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Title: Camping in the Canadian Rockies - an account of camp life in the wilder parts of the Canadian - Rocky mountains, together with a description of the region - about Banff, Lake Louise, and Glacier, and a sketch of - early explorations.
Author: Wilcox, Walter Dwight
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Camping in the Canadian Rockies - an account of camp life in the wilder parts of the Canadian - Rocky mountains, together with a description of the region - about Banff, Lake Louise, and Glacier, and a sketch of - early explorations." ***

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                   [Illustration: Mount Assiniboine.]

                             CAMPING IN THE
                            CANADIAN ROCKIES


                          WALTER DWIGHT WILCOX



                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                                NEW YORK
                      27 West Twenty-third Street
                       24 Bedford Street, Strand
                       _The Knickerbocker Press_

                            Copyright, 1896
                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                 _Entered at Stationers’ Hall, London_

                  _The Knickerbocker Press, New York_



The Canadian Rocky Mountains offer exceptional attractions to those who
enjoy natural scenery, sport, and camp life. Few regions of the world
combining mountain, lake, and forest scenery possess the additional
advantage of a delightful summer climate, such as obtains in the
Canadian Rockies.

The extremely wild character of this part of the Rocky Mountains, and
the very short time since it was opened up to travellers, are probably,
in great part, the reasons for the lack of literature and the absence of
any thoroughly illustrated publication concerning this region.

During a period of four years, the author has made camping excursions
into many of the wilder parts of the mountains and effected a
considerable number of ascents. An excellent camera has been an almost
inseparable companion in every excursion, so that photographs of the
typical scenery have been obtained from every possible point of view.
Moreover, throughout all the processes of photographing, no expense of
time or labor has been spared in order to obtain true and artistic
representations of nature. Nor have these results been obtained without
considerable sacrifice, for in many cases the proper light effects on
lakes and forests required hours of delay, and frequently, on lofty
mountain summits, high winds made it necessary to anchor the camera with
stones; while the cold and exposure of those high altitudes made the
circumstances unfavorable for successful work.

A map is not included in the volume, as, owing to the wildness of the
country, there are no detailed maps covering this region that are
entirely satisfactory. The best map, and, in fact, the only one
available, is published in Dr. Dawson’s _Preliminary Report_ on this
part of the Rocky Mountains.

The author makes grateful acknowledgment of the assistance received from
many friends in the preparation of this book. Special thanks are due to
Prof. J. H. Gore, of Columbian University, and to the Hon. Chas. D.
Walcott, Director of the United States Geological Survey, for the
valuable aid and information given by them; to M. Guillaume La Mothe for
an interesting letter concerning the first exploration of the Fraser
River; and to Sir William Van Horne for the many courtesies extended.

                                                                W. D. W.

Washington, D.C., July, 1896.





      _Banff—Its Location—The Village—Tourists—Hotels—Topography of the
      Region—Rundle and Cascade Mountains—The Devil’s Lake—Sir George
      Simpson’s Journey to this Region—Peechee the Indian Guide—An
      Indian Legend—The Missionary Rundle—Dr. Hector—The Climate of
      Banff—A Summer Snow-Storm—The Mountains in Winter_            1-15


      _Lake Louise—First Impressions—An Abode of Perpetual Winter—The
      Chalet—Visitors—Stirring Tales of Adventure—Primeval
      Forests—Forest Fires—Mosquitoes and Bull-Dog Flies—Mortal Combats
      between Wasps and Bull-dogs—The Old Chalet—Morning on the
      Lake—Approach of a Storm—Sublimity of a Mountain
      Thunder-Storm—Cloud Effects—The Lake in October—A Magnificent
      Avalanche from Mount Lefroy—A Warning of Approaching Winter_ 16-35


      _Surroundings of the Lake—Position of Mountains and Valleys—The
      Spruce and Balsam Firs—The Lyall’s Larch—Alpine Flowers—The Trail
      among the Cliffs—The Beehive, a Monument of the Past—Lake Agnes, a
      Lake of Solitude—Summit of the Beehive—Lake Louise in the Distant
      Future_                                                      36-46


      _Organizing a Party for the Mountains—Our Plans for the
      Summer—William Twin and Tom Chiniquy—Nature, Habits, and Dress of
      the Stoney Indians—An Excursion on the Glacier—The Surface Debris
      and its Origin—Snow Line—Ascent of the Couloir—A Terrible
      Accident—Getting Down—An Exhausting Return for Aid—Hasty
      Organization of a Rescue Party—Cold and Miserable Wait on the
      Glacier—Unpleasant Surmises—“I Think You Die”—A Fortunate
      Termination_                                                 47-64


      _Castle Crags—Early Morning on the Mountain Side—View from the
      Summit—Ascent of the Aiguille—An Avalanche of Rocks—A Glorious
      Glissade—St. Piran—Its Alpine Flowers and Butterflies—Expedition
      to an Unexplored Valley—A Thirsty Walk through the
      Forest—Discovery of a Mountain Torrent—A Lake in the Forest—A
      Mountain Amphitheatre—The Saddle—Impressive View of Mount
      Temple—Summit of Great Mountain—An Ascent in Vain—A Sudden Storm
      in the High Mountains—Phenomenal Fall of Temperature—Grand Cloud
      Effects_                                                     65-83


      _Paradise Valley—The Mitre Glacier—Air Castles—Climbing to the
      Col—Dark Ice Caverns—Mountain Sickness—Grandeur of the
      Rock-Precipices on Mount Lefroy—Summit of the Col at Last—A
      Glorious Vision of a New and Beautiful Valley—A Temple of
      Nature—Sudden Change of Weather—Temptation to Explore the New
      Valley—A Precipitate Descent—Sudden Transition from Arctic to
      Temperate Conditions—Delightful Surroundings—Weary
      Followers—Overtaken by Night—A Bivouac in the Forest—Fire in the
      Forest—Indian Sarcasm_                                      84-100


      _The Wild Character of Paradise Valley—Difficulties with
      Pack-Horses—A Remarkable Accident—Our Camp and Surroundings—Animal
      Friends—Midsummer Flowers—Desolation Valley—Ascent of Hazel
      Peak—An Alpine Lake in a Basin of Ice—First Attempt to Scale Mount
      Temple—Our Camp by a Small Lake—A Wild and Stormy Night—An
      Impassable Barrier—A Scene of Utter Desolation—All Nature
      Sleeps—Difficulties of Ascent—The Highest Point yet Reached in
      Canada—Paradise Valley in Winter—Farewell to Lake Louise_  101-118


      _The Selkirks—Geographical Position of the Range—Good Cheer of the
      Glacier House—Charming Situation—Comparison between the Selkirks
      and Rockies—Early Mountain Ascents—Density of the Forest—Ascent of
      Eagle Peak—A Magnificent Panorama—A Descent in the
      Darkness—Account of a Terrible Experience on Eagle Peak—Trails
      through the Forest—Future Popularity of the Selkirks—The Forest
      Primeval—An Epitome of Human Life—Age of Trees—Forests Dependent
      on Humidity_                                               119-136


      _Mount Assiniboine—Preparations for Visiting it—Camp at Heely’s
      Creek—Crossing the Simpson Pass—Shoot a Pack-Horse—A Delightful
      Camp—A Difficult Snow Pass—Burnt Timber—Nature Sounds—Discovery of
      a Beautiful Lake—Inspiring View of Mount Assiniboine—Our Camp at
      the Base of the Mountain—Summer Snow-Storms—Inaccessibility of
      Mount Assiniboine_                                         137-157


      _Evidence of Game—Discovery of a Mountain Goat—A Long Hunt—A
      Critical Moment—A Terrible Fall—An Unpleasant Experience—Habitat
      of the Mountain Goat—A Change of Weather—A Magnificent
      Panorama—Set out to Explore the Mountain—Intense Heat of a Forest
      Fire—Struggling with Burnt Timber—A Mountain Bivouac—Hope and
      Despair—Success at Last—Short Rations—Topography of Mount
      Assiniboine—The Vermilion River—A Wonderful Canyon—Fording the Bow
      River_                                                     158-182


      _The Waputehk Range—Height of the Mountains—Vast Snow Fields and
      Glaciers—Journey up the Bow—Home of a Prospector—Causes and
      Frequency of Forest Fires—A Visit to the Lower Bow Lake—Muskegs—A
      Mountain Flooded with Ice—Delightful Scenes at the Upper Bow
      Lake—Beauty of the Shores—Lake Trout—The Great Bow Glacier_


      _Sources of the Bow—The Little Fork Pass—Magnificence of the
      Scenery—Mount Murchison—Camp on the Divide—A High Mountain
      Ascent—Future of the Bow Lakes—Return down the Bow—Search for a
      Pass—Remarkable Agility of Pack-Horses—The “Bay” and the
      “Pinto”—Mountain Solitudes—Mount Hector—Difficult Nature of
      Johnston Creek—A Blinding Snow-Storm—Forty-Mile Creek—Mount Edith
      Pass_                                                      205-219


      _Origin and Rise of the Fur Trade—The Coureurs des Bois and the
      Voyageurs—Perils of the Canoe Voyages—The Hudson Bay Company and
      the Northwest Company—Intense Rivalry—Downfall of the Northwest
      Company—Sir Alexander Mackenzie—His Character and Physical
      Endowments—Cook’s Explorations—Mackenzie Starts to Penetrate the
      Rockies—The Peace River—A Marvellous Escape—The Pacific Reached by
      Land—Perils of the Sea and of the Wilderness_              220-236


      _Captain Cook’s Explorations—The American Fur Company—First
      Exploration of the Fraser River—Expedition of Ross
      Cox—Cannibalism—Simplicity of a Voyageur—Sir George Simpson’s
      Journey—Discovery of Gold in 1858—The Palliser Expedition—Dr.
      Hector’s Adventures—Milton and Cheadle—Growth of the
      Dominion—Railroad Surveys—Construction of the Railroad—Historical
      Periods—Future Popularity of the Canadian Rockies_         237-257


      _The Pleasures of the Natural Sciences—Interior of the
      Earth—Thickness of the Crust—Origin and Cause of Mountains—Their
      Age and Slow Growth—System in Mountain Arrangement—The Cordilleran
      System—The Canadian Rockies—Comparison with Other Mountain
      Regions—Climate—Cause of Chinook Winds—Effect of High Latitude on
      Sun and Moon—Principal Game Animals—Nature of the Forests—Mountain
      Lakes—Camp Experiences—Effect on the Character_            258-275

  Index                                                          277-283



                        FULL-PAGE PHOTOGRAVURES.

  Mount Assiniboine                                       _Frontispiece_
  Banff Springs Hotel                                                  4
  Bow River and Cascade Mountain                                      10
  Lake Louise                                                         18
  Mount Lefroy and Mirror Lake                                        38
  Lake Agnes (In early July, 1895)                                    42
  Tom Chiniquy (By courtesy of Mr. S. B. Thompson, New Westminster, B.
      C.)                                                             50
  Mount Temple, from the Saddle                                       78
  Discovery of Paradise Valley                                        92
  Camp in Paradise Valley                                            108
  Mount Sir Donald, from Eagle Peak                                  126
  Head of Rocky Mountain Sheep                                       132
  North Lake                                                         152
  Summit Lake, near Mount Assiniboine                                154
  Head of Rocky Mountain Goat (Shot July 18, 1895)                   164
  The Waputehk Range (Looking across the range from near Hector)     184
  Mount Daly                                                         192
  Upper Bow Lake (Looking east)                                      196
  Upper Bow Lake (Looking west)                                      200
  Source of the Little Fork of the Saskatchewan River                206
  Storm in Little Fork Valley                                        208
  Mount Hector and Slate Mountains (From summit of a mountain near
      Little Fork Pass, 10,125 feet in altitude)                     210
  Camp at Little Fork Pass                                           212
  Upper Bow Lake (Looking south)                                     270
  Emerald Lake and Mount Field                                       272



                       ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.

  Rundle Mountain and Bow River                                       15
  Lake Louise (Looking toward chalet)                                 31
  Anemones                                                            40
  A Cool Retreat in the Forest                                        75
  Summit of Mount Temple                                             115
  Glacier House                                                      120
  Peyto                                                              140
  Packing the Buckskin                                               142
  Calypso                                                            143
  Approaching the Pass                                               149
  North Lake (Looking northwest)                                     157
  Haunt of the Mountain Goat                                         165
  Mount Assiniboine (From northwest)                                 167
  Lake on Vermilion Pass                                             181
  Ready to March                                                     186
  Camp at Upper Bow Lake                                             202
  The “Bay”                                                          214
  Falls of Leanchoil                                                 249


                               CAMPING IN
                         THE CANADIAN ROCKIES.

                               CHAPTER I.

  _Banff—Its Location—The Village—Tourists—Hotels—Topography of the
  Region—Rundle and Cascade Mountains—The Devil’s Lake—Sir George
  Simpson’s Journey to this Region—Peechee the Indian Guide—An Indian
  Legend—The Missionary Rundle—Dr. Hector—The Climate of Banff—A Summer
  Snow-Storm—The Mountains in Winter._

The principal resort of tourists and sportsmen in the Rocky Mountains of
Canada is Banff. The location of the town or village of Banff might be
briefly described as being just within the eastern-most range of the
Rocky Mountains, about one hundred and fifty miles north of the
International boundary, or where the Canadian Pacific Railway begins to
pierce the complex system of mountains which continue from this point
westward to the Pacific coast.

Banff is likewise the central or focal point of the Canadian National
Park. There is so much of scenic interest and natural beauty in the
surrounding mountains and valleys, that an area of some two hundred and
sixty square miles has been reserved in this region by the government
and laid out with fine roads and bridle-paths to points of special
interest. Order is enforced by a body of men known as the Northwest
Mounted Police, a detachment of which is stationed at Banff. This
organization has been wonderfully effective for many years past in
preserving the authority of the laws throughout the vast extent of
northwestern Canada by means of a number of men that seems altogether
insufficient for that purpose.

The small and scattered village of Banff occupies a flat plain near the
Bow River. This large stream, the south branch of the Saskatchewan, one
of the greatest rivers of North America, is at this point not only deep
and swift but fully one hundred yards in width. A fine iron bridge spans
the river and leads to the various hotels all of which are south of the
village. The permanent population numbers some half thousand, while the
various stores, dwellings, and churches have a general air of neatness
and by their new appearance suggest the fact that the history of Banff
extends back only one decade.

During the summer season, the permanent population of Banff is sometimes
nearly doubled by a great invasion of tourists and travellers from far
distant regions. Overland tourists from India, China, Ceylon, and
England, the various countries of Europe and the Dominion of Canada, but
chiefly from the United States, form the greater part of this
cosmopolitan assemblage, in which, however, almost every part of the
globe is occasionally represented. Some are bent on sport with rod or
gun; others on mountaineering or camping expeditions, but the great
majority are en route to distant countries and make Banff a
stopping-place for a short period.

Arrived at Banff, the traveller is confronted by a line of hack drivers
and hotel employes shouting in loud voices the names and praises of
their various hotels. Such sights and sounds are a blessed relief to the
tourist, who for several days has witnessed nothing but the boundless
plains and scanty population of northwestern Canada. The chorus of rival
voices seems almost a welcome back to civilization, and reminds one in a
mild degree of some railroad station in a great metropolis. On the
contrary, the new arrival finds, as he is whirled rapidly toward his
hotel in the coach, that he is in a mere country village surrounded on
all sides by high mountains, with here and there patches of perpetual
snow near their lofty summits.

Though the surrounding region, the adjacent mountains, and valleys
represent nature in a wild and almost primitive state, one may remain at
Banff attended by all the comforts of civilization. The several hotels
occupy more or less scattered points in the valley south from the
village. The one built and managed by the railroad stands apart from the
village on an eminence overlooking the Bow River. It is a magnificent
structure capable of accommodating a large number of guests. From the
verandas and porches one may obtain a fine panoramic view of the
surrounding mountains, and on the side towards the river the view
combines water, forest, and mountain scenery in a most pleasing manner.
The Bow River, some three hundred feet below, comes in from the left and
dashes in a snowy cascade through a rocky gorge, then, sweeping away
towards the east, is joined by the Spray River, a mad mountain torrent
deep and swift, but clear as crystal, and with cold water of that deep
blue color indicating its mountain origin. The wonderful rapidity with
which these mountain streams flow is a source of astonishment and wonder
to those familiar only with the sluggish rivers of lowland regions.
Standing on the little iron bridge which carries the road across the
stream and looking down on the water, I have often imagined I was at the
stern of an ocean greyhound, so rapidly does each ripple or inequality
sweep under and away from the eye. Though the water is less than a yard
in depth, the current moves under the bridge at the rate of from nine to
ten miles an hour.

The best point from which to get a good general idea of the topography
of Banff and its surroundings is from the summit of a little hill known
as Tunnel Mountain. It is centrally located in the wide valley of the
Bow, above which it rises exactly 1000 feet, an altitude great enough to
make it appear a high mountain were it not dwarfed by its mighty
neighbors. The view from the summit is not of exceeding grandeur, but is
well worth the labor of the climb, especially as a good path, with
occasional seats for the weary, makes the walk an easy one. The top of
the mountain is still far below the tree line, though the earth is too
thin to nourish a rich forest. The soil was all carried away in the Ice
Age, for there are abundant proofs that this mountain was once flooded
by a glacier coming down the Bow valley. The bare limestone of the
summit is grooved in great channels pointing straight up the Bow valley.
In some places scratches made by the ice are visible, and there are many
quartz boulders strewed about which have been carried here from some
distant region.

                  [Illustration: Banff Springs Hotel.]

The meandering course of the Bow River, the village, the hay meadows and
grassy swamps, all form a pretty picture in the flat valley below. The
eastern face of Tunnel Mountain is wellnigh perpendicular. The trail
leads along near the summit and allows thrilling views down the sheer
precipice to the flat valley of the Bow River far below. The trees and
prominent objects of the landscape seem like toys, and the adjacent
plains resemble a colored map. There are no houses or dwellings in view
on this side, but a drove of horses grazing contentedly in a pasture
near the river, awaiting their turn to be sent out into the mountains in
the pack train of some sportsman or mountaineer, gives life and
animation to the scene. On either side are two high mountains,
conspicuous by their unusual outlines and great altitude. The one to the
south is Rundle Mountain. It rises in a great curving slope on its west
side, and terminates in a rugged escarpment with precipitous cliffs to
the east, which tower in wonderful grandeur more than 5000 feet above
the flood plains of the Bow River near its base.

On the opposite side is Cascade Mountain, which is remarkable in being
of almost identical height, and is in fact just two feet lower, as
determined by the topographical survey. The name of this mountain was
given by reason of a large stream which falls from ledge to ledge down
the cliffs of its eastern face in a beautiful cascade. Both this and
Rundle Mountain are composed of the old Devonian and Carboniferous
limestones, the strata of which are plainly visible. The structure is
that of a great arch or anticline which has been completely overturned,
so that the older beds are above the newer. Several miles towards the
east, the end of Devil’s Lake may be seen appearing through a notch in
the mountains. A fine road nine miles in length has been made to this
lake and is one of the most popular drives in the vicinity of Banff. The
lake is very long and narrow, about nine miles in length by three
fourths of a mile in extreme breadth. The scenery is grand, but rather
desolate, as the bare mountain walls on either side of the lake are not
relieved by forests or abundant vegetation of any kind. The lake is,
however, a great resort for sportsmen as it abounds in large trout, of
which one taken last year weighed thirty-four pounds. The name of the
lake gives illustration of the tendency among savages and civilized
people to dedicate prominent objects of nature to the infernal regions
or the master spirit thereof. There is no apparent limit to the number
of places named after the Devil and his realm, while the names suggested
by more congenial places are conspicuous by their absence. The original
name, Lake Peechee, was given by Sir George Simpson in honor of his

The scattered threads of history which relate to this part of the Rocky
Mountains are suggested by these names and indeed this lake has an
unusual interest for this reason. In a region where explorations have
been very few and far between, and where only the vague traditions of
warlike events among the Indians form a great part of the history, each
fragment and detail set forth by the old explorers acquires an increased

Previous to the arrival of the railroad surveyors, the chief men on whom
our attention centres are Sir George Simpson, Mr. Rundle, and Dr.

The expedition of Sir George Simpson possesses much of interest in every
way. He claims to have been the first man to accomplish an overland
journey around the world from east to west. After having traversed the
greater part of the continent of North America, he entered the
stupendous gates of the Rocky Mountains in the autumn of 1841. He
travelled with wonderful rapidity, and was wont to cover from twenty to
sixty miles a day, according to the nature of the country. His outfit
consisted of a large band of horses, about forty-five in number,
attended by cooks and packers sufficient for the needs of this great
expedition. Nevertheless the long cavalcade of animals, when spread out
in Indian file along the narrow trails were difficult to manage, and it
not infrequently happened that on reaching camp several horses proved to
be missing, a fact which would necessitate some of the men returning
fifteen or twenty miles in search of them.

Passing to the south of the Devil’s Head, a remarkable and conspicuous
mountain which may be recognized far out on the plains, Sir George
Simpson entered the valley occupied by the lake. In this part of his
journey he was guided by a half-breed Indian named Peechee, a chief of
the Mountain Crees. Peechee lived with his wife and family on the
borders of this lake, and Simpson named it after him, a name, however,
which never gained currency. Dr. Dawson transferred the name to a high
mountain south of the lake, and substituted the Indian name of
Minnewanka, or in English, Devil’s Lake.

The guide Peechee seems to have possessed much influence among his
fellows, and whenever, as was often the case, the Indians gathered
around their camp-fires and gossiped about their adventures, Peechee was
listened to with the closest attention on the part of all. Nothing more
delights the Indians than to indulge their passion for idle talk when
assembled together, especially when under the soothing and peaceful
influence of tobacco,—a fact that seems strange indeed to those who see
them only among strangers, where they are wont to be remarkably silent.

A circumstance of Indian history connected with the east end of the lake
is mentioned by Sir George Simpson, and admirably illustrates the nature
of savage warfare. A Cree and his wife, a short time previously, had
been tracked and pursued by five Indians of a hostile tribe into the
mountains to a point near the lake. At length they were espied and
attacked by their pursuers. Terrified by the fear of almost certain
death, the Cree advised his wife to submit without defending herself.
She, however, was possessed of a more courageous spirit, and replied
that as they were young and had but one life to lose they had better put
forth every effort in self-defence. Accordingly she raised her rifle and
brought down the foremost warrior with a well aimed shot. Her husband
was now impelled by desperation and shame to join the contest, and
mortally wounded two of the advancing foe with arrows. There were now
but two on each side. The fourth warrior had, however, by this time
reached the Cree’s wife and with upraised tomahawk was on the point of
cleaving her head, when his foot caught in some inequality of the ground
and he fell prostrate. With lightning stroke the undaunted woman buried
her dagger in his side. Dismayed by this unexpected slaughter of his
companions, the fifth Indian took to flight after wounding the Cree in
his arm.

Rundle Mountain, which has been already mentioned and which forms one of
the most striking mountains in the vicinity of Banff, is named after a
Wesleyan missionary who for many years carried on his pious labors among
the Indians in the vicinity of Edmonton. Mr. Rundle once visited this
region and remained camped for a considerable time near the base of
Cascade Mountain, probably shortly after Sir George Simpson explored
this region. The work of Mr. Rundle among the Indians appears to have
been highly successful, if one may judge by the present condition of the
Stoneys, who are honest, truthful, and but little given to the vices of
civilization. Even to this day the visitor may see them at Banff dressed
in partly civilized, partly savage attire, or on rare occasions decked
out in all the feathers and beaded belts and moccasins that go to make
up the sum total of savage splendor.

Our attention comes at last to Dr. Hector, who was connected with the
Palliser expedition. It is exceedingly unfortunate that the blue-book in
which the vast amount of useful information and interesting adventure
connected with this expedition is so clearly set forth should be now
almost out of print. There are no available copies in the United States
or Canada and but very few otherwise accessible. Dr. Hector followed up
the Bow River and passed the region now occupied by Banff in the year
1858. He was accompanied by the persevering and ever popular botanist,
Bourgeau. Under the magic spell of close observation and clear
description, the most commonplace affairs assume an unusual interest in
all of Dr. Hector’s reports. It is very evident that game was much more
abundant in those early days than at present. For instance, Dr. Hector’s
men shot two mountain sheep near the falls of the Bow River, which are
but a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. Likewise when making a partial
ascent of the Cascade Mountain, Dr. Hector came on a large herd of these
noble animals, concerning which so many fabulous tales of their daring
leaps down awful precipices have been told. He also mentions an
interesting fact about the death of a mountain goat. An Indian had shot
a goat when far up on the slope of Cascade Mountain, but the animal,
though badly wounded, managed to work its way around to some
inaccessible cliffs near the cascade. Here the poor animal lingered for
seven days with no less than five bullets in its body, till at length
death came and it fell headlong down the precipice.

            [Illustration: Bow River and Cascade Mountain.]

The climate of Banff during the months of July and August is almost
perfection. The high altitude of 4500 feet above the sea-level renders
the nights invariably cool and pleasant, while the mid-day heat rarely
reaches 80° in the shade. There is but little rain during this period
and in fact there are but two drawbacks,—mosquitoes and forest-fire
smoke. The mosquitoes, however, are only troublesome in the deep woods
or by the swampy tracts near the river. The smoke from forest fires
frequently becomes so thick as to obscure the mountains and veil them in
a yellow pall through which the sun shines with a weird light.

An effect of the high northern latitude of this part of the Rocky
Mountains is to make the summer days very long. In June and early July
the sun does not set till nine o’clock, and the twilight is so bright
that fine print can be read out doors till eleven o’clock, and in fact
there is more or less light at midnight.

In June and September one never knows what to expect in the way of
weather. I shall give two examples which will set forth the
possibilities of these months, though one must not imagine that they
illustrate the ordinary course of events. In the summer of 1895, after
having suffered from a long period of intensely hot weather in the east,
I arrived at Banff on the 14th of June. It was snowing and the station
platform was covered to a depth of six inches. The next day, however, I
ascended Tunnel Mountain and found a most extraordinary combination of
summer and winter effects. The snow still remained ten or twelve inches
deep on the mountain sides, though it had already nearly disappeared in
the valley. Under this wintry mantle were many varieties of beautiful
flowers in full bloom, and, most conspicuous of all, wild roses in
profusion, apparently uninjured by this unusually late snow-storm. I
made a sad discovery near the top of the mountain. Seeing a little bird
fly up from the ground apparently out from the snow, I examined more
closely and observed a narrow snow-tunnel leading down to the ground.
Removing the snow I found a nest containing four or five young birds all
dead, their feeble spark of life chilled away by the damp snow, while
the mother bird had been, even when I arrived, vainly trying to nurse
them back to life.

This storm was said to be very unusual for the time of year. The poplar
trees in full summer foliage suffered severely and were bent down to the
ground in great arches, from which position they did not fully recover
all summer, while the leaves were blighted by the frost. As a general
rule, however, mountain trees and herbs possess an unusual vitality, and
endure snow and frost or prolonged dry weather in a remarkable manner.
The various flowers which were buried for a week by this late storm
appeared bright and vigorous after a few warm days had removed the snow.

Toward the end of September, 1895, there were two or three days of
exceptionally cold weather, the thermometer recording 6° Fahrenheit one
morning. I made an ascent of Sulphur Mountain, a ridge rising about
3,000 feet above the valley, on the coldest day of that period. The sun
shone out of a sky of the clearest blue without a single cloud except a
few scattered wisps of cirrus here and there. The mountain summit is
covered with a few straggling spruces which maintain a bare existence at
this altitude. The whole summit of the mountain, the trees, and rocks
were covered by a thick mantle of snow, dry and powdery by reason of the
severe cold. The chill of the previous night had condensed a beautiful
frost over the surface of the snow everywhere. Shining scales of
transparent ice, thin as mica and some half-inch across, stood on edge
at all possible angles and reflected the bright sunlight from thousands
of brilliant surfaces. This little glimpse of winter was even more
pleasing than the view from the summit, for the mountains near Banff do
not afford the mountain climber grand panoramas or striking scenery.
They tend to run in long regular ridges, uncrowned by glaciers or
extensive snowfields.

A never failing source of amusement to the residents of Banff, as well
as to those more experienced in mountain climbing, is afforded by those
lately arrived but ambitious tourists who look up at the mountains as
though they were little hills, and proceed forthwith to scale the very
highest peak on the day of their arrival. A few years ago some gentlemen
became possessed of a desire to ascend Cascade Mountain and set off with
the intention of returning the next day at noon. Instead of following
the advice of those who knew the best route, they would have it that a
course over Stoney Squaw Mountain, an intervening high ridge, was far
better. They returned three days later, after having wandered about in
burnt timber so long that, begrimed with charcoal, they could not be
recognized as white men. It is not known whether they ever so much as
reached the base of Cascade Mountain, but it is certain that they
retired to bed upon arriving at the hotel and remained there the greater
part of the ensuing week.

Cascade Mountain, however, is a difficult mountain to ascend, not
because there are steep cliffs or rough places to overcome, but because
almost every one takes the wrong slope. This leads to a lofty
escarpment, and just when the mountaineer hopes to find himself on the
summit, the real mountain appears beyond, while a great gulf separates
the two peaks and removes the possibility of making the ascent that day.

Banff, with its fine drives and beautiful scenery, its luxurious hotels
and delightful climate, will ever enjoy popularity among tourists. The
river above the falls is wide and deep and flows with such gentle
current as to render boating safe and delightful. The Vermilion lakes,
with their low reedy shores and swarming wild fowl, offer charming
places for the canoe and oarsman, at least when the mosquitoes, the
great pest of our western plains and mountains, temporarily disappear.
Nevertheless, the climate of Banff partakes of the somewhat dryer nature
of the lesser and more eastern sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains. There
is not sufficient moisture to nourish the rich forests, vast
snow-fields, and thundering glaciers of the higher ranges to the west,
which in imagination we shall visit in the ensuing chapters.

             [Illustration: RUNDLE MOUNTAIN AND BOW RIVER.]


                              CHAPTER II.

  _Lake Louise—First Impressions—An Abode of Perpetual Winter—The
  Chalet—Visitors—Stirring Tales of Adventure—Primeval Forests—Forest
  Fires—Mosquitoes and Bull-Dog Flies—Mortal Combats between Wasps and
  Bull-Dogs—The Old Chalet—Morning on the Lake—Approach of a
  Storm—Sublimity of a Mountain Thunder-Storm—Cloud Effects—The Lake in
  October—A Magnificent Avalanche from Mt. Lefroy—A Warning of
  Approaching Winter._

Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful sheets of water in the Canadian
Rockies. Many who have travelled extensively say it is the most charming
spot they have ever beheld. The lake is small, but there is a harmonious
blending of grandeur and quiet beauty in the surrounding mountains which
in some way makes a perfect picture out of lofty snow peaks in the
distance and dark forested slopes near at hand.

The lake is a little more than a mile long and about one fourth of a
mile wide. The outline is remarkably like that of the left human foot.
Forests come down nearly to the water’s edge on all sides of the lake,
but there is a narrow margin of rough angular stones where the ripples
from the lake have washed out the soil and even undermined the trees in
some places. The water is a blue-green color, so clear that the stones
on the bottom and the old water-logged trunks of trees, long since
wrested from the shores by storms and avalanches, may be discerned even
in several fathoms of water. The lake is 230 feet deep in the centre,
and the bottom slopes down very suddenly from the shores.

The west shore makes a gently sinuous or wavy line, forming little bays
and capes. Ever new and artistic foregrounds are thus presented, with
the forest making a retreating line of vegetation down the shore.
Nothing could be more beautiful than this border of the lake, rough and
tangled though it is, with a strange mingling of sharp boulders and
prostrate trees covered with moss and half concealed by copses of alder
bushes and flowering shrubs.

I shall never forget my first view of Lake Louise. From the station, the
old trail, constantly ascending as it approaches the lake, leads its
irregular course through the forest. After a walk of nearly three miles,
partial glimpses of the lake and surrounding mountains were obtained
from among the tall spruce trees. A short rapid descent of a small ridge
placed us on the borders of the lake.

It would be difficult indeed to give even a partial description of the
scene. Imagine a cool morning with the rising sun just beginning to
touch the surface of a mountain lake. The air is tranquil and calm so
that the glassy surface of the water mirrors the sky and mountains
perfectly. In the realm of sound, too, all is repose but for the call of
birds near at hand among the balsam trees. From the shores of the lake
on either side rise great mountains, showing cliffs and rocky ledges or
long sweeping slopes of forest to the tree line. Higher still are bare
slopes, crags, ledges, and scattered areas of snow. At the end of the
lake a great notch in the nearer mountains reveals at a distance the
wall-like, lofty mass of Mount Lefroy. This most imposing snowy mountain
stands square across the gap, and with a sharp serrated cliff piercing
the very vault of heaven, shuts off the view and forms the most
conspicuous object of all. The lower part of the mountain is a vertical
cliff or precipice where the longitudinal strata are distinctly visible.
Above, rise alternating slopes covered with perpetual snow and hanging
glaciers, the white-blue ice of which is splintered by deep rents and
dark yawning crevasses. This mountain forms part of the continental
water-shed, for on the other side the melting snows finally reach the
Pacific Ocean, while on the near side the snows swept into the valleys
by avalanches, and melted by the warmer air of lower altitudes, find
their way at length into the Saskatchewan River and Hudson Bay.

There is something wonderfully attractive about this mountain. The
pleasure grows as one continues to gaze at the immense mass; harsh and
stern and cold though it be, it excites awe and wonder as though here
were the rocky foundation and substratum of the globe. This is the abode
of perpetual winter, where ice and snow and bleak rocks exist apart.
Here all is grand but menacing, dangerous, and forbidding. And these
high mountains and deep valleys, suggesting that some awful storm at sea
had become petrified into colossal waves to stand at rest forever, have
been carved out by rain and running water, frost and change of
temperature, through the lapse of countless ages.

                      [Illustration: Lake Louise.]

Our attention finally came to the quiet beauty of the surrounding
vegetation, where among the scattered skirmishers of the forest are
flowering shrubs, and in the more open grassy places forming the swampy
borders of the lake, are many bright flowers. The white mountain
anemones in several varieties, the familiar violets, the yellow
columbine with beautiful pendent blossoms claiming relationship to its
Eastern cousin with scarlet flowers, the fragrant spiranthes, and
orchids with pale-green flowers, resembling insects on a leafy stem, may
all be seen in profusion near the north side of the lake. These humble
herbs, with their gaudy coloring, are the growth of a single season, but
on all sides are copses of bushy plants which endure the long winter,
some of them clad in a garb of evergreen and, like the annual plants,
bearing elegant floral creations. The most conspicuous is the sheep
laurel, a small bush adorned with a profusion of crimson-red flowers,
each saucer-shaped, hanging in corymbs among the small green leaves.
Various shrubs with white flowers, some small and numerous, others large
and scattered, make a contrast to the ever present laurel, while the
most beautiful of all is a species of mountain rhododendron, a large
bush, the most elegant among the mountain heaths, with large white
flowers in clustered umbels. In early July this bush may be found, here
and there, scattered sparingly in the forest in full blossom at the
level of Lake Louise, but after this one must seek ever higher on the
mountain side as the advancing summer creeps to altitudes where spring
is later.

The early morning visitor turns with sharpened appetite to the hotel, if
we may call it such,—a little Swiss chalet of picturesque architecture
built on an eminence in full view of the lake. Here the tourist may live
in rustic comfort for a day, or for weeks, should he desire to prolong
his visit.

Tourists come sparingly to Lake Louise. Unlike Banff with its varied
attractions, there is little here outside of nature, and few have the
power to appreciate nature alone. Of those who do come, only a small
number really see the lake with its forests and mountains combined in
exquisite attractiveness. They see the outlines of mountains, but know
not whether they are near or distant, nor whether their scale is
measured in yards or miles; they see the water of the lake, but not the
reflections in it, the ever changing effects of light and shade, sun and
shadow, ripple and calm. There are trees tall and slender, but whether
they be spruce or pine, larch or hemlock, is all the same; and as to the
flowers—some are differently colored from others.

A visitor to the lake once asked in good faith, apparently, if the
mountains at the head of the lake were not white from chalk; another,
why the water of the stream—which leads out from the lake and rushes in
roaring cascades over its rocky channel toward the Bow River—runs so
fast down hill.

Fortunately, however, those who are not blessed with that ever present
source of pleasure, a love for nature, at least to a slight degree, are
exceptional. Nevertheless, that most people lose much pleasure from a
lack of close observation is often painfully evident. I have seen,
altogether, several hundred tourists arrive at the lake, coming as they
do in small parties, or singly, from day to day, and have found it a
very interesting study to observe their first impressions as the lake
bursts on their view. Some remain motionless studying the details of the
scene, usually devoting their chief attention to the lake and forests,
but less to the mountains, for mountains are the least appreciated of
all the wonders of nature, and are not fully revealed except after years
of experience. Others glance briefly and superficially towards the lake,
and rush hastily into the chalet for breakfast, balancing their love for
nature against hunger for material things in uneven scale. Some remain a
week or ten days, but the great majority spend a single day and leave,
feeling that they have exhausted the charms of the place in so short a
time. A single day amid surroundings where there are such infinite
possibilities of change in cloud and storm, heat and cold, the dazzling
glare of noon, or the calm romantic light of a full moon, and the slow
progress of the seasons, gives but one picture, a single mood from out a
thousand, and it may perchance be the very worst of all.

Upon climbing the steps to the open porch of the chalet and entering the
large spacious sitting-room, the eye falls at once on a fireplace of
old-time proportions, and within its walls of brick, huge logs are
burning, with more vigor indeed but hardly less constancy than the
ancient fires of the Vestal Virgins. Round this spacious hearth visitors
and guests gather, for the air at Lake Louise is always sharp at morning
and evening. Indeed, frosts are not rare throughout the summer and may
occur any week even in July and August. The high altitude of the lake,
which is a little more than 5600 feet above sea-level, is in great part
the cause of this bracing weather. On the hottest day that I have ever
seen at the lake in the course of three summers the thermometer
registered only 78°.

The visitors who come to Lake Louise are of the same cosmopolitan
character and varied nationality as those at Banff. Often of a cold
night have I sat by the large fire, our only source of light, and
listened to tales of adventure told by those who have visited the most
distant and unfrequented parts of the earth. Englishmen, who have spent
the best years of their life in India, were among our entertainers, and
while beverages varying in nature according to nationality or tastes of
each were passed around, I have heard thrilling accounts of leopard and
tiger hunts in the jungle, blood-curdling tales of treachery and
massacre or daring exploits in the Indian wars, and rare experiences in
unknown parts of Cashmere and Thibet.

Though the great majority of visitors to the lake are strangers, there
are some half-dozen whose familiar faces reappear each successive
season; like pilgrims they make this region the termination of a long
annual journey, and here worship in “temples not built by human hands.”
Among these lovers of nature, far distant England and Ceylon are
represented no less than the nearer cities of the United States. The
peculiar charms of this locality present an inexhaustible treasurehouse
of delightful experiences that grow by familiarity. One’s impressions of
the beauty of the lake increase year by year as the full meaning of each
detail becomes more thoroughly appreciated.

A fact of great importance, which goes far to make up the _ensemble_ of
the surroundings of Lake Louise, is the perfect condition of the
forests, which rise in uniform, swelling slopes of dark-green verdure
from the rocky shores of the lake far up the mountain sides to those
high altitudes where the cold air suggests an eternal winter and dwarfs
the struggling trees into mere bushes. The frequent forest fires, which
have wrought so much destruction throughout the entire Canadian Rockies,
have not as yet swept through this valley. The great spruces and balsams
of this primeval forest indicate by their size that for hundreds of
years no fire has been through this region. Some large tree stumps near
the chalet show hundreds of rings, and one that I counted started to
grow in the year 1492, when Columbus set forth to discover the western

Nevertheless, on hot days after a long period of dry weather, when the
air is laden with the fragrant odor of the dripping balsam and of the
dry resin hardened in yellow tears on the scarred trunks of the trees,
and when the dead lower branches hung with long gray moss seem to offer
all the most combustible materials, one feels certain that the slightest
spark would result in a terrible conflagration. Apparently, however, the
past history of this valley has never recorded a fire, whether started
by careless Indian hunters or that frequent cause, lightning. So far as
I am aware, there are no layers of buried charcoal or reddened soil
under the present forest which would indicate an ancient fire.

Some years ago—apparently more than twenty,—a fire destroyed the forest
near the station of Laggan, which is less than two miles from the lake
in a straight line. The fire approached within a mile of the lake and
then died out. There are two causes which will always tend to preserve
these beautiful forests if the visitors are not careless and counteract
them. The prevalent wind is out of the valley toward the Bow valley, so
that a fire would naturally be swept away from the lake. Another cause
is the natural moisture of this upland region. The very luxuriance of
the vegetation indicates this, while in the early morning the whole
forest often seems reeking with moisture, even when there has been no
rain for weeks. The chill of night appears to condense a heavy dew under
the trees and moistens all the vegetation, so that the forest rarely
becomes so exceedingly dry as often happens in wide valleys at lower

Though the scenery and climate at Lake Louise seem almost ideally
perfect during the summer time, nature always renders compensation in
some form or other, and never allows her creatures to enjoy complete
happiness. The borders of the lake and the damp woods breed myriads of
mosquitoes, which conspire to annoy and torture both man and beast. They
appear early in spring and suddenly vanish about the 15th or 20th of
August each year. The chill of night causes them to disappear about ten
o’clock in the evening, not to be seen again until the atmosphere begins
to grow warm in the morning sun.

Another insect pest is a species of fly called the “bull-dog,” a name
suggested by its ferocious bite. These large insects are about an inch
in length and are armed with a formidable set of saws with which they
can rapidly cut a considerable hole through the skin of a man or the
hide of a horse. The bull-dogs frequent the valleys of the Canadian
Rockies, varying locally in their numbers, and seem to prefer low
altitudes and a considerable degree of heat, for they are always most
voracious and numerous on hot dry days. These flies, when numerous, will
almost make a horse frantic. Their bite feels like a fiery cinder slowly
burning through the skin, but fortunately they do not cause much trouble
to man, for they are led by instinct to seek the rough surfaces of
animals and almost invariably light on the clothes instead of the hands
or face. They have a most blood-thirsty and cruel enemy in the wasp, and
if it were not for the inexhaustible supply of the bull-dogs, the wasps
would annihilate the species. Nothing in the habits of insects could be
more interesting than the strange manner in which the wasps set out
deliberately in pursuit of a bull-dog fly, to overtake and seize the
clumsy victim in mid air. Both insects fall to the ground with a
terrible buzzing and much circling about while the mad contest goes on.
Meanwhile the wasp works with the rapidity of lightning, and with its
sharp powerful jaws dis-severs legs and wings, which fall scattered in
the melee, till the bull-dog is rendered helpless and immovable. Last of
all, the wasp cuts off the head of its victim, then leaves the lifeless
and limbless body in order to continue the chase.

I have seen a wasp thus dismember and kill one of these large flies in
less than thirty seconds. They seem to perform their murderous acts out
of pure pleasure, as they do not linger over their prey after the victim
is dead.

The water of Lake Louise is too cold to admit of bathing except in a
very brief manner. The temperature of the water near the first of August
is about 56°.

The old chalet, built in rustic fashion with unhewn logs, was placed
near the lake shore much closer than the present building. One day in
1893, when every one was absent, the building caught fire and burned to
the ground. Remarkably enough the forest did not take fire, though some
of the trees were close to the building.

Usually in the early morning, before the sun has warmed the atmosphere
and started the breezes of daytime into motion, the lake is tranquil and
its surface resembles a great mirror. About nine o’clock, the first
puffs of wind begin to make little cat’s-paws at the far end of the
lake, which widen and extend until finally the whole water becomes
rippled. A gentle breeze continues to sweep down the lake from the snow
mountains toward the Bow valley all day long, and the water rarely
becomes smooth till after sunset. This is the usual order of events in
fair weather, a condition which may continue for several weeks without a
drop of rain.

The approach and progress of a storm, the wonderful atmospheric changes
attending it, and the ever moving clouds obscuring the mountain tops
reveal the lake in the full grandeur of its surroundings. An approaching
storm is first announced by scattered wisps of cirrus cloud, which move
slowly and steadily from the west in an otherwise blue sky. In the
course of twenty-four hours the cirrus clouds have become so thick that
they often resemble a thin haze far above the highest mountains. The sun
with paled light can no longer pierce this ever thickening hazy veil.
The wind blows soft and warm from out the south or southwest, and
generally brings up the smoke of forest fires from the Pacific coast,
and renders the atmosphere still more obscure, till at length the sun
appears like a great ball of brass set in a coppery sky. The trees and
grass appear to change their color and assume a strange vivid shade of
green in the weird light. Sometimes light feathery ashes are wafted over
the high mountains south of the lake and settle down gently like flakes
of snow. The falling barometer announces the coming storm, and presently
another layer of clouds, the low-lying cumulus, form just above the
highest peaks and settle gradually lower till they touch the mountain
tops. Rain soon follows, the clouds settle till they almost rest on the
water of the lake, and the wind increases in violence.

Sometimes thunder-storms of considerable fury sweep through the valley
and among the mountains, one after another for several days. A violent
thunder-storm at night among these lofty mountains is one of the
grandest phenomena of nature. The battling of the elements, the
unceasing roar of the wind in the forest, and the crash of thunder
redoubled by echoes from the rocky cliffs,—all conspire to fill the
imagination with a terrible picture of the majesty and sublimity of
nature. From the lake there comes up a low, hoarse murmur, not the roar
of ocean surf, but the lesser voice of a small mountain lake lashed to
fury and beating with its small waves on a rocky shore. The noise of the
forest, the sound of colliding branches as the tall trees sway to and
fro in the furious wind, and the frequent crack and crash of dead forest
giants overcome by the elements form the dull but fearful monotone,
above which the loud rumble of thunder rises in awful grandeur. These
are the sounds of a mountain storm.

The bright flashes of lightning reveal a companion picture, for in the
momentary light succeeded by absolute darkness the lake is revealed
covered with foamy white caps. The forests on the mountain side seem to
yield to the blast like a field of wheat in a summer breeze, and the
circling clouds sweep about the mountain slopes and conceal all but
their bases.

Should the storm clear away during the daytime one may witness grand
cloud effects. The low-hanging masses of clouds left behind by the
battling elements slowly rise and occasionally reveal small areas of
blue sky among the moving vapors. Gentle puffs of air sweep over the
calm surface of the water, making little areas of ripples here and
there, only to be succeeded by a tranquil calm, as if the storm spirit
were sending forth his dying gasps intermittently. While the air is thus
calm below, the circling wisps of vapor high up on the mountain, rising
and descending, show that the battle between the sun and the clouds is
still raging. From above the saturated forests, the rising vapors
condense and increase in size till at length, caught in some
counter-current, they are swept away or carried downward, while the
dissolving cloud spreads out in wisps and streamers till suddenly it
disappears into transparent air,—a veritable cloud ghost. At length the
mountain tops appear once more, white in a light covering of new snow,
and, as the great masses of cumulus rise and disappear the sky appears
of that deep blue-black color peculiar to mountain altitudes, while the
sun shines out with dazzling brilliancy through the clear atmosphere.

The last visit I made to Lake Louise was toward the middle of October,
1895. A very snowy, disagreeable September had been followed by a long
period of milder weather with much bright sunshine. The new snow, which
had been quite deep near the lake, had altogether disappeared except
high up on the mountain side. It was the true Indian summer, a season
with a certain mellow charm peculiar to it alone, characterized by clear
sunny weather, a calm atmosphere, a low, riding sun, and short days.
Most of the flowers were withered. The deciduous bushes, lately
brilliant from frost, were rapidly losing their foliage, and the larches
were decked in pale yellow, far up near the tree line. However, the
greater part of the vegetation is evergreen, and the spruces, balsams,
and pines, the heaths, ericaceous plants, and the mosses contrive to set
winter at nought by wearing the garb of a perpetual summer in a region
where snow covers the ground three fourths of the year.

I could not resist the temptation as the morning train rolled up to the
station at Laggan to get off for the day and make another visit to the
lake. The sunrise had been unusually brilliant and there was every
promise of a fine day. There is rarely much color at sunrise or sunset
in the mountains. The dry clear atmosphere has little power to break up
the white light into rainbow colors and give the brilliancy of coloring
to be seen near the sea-coast or in the lowlands. The tints are like the
air itself—pure, cold, and clear. With more truth they might be called
delicate shades or color suggestions. They recall those exquisite but
faint hues seen in topaz or tourmaline crystals, or transparent quartz
crystals, wherein the minutest trace of some foreign mineral has
developed rare spectrum colors and imprisoned them forever. Oftimes the
snow of the mountain tops is thus tinted a bright clear pink,
beautifully contrasted against the intensely blue sky. I have never seen
a deep red on the mountains or clouds at these altitudes. The effect of
forest-fire smoke is to give muddy colors: the sun resembles a brazen
globe, and the sky becomes coppery in appearance.

After breakfast at the station house, I set off over the hard frozen
road toward the lake. I carried my camera and luncheon on my back, my
only companion being a small dog which appeared ready for exercise. The
air was frosty and cold; the low-riding sun had not as yet struck into
the forest trees and removed the rime from the moss and leaves on the

           [Illustration: LAKE LOUISE LOOKING TOWARD CHALET.]

In somewhat less than an hour, I arrived at the lake. All was deserted;
the chalet closed, the keeper gone, and the tents taken down. Even the
boats, which usually rested near the shore, had been put under cover.
The cold air was perfectly calm, and my vapory breath rose straight
upwards. The mirror surface of the water was disturbed by some wild
fowl—black ducks and divers—which swarm on the lake at this season.
Their splashings, and the harsh cries of the divers came faintly over
the water. It seemed strange that these familiar haunts could appear so
fearfully wild and lonely merely because man had resigned his claim to
the place and nature now ruled alone. All at once a wild unearthly wail
from across the water, the cry of a loon, one of the most melancholy of
all sounds, startled me, and gave warning that activity alone could
counteract the effect of the imagination.

Accordingly I walked down the right shore of the lake with the intention
of going several miles up the valley and taking some photographs of
Mount Lefroy. The flat bushy meadows near the upper end of the lake were
cold, and all the plants and reedy grass were white with the morning
frost. The towering cliffs and castle-like battlements of the mountains
on the south side of the valley shut out the sun, and promised to
prevent its genial rays from warming this spot till late in the
afternoon, if at all, for a period of several months. In the frozen
ground, as I followed the trail, I saw the tracks of a bear, made
probably the day before. Bruin had gone up the valley somewhere and had
not returned as yet, so there was a possibility of making his

I was well repaid for my visit this day, as a magnificent avalanche fell
from Mount Lefroy. Mount Lefroy is a rock mountain rising in vertical
cliffs from between two branches of a glacier which sweep round its
base. A hanging glacier rests on the highest slope of the mountain, and,
ascending some distance, forms a vertical face of ice nearly three
hundred feet thick at the top of a great precipice. The highest ridge of
the mountain is covered with an overhanging cornice of snow, which the
storm winds from the west have built out till it appears to reach full
one hundred feet over the glacier below. At times, masses of ice break
off from the hanging glacier and fall with thundering crashes to the
valley far below.

I was standing at a point some two miles distant looking at this
imposing mountain, when from the vertical ice wall a great fragment of
the glacier, some three hundred feet thick and several times as long,
broke away, and, slowly turning in mid-air, began to fall through the
airy abyss. In a few seconds, amid continued silence, for the sound had
not yet reached me, the great mass struck a projecting ledge of rock
after a fall of some half thousand feet, and at the shock, as though by
some inward explosion, the block was shivered into thousands of smaller
fragments and clouds of white powdery ice. Simultaneously came the first
thunder of the avalanche. The larger pieces led the way, some whirling
around in mid-air, others gliding downward like meteors with long trains
of snowy ice dust trailing behind. The finer powdered debris followed
after, in a long succession of white streamers and curtains resembling
cascades and waterfalls. The loud crash at the first great shock now
developed into a prolonged thunder wherein were countless lesser sounds
of the smaller pieces of ice. It was like the sound of a great battle in
which the sharp crack of rifles mingles with the roar of artillery.
Leaping from ledge to ledge with ever increasing velocity, the larger
fragments at length reached the bottom of the precipice, while now a
long white train extended nearly the whole height of the grand mountain
wall 2500 feet from base to top.

Imagine a precipice sixteen times higher than Niagara, nearly
perpendicular, and built out of hard flinty sandstone. At the top of
this giant wall, picture a great glacier with blue ice three hundred
feet thick, crevassed and rent into a thousand yawning caverns, and
crowding downwards, ever threatening to launch masses of ice large as
great buildings into the valley below. Such avalanches are among the
most sublime and thrilling spectacles that nature affords. The eye alone
is incapable of appreciating the vast scale of them. The long period of
silence at first and the thunder of the falling ice reverberated among
the mountain-walls produce a better impression of the distance and

I arrived at the lower end of the lake toward one o’clock. The lake was
only disturbed in one long narrow strip toward the middle by a gentle
breeze while all the rest was perfectly calm. This was one of those rare
days of which each year only affords two or three, when the lake is calm
at midday under a clear sky. The mirror surface of the water presented
an inverted image of the mountains, the trees on the shore, and the blue
sky. The true water surface and the sunken logs on the bottom of the
lake joined with the reflected objects in forming a puzzling composite

The brilliant sun had taken away the chill of morning and coaxed forth a
few forest birds, but there were no flowers or butterflies to recall
real summer. It seemed as though this were the last expiring effort of
autumn before the cold of winter should descend into the valley and with
its finger on the lips of nature cover the landscape with a deep mantle
of snow and bind the lake in a rigid layer of ice. Even at this warmest
period of the day the sun’s rays seemed inefficient to heat the
atmosphere, while from the cold shadows of the forest came a warning
that winter was lurking near at hand, soon to sweep down and rule
uninterrupted for a period of nine long months.



                              CHAPTER III.

  _Surroundings of the Lake—Position of Mountains and Valleys—The Spruce
  and Balsam Firs—The Lyall’s Larch—Alpine Flowers—The Trail among the
  Cliffs—The Beehive, a Monument of the Past—Lake Agnes, a Lake of
  Solitude—Summit of the Beehive—Lake Louise in the Distant Future._

Among the mountains on all sides of Lake Louise are many scenes of
unusual beauty and grandeur. While the lake itself must be considered
the focal point of this region, and is indeed wonderfully attractive by
reason of its rare setting, the encircling mountains are so rough and
high, the valleys separating them so deep and gloomy, yet withal so
beautiful, that the scenery approaches perfection. The forces of nature
have here wrought to their utmost and thrown together in apparently wild
confusion some of the highest mountains in Canada and carved out gloomy
gorge and rocky precipice till the eye becomes lost in the complexity of
it all. Lakes and waterfalls reveal themselves among the rich dark
forests of the valleys, and afford beautiful foregrounds to the distant
snow mountains which seem to tower ever higher as one ascends.

A brief description of the topography in the vicinity of Lake Louise
would be now in place. Southwestward from the lake is a range of very
high and rugged mountains covered with snow and glaciers. This range is
the crest of the continent of North America, in fact the great
water-shed which divides the Atlantic and Pacific drainage. In this
range are many peaks over 11,000 feet above sea level, an altitude which
is near the greatest that the Rocky Mountains attain in this latitude.
While farther south in Colorado there are scores of mountains 13,000 or
14,000 feet high, it must be remembered that no mountains in Canada
between the International boundary and the railroad have yet been
discovered that reach 12,000 feet. Nevertheless, these mountains of
lesser altitude are far more impressive and apparently much higher
because of their steep sides and extensive fields of perpetual snow.

This great range, forming the continental water-shed runs parallel to
the general trend of the Rocky Mountains of Canada, or about northwest
and southeast. Several spur ranges branch off at right angles from the
central mass and run northeast five or six miles. Between these spur
ranges are short valleys which all enter into the wide valley of the
Bow. Lake Louise occupies one of these lesser valleys.

The several lateral valleys are all comparatively near Lake Louise and
differ remarkably in the character of the scenery and vegetation. One is
beautiful and richly covered with forests; another desolate and
fearfully wild. The valley of Lake Louise contains in all three lakes,
of which the smallest is but a mere pool, some seventy-five yards

Far up on the mountain side to the north of Lake Louise two little lakes
were discovered many years ago. They are now to the visitor who spends
but one day, almost the chief point of interest in this region. The
trail thither leads into the dense forest from near the chalet and
proceeds forthwith to indicate its nature by rising steadily and
constantly. The tall coniferous trees cast a deep cool shade even on a
warm day. So closely do the trees grow one to another that the climber
is entirely shut out from the world of mountains and surrounded by a
primeval forest as he follows the winding path. Among the forest giants
there are two principal trees, the spruce and the balsam fir. Each is
very tall and slender and at a distance the appearance of the two trees
is closely similar. The spruce is the characteristic tree of the Rockies
and is found everywhere. It reaches a height of 75 or 100 feet in a
single tapering bole, closely beset with small short branches bent
slightly downward, as though better to withstand the burden of snow in
winter. In open places the lower branches spread out and touch the
ground, but in forests they die and leave a free passage between the
trees. The balsam tree is quite similar but may be discerned by its
smoother bark which is raised from underneath by countless blisters each
containing a drop of transparent balsam. Here and there are a few tall
pines rivalling the spruces and firs in height but affording a strong
contrast to them in their scattered branches and larger needles.

             [Illustration: Mount Lefroy and Mirror Lake.]

The ground is covered with underbrush tangled in a dense luxuriance of
vegetable life and partly concealing the ancient trunks of fallen trees
long since covered with moss and now slowly decaying into a red
vegetable mold.

At length, after half an hour of constant climbing, a certain
indefinable change takes place in the forest. The air is cooler, the
trees grow wider apart, and the view is extended through long vistas of
forest trees. Presently a new species of tree, like our Eastern
tamarack, makes its appearance. It is the Lyall’s larch, a tree that
endures the rigors of a subalpine climate better than the spruces and
balsam firs, so that it soon becomes to the climber among these
mountains an almost certain indication of proximity to the tree-line.

It is not far from the truth to say that the Lyall’s larch is the most
characteristic tree of the Canadian Rockies. It is not found in the
Selkirk Range just west of the main range, and while it has indeed been
found as far south as the International boundary, it has not been
discovered in the Peace River valley to the north. Restricted in
latitude, it grows on the main range of the Rockies only at a great
altitude. Here on the borderland between the vegetable and mineral
kingdoms it forms a narrow fringe at the tree-line and in autumn its
needles turn bright yellow and mark a conspicuous band around all the
cliffs and mountain slopes at about 7000 feet above sea level. Its soft
needles, gathered in scattered fascicles, are set along the rough and
tortuous branches, affording a scanty shade but permitting of charming
glimpses of distant mountains, clouds, and sky among its gray branches
and light-green foliage. It seems incapable of sending up a tall slender
stem but branches out irregularly and presents an infinite variety of
forms. Possibly for this reason the larch cannot contest with the
slender spruces and firs of the valley, where it would be crowded out of
light and sun among its taller rivals.

                        [Illustration: ANEMONES]

Presently the trail leads from out the forest and crosses an open slope
where some years ago a great snow-slide swept down and stripped the
trees from the mountain side. Here, 1200 feet above Lake Louise, the air
feels sensibly cooler and indicates an Alpine climate. The mountains now
reveal themselves in far grander proportions than from below, as they
burst suddenly on the view. Nature has already made compensation for the
destroyed forest by clothing this slope with a profusion of wild
flowers, though much different in character from those at Lake Louise.
Alpine plants and several varieties of heather, in varying shades of red
or pink and even white, cover the ground with their elegant coloring.
One form of heath resembles almost perfectly the true heather of
Scotland, and by its abundance recalls the rolling hills and flowery
highlands of that historic land. The retreating snow-banks of June and
July are closely followed by the advancing column of mountain flowers
which must needs blossom, bear fruit, and die in the short summer of two
months duration. One may thus often find plants in full blossom within a
yard of some retreating snow-drift.

On reaching the farther side of the bare track of the avalanche, the
trail begins to lead along the face of craggy cliffs like some llama
path of the Andes. The mossy ledges are in some places damp and
glistening with trickling springs, where the climber may quench his
thirst with the purest and coldest water. Wherever there is the
slightest possible foothold the trees have established themselves,
sometimes on the very verge of the precipice so that their spreading
branches lean out over the airy abyss while their bare roots are
flattened in the joints and fractures of the cliff or knit around the
rocky projections like writhing serpents.

More than four hundred feet below is a small circular pond of clear
water, blue and brilliant like a sapphire crystal. Its calm surface,
rarely disturbed by mountain breezes, reflects the surrounding trees and
rocks sharp and distinct as it nestles in peace at the very base of a
great rock tower—the Beehive. Carved out from flinty sandstone, this
tapering cone, if such a thing there be, with horizontal strata clearly
marked resembles indeed a giant beehive. Round its base are green
forests and its summit is adorned by larches, while between are the
smooth precipices of its sides too steep for any tree or clinging plant.
What suggestions may not this ancient pile afford! Antiquity is of man;
but these cliffs partake more of the eternal—existing forever. Their
nearly horizontal strata were formed in the Cambrian Age, which
geologists tell us was fifty or sixty millions of years ago. Far back in
those dim ages when the sea swarmed with only the lower forms of life,
the fine sand was slowly and constantly settling to the bottom of the
ocean and building up vast deposits which now are represented by the
strata of this mountain. Solidified and made into flinty rock, after the
lapse of ages these deposits were lifted above the ocean level by the
irresistible crushing force of the contracting earth crust. Rain and
frost and moving ice have sculptured out from this vast block monuments
of varied form and aspect which we call mountains.

Just to one side of the Beehive a graceful waterfall dashes over a
series of ledges and in many a leap and cascade finds its way into
Mirror Lake. This stream flows out from Lake Agnes, whither the trail
leads by a short steep descent through the forest. Lake Agnes is a wild
mountain tarn imprisoned between gloomy cliffs, bare and cheerless.
Destitute of trees and nearly unrelieved by any vegetation whatsoever,
these mountain walls present a stern monotony of color. The lake,
however, affords one view that is more pleasant. One should walk down
the right shore a few hundred feet and look to the north. Here the
shores formed of large angular blocks of stone are pleasantly contrasted
with the fringe of trees in the distance.

                       [Illustration: Lake Agnes.
                         In early July, 1895.]

The solitary visitor to the lake is soon oppressed with a terrible
sensation of utter loneliness. Everything in the surroundings is gloomy
and silent save for the sound of a trickling rivulet which falls over
some rocky ledges on the right of the lake. The faint pattering sound is
echoed back by the opposite cliffs and seems to fill the air with a
murmur so faint, and yet so distinct, that it suggests something
supernatural. The occasional shrill whistle of a marmot breaks the
silence in a startling and sudden manner. A visitor to this lake once
cut short his stay most unexpectedly and hastened back to the chalet
upon hearing one of these loud whistles which he thought was the signal
of bandits or Indians who were about to attack him.

Lake Agnes is a narrow sheet of water said to be unfathomable, as indeed
is the case with all lakes before they are sounded. It is about one
third of a mile in length and occupies a typical rock basin, a kind of
formation that has been the theme of heated discussion among geologists.
The water is cold, of a green color, and so pellucid that the rough
rocky bottom may be seen at great depths. The lake is most beautiful in
early July before the snowbanks around its edge have disappeared. Then
the double picture, made by the irregular patches of snow on the bare
rocks and their reflected image in the water, gives most artistic

From the lake shore one may ascend the Beehive in about a quarter of an
hour. The pitch is very steep but the ascent is easy and exhilarating,
for the outcropping ledges of sandstone seem to afford a natural
staircase, though with irregular steps. Everywhere are bushes and
smaller woody plants of various heaths, the tough strong branches of
which, grasped in the hand, serve to assist the climber, while
occasional trees with roots looped and knotted over the rocks still
further facilitate the ascent.

Arrived on the flat summit, the climber is rewarded for his toil. One
finds himself in a light grove of the characteristic Lyall’s larch,
while underneath the trees, various ericaceous plants suggest the Alpine
climate of the place.

Though the climber may come here unattended by friends, he never feels
the loneliness as at Lake Agnes. There the gloomy mountains and dark
cliffs seem to surround one and threaten some unseen danger, but here
the broader prospect of mountains and the brilliancy of the light afford
most excellent company. I have visited this little upland park very many
times, sometimes with friends, sometimes with the occasional visitors to
Lake Louise, and often alone. The temptation to select a soft heathery
seat under a fine larch tree and admire the scenery is irresistible. One
may remain here for hours in silent contemplation, till at length the
rumble of an avalanche from the cliffs of Mount Lefroy awakens one from

The altitude is about 7350 feet above sea level and in general this is
far above the tree line, and it is only that this place is unusually
favorable to tree growth that such a fine little grove of larches exists
here. Nevertheless, the summer is very brief—only half as long as at
Lake Louise, 1700 feet below. The retreating snow-banks of winter
disappear toward the end of July and new snow often covers the ground by
the middle of September. How could we expect it to be otherwise at this
great height and in the latitude of Southern Labrador? On the hottest
days, when down in the valley of the Bow the thermometer may reach
eighty degrees or more, the sun is here never oppressively hot, but
rather genially warm, while the air is crisp and cool. Should a storm
pass over and drench the lower valleys with rain, the air would be full
of hail or snow at this altitude. The view is too grand to describe, for
while there is a more extensive prospect than at Lake Louise the
mountains appear to rise far higher than they do at that level. The
valleys are deep as the mountains high, and in fact this altitude is the
level of maximum grandeur. The often extolled glories of high mountain
scenery is much overstated by climbers. What they gain in extent they
lose in intent. The widened horizon and countless array of distant peaks
are enjoyed at the expense of a much decreased interest in the details
of the scene. In my opinion one obtains in general the best view in the
Canadian Rockies at the tree line or slightly below. Nevertheless every
one to his own taste.

The most thrilling experience to be had on the summit of the Beehive is
to stand at the verge of the precipice on the east and north sides. One
should approach cautiously, preferably on hands and knees, even if
dizziness is unknown to the climber, for from the very edge the cliff
drops sheer more than 600 feet. A stone may be tossed from this place
into the placid waters of Mirror Lake, where after a long flight of 720
feet, its journey’s end is announced by a ring of ripples far below.

Lake Louise appears like a long milky-green sheet of water, with none of
that purity which appears nearer at hand. The stream from the glacier
has formed a fan-shaped delta, and its muddy current may be seen
extending far out into the lake, polluting its crystal water and helping
to fill its basin with sand and gravel till in the course of ages a flat
meadow only will mark the place of an ancient lake.

There are even now many level meadows and swampy tracts in these
mountains which mark the filled-up bed of some old lake. These places
are called “muskegs,” and though they are usually safe to traverse,
occasionally the whole surface trembles like a bowl of jelly and quakes
under the tread of men and horses. In such places let the traveller
beware the treacherous nature of these sloughs, for on many an occasion
horses have been suddenly engulfed by breaking through the surface,
below which deep water or oozy mud offers no foothold to the struggling

At the present rate of filling, however, the deep basin of Lake Louise
will require a length of time to become obliterated that is measured by
thousands of years rather than by centuries,—a conception that should
relieve our anxiety in some measure.



                              CHAPTER IV.

  _Organizing a Party for the Mountains—Our Plans for the Summer—William
  Twin and Tom Chiniquy—Nature, Habits, and Dress of the Stoney
  Indians—An Excursion on the Glacier—The Surface Debris and its
  Origin—Snow Line—Ascent of the Couloir—A Terrible Accident—Getting
  Down—An Exhausting Return for Aid—Hasty Organization of a Rescue
  Party—Cold and Miserable Wait on the Glacier—Unpleasant Surmises—“I
  Think You Die”—A Fortunate Termination._

Previous to the summer of 1894 my experiences in the Canadian Rockies
had made me acquainted with but little more of their general features
and scenery than has been already described. This was sufficient,
however, to prove that a most delightful summer could be spent among
these mountains if a party of young men were organized with some
definite object in view to hold the party together. Several of us
accordingly assembled at one of our eastern colleges and discussed plans
for the summer. Four men were persuaded to go on this excursion after
the glories of the region had been duly set forth and the evidence
corroborated so far as possible by the use of photographs. We were to
meet at Lake Louise, where our headquarters were to be at the chalet, as
near the first of July as possible.

Though the individual inclinations of the various members of our party
might seem unlikely to harmonize together, we had nevertheless agreed on
carrying out a certain plan. One of the party was an enthusiastic
hunter, another eager for the glories of mountain ascents, one a
geologist, another carried away by the charms of photography, while the
fifth and last was ready to join in almost any undertaking or enterprise

However, our common purpose joined us all together to a certain degree.
This was to explore and survey the region immediately around Lake
Louise, to ascend several of the highest peaks, to get photographs of
the best scenery, and in general to learn all we could about the
environment of the lake.

Three of us arrived at the lake one fine morning early in July. The
beauty of the scenery seemed to make a deep impression on my friends,
and fortunately the clouds which at first concealed the mountain tops
lifted soon after our arrival and produced very grand effects. At that
time there were two Stoney Indians at the lake, who were engaged in
cutting a trail to a lately discovered point of interest. One of these
was named William Twin; his surname was probably derived from the fact
that he had a twin brother, whose name was Joshua. A Stoney Indian who
once acted as my guide was named Enoch; and upon being asked his surname
he replied, “Wildman.” These curious cases afford good examples of the
origin of names. William was a fine-looking Indian. He came nearer to a
realization of the ideal Indian features such as one sees on coins, or
in allegorical figures, than almost any savage I have ever seen.

Tom Chiniquy was the other of the two Indians, and indeed the more
important, as he is the eldest son of Chief Chiniquy, who in turn is
under Bears’ Paw, the head chief of all the Stoneys. An air of settled
gravity, stern and almost bordering on an appearance of gloom, betokened
his serious nature. I cannot but admire these Stoney Indians, free as
they are from the vices of civilization, while still retaining many of
the simple virtues of savage life.

As we saw the Indians every day we soon became acquainted with them,
especially as William could talk quite intelligibly in English. The very
first day of our arrival at the chalet the sharp eyes of the Indians,
which seemed to be ever roving about in search of game, discovered a
herd of goats on the mountain side. In vain did we try to see them, and
at length, by means of a pair of powerful field glasses, they appeared
as small white spots without definite forms, whereas to the Indians they
were plainly visible. William was disgusted with us, and said, “White
man no good eyes,” in evident scorn.

With practice, our race can excel the Indians in every undertaking
requiring skill, patience, or physical endurance, with the exception of
two things in which they are infinitely our superiors. These are their
ability to discover minute objects at great distances, and to read those
faint and indefinite signs made by the passage of man or game through
the forests or on the hard plains, where a white man would be completely
baffled. A turned leaf, a bent blade of grass, a broken twig, or even
the sheen on the grass, leads the swarthy savage unerringly and rapidly
along, where the more intelligent but less observant white man can see
absolutely nothing.

The Indian is said to be stolid and indifferent, while the hard labor
which the squaws are compelled to undergo is always laid up against them
as an evidence of their brutal character. But on the contrary this is
their method of dividing labor, and a squaw whose husband is compelled
to work about their camps is the subject of ridicule among the rest. The
squaws do all the work which rationally centres around the camp-fire,
just as our wives preside over our hearths and homes. The bucks provide
the food, and should privation occur they will cheerfully share their
last morsel with their wives and children, and, the more honor to them,
they will do the same by a white man. The long and arduous labors of the
chase, requiring the severest physical exertion, exhaust the strength,
often while exposed to cold and rain for long periods of time. The bucks
rightly consider their labor ended when they reach their camp, or
“teepee” as they call them. Here the squaws preside and perform all the
labor of cutting and cooking the meat, preserving and dressing the
hides, and even gathering the firewood. They cut the teepee poles and
set up their tents; and when not occupied with these more severe labors,
they spend their time in making moccasins, weaving baskets, or fancy
sewing and bead-work.

                      [Illustration: Tom Chiniquy.
                   By courtesy of Mr. S. B. Thompson.
                        New Westminster, B. C.]

After all, the poor Indian is our brother, and not very unlike his
civilized conqueror. One day William told me that the year before he had
lost his squaw and four children by the smallpox, and that it had
affected him so that he could not sleep. In his own simple form of
expression, it was most pathetic to hear him speak of this sad event,
which evidently affected him deeply. “Me sleep no more now,” he would
say, “all time think me, squaw die, four papoose die, no sleep me. One
little boy, me—love little boy, me—little boy die, no longer want to
live, me.”

We had the satisfaction of rendering a great service to William through
his child, who was a bright and handsome little fellow. By some accident
a splinter of wood had become lodged in the boy’s eye. We were at length
attracted by the peculiar actions of the little fellow, and upon inquiry
found that he must have been enduring great pain, though without making
a murmur of discontent. We took the matter in hand at once and sent him
down to Banff, where, under skilful medical attendance, his eyesight,
than which nothing is more dear to an Indian and which was totally gone
in the affected eye and partially so in the other, was restored in a
great measure. William was very grateful to us ever after, and on
returning, some ten days later, delivered himself somewhat as follows:
“Me say very much obliged. Three white men pretty good, I think.”

The Stoneys are a remarkable tribe of Indians. Their headquarters is at
a little place called Morley, about twenty miles east of the mountains
on the plains. Here they are under the religious instruction of the Rev.
Mr. McDougal. So far as the Indian is capable of receiving and following
the precepts of Christianity, the Stoneys seem to have equalled or
surpassed all other tribes. They are said to be great Bible readers, and
they certainly show some familiarity with the Old Testament history, if
we may judge by their custom of adopting Bible names. They have been
taught a certain arbitrary code by which they can read and write in a
simple manner, while many of them talk English if not fluently at least

Their manner of dress is a concession to their own native ideas and
those of civilization, for while they invariably cling to moccasins and
usually affect trousers cut from blankets with broad wings or flaps at
the sides, their costume is not infrequently completed by some old
discarded coat received by purchase or gift from the white man. These
Indians rarely wear hat or cap, but allow their straight black hair to
reach their shoulders and serve in place of any artificial protection.
On either side of the face the hair is gathered into a braid so as to do
away with the inconvenience of constantly pushing back their loose hair.

Dr. Dawson says that the Stoney Indians have very few names for the
mountains and rivers, and that they have only inhabited this region for
about forty years. The greater part of the Indian names for various
features of the country are in reality Cree or their equivalents in
Stoney. The Stoneys have recently incorporated the families of the
Mountain Crees with their own. According to De Smet, both the Crees and
the Stoneys migrated southward from the Athabasca region a few years
before 1849, and it is probable that they entered this region about that

I cannot conclude this digression on the Stoney Indians without quoting
a few remarks from Captain Palliser’s reports. Though written nearly
forty years ago these facts are no less true than at that time.

“The members of the Stone tribe are hard workers, as their life is one
requiring constant exertion and foresight. They travel in the mountains
or in the forests along their eastern base, in parties of six or seven
families. The young men are always off hunting in search of moose or
other kinds of deer, or of the Rocky Mountain sheep. The old men busy
themselves cutting out the travelling tracks through the woods, while
the women pack and drive the few horses they use for carrying their
small supplies. They generally use skin tents stretched on a conical
framework of poles, but their wigwams are much smaller than those of the
Plain Indians. The women dress all the skins of the animals they kill
into a soft leather, which, when smoked, is the material used throughout
the whole country for making moccasins, most of the fine leather being
obtained from the Stoneys. They are excellent hunters, and though as a
rule small and feeble in body, are probably capable of more endurance
than any other class of Indians. They make trustworthy guides, and, with
a few exceptions, after some acquaintance with this tribe, you no more
expect to be deceived, or told lies, as a matter of course, than you
would in a community of white men.”

So much for the Rocky Mountain Stoneys, or as they are sometimes called,
the Assiniboines.

The completion of our party did not take place at the wished-for time,
and for more than two weeks Mr. F. and Mr. H., and I were alone at the
chalet. We commenced our surveying work by measuring a very accurate
base line on the lake shore, and began training by making various
moderate excursions on the mountain sides. On the third day, however,
after our arrival the whole plan of our party came near having a most
sudden and unwished-for termination, together with results which nearly
proved fatal to one of the party. The accident and its attendant
circumstances proved the most exciting episode in all our experiences,
and as it most clearly illustrates the chief danger of climbing in the
Canadian Rockies, I shall describe it in detail.

It happened in this manner. On the 13th of July, Mr. H., Mr. F., and I
started to make an exploration of the glacier that is plainly visible
from the chalet and which, some two miles distant, flows down from the
snow fields and hanging glaciers of Mount Lefroy. This glacier is formed
from two branches, which come in from the east, and uniting into one
great stream, terminate about one mile above the head of the lake. The
extreme length from the snout measured to the highest part of the
glacier is about three miles, while the average width is less than one
third of a mile.

The object of this excursion was in great part to gain a little
knowledge of the use of rope and ice-axe, which we expected would be
required in much of our subsequent work. There was no difficulty in the
first part of this excursion, as a good trail leads round the lake and
some half-mile beyond. There we forded the icy stream which comes from
the glacier and pursued our way between the moraine and the mountain
side for nearly a mile on the east side of the glacier. Our next move
was to ascend the moraine, which was very steep and about a hundred feet
high at this point. On arriving at the sharp crest of the moraine, we
saw the great ice stream some fifty feet below, and so thoroughly
covered with debris and boulders that the glacier was almost totally
concealed. The passage down the moraine was very disagreeable, as the
loose stones all scratched and polished by their former passage under
the glacier were now rolling from under our feet and starting up great
clouds of dust. Just below, at the border of the glacier, the water from
the melting ice had converted the clay of the moraine into treacherous
pools of bluish-gray mud, veritable sloughs of despond. At length, by
the use of our ice-axes, we gained the firmer ice and with it the
advantage of far more pleasant walking. We found the whole surface of
the glacier literally covered with sharp stones and boulders of all
sizes up to those which must have measured ten feet square by twenty
feet long. They represented all sorts of formations, shales, limestones,
and sandstones thrown down in wild disorder over the entire surface of
the ice. All this material had been wrested from the mountain side far
up the valley by frost and avalanche, and was now slowly moving toward
the great terminal moraine. In one place a large area of nearly half an
acre was strewed with giant blocks of a peculiar kind of rock different
from all the rest, which apparently had come thundering down the
mountain walls in one great rock-slide many years ago. Large flat slabs
of shale were seen here and there supported on pillars of ice, showing
how much the general surface of the glacier had wasted away under the
influence of the sun’s heat, while these pillars had been protected by
the shade of the stone.

Advancing half a mile over the field of debris, we came gradually to
where there were fewer stones, and at length reached almost pure ice.
The question always arises where do all the boulders and pebbles that
cover the lower parts of the glaciers come from? In the upper parts of
the glaciers or _névé_ regions, where the snow remains perpetual and
increases from year to year, the stones from the mountain sides are
covered as they fall, and are at length buried deep and surrounded by
ice as the snow becomes compressed and solidified. As the glacier
advances down the valley and descends to lower altitudes, a level is at
length reached where the snowfall of winter is exactly balanced by the
melting of summer. This is the snow line, or rather this is the best
place in which to locate such a variable level. Below this line the
surface of the glacier melts away more than enough to make up for the
winter fall of snow, and, as a result, the stones and debris buried in
the ice gradually appear on the surface. In the Canadian Rockies near
this latitude the snow line on northerly exposures, as judged by this
method, is about 7000 feet above the sea, which is also just about the
level called tree line.

In mountainous regions, where the climate is very dry, as in Colorado or
in certain parts of the Andes, there is a great belt of several thousand
feet between tree line and snow line where there is not sufficient
moisture to allow of tree growth nor sufficient snowfall to form
glaciers at all. In the Canadian Rockies the climate is moist enough to
make these lines approach, and in the Selkirk Range and regions of
extreme humidity the snow line is actually lower than the tree line.

We advanced slowly over the glacier and found much of interest on every
side. The surface of the ice was at first comparatively smooth and
channelled with small streams of pure water which flowed along with
utmost rapidity but almost without ripples, as the smooth icy grooves
seem adapted to every whim of the flowing water. At length the ice
became more uneven and our passage was interrupted by crevasses, around
which we had to thread our way by many a turn and detour. Most of them
were, however, partly filled or bridged by snow and we found no
particular difficulty in pursuing our way. About one o’clock we found
ourselves at the base of Mount Lefroy, a little beyond the point where
the two branches unite, and we held a consultation as to the plan of our
farther advance. Mount Lefroy rises from the glacier in precipitous
cliffs on every side, and we were even now under the shadow of its
gloomy and threatening rock wall. There is no apparent method of scaling
this mountain except by a long _couloir_ or snow slope, which rises from
the glacier and ascends nearly 1000 feet to a more gentle slope above
the precipice. It was our intention to ascend this mountain, if
possible, some time during the summer but the results of our first
exploration for a favorable route rather inclined us to give up further

The result of our consultation was the decision to climb a short way up
the _couloir_ in order to see if it were possible to reach the gentle
slope above. If this proved practicable, the ascent of the mountain was
almost assured, as no great difficulties presented themselves above.
Accordingly we commenced the ascent, all roped together in true Alpine
fashion, and soon found the pitch so steep that our ice-axes rendered us
much assistance in cutting steps. A number of great _schrunds_ or
horizontal crevasses often found on such slopes appeared to block our
way, but as we approached we found a passage round every one. They were
boat-shaped holes in the snow some forty or fifty feet deep and about
the same width. The bottom of each appeared smooth and apparently of
firm snow, so that they were not in reality very dangerous obstacles, as
compared with the narrow and wellnigh unfathomable crevasses of an
ordinary glacier.

Nevertheless, when we had reached a point several hundred feet above the
schrunds and were on a steep slope of snow, my companions advocated
taking to the rock ledges on the right of the snow, as they were
altogether inexperienced in mountain climbing and felt somewhat nervous.
We found the rock ledges practicable and quite easy except for a great
number of loose stones which went rattling down as we advanced. We were
in a gloomy narrow gorge filled with snow and hemmed in on either side
by cliffs which rose with almost vertical sides, here and there dripping
with water from the snows above.

Whenever we paused for a momentary rest and the sliding, rattling stones
ceased to fall, we were oppressed by the awful silence of this cheerless
place of rocks and snow nearly 8000 feet above sea level.

It was while ascending these rock ledges that the accident occurred
which came so near proving disastrous. There were a series of ledges
from six to ten feet high alternating with narrow shelves where the
slope was only moderately steep. The whole place was strewed with loose
stones and boulders, some of which were so delicately poised that the
slightest touch seemed sufficient to send them crashing down the cliff.
At length a very dangerous looking stone of large size could be seen on
the next shelf above us apparently just balanced in its precarious
position, for the light could be seen underneath its base. H. followed
me in safety around this great boulder which must have weighed more than
half a ton. I was on the point of ascending the next ledge with the
assistance of H. when we both heard a dull grating sound below, and
turning, beheld the great boulder starting to roll over, and F. just
below it and on the point of falling over the cliff. F. fell about ten
feet to the next shelf where he was partially checked by the rope and
prevented from falling farther. But to our horror the boulder, which had
now gained considerable motion, followed after, and leaping over the
ledge, for a short but awful moment it seemed to hang in mid-air, and
then came down on F. with terrible force. It seemed impossible that
there should be anything left of our poor friend. With a horrible crash
and roar the great stone continued down the gorge, attended by a
thousand flying fragments till the rocky cliffs echoed again.

After a momentary pause, unable to move and riveted to our places in
horror, we hastily scrambled down to our companion who lay on the cliff
insensible and bleeding. Our first efforts were to staunch his wounds
with snow and then a hasty examination proved that though his hip
appeared dislocated he had received probably no further serious injury.
This escape appeared almost miraculous and it is probable that in the
flying cloud of stones a smaller piece just happened to come under the
great boulder and supported it partially at one end so that the full
force of the blow was not felt. It was now half-past two in the
afternoon and we were three hours’ journey from the chalet with a man on
our hands absolutely incapable of walking or even partially supporting
his weight. It was evident that one of us must needs hasten back to the
chalet for aid, but first it was necessary to get down the long
snow-slope to the glacier.

Fortunately our rope was fully sixty feet long and after tying a loop
under F.’s shoulders, I anchored myself securely with my ice-axe in the
snow, and then lowered him rapidly but safely the length of the rope. H.
then went down to F. and held him while I descended, and thus after
twelve or fifteen repetitions of this proceeding we all landed in safety
on the glacier. Having selected a place on the ice which was partially
covered with a few small stones, we took off our coats and placed our
wounded companion on this hard cold couch.

Carrying nothing but my ice-axe, I started for the chalet at once. The
first part of the journey, while threading the crevasses, was slow and
somewhat dangerous without the rope, but by running whenever practicable
and pushing my energies to the utmost, I reached the chalet in one hour
and ten minutes, or less than half the time required by us to come up in
the morning. Unfortunately no one was at the chalet except Joe the cook.
I however got him started immediately to cut two long, stout poles and a
piece of canvas with which to make a litter. The two Indians were on the
mountain side near Mirror Lake working on the trail and Mr. Astley, the
manager of the chalet, was guiding some visitors to Lake Agnes. There
was no other course open than to climb up after them, though I was quite
exhausted by this time. I found William after twenty minutes of hard
climbing and made him understand the situation at once. One must use a
simple manner of speech as near like their own as possible, so I said to
him—“William, three white men go up big snow mountain. Big stone came
down, hurt one man. Tom, Mr. Astley, you—all go up snow mountain, bring
white man back.” William’s face was a picture of horror, and he asked in
anxiety—“Kill him?” I said no, but that he must hurry and get the other
men. Dropping his axe, he ran off for the others in all haste, while I
returned to the chalet and gathered sundry provisions and stimulants.
The rescuing party of four men was started in about thirty minutes, and
taking the boat, rowed down the lake, till at last the small black speck
on the water disappeared from our view as they neared the farther end.

A two-and-a-half mile ride on horseback brought me to the railroad
station, where I sent a telegram to Banff for the Doctor. As there would
be no train till the next morning I made arrangements for a hand-car to
bring the Doctor up at once. A response soon came back that he was just
about to start on his long ride of thirty-eight miles to Laggan.

Meanwhile poor F. and H. were having a miserable time of it on the
glacier. The long hours rolled by one after another and no sign of aid
or assistance was apparent. The days were still very long, but at length
the declining sun sank behind the great ridge or mountain wall extending
northward from Mount Lefroy. The glacier which imparts a chilly dampness
even to the brilliancy of a mid-day sun now rapidly became cold in the
lengthening shadows, and the surface waters began to freeze, while the
deep blue pools of water shot out little needles of ice with surprising

As they had seen me no more after I had disappeared behind a swelling
mound of ice, they conjured up in their imaginations the possibility
that I had fallen into some deep crevasse or had hurt myself on the
treacherous moraine. At length, urged to desperate resolves, they formed
a plan of leaving the ice by the nearest route, at whatever hazard to
life and limb, rather than die of cold and exposure on the glacier. They
had abundant opportunity for studying the grand phenomena of this Alpine
region near at hand: the thundering avalanches from the cliffs behind
them, and the cracking, groaning ice of the glacier as the great frozen
stream moved slowly over its rocky uneven bed.

At length, to their great joy, they discerned by means of a field-glass
which we had carried with us in the morning, the boat leaving the lake
shore and slowly approaching. In half an hour the party reached the near
end of the lake and were then lost to view for nearly two hours, till at
length four little black dots appeared about a mile distant moving over
the ice toward them.

The rescuing party did not reach them till seven o’clock, or more than
four hours after the accident occurred. The return to the chalet was
most exhausting to the men, especially to the Indians, whose moccasins
afforded poor protection against the sharp stones and ice of the

Two section men came up from Laggan and met the party as they were
returning, and afforded timely aid by their fresh strength. Poor F. was
carried in a canvas litter hastily constructed and consequently not
perfect in its results, as it only served to lift him a very little
above the ground at the best and then where the ground was very smooth.
William observed his haggard face and woe-begone appearance with concern
and entertained the invalid at frequent intervals by such remarks as,
“You think you die, me think so too.” The rescuing party arrived at the
chalet shortly after midnight, while the Doctor appeared an hour later.
Each party had been travelling for the last five hours toward the
chalet, and while one was accomplishing about three miles the other
covered more than forty.

Fortunately there were no injuries discovered that would not heal in a
few weeks, and through the influence of mountain air and perfect rest,
recovery took place much more quickly than could be expected.



                               CHAPTER V.

  _Castle Crags—Early Morning on the Mountain Side—View from the
  Summit—Ascent of the Aiguille—An Avalanche of Rocks—A Glorious
  Glissade—St. Piran—Its Alpine Flowers and Butterflies—Expedition to an
  Unexplored Valley—A Thirsty Walk through the Forest—Discovery of a
  Mountain Torrent—A Lake in the Forest—A Mountain Amphitheatre—The
  Saddle—Impressive View of Mt. Temple—Summit of Great Mountain—An
  Ascent in Vain—A Sudden Storm in the High Mountains—Phenomenal Fall of
  Temperature—Grand Cloud Effects._

While poor F. was recovering from his injuries, and before the two other
men had arrived, H. and I carried on the work of surveying the lake, and
made several interesting excursions on the adjacent mountain sides.

One fine cool morning, we went up the valley about half a mile beyond
the end of the lake, and commenced an ascent of the sharp-crested ridge
on the east side of the valley. This ridge forms a connection between
the massive mountain on the left of the lake, known as Great Mountain,
and a very high summit, crowned with a fine glacier, and named by some
one Hazel Peak, which lies about two miles due south of Lake Louise.
This connecting ridge we called Castle Crags, a name readily suggested
by the irregular forms and outlines of the sharp needles and fingers,
pointing heavenward, which adorned its highest crest, and seemed to
represent the battlements and embrasures of some great castle. Several
sharp columns of stone, with vertical sides, and narrow, graceful forms,
rose up from this great parapet built by nature. Resembling feudal
towers or donjons, they seemed by their great altitude to pierce the
blue vault of heaven, and to dwarf by their proximity the snowy crest of
Hazel Peak, which, in reality, is several thousand feet higher.

To ascend this ridge, and, if possible, gain the summit of one of these
needles, from which we hoped to obtain a fine idea of the valley to the
east, was the purpose of our excursion. The ascent proved easy almost
from the start. On leaving the stream, which we crossed by means of some
great trees, long since overcome by age or storm, and now serving as
convenient bridges at frequent intervals, we commenced to ascend a long,
even slope of limestone boulders, stable in position, and affording easy
walking. The air was fresh and cool, for the morning sun was just rising
over the crest of Castle Crags, while the rays of light seemed to skip
from boulder to boulder, and, gently touching the higher points, left
the others in shade. There were no bushes or tangled underbrush to
impede our way, and so we had abundant opportunity to enjoy the
beautiful flowers which cropped out in little patches among the yellow,
gray, and cream-colored limestones. This was a mountain climb that
proved thoroughly enjoyable, for all the conditions of atmosphere, of
weather, and easy ascent were in our favor. There is a charm about the
early morning hours among the high mountains. The bracing coolness of
the air, as yet still and calm after the chill and quiet of night, the
gradually rising sun and increasing light, the unusual freshness of the
flowers and green vegetation, in their sparkling bath of dew, and the
quiet calls of birds,—all seemed to herald the birth of a new day, far
richer in promise than any heretofore. The afternoon, with its mellow
light and declining sun, is like the calm, cool days of October, with
its dusty foliage and sear leaves, brilliant in autumnal colors, but
ever suggesting the approach of bleak winter, and pointing back to the
glories of the past. The morning points forward with a different
meaning, and hopefully announces the activity of another day, even as
spring is the threshold and the promise of summer time.

As we advanced, and gradually increased our altitude, the plants and
flowers changed in variety, character, and size, till at length we left
all vegetation behind, and reached the bottom of a long, gentle slope of
snow. The sun had not, as yet, touched the snow, and it was hard and
granular in the frosty air. The first snow on a mountain climb is always
pleasant to a mountaineer. To him, as, indeed, to any one, the summer
snow-bank has no suggestion of winter, with its desolate landscapes and
cold blasts, but rather of some delightful experiences in the mountains
during vacation. These lingering relics of winter have little power to
chill the air, which is often balmy and laden with the fragrance of
flowers, in the immediate vicinity of large snow areas. The trickling
rivulet, formed from the wasting snows of the mountain side, is often
the only place where, for hours at a time, the thirsty climber may find
a cold and delicious draught. Instead of destroying the flowers by their
chilly influence, these banks of snow often send down a gentle and
constant supply of water, which spreads out over grassy slopes below,
and nourishes a little garden of Alpine flowers, where all else is dry
and barren.

Arrived at the top of the long snow-slope, we found ourselves already
nearly 3000 feet above the valley and not far below the crest of the
ridge. A rough scramble now ensued over loose limestone blocks, where we
found the sharp edges, and harsh surfaces of these stones, very hard on
our shoes and hands. Upon reaching the crest, we beheld one of those
fearfully grand and thrilling views which this portion of the Rocky
Mountains often affords. The most conspicuous object in the whole view
was the glacier, which descends from the very summit of Hazel Peak, at
an altitude of more than 10,000 feet, and sweeps down in a nearly
straight channel to the north, and in the course of but little more than
a mile descends 4000 feet. A gloomy, narrow valley hems in its lower
half, and on the side where we were, the precipice rose, in nearly
perpendicular sides from the ice, far heavenward to where we stood. We
launched a few large stones over the verge of the beetling precipice,
and watched them descend in a few great leaps into the awful abyss,
where they were broken into a thousand fragments on projecting ledges,
or else, striking the glacier, continued their course till the eye could
no longer follow them.

We were standing just at the base of one of the _aiguilles_ which, from
the valley, seem like sharp points of rock, but, now that we were near,
proved to be about sixty feet high. This needle appeared to be
precipitous and inaccessible on our first examination. But we discovered
a narrow crevice or gully on the west side which apparently offered a
safe method of ascent. I was soon near the top of the needle, but at the
most difficult part, where only one small crack in the rock offered a
good hand-hold, I was warned not to touch one side where the cliff
seemed parted, and filled with loose material. Making a reconnaissance,
I found the back of this same crag likewise separated a little from the
solid rock, and the crevice partially disguised by loose stones and
dirt, which had settled in and filled the hollow. This crag was about
ten feet high and six or seven feet square, and though it seemed
impossible to disturb so great a mass, I felt inclined to take the safer
course and leave it entirely alone, so I scrambled up by a more
difficult route.

Arrived on the top of the needle, I told H., who had remained below, to
get under shelter while I should put this crag to the test. He
accordingly found a projecting ledge of rock a little to one side, while
I sat down and got a good brace and started to push with my feet against
the top of the crag. A slight effort proved sufficient, and with a dull
grating sound the great mass, which must have weighed about twenty-five
tons, toppled slowly over on its base, and then fell with a fearful
crash against the sides of the cliff, and commenced to roll down the
mountain side like a veritable avalanche. Through the cloud of dust and
flying stones I could faintly discern the features of my friend below,
apparently much interested in what was going on. It was well that I had
not trusted to this treacherous stone.

After I had pushed down most of the loose stones, H. came up and joined
me on the summit of the _aiguille._ This needle had a blunt point
indeed, for it proved to be a flat table about fifty feet long and ten
feet wide. We were 8,700 feet above sea-level, and the wind was raw and
chilly as it swept up from the valley and over this ridge. The sun had
but little power to temper the air, and we soon started on our descent.
In about five minutes we reached the top of the long snow-slope, where
we enjoyed a glorious glissade and rapidly descended more than a
thousand feet. The best manner of glissading is to stand straight up and
slide on the feet, having one leg straight and the other slightly bent
at the knee. Trailing the ice-axe behind as a precaution against too
great speed, or to check the motion in case of a fall, the mountaineer
can thus, in a few minutes, rapidly coast down long slopes which may
have required hours of toil to ascend. Nothing in the experience of
climbers is more exhilarating than a good glissade down a long
snow-slope. The rush of air, the flying snow, and the necessity for
constant attention to balance—all give a sensation of pleasure, combined
with a spice of danger, without which latter almost all our sports and
pastimes are apt to be tame. Do not many of our best sports, such as
polo, horseback riding, foot-ball, yachting, and canoe sailing, gain
some of their zest from a constant possibility of danger?

A few minutes of rapid descent down the limestone slope led us to a
fine, small spring, which dashed in a score of small streamlets over
some rocky ledges covered with moss and ferns. Here we sat down in the
cool shade of the cliffs and ate our lunch. The air was now warm and
still, because we were not far above the valley, and here, instead of
seeking the warmth of the sun as we had done on the cold mountain
summit, a brief three-quarters of an hour before, we now enjoyed the
shade afforded by the rocks and forest near us. We reached the chalet in
time for a second lunch, and, as in our mountain exercise we never found
any meal superfluous, we were ready to present ourselves at the table at

On the 28th of July, W. arrived at the chalet, and, as A. had likewise
appeared a few days previously, our party of five was now complete.

One of the first points which we decided to occupy in our surveying work
was a high peak above Lake Agnes, called Saint Piran. This mountain is
very easy to ascend and on several occasions we found ourselves on the
summit for one purpose or another. The summit is far above tree line
and, indeed, almost reaches the upper limit of any kind of plant growth.
The rounded top is crowned with a great cairn, about ten feet high,
which has been used as a surveying point some time in the past.

During the midsummer months this mountain summit is sparingly covered
with bright flowers, all of an Alpine nature, dwarfed in size and with
blossoms enormously out of proportion to the stems and leaves. There are
several species of composites which rest their heads of yellow flowers
almost on the ground, and a species of dwarf golden-rod about three
inches high, with only two or three small heads on the summit of the
stem; but the most conspicuous is a kind of moss pink, which is in
reality a mountain variety of phlox. This plant grows in spreading mats
upon the ground, with small, rigid, awl-shaped leaves gathered in tufts
along the stem, while here and there are small bright blossoms of a pink
color. Mr. Fletcher, who has spent some time in this region
investigating the flowers and insects, once found a plant of the pink
family on this mountain, which proved by its little joints to be more
than one hundred years old.

One day I came up here alone, and on reaching the summit was surprised
to find Mr. Bean, an entomologist, busily at work collecting
butterflies. Mr. Bean has lived at Laggan for a number of years, and has
made a most valuable collection of the insects, especially the
butterflies and beetles, of all this region. Remarkably enough, it is on
just such spots as this lofty mountain summit, 8600 feet above tide,
that the rarest and most beautiful butterflies assemble in great
numbers, especially on bright, sunny days. Here they are invited by the
gaudy Alpine flowers, which have devoted all their plant energy to large
blossoms and brilliant colors, so as to attract the various insects to

I was much interested in Mr. Bean’s work, as he is the first pioneer in
this field and has made many valuable discoveries. He showed me one
butterfly of small size and quite dark coloring, almost black, which he
said was a rare species, first discovered in polar regions by the Ross
expedition, and never seen since till it was observed flitting about on
this high peak, where arctic conditions prevail in midsummer. It is
wonderful how the various species vary in color, form, and habit; some
of the butterflies are very wild and shy, never allowing a near approach
by the would-be collector; others are comparatively tame; and while some
fly slowly and in a straight course, other species dart along most
rapidly, constantly changing direction in sharp turns, and completely
baffle all attempts at pursuit.

From the summit of this mountain we discovered a small lake in the
valley to the west, and, as no one at the chalet had apparently ever
visited the lake, or even known of its existence, we decided to make an
excursion to this new region. Accordingly, a few days later, three of us
started by the trail toward Lake Agnes, and after reaching a point about
600 feet above Lake Louise, we turned to the right and endeavored to
make a traverse around the mountain till we should gain the entrance to
the other valley. Our plan was not very good and the results were worse.
For about two miles, the walking was along horizontal ledges of hard
quartzite rock carpeted with grass and heaths, and occasionally made
very difficult by the short dwarf spruces and larches which, with their
tough elastic branches, impeded our progress very much. The day was
unusually warm, and we were glad to reach at length a small patch of
snow, where we quenched our thirst by sprinkling the snow on large flat
stones, the heat of which melted enough to give us a small amount of
muddy water. The roughness of the mountain and the nature of the cliffs
now compelled us to descend near a thousand feet, and thus lose all the
benefit of our first ascent. We were constantly advancing westward,
hoping to come at length upon some stream that must descend from the
valley of the little lake. Every valley in these mountains must have
some stream or rivulet to drain away the water resulting from the
melting snows of winter and the rains of summer, and we were certain
that, if we continued far enough, we would finally discover such a
stream. After our descent we proceeded through a fine forest, densely
luxuriant, and in some places much blocked by prostrate trees and giant
trunks, mossy and half decayed. The air seemed unusually dry, and our
thirst, which had been only in part appeased by our draught at the
snow-bank, now returned in greater severity than ever.

Suddenly we heard a distant sound of water, which, as we approached,
grew still louder, till it burst into the full, loud roar of a beautiful
mountain stream. The water was clear as crystal and icy cold, while
nothing could exceed the graceful beauty of the many leaps and falls of
the stream as it dashed over its rocky bed. Here we took lunch in a
shady nook, seated on some rocky ledges at the edge of the water,
surrounded on all sides by deep cool forests. How wild this little spot
was! Though the railroad was less than two miles distant, probably no
white man had ever seen this pleasant retreat where we were resting. Had
our excursion ended here, we should have been repaid for all the toil,
heat, and thirst we had endured, by this single experience.

             [Illustration: A COOL RETREAT IN THE FOREST.]

Nor was our pleasure over, for the stream, we knew, would prove a
certain guide to the little lake, and, with the anticipation of soon
reaching some enchanting bit of scenery when we should arrive at this
sheet of water, we pursued our way along the series of falls and
cascades by which our new-found stream leapt merrily down the mountain
slope. Such is the charm of mountain excursions in these unexplored and
little known wilds, for here, nature is ever ready to please and
surprise the explorer by some little lake or waterfall or a rare bit of
mountain scenery.

Though we had stopped for luncheon at a place where the dashing water
made several cascades and falls of exquisite beauty, we found a constant
succession of similar spots, where I was often tempted to delay long
enough to take photographs. As the stream thus descended rapidly, we
found steep rock ledges, cut in giant steps and overgrown with thick
moss till they were almost concealed from view, on either side of the
mad torrent. These afforded us an easy method of ascent. The rocky
formation of the stream bed revealed many different kinds of stone,
conglomerates, shales, and quartzites, in clearly marked strata all
gently dipping toward the south.

At length the woods opened up on either side, while, simultaneously, the
slope decreased in pitch, and the stream ran over a bed of loose,
rounded stones and boulders in the bottom of a shallow ravine. In a
moment more we reached the lake, much more beautiful than our first view
from St. Piran had led us to expect, but, also, much smaller in area. It
was a mere pool, clear and deep, but intensely, blue in color and
partially surrounded by a thin forest. Passing round the shores and up
the valley, we found ourselves in some beautiful meadows, or rather
moors, wherein streams of snow-water wandered in quiet, sinuous courses
and gathered at length into the stream that feeds the lake. We came on a
great number of ptarmigan—the high mountain species of grouse
characteristic of this region,—which, with their young broods hardly
able as yet to fly, were the most abundant signs of life that we found
in this valley.

A vast amphitheatre or cirque, with lofty, bare walls nearly free of
snow, formed the termination of the valley. We were not compelled,
however, to return over the same route as we had come, for we found an
easy pass with a long gentle slope of snow on our left. This led us over
the divide and, by a long steep descent, brought us to Lake Agnes, where
we took advantage of the trail down the mountain side to the chalet.

Our attention was next turned toward the exploration of the mountains
and valleys to the east of Lake Louise, which seemed to offer greater
possibilities of grand scenery than those on the opposite side.
Accordingly, we made several visits to a high upland park or alp, which
was in reality a sort of depression between Great Mountain and a lesser
peak to the east. This depression and the two mountains, one vastly
higher than the other, resemble in outline, a saddle with pommel and
crupper and suggested a name for the place which seems eminently
appropriate. A trail now leads to the Saddle, and the place has proven
so popular among tourists that it is frequently in use.

The Saddle is a typical alp, or elevated mountain meadow, where long,
rich grass waves in the summer breezes, beautified by mountain flowers,
anemones, sky-blue forget-me-nots, and scarlet castilleias. Scattered
larch trees make a very park of this place, while the great swelling
slopes rise in graceful curves toward the mountain peaks on either side.

But this is only the foreground to one of the most impressive views in
the Rocky Mountains. To the eastward about three miles, on the farther
side of a deep valley, stands the great mass of Mount Temple, the
highest peak near the line of travel in the Canadian Rockies. This
mountain stands alone, separated from the surrounding peaks of the
continental watershed to which it does not belong. Its summit is 11,658
feet above the sea-level, while the valleys on either side are but
little more than 6000 feet in altitude. As a result, the mountain rises
over a mile above the surrounding valleys, a height which approaches the
maximum reached in the Canadian Rockies. All sides of this mountain,
except the south, are so precipitous that they offer not the slightest
possible hope to the mountain climber, be he ever so skilful. The summit
is crowned by a snow field or glacier of small size but of remarkable
purity, since there are no higher cliffs to send down stones and debris
to the glacier and destroy its beauty. On the west face, the glacier
overhangs a precipice, and, by constantly crowding forward and breaking
off, has formed a nearly vertical face of ice, which is in one place
three hundred and twenty-five feet thick. I have seen passengers on the
trains who were surprised to learn that the ice in this very place is
anything more than a yard in depth, and who regarded with misplaced pity
and contempt those who have any larger ideas on the subject.

Avalanches from this hanging wall of ice are rather rare, as the length
of the wall is not great and the glacier probably moves very slowly. I
have never had the good fortune to witness one, though the thunders of
these ice falls are often heard by the railroad men who live at Laggan,
just six miles distant. They must indeed be magnificent spectacles, as
the ice must needs fall more than 4000 feet to reach the base of the
cliff. The compactness of this single mountain may be well shown, by
saying that a line eight miles long would be amply sufficient to
encircle its base, notwithstanding the fact that its summit reaches so
great an altitude.

             [Illustration: Mount Temple from the Saddle.]

The strata are clearly marked and nearly horizontal, though with a
slight upward dip on all sides, and especially toward the Bow valley, so
that the general internal structure of the mountain is somewhat
bowl-shaped, a formation very common in mountain architecture.

The surroundings of this great mountain are equally grand. Far below in
the deep valley, the forest-trees appear like blades of grass, and in
the midst of them a bright, foamy band of water winds in crooked course
like a narrow thread of silver,—in reality, a broad, deep stream. A
small lake, nestling among the dark forests at the very base of Mount
Temple, is the most beautiful feature in the whole view. The distance
renders its water a dark ultra-marine color, and sometimes, when the
light is just at the proper angle, the ripples sparkle on the dark
surface like thousands of little diamonds. On the right, an awful
precipice of a near mountain looms up in gloomy grandeur, like the
cliffs and bottomless abysses of the infernal regions pictured by Doré.
This we called Mount Sheol.

One may ascend from the Saddle to the summit of Great Mountain in an
hour. Mr. A. and I ascended this mountain in 1893, before there was any
trail to assist us, and we had a very hard time in forcing our way
through the tough underbrush, while below tree line.

In the course of a great many ascents of this peak I have had several
interesting adventures. The view from the summit is so fine that I have
made many attempts to obtain good photographs from this point. One day,
after a period of nearly a week of smoky weather, the wind suddenly
shifted, and, at about ten o’clock in the morning, the atmosphere became
so perfectly clear that the smallest details of the distant mountains
were distinct and sharp, as though seen through a crystal medium. This
was my chance, and I proceeded at once to take advantage of it. I had a
large 8 x 10 camera and three plate-holders, which all went into a
leather case especially made for the purpose, and which was fitted out
with straps, so that it rested between my shoulders and left both hands
free for climbing. It weighed altogether twenty-four pounds. With lunch
in my pocket, I set out from the chalet with all speed, so as to arrive
on the summit before the wind should change and bring back the smoke.

I climbed as I had never climbed before, and though the day was hot I
reached the Saddle in an hour, and, without a moment’s pause, turned
toward Great Mountain and commenced the long ascent of its rocky slope.
In fifty-five minutes more I reached the summit and had ascended 3275
feet above Lake Louise. The air was still clear and offered every
promise of successful photographs, even as I was unstrapping my camera
and preparing to set it up for work. Suddenly, the wind shifted once
more to the south and brought back great banks of smoke, which came
rolling over the snowy crest of Mount Lefroy like fog from the sea. In
five minutes all was lost. Mount Temple appeared like a great, shadowy
ghost, in the bluish haze, and the sun shone with a pale coppery light.
Such are the trials and tribulations of the climber in the Canadian

One day at the end of August, H. and I ascended this mountain with our
surveying instruments. The barometer had been steadily falling for
several days, and already there were cumulus clouds driving up from the
southwest in long furrows of lighter and darker vapors, which obscured
the entire sky. A few drops of rain on the summit compelled me to work
rapidly, but, as yet, there was no warning of what was in store.

After all the principal points were located we packed up our instruments
and commenced a rapid descent to the Saddle. The slope is of scree and
loose material, which permits a rapid descent at a full run, so that one
may gain the Saddle in about fifteen minutes. Arriving there I paused to
get a drink at a small stream under some great boulders, fed by a
wasting snow-bank. H. had gone off toward the other side of the pass to
get his rifle, which he had left on the way up.

Suddenly I heard a rushing sound, and, looking up, saw a cloud of dust
on the mountain side and the trees swaying violently in a strong wind. A
mass of curling vapor formed rapidly against the cliffs of Great
Mountain, and a dull moaning sound, as of violent wind, seemed to fill
the air. The sky rapidly darkened and black clouds formed overhead,
while below them the thin wisps of scud rushed along and seemed white
and pale by contrast.

I was no sooner up on my feet than the approaching blast was upon me,
and with such unexpected force did it come that I was laid low at the
first impulse. My hat went sailing off into space and was never seen
more. The first shock over, I gained my feet again and started to find
H. The air changed in temperature with phenomenal rapidity, and from
being warm and muggy, in the space of about five minutes it grew
exceedingly cold, and threatened snow and hail.

Though everything betokened an immediate storm and a probable drenching
for us, I had time to notice a magnificent sight on Mount Temple. As yet
there were no clouds on the summit, but, as I looked, my attention was
called to a little fleck of vapor resting against the precipitous side
of the mountain, half-way between summit and base. So suddenly had it
appeared that I could not tell whether it had grown before my eyes or
was there before. From this small spot the vapors grew and extended
rapidly in both directions, till a long, flat cloud stretched out more
than a mile, when I last saw it. The vapors seemed to form out of the
very air where a moment before all had been perfectly clear.

Realizing that the sooner we started the better chance we should have of
escape, we flew rather than ran down the trail, and were only overtaken
by the storm as we approached the lake. The temperature had dropped so
rapidly that a cold rain and damp snow were falling when we reached the
lake. The boat had drifted from its moorings, and was caught on a sunken
log some distance from the shore. I waded out on a sunken log, where I
expected at any moment to slip from the slimy surface and take an
involuntary bath in the lake. The boat was regained by the time H. had
arrived a few minutes later and we reached the chalet thoroughly

Such sudden storms in the Canadian Rockies are rather rare, and are
almost always indicated in advance by a falling barometer and lowering
sky. I have never at any other time observed such a sudden fall in
temperature, nor seen the clouds form instantaneously far down on the
mountain side as they had done in this storm. The sudden rush of wind,
the curling vapors, and flying scud afforded a magnificent spectacle on
the Saddle, and one that was well worth the drenching we suffered in



                              CHAPTER VI.

  _Paradise Valley—The Mitre Glacier—Air Castles—Climbing to the
  Col—Dark Ice Caverns—Mountain Sickness—Grandeur of the Rock-Precipices
  on Mt. Lefroy—Summit of the Col at Last—A Glorious Vision of a New and
  Beautiful Valley—A Temple of Nature—Sudden Change of
  Weather—Temptation to Explore the New Valley—A Precipitate
  Descent—Sudden Transition from Arctic to Temperate
  Conditions—Delightful Surroundings—Weary Followers—Overtaken by
  Night—A Bivouac in the Forest—Fire in the Forest—Indian Sarcasm._

The valley to the east of Lake Louise and parallel to it, we named
Paradise Valley, on account of the elegant park-like effect of the whole
place and the beauty of the vegetation. Our first entrance into this
region and the discovery of the valley were partially accidental. In
fact, we were making an expedition for the purpose of finding a
practicable route up Hazel Peak, on the day when we were diverted from
our original plan, and tempted to explore this hitherto unseen part of
the mountains.

It came about somewhat in this manner. On the 30th of July, all but F.,
who was still lame from his accident, left the chalet carrying rope and
ice-axes, with the intention of making explorations on the southern
slopes of Hazel Peak. Our party, numbering four, left the chalet at a
little after eight o’clock, with the intention of returning no later
than five in the afternoon. Our equipment, beside our Alpine implements,
consisted of a camera, a prismatic compass, and that which proved no
less necessary, our lunches and a whiskey flask.

Taking the boat, we rowed to the other end of the lake, and then
followed the same route as our party of three had taken on the
disastrous expedition of July 13th, till we came to the junction of the
two glacier streams. Here we turned toward the east, and followed the
moraine of the wide glacier between Mount Lefroy and Hazel Peak.

The whole valley between was floored by a smooth, nearly level glacier,
about a half mile wide and perhaps two miles long. Presently we were
compelled to get on the ice as the moraine disappeared; so we put on the
rope, and advanced with more caution. It was not long, however, before
W., who was next to last in our line, broke through the bridge of a
crevasse, despite our care, and sank to his shoulders. This member of
our party was not versed in the art of snow-craft, and to him, every
occurrence common to mountain experiences, and Alpine methods of
procedure, were alike novel and terrible. In consequence, this accident
fell more severely on him, but fortunately, he was extricated almost
immediately by the use of the rope.

At the head of our valley was a remarkable, symmetrical mountain,
resembling in general outline a bishop’s mitre. From the glacier and
snow-fields where we were walking, there rose on either side of the
Mitre, steep snow-slopes, which terminated in lofty _cols_ about 8500
feet above sea-level. That on the north side of the Mitre was
exceedingly steep, and was rendered inaccessible by reason of a great
crevasse, extending from the precipices on either side, clear across the
snow-slope. This crevasse must have been nearly twenty-five yards in
width and of great depth. At one side there still remained a thin bridge
of snow, suspended, as it were, in mid-air over the awful chasm, as
though to tempt climbers on to their instant destruction, or perhaps to
a lingering death from cold and hunger.

The pass on our left appeared the more propitious and seemed to offer a
possible route to the summit of the divide. We were anxious to get a
view into the valley beyond, even though it were but for a few moments.
The unknown regions on the other side of the pass had long been for me a
favorite pleasure-ground of the imagination. Some fate had hitherto
denied us any idea of the place beyond the vaguest suggestions. Several
ascents, or partial ascents, of mountains on all sides of this unknown
valley, had revealed the outlines of the surrounding mountains, but some
intervening cliff or mountain range had always, with persistent and
exasperating constancy, shut off all but the most unsatisfactory
glimpses. Starting from these substantial foundations of reality, my
imagination had built up a wide circular valley, surrounded on all sides
by curious mountains of indefinite and ever changing outline and
position. The picture always appeared in a gloomy, weird light, as
though under a cloudy sky, or while the sun was near totally eclipsed.
By some curious analogy, this faint illumination was similar to that
which we always associate with the first creation of land and water; or
far back in the geologic ages, when strange and hideous reptiles,—some
flying in the murky air, some creeping amid the swampy growths of
cycads, calamites, and gigantic tree ferns,—excite a strange thrill of
pleasure and awe combined, as though the soul were dimly perceiving some
new revelation of the universe, though but vaguely. In this weird,
gloomy valley I wandered careless, in my imagination, many days and at
many times, among forests infested by strange, wild animals, harmless
like those of Eden, and by the shores of ever new, ever changing lakes
and rivers.

So strong had this picture become that I felt the most intense anxiety
to succeed in reaching the top of our pass, and gain at length a view of
the reality, even at the risk of shattering these pleasant air castles,
and annihilating, in a single instant, one of my best mental

There were many dangers to be risked, however, and many obstacles to be
overcome before this advantage might be gained. The steep slope was
rendered formidable by reason of many great _schrunds_, or horizontal
crevasses, caused by the ice of the glacier below, moving downward. In
the intense cold of winter the moving ice becomes rigid and nearly
stagnant, while the drifting snows accumulate, so as partly to fill
these rents in the ice and bridge them over by cornices built out from
one side or the other. When the increasing warmth of summer causes the
ice to become plastic and to move more rapidly, these rents grow wider
and the snow-bridges melt away and eventually fall into the crevasses so
as to leave impassable chasms, dangerous to approach. Fortunately, it
was not so late in the season that all the bridges were broken down,
else we should have been completely defeated, for, on either side, the
glacier was hemmed in by dangerous rock precipices. The south side of
the glacier, moreover, was subject to frequent rock falls from the
disintegrating cliffs of the Mitre. As we advanced over the extensive
_névé_, the slope increased gradually but constantly, and soon became so
steep that steps had to be cut, and great care was necessary not to
slip. We crossed some of the schrunds by bridges of snow, where it was
necessary to proceed with great caution, and, by sliding the feet along,
apply the weight gently, lest the bridge should break through. We passed
round others by walking along the lower edge or lip of the crevasse,
which gave us a splendid but almost terrifying view of the gloomy
caverns, extending down through the snow and ice to unknown depths. The
dark-blue roofs of these crevasses were hung with dripping icicles,
while from far below could be heard the sound of rushing, sub-glacial
streams. Three hours of this slow, toilsome work were necessary to gain
1000 feet in altitude. We were now more than 8000 feet above the sea,
and the atmosphere was raw and cold. Large damp flakes of snow and
granular hail fell occasionally from a cloudy sky, silently and swiftly,
through a quiet atmosphere. The whole horizon was bounded by high
mountains, covered with glaciers and patches of snow, altogether barren
and destitute of vegetation. Not a single tree or shrub, nor even a
grassy slope at the far end of the great amphitheatre of mountain walls
by which we were hemmed in, relieved the stern, cold monotony of the
scene. So far as we might judge by our surroundings, we might have been
exploring the lonely, desolate mountains of Spitzbergen, or some distant
polar land, where frost and winter rule perpetual. Our progress up the
slope of the glacier was very slow, as each step had to be cut out with
the ice-axe. The pitch was so steep that a misstep might have resulted
in our all sliding down and making further exploration of the _schrunds_
below. The whole party was, in consequence, more or less affected by
these cheerless circumstances, and became much depressed in spirit. As,
however, the condition of the body is in great part responsible for all
mental and moral ailments, so it was in our case. Had we been walking
rapidly, so that the circulation of the blood had been vigorous and
strong, both mind and body would have been in good condition, and the
cold air, the snow, and bleak mountains would have been powerless to
discourage. It is always at such times that mountain climbers begin to
ask themselves whether the results are worth the efforts to attain them.
Any one who has climbed at all, as we learn by reading the experiences
of mountaineers, at many times has said to himself: “If I get home
safely this time I shall never again venture from the comforts of
civilization.” The ancients, when in the thick of battle, or at the
point of shipwreck, were accustomed to vow temples to the gods should
they be kind enough to save them, but they usually forgot their oaths
when safely home. Mountaineers in like manner forget their resolves,
under the genial influence of rest and food, when they reach camp.

After many disappointments, we at last saw the true summit of our pass
or _col_ not far distant, and only a few hundred feet above us. A more
gentle slope of snow, free of crevasses, led to it from our position.

Now that we were confident of success, we took this opportunity to rest
by a ledge of rocks which appeared above the surrounding snow field.
Here we regained confidence along with a momentary rest.

Nothing could surpass the awful grandeur of Mount Lefroy opposite us.
Its great cliffs were of solid rock, perpendicular and sheer for about
2500 feet, and then sloping back, at an angle of near fifty degrees, to
heights which were shut off from our view by the great hanging glacier.
We could just catch a glimpse of its dark precipices, where the mountain
wall continued into the unknown valley eastward, through a gorge or rent
in the cliffs south of the Mitre. A magnificent avalanche fell from
Mount Lefroy as we were resting from our severe exertion, and held our
admiring attention for several moments. Another descended from the Mitre
and consisted wholly of rocks, which made a sharp cannonade as they
struck the glacier below, and showed us the danger to which we should
have been exposed had we ascended on the farther side of the slope.

Having roped up once more, we proceeded rapidly toward the summit of the
_col_, being urged on by a strong desire to see what wonders the view
eastward might have in store. This is the most pleasurably exciting
experience in mountaineering—the approach to the summit of a pass. The
conquest of a new mountain is likewise very interesting, but usually the
scene unfolds gradually during the last few minutes of an ascent. On
reaching the summit of a pass, however, a curtain is removed, as it
were, at once, and a new region is unfolded whereby the extent of the
view is doubled as by magic.

We were, moreover, anxious to learn whether a descent into this valley
would be possible, after we should arrive on the _col_. We were
alternately tormented by the fear of finding impassable precipices of
rock, or glaciers rent by deep crevasses, and cheered on by the hope of
an easy slope of snow or scree, whereby a safe descent would be offered.

Proceeding cautiously, as we approached the very summit, to avoid the
danger of an overhanging cornice of snow, we had no sooner arrived on
the highest part than we beheld a valley of surpassing beauty, wide and
beautiful, with alternating open meadows and rich forests. Here and
there were to be seen streams and brooks spread out before our gaze,
clearly as though on a map, and traceable to their sources, some from
glaciers, others from springs or melting snow-drifts. In the open
meadows, evidently luxuriantly clothed with grass and other small
plants, though from our great height it was impossible to tell, the
streams meandered about in sinuous channels, in some places forming a
perfect network of watercourses. In other parts, the streams were
temporarily concealed by heavy forests of dark coniferous trees, or more
extensively, by light groves of larch.

This beautiful valley, resembling a park by reason of its varied and
pleasing landscape, was closely invested on the south by a half circle
of rugged, high mountains rising precipitously from a large glacier at
their united bases. This wall of mountains, continuing almost
uninterruptedly around, hemmed in the farther side of the valley and
terminated, so far as we could see, in a mountain with twin summits of
nearly equal height, about one mile apart. The limestone strata of this
mountain were nearly perfectly horizontal, and had been sculptured by
rain and frost into an endless variety of minarets, spires, and
pinnacles. These, crowning the summits of ridges and slopes with ever
changing angles, as though they represented alternating walls and roofs
of some great cathedral, all contributed to give this mountain, with its
elegant contours and outlines, the most artistically perfect assemblage
of forms that nature can offer throughout the range of mountain

On the north side of this mountain, as though, here, nature had striven
to outdo herself, there rose from the middle slopes a number of graceful
spires or pinnacles, perhaps 200 or 300 feet in height, slender and
tapering, which, having escaped the irresistible force of moving
glaciers and destructive earthquakes, through the duration of thousands
of years, while the elements continued their slow but constant work of
disintegration and dissolution, now presented these strange monuments of
an ageless past. Compared with these needles, the obelisks and pyramids
of Egypt, the palaces of Yucatan, or the temples of India are young,
even in their antiquity. When those ancient peoples were building,
nature had nearly completed her work here.

             [Illustration: Discovery of Paradise Valley.]

Beyond the nearer range of mountains could be seen, through two
depressions, a more distant range, remarkably steep and rugged, while
one particularly high peak was adorned with extensive snow-fields and
large glaciers.

Almost simultaneously with our arrival on the summit of the pass, a
great change took place in the weather. The wind veered about, and the
clouds, which hitherto had formed a monotonous gray covering, now began
to separate rapidly and dissolve away, allowing the blue sky to appear
in many places. Long, light shafts of sunlight forced a passage through
these rents, and, as the clouds moved along, trailed bright areas of
illumination over the valley below, developing rich coloring and
pleasing contrasts of light and shade over a landscape ideally perfect.

This beautiful scene, which has taken some time to describe, even
superficially, burst on our view so suddenly, that for a moment the air
was rent with our exclamations and shouts, while those who had lately
been most depressed in spirit were now most vehement in their
expressions of pleasure. We spent a half-hour on the pass and divided up
our work, so that while one took photographs of the scenery, another
noted down the angles of prominent points for surveying purposes, while
the rest constructed a high cairn of stones, to commemorate our ascent
of the pass.

Whatever may have been the mental processes by which the result was
achieved, we found all unanimous in a decision to go down into the new
valley and explore it, whatever might result. The cold, desolate valley
on which we now turned our backs, but which was the route homewards, was
less attractive than this unknown region of so many pleasant features,
where even the weather seemed changed as we approached it.

It was now already two-thirty P.M. We were 8400 feet above sea-level and
at an unknown distance from Lake Louise, should we attempt the new
route. Another great mountain range might have to be passed before we
could arrive at the chalet, for aught we knew. There were, however,
fully six hours left of daylight, and we hoped to reach the chalet
before nightfall.

A long snow-slope descended from where we were standing, far into the
valley. This we prepared to descend by glissading, all roped together,
on account of W., who was this day enjoying his first experience in
mountain climbing. An unkind fate had selected him, earlier in the day,
to break through the bridge of the crevasse and now doomed him to still
further trouble, for we had no sooner got well under way in our descent,
before his feet flew out from under him, and he started to slide at such
a remarkable rate that the man behind was jerked violently by the rope,
and, falling headlong, lost his ice-axe at the same time. With
consternation depicted in every feature, our two friends came rolling
and sliding down, with ever increasing speed, spinning round—now one
leading, now the other, sometimes head first, sometimes feet first. The
shock of the oncomers was too much for the rest of us to withstand, and
even with our ice-axes well set in the soft snow, we all slid some
distance in a bunch. At length our axes had the desired effect and the
procession came to a standstill. It required some time to unwind the
tangled ropes wherein we were enmeshed like flies in a spider’s web,
owing to the complicated figures we had executed in our descent.
Meanwhile, a committee of one was appointed to go back and pick up the
scattered hats, ice-axes, and such other wreckage as could be found.

The end of the descent was accomplished in a better manner, and in less
than ten minutes we were 1500 feet below the pass. A short, steep
scramble down some rocky ledges, where strong alder bushes gave good
support for lowering ourselves, brought us in a few minutes to the
valley bottom. At this level the air was warm and pleasant as we entered
an open grove of larch and spruce trees. In the last quarter of an hour
we had passed through all the gradations from an arctic climate, where
the cold air, the great masses of perpetual snow, and bleak rocks, made
a wintry picture, to the genial climate of the temperate zone, where
were fresh and beautiful meadows enlivened by bright flowers, gaudy
insects, and the smaller mountain animals. Humboldt has truly said: “In
the physical as in the moral world, the contrast of effects, the
comparison of what is powerful and menacing with what is soft and
peaceful, is a never failing source of our pleasures and our emotions.”

We followed a small, clear stream of an unusual nature. In some places
it glided quietly and swiftly over a sloping floor of solid stone,
polished and grooved in some past age by glaciers. A little farther on,
the character of the mountain stream suffered a change, and the water
now found its way in many sharp, angular turns and narrow courses by
large square blocks of stone, for the most part covered by a thick
carpet of moss, while between were deep pools and occasional miniature

Pursuing our way with rapid steps, for we were like adventurers in some
fairy-land of nature, where every moment reveals new wonders, we came at
length to an opening in the forest, where the stream dashed over some
rocky ledges, that frost and age had rent asunder and thrown down in
wild disorder, till the stream bed was fairly strewn with giant masses
of sandstone. Some of these colossal fragments were apparently just
balanced on sharp edges, and seemed ever ready to fall from their
insecure positions. The variety and novelty of form presented by the
falling water, as the streamlets divided here and united there, some
over, some under, the stone bridges accidentally formed in this
confusion of nature, aroused our greatest admiration.

As we advanced down the valley towards the north, the outlines of the
mountains changed, and we recognized at length the bare slopes of the
southern side of Mount Temple, which at first seemed to us a strange
mountain. Meanwhile, we had approached very near to the base of the
beautiful mountain with the double peak and the many pinnacles, and
found that proximity did not render it less attractive.

The stream which we followed had been joined by many other rivulets and
springs till it grew to be wide and deep. At length a muddy torrent,
direct from the glacier at the head of the valley, added new volume and
polluted the crystal snow-waters of the stream which we had followed
from its very source.

For many hours we followed the banks of the small river formed by these
two branches, and found it an almost continuous succession of rapids,
constantly descending, and with a channel swinging to right and left,
every few hundred yards, in a winding course.

H. and I led the way, and frequently lost sight of the others who were
beginning to tire and preferred a slower pace. We waited on several
occasions for them to come up with us, though it seemed as if we should
no more than reach the chalet before nightfall, even by putting forth
our best efforts.

About 6.30 o’clock we came to a swampy tract, where the trees grew
sparingly, and gave the appearance of a meadow to an expanse of nearly
level ground, covered with fine grass and sedges. Here, after a long
wait for our friends, who had not been seen for some time, we decided to
write a note on a piece of paper and attach it to a pole in a
conspicuous place where they could not fail to see it. The mosquitoes
were so numerous that it was almost impossible to remain quiet long
enough to write a few words explaining our plans. On the top of the
stick we placed a small splinter of wood in a slit, and made it point in
the exact direction we intended to take.

Having accomplished these duties in the best manner possible, we set out
for the chalet with all speed, as we did not relish the idea of making a
bivouac in the woods and spending a cheerless night after our long fast.
It was evident that we were now at the outlet of the valley, and that,
unless we should encounter very rough country with much fallen timber,
our chances were good for reaching the chalet before darkness rendered
travelling impossible. It was likewise important to reach the lake on
account of those at the chalet, who might think that the whole party had
met with some accident on the mountain, unless some of us turned up that

We accordingly walked as fast as our waning strength permitted, and
after surmounting a ridge about 800 feet high, which formed part of the
lower slopes of Saddle Mountain, we found no great difficulty in forcing
a passage through the forest for several miles, when we came upon the
trail to the Saddle. We reached the lake at 8.15 P.M., and after
shouting in vain for some one to send over a boat, we forded the stream
and entered the chalet, where a sumptuous repast was ordered forthwith,
and to which we did ample justice after our walk of twelve hours

Our less fortunate friends did not appear till the next morning. They
discovered our note, but decided not to take our route, as they thought
it safer to follow the stream till it joined the Bow River. They had not
proceeded far, however, beyond the place where we had left the note,
before they became entangled in a large area of fallen timber and
prostrate trees, where they were overtaken by night and compelled to
give up all hope of reaching Lake Louise till the next day. In the dark
forest they made a small fire, and were at first tormented by mosquitoes
and, later, by the chill of advancing night, so that sleep was
impossible. The extreme weariness of exhausted nature, crowned by hunger
and sleeplessness amid clouds of voracious mosquitoes, was only offset
by the contents of a flask, with which they endeavored to revive their
drooping spirits, and cherish the feeble spark of life till dawn.

Fortunately, the nights in this latitude are short, and at four o’clock
they continued their way to the Bow River, which they followed till they
reached Laggan.

About six days later, a little column of smoke was observed rising from
the forests towards the east, and from Laggan we learned that the woods
were on fire, and that about forty acres of land were already in a
blaze. A large gang of section men were despatched at once with water
buckets and axes to fight the fire. The fire did not prove so extensive,
however, as at first reported, and in about two days all the men were

William said to one of us: “Me think two white man light him fire”; to
which our friends replied that it was impossible, as the fire had broken
out nearly a week after they had been there.

William replied, with the only trace of sarcasm I have ever known him to
use: “White man no light fire, oh no, me think sun light him.”



                              CHAPTER VII.

  _The Wild Character of Paradise Valley—Difficulties with Pack Horses—A
  Remarkable Accident—Our Camp and Surroundings—Animal Friends—Midsummer
  Flowers—Desolation Valley—Ascent of Hazel Peak—An Alpine Lake in a
  Basin of Ice—First Attempt to Scale Mt. Temple—Our Camp by a Small
  Lake—A Wild and Stormy Night—An Impassable Barrier—A Scene of Utter
  Desolation—All Nature Sleeps—Difficulties of Ascent—The Highest Point
  yet Reached in Canada—Paradise Valley in Winter—Farewell to Lake

Our delightful experience in Paradise Valley convinced us that a camp
should be established in it near the southern base of Mount Temple,
which we hoped to ascend. From this camp we intended to make branch
excursions in all directions and learn something of the mountains toward
the east and south. All this region, though so near the railroad, had
apparently never been explored by the surveyors, and the early
expeditions had of course never approached this region nearer than the
Vermilion Pass on the east and the Kicking Horse Pass on the west. In
all our expeditions through these lonely but grand mountain valleys, we
never discovered any mark of axe or knife on the trees, any charred
pieces of wood to indicate a camper’s fire, nor any cairn or pile of
stones to prove some climber’s conquest.

In fact, the impenetrable barrier of mountains at every valley end
dissolved the surveyor’s hopes, even from a distance, of finding any
practicable pass through the maze of lofty mountains and intervening
valleys blocked with glaciers and vast heaps of moraine. The lone
prospector would not be tempted by any sign of gold in the streams to
explore these valleys, though the Indian hunter may have occasionally
visited these regions in search of bears or the mountain goat.

We first blazed a trail from the chalet to the entrance of Paradise
Valley. The route followed was merely the best and most open pathway
that we could find through the forests, and though not more than three
miles in length, it required as many hours to reach the valley entrance.
Pack horses we obtained at the chalet, but no man could be found who
would consent to act as our cook or assistant in managing the horses.

Our camp was at length established by the side of a small rivulet on the
lower slopes of Mount Temple, where we found the altitude to be 6900
feet above sea-level. Our experiences with pack animals were of a most
exciting nature and sometimes severely trying to our temper and
patience. The horses were not accustomed to this service and performed
all sorts of antics, smashing the packs among the trees, jumping high in
air to clear a small stream six inches wide, or plunging regardless into
rivers where, for a moment, the horse and packs would be submerged in
the water. There was one place about two miles within the valley
entrance that might well try the patience of Job himself. On one side of
the stream, was an impassable area covered with tree trunks
criss-crossed and piled two or three deep by some snow-slide of former
years. On the other side of the stream, which we were compelled to take,
was a dense forest. Below was a tangled growth of bush, and many fallen
trees, all resting on a foundation of large loose stones covered six
inches deep with green moss. Between these stones were deep holes and
occasional underground streams, the water of which could be faintly
heard below and which had probably washed away the soil and left these
angular stones unprotected. To lead a horse through this place required
the greatest skill, patience, and even daring. Without some one to lead
the animal with a rope, the poor beast would stand motionless, but to
pick one’s way over the rough ground while leading the horse invariably
ended in disaster. The very first hole was enough to frighten the horse,
so that, instead of proceeding more slowly, the animal usually made a
mad rush forward regardless of the leader, who invariably fled and
sought the protection of a tree, while the horse soon fell prostrate
among the maze of obstacles. In these frantic rushes many of us were
several times trampled on by the horse, and the packs were smashed
against the branches and trunks of trees, or torn off altogether. This
was an exceedingly dangerous bit of ground, and it was remarkable that
on so many occasions we were able to lead our horses through it without
a broken leg.

One of our most remarkable adventures with a horse may indeed test the
credence of the reader, but five men can vouch for its actual
occurrence. We were passing along through the forest in our usual
manner, which was the outgrowth of much experience. First of all, one
man preceded and did nothing else but find the blaze marks and keep on
the ill-defined trail as well as possible. About twenty-five yards
behind came another man whose duty it was to find the pathfinder, and if
possible, improve on his trail. Then came one of our party who led the
horse with a long head rope, while behind the horse were two men whose
duty it was to pick up whatever articles fell out of the packs from time
to time, and fasten them on again.

As we were proceeding in this manner, we came to a slanting tree which
leaned over the trail at an angle of about thirty degrees. It was just
small enough to be limber, and just large enough to be strong. Moreover,
it was too low for the horse to go under, and a little too high for him
to jump over. One might travel a lifetime and never meet with just such
another tree as this. In less than ten seconds this tree had brought the
horse and two of our party to the ground and wrought consternation in
our ranks.

As the horse approached the slanting tree, F., who was leading, saw the
animal rear high in the air to prepare for a jump. He thought it best to
get out of the way, but in his haste stumbled and fell headlong into a
bush. Meanwhile the horse, a stupid old beast, prepared for the effort
of his life, and with a tremendous spring jumped high in air, but
unfortunately his fore-feet caught on the small tree, which swung
forward a little and then returning like a powerful spring, turned the
animal over in mid-air. The horse landed on his back some five yards
farther on, and, with his four legs straight up in the air, remained
motionless as death. But this was not all, for the tree swung back
violently and struck H. on the nose, fortunately at the end of the
swing, but with sufficient force to knock him down.

When our two friends recovered, we turned our attention to the horse,
which still remained motionless on his back. “He is dead,” said F., but,
on rolling him over, the poor animal got up and seemed none the worse
for his experience, except for a more than usual stupidity.

We camped about ten days in Paradise Valley in a beautiful spot near the
end. Here, on all sides except towards the north, the place is hemmed in
by lofty mountains. We saw the valley in all sorts of weather, in clear
sunshiny days, and when the clouds hung low and shut out the mountains
from view. On one or two occasions the ground was white with snow for a
short time, though our visit was during the first part of August.

Many kinds of animals frequented the valley, and some of the smaller
creatures lived in the rocks on all sides of our camp and became quite
friendly. One of the most interesting little animals of the Canadian
Rockies is the little pica, or tailless hare. This small animal abounded
in the vicinity of our camp and is in fact always found at about 7000
feet altitude. It is a hare about the size of a rat, which, with its
round ears, it more resembles. These little fellows have a dismal
squeak, and they are very impertinent in their manner of sitting up
among the rocks at the entrance to their holes, and gazing at their
human visitors, ever ready to pop out of sight at a sign of danger.
Chipmunks were likewise abundant and visited our camp to pick up
scattered crumbs from our table.

There is a species of rat with a bushy tail that lives in the forests
and rocky places of these mountains and is the most arrant thief among
all the rodents. Nothing is too large for them to try and carry off, and
they will make away with the camper’s compass, aneroid, or watch, and
hide them in some inaccessible hole, apparently with the desire to set
up a collection of curios.

The siffleur, or marmot, is the largest among these rodents, and reaches
the length of twenty-five or thirty inches. These animals usually
frequent high altitudes at, or above the tree line, where they build
large nests among the rocks and lay up a store of provisions for winter
time. They are very fat in the fall, but it is not known whether they
hibernate or not. Their note is a very loud shrill whistle, which they
make at a distance, but they never allow one to approach very near, like
the impudent picas.

We saw very few of the mountain goats, though we often came upon their
fresh tracks in the mud near streams or in the snow far up on the
mountain sides. On several occasions we could hear the patter and rattle
of stones sent down by the movements of some herd, though our eyes
failed to detect them.

Where the forests grew thick in the valley, the herbs and flowering
plants were always less numerous, but in the meadows the ground was
colored by mountain flowers of beautiful shades and pretty forms. The
tasselled heads of the large anemones, long since gone to seed, were
conspicuous everywhere, and they are always a beautiful object among the
meadow grass as the summer breezes make gentle waves over these seas of
verdure. Along the bare rocky margins of the streams, where all else has
been forced to retire by occasional floods, two species of plants make a
most brilliant coloring and dazzle the eye with discordant shades. They
are the castilleias, or painter’s brush, with bright scarlet and green
leaves clustered at the top of a leafy stem, and the epilobiums, with
reddish-purple blossoms; these two plants were often so close together
with their inharmonious color tones as to perplex the observer in regard
to nature’s meaning. When nature does such things we grow to like her
apparent mistakes, just as we love the bitter-sweet chords of Schumann,
or Grieg’s harsh harmonies.

We made several excursions into the next valley to the eastward, and
beyond that, over the water-shed into British Columbia. The valley to
the east offered the greatest contrast to Paradise Valley. It was
somewhat wider, the altitude was in general higher, so that a great part
was above the tree line, while the awful wildness and confusion created
by vast heaps of moraine and a large glacier at the foot of a range of
saw-edged mountains made this place seem like a vale of desolation and

At the close of our camping experiences, we effected the conquest of two
mountains, Hazel Peak and Mount Temple, on two successive days. We first
tried Hazel Peak, and by following the route which had been previously
selected, we found the ascent remarkably easy. On the summit, the
climber is 10,370 feet above sea-level,—higher than the more celebrated
Mount Stephen, often claimed to be the highest along the railroad,—and
surrounded by more high peaks than can be found at any other known part
of the Canadian Rockies, south of Alaska. In fact there are seven or
eight peaks within a radius of six miles that are over 11,000 feet high.

The view is, at the same time, grand and inspiring, and has certain
attractions that high mountain views rarely present. The rock precipice
and snow-crowned crest of Mount Lefroy are separated from the summit of
Hazel Peak by one of the grandest and deepest canyons of the Canadian
Rockies, so that the distance from summit to summit is only one mile and
a half. The ascent of Hazel Peak is certainly well worth the labor of
the climb, as the round trip may be easily accomplished from Paradise
Valley in five hours, though the ascent is nearly 4000 feet.

On the north side, from the very summit, a fine glacier sweeps down in
steep pitch far into the valley below and with its pure white snow and
yawning blue crevasses of unfathomable depth, forms one of the most
attractive features of this mountain. The most remarkable and beautiful
object that we discovered, however, was a small lake or pool of water
only a few yards below the summit of the mountain. Encircled on all
sides by the pure snows of these lofty altitudes, and embedded, as it
were, in a blue crystal basin of glacier ice, the water of this little
lake was colored deep as indigo, while over the surface a film of ice,
formed during the previous night, had not yet melted away.

                [Illustration: Camp in Paradise Valley.]

We returned to camp much elated with our success but doubtful of the
morrow, as no easy route had yet been discovered up the forbidding
slopes of Mount Temple. The year before, Mr. A. and I had been
hopelessly defeated even when we had counted most on success. Moreover,
the mere fact that, though this mountain was the highest yet discovered
anywhere near the railroad, it had never been ascended by any surveyor
or climber, made success appear less probable, though it urged us on to
a keener ambition.

The attempt by A. and myself to ascend this mountain in 1893 was
probably the first ever made. During the first week of August, we
started from Laggan, having with us a Stoney Indian, named Enoch
Wildman, and one horse to carry our tent and provisions. The day was
unusually hot, and, as we forced our monotonous and tiresome passage
through the scanty forests of pine near the Bow River, we suffered very
much from heat and thirst. In these mountain excursions, it is the best
policy to wear very heavy clothes, even at the disadvantage of being
uncomfortable during the day, for the nights are invariably cold, even
at low altitudes. We did not camp until nightfall, when we found
ourselves on the northern slope of the mountain, 7000 feet above
sea-level, by the side of a small lake. The little lake occupied a
depression among giant boulders and the debris of the mountain. At one
end, a large bank of snow extended into and below the water, which was
apparently rising, as there were fragments of frozen snow floating about
in the lake. The banks sloped steeply into the water on all sides, and
there was not a single level spot for our camp, so that it was necessary
to build a wall of stones, near the water’s edge, for our feet, and to
prevent ourselves from sliding into the lake during the night.

The weather was wild and stormy, and the long night seemed to drag out
its weary length to an interminable extent of time, attended as it was
by showers of rain and hail and furious gusts of wind, which threatened
to bring our flapping tent to the ground at any moment.

Our camp-fire, which had been built on a scale appropriate to some
larger race of men, was a huge pile of logs, each fully ten feet long,
and twelve or eighteen inches through, but the wind blew so strong that
the mass roared like a vast forge during the early hours, and then died
away into an inert mass of cinders toward the chill of morning.

The light of day revealed our wild surroundings. We were under the
northern precipice of Mount Temple, and so close that we could see only
the lower part of this inaccessible wall. A beautiful fall dashed down
in a series of cascades through a distance of about 1000 feet, and fed
our little lake. Sometimes the strong wind, blowing against the cliff,
or sweeping upward, would make the water pause and momentarily hang in
mid-air, suspended, as it were, on an invisible airy cushion, till
gathering greater volume, it would burst through the barrier and fall in
a curtain of sparkling drops.

Poor Enoch had suffered terribly from cold during the night, and begged
our permission to return to Laggan, promising to come back the next
day—“sun so high,” pointing to its place in the early afternoon. He said
in his broken English: “No grass for pony here, too cold me; no like it
me.” So we took pity on him and sent him back to more comfortable
quarters while we rested in comparative quiet, it being Sunday.

Early Monday morning we had our breakfast and were on foot at four
o’clock. The gloom of early dawn, the chill of morning, and the cloudy
sky had no cheering effect on our anticipations. Our plan was to
traverse the mountain side till we should come to the southeast
shoulder, where we had once observed an outline of apparently easy

By eleven o’clock we had reached an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet
without meeting with any very great difficulty, but here we came
suddenly to a vertical wall of rock about 400 feet high and actually
leaning over in many places, a barrier that completely defeated us, as
the wall extended beyond our view and offered no prospect of giving out.
At the base of this cliff was a steep, narrow slope of loose, broken
limestone, and then another precipice below. Along this dangerous
pathway we continued for some distance, keeping close to the base of the
cliff. The loose stones, set in motion by our feet, slid down and rolled
over the precipice, where we could hear them grinding to powder on the
cliffs below.

Never in my life have I been so much impressed with the stern and
desolate side of nature. The air was bitter cold and had the frosty
ozone odor of winter. A strong wind rushed constantly by us, and, as it
swept up the gorges of the precipice above, and over the countless
projections of the cliffs, made a noise like the hoarse murmur of wind
in a ship’s rigging, or the blast of some great furnace. To the south
and east, range beyond range of bare, saw-edged mountains raised their
cold, sharp summits up to a cloudy sky, where the strong wind drove
threatening clouds in long trains of dark and lighter vapors. The
intervening valleys, destitute of vegetation or any green thing, were
filled with glaciers and vast heaps of moraine, and the slides of debris
from the adjacent mountain side. All was desolate, gloomy, cold, and
monotonous in color. Three thousand feet below, a small lake was still
bound fast in the iron jaws of winter, surrounded as it was by the walls
of mountains which shut out the light and warmth of the summer sun.
Inert, inanimate nature here held perpetual rule in an everlasting
winter, where summer, with its flowers and birds and pleasant fertility,
is unknown, and man rarely ventures.

Overcome with the terrors of this lonely place and the hopelessness of
further attempt to reach the summit, where a snow-storm was now raging,
we turned back. As we reached our camp we found Enoch just approaching,
according to his promise, and though the afternoon was well advanced, we
packed up and moved with all speed toward Laggan. We reached Lake Louise
at 10.30 P.M., after almost nineteen hours of constant walking.

Now, however, at our camp in Paradise Valley, the conditions were
somewhat different. We were at the very base of the mountain, and had
learned much more about it, in the year that had elapsed since our first

The mountaineer has many discomforts mingled with the keen enjoyment of
his rare experiences. None is more trying than the early hour at which
he is compelled to rise from his couch of balsam boughs and set forth on
his morning toil. At the chill hour before dawn, when all nature
stagnates and animate creation is plunged in deepest sleep, the mountain
climber must needs arouse himself from heavy slumber and, unwilling,
compel his sluggish body into action.

This is the deadest hour of the twenty-four—the time just before dawn.
The breezes of early night have died away into a cold and frosty calm;
the thermometer sinks to its lowest point, and even the barometer, as
though in sympathy, reaches one of its diurnal minima at this untimely
hour. And if inanimate nature is thus greatly affected, much more are
the creations of the vegetable and animal kingdoms. The plants are
suffering from the cold and frost; the animals of daytime have not as
yet aroused themselves from sleep, while the nocturnal prowlers have
already ceased their quest of prey and returned to their dens. Even man
is affected, for at this dead hour the ebb and pulse of life beat slow
and feeble, and the lingering spark of life in those wasted by disease
comes at this time most near going out.

At such an unseasonable hour, or more accurately at four A.M., were we
up, on the 17th of August preparing for our ascent of Mount Temple.
There was no trace of dawn, and the waning moon, now in her last
quarter, was riding low in the southern sky, just above the sharp
triangular peak at the end of our valley.

At nine o’clock in the morning, we had gained the summit of the pass
between Mount Temple and Pinnacle Mountain, where we were 9000 feet
above sea-level. The ascent so far had not been of an encouraging
nature, as we had encountered a long, loose slide where everything moved
threateningly at each step. I have never seen a more unstable slope. The
stones and boulders would slide, and begin to move at a distance of ten
and fifteen feet above the place where we stood, and on every side also.
F., who was one of the party, was terror-stricken, for he now had a
horror of moving stones of any description.

The view from this pass was very extraordinary. To the east stood the
rugged, saw-edged mountains of the Desolation Range, looming up in
solemn grandeur through an atmosphere bluish and hazy with the smoke of
forest fires. The air was perfectly calm and had the bracing coolness of
early morning and high altitude, which the rising sun tempered most
gently. The weather conditions for accomplishing our ascent were
perfect, but there was little prospect of a fine view by reason of the

The outlook from the pass was indeed discouraging. Cliffs and ledges
with broken stones and loose debris seemed to oppose all safe passage.
Fortunately, as we progressed the difficulties vanished, and not till we
reached an altitude of about 10,000 feet did we encounter any real
obstacles. We found a passage through the great rock wall which had
defeated us last year, by the aid of a little gully, which, however,
entailed some rather difficult climbing. This arduous work continued
throughout the next 1000 feet, when, at an altitude of 11,000 feet, we
came to the great slope between the southwest and west _arêtes_ and
found an easy passage to the summit.

                [Illustration: SUMMIT OF MOUNT TEMPLE.]

Many a hearty cheer rent the thin air as our little party of three
reached the summit, for we were standing where no man had ever stood
before, and, if I mistake not, at the highest altitude yet reached in
North America north of the United States boundary. The summit was formed
of hard bluish limestones, broken and piled up in blocks, as on all high
mountain tops. The cliffs toward the east were stupendous and led the
eye down to the valley more than a mile below. The air was almost calm
and just above freezing, and the snow was melting quite fast in the sun.
The thermometer at the Lake Louise chalet reached seventy-two degrees at
the same time that we were on the summit of Mount Temple, which proves
this to be almost the highest temperature that ever occurs on this lofty
point. It would be safe to say that the temperature on the top of Mount
Temple never rises higher than forty degrees.

If one is fortunate in a good selection of routes, the ascent of Mount
Temple will not be found difficult. But the descent is very perplexing,
for unless one remembers the intricate combination of gullies and ledges
by which the ascent is made, many precipitous cliffs will be encountered
down which it is impossible to descend.

This was our last exploit in Paradise Valley, and a few days later the
various members of our party, one by one, bade farewell to the beautiful
region of Lake Louise with its many pleasant associations.

I remained there five or six weeks longer until winter commenced in
earnest and drove every one away. During the first week of October I
made a final visit to Paradise Valley with Mr. Astley, the manager of
the chalet, in order to bring back our tent and the camping utensils.
Snow covered the ground in the shady parts of the woods, even at the
entrance of the valley. The stream had fallen so much that its rocky bed
proved the best route up the valley, especially for the horse. After an
hour’s journey within the entrance we found ourselves at the base of
Mount Sheol, and not far above us could be seen a fine herd of seven or
eight mountain goats. They scampered off on seeing us, but soon came to
halt as they were tempted by curiosity to have another look. These
snow-white goats are the most characteristic animals of the Rockies and
nearly correspond in habits with the more cunning chamois of
Switzerland. Like them it is a species of antelope, though it resembles
a goat to a remarkable degree.

We found our camp buried in snow, the ridge-pole of the tent broken down
with the heavy burden, and everything so much disguised by the wintry
mantle that we had difficulty in finding the camping place. Even as we
were packing up the frozen canvas and blankets, the air was full of
falling snow and the mountains encircling the valley were only revealed
in vague and indefinite outlines, while ever and anon could be heard the
dull roar of snow-slides sweeping down to the glacier.

About nightfall we were back at the entrance to the valley, where the
lower altitude gave us the advantage of a ground nearly free of snow,
though a fine rain sifted down through the spruce needles almost

Here we camped in the dense forest, and our roaring fire, built high
with great logs, soon drove away the chill and dampness of the rainy
night. The tent, our clothes, and the mossy ground were soon steaming,
and the bright glare of our camp-fire illumined the trees and gave us
good cheer, surrounded as we were by miles of trackless forests in the
blackness of night. A hearty supper and a great pail of strong hot tea
soon revived our spirits, and on a soft couch of heaths and balsam
boughs—more luxurious than any bed of down—we bid defiance to the
darkness and storm in perfect comfort. The next day the snow-flakes were
falling gently and steadily, so that the trees were covered even to
their branchlets and needles with the white mantle. The bushes, the
mosses, and even the blades of grass in the swampy marshes, as we
pursued our homeward way, were all concealed and transformed into pure
white images of themselves in snow.

A few days later I went up to Lake Agnes to hunt for mountain goats,
which frequent this place in great numbers. The snow was two feet deep.
The lake was already nearly covered with ice, and I was compelled to
seek shelter behind a cliff against a bitterly cold wind, driving icy
particles of hail and snow against my face.

It was useless to prolong the contest longer. Winter had resumed her
iron sway in these boreal regions and high altitudes, and in a few weeks
Lake Louise too would begin to freeze, and no longer present its endless
change of ripple and calm, light and shadow, or the reflected images of
rocks and trees and distant mountains.


                             CHAPTER VIII.

  _The Selkirks—Geographical Position of the Range—Good Cheer of the
  Glacier House—Charming Situation—Comparison between the Selkirks and
  Rockies—Early Mountain Ascents—Density of the Forest—Ascent of Eagle
  Peak—A Magnificent Panorama—A Descent in the Darkness—Account of a
  Terrible Experience on Eagle Peak—Trails through the Forest—Future
  Popularity of the Selkirks—The Forest Primeval—An Epitome of Human
  Life—Age of Trees—Forests Dependent on Humidity._

West of that chain of the Rocky Mountains which forms the crest or
backbone of the continent, lies another system of mountains called the
Selkirk Range. Having many features in common with the mountains to the
east, this range has, nevertheless, certain constant characteristics of
vegetation and geological formation, so that the traveller who is but
slightly familiar with them should never be at a loss in regard to his

The position of this range in relation to the other mountains of the
great Cordilleran System is not difficult to understand. The Selkirks
may be said to begin in northwestern Montana between the Summit Range
and the Bitter Root Mountains, and, trending in a northwestward
direction through British Columbia about three hundred miles, they
approach the main range and apparently merge into it near the Athabasca
Pass. The most remarkable feature of the range is the manner in which it
compels the great Columbia River to run northward for fifty leagues on
its eastern side, before it allows a passage to the west, so that the
northern portions of the range are entirely hemmed in by this large
river, flowing in opposite directions on either side. Another feature of
great interest in regard to the drainage is the relation between the
Columbia and Kootanie rivers. The latter river is one of the chief
tributaries to the upper Columbia, and flows southward to a point one
mile and a half from the head waters of the Columbia, which it passes on
its journey southward, while the Columbia flows in the opposite
direction. The water of the Kootanie is actually higher than that of the
Columbia at this point, and as the two rivers are only separated by a
low, level plain, it was once proposed to cut a channel between, and
divert the Kootanie into the Columbia.

                     [Illustration: GLACIER HOUSE.]

The traveller is always glad to find himself at the Glacier House in the
heart of the Selkirks. This is more especially true, if in previous
years, he has visited this charming spot and become in some degree
familiar with the place. The railroad makes a large loop round a narrow
valley and sweeps apparently close to the great glacier of the Selkirks,
a vast sea of ice that glistens in a silvery white sheen and appears to
rise above the forests as one looks southward. There is something
pre-eminently comfortable and homelike about the Glacier House. The
effect is indefinable, and one hardly knows whether the general style of
an English inn, or the genuine hospitality that one receives, is the
chief cause. One always feels at home in this wild little spot, and
scarcely realizes that civilization is so far distant.

The rush of summer guests called for the erection of an annex, so that
there are now two hotels for the accommodation of tourists. The Glacier
House is located near the railroad, and occupies a small, nearly level,
place at the bottom of one of those deep and narrow valleys
characteristic of the Selkirks. Those who have visited the Franconia
Notch in the White Mountains would be somewhat reminded of that
beautiful spot upon first seeing the surroundings of Glacier. The ground
in front of the hotel has been levelled and is rendered beautiful by a
thick carpet of turf. In summer it is fragrant and almost snowy in
appearance from the multitude of white clover blossoms. This garden spot
in the wilderness is still further adorned by fountains, which break the
continuity of the greensward, and are fed by cascades that may be seen
descending the opposite mountain side in many a leap, through a total
distance of 1800 feet.

But this small area, that man has improved and rendered more suitable to
his comfort, is surrounded on all sides by a wilderness, perhaps better
described as a little explored range of mountains separated by deep
gorges and covered with dense forests. It is like the Alps of
Switzerland and the Black Forest combined. There are snow-clad peaks,
large glaciers, and _névé_ regions of vast extent in the higher
altitudes, while the valleys below are dark and sombre in their covering
of deep, cool forests. The main range of the Rockies presents no such
rankness of vegetable growth—mosses, ferns, and lichens covering every
available surface on tree trunks and boulders—nor such huge trees as
those found everywhere in the Selkirks.

Moreover, the mountains of the Selkirk Range probably average 1000 feet
lower than in the corresponding parts of the main range, but
nevertheless they seem white and brilliant in their mantles of
everlasting snow and sparkling glaciers. Finally, one observes that the
railroad track is covered at frequent intervals by snow-sheds of
considerable length, constructed of heavy beams and massive timbers, in
order to withstand the terrible force and weight of winter snow-slides
and avalanches. In the main range of the Rockies there are no snow
sheds. The question naturally arises—What is the reason of all these
differences from the more eastern ranges?

The answer to the question is that the climate is more humid. The
snowfall in winter is so great that it remains all summer at much lower
altitudes than in the Rockies, and supplies glaciers, which descend
perhaps a thousand feet nearer to sea-level. The moisture from this deep
covering of snow, saturates the ground as it melts in the spring, and,
in addition to frequent, heavy summer rains, nourishes the rich forests
of these mountains. Moreover, the atmosphere is always slightly moister
than it is to the east, and does not tend to dry up the ground or
evaporate the mountain snows so rapidly as in the summit range.

The eastward movement of the atmosphere, carrying up moisture from the
Pacific, causes a great condensation of clouds and a heavy rainfall as
the air currents pass over the Selkirks, and leaves the atmosphere
robbed of a great part of its moisture to pass over the next range to
the east.

Almost all the differences between the Selkirks and the Rockies proper,
spring from the single cause of a moister climate. The principal
features of extensive snow fields and luxuriant forests can be readily
understood. May not the deep, narrow valleys of the Selkirks be likewise
explained from the more rapid action and greater erosive power of the
mountain streams in cutting down their channels?

Whatever may be the cause of all these phenomena, the results are very
apparent. Any one who has visited the Selkirks for an extended period
has, without doubt, spent many a day within doors writing his diary or
enjoying the pleasure of music or literature, while the rain is falling
constantly, and the clouds and vapors hang low on the mountain sides.
The manner in which the clouds come sweeping up the Illicellewaet valley
at the base of Mount Cheops and turn toward the flanks of Eagle Peak or
Mount Sir Donald is very impressive. Certainly the cloud effects in the
Selkirks are magnificent beyond all description.

Nevertheless, it is not encouraging to have a friend step off the train
and announce the fact that he has been enjoying fine weather for several
days in the Rocky Mountains, some fifty or sixty miles to the east,
while you have been confined to the house by a long period of rain.

Often, too, the climber or explorer becomes fretful under long
confinement, and, taking advantage of an apparent clearing away of
clouds and a promise of fair weather, when far from the hotel, is caught
in a sudden downpour, and realizes the truth of that scriptural passage
which was apparently written concerning a similar region—“They are wet
with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a

When the railroad first made this region accessible to tourists, the
Selkirks rapidly acquired a remarkable popularity, especially among
mountain climbers. In this early period several parties came over from
England and other countries of Europe with the express purpose of making
mountain ascents. Such parties were those of Dr. Green and the two Swiss
climbers Huber and Sulzer. A good idea of the difficulties presented by
the higher peaks to skilled mountaineers may be had from the fact that
Dr. Green and his party only succeeded in reaching the summit of one
high peak, while Huber and Sulzer left the Hermit Range in defeat,
though they succeeded in reaching the top of the sharp rock peak, Mount
Sir Donald, the Matterhorn of the Selkirks.

One of the chief difficulties to overcome is the penetration of the
forest belt below the tree line. No one who has not tried a Selkirk
forest has any conception of its nature in this respect. There are huge
tree trunks lying on or near the ground, which have been thrown down by
the precipitate fury of some winter snow slide, or have fallen by the
natural processes of death and decay. These great obstacles are ofttimes
covered with a slippery coating of moss and lichens, while the ground is
fairly concealed by a rank growth of ferns, and plants in countless
variety. The density of the underbrush is rendered still more trying to
the mountaineer by reason of a plant of the Ginseng family, which from
its terrible nature is most fitly named the Devil’s Club, for it is
armed with thousands of long needle-like spines. This plant grows five
or six feet high, with a stout stem bearing a few leaves of large size.
The spines, which are an inch or more in length, project in every
direction like an array of quills on a porcupine, and are strong enough
to penetrate the skin and flesh with surprising facility. The alder
bushes attain a peculiar growth in the Selkirks; each bush consists of a
bunch of long slender stems, which spread out from the ground in every
direction, ofttimes with nearly prostrate branches, which interlace and
form a wellnigh impassable hedge. The alder bushes are found most
numerous on bare slopes of the mountains, where snow slides have
stripped down the forests; or in ravines, where the crumbling earth
gives no certain foothold to larger and nobler trees.

In 1893, A. and I made an ascent of Eagle Peak. This mountain lies just
to the west from the great wedge-shaped rock summit of Mount Sir Donald.
The altitude of Eagle Peak is, I believe, a little more than 9400 feet
above sea-level, and as the Glacier House is only 4400 feet, the ascent
involves a climb of 5000 feet. The name of the mountain is derived from
a great crag or cliff near the summit, which appears to lean out from a
ridge, and bears a striking resemblance to the head of an eagle. When we
were making our ascent we came suddenly on the Eagle itself, which now,
on a nearer view, proved to be of colossal size, a great leaning tower,
about sixty feet high. Rising from one of the rocky ridges, it reached
upwards and outwards till the outermost point seemed to overhang a
bottomless abyss, perhaps twenty or twenty-five feet beyond the verge of
the precipice.

The ridge just below the summit is a scene of wild confusion, for the
rocky ledges have been split up and wedged apart by frost and storms
till they appear as giant blocks of stone ten or fifteen feet high,
between the crevices of which one may catch glimpses of the valley and
forests thousands of feet below.

           [Illustration: Mount Sir Donald, from Eagle Peak.]

The view from the summit of Eagle Peak is magnificent and well worth the
labor of the climb. The proximity of Mount Sir Donald, which towers more
than 1200 feet higher, causes its sullen precipices to appear strikingly
grand. The great Illicellewaet _névé_, with its twenty square miles or
more of unbroken snow fields, stretches out in the distance and forms
part of the eastern horizon. The rugged appearance of the Hermit Range
to the west, with its sharp ridges and needles, is perhaps the most
tumultuous part in all this wild sea of mountain peaks. It has been
stated on good authority that from Mount Abbott, a far lower ridge on
the farther side of the valley, more than one hundred and twenty
individual glaciers may be counted, but there are even more within view
from Eagle Peak.

We remained on the summit till nearly three o’clock, and thereby took a
great risk, as we learned afterwards to our exceeding regret. Before
leaving, however, we built a high cairn and fixed several handkerchiefs
among the stones so as to render it, if possible, visible from the
valley below.

In our descent we found no trouble till we reached tree line, when the
gathering gloom of nightfall, made earlier by a cloudy sky, aroused our
apprehensions and led us to a serious mistake. Thinking that it would be
better to follow the course of a stream, which had cut out a deep ravine
in the mountain side, as there would be more light, for a time at least,
we commenced our descent with all speed. We soon found ourselves in a
trap, as the sides of the ravine grew constantly deeper and steeper as
we descended, and it was at length impossible to get out at all.
Floundering about among the long trailing branches of alders, our
descent soon became a mixture of sliding, falling, and, indeed, every
method of progress save rational walking. The darkness came on rapidly,
as the days were short and the twilight much curtailed, it being late in
the summer. In an hour it became so absolutely black that the foamy
course of the stream we followed was the only visible object, as even
the stars were concealed and their light shut out by a heavy covering of
dark cloud. Sometimes the long, prostrate branches of the alders would
catch our feet in a most exasperating manner, and cause one or the other
to slide temporarily head-foremost, till some branch or root could be
seized in the hand and the progress arrested. Once I saw a white object,
just below me apparently, and thinking it might be a stone, was about to
lower myself in fancied security when suddenly I realized that it was
the foam of the stream some fifty feet below, and that we were on the
edge of a precipice! At another time I fell headlong through a bush and
brought up against some great obstacle around which I wound my leg, not
knowing whether it might be a huge grizzly or some other denizen of the
forest, when sure enough it moved away, and rolled over my leg. It was a
great boulder nearly a yard in diameter.

This nocturnal descent was the most bitter experience I have ever had in
mountain climbing, as the anxiety and worry consequent upon each
movement were exquisitely painful, and continued three hours. Arrived at
the bottom of the slope at ten o’clock P.M., we found ourselves in the
mass of fallen logs and debris near the stream, and likewise near the
trail. Under the spell of a certain assurance that a few minutes more of
toil would bring us out to the trail, we thought nothing of falling into
holes four or five feet deep, as we plunged about among the logs, or,
when walking on them, occasionally stepped off into space.

We arrived at the Glacier House at 10:30 P.M., where we were surrounded
by anxious friends, and regaled by a hot dinner of roasted chickens and
all manner of good things, such as one always finds at this most
excellent inn. At such times, more than at any other, one appreciates
the thoughtfulness and care of a kind host.

Our experience on Eagle Peak, trying as it was, could not equal that of
two gentlemen who, in 1894, made an attempt to scale the mountain.
Unfortunately they failed to reach the summit, and, worse still, were
benighted among the crags and cliffs at a high altitude, where they
spent the night in misery. Finding themselves in their attempt unable to
advance farther for some reason or other, they were descending, when it
suddenly occurred to them that they were on a different ledge from any
they had seen hitherto. Nightfall was bringing rapidly increasing
darkness, and it seemed impossible, at length, either to proceed farther
or even to retrace the steps by which they had come. Here, then, on a
narrow ledge overlooking a precipice, the awful depths of which were
rendered still more terrible in the obscurity of gathering gloom, and
with their feet dangling over the verge, they were forced to remain
motionless, and wear out the long night in cold and sleepless suffering.
The next morning a search party was organized, and they were conducted
back to the comforts of the Glacier House, much to the relief of their
anxious friends, but nearly prostrated by their terrible experience.

Later, we made an ascent of Mount Cheops, a striking peak with a most
perfect representation of a pyramid forming its summit. The view is fine
but not worth the labor of the climb, as the ascent of the lower slopes
seems interminably long and tedious by reason of the underbrush and
steep slope. Like Eagle Peak, the summit revealed no evidence of
previous conquests, and it will probably be a long time before any one
will be so far led astray as to make a similar attempt.

Trails and good foot-paths lead from the Glacier House to points of
interest in the vicinity. The chief resort is the Great Glacier itself,
where one may witness all the phenomena of a large ice stream, or ascend
to the vast _névé_, and wander about on a nearly level, and apparently
limitless, snow field.

Mount Abbott is an easy and favorite climb, and is often successfully
attempted by women who are endowed with considerable strength and
endurance. On the way, a small pool, called Marion Lake, is passed. It
nestles among the cliffs and forests on the mountain side far above the
valley. It is the only lake I know of in the Selkirks. This is one of
the remarkable differences between the Selkirks and the Summit Range of
the Rockies: the absence of lakes in one region, and their great number
in the other. The great majority of lakes in the Rockies are very small
and often do not deserve the name, as they are mere pools a few yards
across. But their small size in no way detracts from their beauty, and
it is most unfortunate that the Selkirks possess so few of these, the
most charming of all features in mountain landscapes.

The Selkirks are but little known, because the dense forests and the
immense size of the fallen logs forbid the use of horses almost
altogether, and will ever prevent the mountaineer from making extended
journeys into the lesser known parts of the mountains, unless trails are
cut and kept in good order. At present all provisions, blankets, and
tents must be packed on men’s backs, a method that is both laborious and

It must eventually result, however, that these mountains will prove a
most popular resort for climbers and sportsmen. The attractions for
either class are very great. For the mountaineer, they present all the
grandeur and beauty of the Swiss Alps, with difficulties of snow and
rock climbing sufficient to add zest to the sport. The multitude of
unclimbed peaks likewise offers great opportunities for those ambitious
for new conquests. The immense annual snowfall causes many of the higher
peaks to assume an appearance of dazzling beauty and brilliancy, while
the Alpine splendor of these higher altitudes is strongly contrasted
with the dark-green color of the forested valleys.

For the sportsmen, too, there are abundant opportunities to hunt the
larger game. On the mountains are numerous herds of mountain goats and
sheep, while the forests abound in bears—the black bear and the grizzly
or silver tip. During the berry season, these animals frequent the
valleys and are often seen by the railroad men even near the Glacier
House. One gentleman had the good fortune to shoot a black bear from a
window of the hotel last year. Of course, there is practically no danger
from even the grizzly bear in this immediate vicinity, as they have
learned to fear man from being frequently shot at, and have long since
lost the ferocity which they sometimes show in extremely wild and
unfrequented regions.

No mention has yet been made of the kind of trees to be found in a
Selkirk forest. Almost all the varieties of coniferous trees observed in
the Rockies, except the Lyall’s larch, occur in the Selkirks, though
each variety attains much larger size. The cedar, the hemlock, the
Douglas fir, and the Engelmann’s spruce are most conspicuous and form
the chief part of the forest trees. Each of these species here attains a
diameter of from three feet upward, even to six or seven, and a height
of from 150 to 200 feet.

Nothing is more enjoyable than to take one of the mountain trails and
enter the depths of the forest, there to rest in quiet contemplation
where trees alone are visible in the limited circle of view. On a quiet
afternoon, when all is calm and not a breath of air is stirring, the
long, gray moss hangs in pendent tufts from the lower branches of the
giant trees, and one feels that this is indeed another Acadian forest of
which Longfellow sings:

  “This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
  Bearded with moss and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,—
  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.”

             [Illustration: Head of Rocky Mountain Sheep.]

Such indeed is a Selkirk forest.

The idea that is at length developed in the mind, by a long rest in one
of these deep and sombre forests, is that of the majesty, and silent,
motionless power of vegetation. The creations of the vegetable world
stand on all sides. They wellnigh cover the ground; they limit the
horizon, and conceal the sky. The tall cedars have a shreddy bark that
hangs in long strips on their tapering boles and makes the strongest
contrast with the rough bark of the firs. What could be more unlike,
too, among evergreens, than the spreading fanlike foliage of the cedars,
the needle-like leaves of the firs, and the delicate spray of the

What a vast amount of energy has been preserved in these forest giants;
with what a crash they would fall to the ground; and what a quantity of
heat—which they have stored up from the sun through hundreds of
summers—would they give out when burned slowly in a fireplace! If we
examine a single needle, or a thin shaving of wood, under the
microscope, and obtain a glimpse of the complexity of the cells and
pores with which this vegetable life is carried on; or consider the
wonderful processes by which the flowers are fertilized, and the cones
mature, so that the species may never die out; and then regard the
immensity of the whole forest stretching boundless in every direction,
all constructed from an infinity of atoms, the mind and imagination are
soon led beyond their depth.

Now let the pure, cold light of science, with its precise and exact
laws, fade away into the warm, mellow glow of romance, till we picture
the forest as an epitome of human life, with its struggles, its
suffering, and the slow but certain progress from infancy to old age and
death. For here, among the forest trees, are every age and condition
represented. Beneath, are young trees, vigorous and full of promise,
hoping, as it were, some day to push their highest branches above the
general plane of tree tops and share the life-giving sun, though, during
the struggle, many will surely weaken and die in the pale and
inefficient light beneath the older trees. Then there are the larger
trees in the full glory of their prime, with massive trunks, straight
and tall, giving promise of many years of life yet to come; and finally,
the giants of the forest, their branches torn off by storms or their
trunks rent and scarred by lightning. Everything about the oldest trees
betokens the slow decay and all-conquering death, which is gradually
sapping their life blood and pointing to their certain, final
destruction. The long, gray moss, gently waving in the faintest breath
of air, hangs from every limb, and makes these venerable monarchs
resemble bearded patriarchs, which have stood here perhaps a thousand
years battling with the elements, the wind, and the lightning, silent
witnesses to the relentless progress of the seasons.

Trees have, however, all the qualifications of living forever. There is
no reason why a tree should ever die, were it not for some unnatural
cause, such as the fury of a storm, the rending power of lightning, or
the destructive influence of insects and parasites. In California, in
the Mariposa Grove, some of the giant redwood trees are twenty-five
hundred years old. They began to grow when Solon was making laws for the
ancient Greeks. These wonderful groves of California are, however,
exceptional, and have survived by reason of the clemency of the climate
and the fact that the aromatic redwood is avoided by insects. In most
forests, the laws of chance and probability rarely allow the sturdiest
trees to run the gamut of more than a few hundred years, and if they
attain a thousand years, it is their “fourscore—by reason of strength.”

In the Selkirks, one sees the ground covered with huge tree trunks in
all stages of decay, slowly moldering away into a newer and richer soil;
some have yielded to the natural processes of decay, others to accident
or forest fires, while in some places winter avalanches have cut off the
tops of the trees forty or fifty feet above the ground, and left nothing
but a maze of tall stumps where once stood a noble forest.

The Selkirk forests are dense and sometimes almost magnificent in their
luxuriance, and vastly surpass the forests of the eastern range in the
variety of species, the size of the trees, and the luxuriant rankness of
vegetable growth. At the same time they do not approach the almost
tropical vigor and grandeur of the Pacific Coast forests, where a green
carpet of moss covers the trunks and branches of the huge trees, and
even ferns find nourishment in this rich covering, aided by the reeking,
humid atmosphere, on branches forty or fifty feet above the ground. In
such a forest, the ferns and brakes reach a height of six or eight feet
above the ground, the various mosses attain a remarkable development,
and hang in long, green tresses, a yard in length, from every branch,
and exaggerate the size of the smaller branches, while the beautiful
tufts of the Hypnum mosses appear like the fronds of small ferns, so
large do they become.

The forests of the Summit Range, the Selkirks, and the Pacific Coast are
almost perfect indexes of the humidity of the climate. The Selkirk
forests are less vigorous than those of the Pacific coast, but more so
than the light and comparatively open forests of the Summit Range, where
the climate is much drier.



                              CHAPTER IX.

  _Mount Assiniboine—Preparations for Visiting it—Camp at Heely’s
  Creek—Crossing the Simpson Pass—Shoot a Pack-Horse—A Delightful Camp—A
  Difficult Snow Pass—Burnt Timber—Nature Sounds—Discovery of a
  Beautiful Lake—Inspiring View of Mount Assiniboine—Our Camp at the
  Base of the Mountain—Summer Snow-Storms—Inaccessibility of Mount

Great interest was aroused among tourists in the summer of 1895, by the
reports of a remarkable peak south of Banff named Mount Assiniboine.
According to current accounts, it was the highest mountain so far
discovered between the International boundary and the region of Mounts
Brown and Hooker. Besides its great altitude, it was said to be
exceedingly steep on all sides, and surrounded by charming valleys
dotted with beautiful lakes. The time required to reach the mountain
with a camping outfit and pack-horses was said to be from five to seven

The romance of visiting this wild and interesting region, hitherto but
little explored, decided me to use one month of the summer season in
this manner. By great good fortune I met, at Banff, two gentlemen
likewise bent on visiting the same region, and on comparing our
prospective plans, it appeared that mutual advantage would be gained by
joining our forces. In this way we would have the pleasure of a larger
company, and at the same time the opportunity of separating, should we
come to a disagreement.

The sixth of July was decided on as the date for our departure. In the
meantime, we made frequent visits to the log-house of our outfitter, Tom
Wilson, who was to supply us with horses, our entire camping outfit, and
guides. Many years previously, Wilson had packed for the early railroad
surveyors, and had thus gained a valuable experience in all that
concerns the management and care of pack-animals among the difficulties
of mountain trails. In the past few years, he has been engaged in
supplying tourists with camping outfits and guides, for excursions among
the mountains.

The season of 1895 was very backward, and there was an unusually late
fall of snow at Banff, in the middle of June. Moreover, the weather had
remained so cold that the snow on the higher passes still remained very
deep, and several bands of Indians, who attempted to cross the mountains
with their horses late in June, were repulsed by snow six or eight feet

The weather continued cold and changeable during the first week in July.
In the meanwhile, however, our preparations for departure went on
without interruption, and Wilson’s log-house, where the supplies and
camp outfits were safely stored, became a scene of busy preparation.

On every side were to be seen the various necessaries of camp life:
saddles for the horses, piles of blankets, here and there ropes, tents,
and hobbles. Great heaps of provisions were likewise piled up in
apparent confusion, though, in reality, every item was portioned out and
carefully calculated. Rashers of bacon and bags of flour comprised the
main bulk of the provisions, but there were, besides, the luxuries of
tea, coffee, and sugar, in addition to large quantities of hard tack,
dried fruits and raisins, oatmeal, and cans of condensed milk. Pots and
pails, knives, forks, and spoons, and the necessary cooking utensils
were collected in other places. Our men were already engaged for the
trip, and were now busily moving about, seeing that everything was in
order, the saddle girths, hobbles, and ropes in good condition, the axes
sharp, and the rifles bright and clean.

At length the sixth of July came, but proved showery and wet like many
preceding days. Nevertheless, our men started in the morning for the
first camp, which was to be at Heely’s Creek, about six miles from
Banff. Our prospective route to Mount Assiniboine was, first, over the
Simpson Pass to the Simpson River, and thence, by some rather uncertain
passes, eastward, toward the region of the mountain.

Toward the middle of the afternoon we started on foot for Heely’s Creek,
where our men were to meet us and have the camp prepared. Passing
northward up the valley, we followed the road by the famous Cave and
Basin, where the hot sulphur water bubbles up among the limestone
formations which they have deposited round their borders. The Cave
appears to be the cone or crater of some extinct geyser, and now a
passage-way has been cut under one wall, so that bathers may enjoy hot
baths in this cavern. A single opening in the roof admits the light.

A short time after leaving these interesting places, we had to branch
off from the road, and plunge into a burnt forest, where there was
supposed to be a trail. The trail soon faded away into obscurity among
the maze of logs, and, worse still, it now came on to rain gently but
constantly. After an hour or more of hard work we came to Heely’s Creek.

                         [Illustration: PEYTO.]

The camp was on the farther side of the creek, and, after shouting
several times, Peyto, our chief packer, came dashing down on horseback,
and conveyed us, one at a time, across the deep, swift stream. Peyto
made an ideal picture of the wild west, mounted as he was on an Indian
steed, with Mexican stirrups. A great sombrero hat pushed to one side, a
buckskin shirt ornate with Indian fringes on sleeves and seams, and
cartridge belt holding a hunting knife and a six-shooter, recalled the
romantic days of old when this was the costume throughout the entire

Our encampment consisted of three tents, prettily grouped among some
large spruce trees. A log fire was burning before each tent, and, on our
arrival, the cooks began to prepare our supper. This was my first night
in a tent for a year, and the conditions were unfavorable for comfort,
as we were all soaked through by our long tramp in the bush, and,
moreover, it was still raining. Nevertheless, we were all contented and
happy, our clothes soon dried before the camp fires, and after supper we
sang a few popular songs, then rolled up in warm blankets on beds of
balsam boughs, and slept peacefully till morning.

I was awakened at dawn by the cry of “Breakfast is ready,” and prepared
forthwith to do it justice. The day appeared cloudy but not very
threatening. In an hour the packers began their work, and it was
wonderful to observe the system and rapidity of their movements. The
horses, of which we had seven as pack-animals and two for the saddle,
were caught and led to the camp, where they were tied to trees near by.
All the provisions, tents, cook boxes, bags, and camp paraphernalia were
then made ready for packing. There are three prime requisites in skilful
packing. They are: the proper adjustment of the blanket and saddle so
that it will neither chafe the back of the horse nor slip while on the
march; the exact balancing of the two packs; and the knowledge of the
“diamond hitch.” The wonderful combination of turns and loops which go
to make up the diamond hitch has always been surrounded with a certain
secrecy, and jealously guarded by those initiated into the mysteries of
its formation. It was formerly so essential a part of the education of a
Westerner that as much as one hundred dollars have been paid for the
privilege of learning it. Without going into details, it may be
described as a certain manner of placing the ropes round the packs,
which, once learned, is exceedingly simple to tie on or take off, and it
will hold the pack in place under the most trying circumstances. The
name is derived from a diamond-shaped figure formed by the ropes between
the packs.

                 [Illustration: PACKING THE BUCKSKIN.]

By eight o’clock our procession of ten horses was on the march, and,
after passing through a meadow where every blade of grass was hung with
pendent drops of mingled rain and dew, now sparkling bright in the
morning sun, we came to the trail. Our winding cavalcade followed near
the creek and gradually rose above its roaring waters, which dashed
madly over many a cascade and waterfall in its rocky course. Our pathway
rose constantly and led us through rich forests.

Peyto led the procession mounted on an Indian horse called Chiniquy, not
a very noble-looking beast, but a veteran on the trail, and, by reason
of his long legs, a most trustworthy animal in crossing deep rivers.
Then followed the pack-horses with the men interspersed to take care of
them, and the rear was brought up by our second packer, likewise on
horseback. The greater part of the time, the gentlemen of the expedition
kept in the rear.

                        [Illustration: CALYPSO.]

The flowers were in all the glory of their spring-time luxuriance, and
we discovered new varieties in every meadow, swamp, and grove. Beside
the several varieties of anemones, the yellow columbines, violets, and
countless other herbaceous plants, we found, during the march of this
day, six kinds of orchids. Among them was the small and beautiful,
purple Calypso, which we found in bogs and damp woods, rearing its showy
blossom a few inches above the ground. At the base is a single
heart-shaped leaf. We were very much pleased to find this elegant and
rare orchid growing so abundantly here. There is a certain regal
nobility and elegance pertaining to the whole family of orchids, which
elevates them above all plants, and places them nearest to animate
creation. Whether we find them in high northern latitudes, in cold bogs,
or in dark forests, retreating far from the haunts of men, avoiding even
their own kind, solitary and unseen; or perhaps crowded on the branches
of trees in a tropical forest, guarded from man by venomous serpents,
the stealthy jaguar, stinging insects and a fever-laden air; they
command the greatest interest of the botanist and the highest prices of
the connoisseur.

We camped at about two o’clock, not far from the summit of the Simpson
Pass, in a valley guarded on both sides by continuous mountains of great

We were surprised the next day, on reaching the summit, to find the pass
covered with snow, heaped in great drifts, ten or twenty feet deep,
among the trees. The Simpson Pass is only 6884 feet above tide, and,
consequently, is below the tree line. Near the summit were two small
ponds still frozen over. A warm sun and a genial south wind were,
however, rapidly dissolving the snow and reducing it to slush, while
clear streams of water were running in the meadows everywhere,
regardless of regular channels.

As we began our descent on the south side, a great change came over the
scene. Two hundred feet of descent brought us from this snowy landscape
to warm mountain slopes, where the grass was almost concealed by reason
of myriads of yellow lilies in full blossom, mingled with white
anemones. These banks of flowers, resembling the artificial creations of
a hot-house, were sometimes surrounded on all sides by lingering patches
of snow. Such constant and sudden change is characteristic of mountain
climates, where a few warm days suffice to melt the snow and coax forth
the flowers with surprising rapidity.

The trail now descended rapidly, and led us through forests much denser
and more luxuriant than those on the other side of the pass. Everything
betokened a moister climate, and the character of the vegetation had
changed so much that many new kinds of plants appeared, while those with
which we were familiar grew ranker and larger. We had crossed the
continental divide, from Alberta into British Columbia.

Early in the afternoon we came to our camping place on the banks of the
Simpson River, where a great number of teepee poles proved this to be a
favorite resort among the Indians. On all sides, the mountains were
heavily forested to a great height, and, far above, gray limestone
cliffs rose in bare precipices nearly free of snow.

On July the ninth, we made the longest and most arduous march so far
taken. Our route, at first, lay down the Simpson River for several
miles. While the horses and men followed the river bed almost
constantly, making frequent crossings to avail themselves of better
walking and short cuts, the rest of us necessarily remained on one bank,
and were compelled to make rapid progress to keep up with our heavily
laden horses.

After we had proceeded down the winding banks of the Simpson River for
about two hours, our pass, a mere notch in the mountains, was descried
by Mr. B., who had visited this region two years before in company with
Wilson. The pass lay to the east, and it was necessary for every one to
cross the river, which was here a very swift stream nearly a yard in
depth. We all got across in safety, but had not advanced into the forest
on the farther side more than fifty yards, when one of my pack-horses
fell, by reason of the rough ground, and broke a leg. It required but a
few minutes to unpack the poor beast and end his career with a rifle
bullet. The packs were then placed on old Chiniquy, the faithful beast
hitherto used by Peyto as a saddle-horse.

In less than fifteen minutes we were ready to proceed again. The trail
now led us up very steep ascents on a forest-clad mountain slope for
several hours. After this we entered a gap in the mountains and followed
a stream for many miles, and at length pitched our camp late in the
afternoon, after having been on the march for nine hours.

Every one was rejoiced at the prospect of a rest and something to eat.
Even the horses, so soon as their packs and saddles were removed, showed
their pleasure by rolling on the ground before hastening off to a meadow
near by. Axes were busy cutting tent poles and firewood. Soon the three
tents were placed in position, and fires were burning brightly before
each, while the cooks prepared dinner.

This place was most delightful. The immediate ground was quite level and
grassy. Near by was a clear deep stream with a gentle, nearly
imperceptible current, which afforded a fine place for a cold plunge.
The mountains hemmed in a valley of moderate width and presented a
continuous barrier on either side for many miles. The general character
of the scenery was like that of the Sierra Nevadas, with high cliffs
partly adorned with trees and shrubs, down which countless waterfalls
fell from heights so great, that they resembled threads of silver,
waving from side to side in the changing currents of air. On the
mountain side south of our camp, there stood a remarkable castle or
fortress of rock, where nature had apparently indulged her fancy in
copying the works of men. So perfect was the representation, that no aid
from the imagination was required to see ramparts, embrasures, and
turreted fortifications of a castle, in the remarkable pinnacles and
clefts cut out by nature from the horizontal strata. The next morning,
every one was more or less inspired with a pleasing anticipation and
excitement, as, according to reports, we had not far to go before we
should get our first view of Mount Assiniboine. At the end of our valley
was a pass, from the summit of which Mount Assiniboine could be seen.
The trail led us through a forest with but little underbrush, and
presently a beautiful lake burst on our view. Two of us, being somewhat
in advance of the pack train, caught a dozen fine trout here in a very
short time, and were only interrupted by the arrival of the horses and
men. The fish were so numerous that they could be seen everywhere on the
bottom, and at the appearance of our artificial flies on the water,
several fish would rise at once.

In half an hour, the summit of our pass appeared over the tree tops, and
rose, apparently, 500 feet higher. The state of the pass was, however
such as to cool our enthusiasm decidedly. It was completely covered with
snow to a great depth, which made it seem probable that we would not
succeed in getting the horses over. As this could not be proved from our
position, we pushed on, determined to overcome all difficulties. The
snow began to appear, at first, in small patches in shady places among
the forest trees, then in large drifts and finally, everywhere except on
the most exposed slopes. The trail had been lost for some time, buried
deep in the snow. Our progress was not difficult, however, as the forest
had assumed the thin and open nature characteristic of high altitudes,
and it was possible to proceed in any direction. Our horses struggled on
bravely, and by dint of placing all the men in front and breaking down a
pathway, we managed to effect passages over long stretches where the
snow was five or six feet deep. After the tree line had been reached, we
were more fortunate, as a long narrow stretch, free of snow led quite to
the top of the pass, through the otherwise unbroken snow fields. A great
cornice of snow appeared on our right near the top of the pass and
showed a depth of more than forty feet.

                 [Illustration: APPROACHING THE PASS.]

Near the top of the pass the travelling was much easier, and in a few
minutes we were looking over the summit across a wide valley to a range
of rough mountains hung with glaciers. Beyond them, and rising far
above, could be seen the sharp crest of Mount Assiniboine, faintly
outlined against the sky in a smoky atmosphere. The intervening wide
valley revealed a great expanse of burnt forest. The dreary waste of
burnt timber was only relieved by two lakes, several miles distant,
resting in a notch among the mountains. The nearer was about a mile in
length, while slightly beyond, and at a higher elevation, was the
second, a mere pool of dark blue water, resting against the moraine of a

In the valley, a meadow near a large stream seemed to offer the best
chances for a camp. In an hour we reached this spot after a hard
descent. Some of our horses displayed great sagacity in selecting the
safest and easiest passages between and around the logs, and gave
evidence of their previous experience in this kind of work.

In order to rest the men and horses, after the arduous marches of the
past forty-eight hours, we decided to remain an entire day at this
place. We were also anxious to explore the two lakes, as they seemed to
offer fair promise of beautiful scenery and interesting geological
formation. Our camp was surrounded on all sides by burnt forests and
charred logs, and so offered but little of the picturesque. A partial
compensation was enjoyed, however, by reason of the great variety and
number of song birds which were now nesting in a small swamp near by.
This bog was clothed in a rich covering of grass, and here our horses
revelled in the abundance of feed, while some small bushes scattered
here and there afforded shelter and homes for several species of birds.
All day long and even far into the night we were entertained by their
melodies. The most persistent singer of all was the white-crested
sparrow, whose sweet little air of six notes was repeated every half
minute throughout the entire day, beginning with the first traces of
dawn. Perhaps our attention was more attracted to the sounds about us
because there was so little to interest the eye in this place. Smoke
from distant forest fires obscured whatever there was in the way of
mountain scenery, while the waste of burnt timber was most unattractive.
A warm, soft wind blew constantly up the valley and made dull moanings
and weird sounds among the dead trees, where strips of dried bark or
splinters of wood vibrated in the breeze. The rushing stream, fifty
yards from our camp, gave out a constant roar, now louder, now softer,
according as the wind changed direction and carried the sound towards or
away from us. The thunders of occasional avalanches, the loud reports of
stones falling on the mountain sides, were mingled with the varied
sounds of the wind, the rustling of the grass, the moaning trees, and
the songs of birds. These were all pure nature sounds, most enjoyable
and elevating. Though but partially appreciated at the time, such
experiences linger in the memory and help make up the complex
associations of pleasures whereby one is led to return again and again
to the mountains, the forests, and the wilderness.

Our time, which was set aside for this region, now being consumed, we
started on July the twelfth for the valley at the base of Mount
Assiniboine, where it was probable that we should camp for a period of
two weeks or more. Our route lay toward the end of the valley and thence
around a projecting spur of the mountain which cut off our view. In
about two hours our horses were struggling up the last steep slope near
the summit of the divide. I had delayed for a photograph of a small
lake, so the horses and men were ahead. When at length I gained the top
I found that a misplaced pack had caused delay, and so I overtook the
entire party on the borders of a most beautiful sheet of water. The
transformation was nearly instantaneous. The burnt timber was completely
shut out from view by the low ridge we had just passed over, and we
entered once more a region of green forests. The lake was long and
narrow; on the farther side, hemmed in by rock slides and cliffs of the
mountains, but on the west side a trail led along the winding shore
among larch and spruce trees. In many shady nooks along the banks of the
lake were snow-drifts, under the trees or behind protecting rocks. So
long had winter lingered this season that part of the lake was still
covered with ice. Large fragments of ice were drifting down the lake and
breaking among the ripples. Near the shore in some places, the water was
filled with thousands of narrow, needle-like pieces of ice several
inches long and perhaps thick as a match, which, by their rubbing
together in the moving water, made a gentle subdued murmur like the
rustling of a silken gown. When ice is exposed to a bright sun for
several days, it shows its internal structure by separating into
vertical columns, with a grain like that of wood. The ice needles which
we saw had been formed during the last stages of this wonderful process.

                       [Illustration: North Lake]

The Indians had made a most excellent trail round the lake, as
frequently happens in an open country. Wherever dense brush or much
fallen timber occur, the trail usually disappears altogether, only to be
discovered again where there is less need for it. It is said that a
trail, once made, will be preserved by the various game animals of the
country. In fact, there were quite recent tracks of a mountain goat in
the path we followed around the lake.

The trail closely followed the water’s edge and led us to the extreme
end of the lake and thence eastward, where, having left this beautiful
sheet of water, we passed through a grove for a very short space and
came at once to another smaller, and possibly still more beautiful,
sheet of water. Simultaneously the magnificent and long-expected vision
of Mount Assiniboine appeared. It was a most majestic spire or wedge of
rock rising out of great snow fields, and resembling in a striking
manner the Matterhorn of Switzerland.

It would be impossible to describe our feelings at this sight, which at
length, after several days of severe marching, now suddenly burst upon
our view. The shouts of our men, together with the excitement and
pleasure depicted in every face, were sufficient evidence of our
impressions. After a short pause, while we endeavored to estimate the
height and distance and gain some true idea of the mountain, all moved
on rapidly through alternating groves and meadows to our camping place.
This was at length selected about a half mile from the place where we
first saw Mount Assiniboine. Here was a lake nearly a mile long, which
reached up nearly to the base of the mountain, from which it was
separated by a glacier of considerable size. Our camp was on a terrace
above the lake, near the edge of a forest. A small stream ran close to
our tent, from which we could obtain water for drinking and cooking
purposes. The lake was in the bottom of a wide valley, which extended
northwards from our camp for several miles, and then opened into another
valley running east and west. The whole place might be described as an
open plain among mountains of gentle slope and moderate altitudes,
grouped about Assiniboine and its immediate spurs.

Our camp was 7000 feet above sea-level, and this was the mean height of
the valley in all this vicinity. On mountain slopes this would be about
the upper limit of tree growth, but here, owing to the fact that the
whole region was elevated, the mean temperature was slightly increased,
and we found trees growing as high as 7400 or 7500 feet above sea-level.
Nevertheless, the general character of the vegetation was sub-alpine.
Many larches were mingled with the balsam and spruce trees in the
groves, and extensive areas were destitute of trees altogether. These
moors were clothed with a variety of bushy plants, mostly dwarfed by the
rigor of the climate, while here and there a small balsam tree could be
seen, stunted and deformed by its long contest for life, and bearing
many dead branches among those still alive. These bleached and lifeless
limbs, with their thick, twisted branches resisting the axe, or even the
approach of a wood-cutter, resembled those weird and awful illustrations
of Doré, where evil spirits in the infernal regions are represented
transformed to trees.

          [Illustration: Summit Lake, near Mount Assiniboine.]

Curiously enough, the trees in the groves were more or less huddled
together, as though for mutual protection. The outlying skirmishers of
balsam or spruce were undersized, and often grew in natural hedges, so
regular that not one single branchlet projected beyond the smooth
surface, as if sensitive of the wind and cold. The vegetable world does
not naturally excite our sympathy, but this exhibition of, as it were, a
united resistance against the elements was almost pitiable.

Snow banks surrounded our camp and appeared everywhere in the valley.
The lake was not entirely free of ice, and large pieces of snow and ice,
dislodged from the shores, were drifting rapidly down the lake, driven
on by a strong wind and large waves. The whole picture resembled a
miniature Arctic sea, where the curiously formed pieces of ice, often
T-shaped and arched over the water, recalled the characteristic forms of

It was at first impossible to explain where this never-failing supply of
ice came from. What was our surprise, on making an exploration of the
lake, to find that it had no outlet and was rapidly rising! The snow
banks and masses of ice near the glacier were being gradually lifted up
and broken off by the rising water, and so floated down the lake.

We remained at Camp Assiniboine for two weeks. During this time we
ascended many of the lesser peaks in the vicinity, and made excursions
into the neighboring valleys on all sides. The smoke only lasted one day
after our arrival, but, unfortunately, the weather during the first week
was very uncertain and fickle. A succession of storms, very brief but
often severe, swept over the mountains and treated us to a grand
exhibition of cloud and storm effects on Mount Assiniboine. Sometimes
the summit would be clear, and sharply outlined against the blue sky,
but suddenly a mass of black clouds would advance from the west and
envelope the peak in a dark covering. Long streamers of falling snow or
rain would then approach, and in a few moments we would feel the effects
at our camp. During these mountain storms the wind blows in furious
gusts, the air is filled with snow or sometimes hailstones, while
thunder and lightning continue for the space of about ten minutes. The
clouds and storm rapidly pass over eastward, and the wind falls, while
the sun warms the air, and in a few minutes removes every trace of hail
or snow. Thus we were often treated to winter and summer weather, with
all the gradations between, several times over in the space of an hour.

It seemed impossible to ascend Mount Assiniboine, guarded as it was by
vertical cliffs and hanging glaciers. Only one route appeared on this
side of the mountain, and this lay up the steep snow-covered slope of a
glacier, guarded at the top by a long _schrund_ and often swept by rocks
from a moraine above. It might be possible, having gained the top of
this, to traverse the great _névé_ surrounding the rock peak of Mount
Assiniboine. From the snow fields the bare rock cliffs rise about 3,000
feet. The angle of slope on either side is a little more than fifty-one
degrees, a slope which is often called perpendicular, and, moreover, as
the strata are horizontal, there are several vertical walls of rock,
which sweep around the entire north and west faces, and apparently make
impassable barriers.

             [Illustration: NORTH LAKE—LOOKING NORTHWEST.]


                               CHAPTER X.

  _Evidence of Game—Discovery of a Mountain Goat—A Long Hunt—A Critical
  Moment—A Terrible Fall—An Unpleasant Experience—Habitat of the
  Mountain Goat—A Change of Weather—A Magnificent Panorama—Set out to
  Explore the Mountain—Intense Heat of a Forest Fire—Struggling with
  Burnt Timber—A Mountain Bivouac—Hope and Despair—Success at Last—Short
  Rations—Topography of Mount Assiniboine—The Vermilion River—A
  Wonderful Canyon—Fording the Bow River._

During our excursions we met with but little game, though it was very
evidently a region where wild animals were abundant. The ground in many
places was torn up by bears, where they had dug out the gophers and
marmots. Large pieces of turf, often a foot or eighteen inches square,
together with great stones piled up and thrown about in confusion around
these excavations, gave evidence of the strength of these powerful

Higher up on the mountains we saw numerous tracks of the mountain goat,
and tufts of wool caught among the bushes as they had brushed by them.

I was strolling through the upper part of the valley late one afternoon,
when my eye fell suddenly on a mountain goat walking along the cliffs
about a quarter of a mile distant. I had no rifle at the time and so
returned to camp for one, meanwhile keeping well covered by trees and
rocks. In a quarter of an hour I was back again and saw the goat
disappear behind a ledge of rock about a half mile distant. The mountain
goat always runs up in case of danger, so that it is essential to get
above them in order to hunt successfully. I started forthwith to climb
to a ledge about 200 feet above the one on which the goat appeared. This
involved an ascent of some 600 feet, as the strata had a gentle dip
southward toward Mount Assiniboine, so that it was necessary to take the
ledge at a higher point and follow the downward slope. I was well
covered by intervening cliffs, and the wind was favorable. It seemed
almost a certainty that I should get a shot by following this ledge for
about a mile. Accordingly I moved rapidly at first, and afterwards more
cautiously, expecting to see the goat at any moment. At length I came to
a narrow gorge, partially filled with snow, where there were fresh
tracks leading both up and down. On a further study of the problem, I
saw fresh tracks in the snow of the valley bottom, and knowing that it
would be nearly useless to go up for the goat, I took the alternative
chance of finding the animal below. After a hunt of two hours I returned
to camp completely baffled. Arrived there, I caught sight of the goat
standing unconcernedly on a still higher ledge.

It was now late in the day, but after a good camp dinner I set off
again, determined to have that goat if it was necessary to stalk him all
night. The animal was resting on a ledge near the top of a precipice
fully 250 feet in height. I studied his position for at least a quarter
of an hour, carefully noting the snow patches on the ledge above, so
that it would be easy to recognize them on arriving there. Having made
sure that I could recognize the exact spot below which the goat was
located, I started to climb, and by a rough estimate calculated that I
should have to ascend at least 1000 feet. After a few hundred yards, I
was completely hidden from the goat in a shallow gully. Urged on by the
excitement of the hunt, I reached the ledge in twenty minutes and turned
southward. I now had to scramble over and among some enormous blocks of
stone which had fallen from the mountain side and were strewn about in
wild disorder. Some were twenty feet high, and between them were patches
of snow which often gave way very suddenly and plunged me into deep
holes formed by the snow melting back from the rock surfaces. Very soon
I came to a small pool of water and a trickling stream, already freezing
in the chill night air.

It was after nine o’clock, though there was still a bright twilight in
the northwest, somewhat shaded, however, by the dark cliffs above. I
proceeded very slowly, so as to cool down somewhat and become a little
steadier after the rapid ascent. In about ten minutes I recognized the
patch of snow under which the goat was located, about one hundred yards
ahead. I went to the edge of the precipice cautiously, with rifle ready,
and examined the ledges below. The up-draught, caused by the sun during
the daytime, just now changed to the downward flow of the night air,
chilled by radiation on the mountain side. This I thought would arouse
the goat, but just at that moment my foot slipped and I dislodged a few
pieces of loose shingle, which went rattling down the cliffs. These
stones made the goat apprehensive of danger, in all probability, for I
had no sooner recovered my balance than I caught sight of the white head
and shoulders of the animal about twenty-five yards below. The animal
stood motionless and stared at me in a surprised but impudent manner. I
took aim, but could not keep the sight on him long enough to make sure
of a shot, as my rapid climb had made my nerves a trifle unsteady.
Fortunately, the goat showed not the slightest disposition to move and
in a few seconds I got a good aim and fired. As soon as the smoke
cleared, I saw a dash of white disappearing, and then heard a dull thud
far below. A few seconds later I saw the animal rolling over and over
down the mountain side, where it finally stopped on a slide of loose
stones. I had to make a long detour in order to get down to the animal,
where I arrived in about half an hour, and, remarkably enough, both
horns were uninjured, though the goat had fallen 125 feet before
striking. This good luck resulted from a small snow patch at the base of
the cliff, which had broken the force of the fall, and here there was a
perfect impression of the animal’s body, eighteen inches deep, in the
hard snow, while the next place where he had struck was about fifteen
feet below.

It was about 10:30 o’clock when I started for camp, and so dark, at this
late hour, that it was just possible to distinguish the obscure forms of
rocks and trees on the mountain side. There was still another ledge to
be passed before I could get down to the valley, where the only
recognizable landmarks were occasional snow patches, and a single bright
gleam in the darkness—our camp fire. I traversed northwards in
descending, so as to pass beyond the vertical ledge, and at length,
thinking that I had gone far enough, tried to descend. The place was
steep, but as there were a few bushes and trees a safe descent seemed
practicable. So I unslung my rifle, and, after resting it securely in a
depression, I lowered myself till my feet rested on a projection of rock
below. At the next move there was great difficulty in finding a rest for
the rifle. At length I found a fair place, and lowered myself again. One
more step and I should reach the bottom. Fortunately there was a stout
balsam tree at the top of the ledge, with great twisted roots above the
rocks, which would afford excellent hand-holds. Grasping them, after
placing the rifle in the lowest place, I lowered myself again, but to my
surprise I could not touch the bottom, and, looking down, found that I
was hanging over a ledge twenty feet high with rough stones below. Just
then the rifle began to slip down, as in my movements I had disturbed
some bushes supporting it. With one hand firmly grasping a stout root,
and the toe of my boot resting against the cliff, I took the rifle in my
other hand, and after a most tiresome struggle, succeeded at length in
placing it secure for the moment. It was now a hand-over-hand contest to
get up. In going down everything had seemed most firm and secure, but
now it was impossible to rely on anything, as the bushes broke away in
my hand or were pulled out by the roots, and the rocks all appeared
loose or too smooth to grasp. Necessity, however, knows no law, and
after a most desperate effort I regained the top of the cliff. Not
relishing any more experiences of this nature, I groped my way along for
some distance and finally found an easy descent. On reaching the valley,
the snow patches here and there afforded safe routes, illumined, as they
were, by the starlight. I reached camp after eleven o’clock tired but

My men started at five o’clock in the morning with ropes and a pole to
bring down the game. It was a fine young male, and we found the meat a
most pleasing addition to our ordinary fare. Goat meat has always had a
bad reputation among campers and explorers, by reason of its rank
flavor. This, however, probably depends on the age and sex of the
animal, or the season of year. In all those that I have tried there was
merely a faintly sweet flavor, which, however, is not at all apparent if
the meat is broiled or roasted, and it is then equal to very fair beef
or mutton.

The mountain goat inhabits the cliffs and snowy peaks of the Rockies,
from Alaska to Montana and Idaho, and thence southward in certain
isolated localities. Both sexes are furnished with sharp black horns
curving gracefully backwards. The muzzle and hoofs are jet black, but
the wool is snow-white, long, and soft, making a beautiful rug if the
animal is killed in winter. Then the hair becomes very long, and the
soft thick wool underneath is so dense as to prevent the fingers passing

Though these strange animals resemble true goats to a remarkable degree,
and the old males sometimes have beards in winter, they are really a
species of antelope, closely related to the chamois of Switzerland. They
do not resemble those animals in wariness and intelligence, but are
rather stupid and slow in getting out of danger. They are, however,
pugnacious, and, when brought to bay, will often charge on the hunter
and work fearful damage with their sharp horns. The legs are exceedingly
stout and so thickly covered with long hair as to give the animal a
clumsy appearance. Their trails are almost always to be found traversing
the mountain sides, far above the tree line, at the bases of cliffs, and
often passing over the lowest depression into the next valley. These
goat tracks are so well marked that they often help the mountaineer, and
sometimes lead him over places where without their guidance it would be
impossible to go. The gait of the animal when running is a sort of
gallop, which appears rather slow, but when one considers the nature of
the ground they traverse, it is very rapid. The most inaccessible
cliffs, frozen snow fields, or crevassed glaciers offer no barriers to
these surefooted animals. I have seen a herd of several goats bounding
along on the face of the cliffs, where it did not appear from below that
there could be any possible foothold.

              [Illustration: Head of Rocky Mountain Goat.
                         Shot July 18th, 1895.]

When a herd of goats come to a gorge or passage of any kind where loose
stones are liable to be dislodged on those below, these skilful
mountaineers adopt the same plan of progress practised by human
climbers. While the herd remains below, under the protection of the
cliffs, one goat climbs the gully, and upon arriving at the top another
follows, and thus, one by one, all escape danger.

             [Illustration: ‘HAUNT OF THE MOUNTAIN GOAT.’]

The mountain goat is difficult to hunt by reason of the amount of
climbing necessary to get near them, or above them. They are far less
wary than the chamois of Switzerland, or the Rocky Mountain sheep.
Nevertheless, they seem to be endowed with a wonderful vitality, and are
very hard to kill. A goat not fatally wounded will often jump from a
cliff on which he is standing, and survive a considerable fall. A friend
of mine shot a goat near Lake Louise, which, after the first bullet,
rolled down a cliff more than thirty feet high and landed on its feet at
the bottom, where it proceeded to walk off as though nothing unusual had
happened. The animal I shot near Mount Assiniboine fell 125 feet, and
then rolled 200 feet farther, and was still alive when I reached him
half an hour later.

These animals are by far the most numerous of the big game in the
Canadian Rockies, and are said to be increasing in numbers. Their habits
of frequenting high altitudes and inaccessible parts of mountains will
tend to preserve them for many years from the relentless hunter.

After a week of fickle weather with five inches of new snow on July
15th, there was a decided change for the better, and the warm, bright
days following one another more regularly gave us the first taste of
real summer that we had. The massed drifts of snow diminished from day
to day and the ice disappeared from the lakes. Nature, however, tempered
her delights by ushering in vast numbers of mosquitoes and bull-dog
flies to plague us. I was engaged at this time in some surveying work,
in order to determine the height of Mount Assiniboine, and had to
exercise the utmost patience in sighting the instruments, surrounded by
hundreds of voracious foes, and often had to allow my face and hands to
remain exposed to their stings for several minutes.

We obtained the most imposing view of Mount Assiniboine from the summit
of a mountain about five miles east of our camp. Standing at an altitude
of 8800 feet, there were eighteen lakes, large and small, to be seen in
the various valleys, which, together with the tumultuous ranges of the
Rocky Mountains on every side, some of them fifty or sixty miles
distant, formed a magnificent panorama. From this point, which was
nearly due north of Mount Assiniboine, the mountain shows an outline
altogether different from that seen at our camp. Here it forms a
magnificent termination of a stupendous wall or ridge of rock, about
11,000 feet high, which runs eastward for several miles, and then
curving around to the north, rises into another lofty peak nearly
rivalling Mount Assiniboine in height. A very large glacier sweeps down
from the _névé_ on the north side of this lesser peak, and descends in a
crevassed slope to the valley bottom.

           [Illustration: MOUNT ASSINIBOINE FROM NORTHWEST.]

The valley just east of us was quite filled by three lakes, the
uppermost deep blue, the next greenish, and a smaller one, farther
north, of a yellowish color.

Our last exploit at Mount Assiniboine was to walk completely around the
mountain. We had long desired to learn something of the east and south
sides of this interesting peak, and to effect this Mr. B., Peyto, and I
started on July 26th, determined to see as much as possible in a three
days’ trip. Our provisions consisted of bacon, hard tack, tea, sugar,
and raisins. Besides this we carried one blanket apiece, a small hand
axe, and a camera. As our success would depend in great measure on the
rapidity of our movements, we did not burden ourselves with ice-axes or
firearms except a six-shooter. After bidding farewell to Mr. P. and the
other men in camp, and telling them to expect us back in three days, we
left our camp at eight o’clock in the morning. We walked for three miles
through the open valleys to the north and east, and in about two hours
stood at the top of the pass, some 8000 feet above sea-level. From here
we made a rapid descent for about 2000 feet, to the largest lake of this
unexplored valley, which probably supplies one of the tributaries to the
Spray River. The change in the character of the vegetation was
remarkable. The trees grew to an immense size and reminded me strongly
of a Selkirk forest. We had a most difficult scramble here in the
pathless forest and up the opposite side of the valley. The heat was
oppressive, and we were glad to gain the level of another more elevated
valley where a cooler atmosphere greeted us. We held our way eastward
for several miles through a fine upland meadow, where the walking was
easy and the surroundings delightful. By noon we reached a small,
shallow lake near the highest part of the divide, considerably below
tree line. Here we decided to rest and have lunch. Mr. B. had explored
this region with one of his men a few days previously, and from him we
learned that we should have to struggle with burnt timber in a few
moments. The onward rush of the devastating fire had been stopped near
the pass, where the trees were small and scattered. After a short
descent we entered the burnt timber. I have never before seen a region
so absolutely devastated by fire as this. The fire must have burnt with
an unusually fierce heat, for it had consumed the smaller trees
entirely, or warped them over till they had formed half circles, with
their tops touching the ground. The outcrops of sandstone and quartz
rocks had been splintered into sharp-edged, gritty stones, covering the
ground everywhere like so many knives. The course of the valley now
turned rapidly to the south, so that we rounded a corner of the great
mass of mountains culminating in Mount Assiniboine. The mountain itself
had been for a long time shut out from view by an intervening lofty
ridge of glacier-clad peaks, which were, in reality, merely outlying

The valley in which we were now walking had an unusual formation, for
after a short distance we approached a great step, or drop, whereby the
valley bottom made a descent of 400 or 500 feet at an exceedingly steep
pitch. Here it was difficult to descend even in the easiest places.
Arrived at the bottom of the descent it was not very long before another
appeared, far deeper than the first. The mountains on either side,
especially a most striking and prominent peak on the east side of the
valley, which had hitherto appeared of majestic height, seemed to rise
to immeasurable altitudes as we plunged deeper and deeper in rapid

The burnt timber continued without interruption. Our passage became mere
log walking, as the extra exertion of jumping over the trees was worse
than following a crooked course on top of the prostrate trunks. This
laborious and exceedingly tiresome work continued for three hours, and
at length the charred trunks, uprooted or burnt off near the ground, and
crossed in every direction, were piled so high that we were often ten or
twelve feet above the ground, and had to work out our puzzling passage
with considerable forethought. At five o’clock our labors ended. We made
a camp near a large stream which appeared to take its source near Mount
Assiniboine. The only good thing about this camp was the abundance of
firewood, which was well seasoned, required but little chopping, and was
already half converted into charcoal. Under the shelter of an
overhanging limestone ledge we made three lean-tos by supporting our
blankets on upright stakes. Black as coal-heavers from our long walk in
the burnt timber, seeking a refuge in the rocky ledges of the mountains,
and clad in uncouth garments torn and discolored, we must have resembled
the aboriginal savages of this wild region. Some thick masses of
sphagnum moss, long since dried up, gave us a soft covering, to place on
the rough, rocky ground. Our supper consisted of bacon, hard tack, and
tea. Large flat stones laid on a gentle charcoal fire served to broil
our bacon most excellently, though the heat soon cracked the stones in

At eight o’clock we retired to the protection of our shelter. Overhead
the starless sky was cloudy and threatened rain. The aneroid, which was
falling, indicated that our altitude was only 4,700 feet above the sea.
We arose early in the morning; our breakfast was over and everybody
ready to proceed at seven o’clock. We were now on the Pacific slope,
and, according to our calculations, on one of the tributaries to the
north fork of the Cross River, which, in turn, is a tributary to the

We had a plan to explore up the valley from which our stream issued, but
beyond that, all was indefinite. It was possible that this valley led
around Mount Assiniboine so that we could reach camp in two days. We
were, however, certain of nothing as to the geography of the region
which we were now entering.

The clouds covered the entire sky and obscured the highest mountain
peaks. Worse still, they steadily descended lower and lower, a sign of
bad weather. We had, however, but this day in which to see the south
side of Mount Assiniboine, and consequently were resolved to do our
best, though the chances were much against us. For three hours we
followed the stream through the burnt timber, then the country became
more open and our progress, accordingly, more rapid. A little after ten
o’clock we sat down by the bank of the stream to rest for a few moments,
and eat a lunch of hard tack and cold bacon. Such fare may seem far from
appetizing to those of sedentary habits, but our tramp of three hours
over the fallen trees was equivalent to fully five or six hours walking
on a good country road, and what with the fresh mountain air and a light
breakfast early in the morning, our simple lunch was most acceptable.

A most pleasing and encouraging change of weather now took place. A
sudden gleam of sunlight, partially paled by a thin cloud, called our
attention upward, when to our great relief several areas of blue sky
appeared, the clouds were rising and breaking up, and there was every
prospect of a change for the better.

Once more assuming our various packs, we pushed on with renewed energy.
On the left or south was a long lofty ridge of nearly uniform height. On
the right was a stupendous mountain wall of great height, the top of
which was concealed by the clouds. This impassable barrier seemed to
curve around at the head of the valley, and, turning to the south, join
the ridge on the opposite side. This then was a “blind” valley without
an outlet. There were two courses open to us. The first was to wait a
few hours, hoping to see Mount Assiniboine and return to camp the way we
came. The second was to force a passage, if possible, over the mountain
ridge to the south and so descend into the North Fork valley, which we
were certain lay on the other side. The latter plan was much preferable,
as we would have a better chance to see Mount Assiniboine, and the
possibility of returning to camp by a new route.

After a short discussion, we selected a favorable slope and began to
ascend the mountain ridge. A vast assemblage of obstacles behind us in
the shape of two high passes, dense forests, and a horrid infinity of
fallen trees, crossed bewilderingly, made a picture in our minds,
constant and vivid as it was, that urged us forward. In striking
contrast to this picture, hope had built a pleasing air castle before
us. We were now climbing to its outworks, and should we succeed in
capturing the place, a new and pleasant route would lead us back to camp
and place us there—so bold is hope—perhaps by nightfall.

Thus with a repelling force pushing from behind and an attractive force
drawing us forward, we were resolved to overcome all but the

There was much of interest on the mountain slope, which was gentle, and
allowed us to pay some attention to our surroundings. On this slope the
scattered pine trees had escaped the fire and offered a pleasant
contrast to the burnt timber. We passed several red-colored ledges
containing rich deposits of iron ore, while crystals of calcite and
siderite were strewed everywhere, and often formed a brilliant surface
of sparkling, sharp-edged rhombs over the dull gray limestone. Among the
limestones and shales we found fossil shells and several species of

In an hour we had come apparently to the top of our ridge, though of
course we hardly dared hope it was the true summit. As, one by one, we
reached a commanding spot, a blank, silent gaze stole over the face of
each. To our dismay, a vertical wall of rock, without any opening
whatever, stood before us and rose a half thousand feet higher. Thus
were all our hopes dashed to the ground suddenly, and we turned
perforce, in imagination, to our weary return over the many miles of
dead and prostrate tree trunks that intervened between us and our camp.

The main object of our long journey was, however, at this time attained,
for the clouds lifted and revealed the south side of Mount Assiniboine,
a sight that probably no other white men have ever seen. I took my
camera and descended on a rocky ridge for some distance in order to get
a photograph. Returning to where my friends were resting, I felt the
first sensation of dizziness and weakness, resulting from unusual
physical exertion and a meagre diet. I joined the others in another
repast of raisins and hard tack, taken from our rapidly diminishing
store of provisions.

Some more propitious divinity must have been guiding our affairs at this
time, for while we were despondent at our defeat, and engaged in
discussing the most extravagant routes up an inaccessible cliff, our
eyes fell on a well defined goat trail leading along the mountain side
on our left. It offered a chance and we accepted it. Peyto set off ahead
of us while we were packing up our burdens, and soon appeared like a
small black spot on the steep mountain side. Having already passed
several places that appeared very dangerous, what was our surprise to
see him now begin to move slowly up a slope of snow that appeared nearly
vertical. We stood still from amazement, and argued that if he could go
up such a place as that, he could go anywhere, and that where he went we
could follow. We rushed after him, and found the goat trail nearly a
foot wide, and the dangerous places not so bad as they seemed. The snow
ascent was remarkably steep, but safe enough, and, after reaching the
top, the goat trail led us on, like a faithful guide pointing out a safe
route. We could only see a short distance ahead by reason of the great
ridges and gullies that we crossed. Below us was a steep slope, rough
with projecting crags, while, as we passed along, showers of loose
stones rolled down the mountain side and made an infernal clatter, ever
reminding us not to slip. At one o’clock we stood on the top of the
ridge 9000 feet above sea-level, having ascended 4300 feet from our last

The valley of the north fork of the Cross River lay far below, with
green timber once more in sight, inviting us to descend. After five
minutes delay, for another photograph, we started our descent, very
rapidly, at first, in order to get warm. We descended a steep slope of
loose debris, then through a long gully, rather rough, and rendered
dangerous by loose stones, till at length we reached the grassy slopes,
then bushes, finally trees and forests, with a warm summery atmosphere.
Here, beautiful asters and castilleias, and beds of the fragrant
Linneas, delicate, low herbs with pale, twin flowers, each pair pendent
on a single stem, gave a new appearance to the vegetation. In still
greater contrast to the dark coniferous forests of the mountain, there
were many white birch trees, and a few small maples, the first I have
ever seen in the Rockies. In a meadow by the river we feasted on wild
strawberries, which were now in their prime.

Near the river we discovered a trail, the first we had seen so far on
our journey around Assiniboine. After an hour of walking we came to a
number of horses, and soon saw on the other side of the river a camp of
another party of gentlemen, who were exploring this region, and had been
out from Banff twenty-four days. We forded the river, and found it a
little over our knees, but very swift.

A very pleasant half hour was spent at this place, enjoying their
hospitality, and then we pushed on. We were now going westward up the
valley, which held a straight course of about six miles, and then turned
around to the north. The trail being good, we walked very rapidly till
nightfall in a supreme effort to reach our camp that night. Having now
been on our feet almost continuously for the past fifteen hours, we had
become so fatigued that a very slight obstruction was sufficient to
cause a fall, and every few minutes some one of the party would go
headlong among the burnt timber. We had barely enough provisions for
another meal, however, and so we desired to get as near headquarters as
possible. At length, nightfall having rendered farther progress
impossible, we found a fairly level place among the prostrate trees,
and, after a meal of bacon and hard tack, lay down on the ground around
a large fire. The night was mild, and extreme weariness gave us sound
sleep. After four hours of sleep, we were again on foot at four o’clock
in the morning. We marched into camp at 6:30, where the cooks were just
building the morning fires, and commencing to prepare breakfast.

We were without doubt the first to accomplish the circuit of Mount
Assiniboine. By pedometer, the distance was fifty-one miles, which we
accomplished in forty-six hours, or less than two days.

Mount Assiniboine is the culminating point of a nearly square system of
mountains covering about thirty-five square miles. According to my
estimates from angles taken by surveying instruments made on the spot,
the mountain is 11,680 feet in height. Later on, however, I learned from
Mr. McArthur, who is connected with the Topographical Survey, and who
has probably climbed more peaks of the Canadian Rockies than any other
two men, that, according to some angles taken on this mountain from a
great distance, the height is 11,830 feet.

Three rivers, the Spray, the Simpson, and the North Fork of the Cross,
drain this region, and as the two latter flow into the Columbia, and the
former into the Saskatchewan, this great mountain is on the watershed,
and consequently on the boundary line between Alberta and British
Columbia. About two-thirds of the forest area round its base has been
burned over, and this renders the scenery most unattractive. The north
and northwest sides, however, are covered with green timber, and studded
with lakes, of which one is two miles or more in length. There are in
all thirteen lakes around the immediate base of the mountain, and some
are exquisitely beautiful.

The great height and striking appearance of Mount Assiniboine will
undoubtedly, in the future, attract mountaineers to this region,
especially as a much shorter route exists than the one we followed. If
the trail is opened along the Spray River, the explorer should be able
to reach the mountain, with horses, in two days from Banff. Mount
Assiniboine, especially when seen from the north, resembles the
Matterhorn in a striking manner. Its top is often shrouded in clouds,
and when the wind is westerly, frequently displays a long cloud banner
trailing out from its eastern side. The mountain is one that will prove
exceedingly difficult to the climber. On every side the slope is no less
than fifty degrees, and on the east, approaches sixty-five or seventy.
Moreover, the horizontal strata have weathered away in such a manner as
to form vertical ledges, which completely girdle the mountain, and, from
below, appear to offer a hopeless problem. In every storm the mountain
is covered with new snow, even in summer, and this comes rushing down in
frequent avalanches, thus adding a new source of danger and perplexity
to the mountaineer.

The day of our arrival in camp was spent in much-needed rest. Our time
was now up, and it was necessary, on the next day, to commence our
homeward journey, and, as our winding cavalcade left the beautiful site
of our camp under the towering walls of Mount Assiniboine, many were the
unexpressed feelings of regret, for in the two weeks spent here we had
had many delightful experiences, and had become familiar with every
charming view of lakes and forests and mountains.

In two days we reached the fork where the Simpson and Vermilion rivers
unite. It was our intention to follow up the Vermilion River and reach
the Bow valley by the Vermilion Pass. The Vermilion River is at this
point a large, deep stream flowing swiftly and smoothly. The valley is
very wide and densely forested, with occasional open places near the
river. For three days we progressed up the river, often being compelled
to cross it on account of the dense timber. At one place, after several
of the horses had gained a bar in the middle of the river, one of those
following, got beyond his depth and was swept rapidly down, and appeared
in great danger of being drowned. Fortunately, the animal was caught by
an eddy current, and by desperate swimming at length gained the bar. The
poor beast was, however, so much benumbed by the cold water that he
could not climb upon the bar, but the men dashed in bravely, and by
pulling on head and packs, and even his tail, the animal finally
struggled into shallow water. Standing up to our knees in the water,
with a deep channel on either side of us and an angry rapid below, our
prospects were far from encouraging.

I mounted old Chiniquy behind Peyto and we plunged in first. “It’s swim
sure this time,” said Peyto to me, as the water rose at once nearly to
the horse’s back, and the ice-cold water, creeping momentarily higher,
gave us a most uncomfortable sensation. The current was so swift that
the water was banked up much higher on the upstream side. Such crossings
are very exciting, for at any moment the horse may stumble on the rough
bottom or plunge into a deep hole. Chiniquy had a hard time of it and
groaned at every step, but got us across all right. The rest all
followed, not, however, over-confident at our success, to judge by their
anxious looks. All got across except one pack-horse, which, after a
voyage down stream, we finally caught and pulled ashore.

There was evidence of much game in this valley, as we saw many tracks of
deer, caribou, and bears. One day, just as we stopped to camp, a doe
started up and ran by us. We camped on August 2nd at a beautiful spot
near the summit of the Vermilion Pass. A large stream came in from the
northwest, and we set out to explore it for a short distance, as, before
leaving Banff, we had heard of a remarkable canyon near this place.

Not more than an eighth of a mile from the junction of the two streams
the canyon commences. At first, the stream is hemmed in by two rocky
walls a few feet in height, but as one ascends, the walls become higher
and higher, and the sound of the roaring stream is lost in the black
depth of a gloomy chasm. To one leaning over the edge of the beetling
precipice, this wonderful gorge appears like a bottomless rift or rent
in the mountain side, and so deep is it and so closely do the opposite,
irregular walls press one towards another, that it is impossible to see
the waters below from which a faint, sullen murmur comes up.

Most wonderful of all, the canyon at length comes to a sudden
termination, and here the whole mighty stream plunges headlong, as it
were, into the very bowels of the earth. The boiling stream, turned
snow-white by a short preliminary leap, makes a final plunge downwards
and is lost to sight in a dark cavernous hole, perhaps 300 feet deep,
whence proceeds a most awful roar, like that of ponderous machinery in
motion. The ground, which is here a solid quartzite formation, fairly
trembles at the terrible concussion and force of the falling waters,
while cold, mist-laden airs ascend in whirling gusts from the awful
depths. Niagara is majestically and supremely grand, but this lesser
fall, where the water plunges into a black bottomless hole, is by far
the more terrifying.

                [Illustration: Lake on Vermilion Pass.]

On the fourth of August we reached the summit of the Vermilion Pass. On
the summit we passed several small lakes in the forest. The water was of
a most beautiful color, far more vivid than any I have hitherto seen. In
the shallow places where the bottom could be easily seen, the water
assumed a bright, clear, green color, and in the deeper places,
according to the light and angle of view, the color varied to darker
hues of all possible shades and tints. The rich colors of sky and water
in the Rocky Mountains is one of the most beautiful features of the
scenery, but likewise one that can only be appreciated by actual

Our horses were plagued by great numbers of bull-dog flies as we entered
the Bow valley. It seems as though these insects were more numerous in
the valley of the Bow, and its various tributaries, than in those parts
of the mountains drained by other rivers.

At four o’clock we reached the Bow River, and forded it where the width
was about one hundred yards, and the depth four feet. My camera and
several plates were flooded in this passage, which was, however,
effected in safety.

A march of one hour more, along the tote-road, brought us to the station
of Castle Mountain, once a thriving village in the railroad-construction
days, but now presenting a forlorn and deserted appearance. The section
men flagged the east-bound train for us, and we arrived in Banff that
evening, after having been in camp for twenty-nine days.



                              CHAPTER XI.

  _The Waputehk Range—Height of the Mountains—Vast Snow Fields and
  Glaciers—Journey up the Bow—Home of a Prospector—Causes and Frequency
  of Forest Fires—A Visit to the Lower Bow Lake—Muskegs—A Mountain
  Flooded with Ice—Delightful Scenes at the Upper Bow Lake—Beauty of the
  Shores—Lake Trout—The Great Bow Glacier._

The Summit Range of the Rocky Mountains as they extend northward from
the deep and narrow valley of the Kicking Horse River has a special
name—the Waputehk Range,—derived, it is said, from a word which in the
language of the Stoney Indians means the White Goat.

From the summit of one of the peaks in this range, the climber beholds a
sea of mountains running in long, nearly parallel, ridges, sometimes
uniting and rising to a higher altitude, and again dividing, so as to
form countless spurs and a complicated topography. In this range each
ridge usually presents a lofty escarpment and bare precipitous walls of
rock on its eastern face, while the opposite slope is more gentle. Here
the Cambrian sandstones and shales and the limestones of later ages may
be seen in clearly marked strata tilted up, generally, toward the east,
though many of the mountains reveal contortions and faults throughout
their structure, which indicate the wellnigh inconceivable forces that
have here been at work.

The Waputehk Mountains have remained to this day but very little known,
and almost totally unexplored, in their interior portions. No passes are
known through this range between the Kicking Horse Pass on the south and
the Howse Pass on the north. Then another long interval northwards to
the Athabasca Pass is said by the Indians to offer an impassable barrier
to men and horses. The continuity of the range is well indicated by the
fact that, for a distance of one hundred miles, these mountains present
only one pass across the range available for horses. The several ridges
which form this range rise to a very uniform altitude of 10,000 or
11,000 feet. On Palliser’s map of this region, one peak north of the
Howse Pass, Mount Forbes, is accredited with an altitude of 13,400 feet,
and the standard atlases have for many years placed the altitude of
Mount Brown at 16,000 feet, and that of Mount Hooker at 15,700 feet, but
there is much reason to doubt that any mountains attain such heights in
this part of the Rocky Mountains.

A heavy snowfall, due to the precipitation brought about by this lofty
and continuous range, as the westerly winds ascend and pass over it, and
the existence of many elevated plateaus, or large areas having gentle
slopes, have conspired to make vast _névé_ regions and boundless
snowfields among these mountains. From the snowfields, long tongues of
ice and large glaciers descend into the valleys, and thus drain away the
surplus material from the higher altitudes. No other parts of the Rocky
Mountains, south of Alaska, have glaciers and snowfields which may
compare in size or extent with those of the Waputehk Range.

                   [Illustration: The Waputehk Range.
              Looking across the range from near Hector.]

The desolate though grand extent of gray cliffs and boundless
snowfields, extending farther than the eye can reach, when seen from a
high altitude, gives no suggestion of the delightful valleys below,
where many beautiful lakes nestle among the green forests, and form
picturesque mirrors for the surrounding rugged mountains. On the shores
of one of these mountain lakes, in the genial warmth of lower altitudes,
where the water is hemmed in, and encroached upon, by the trees and
luxuriant vegetation fostered by a moist climate, the explorer beholds
each mountain peak as the central point of interest in every view. Each
cliff or massive snow-covered mountain then appears an unscalable height
reaching upward toward the heavens,—a most inspiring work of nature,
raising the eyes and the thoughts above the common level of our earth.
When seen from high altitudes, a mountain appears merely as a part of a
vast panorama or a single element in a wild, limitless scene of desolate
peaks, which raise their bare, bleak summits among the sea of mountains
far up into the cold regions of the atmosphere, where they become white
with eternal snow, and bound by rigid glaciers.

Having become much interested in reports of the vast dimensions of the
glaciers in the Waputehk Mountains, and the beauty of the lakes,
especially near the sources of the Bow River and the Little Fork of the
Saskatchewan, I started on August 14th, 1895, with the intention of
visiting those regions and spending some time there. My outfit consisted
of five horses, a cook, and a packer. I had engaged Peyto for the latter
service, as he had been most efficient on our trip to Mount Assiniboine.
We left Laggan a little before noon. Not far from the station, there
commenced an old tote-road, which runs northward for many miles toward
the source of the Bow River. This tote-road had been hastily built for
wagons, previous to the construction of the railroad through the Kicking
Horse Pass, for at one time it was thought the line would cross the
range by the Howse Pass.

                    [Illustration: READY TO MARCH.]

Thus for several miles we enjoyed easy and rapid travelling. The weather
was mild and pleasant, and my men seemed pleased at the prospect of
another month or so in camp.

In the course of a few miles we came to the house of an old prospector.
As this was the farthest outpost of civilization, and the old man was
reported to be an interesting character, I entered the log-house for a
brief visit. The prospector’s name was Hunter. I found him at home and
was cordially welcomed. Here, in a state of solitude and absolute
loneliness, with no lake or stream to entertain, and surrounded by a
bristling maze of bleached bare sticks looking like the masts of
countless ships in a great harbor, this man had spent several years of
his life, and, moreover, was apparently happy. On his table I saw spread
about illustrated magazines from the United States and Canada,
newspapers, and books. The house was roughly but comfortably finished
inside, and furnished with good chairs and tables evidently imported
from civilization.

This isolated dwelling and its solitary inhabitant reminded me somewhat
of Thoreau at Walden Pond. Like this lover of nature, Hunter enjoys his
hermit life, which he varies occasionally by a visit to the village of
Laggan. Hunter had the better house of the two men, but Thoreau must
have had much more to entertain him, in his garden, and the beautiful
lake with its constant change of light and shadow, and the surrounding
forests full of well-known plants and trees, where his bird and animal
friends lived in undisturbed possession.

No sooner had we taken leave of this interesting home of the old
prospector, than the trail plunged into the intricacies of the burnt
timber, and our horses were severely tried. Peyto and another man had
been at work on this part of the trail for two days, very fortunately
for us, as without some clearing we should not have been able to force
our way through.

The fire had run through after the tote-road was built, so that the
fallen timber now rendered it nearly impassable in many places. The
forest fires have been much more frequent since the country has been
opened by the whites, but it would be a great mistake to conclude that
before the arrival of civilized men the country was clothed by an
uninterrupted primeval forest. When we read the accounts of Alexander
Mackenzie, and the earliest explorers in the Rocky Mountains, we find
burnt timber frequently mentioned.

However, these accounts only cover the last one hundred years, and
records of geology must be sought previous to 1793. Dr. Dawson mentions
a place near the Bow River where forest trees at least one hundred years
old are growing over a bed of charcoal made by an ancient forest fire.
Another bank near the Bow River, not far from Banff, reveals seven
layers of charcoal, and under each layer the clay is reddened or
otherwise changed by the heat. Thus the oldest records carry us back
thousands of years. The cause of these ancient fires was probably, in
great part, lightning, and possibly the escaping camp fires of an
aboriginal race of men.

Forest fires in the Canadian Rockies only prevail at one season of the
year—in July, August, and September,—when the severe heat dries up the
underbrush and fallen timber. Earlier than this, everything is saturated
by the melting snows of winter, while in autumn the sharp frosts and
heavy night dews keep the forests damp. According to the condition of
the trees, a forest fire will burn sometimes slowly and sometimes with
fearful rapidity. When a long period of dry, hot weather has prevailed,
the fire, once started, leaps from tree to tree, while the sparks soar
high into the air and, dropping farther, kindle a thousand places at
once. The furious uprush of heated air causes a strong draught, which
fans the fire into a still more intense heat. Sometimes whirlwinds of
smoke and heated air are seen above the forest fires, and at other times
the great mass of vapor and smoke rises to such a height that
condensation ensues, and clouds are formed. In the summer of 1893, a
forest fire was raging about five miles east of Laggan. Standing at an
altitude of 9000 feet, I had a grand view of the ascending smoke and
vapors, which rose in the form of a great mushroom, or at other times
more like a pine tree,—in fact, resembling a volcanic eruption. Judging
by the height of Mount Temple, the clouds rose about 13,000 feet above
the valley, or to an altitude of 18,000 feet above sea-level. It was a
cumulus cloud, shining brilliant in the sunlight, but often revealing a
coppery cast from the presence of smoke. The ascending vapors gave a
striking example of one of the laws of rising air currents. The tendency
of an ascending column of air is to break up into a succession of
uprushes, separated by brief intervals of repose, and not to rise
steadily and constantly. The law was clearly illustrated by this cloud,
which, at intervals of about five or six minutes, would nearly disappear
and then rapidly form again and rise to an immense height and magnitude.

In the course of a few years after a forest fire has swept along its
destructive course, the work of regeneration begins, and a new crop of
trees appears. Sometimes the growth is alike all over the burnt region,
young trees springing up spontaneously everywhere, and sometimes the
surrounding green forests send out skirmishers, and gradually encroach
on the burnt areas. Curiously enough, however, a new kind of tree
replaces the old almost invariably. Out on the prairie the poplar
usually follows the coniferous trees, but in the Rockies, where the
poplar can not grow at high altitudes, the pines follow after spruce and
balsam, or _vice versa_. The contest of species in nature is so keen
that the slightest advantage gained by any, is sufficient to cause its
universal establishment. This is probably due to the fact that the soil
becomes somewhat exhausted in the particular elements needed by one
species of tree, so that when they are removed by an unnatural cause,
new kinds have the advantage in the renewed struggle for existence. Thus
we have a natural rotation of crops illustrated in the replacement of
forest trees.

While we have been considering the causes and effects of forest fires,
our horses and men have been struggling with the more material side of
the question, and as the imagination leaps lightly over all sorts of
obstacles, let us now overtake them as they arrive at a good camping
place about eight miles from Laggan. Here the Bow is no longer worthy
the name of a river, but is rather a broad, shallow stream, flowing with
moderate rapidity. Towards evening Peyto shot a black duck on the river,
and I caught a fine string of trout, so that our camp fare was much

The next day we marched for about three hours through light forests and
extensive swamps, finally pitching our camp near the first Bow Lake. The
fishing was remarkably fine in this part of the river. From a single
pool I caught, in less than three minutes, five trout which averaged
more than one pound each. We camped in this place for two days in order
to have time to explore about the lake. This first Bow Lake is about
four miles long, by perhaps one mile wide, and occupies the gently
curving basin of a valley which here sweeps into that of the Bow. There
is something remarkable in the unusual manner in which the Bow River
divides itself into two streams some time before it reaches this lake.
The lesser of these two streams continues in a straight course down the
valley, while the larger deviates to the west and flows into the lower
end of the lake, only to flow out again about a fourth of a mile farther
down, at the extreme end of the lake. The island thus formed is
intersected everywhere by the ancient courses of the river, which are
now marked by crooked and devious channels, in great part filled with
clear water, forming pools everywhere. This whole region must have once
formed part of a much larger lake, as for several miles down the valley
there are extensive swamps, almost perfectly level and underlaid by
large deposits of fine clay.

The drier places in these muskegs are covered with a growth of bushes or
clumps of trees, gathered together on hummocks slightly elevated above
the general level. A rich growth of grass and sedge covers the lower and
wetter places, which often assume all the features of a peat bog, with a
thick growth of sphagnum mosses, while the ground trembles, for many
yards about, under the tread of men and horses.

The next day Peyto and I crossed the river on one of our best horses
known as the “Bay,” and after turning him back towards the meadow, we
started on a tramp around the lake. We followed the west shore for the
entire distance. The last half mile was over a talus slope of loose
stones, broken down from the overhanging mountain, and now disposed at a
very steep angle. There was a barely perceptible shelf or beach about
six inches wide, just at the edge of the water, which we gladly took
advantage of while it lasted.

The glacial stream entering the lake has built out a curious delta, not
fan-shaped as we should expect, but almost perfectly straight from shore
to shore. This delta is a great gravel wash, nearly level, and quite
bare of trees or plants, except a few herbs, the seeds of which have
lately been washed down from higher up the valley. All this material has
been carried into the lake since the time when, in the great Ice Age,
these valleys were flooded with glaciers several thousand feet in depth.

                      [Illustration: Mount Daly.]

As we turned the corner near the end of the gravel wash, the glaciers at
the head of the valley began to appear, and in a few more steps we
commanded a magnificent view of a great mountain, literally covered by a
vast sheet of ice and snow, from the very summit down to our level. As
we looked up the long gentle slope of this mountain, we could hardly
realize that it rose more than 5000 feet above us. The glacier which
descended into the valley was not very wide, but showed the lines of
flow very clearly. Six converging streams of ice united to form the
glacier on our right, while the glacier on the left poured down a steep
descent from the east, and formed a beautiful ice cascade, where the
sharp-pointed _seracs_, leaning forward, resembled a cataract suddenly
frozen and rendered motionless. As if by way of contrast, a beautiful
little waterfall poured gracefully over a dark precipice of rock on the
opposite side of the valley, and added motion to this grand expanse of
dazzling white snow. The loud-roaring, muddy stream near where we stood,
is one of the principal sources of the Bow, and, after depositing its
milky sediment in the lake, the waters flow out purified and crystal
clear, of that deep blue color characteristic of glacial water. On a
smaller scale this lake is like Lake Geneva, with the Rhone entering at
one end, muddy and polluted with glacial clays, and flowing out at the
other, transparently clear, and blue as the skies above it.

After a partial ascent of Mount Hector on the next day, we moved our
camp and continued our progress up the Bow River for about two hours.
Here we camped on a terrace near the water, surrounded on all sides by a
very light forest in a charming spot. On the following day the trail led
us for two miles through some very bad country, where the horses broke
through the loose ground between the roots of trees, and in their
efforts to extricate themselves were often in great danger of breaking a
leg. Fortunately, however, this was not of long duration. The trail soon
improved and became very clearly marked like a well made bridle-path. It
led us along the banks of the Bow, through groves of black pine, with a
few spruces intermingled. The ascent was constant, though gradual, and
our altitude was made apparent by the manner in which the trees grew in
clumps, and by the fact that the forests were no longer densely
luxuriant, but quite open, so that the horses could go easily among the
trees in any direction.

In about three hours after leaving camp, our horses entered an open
meadow where the trail deserted us, but there was not the slightest
difficulty in making good progress. To the south, a great wall of rock
rose to an immense height, one of the lower escarpments of the Waputehk
Range, and as we progressed through the pleasant moors a remarkable
glacier was gradually revealed, clinging to the cliffs in a
three-pronged mass. As, one by one, these branches of the glaciers were
disclosed, they appeared first in profile, and owing to the very steep
pitch down which the ice was forced to descend, the glacier was rent and
splintered into deep crevasses, with sharp pinnacles of ice between,
which appeared to lean out over the steep descent and threaten to fall
at any moment.

The absence of trees to the north of us, and the general depression of
the country in that direction, gave us every indication that we were
approaching the Upper Bow Lake, nor were our surmises incorrect, for in
a few minutes more of progress, after seeing the glacier, glimpses of
water surface were to be had in the near distance among the trees. I
went ahead of our column of horses and selected a beautiful site for our
camp, on the shore of the lake, only a few yards from the water. The
surrounding region was certainly the most charming I have seen in the
Rocky Mountains. The lake on which we camped was nearly cut off from the
main body of water to the north, by a contraction of the shores to a
narrow channel. In fact, it might be regarded as a land-locked harbor of
the Upper Bow Lake. Just below our camping place the waters were
contracted again, and descended in a shallow rapid to another lake,
resting against the mountain side on the south. This latter lake is
about three or four feet lower than the others, and appeared to be about
two-thirds of a mile in length.

This region, for the artist with pencil and brush, would be a fairy-land
of inexhaustible treasures. The shores along these various lakes were of
a most irregular nature, and in sweeping curves or sudden turns, formed
innumerable coves and bays, no less pleasing by reason of their small
extent. Long, low stretches of land, adorned with forest trees,
stretched straight and narrow far out into the two larger lakes, their
ends dissolving into chains of wooded islands, separated from the
mainland by shallow channels of the clearest water. In every direction
were charming vistas of wooded isles and bushy shores, while in the
distance were the irregular outlines of the mountains, their images
often reflected in the surface of the water. The very nature of the
shores themselves, besides their irregular contours, varied from place
to place in a remarkable manner. In one locality the waters became
suddenly deep, the abrupt shores were rocky, and formed low cliffs; in
other places the bottom shelved off more gradually, and there would be a
narrow beach of sand and small pebbles, ofttimes strewed with the
wreckage of some storm,—a massive tree trunk washed upon the beach, or
stranded in shallow water near the shore.

There were, moreover, many shallow areas and swampy tracts where a rich,
rank growth of water grasses and sedges extended into the lake. Such
border regions between the land and water were perhaps the most
beautiful and attractive of all the many variations of these delightful
shores. The coarse, saw-edged leaves of the sedges, harsh to the touch,
are pliant in the gentlest breath of wind. The waving meadows of green
banners, or ribbons, rising above the water, uniform in height, and
sensitive to the slightest air motion, rustle continuously as the
breezes sweep over them, and rub their rough surfaces together.

From this region, wherein were combined so many charming views of
nature, with mountain scenery, lakes, islands, and forests, all of the
most attractive kind, it proved impossible to move our camp for several

                     [Illustration: Upper Bow Lake.
                             Looking east.]

During the time that we remained here, our explorations and wanderings
took us along all the shores and islands, and up the neighboring
mountain slopes. On one of the islands opposite our camp we discovered a
small pool of singular formation. The pool was nearly circular, and
about ten yards in diameter. The bottom was funnel-shaped, and in the
very centre was a black circle—in fact a bottomless hole—apparently
connected by dark subterranean channels with the depths of the adjacent
lake. Its borders were low and swampy, where the spongy ground quaked as
we moved about, and trembled so much that we feared at any moment to be
swallowed up. In fact the whole pool became rippled by the movements of
its banks.

The glacier opposite was the object of another trip, and this, too,
proved interesting. The _névé_ on the flat plateau above discharges its
surplus ice for the most part by hanging glaciers, which from time to
time break off and fall down the precipice. We were often startled both
day and night by the thunder of these avalanches. Two tongues of ice,
however, effect a descent of the precipice where the slope is less
steep, and though much crevassed and splintered by the rapid motion,
they reach the bottom intact. Here the two streams, together with the
accumulations of ice constantly falling down from above, become welded
into a single glacier, which terminates only a short distance from the
lake. The most unusual circumstance about this glacier is the fact that
the ice is much higher at the very end than a little farther back, so
that a great, swelling mound of ice, about 200 feet thick, forms the

About one fourth of a mile below the end of the glacier, on an old
moraine ridge now covered over with luxuriant forest, we saw a towering
cliff of rock rising above the trees. This proved, on a closer
examination, to be a separate boulder, which must have been carried
there by the ice a long time ago. It was of colossal proportions, at
least sixty feet high, and nearly as large in its other dimensions. From
the top we had an extensive view of the lakes and valleys; while at its
base we found on one side an overhanging roof, making so complete a
shelter, that it was not difficult to imagine this place to have been
used by savages, in some past age, as a cave dwelling.

Many years ago, not less than one hundred, the forests on the slopes to
the east of the valley had been devastated by a fire. The long lapse of
time intervening had, however, nearly obliterated the dreary effects of
this destruction. The trees had replaced themselves scatteringly among
the dead timber, and attained a large size. The fallen trunks showed the
great length of time they had lain on the ground by the spongy,
decomposed condition of the wood. Many of the trunks had dissolved into
red humus, the last stage of slowly decomposing wood, and the fragments
were disposed in lines, bare of vegetation, indicating where each tree
had found its final resting-place.

The swampy shores and large extent of water surface in this region
fostered many varieties of gnats, mosquitoes, and other insects, though,
fortunately, not in such great numbers as to be very troublesome. In
fact, the season of the year was approaching that period when the
mosquitoes suddenly and regularly disappear, for some unexplained
reason. I have always noticed that in the Canadian Rockies the
mosquitoes become much reduced in numbers between the 15th and 20th of
August, and after that time cause little or no trouble. In order,
however, that there may be no lack of insect pests, nature has
substituted several species of small flies and midgets, which appear
about this time and follow in a rotation of species, till the sharp
frosts of October put an end to all active insect life. Some of these
small pests are no less troublesome than the mosquitoes which have
preceded them, though they afford a variation in their manner of
annoyance, and are accordingly the more endurable.

Along the reedy shores of the lake and sometimes over its placid
surface, when the air was quiet toward evening, we often saw clouds of
gnats hovering motionless in one spot, or at times moving restlessly
from place to place, like some lightless will-o’-the-wisp, composed of a
myriad of black points, darting and circling one about another. Nature
seems to love circular motion: for just as the stars composing the
cloudy nebulæ revolve about their centres of gravity in infinite
numbers, moving forever, through an infinity of space; so do these
ephemeral creations of our world pass their brief lives in a ceaseless
vortex of complicated circles.

On one occasion we built a raft to ferry us across the narrow part of
the lake so that we might try the fishing on the farther side. The raft
was hastily constructed, and, after we had reached deep water, it proved
to be in a state of stable equilibrium only when the upper surface was a
yard under water. After a thorough wetting we finally reached the shore,
and proceeded to build a more trustworthy craft.

On the 21st of August we moved our camp down to the north end of the
lake. Here the nature of the scenery is entirely changed. Whereas the
lower end of the lake abounds in land-locked channels and wooded
islands, so combined as to make the most pleasing and artistic pictures
from every shore, the other part of this lake presents regular shore
lines, and everything is formed on a more extensive scale. The north
side of the lake is curved in a great arc, so symmetrical in appearance
that it seems mathematically perfect, and the eye sweeps along several
miles of shore at a single glance as though this were some bay on the

As we neared the north end of the lake, a valley was disclosed toward
the west, and an immense glacier appeared descending from the crest of
the Waputehk Range. Even at a distance of three or four miles, this
glacier revealed its great size. The lower part descended in several
regular falls to nearly the level of the lake. In the lower part, the
glacier is less than a mile in width, but above, the ice stream expands
to three or four miles, and extends back indefinitely, probably ten
miles or more. This Great Bow Glacier had the same position relatively
to the lake, as the glacier we visited at the Lower Bow Lake held to
that body of water.

                     [Illustration: Upper Bow Lake.
                             Looking west.]

A better knowledge of these lakes revealed a striking similarity between
them. Each lake occupies a curving valley, which in each case enters the
Bow valley from the south. The two lakes are about the same size and
nearly the same shape, a long gentle curve about five times longer than
broad. At the head of each, though at slightly different distances, are
large glaciers. The glacial streams have likewise formed flat gravel
washes, or deltas, which have encroached regularly on the lake and
formed a straight line from shore to shore, perfectly similar one to
another. A further resemblance might be observed in the presence of two
talus slopes from the mountain sides, in each case on the south side of
the lake, near the delta. The Lower Bow Lake is about 5500 feet above
sea-level, while the upper lake is a little more than 6000 feet. The
increased altitude has the effect of making the forest more open, and
the country more generally accessible, in the region of the upper lake.
From one point on the shores of the upper lake, five large glaciers may
be counted, the least of which is two miles long, and the greatest has
an unknown extent, but is certainly ten miles in length.

Our camp was pleasantly located in the woods not far from the water.
After Peyto had put up the tent and got the camp in order, with the
horses enjoying a fine pasture, he set off to explore the lake shore
toward the Great Glacier. He returned to camp about five o’clock
carrying a fine lake trout which he had caught. This fish was taken near
the shore, and was probably a small one compared with those which live
in deeper water; nevertheless, it measured twenty-three inches in
length, and weighed about seven pounds. The Bow lakes have a reputation
for abounding in fish of a very large size. So far as I am aware, no
boat has ever sailed these waters, and there is no certainty what size
the fish may reach in the deeper parts of the lake. Judging by trout
which have been caught in Lake Minnewanka, near Banff, it is very
probable that they run as high as thirty or forty pounds.

                [Illustration: CAMP AT UPPER BOW LAKE.]

The next day, Peyto and I took a lunch with us and spent the entire day
exploring and photographing the glacier and its immediate neighborhood.
The ice is not hemmed in by any terminal moraine, but shelves down
gradually to a thin edge. In fact the termination of the glacier
resembles somewhat the hoof of a horse, or rather that of a rhinoceros,
the divided portions being formed by crevasses, while long thin
projections of ice spread out between. It is a very easy matter to get
on the glacier, and quite safe to proceed a long way on its smooth
surface. We had some fine glimpses of crevasses so deep that it was
impossible to see the bottom, while the rich blue color of the ice
everywhere revealed to us marvels of colored grottoes and
hollow-sounding caverns, their sides dripping with the surface waters.
There is something peculiarly attractive, perhaps from the danger,
pertaining to a deep crevasse in a glacier. One stands near the edge and
throws, or pushes, large stones into these caverns, and listens in awe
to the hollow echoes from the depths, or the muffled splash as the
missile finally reaches a pool of water at the bottom. There is a
suggestion of a lingering death, should one make a false step and fall
down these horrible crevasses, where, wedged between icy walls far below
the surface, one could see the glimmering light of day above, while
starvation and cold prolong their agonies. A party of three mountaineers
thus lost their lives on Mount Blanc in 1820, and more than forty years
later their bodies were found at the foot of the Glacier des Bossons,
whither they had been slowly transported, a distance of several miles,
by the movement of the ice. The most dangerous crevasses are not those
of the so-called “dry glacier,” where the bare ice is everywhere
visible, but those of the _névé_ regions where the crevasses are
concealed, or obscured by the overlying snow.

Not far from the foot of the glacier the muddy stream flows through a
miniature canyon, with walls near together, cut out of a limestone
formation. The water here rushes some quarter of a mile, foaming and
angry, as it dashes over many a fall and cascade. Where the canyon is
deepest an immense block of limestone about twenty-five feet long has
fallen down, and with either end resting on the canyon walls, it affords
a natural bridge over the gloomy chasm. As probably no human being had
ever crossed this bridge, we felt a slight hesitation in making the
attempt, fearing that even a slight jar might be sufficient to dislodge
the great mass. It proved, however, quite safe and will undoubtedly
remain where it is for many years and afford a safe crossing-place for
those who visit this interesting region.



                              CHAPTER XII.

  _Sources of the Bow—The Little Fork Pass—Magnificence of the
  Scenery—Mount Murchison—Camp on the Divide—A High Mountain
  Ascent—Future of the Bow Lakes—Return down the Bow—Search for a
  Pass—Remarkable Agility of Pack-Horses—The “Bay” and the
  “Pinto”—Mountain Solitudes—Mount Hector—Difficult Nature of Johnston
  Creek—A Blinding Snow-Storm—Forty-Mile Creek—Mount Edith Pass._

A fine trout stream entered the lake near our camp. This was, in fact,
the Bow River. It held a meandering course a short distance before
entering the lake, through a level meadow, or rather an open region,
thickly grown over with alder bushes and other shrubby plants.

We were delayed at this camp by a period of unsettled weather with
occasional storms and strong winds, so that three days were required to
finish our explorations. At length, on the 24th of August, we broke
camp, and followed the Bow valley northwards towards the source of the
river. The valley preserves its wide character to the head of the pass,
and is unusual among all the mountain passes for several reasons. The
ascent to the summit is very gradual and constant, the valley is wide,
and the country is quite open. In about two hours we came to the summit,
and, after a long level reach, the slope insensibly changed and the
direction of drainage was reversed.

This was a most delightful region. The smooth valley bottom sloped
gradually upward toward the mountains on the east and west, and
insensibly downward toward the valleys north and south, thus making an
extensive region with gentle slopes curving in two directions, which in
some way impresses the mind with a sense of quiet grandeur and
indefinite liberty. But chiefly this region of the divide is made
charming by a most beautiful arrangement of the trees. There are no
forests here, nor do the trees grow much in groves or clumps, but each
tree stands apart, at a long interval from every other, so that the
branches spread out symmetrically in every direction and give perfect
forms and beautiful outlines. Between are smooth meadows, quite free of
brush, but crowded with flowering plants, herbs, and grasses, so that
the general impression is that of a gentleman’s park, under the control
and care of a landscape gardener, rather than of the undirected efforts
of nature.

I shall never forget the first view we had into the valley of the
Saskatchewan. Approaching a low ridge at the south side of the valley,
suddenly there is revealed a magnificent panorama of glaciers, lakes,
and mountains, unparalleled among the Canadian Rockies for its
combination of grandeur and extent. To the south, one beholds the end of
an immense glacier, at the termination of which there are two great
arched caverns in the ice. From out these issue two roaring glacial
streams, the source of the Saskatchewan River, or at least of its
longest tributary called the Little Fork. Lofty mountains hem in this
glacier on either side, only revealing a portion of the vast _névé_
which may be seen extending southward for six or seven miles.

  [Illustration: Source of the Little Fork of the Saskatchewan River.]

To the north and, as it were, at our feet, though in reality a thousand
feet below, lay a large and beautiful lake with irregular outlines. This
lake reaches several miles down the valley of the Little Fork, which
here extends northward so straight and regular, that the view is only
limited at the distance of thirty miles by the long range of mountains
on its east side. Dr. Hector, who came through this region in the fall
of 1858, comments on the magnificent extent and grandeur of this view.

Through a notch in a mass of mountains to the north, there appeared the
extreme summit of Mount Murchison, a very sharp and angular rock peak,
which the Indians regard as the highest mountain of the Canadian
Rockies. According to some rough angles taken by Dr. Hector, this
mountain has an altitude of 13,500 feet. In Palliser’s Papers a sketch
of this mountain, as seen from the summit of the Pipestone Pass, makes
the rock peak much more sharp and striking in appearance even than that
of Mount Assiniboine, or of Mount Sir Donald in the Selkirks.

We continued our journey over the pass and descended into the valley of
the Little Fork for several miles. The trail was very good, though the
descent was remarkably steep. We camped by a small narrow lake, in
reality merely an expansion of the Little Fork. Behind us was an area of
burnt timber, but southward the forests were in their primeval vigor and
the mountains rose to impressive heights above. The weather became
rather dubious, and during the night there was a fall of rain, followed
by colder weather, so that our tent became frozen stiff by morning.

It seemed best to return the next day to the summit of the pass, where
everything conspired to make an ideal camping place. Accordingly, the
men packed the horses and we located our camp on the crest of the
divide, 6350 feet above sea-level. The tent was pitched in a clump of
large trees surrounded on all sides by open meadows, where one could
wander for long distances without encountering rough ground or
underbrush. Near the camp a small stream, and several pools of clear
water, were all easily accessible.

The next day I induced Peyto to ascend a mountain with me. He was not
used to mountain climbing, and had never been any higher than the ridge
that we were compelled to cross when we were walking around Mount
Assiniboine, which was less than 9000 feet in altitude. The peak which I
had now in view lay just to the northeast from our camp on the pass. It
appeared to be between 9000 and 10,000 feet high, and offered no
apparent difficulties, on the lower part at least. We left camp at 8:30
A.M. and passed through some groves of spruce and balsam, where we had
the good fortune to see several grouse roosting among the branches of
the trees. Peyto soon brought them down with his six-shooter, in
handling which he always displays remarkable accuracy and skill. Many a
time, when on the trail, I have seen him suddenly take his six-shooter
and fire into a tall tree, whereupon a grouse would come tumbling down,
with his neck severed, or his head knocked off by the bullet.

              [Illustration: Storm in Little Fork Valley.]

A hawk scented our game and came soaring above us so that we had to hide
our birds under a covering of stones, as of course we did not care to
take them with us up the mountain. We found not the slightest difficulty
in the ascent till we came near the summit. The atmosphere was
remarkably clear, and some clouds high above the mountains rendered the
conditions very good for photography. At an altitude of 9800 feet we
came to the summit of the _arête_ which we were climbing, and saw the
highest point of the mountain about one-third of a mile distant, and
considerably higher. Fortunately, a crest of snow connected the two
peaks, and with my ice-axe I knocked away the sharp edge, and made a
path. In a few minutes we were across the difficult part and found an
easy slope rising gradually to the summit. We reached it at 11:30, and
found the altitude 10,125 feet. The view from the great snow dome of
this unnamed mountain was truly magnificent. The Waputehk Range could be
seen through an extent of more than seventy-five miles, while some of
the most distant peaks of the Selkirks must have been more than one
hundred miles from where we stood. To the east about ten miles was the
high peak of Mount Hector, almost touching the clouds.

In the northern part of the Waputehk Range we saw some very high peaks,
though the clouds covered everything above 11,000 feet. There seemed to
be a storm in that direction, as snow could be discerned falling on the
mountains about thirty miles distant. The general uniformity of height,
and the absence of unusually high peaks, a characteristic feature of the
Canadian Rockies, were very clearly revealed from this mountain.

Peyto was overwhelmed with the magnificent panorama, and said that he
now appreciated, as never before, the mania which impels men to climb
mountains. The storm which we saw in the west and north passed over us
toward evening, in the form of gentle showers. On the next day, however,
the weather was perfectly clear and calm.

On the 26th of August our horses were packed and our little procession
was in motion early in the morning, and we were wending our way down the
Bow River. I cannot take leave of this region, however, even in
imagination, without a word in regard to the unusual attractiveness of
this part of the mountains.

In the first place there are magnificent mountains and glaciers to
interest the mountaineer, and beautiful water scenes, with endless
combinations of natural scenery for the artist; moreover, the streams
abound in brook trout and the lakes are full of large lake trout, so
numerous as to afford endless sport for fishermen. The botanist, the
geologist, and the general lover of science will likewise find extensive
fields of inquiry open to him on every side.

            [Illustration: Mount Hector and Slate Mountains.
    From summit of a mountain near Little Fork Pass, 10,125 feet in

The time of travelling required by us to reach the Upper Bow Lake was
about nine hours, and this was with heavily laden pack-horses. Hitherto,
only those connected with the early explorations, or the railroad
surveys, have visited this lake, but I cannot look forward to the future
without conjuring up a vision of a far different condition of things. In
a few years, if I mistake not, a comfortable building, erected in a
tasteful and artistic manner, will stand near the shores of this lake on
some beautiful site. A steam launch and row-boats or canoes will convey
tourists and fishermen over the broad waters of the lake, and a fine
coach road will connect this place with Laggan, so that passengers may
leave Banff in the morning and, after a ride of two hours by railroad,
they will be transferred to a coach and reach the Upper Bow Lake in time
for lunch! If a good road were constructed this would not be impossible,
as the distance from Laggan is only about twenty miles, and the total
ascent 1000 feet.

With such visions of the future and the more vivid memory of recent
experiences in mind, we took leave of the beautiful sheet of water, and
continued on our way down the Bow valley. It was not our purpose,
however, to return to Laggan directly, for Wilson had planned an
elaborate route, by which some of the wilder parts of the mountains
might be visited. This route would lead us over a course of about eighty
or one hundred miles through the Slate Mountains and Sawback Range, and
eventually bring us to Banff.

We were to follow a certain stream that enters the Bow from the north,
but as we were now, and had been for many days, outside the region
covered by Dawson’s map, it was impossible to feel certain which stream
we should take. On our way up the Bow River, Peyto had made exploring
excursions into several tributary valleys, but in every case these had
proved to be hemmed in by precipitous mountain walls, and guarded at the
ends by impassable cliffs or large glaciers.

The second day after leaving the lake we came to a large stream which
had not been examined hitherto. Though we were far from certain that
this was the stream that had been indicated by Wilson, it seemed best to
follow up the valley and see where we should come out. After ascending
an exceedingly steep bank, we found easy travelling in a fairly open
valley. One fact made us apprehensive that there was no pass out of the
valley. There was no sign of a trail on either side of the stream, and
none of the trees were blazed. Indian trails exist in almost every
valley where an available pass leads over the summit, and where there
are no trails the probability is that the valley is blind, or, in other
words, leads into an impassable mountain wall. The valley curved around
in such a manner that we could not tell what our prospects were, but at
about two o’clock we reached a place far above timber line,—a region of
open moors, absolutely treeless,—surrounded by bare mountains on every

               [Illustration: Camp at Little Fork Pass.]

Our tent was pitched in a ravine near a small stream. Immediately after
lunch, Peyto and I ascended 1000 feet on a mountain north of the valley
with the purpose of discovering a pass. From this point we saw Mount
Hector due south, and the remarkable mountain named Mount Molar, nearly
due east. Three possible outlets from the valley appeared from our high
elevation. Peyto set off alone to explore a pass toward the north, in
the direction of the Pipestone Pass, while I made an examination of a
notch toward the east. Each proved impossible for horses, if not for
human beings. The third notch lay in the direction of Mount Hector, and
together we set out to examine it. A walk of about two miles across the
rolling uplands of this high region brought us to the pass. It was very
steep, but an old Indian trail proved that the pass was available for
horses. The trail appeared more like those made by the mountain goats
than by human beings, for it led up to a very rough and forbidding
cliff, where loose stones and long disuse had nearly obliterated the
path. We spent some time putting the trail in repair, by rolling down
tons of loose stones, and making everything as secure as possible.

The next morning was threatening, and gray, watery clouds hung only a
little above the summit of the lofty pass, which was nearly 8000 feet
above sea-level. I started about an hour before the outfit, as I desired
to observe the horses climbing the trail. I felt considerable anxiety as
they approached. All my photographic plates, the result of many
excursions and mountain ascents in a region where the camera had never
before been used, were placed on one of the horses, for which purpose
one of the most sure-footed animals had been selected. In case of a
false step and a roll down the mountain side, the results of all this
labor would be lost.

                       [Illustration: THE “BAY.”]

The horses, however, all reached the summit in safety. These mountain
pack-horses reveal a wonderful agility and sagacity in such difficulties
as this place presented. In fact, the several animals in my pack-train
had become old friends, for they had been with me all summer. Peyto, as
packer, always rode in the saddle, for the dignity of this office never
allows a packer to walk, and besides, from their physical elevation on a
horse’s back they can better discern the trail. A venerable Indian
steed, long-legged and lean, but most useful in fording deep streams,
was Peyto’s saddle-horse. The bell-mare followed next, led by a
head-rope. The other horses followed in single file, and never allowed
the sound of the bell to get out of hearing. There were two horses in
the train that were endowed with an unusual amount of equine
intelligence and sagacity. The larger of the two was known as the “Bay,”
and the other was called “Pinto,” the latter being a name given to all
horses having irregular white markings. These animals were well
proportioned, with thick necks and broad chests, and, though of Indian
stock, they probably had some infusion of Spanish blood in their veins,
derived from the conquest of Mexico.

The Pinto was remarkably quick in selecting the best routes among fallen
timber, or in avoiding hidden dangers, but the Bay was far more
affectionate and fond of human company. In camp, all the horses would
frequently leave the pasture and visit the tent, where they would stand
near the fire to get the benefit of the smoke when the flies were thick,
or nose about in the hope of getting some salt. On the trail, it was
always very interesting to watch the Bay and Pinto. They would unravel a
pathway through burnt timber in a better manner than their human
leaders, and would calculate in every case whether it were better to
jump over a log or to walk around it. But one day I was surprised to see
the Bay jump over a log which measured 3 feet 10 inches above the
ground. With a heavy, rigid pack this is more of a feat than to clear a
much greater height with a rider in the saddle. Sometimes when the trail
was lost we would put the Pinto ahead to lead us, and on several
occasions he found the trail for us.

The summit of the pass revealed to us one of those lonely places among
the high mountains where silence appears to reign supreme. We were in an
upland vale, where the ground was smooth and rolling, and carpeted with
a short growth of grass and herbs. On either side were bare cliffs of
limestone, unrelieved by vegetation or perpetual snow. Here no birds or
insects broke the silence of the mountain solitude, no avalanche
thundered among the mountains, and even the air was calm and made no
sound in the scanty herbage. All was silent as the desert, or as the
ocean in a perfect calm. The dull tramp of our horses, and the tinkling
of the bell, were the only sounds that interrupted the death-like quiet
of the place. It is said that such places soon drive the lost traveller
to insanity, but in company with others these lonely passes afford a
delightful contrast to the life and motion and sound of lower altitudes.

As we advanced and commenced to descend, the north side of Mount Hector
began to appear. It was completely covered with a great ice sheet and
snow fields. Mount Hector is a little more than 11,000 feet in altitude,
and gives a good example of how the exposure to the sun affects the size
of glaciers in these mountains. On the south and west sides of Mount
Hector there is almost no snow, while the opposite slopes are flooded by
a broad glacier many miles in area, and brilliant in a covering of
perpetual snow.

At the tree line a trail appeared, and led us in rapid descent to the
valley. The scenery on all sides was magnificent. Many waterfalls came
dashing down from the melting glaciers of Mount Hector and joined a
torrent in the valley bottom. The great cliffs about us, and the lofty
mountains, visible here and there through avenues in the giant forest
trees, were illumined by a brilliant sun, ever now and again breaking
through the clouds. About eleven o’clock we stopped to have a light
lunch, as was our custom on all long marches. Peyto loosed the girdle of
the horses, slipped off the packs, and turned the animals into a meadow
near by. Meanwhile our cook cut firewood and made a large pot of tea,
which always proved the most acceptable drink when a long march had made
us somewhat weary. These brief rests of about forty minutes in the midst
of a day’s march always proved very beneficial to men and horses.

A long straight valley led us southwards for many miles. In every clear
pool or stream, trout could be seen darting about and seeking
hiding-places, though we had no time to stop and catch them. At about
one o’clock we reached the Pipestone Creek and obtained a view of Mount
Temple and other familiar peaks about fifteen miles to the south.

We camped near the stream in a meadow, not far from the Little Pipestone
Creek. As the march of this day had brought us back to the region
covered by the map, we had little apprehension of losing our way in the

The next day we followed up the Little Pipestone Creek and enjoyed a
fine trail through a dense forest. We camped near the summit of a pass
south of Mount Macoun, which I partially ascended after lunch. The
rugged peak named Mount Douglas lay due east, and presented some very
large and fine glaciers.

Our camp was on a little peninsula jutting out into a lake, with water
of a most brilliant blue color. The sunset colors this evening were
heightened by the presence of a little smoke in the atmosphere, which
gave a deep copper color to the western sky, while the placid lake
appeared vividly blue in the evening light.

The following day, which was the first of September, we continued south
over a divide and into the valley of Baker Creek, which we followed for
several hours, and then took a branch stream which comes in from the
east, and finally camped in a high valley. We were now in the Sawback
Range, where the mountains are peculiarly rugged, and the strata thrown
up at high angles. The weather was giving evidence of an approaching
storm, and before we had made camp the next day in Johnston’s Creek,
rain began to fall.

Hitherto the nature of the country since leaving the Upper Bow Lake had
been such as to render the travelling very easy and delightful, but from
this point on, we met with all sorts of difficulties. In the lower part
of Johnston’s Creek, and in the valley of a tributary which comes in
from the northeast, the trail was covered by fallen timber, and our
progress was very slow and tedious. Moreover, the weather now became
very bad, and we were caught near the summit of a pass between Baker
Creek and Forty-Mile Creek in a heavy snow-storm, so that the trail was
soon obliterated and the surrounding mountains could not be seen.
Fearing that we might lose our bearings altogether, Peyto urged forward
the horses at a gallop, so that we might get over the pass before the
snow gained much depth.

The descent into the valley of Forty-Mile Creek was very steep, and we
camped among some large trees with several inches of snow on the ground.
The next day we urged our horses on again and followed down the valley
of Forty-Mile Creek. In some parts of the valley we found absolutely the
worst travelling I have anywhere met with in the Rockies. The horses
were compelled to make long detours among the dead timber, and the axe
was frequently required to cut out a passage-way. Frequent snow showers
swept through the valley, and, though very beautiful to look at, they
kept the underbrush covered with damp snow and saturated our clothes
with water.

In the afternoon we reached the summit of the Mount Edith Pass, and once
more caught sight of the Bow valley and the flat meadows near Banff. A
fine wide trail or bridle-path, smooth and hard, led us down toward the
valley. The contrast to our recent trails was very striking. We walked
between a broad avenue of trees, each one blazed to such an extent that
all the bark had been removed on one side of the tree, and some were
practically girdled. This was very different from our recent experience
where we had only found a small insignificant axe-mark on some dead
tree, about once in every quarter mile, or often none at all during
hours of progress.

On the fifth of September we reached Banff late in the evening, and
found that the valley was free of new snow by reason of its lower
altitude. We had been out for twenty-three days and had covered, in all,
about one hundred and seventy-five miles.


                             CHAPTER XIII.

  _Origin and Rise of the Fur Trade—The Coureurs des Bois and the
  Voyageurs—Perils of the Canoe Voyages—The Hudson Bay Company and the
  Northwest Company—Intense Rivalry—Downfall of the Northwest
  Company—Sir Alexander Mackenzie—His Character and Physical
  Endowments—Cook’s Explorations—Mackenzie Starts to Penetrate the
  Rockies—The Peace River—A Marvellous Escape—The Pacific Reached by
  Land—Perils of the Sea and of the Wilderness._

The history of the early explorations in the Canadian Rockies centres
about the fur trade. From the date of the very earliest settlements in
Canada, the quest of furs had occupied a position of chief importance,
to which the pursuits of agriculture, grazing, or manufacture had been
subordinate. The search for gold, which throughout the history of the
world has ever been one of the most powerful incentives to hardy
adventure and daring exploit, did not at first occupy the attention of
those who were ready to hazard their lives for the sake of possible
wealth quickly acquired.

The unremitting and often ruthless destruction of the fur-bearing
animals, in the immediate vicinity of the settlements, caused them to
become exceedingly scarce, and at length to disappear altogether. But
fortunately it was not difficult to induce the Indians to bring their
furs from more distant regions, until at length even those who lived in
the most remote parts of Canada became accustomed to barter their winter
catch at the settlements.

As the trade gradually became more extensive, there sprang up two
slightly different classes of men, the _coureurs des bois_, or wood
rangers, and the _voyageurs_, each of Canadian birth, but who, by reason
of constant contact with the Indians and long-continued separation from
the amenities and refinements of civilized life, came at length to have
more in common with the rude savages, than with the French settlers from
whom they were sprung. Many of these wilderness wanderers married Indian
wives, and, moreover, their plastic nature, a result of their French
extraction, helped them quickly to assume the manners and customs of the
swarthy children of the forest. The _voyageurs_, like the _coureurs des
bois_, were accustomed to take long canoe voyages, under the employ of
some fur company, or even of private individuals; sometimes alone, but
more often several banded together, carrying loads of ammunition,
provisions, and tobacco from the settlements and returning with their
canoes laden down with beaver, marten, and other furs collected among
the Indians. The vast domain of Canada is so completely watered by a
network of large streams, rivers, and lakes, more or less connected,
that it is not difficult to make canoe voyages in almost any direction
throughout the length and breadth of this great territory. It is indeed
possible to start from Montreal and journey by water to Hudson Bay, the
Arctic Ocean, or the base of the Rocky Mountains.

The _voyageurs_ were a hardy race, possessed of incredible physical
strength and untiring patience, remarkable for an implicit obedience to
their superiors, and endowed with a happy, careless nature, regardless
of the morrow, so long as they were well-off to-day. While making their
long and arduous journeys, the _voyageurs_ would arouse their flagging
spirits with merriment and laughter, or awaken echoes from the wooded
shores and rocky cliffs along the rivers and lakes, by their
characteristic songs, to the accompaniment of the ceaseless and rhythmic
movement of their paddles.

How much of romance and poetry filled up the measure of their simple
lives! Nature in all its beauty and grandeur was ever around them, and
nature’s people—the Indians—were those with whom they most associated.
They loved all men, and all men loved them, whether civilized or
barbarian. The stranger among them was called Cousin, or Brother, and
the great fur barons, the partners in the fur companies, on whom they
gazed with awe and admiration, as they travelled in regal state from
post to post, and to whom they bore almost the relation of serf to
feudal lord, they called by their Christian names. The melodies which
they chanted in unison as they glided along quiet rivers, with banks of
changing outlines and constant variety of forest beauty, would hardly
cease as they dashed madly down some roaring, snow-white rapid, beset
with dangerous rocks, where a single false stroke would be fatal. For
many days continuously they were wont to travel, with short time for
sleep, working hour after hour at the paddle, or making the toilsome
portages, when they were accustomed to carry on their backs loads of
almost incredible weight. Nevertheless, on any opportunity for
relaxation, they were ever ready for revelry, music, and the dance,
which they would prolong throughout the night.

The usual dress of the _voyageur_ consisted of a coat or capote cut from
a blanket, a cotton shirt, moccasins, and leather or cloth trousers,
held in place by a belt of colored worsted. A hunting knife and
tobacco-pouch, the latter a most indispensable adjunct to the happiness
of the _voyageur_, were suspended from his belt. Sometimes they would be
absent from the settlements twelve or fifteen months, and many never
returned from their perilous trips. Some were drowned while attempting
to run dangerous rapids. Others were overtaken by the approach of
winter, or were stopped by ice-bound rivers impossible to navigate, and
perished miserably from exposure and starvation.

Those who returned, however, would be amply rewarded by the wealth
suddenly acquired from the result of their long toil. The dissipation of
their gains in the course of a few weeks, accompanied by all manner of
revelry, licentiousness, and mad extravagance, was their compensation
for long periods of privation. At length, their means being exhausted, a
longing for the old manner of life returned, and with renewed hopes they
would recommence their long journeys into the wilderness.

The value of the fur trade soon aroused the attention of a number of
wealthy and influential traders, and in 1670 a charter was granted to
Prince Rupert and a company of fourteen others, to “the sole trade and
commerce” throughout all the regions watered by streams flowing into
Hudson or James Bay. This region was henceforth known as Rupert’s Land.
In addition to the right of trade, the Hudson Bay Company had the
authority of government and the dispensation of justice throughout this
vast territory.

During the winter of 1783-4, however, a number of Canadian merchants,
previously engaged in the fur trade, joined their several interests, and
formed a coalition which assumed the name of the Northwest Company.

This organization, governed, as it was, by different principles from
that of the Hudson Bay Company, soon became a powerful rival. The
younger men in the Northwest Company were fired with ambition and
assured of an adequate reward for their services. While for many years
their older rivals had slumbered, content with the limits of their
territory, the more enterprising Northwest Company, with infinite toil
and danger, extended their posts throughout the interior and western
parts of Canada, and opened up a new and hitherto undeveloped country.
Another great advantage that the Northwest Company had over the Hudson
Bay Company resulted from their employment of the suave and plastic
_voyageurs_, in whose blood the French quality of ready adaptability to
surroundings was especially well shown in their dealings with the
Indians, with whom they had the greatest influence.

On the other hand, the greater part of the Hudson Bay canoe men were
imported from the Orkney Islands. What with their obstinate, unbending
nature, and mental sluggishness, these men presented a most unfavorable
contrast to the genial _voyageurs_.

The establishment of the Northwest Company aroused the utmost jealousy
and animosity of the Hudson Bay Company. While the various parties were
engaged in dealings with the Indians, there not infrequently occurred
open conflicts, bloodshed, and murder among the agents, in their
attempts to outwit and circumvent one another.

At length the partners of the Northwest Company in the interior of
Canada, realizing that all the profits were more than balanced by their
endless and painful contest, determined to open a negotiation with their
rivals, and for this purpose sent two delegates to London with full
authority to close whatever agreement would be for the best interests of
the company. Just at this time the directors of the two companies were
about to sign a contract most favorable to the Northwest Company.
Unfortunately, on the eve of this event, the two delegates from Canada
made their appearance, and instead of communicating at once with their
own directors, they showed their papers to the officers of the Hudson
Bay Company. The Hudson Bay Company took advantage of the opportunity,
and, instead of receiving terms from the other, now proceeded to dictate
them. The outcome of this unfortunate manœuvre was, that the Northwest
Company became merged in that of the Hudson Bay Company, together with
the privileges and trade of all of the vast territory which the
Northwest Company had developed by superior enterprise. Thus, in 1821,
the Northwest Company ended its career.

The Hudson Bay Company’s territory was at length, from time to time,
encroached upon as the colonies of British Columbia, Vancouver’s Island,
and Manitoba were established. Finally, in 1869, the Company ceded all
their governmental and territorial rights to the Dominion, receiving
£300,000 in compensation. Their forts or posts, together with a small
amount of land in the immediate vicinity, were reserved by them. The
Hudson Bay Company still exists as a commercial organization, carrying
on a thriving business in many of the principal cities and towns of

So much by way of introduction to the exploration of the Canadian

Let us now turn to Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the hardy explorer who first
crossed the continent of North America, after penetrating the grim and
inhospitable array of mountains which had hitherto presented an
impassable barrier to all further westward progress.

Mackenzie was born in the northern part of Scotland, in the picturesque
and historic town of Inverness. The year of his birth is usually set
down as 1755. In his youth he emigrated to Canada, and found employment
as a clerk to one of the partners in the great Northwest Fur Company.
Later on he went to Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, and became one of
the principal partners in the Northwest Company.

Mackenzie was endowed by nature with a powerful physique and a strong
constitution, which enabled him to undergo the unusual hardships of his
explorations in the wilderness. Beside these physical qualifications, he
was inspired with the ambition necessary to the formation of great
plans, and with an enterprising spirit which impelled him to carry them
through to a successful termination. Great versatility of idea enabled
him to oppose every novel and sudden danger with new plans, while a
rugged perseverance, indomitable patience, and a boldness often
bordering on recklessness, carried him through all manner of physical
and material obstacles. In his dealings with the Indians and his own
followers, he showed an unusual tact, a quality which more than any
other contributed to his success. Nothing so quickly saps the strength
and tries the courage of the explorer, be he ever so bold and
persevering, as cowardice and unwillingness among his followers.

Nevertheless, Mackenzie was not a scientific explorer. Outside of the
manners and customs of the various tribes with which he came in contact,
only the most patent and striking phenomena of the great nature-world
impressed him. No better idea of his views on this subject could be
obtained than from a passage in the preface to his _Voyages_:

“I could not stop,” says Mackenzie, “to dig into the earth, over whose
surface I was compelled to pass with rapid steps; nor could I turn aside
to collect the plants which nature might have scattered on the way, when
my thoughts were anxiously employed in making provision for the day that
was passing over me. I had to encounter perils by land and perils by
water; to watch the savage who was our guide, or to guard against those
of his tribe who might meditate our destruction. I had, also, the
passions and fears of others to control and subdue. To-day, I had to
assuage the rising discontents, and on the morrow, to cheer the fainting
spirits of the people who accompanied me. The toil of our navigation was
incessant, and oftentimes extreme; and, in our progress overland, we had
no protection from the severity of the elements, and possessed no
accommodations or conveniences but such as could be contained in the
burden on our shoulders, which aggravated the toils of our march, and
added to the wearisomeness of our way.

“Though the events which compose my journals may have little in
themselves to strike the imagination of those who love to be astonished,
or to gratify the curiosity of such as are enamoured of romantic
adventures; nevertheless, when it is considered that I explored those
waters which had never before borne any other vessel than the canoe of
the savage; and traversed those deserts where an European had never
before presented himself to the eye of its swarthy natives; when to
these considerations are added the important objects which were pursued,
with the dangers that were encountered, and the difficulties that were
surmounted to attain them, this work will, I flatter myself, be found to
excite an interest and conciliate regard in the minds of those who
peruse it.”

Thus Mackenzie writes in the preface to his journal. Nevertheless, there
is no evidence throughout his works that he was learned or even
interested in the sciences of botany or geology. The scientific mind
becomes so much absorbed in the search for information, when surrounded
by the infinite variety of nature’s productions, especially in regions
hitherto unknown, that mere inconvenience, physical suffering, or
imminent peril is incapable of withdrawing the attention from the chosen
objects of pursuit. Whoever reads Humboldt’s narrative of travels in the
equinoctial regions of South America, especially that part which
pertains to his voyage on the Orinoco, will appreciate the truth of
this. The stifling, humid heat of a fever-laden atmosphere, the ever
present danger of sudden death from venomous serpents, ferocious
alligators, or the stealthy jaguar, the very air itself darkened by
innumerable swarms of mosquitoes and stinging insects, with changing
varieties appearing at every hour of the day and night, were unable to
force this great naturalist to resign his work.

Unfortunately, the explorer and the naturalist are not often combined in
one person, notwithstanding that the fact of being one, implies a
tendency toward becoming the other.

Mackenzie mentions one or two attempts previous to 1792 to cross the
Rocky Mountains. No record of these expeditions is available, a
circumstance that implies their termination in failure or disaster.

Up to this time the Rocky Mountains, with their awful array of saw-edged
peaks covered with a dazzling white mantle of perpetual snow, had stood
as the western limit of overland exploration, beyond which no European
had ever passed. The Pacific Coast had already been explored by Captain
Cook in 1778, and a few years later so accurately charted by Vancouver,
that his work is still standard among navigators. The eastern border of
the Rockies was vaguely located, but between these narrow strips there
remained a vast region, four hundred miles wide, extending to the Arctic
Ocean, about which little or nothing was known.

As in the case of other unexplored regions, there were vague and
conflicting rumors among the Indians concerning the dangers of these
upland fastnesses, accounts of hostile tribes, men partly human, partly
animal in form and nature, and colossal beasts, endowed with fabulous
strength and agility, from which escape was next to impossible. These
Indian tales, though in great part the product of imagination or
superstition, unfortunately did but partial justice to the reality, for
although the reported dangers and terrors were mythical, there were real
and material obstacles in the form of mountain ranges bewildering in
their endless extent and complexity, between which were valleys blocked
by fallen timber, and torrential streams rendered unnavigable by roaring
rapids or gloomy canyons of awful depth. In fact, this region was one of
the most difficult to penetrate and explore that the world could offer
at that time.

Nevertheless, Mackenzie now turned his attention toward this region,
resolved to traverse and explore it till he should reach the Pacific.
Moreover, he was confident of success, perhaps realizing his many
qualifications for such an enterprise, and certainly encouraged by the
remembrance of the difficulties he had overcome during his former
voyage, in 1789, to the mouth of that great river which bears his name.

Leaving Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca, he soon reached that great
waterway, the Peace River, and with several canoes began to stem the
moderate current of this stream, which is at this point about one fourth
of a mile in width and quite deep.

The origin of names is always interesting, and that of the Peace River
is said to be derived from a circumstance of Indian history. The tribe
of Indians called the Knisteneux, who originally inhabited the Atlantic
seaboard and the St. Lawrence valley, migrated in a northwesterly
direction. In the course of this tribal movement, after reaching the
centre of the continent, they at length came in contact with the Beaver
Indians, and a neighboring tribe called the Slaves, at a point some
fifty leagues due south from Lake Athabasca. The Knisteneux drove these
tribes from their lands, the Slave Indians moving northward down the
Slave River to Great Slave Lake, from which circumstance the lake
derives its name. The term Slave was not applied to indicate servitude,
but by way of reproach on their unusual barbarity and destitution. The
Beaver Indians moved in another direction, more to the westward, and on
the ratification of peace between them and the Knisteneux, the Peace
River was assigned as the boundary between them.

After proceeding for three weeks up the Peace River, Mackenzie camped
for the winter at a point previously decided on, and early in the
following spring recommenced his “voyage,” as these inland water
journeys are called. Mackenzie was accompanied by Alexander Mackay, one
of the officers of the Northwest Company. The crew consisted of six
Canadian _voyageurs_, and the party was completed by two Indians, who,
it was intended, should act as interpreters and hunters. A single canoe,
twenty-five feet long and not quite five feet in extreme breadth, served
to carry the entire party, in addition to three thousand pounds of
baggage and provisions.

It would be entirely aside from our purpose to narrate in detail the
many interesting adventures and narrow escapes of the party. A single
incident will serve to throw some light on the perils and toils that
were encountered. At the time of the incident in question, they had
crossed the watershed by following the south branch of the Peace River
to its source, and were now descending a mad torrent which runs
westward, and is tributary to the Fraser River, which latter Mackenzie
mistook for the Columbia.

It was on the morning of the 13th of June, and the canoe had proceeded
but a short distance, when it struck, and, turning sidewise, broke on a
stone. Mackenzie and all the men jumped into the water at once, and
endeavored to stop the canoe and turn it round. But almost immediately
she was swept into deeper water, where it became necessary for everybody
to scramble aboard with the greatest celerity. In this uncertain
contest, one of the men was left in mid-stream to effect a passage to
shore in the best way he could.

“We had hardly regained our situations,” writes Mackenzie, “when we
drove against a rock, which shattered the stern of the canoe in such a
manner that it held only by the gunwales, so that the steersman could no
longer keep his place. The violence of this stroke drove us to the
opposite side of the river, which is but narrow, when the bow met with
the same fate as the stern. At this moment the foreman seized on some
branches of a small tree, in the hope of bringing up the canoe, but such
was their elasticity that, in a manner not easily described, he was
jerked on shore in an instant, and with a degree of violence that
threatened his destruction. But we had no time to turn from our own
situation to inquire what had befallen him; for, in a few moments, we
came across a cascade, which broke several large holes in the bottom of
the canoe, and started all the bars, except one behind the scooping
seat. If this accident, however, had not happened, the vessel must have
been irretrievably overset. The wreck becoming flat on the water, we all
jumped out, while the steersman, who had been compelled to abandon his
place, and had not recovered from his fright, called out to his
companions to save themselves. My peremptory commands superseded the
effects of his fear, and they all held fast to the wreck; to which
fortunate resolution we owed our safety, as we should otherwise have
been dashed against the rocks by the force of the water, or driven over
the cascades. In this condition we were forced several hundred yards,
and every yard on the verge of destruction; but, at length, we most
fortunately arrived in shallow water and a small eddy, where we were
enabled to make a stand, from the weight of the canoe resting on the
stones, rather than from any exertions of our exhausted strength. For,
though our efforts were short, they were pushed to the utmost, as life
or death depended on them.”

At this juncture, the Indians, instead of making any effort to assist
the others, sat down and shed tears, though it is considered a mortal
disgrace among Indians to weep except when intoxicated.

On the 22d of July, after encountering countless trials and the dangers
of savage foes, no less than the obstacles of nature, Mackenzie reached
an arm of the sea in latitude 52° 20′ 48″, where on a rocky cliff he
inscribed this brief legend in vermilion: “Alexander Mackenzie from
Canada by land, the 22d of July, one thousand seven hundred and

The next day, when alone, he was nearly murdered by a band of Indians,
but escaped by his agility and by a fortunate momentary hesitation on
the part of the savages.

Mackenzie’s return journey was over the same route that he had first
taken, and required but four weeks to traverse the mountains.

In reading a detailed account of this voyage, one is impressed with the
many perils encountered, no less than the ofttimes remarkable and
fortunate escapes from them. It is so with the journals of nearly all
great travellers. They recount an endless succession of dangers and
adventures by sea and land, from which, though often in the very jaws of
death by reason of the operations of nature and the elements, the
traveller ever eventually escapes, apparently in defiance of the laws of
chance and probability. But we must bear in mind the great host of
travellers who have never returned, and whose unfinished journals are
lost forever to mankind.

The remotest corners of the earth have been mute witnesses to these
tragedies. The inhospitable, rock-bound shores of lonely islands, or
low-lying sands of coral reefs, where the ceaseless ocean billows
thunder in everlasting surf, have beheld the expiring struggles of many
a bold navigator. The colossal bergs and crushing ice of polar seas;
hurricanes and typhoons in tropic latitudes; the horrors of fire at sea;
the broad wastes of continents; trackless desert sands, where, under a
scorching sun, objects on the distant horizon dance in the waving air,
and portray mirage pictures of lakes and streams to the thirsty
traveller; deep, cool forests bewildering in the endless maze of trees;
piercing winter storms, with cutting winds and driving snows; the
blood-thirsty pack of famishing wolves; rivers, dangerous to navigate,
with impetuous current swirling and roaring in fearful rapids,—all these
have their records of death and disaster.

But of them all, man has ever been the worst destroyer. The hostile
savage, the mutinous crew, or treacherous guide have proved far more
cruel, revengeful, and cunningly destructive than the catastrophes of
nature, whose mute, dead forces act out their laws in accordance with
the great plan of the universe, unguided by motives of hate, and envy,
and the wicked devices of human passions.



                              CHAPTER XIV.

  _Captain Cook’s Explorations—The American Fur Company—First
  Exploration of the Fraser River—Expedition of Ross
  Cox—Cannibalism—Simplicity of a Voyageur—Sir George Simpson’s
  Journey—Discovery of Gold in 1858—The Palliser Expedition—Dr. Hector’s
  Adventures—Milton and Cheadle—Growth of the Dominion—Railroad
  Surveys—Construction of the Railroad—Historical Periods—Future
  Popularity of the Canadian Rockies._

The early explorations of Captain Cook had an almost immediate effect on
the development of the fur trade. Upon the publication of that wonderful
book, _Cook’s Voyages round the World_, wherein were shown the great
value and quantity of furs obtainable along the northwest coast of
America, a considerable number of ships were fitted out for the purpose
of carrying on this trade. Three years after, or in 1792, there were
twenty American vessels along the Pacific Coast, from California
northward to Alaska, collecting furs, especially that of the sea otter,
from the natives.

Of these “canoes, large as islands, and filled with white men,”
Mackenzie had heard many times from the natives met with on his overland
journey across the Rocky Mountains. Mackenzie’s journal was not
published till 1801. In this book, however, he outlines a plan to
perfect a well regulated trade by means of an overland route, with posts
at intervals along the line, and a well established terminus on the
Pacific Coast. Should this plan be carried out, he predicted that the
Canadians would obtain control of the fur trade of the entire northern
part of North America, and that the Americans would be compelled to
relinquish their irregular trade.

While the agents of the American Fur Company, a rival organization
controlled and managed by Mr. John Jacob Astor, were preparing to extend
their limits northwards from their headquarters at the mouth of the
Columbia, the Northwest Company was pushing southward through British
Columbia, and had already established a colony called New Caledonia near
the headquarters of the Fraser River. Thus Mr. Astor’s scheme of gaining
control of the head waters of the Columbia River was anticipated. The
war of 1812 completely frustrated his plans, when the post of Astoria
fell temporarily into the hands of the English.

A very good idea of the hardships of life at one of these western posts,
together with a brief account of the first exploration of the Fraser
River, may be obtained from a letter written in 1809 by Jules Quesnel to
a friend in Montreal. The letter is dated New Caledonia, May 1st, 1809,
and after a few remarks on other matters, Mr. Quesnel goes on to say:
“There are places in the north where, notwithstanding the disadvantages
of the country in general, it is possible sometimes to enjoy one’s self;
but here nothing is to be found but hardship and loneliness. Far away
from every one, we do not have the pleasure of getting news from the
other places. We live entirely upon salmon dried in the sun by the
Indians, who also use the same food, for there are no animals, and we
would often be without shoes did we not procure leather from the Peace

“I must now tell you that I went exploring this summer with Messrs.
Simon Fraser and John Stuart, whom you have met, I believe. We were
accompanied by twelve men, and with three canoes went down the river,
that until now was thought to be the Columbia. Soon finding the river
unnavigable, we left our canoes and continued on foot through awful
mountains, which we never could have passed had we not been helped by
the Indians, who received us well. After having passed all those bad
places, not without much hardship, as you may imagine, we found the
river once more navigable, and got into wooden canoes and continued our
journey more comfortably as far as the mouth of this river in the
Pacific Ocean. Once there, as we prepared to go farther, the Indians of
that place, who were numerous, opposed our passage, and we were very
fortunate in being able to withdraw without being in the necessity of
killing or being killed. We were well received by all the other Indians
on our way back, and we all reached our New Caledonia in good health.
The mouth of this river is in latitude 49°, nearly 3° north of the real
Columbia. This trip procured no advantage to the company, and will never
be of any, as the river is not navigable. But our aim in making the trip
was attained, so that we cannot blame ourselves in any manner.”

This letter throws some light on the history of this period, and shows
whence the names of certain rivers and lakes of British Columbia were
derived. It would be in place here to say that when Mackenzie first came
to the Fraser River, after crossing the watershed from the Peace River,
he entertained the idea that he was on the Columbia.

A few years later, the agents of the fur companies had established
certain routes and passages across the mountains, which they were
accustomed to follow more or less regularly in their annual or
semi-annual journeys. One of the largest of these early parties to
traverse the Rockies was under the management of Mr. Ross Cox, who was
returning from Astoria in the year 1817. There were, in all, eighty-six
persons in his party, representing many nationalities outside of the
various Indians and some Sandwich Islanders.

A striking incident in connection with this expedition illustrates the
hazard and danger which at all times attended these journeys through the
wilderness. The party had pursued their way up the Columbia River, and
were now on the point of leaving their canoes and proceeding on foot up
the course of the Canoe River, a stream that flows southward and enters
the Columbia not far from the Athabasca Pass. The indescribable toil of
their passage up the Columbia, and the many laborious portages, had
sapped the strength of the men and rendered some of them wellnigh
helpless. Under these circumstances, it seemed best that some of the
weakest should not attempt to pursue their journey farther, but should
return down the Columbia. There were seven in this party, of whom only
two were able to work, but it was hoped that the favorable current would
carry them rapidly towards Spokane, where there was a post established.
An air of foreboding and melancholy settled upon some of those who were
about to depart, and some prophesied that they would never again see
Canada, a prediction that proved only too true. In Ross Cox’s
_Adventures on the Columbia River_ the record of their disastrous return
is thus vividly related:

“On leaving the Rocky Mountains, they drove rapidly down the current
until they arrived at the Upper Dalles, or narrows, where they were
obliged to disembark. A cod-line was made fast to the stern of the
canoe, while two men with poles preceded it along the banks to keep it
from striking against the rocks. It had not descended more than half the
distance, when it was caught in a strong whirlpool, and the line
snapped. The canoe for a moment disappeared in the vortex, on emerging
from which it was carried by the irresistible force of the current to
the opposite side, and dashed to pieces against the rocks. They had not
had the prudence to take out either their blankets or a small quantity
of provisions, which were, of course, all lost. Here, then, the poor
fellows found themselves, deprived of all the necessaries of life, and
at a period of the year in which it was impossible to procure any wild
fruit or roots. To return to the mountains was impossible, and their
only chance of preservation was to proceed downwards, and to keep as
near the banks of the river as circumstances would permit. The continual
rising of the water had completely inundated the beach, in consequence
of which they were compelled to force their way through an almost
impervious forest, the ground of which was covered with a strong growth
of prickly underwood. Their only nourishment was water, owing to which,
and their weakness from fatigue and ill-health, their progress was
necessarily slow. On the third day poor Maçon died, and his surviving
comrades, though unconscious how soon they might be called to follow
him, determined to keep off the fatal moment as long as possible. They
therefore divided his remains in equal parts between them, on which they
subsisted for some days. From the swollen state of their feet their
daily progress did not exceed two or three miles. Holmes, the tailor,
shortly followed Maçon, and they continued for some time longer to
sustain life on his emaciated body. It would be a painful repetition to
detail the individual death of each man. Suffice it to say that, in a
little time, of the seven men, two only, named La Pierre and Dubois,
remained alive. La Pierre was subsequently found on the borders of the
upper lake of the Columbia by two Indians who were coasting it in a
canoe. They took him on board, and brought him to the Kettle Falls,
whence he was conducted to Spokane House.”

“He stated that after the death of the fifth man of the party, Dubois
and he continued for some days at the spot where he had ended his
sufferings, and, on quitting it, they loaded themselves with as much of
his flesh as they could carry; that with this they succeeded in reaching
the upper lake, round the shores of which they wandered for some time in
vain, in search of Indians; that their horrid food at length became
exhausted, and they were again reduced to the prospect of starvation;
that on the second night after their last meal, he (La Pierre) observed
something suspicious in the conduct of Dubois, which induced him to be
on his guard; and that shortly after they had lain down for the night,
and while he feigned sleep, he observed Dubois cautiously opening his
clasp knife, with which he sprang on him, and inflicted on his hand the
blow that was evidently intended for his neck. A silent and desperate
conflict followed, in which, after severe struggling, La Pierre
succeeded in wresting the knife from his antagonist, and, having no
other resource left, he was obliged in self-defence to cut Dubois’s
throat; and that a few days afterwards he was discovered by the Indians
as before mentioned. Thus far nothing at first appeared to impugn the
veracity of his statement; but some other natives subsequently found the
remains of two of the party near those of Dubois, mangled in such a
manner as to induce them to think that they had been murdered; and as La
Pierre’s story was by no means consistent in many of its details, the
proprietors judged it advisable to transmit him to Canada for trial.
Only one Indian attended; but as the testimony against him was merely
circumstantial, and was unsupported by corroborating evidence, he was

Meanwhile the greater part of this expedition continued their way
through the mountains by the Athabasca Pass. Here, when surrounded by
all the glory and grandeur of lofty mountains clad in eternal snow and
icy glaciers, and amid the frequent crash and roar of descending
avalanches, one of the _voyageurs_ exclaimed, after a long period of
silent wonder and admiration—“I’ll take my oath, my dear friends, that
God Almighty never made such a place.”

On the summit of the Athabasca Pass they were on the Atlantic side of
the watershed, and here let us take leave of them while they pursue
their toilsome journey across the great plains of Canada to the eastern
side of the continent.

All of these early expeditions were undertaken in the interests of the
fur trade, and carried out by the agents of the various fur companies,
except for occasional bands of emigrants on their way to the Pacific
Coast, the accounts of whose journeys are only referred to by later
writers in a vague and uncertain manner.

The expedition in 1841 of Sir George Simpson, however, to which
reference has been made in a previous chapter, is in many respects
different from all the others. The rapidity of his movements, the great
number of his horses, and the ease and even luxury of his camp life
indicate the tourist and traveller, rather than the scientist, the hardy
explorer, or the daring seeker after wealth in the wilderness. His
narrative is the first published account of the travels of any white man
in that part of the mountains now traversed by the Canadian Pacific
Road, though he mentions a party of emigrants which immediately preceded
him in this part of his journey. The rapidity with which Sir George
Simpson was wont to travel may be appreciated from the fact that he
crossed the entire continent of North America in its widest part, over a
route five thousand miles in length, in twelve weeks of actual
travelling. The great central plains were crossed with carts, and the
mountainous parts of the country with horses and pack-trains.

In 1858, gold was discovered on the upper waters of the Fraser River,
and a great horde of prospectors and miners, together with the
accompanying hangers-on, including all manner of desperate characters,
came rushing toward the gold-fields, from various parts of Canada and
the United States. This year may be considered as marking the birth of a
new enterprise and the comparative decline of the fur trade ever after.

About this time, or, more precisely, in 1857, Her Majesty’s Government
set an expedition on foot, the object of which was to examine the route
of travel between eastern and western Canada, and to find out if this
route could be shortened, or in any other manner improved upon.
Moreover, the expedition was to investigate the large belt of country,
hitherto practically unknown, which lies east of the Rocky Mountains and
between the United States boundary and the North Saskatchewan River. The
third object of this expedition was to find a pass, or passes, available
for horses across the Rocky Mountains south of the Athabasca Pass, but
still in British territory.

As this was an excellent opportunity for the advancement of science
without involving great additional expense, four scientists, Lieut.
Blackiston, Dr. Hector, Mr. Sullivan, and M. Bourgeau, were attached to
the expedition. The party were under the control and management of
Captain John Palliser.

The third object of this expedition is the only one that concerns the
history of explorations in the Canadian Rockies. In their search for
passes, Captain Palliser and Dr. Hector met with many interesting
adventures, of which it is, of course, impossible to give more than the
merest outline, as the detailed account of their journeys fills several
large volumes. In August, 1858, Captain Palliser entered the mountains
by following the Bow River, or south branch of the Saskatchewan. He then
followed a river which comes in from the south, and which he named the
Kananaskis, after an Indian, concerning whom there is a legend of his
wonderful recovery from the blow of an axe, which merely stunned instead
of killing him outright.

When they approached the summit of the pass, a lake about four miles
long was discovered, round the borders of which they had the utmost
difficulty in pursuing their way on account of the burnt timber, in
which the horses floundered about desperately. One of the animals, wiser
than his generation, plunged into the lake before he could be caught and
proceeded to swim across. Unfortunately this animal was packed with
their only luxuries, their tea, sugar, and blankets.

On the very summit of the pass is a small lake some half an acre in
extent, which overflows toward the Pacific, and such was the disposition
of the drainage at this point that while their tea-kettle was supplied
from the lake, their elk meat was boiling in water from the sources of
the Saskatchewan.

A few days later, Captain Palliser made a lone mountain ascent near one
of the Columbia lakes, but was caught by night in a fearful
thunder-storm so that he could not reach camp till next day. His descent
through the forests was aided by the frequent and brilliant flashes of

A little later they met with a large band of Kootanie Indians, who,
though very destitute and miserable in every other way, were very rich
in horses. Captain Palliser exchanged his jaded nags for others in
better condition, and despairing of pursuing his way farther, as the
Indians were at war and would not act as guides, he started, on the
first of September, to return across the mountains, and reached Edmonton
in three weeks.

In the meantime Dr. Hector made a branch expedition which has some
incidents of interest in connection with it. He was accompanied at first
by the indefatigable botanist, M. Bourgeau, and by three Red River men,
besides a Stoney Indian, who acted as guide and hunter for the party.
Eight horses sufficed to carry their instruments and necessary baggage,
as it was not considered necessary to take much provision in those parts
of the mountains which he intended to visit.

Some reference has already been made to Dr. Hector’s experiences in the
vicinity of Banff, and we shall only give one or two of the more
interesting details of his later travels. He left the Bow River at the
Little Vermilion Creek, and followed this stream over the Vermilion
Pass. The name of this pass is derived from the Vermilion Plain, a place
where the ferruginous shales have washed down and formed a yellow ochre.
This material the Indians subject to fire, and thus convert it into a
red pigment, or vermilion.

Perhaps the most interesting detail of Dr. Hector’s trip is that which
occurred on the Beaverfoot River, at its junction with the Kicking Horse
River. The party had reached the place by following down the Vermilion
River till it joins the Kootanie, thence up the Kootanie to its source,
and down the Beaverfoot. Here, at a place about three miles from where
the little railroad station known as Leanchoil now stands, Dr. Hector
met with an accident which gave the name to the Kicking Horse River and
Pass. A few yards below the place, where the Beaverfoot River joins the
Kicking Horse, there is a fine waterfall about forty feet high, and just
above this, one of Hector’s horses plunged into the stream to escape the
fallen timber. They had great difficulty in getting the animal out of
the water, as the banks were very steep. Meanwhile, Hector’s own horse
strayed off, and in attempting to catch it the horse kicked him in the
chest, fortunately when so near that he did not receive the full force
of the blow. Nevertheless, the kick knocked Hector down and rendered him
senseless for some time. This was the more unfortunate, as they were out
of food, and had seen no sign of game in the vicinity. His men ever
after called the river the Kicking Horse, a name that has remained to
this day despite its lack of euphony.

                  [Illustration: FALLS OF LEANCHOIL.]

To the transcontinental traveller, one of the most beautiful and
inspiring points along the entire railroad is the descent of the Kicking
Horse Pass from the station of Hector to Field. Here, in a distance of
eight miles, the track descends 1000 feet, in many a curve and changing
grade, surrounded by the towering cliffs of Mount Stephen and Cathedral
Peak, while the rich forests of the valley far below are most beautiful
in swelling slopes of dark green. Certainly, whoever has ridden down
this long descent at breakneck speed, on a small hand-car, or railway
velocipede, while the alternating rock cuts, high embankments, and
trestles or bridges of dizzy height fly by in rapid succession, must
feel at the same time a grand conception of the glories of nature and
the triumphs of man. In striking contrast to this luxury of
transportation was the old-time method of travelling through these
mountains. The roaring stream which the railroad follows and tries in
vain to descend in equally rapid slope is now one of the most attractive
features of the scenery of the pass.

When Dr. Hector first came through this pass he had an adventure with
one of his horses on this stream. They were climbing up the rocky banks
of the torrent when the incident occurred. The horses had much
difficulty in getting up, and in Hector’s own words, “One, an old gray,
that was always more clumsy than the others, lost his balance in passing
along a ledge, which overhung a precipitous slope about 150 feet in
height, and down he went, luckily catching sometimes on the trees; at
last he came to a temporary pause by falling right on his back, the pack
acting as a fender. However, in his endeavors to get up, he started down
hill again, and at last slid on a dead tree that stuck out at right
angles to the slope, balancing himself with his legs dangling on either
side of the trunk of the tree in a most comical manner. It was only by
making a round of a mile that we succeeded in getting him back, all
battered and bruised, to the rest of the horses.”

That night they camped at one of the lakes on the summit of the pass,
but were wellnigh famished. A single grouse boiled with some ends of
candles, and odd bits of grease, served as a supper to the five hungry

The next day they proceeded down the east slope and came to a river that
the Indian recognized as the Bow. About mid-day the Stoney Indian had
the good fortune to shoot a moose, the only thing that saved the life of
the old gray that had fallen down the rocky banks of the Kicking Horse
River, for he was appointed to die, and serve as food if no game were
killed that day.

Here we shall take leave of Dr. Hector and the Palliser expedition, and
only briefly say that Hector followed the Bow to its source and thence
down the Little Fork to the Saskatchewan and so out of the mountains.
The next year Dr. Hector again followed up the Bow River and Pipestone
River to the Saskatchewan, and thence over the Howse Pass to the
Columbia, where he found it impossible to travel either west or
northwest, and was forced to proceed southward to the boundary.

The main objects of the Palliser expedition were in a great measure
accomplished, though the Selkirk Range of mountains was not penetrated
by them, and no passes discovered through this formidable barrier. The
vast amount of useful scientific material collected by the members of
this expedition was published in London by the British Government, but
it is now, unfortunately, so rare as to be practically inaccessible to
the general reader.

The account of an expedition across the Rockies in 1862, by Viscount
Milton and Dr. Cheadle, is perhaps the most interesting yet published.
It abounds in thrilling details of unusual adventures, and no one who
has read _The Northwest Passage by Land_ will ever forget the discovery
of the headless Indian when they were on the point of starvation in the
valley of the North Thompson, or the various interesting details of
their perseverance and final escape where others had perished most
miserably. The object of this expedition was to discover the most direct
route through British territory to the gold mines of the Caribou region,
and to explore the unknown regions in the vicinity of the north branch
of the Thompson River.

A period of very rapid growth in the Dominion of Canada now follows
close upon the date of this expedition. In 1867, the colony of Canada,
together with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, united to form the new
Dominion of Canada, and, in 1869, the Hudson Bay Company sold out its
rights to the central and northwestern parts of British North America.

In the meantime the people of the United States had been vigorously
carrying on surveys, and preparing to build railroads across her vast
domains, where lofty mountain passes and barren wastes of desert land
intervened between her rich and populous East and the thriving and
energetic West, but in Canada no line as yet connected the provinces of
the central plains with her eastern possessions, while British Columbia
occupied a position of isolation beyond the great barriers of the Rocky

On the 20th of July, 1871, British Columbia entered the Dominion of
Canada, and on the same day the survey parties for a transcontinental
railroad started their work. One of the conditions on which British
Columbia entered the Dominion was, that a railroad to connect her with
the east should be constructed within ten years.

More than three and one half millions of dollars were expended in these
preliminary surveys, and eleven different lines were surveyed across the
mountains before the one finally used was selected. Nor was this vast
amount of work accomplished without toil and danger. Many lives were
lost in the course of these surveys, by forest fires, drowning, and the
various accidents in connection with their hazardous work. Ofttimes in
the gloomy gorges and canyons, especially in the Coast Range, where the
rivers flow in deep channels hemmed in and imprisoned by precipitous
walls of rock, the surveyors were compelled to cross awful chasms by
means of fallen trees, or, by drilling holes and inserting bolts in the
cliffs, to cling to the rocks far above boiling cauldrons and seething
rapids, where a fall meant certain death. The ceaseless exertion and
frequent exposure on the part of the surveyors were often unrewarded by
the discovery of favorable routes, or passes through the mountains. The
Selkirk Range proved especially formidable, and only after two years of
privation and suffering did the engineer Rogers discover, in 1883, the
deep and narrow pass which now bears his name, and by which the railway
seeks a route across the crest of this range, at the bottom of a valley
more than a mile in depth.

The romance of an eagle leading to the discovery of a pass is connected
with a much earlier date. Mr. Moberly was in search of a pass through
the Gold Range west of the Selkirks, and one day he observed an eagle
flying up a narrow valley into the heart of these unknown mountains. He
followed the direction of the eagle, and, as though led on by some
divine omen, he discovered the only route through this range, and, in
perpetuation of this incident, the name Eagle Pass has been retained
ever since.

But all these surveys were merely preliminary to the vast undertaking of
constructing a railroad. At first, the efforts of the government were
rewarded with only partial success, and at length, in 1880, the control
and management of railroad construction was given over to an
organization of private individuals. In the mountain region there were
many apparently insuperable obstacles, to overcome which there were
repeated calls for further financial aid. However, under the able and
efficient control of Sir William Van Horne, the various physical
difficulties were, one by one, overcome, while his indomitable courage
and remarkable energy inspired confidence in those who were backing the
undertaking financially. Moreover, he had a thorough knowledge of
railroad construction, together with unusual perseverance and
resolution, combined with physical powers which enabled him to withstand
the nervous strain and worry of this gigantic enterprise.

In short, after a total expenditure of one hundred and forty million
dollars, the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which is acknowledged to be one
of the greatest engineering feats the world has ever seen, was
completed, five years before the stipulated time.

With the opening of the railroad came the tourists and mountaineers, and
the commencement of a new period in the history of the Canadian Rockies.

The short period of one hundred years which nearly covers the entire
history of the Canadian Rockies may be divided into four divisions. The
first is the period of the fur trade, which may be regarded as beginning
with the explorations of Sir Alexander Mackenzie in 1793, and lasting
till 1857.

From 1858 to 1871 might be called the gold period, for at this time
gold-washing and the activity consequent upon this new industry were

The next interval of fifteen years might be called the period of
railroad surveys and construction,—a time of remarkable activity and
progress,—and which rationally closes in 1886, when the first trains
began to move across the continent on the new line.

The last period is that of the tourists, and though as yet it is the
shortest of all, it is destined without doubt to be longer than any.

Every one of these periods may be said to have had a certain effect on
the growth and advance of this region. The first period resulted in a
greater knowledge of the country, and the opening up of lines of travel,
together with the establishment of trading posts at certain points.

The second period brought about the construction of wagon roads in the
Fraser Canyon leading to the Caribou mining region and to other parts of
British Columbia. These roads were the only routes by which supplies and
provisions could be carried to the mining camps. The method of gold
mining practised in British Columbia has hitherto been mostly placer
mining, or mere washing of the gravels found in gold-bearing stream

With the commencement of the railroad surveys, a great deal of
geographical information was obtained in regard to the several ranges of
the Rocky Mountain system, and the culmination of this period was the
final establishment of a new route across the continent, and the opening
up of a vast region to the access of travellers.

Year by year there are increasing numbers of sportsmen and lovers of
wild mountain life who make camping expeditions from various points on
the railroad, back into the mountains, where they may wander in
unexplored regions, and search for game or rare bits of scenery.

The future popularity of these mountains is in some degree indicated by
the fact that those who have once tried even a brief period of camp life
among them almost invariably return, year after year, to renew their
experiences. The time will eventually come when the number of tourists
will warrant the support of a class of guides, who will conduct
mountaineers and sportsmen to points of interest in the wilder parts of
the mountains, while well made roads will increase the comfort and
rapidity of travel through the forests.



                              CHAPTER XV.

  _The Pleasures of the Natural Sciences—Interior of the Earth—Thickness
  of the Crust—Origin and Cause of Mountains—Their Age and Slow
  Growth—System in Mountain Arrangement—The Cordilleran System—The
  Canadian Rockies—Comparison with Other Mountain Regions—Climate—Cause
  of Chinook Winds—Effect of High Latitude on Sun and Moon—Principal
  Game Animals—Nature of the Forests—Mountain Lakes—Camp
  Experiences—Effect on the Character._

Those who have spent a few weeks or months in a mountain region, such as
that of the Canadian Rockies, must soon come to feel an interest in
those more striking features of the wilderness which have been
constantly revealed. The special character of the mountains, which have
given so much pleasure; the climate, on which, in a great measure, every
action depends; the fauna, which adds so much of interest to the
environment; and the flora, which increases the beauty of every
scene—must all excite some degree of interest in those who have passed a
short period of time surrounded by nature in her primeval state.

They spend their time to little advantage who do not thus become
interested in the wonders of nature. A very slight knowledge of the
habits and kinds of birds and animals, the principal characteristics of
trees and plants, the nature of minerals, the structure and formation of
the earth’s crust, and the laws which govern the circulation of currents
in the atmosphere will, in every case, offer wide and boundless fields
of research and pleasure. The camper, the huntsman, the explorer, and
the mountaineer, armed with such information, will be prepared to spend
the many hours of enforced idleness, which frequently occur by reason of
fickle weather or a smoky atmosphere, in an interesting and profitable

In the preceding chapters, the details of the flora and fauna, together
with digressions on other topics, have been, from time to time, set
forth in connection with various exploring excursions.

It is the purpose of this chapter, however, to discuss, in a general and
very brief manner, such questions as have a special interest, and to
present them in a somewhat more systematic manner than was possible, or
natural, in connection with accounts of adventures.

To begin then with the foundation of things, the question first arises
as to the origin and cause of mountains.

Astronomy teaches us that the earth is a mass of molten or semi-viscid
matter, covered with a crust which has formed from the cooling of the
exterior. As to the relative or absolute thickness of this crust, there
is much diversity of opinion, but the great majority of estimates ranges
between the limits of one hundred and one thousand miles.

The general features of the earth and the formation of
mountains—subjects which lie in the province of geology—likewise point
to a comparatively thin crust covering a molten interior. Some
geologists contend that the centre is likewise solid, and that there is
a partially molten layer between the centre and crust. Now as the earth
gradually cools by radiation, its volume diminishes, and the solid crust
not having the strength to hold up its own weight, is forced to adapt
itself to the contracting interior. The pressure thus brought to bear on
the thin shell causes wrinkles or folds, so that the earth’s surface is
raised in some places and depressed in others. Moreover, the strata are
folded, fractured, and thrown one over another as they are compressed,
till at length lofty mountain ranges are formed, with all the phenomena
of faults, flexures, and the wonderful contortions of the originally
horizontal beds, that are to be observed in all mountain regions.

In some respects the mountains on the earth are comparable to the
wrinkles on a drying apple, but in size, the highest peaks of the
Himalayas and Andes have been compared more justly to the minute
roughness on an egg shell.

Thus the mountain ranges of the world which appear so vast and lofty are
exceedingly small and insignificant as compared with the great mass of
the earth. The strength of the earth’s crust seems incapable of
supporting the weight of even these relatively small masses, for the
highest peaks in the world never exceed an altitude of five and one half
miles, a height which, if represented on a globe of ordinary size, would
hardly be observable.

All the great mountain ranges of the world have been raised to their
present altitude since the Tertiary Age, but, nevertheless, we must
conceive of mountain growth as a very slow and gradual process, a few
feet or yards of elevation each century. That mountain chains have been
upheaved at one or two violent convulsions of nature, is not in
accordance with reason or geological facts. Faults are often found with
a displacement of the strata through several thousand feet, a fact that
has been used to prove a sudden catastrophe. But it should be held in
mind that, after the strata were once fractured and made to slide one on
another, the sliding would tend to be repeated at long intervals in this
same place. Even then a yielding of but a few inches would be attended
by a violent earthquake.

Beside the comparatively low altitude and very slow growth of mountain
chains, there is a system in their arrangement which adds simplicity to
the study of this subject. Dana calls attention to the fact that the
great mountain chains of the earth are arranged along the borders of
continents, and are proportional in height to the size of the oceans
near them. The continents of North and South America reveal this law in
a striking manner. The stupendous chain of the Andes in South America,
and the more extensive Rocky Mountains in North America, stand opposite
to the vast Pacific Ocean, and run nearly parallel to its shores, while
the lesser systems on the eastern borders of each continent face the
lesser area of the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, almost all mountain chains
show evidence of a pushing force from the direction of the sea, and a
resisting force from the direction of the land.

The erosion of valleys commenced as soon as the strata were elevated
above the sea-level, and thus the valleys of the world, being mostly
those of erosion, are older than the mountains themselves.

Turning now to the Rocky Mountains or the Cordilleran System of North
America, we observe that the chain extends from the region of the City
of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, and westward into the Alaskan Peninsula
and the Aleutian Islands, a total distance of about five thousand miles.
The Rocky Mountain system attains its greatest width in the latitude of
Colorado, where it extends one thousand miles from east to west. Thence
northward, the range becomes narrower toward the International boundary.
From this point the system is only about four hundred miles in width,
and the eastern range follows a line parallel to the Pacific Coast,
nearly to the Arctic Circle.

Having thus very briefly glanced at the cause of mountain chains, the
system in their arrangement, and the area covered by the Rocky Mountains
of North America, let us turn our attention more particularly to the
main features of the chain in its extension through Canada. In all,
there are four ranges of mountains composing the Canadian Rockies. The
most easterly is the highest and most important, and is, besides, the
watershed between the Atlantic and Pacific drainage. Next to the west
lie the Selkirk and Gold ranges, which must be grouped together. Near
the Pacific Coast is a third range called the Coast Range, while
Vancouver Island and the chain of islands extending north represent a
fourth range of mountains. Between the two inner of these four ranges,
there is a plateau region with an average altitude of 3500 feet.

Our attention centres with peculiar interest on the watershed or Summit
Range, as in these mountains are found the grandest scenery and the most
lofty peaks, and they are withal the most accessible to the traveller.
On the eastern side, the Rocky Mountains rise abruptly from the plains
and reach altitudes of 9000 to 11,000 feet. The plain is here, according
to Dr. Dawson, about 4350 feet in altitude, while on the western side of
the range the altitude of the Columbia valley is only 2450 feet, or
nearly 2000 feet lower. The Summit Range is from forty to fifty miles
wide in this portion of its course, and is made up of about five
sub-ranges. The rivers and streams follow the valleys between these
ranges, and find their way out of the mountains by occasional,
transverse valleys, cutting through the ranges at right angles, so that
every stream has a zig-zag course.

It would lead us too far to discuss the formations represented in the
strata, and it is more important to learn the altitudes of the mountains
above the valleys, and their other physical features, since these
characteristics have a more direct bearing on the scenery and on the
general nature of the mountains. The highest peaks of the Canadian
Rockies rise from 5000 to 7000 feet above the valleys, and rarely
surpass 11,000 or 12,000 feet altitude above sea-level. Thus they cannot
compare in magnitude with the Himalayas, the Andes, or even the Swiss
Alps. They, however, are more accessible than the Himalayas, are far
more attractive than the Andes, and afford much greater variety of
scenery, together with more beauty of vegetation, than the Alps. No
picturesque hamlets adorn these valleys, no herds of cattle with
tinkling bells pasture on these hillsides, and no well-made roads or
maps guide the tourist to every point of interest; but, on the other
hand, the climber may ascend mountains never tried before, the explorer
may roam in wild valleys hitherto practically unseen by white men; and
the camper may fish or hunt where no one besides the savage Indian has
ever lowered a baited hook or joined in the stealthy chase.

Before leaving the discussion of geology, it would be well to call
attention to the wonderful effects of ancient glacial action, everywhere
in evidence among these mountains. The countless lakes were, almost
without exception, formed in the Quaternary ice invasion. A few of the
lakes occupy rock basins, and more are dammed by old terminal moraines,
while the vast majority are held in by ridges of drift formed underneath
the glaciers where they joined together at the confluence of valleys.
Mention has already been made of the evidence of ice action on the
summit of Tunnel Mountain, near Banff, showing that the ice was at least
1000 feet in thickness, but on the neighboring mountains there are
further evidences that the ancient glaciers flooded this valley to a
depth of 2700 or 2800 feet. Such evidences may be traced up the valley
of the Bow to its source, where the upper surfaces of the glaciers were
no less than 8500 or 9000 feet above sea-level, though these ice streams
were about the same thickness as at Banff, because the valleys are much
higher at this point. Throughout the eastern range, all the valleys were
flooded, while only the mountain tops rose above the fields of ice, and
the creeping glaciers moved slowly down the valleys and discharged in a
great sheet of ice upon the plains to the east.

The climate of the Canadian Rockies is exceedingly cold in winter and
temperate in summer, but the air is at all times so dry that changes of
temperature are not felt as in lowland regions. The rainfall in summer
is light, and rarely attended by heavy showers. The amount of snow and
rainfall varies locally in a remarkable manner, by reason of the
mountains themselves. Thus the maximum winter depth of the snow in the
Bow valley may be two or three feet, when up in the higher regions, only
five or six miles distant, the depth will approach fifteen or twenty
feet. That mountains have a great influence on the climate and the
amount of rainfall, is universally admitted. In fact, climate and
mountains are mutually dependent one on the other. A range of mountains
near the sea coast, if the circulation of the atmosphere carries the
moist air over them, will cause a great precipitation of rain and snow,
and, vice versa, the amount of precipitation decides the erosive power
of streams, and consequently, the altitude and form of the mountains.

One of the most interesting features of the Canadian Rockies is the
Chinook wind. These peculiar winds occur at all seasons of the year but
are most noticeable in winter. At such times, after a period of intense
frost, a wind springs up from the west, directly from the mountains, the
temperature rises, and the snow disappears as if by magic. The air is so
dry that the snow and moisture evaporate at once, leaving the ground
perfectly free of moisture, where a few hours before was a deep covering
of snow. Identical winds called Foehn winds occur in Switzerland, and in
other mountain regions of the world. The explanation of these winds has
been stated by Ferrel and others, but it is difficult of demonstration
to those who do not understand the laws governing condensation and
evaporation of moisture in our atmosphere. Most of these laws may be
clearly illustrated by an experiment not very difficult to perform. A
stout glass cylinder, closed at one end, is fitted with a closely
fitting plunger. Now if a tuft of cotton, moistened with ether, be
placed in the cylinder, and the plunger be suddenly and forcibly pushed
in, the cotton will take fire. The compression of the air raises the
temperature so that the cotton ignites. The experiment might have been
reversed, and the plunger pulled suddenly outwards so as to rarefy the
enclosed air. In this case the temperature of the air would have been
much reduced, and, if there were sufficient moisture, it would condense
on the sides of the cylinder or form a cloud of vapor. These experiments
are exceedingly valuable, as they demonstrate the laws of temperature
under changing pressure. Moreover, it shows how cold air discharges its
moisture in the form of a mist, and thus illustrates the formation of
the clouds in the upper cold regions of our atmosphere. Now the
circulation of the air in the Canadian Rockies is, in general, from the
Pacific Ocean across the mountains in an easterly direction. It is, of
course, interfered with by the circular cyclonic storms which, from time
to time, pass over the mountains. But when one or both causes of air
motion compel the wind to blow from the west towards the east, the moist
currents are forced to ascend and flow over the mountains. In this case
the air becomes colder as it rises, mist and clouds are formed, and rain
or snow falls, especially on the mountains themselves. As the air
descends on the eastern side it becomes warmer in the increasing
pressure, and the clouds evaporate and disappear. Now this air is much
drier than when it left the other side of the mountains, because a great
deal of rain and snow have been precipitated from it. Moreover, the
latent heat given out as the clouds form, raises the temperature of the
air above the normal temperature of those altitudes. This air gains heat
as it descends, and is subjected to the increasing pressure of lower
altitudes, and it finally appears as a warm and very dry wind on the
east side of the mountains. Such a wind evaporates the snow, and causes
it to disappear in a remarkably rapid manner.

The cause of Chinook winds is thus not difficult of explanation, if one
understands the effects of atmospheric pressure and condensation. The
latent heat given out by the condensing vapors and falling rain is of
course equal to the heat furnished by the sun, when it was evaporating
the surface waters of the ocean, and rendering the air full of invisible
water vapor.

The aspect of the sky and clouds is one of the most beautiful features
of the mountains. Except when obscured by the smoke of forest fires, the
sky is at all times of that deep hue rarely seen near the sea-coast or
in lowland regions. The dark blue extends without apparent paleness to
the very horizon, while the zenith is of such a deep color, especially
when seen from the summit of a lofty mountain, as to suggest the
blackness of interstellar space. Against such a background, the
brilliant cumulus clouds stand out in striking contrast, and every
internal movement of the forming or dissolving vapors, as they rise, and
descend, or curl about, is distinctly seen, because the clouds are so

The high latitude of this region has, of course, a considerable effect
on the length of the days. Near the summer solstice the twilight is
faintly visible all night, and the sun is below the horizon only a
little more than six hours. The moon, however, is rarely visible in the
summer months, because when near the full it occupies that part of the
ecliptic opposite the sun, which, in this latitude, is much depressed.
In consequence, the full moon runs her short arc so near the horizon
that the high mountains shut out all view of her. In winter, these
conditions are reversed, and the moon shines from the clear and frosty
sky with unusual brilliancy, for many hours continuously, while the
low-lying sun leaves many of the deeper mountain valleys without the
benefit of his slanting rays for several months together.

It would be impossible to enumerate even the principal varieties of game
animals, birds, and fish that inhabit this region. The mountain goat and
sheep have been mentioned in previous chapters, and many of the
interesting animals frequently met with have been described in more or
less detail. The ordinary explorer or camper will see very little of the
larger game, as he moves along with a noisy train of pack-horses and
shouting men to drive them. He may occasionally see a bear, or catch
sight of an elk or caribou, but the wary moose and the other members of
the deer tribe will rarely or never be seen without an organized hunt.
The camper will come to rely on the smaller game to give variety to his
camp fare. Chief among these will be the grouse, of which there are six
species in the Canadian Rockies. One variety is tame, or rather very
stupid, and may be knocked down with stones, or snared with a strong
elastic noose at the end of a pole. These birds are so numerous in the
forests that one may always rely on getting a brace for dinner, after a
little search, and I have even seen them walking about on the main
street of Banff, where, of course, they are protected by law. Most of
the mountain streams abound in trout, except where a high waterfall
below has intercepted their coming up the stream. The larger lakes
likewise afford fine fishing, and in many cases swarm with lake trout of
a remarkable size. The camper will often obtain wild fowl, the black
duck, mallards, and teal, in his excursions. Outside of these game birds
and fish, there is little left for him to rely on, unless he chooses to
dine on marmots and porcupines. These are often extolled by travellers
as most excellent eating, but I have tried them both, and would prefer
to leave my share to others, while there is anything else on hand.

The vegetation of the Canadian Rockies deserves a few remarks. The
principal trees are all conifers. There are about six or seven species
of these in the eastern range, and several more in the Selkirks. The
paucity in the variety of deciduous trees in the Rocky Mountains, and
the great number of conifers on the Pacific slope of North America, are
in striking contrast to the wonderful number of deciduous species in the
forests east of the Mississippi River. In the latter region, the number
of species of forest trees is nowhere exceeded in the world, outside of
tropical regions. Another remarkable fact in this connection was stated
by Gray. He calls attention to the fact that there is a greater
similarity, and affinity of species, between the Atlantic Coast trees
and those of far distant Japan, than with those of the Pacific slope.

                     [Illustration: Upper Bow Lake.
                            Looking south.]

In the Canadian Rockies, trees cease to grow at altitudes above 7500
feet, under the most favorable circumstances, and the average tree line
is in reality about 7000 feet. Bushes of the heath family and Alpine
plants, however, reach much higher, while dwarfed flowering herbs may be
found in blossom as high as 8700 or 8800 feet. I once found a small mat
of bright yellow sedums on the summit of a mountain, 9100 feet above
sea-level, but this was an exceptional case. Above this altitude,
various stone-gray, bright yellow, or red lichens, are the only sign of
vegetable life. Nevertheless, in such cheerless regions of high
altitudes, one sees a considerable variety of insect life—butterflies,
wasps, mosquitoes, and spiders. The latter insects may sometimes be seen
crawling about on the snow after winter has commenced, and naturalists
have often described them as one of the most abundant insects on barren,
volcanic islands of the Atlantic Ocean, where there is scarcely a trace
of vegetation.

The pleasures of camping in the Canadian Rockies are almost infinite in
their variety. They vary with the locality and the scenic interest of
the surroundings, and suffer a constant change of mood and aspect with
the changing weather. There is an exhilarating buoyancy in the mountain
air that conspires to make all things appear as though seen through some
cheerful medium, and where nature is so lavish with countless things of
rare interest on every side, one comes at length to regard all other
places unworthy of comparison. The formation of these mountains is such
as to present an infinite variation of outline and altitude, such as one
observes in almost no other mountain region of the world. The
mountaineer may stand on the summit of a lofty peak and behold a sea of
mountains extending fifty or one hundred miles in every direction, with
no plains or distant ocean to suggest a limit to their extent. Such a
vast area, nearly half a thousand miles in width, and thousands of miles
in length, presents an extent of mountain ranges such as are found in no
other part of the world.

The exquisite charm and beauty of the lakes, so numerous in every part
of the mountains, is one of the chief delights of the camper. Some are
small and solitary, perched in some amphitheatre far up among the
mountains, surrounded by rocky walls, and hemmed in by great blocks of
stone. Here, no trees withstand the Alpine climate, and the water
surface is free of ice only during a short season. A few Alpine flowers
and grasses wave in the summer breezes, while the loud whistling
marmots, and the picas ever sounding their dismal notes, live among the
rocks, and find shelter in their crevices.

Other lakes, at lower altitudes, are concealed among the dark forests,
and, with deep waters, richly colored, appear like gems in their
seclusion. Here the wild duck, the diver, and the loon resort in search
of food, for the sedgy shores abound with water rice, and the waters
with fish.

Most of the mountain lakes are small, and hide in secluded valleys, but
many are large enough to become rough and angry in a storm, and have
beaten out for themselves narrow beaches of gravel and shores lined with

             [Illustration: Emerald Lake and Mount Field.]

Even the sounds of the mountains and the forests give constant pleasure.
There is every quality and volume of sound, from the loud rumble of
thunder, or the terrible crash of avalanches, re-echoed among the
mountains, to the sharp, interrupted report of falling rocks, the roar
of torrents, or the gentle murmur of some purling stream. The sighing of
the wind in the forests, the susurrant pines and spruces, the drowsy hum
of insects, the ripple of water on the shores of a lake, and the myriad
sounds of nature—half heard, half felt—conspire to make up the sum of
the camper’s pleasure; though in a manner so vague and indescribable
that they must needs be experienced to be understood.

Nor are all the experiences of camp life attended by pure enjoyment
alone. Mountain adventures comprise a multitude of pleasures, mingled
many times with disappointment and physical suffering. They comprise all
the scale of sensations, from those marked by the pains of extreme
exhaustion, physical weakness, hunger, and cold, to those of the
greatest exhilaration and pleasure. Fortunately, the sensations of
pleasure are by far the more abundant, while those of pain almost
invariably follow some rash act or error in judgment.

The effect on the health and strength is, of course, one of the chief
advantages of camp life. But there is another beneficial result brought
about by this manner of life that is more important, though less often
taken into consideration. This is the effect that camp life has on the
character. In the first place, one learns the value of perseverance, for
without this quality nothing can be accomplished in such a region as the
Canadian Rockies. The explorer will realize this when he comes to a long
stretch of burnt timber, where his horses flounder in a maze of
prostrate trees; and the climber will feel the need of continued
resolution when, after a long and arduous climb to an apparent summit,
he reaches it only to find the slope extending indefinitely upwards.

The quality of patience under toil and aggravation while on the
march—patience with tired horses and weary men—patience under the
distress of wet underbrush, or uncomfortable quarters, or, indeed, when
tormented by mosquitoes, is one of the prime requisites of life in the

While these qualities are more or less common to every one, they are
much developed in mountain camp life. But, perhaps, the ability to judge
quickly and well is that characteristic which is most needed among the
mountains, and the one which is attended by the most suffering if it is
not brought into play. If the explorer or mountaineer decides on the
time of day when he must turn back, and then, under the temptation of
seeing a little more, or of reaching another summit, delays his return,
let him not bewail his fate if he is caught by darkness in the forest
and is compelled to pass a sleepless, hungry night. The laws of nature
are inexorable, and while we obey them there is abundant opportunity of
pleasure, but if we expose ourselves to the grinding of her vast
machinery, one must suffer the consequence. The storm will not abate
merely because we are exposed to it, nor will our strength be renewed
merely because we are far from camp.

Let the camper surround himself with all the luxuries that are possible
without trespassing on the bounds of reason. Let him have a good cook
and a good packer; horses that are used to the trail; a fine camp
outfit; comfortable blankets and good tents; a full supply of cooking
utensils, knives, forks, and spoons; above all, let him take an abundant
supply of provisions, comprising a large variety of dried fruits and the
various cereals, and let each article be of the best quality.

Under such circumstances there is no risk of danger, no opportunity for
discomfort, especially if every action is controlled by a moderate
amount of judgment; but, on the other hand, the rich experiences among
the mountains will prove a store of physical and mental resources, the
memory of which will tempt him to revisit these regions year after year.




  Abbott, Mount                                                      130
  Agnes, Lake                                                         42
      ”    ”    depth of                                              43
      ”    ”    in winter                                            118
      ”    ”    solitude of                                           42
  Air circulation in Canadian Rockies                                267
  Alders in Selkirks                                                 125
  Alpine insects, varieties of                                       271
      ”    plants                                                    271
  American Fur Company                                               238
  Anemones                                                           107
  Assiniboine, another name for Stoneys                               53
  Assiniboine, Mount, altitude of                                    177
      ”    ”    features of                                          178
      ”    ”    first circuit of                                     168
      ”    ”    ”    view of                                         153
      ”    ”    outline                                              156
      ”    ”    south side of                                        174
  Astley, Mr                                                          61
  Athabasca Pass                                                     244
  Atmosphere, eastward movement of                                   123
  Avalanche from Mount Lefroy                                         33

  Balsam fir                                                          38
  Banff, altitude                                                     11
      ”    climate                                                11, 15
      ”    location                                                    1
      ”    population                                                  2
      ”    Springs Hotel                                               3
      ”    surroundings                                                3
      ”    topography of                                               4
  Barometer, diurnal minima of                                       113
  Bean, Mr                                                            72
  Bear’s Paw, chief of Stoneys                                        49
  Beehive, the                                                    41, 44
      ”    altitude of                                                44
  Blackiston, Lieut.                                                 246
  Blind valleys                                                      172
  Bourgeau, M.                                                       246
  Bow Lakes                                                          201
      ”    ”    future popularity of                                 211
      ”    Lake, Lower                                               191
      ”    ”    Upper                                                195
      ”    River                                                       2
  British Columbia                                                   253
  Brown, Mount, altitude of                                          184
  Bull-dog flies                                                      25
  Butterflies, habits of                                              72

  Caledonia, New                                                     238
  Calypso borealis                                                   143
  Cambrian Age, reference to                                          42
  Canada, highest point reached in                                   115
  Canadian National Park                                               1
      ”    Pacific Road, cost of                                     255
      ”    Rockies, comparisons of                                   264
  Cannibalism, anecdote of                                           242
  Canoe River                                                        240
  Caribou mining region                                              256
  Cascade Mountain, ascent of                                         14
      ”    ”    description of                                         5
      ”    ”    origin of name                                         6
  Castilleias                                                        107
  Castle Crags                                                        65
  Cave and basin at Banff                                            159
  Chalet at Lake Louise                                               22
      ”    old                                                        26
  Character, effect of camp life on                                  273
  Cheops, Mount                                                      130
  Chiniquy, Tom                                                       49
  Chinook winds, cause of                                            266
  Chipmunks                                                          106
  Cirque                                                              77
  Climate of Canadian Rockies                                        265
  Cloud effects                                                   29, 82
  Coast Range                                                        262
  Condensation of clouds                                             267
  Condition, physical                                                 89
  Continental watershed                                           18, 37
  Contrast of surroundings                                            95
  Cold weather in September                                           13
  Colorado, altitude of mountains in                                  37
  Color, sunset and sunrise                                           30
  Columbia River                                                     120
  Columbine, yellow                                                   19
  Cook, Captain                                                      230
      ”    ”    explorations of                                      237
  Cordilleran System                                                 262
  _Coureurs des bois_                                                221
  Cox, Ross                                                          240
  Crees, Mountain                                                     52
  Crevasses, dangers of                                              203
  Cross River                                                        171

  Daly Mountain                                                      193
  Dawson, Dr., on Stoney Indians                                      52
  Desolation Valley                                                  107
  Devil’s Club                                                       125
      ”    Head                                                        7
      ”    Lake                                                        6
      ”    ”    Indian legend of                                       8
  Diamond hitch                                                      142
  Dominion of Canada                                                 252

  Eagle Pass                                                         254
      ”    Peak                                                      126
      ”    ”    later attempts on                                    129
  Earth, interior of                                                 259
  Edith, Mount, Pass                                                 219
  Epilobium                                                          107
  Experiences in camp                                                273
  Exploration, pleasure of                                        75, 96

  Forbes, Mount, altitude of                                         184
  Forest fires, ancient                                              188
      ”    ”    causes of                                            188
      ”    fire smoke                                                 11
  Forests, near Lake Louise                                           38
      ”    of Pacific Coast                                          135
      ”    regeneration of                                           190
      ”    Selkirk                                                   125
  Forest trees, replacement of                                       190
  Fraser, Simon                                                      239
      ”    River, first exploration of                               238
  Fur trade, origin of                                               220

  Glacier, House                                                     121
      ”    debris                                                     55
      ”    thickness of ice in                                        78
  Glissading, method of                                               70
  Goat, Rocky Mountain                                     117, 163, 164
  Gold, discovery of                                                 245
  Golden-rod, Alpine species                                          72
  Gold Range                                                         262
  Great Mountain                                                  77, 80
      ”    Slave Lake, origin of name                                231
  Green, Dr.                                                         124
  Grouse                                                             269

  Hazel Peak, altitude                                               108
  Hector, Dr.                                                    10, 246
  Hector, Mount                                                      216
  Heely’s Creek                                                      139
  Hermit Range                                                       127
  Hooker, Mount, altitude of                                         184
  Huber and Sulzer                                                   124
  Hudson Bay Company                                            224, 226

  Ice Age                                                         5, 264
      ”    pillars                                                    56
  Indian, ability to follow trails                                    49
      ”    frankness                                                  63
      ”    gratitude                                                  51
      ”    habits of                                                  50
      ”    idea concerning weeping                                   234
      ”    Kootanie                                                  247
      ”    loquacity                                                   8
      ”    pathos                                                     51
      ”    sarcasm                                                   100
      ”    summer                                                     29
      ”    trails                                               152, 212

  Kananaskis Pass, legend of                                         246
  Kicking Horse Pass, discovery of                                   250
      ”    ”    River, origin of name                                249
  Kootanie River, direction of flow                                  120

  Laggan, distance from Banff                                         62
      ”    distance to Lake Louise                                    24
      ”    ”    ”    Mount Temple                                     79
  Lake Louise, altitude of                                            22
      ”    ”    depth of                                              17
      ”    ”    early morning at                                      26
      ”    ”    forests about                                         23
      ”    ”    highest recorded temperature at                       22
      ”    ”    in October                                            31
      ”    ”    past history of forests at                            24
      ”    ”    prevalent wind at                                     24
      ”    ”    size and shape of                                     16
      ”    ”    summer temperature of water                           26
      ”    ”    topography of region near                             36
      ”    ”    visitors at                                           22
  Lakes in Canadian Rockies                                          272
  Lake trout, size of                                             6, 202
  Laurel, sheep                                                       19
  Lefroy, Mount, avalanche from                                       90
      ”    ”    description of                                        18
      ”    ”    precipices of                                     34, 90
  Linnea borealis                                                    175
  Little Fork Pass, altitude of                                      208
  Lyall’s larch                                                       39

  Mackay, Alexander                                                  232
  Mackenzie, Sir Alexander                                           226
      ”    River, discovery of                                       231
  Mackenzie’s plan for an overland route                             238
  Maple trees                                                        175
  Marion Lake                                                        130
  Mariposa Grove                                                     135
  Marmots                                                        43, 106
  Milton and Cheadle                                                 252
  Minerals on mountain sides                                         173
  Minnewanka Lake                                                      8
  Mirror Lake                                                     42, 45
  Moon, effect of latitude on                                        268
  Morley                                                              51
  Mosquitoes, annual disappearance of                            25, 199
  Mountains, age of                                                  261
      ”    altitude of                                               263
      ”    comparative size of                                       260
      ”    origin and cause of                                       259
      ”    system in arrangement                                     261
  Mountaineers, tribulations of                                      113
  Mounted Police, Northwest                                            2
  Murchison, Mount                                                   207
  Muskegs                                                             46

  _Névé_ regions                                                      56
  Northwest Company                                                  224
      ”    ”    downfall of                                          225
      ”    Mounted Police                                              2

  Outfit for camp                                                    275

  Pacific Coast reached by Mackenzie                                 234
  Pack-horses, difficulties with                                     102
      ”    ”    nature of                                            214
      ”    ”    remarkable experience with                           105
  Palliser expedition                                                245
  Paradise Valley                                                91, 105
      ”    ”    discovery of                                          91
      ”    ”    in winter                                            117
      ”    ”    location                                              84
  Patience, need of, in camp life                                    274
  Peace River, origin of name                                        231
  Peechee                                                              8
  Perseverance, need of, in camp life                                274
  Peyto, William                                                     140
  Phlox, alpine                                                       72
  Pica, tailless hare                                                105
  Pinnacle Mountain                                               92, 97
  Plateau region                                                     263
  Pleasure of camp life                                              271
  Ptarmigan                                                           76

  Quesnel, Jules                                                     238

  Rat, wood                                                          106
  Rhododendron                                                        20
  Roger’s Pass                                                       254
  Rundle Mountain                                                      5
  Rundle’s early visit to Banff region                                 9
  Rundle the missionary                                                9
  Rupert, Prince                                                     224

  Saddle, the                                                         77
  Saskatchewan                                                       206
  Scenery at high altitudes                                  45, 89, 108
  _Schrunds_, cause of                                                87
  Selkirk Range, humidity of                                         123
  Selkirks, early popularity of                                      124
      ”    forest trees                                              132
      ”    geographical position                                     119
  Sheep, mountain                                                     10
  Simpson Pass                                                       144
      ”    River                                                     145
      ”    Sir George                                                244
  Simpson’s, Sir George, expedition                                    7
  Sky, color of, in mountains                                        268
  Smoke of forest fires                                               81
  Snow line, determination of                                         56
      ”    ”    in Colorado and the Andes                             57
      ”    patches, effect on vegetation                              67
      ”    storm in June                                              12
  Solitude of high altitudes                                         215
  Sounds, forest and mountain                                        273
  Spray River                                                          4
  Spruce trees                                                        38
  Stones, loose, danger of, in Canadian Rockies                   59, 69
  Stoney Indians, characteristics of                                  51
      ”    ”    dress of                                              52
      ”    ”    nature of                                              9
      ”    ”    Palliser’s account of                                 53
      ”    ”    religion of                                           52
  Storms, approach of                                             27, 81
      ”    mountain                                                  156
  St. Piran, flowers and butterflies                              72, 73
      ”    summit of                                                  71
  Stuart, John                                                       239
  Sullivan, Mr.                                                      246
  Sulzer and Huber                                                   124
  Surveys for railroad                                               253

  Temple, Mount, altitude                                             78
      ”    ”    first ascent of                                      115
      ”    ”    avalanches from                                       78
      ”    ”    first attempt to ascend                              109
      ”    ”    maximum temperature on summit                        116
      ”    ”    north side of                                        110
      ”    ”    strata of                                             79
      ”    ”    summit of                                            116
  Thirst, method of quenching                                         74
  Thunderstorms in mountains                                          28
  Tourists at Banff                                                    2
  Tree line                                                          270
  Trees, age of                                                      135
      ”    ”    at Lake Louise                                        23
  Tunnel Mountain                                                      4
  Twilight, length of                                                 11
  Twin, William                                                       48

  Valleys, age of                                                    262
      ”    blind                                                     212
  Van Horne, Sir William                                             254
  Vegetation of Canadian Rockies                                     270
  Vermilion Pass                                                     181
      ”    Plain                                                     248
      ”    River                                                     179
  Vitality of mountain trees and herbs                                12
  Voyageurs                                                          221

  Waputehk Range                                                     183
  Wasps and bull-dog flies                                            25
  Wildman, Enoch                                                 48, 119
  Wilson, Tom                                                        138

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions only, delimited italicized text with

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