveled on.
Over the last half century it is obvious to see that the Lolo Trail is something the Clearwater National Forest District wished was not on their land. Mollie states that the Forest Service is "making the trail the driving road"; so that once the bicentennial is over they will be able to log both sides of the road like they have over the past 50 years. They are in a sense gradually moving the real trail, creating a false trail, destroying the real trail, and then claiming the "fake" trail is where Lewis and Clark walked.
My interest in history goes back to my childhood growing up in Grayling, Michigan. I learned so much about history by going to the places where the events actually took place such as the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Gettysburg, Amelia Earhart's childhood home, Edison's laboratory, or the Indian ruins of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. It was at these historic places where the events unfolded and became a part of our history and culture. If someone decided to move the Little Bighorn Battlefield several miles from its original location and then stated that "this is where Custer was slain by the Sioux", it would have little meaning to me.
I would be very disappointed if that was the case with our historical sites around the country. Who wants to visit the site of a historical event when it is actually located somewhere else? If your going to say that an event happened "here", then it better have happened there and not some other location. I would feel cheated out of my Lewis and Clark experience if I was not walking on the real Lolo Trail.

Above: Approaching storm mixed with fire smoke.

Eastman has walked hundreds of miles using old maps; Clarks compass recordings, and Lewis & Clark journal descriptions to locate the remains of the Lolo, Nee-Mee-Poo, and Lewis and Clark Trail (all the same trail). In the week I have been walking I have clearly seen the evidence of the trails existence. The trail tread is still visible on the ground even though it has not been used for over a hundred years. The trail has felt the pounding of horse hooves for possibly as far back as 4000 years creating a visible trail evident over time. At times I had to literally get on my hands and knees to see the trail ditch under the thick growth of brush and huckleberry bushes but it was there still visible with little or no vegetation growing in it. Other times the trail seemed lost to logging and skidder roads only to be located once again at the other end where the forest has been undisturbed.
Gene has come to understand the great map maker William Clark whose maps many claim to be childish scribbling when in fact upon close examination they almost seem three dimensional. When listening to Eastman describe the smallest of symbols on Clark's maps I almost feel as if he was with Clark when he created them. Another key ingredient to Gene's recipe is his wife Mollie. Born near where Lewis and Clark grew up in Virginia she has been able to decipher the meaning of certain terms used to describe creeks and streams. For example when Clark states "we crossed a run to the right", Mollie knows that a "Run" is a small stream that takes three steps to cross. A "spring" is smaller. A "spring run" equals 1 step across, a "drain" is a place where water runs or streams flow together. These are all terms Mollie has come to know while growing up in Virginia. Each part of the country has its own meanings for words such as how we describe a "soda" and a "pop" to mean the same thing. Knowing these measurements has played a key roll in locating the direction the Corp. Of Discovery traveled in 1805 as well as many of their camp locations of which over half are misplaced by the Forest Service.
Many sites don't even come close to matching the journal descriptions by William Clark. Gene has showed me original trail tread of not only the Lolo Trail but also that of the Bird Truax 1866 Trail, and the 1904 -1930's Forest Service Improvement Trails. We encountered the "three hacked blaze" mark of the Bird Truax expedition on an old tree in which Gene took a core sample of the new growth to determine how long ago it was cut. It was 138 years old! Gene pointed out literally hundred of pealed trees in which the Indians cut the cambium layer of the bark to obtain sugar and nutrients during times of hunger.
I could still see evidence of the knife cuts along the scars. These scars never heal and almost become indestructible even to forest fires. Oft times when the trail seemed too vague to follow we would encounter more pealed trees indicating we were close if not already on the trail.I could almost hear Gene's brain working as I watched him walk through the forest. Carrying a GPS in one hand and an aluminum hiking staff in the other, his camera vest stuffed full of notes, maps, GPS coordinates, compass, binoculars, and a tree ring aging increment borer. Gene seems as if he has been chosen by a higher calling in this important project. Staring at the ground looking for any sign of the trail he is so focused on his work that my questions sometimes go unanswered. This may be partly due to the fact that he is hard of hearing but I think its more like he has drifted back to 1805 and is traveling with Lewis and Clark.
Gene is a retired game warden and is very woodsmen savvy. He and Mollie practically spend nearly their entire summer months researching and walking the old trail. Gene says "If I think I'm on the trail I'm not, but if I know I'm on the trail I am." At camp Gene carries an old briefcase with a bumper sticker on the outside that says "I Love DOS". The brief case is full of old maps, and thousands of GPS coordinates which are the locations and evidence of the trails existence. Gene also has thousands of photos which document the trail as well as of the trail obliteration projects by the U.S. Forest Service. Gene seems to have enough evidence of Forest Service abuse and mis-management that would bring a smile to any Heritage lawyers face.

Above: Gene with increment borer, used to count tree rings to
determine age of tree. This blaze is an original Bird-Truax 1866 Blaze. They
surveyed the Lewis & Clark Trail that year. The "new" growth around the blaze scar was
determined to be 138 years old which from 2004 back..would put it to the year of the B-T expedition.

I hope that through public awareness the REAL Lolo trail will be recognized as a Historic Landmark and preserved as such. With the bicentennial celebration now upon us it is important that the people know that the publicized Lolo Trail is not the one traveled by the American Indians for centuries or by Lewis and Clark in 1805/06, but a reconstructed trail system. There is much more information that I could write about this topic that would probably fill a book of its own but I hope this is just the stepping stone for the process to begin.
The hail began to fall faster as the cold rain dripped off the rim of my hat. My body completely wet from walking through chest deep huckleberry bushes we pressed on towards Cayuse Junction. An hour before we were on the summit of Mt. Marcy where Gene claims Lewis and Clark camped on Sept. 15, 1805. His location matches the L&C journals; Clarks compass bearing as well as the distance they walked from the previous night's encampment.
As I sat on a fallen log eating an orange, I could almost see William Clark standing on the small outcrop of rock nearby looking around at the 360 degree view. I could almost feel their hunger as they were scarce on food and had to kill another horse to eat. Tired, wet, hungry, focused on their mission, they proceeded on. So did we.

Above: The US Forest Service and Timber harvest
boundary on the Lewis&Clark Trail.

Above: Me ascending Wendover Ridge.

Above: Evidence of the US Forest Service Trail Oblitertion Project.
The real Neemeepoo (Lolo Trail) lies to the right of Gene in the photo.
The original historic trail was covered up by the Forest Service. This is a violation
of the Historic Preservatin Act.

Above: Me with Whitehouse Pond in the background.

After an hour I became warm again around the blazing fire. Mollie kept pumping me full of hot coffee and snack food which helped boost my tired mood. In the morning Eb was packed and determined to walk 30 miles. I reached out my hand to shake his goodbye as he extended his forward to meet mine. With our grips firm and true we gazed into one another's eyes without uttering a single word. I could read in his eyes and feel in his grip all that needed to be said and I'm sure he the same of mine.
After what seemed like several minutes we released our grips, he turned and headed west.Gene and Mollie's book: "Bitterroot Crossing; Lewis and Clark across the Lolo Trail" is published by University of Idaho Library 2002 can be purchased through the University of Idaho Library or on Amazon. They are currently working on there 2nd book as well as the second edition of the first book.Eb can be reached via his hiking website at Please check out his web site and encourage him along the way. He hopes to reach the waters of the Pacific by the middle of September. He also has published three books which can be purchased on his web site. One is entitled "A Million Steps" (or something like that).

Above: Me, Eb (The Nimblewill Nomad) and Gene. Eb nearly
70years old walked from St. Louis to here and eventually went on
to the Pacific. (In 2006 Eb walked all the way back to St. Louis...and to
top that in 2007 he walked from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide Trail, and in
2008 he walked again from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail!)

Above: Wet feet still! Its been abot 5-months
since my feet were completely dry!

Sept 12, 1804"Crossed a mountain 8 miles with out water & rencamped on a hill side on the creek after decending a long steep mountain…" Wm Clark
Sept 14, 1805"a cloudy day in the valies it rained and hailed, on the top of the mountains some snow fell we set out early and crossed a high mountain on the right of the creek for 6 miles to the forks of the Glade Creek." Wm Clark (Site of present day Powell Ranger Station)
Sept 15, 1805"From this mountain I could observe high ruged mountains in every direction as far as I could see. With the greatest exertion we could only make 12 miles up this mountain…we melted snow to drink, and cook our horse flesh to eat." Wm Clark
Sept 16, 1805"I have been wet and as cold in every part as I ever was in my life, indeed I was at one time fearfull my feet would freeze in the thin Mockirsons which I wore" Wm Clark (Near Indian Post Office Lake, Clearwater National Forest)
Sept 17, 1805"snow falling from the trees which kept us wet all after noon passed several high ruged knobs and deveral dreans & springs passing to the right…" Wm Clark
Sept 18, 1805"we dined & suped on a skant proportion of portable soupe, a few canester of which, a little bears oil and about 20 lbs of candles form our stock of provisions." M. Lewis
Sept 19, 1805"Set out early proceeded on up the Hungry Creek passing through a small glade at 6 miles at which place we found a horse. I derected him killed and hung up for the party…" Wm Clark

Above: Mollie Eastman provided the vehicle support while Gene and I hiked
the trail during the day. It was always nice to come out to a warm
fire and hot drinks.
Above: Foggy morning!

Above Photo: Me atop No-see-um Ridge. Behind me you could see the plains of
Weippe mentioned in the L&C journals.
The cold water burned my feet as I stood in Hungry Creek watching Gene slowly wade through the chilly water to the where I was standing. One slip in the 40 degree water would have been very life threatening for both of us. I knew Gene had problems with his balance so I was ready to jump back in the river and grab him if he fell in.We crossed Hungry Creek several times in the three days we traveled along the remote creek. We managed to cross without any problems except for one brief moment when Gene dropped his hiking boots in which he was carrying into the river. I was glad they were tied together because when I grabbed one boot, I actually had both. Had Genes boots been taken away by the current we would have been in serious trouble. The terrain is the roughest country I have ever walked in and Gene would have had to walk out in a pair of water sandals. I am not sure he would have been able to do so. In the three days we spent in Hungry Creek we walked a total of 36 hours and only covered about 12 miles. One night we traveled until the sun went down and were at least 3 hours from where we intended to camp on a high ridge. Since our sleeping bags, trap, food, and stove were all at the high camp we had to bivy in a groove of cedar trees where we slept in our rain gear near a small fire we kept burning all night until the sun came up.

Photo Above: Looking into Hungry Creek. The Lewis & Clark route was basically right of the creek.

Photo Above: Gene dropping into Hungry Creek.

Photo Above: Gene tired, wet, and beat after descending down into Hungry Creek. This area is one of the most rugged and remotest of the whole Lewis and Clark Trail.

Photo Above: Gene walking through Hungry Creek. The rocks were extremely slippery and the water very cold. We didn't dare fall in. Gene actually dropped his hiking boots in the water near this photo while changing into his wading sandles. It would have been difficult for him to hike out had we lost them to the creek.

After traveling through this region one has a better appreciation for what Lewis and Clark went through. They suffered dearly! Very little game was killed and they survived by shooting some of their horses. They also ate there supply of candles and portable soup. Cold, tired, walking through snow in wet buckskin, having some of their horses fall from the trail hundreds of feet into the river, and wondering if they would ever get over the mountains before winter set in. There were many times when I became frustrated with our progress through the dense brush and I tried not to take it out on my hiking partner Gene. For a man almost in his 70's he never complained about his exhaustion even through I could see it on his face. He would have continued until he dropped had I not suggested bivying and building a fire short of our intended destination, instead of traveling three more hours in the dark. I could tell it meant a lot to him to walk through this section of the Lolo trail. He has been immersed in the Lewis and Clark expedition through here for several years. I have learned a great deal from him and his wife Mollie. I felt confident in locating the original trail tread in many places and feel well versed in management of the Clearwater National Forest.
It's a shame that so many people who travel the "Lolo Trail" think they are on the original trail that Lewis and Clark traveled on. I got to see many areas on the original trail that were filled in with dirt and logs as part of the Trail Obliteration Projects by the U.S. Forest Service. They're slowly moving the real trail to accommodate logging and destroying the cultural and heritage resources of this ancient trail. It's like moving Mt. Vernon to Ohio and then telling the people it's the real Mt. Vernon as Mollie would often say. I hope that through public knowledge and the publication of their new book that people will begin to put pressure on the Clearwater National Forest in preserving our country's oldest and longest intact trail. Thanks to Gene and Mollie Eastman for making dreams come true. My two weeks with you were the most challenging, rewarding, and highlight of my long journey. Thanks you very much for the hospitality, I appreciate it. Let's save the Lolo Trail from further destruction!

Photo: Gene providing the protection! At times I wished he would have used it on me, the route was very tough through Hungry Creek. Gene prevailed well being a few dacades older than me.

Sept 20, 1805 "descended the mountains to a leavel pine countrey proceeded on through a butifull countrey for three miles to a small plain in which I found many Indian lodges…""They call themselves Cho pun-nish or Pierced noses. Their diolect appears verry different from the flat heads…" Wm Clark (Present site of Weippe Prairie, Idaho)

Sept 21, 1805"I collected a horse load of roots & 3 sammon & sent R. Fields with one Indian to meet Capt. Lewis at 4 oclock set out with the other men to the river, passed thro a fine pine countrey decended a steep ruged hill verry long to a small river which comes from our left…" Wm. Clark (Present site of Orofino, Idahao)

Above: Weippe Prairie, Idaho

The End of Part 8!

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1 comment:

Mishomis said...

Hmm. Met Verlen on the Pukaskwa River sometimes in the mid 70's. There were no roads in that area yet. He caught up to us somewhere around Beaver Lake. Stayed with us the night then left early the next morning. He was already gone when we woke up. We were new to kayaks at that time he showed us his and let us try it out. Couldn't get used to that rudder. Sometimes around that period can't quite remember if it was before or after we met him that he lost his friend on the White River at Angler Falls. The cross is still there. Did the White in the mid 70's also. It is just a few miles from my back door.
Verlen told us of some of his trips. Remarkable man. He left an impression on me that's for sure.
Visit my blog at to see some of our trips.
Mishomis ( Dunc M )