Jackson County 1826
September 1st, Friday.--In the morning saw my chests placed in a boat, which was going with cargo to the ship at sea. I had intended to accompany my collections and see them stowed in the Dryad, but meeting Captain Davidson, who had come to the Fort, to take leave of the gentlemen there, I mentioned my wishes to him, and gladly embraced the opportunity of resting and writing a few lines to my friends in England.
SKETCH OF A JOURNEY TO THE NORTHWESTERN PARTS OF THE CONTINENT OF NORTH AMERICA,
DURING THE YEARS l824-'25-'26-'27.
By David Douglas, F. L. S.
Reprinted from "The Companion to the Botanical Magazine," Volume II, London, 1836.
Excursion to North California* and the Umpqua or Arguilar River, etc., to Procure Cones of the Gigantic Pine.
Saturday, 2nd, to Friday, 15th.--Weather warm and cloudy, with heavy dews at night. Employed myself gleaning a few seeds of the choice plants that I had collected last year, especially Ribes sanguineum, Gaultheria Shallon, Acer macrophylla and circinnata, Berberis Aquifolium, etc., and laid in specimens of Pinus taxifolia, with fine cones. I also obtained a few sections of the various woods, gums and specimens of the bark of those timber trees which compose the forest in this vicinity. I consulted Mr. McLoughlin on the practicability of visiting the country south of the Columbia, on the Multnomah [Willamette] and Umpqua rivers. It had been my intention to accompany Jean Baptiste McKay, one of the hunters, who often visits this district, but he had unfortunately started just previous to my arrival, and knowing nothing of the country myself, I feared it would be impracticable to follow and overtake him. Mr. McLoughlin, however, informs me that a party will be dispatched in a few days in that direction, under the superintendence of Mr. A. R. McLeod, who has formerly showed me much civility, and that there will be nothing to prevent my joining him. So favorable an opportunity is not to be lost.
Friday, 15th.--Mr. McLeod set off first, to go by land to McKay's abandoned establishment on the Multnomah, fifty-six miles above its junction with the Columbia; there he will remain till the rest of the party arrive, who will go in a few days.
Saturday, 16th, to Tuesday, 19th.--Employed making preparations for my march. As my gun has quite failed me, I am under the necessity of purchasing another, which only costs £2. The country whither we are bound being unexplored, and totally unknown south of the Umpqua or Arguilar River, each individual is obliged to restrict himself to the least possible quantity of encumbrances, especially as land conveyance increases the difficulty. I packed up six quires of paper and a few other small articles, requisite for what I call my business, and provided myself with a small copper kettle, and a few trifles, with a little tobacco for presents, and to pay my way on my return. All the personal property I shall carry, except what is on my back, consists of a strong linen shirt and a flannel one, but as heavy rains may be expected near the coast, I indulge myself with two blankets and a tent. Mr. McLoughlin has most generously and considerately sent forward, to wait for me on the Multnomah, one of his finest and most powerful horses. It will serve either for riding or carrying my baggage, as may be required.
20th, Wednesday.--Left Fort Vancouver in company with Mr. Manson, and a party of twelve men, in a boat containing hunting implements, and arrived on the third day (Friday, the 22nd) at Mr. McLeod's encampment.
23rd to 27th.--Little progress made, because of our horses having strayed to considerable distances, but I spent my time in botanizing, and found two specimens of Rosa, a new Ribes, and some other things. We took our course due west, towards the coast, passing over a pleasant undulating country, with rich soil, and beautiful solitary oaks and pines scattered here and there. The ground, however, being burned up; not a single blade of grass, except on the margins of rivulets, is to be seen.
28th.--Mr. McLeod joined us here, and brought an Indian guide from the coast, south of the country inhabited by the Killeemucks. Our hunters were very unfortunate in the chase, and, though nine deer were seen in one group, the animals were so shy, and kept so close in the thicket, that no fresh meat could be procured. The next day (Thursday) one was killed by a hunter with his rifle, two hundred yards distant. The ball entered the left shoulder and passed through the neck on the opposite side, yet the animal ran nearly a quarter of a mile before she fell.
Proceeded in the same kind of way, seeing little worthy of note for two or three days. Deer were scarce, and the custom of burning the soil is highly unfavorable to botanizing. This plan prevails every where, though the natives vary in their accounts of the reason for which it is done, some saying that it is in order to compel the deer to feed in the unburnt spots, where they are easily detected and killed, others, that the object is to enable them to find wild honey and grasshoppers, both of which serve for their winter food.
Sunday, October 1st.--Very heavy dew during the night, but the day clear and pleasant, with generally a refreshing westerly wind. I observed some trees of Arbutus laurifolia much larger than I had ever before seen--fifteen inches to two feet in diameter, and thirty to forty-five feet high, with fruit nearly ripe: they seem to thrive best in a deep rich black loam near springs, and on a gravelly bottom. Passed at noon some Indians digging the roots of Phalangium Quamash. On such journeys as these, I am sorry to say that Sunday is only known by the men changing their linen, while such as can read peruse in the evening some religious tract, the tenets of which, generally speaking, are agreeable to the tenets of the church of Rome. In the dusk I saw a very large Grizzly Bear (Ursus ferox) enter a low hummock of brushwood at some little distance, but it was becoming so dark that I thought it better to leave him unmolested, and though I went in search of the animal next morning by daylight, I could find nothing of him.
2nd to the 7th.--During this period little occurred worthy of note; we generally walked about twenty miles a day, and fared scantily, finding the deer very scarce and shy. At noon of this day (7th) we were joined by J. Baptiste McKay and two Iroquois; he informs me that he has already given one of his hunters who went to the Umpqua or Arguilar River orders to bring home cones of the large pine for me. Pinus resinosa here attains a height of one hundred and thirty feet, and a diameter of four or five. On one of these trees I killed a beautiful Grey Squirrel, measuring two feet from tail to snout, and saw a curious striped variety, and also a flying squirrel, but could not secure either of these. Typha angustifolia and Nymphaea advena are not uncommon in small lakes. We saw Mount Jefferson of Lewis and Clark about twenty or thirty miles distant, covered with snow for a considerable part of its height. I bargained with McKay for the skin of a large female Grizzly Bear, which he had killed seven days before, and obtained it for a small old blanket and a little tobacco. I mean to use it as an under robe to lie upon, as the cold dew from the grass is very prejudicial to my health. If possible, he will obtain a male of the same kind for me as a match.
One of our hunters, J. Kennedy, had a most narrow escape this morning from a male Grizzly Bear, which he did not perceive till it had come within a few yards of him. Finding it impossible to outrun the animal, and his rifle missing fire, Kennedy sprang up a small oak which chanced to be near; the bear was so close behind that he seized him by one paw on the back and the other under the right arm, but fortunately his clothing was so old that it gave way, or he must have perished. Blanket, coat and trousers were torn almost to rags. This kind of bear cannot climb trees. Our hunters all turned out to seek for the beast, but could not meet with it, though such a supply of food would have been most acceptable. Our last fragments of meat were cooked last night, and gave us a very scanty supper; this morning a small deer enabled us to obtain some breakfast. Thus we live literally from hand to mouth, the hunters all declaring that they never knew the animals of all kinds to be so scarce and shy, which is attributable to the great extent of country that has been burned.
Monday, the 9th.--A small Elk was killed today, after receiving eleven shots; it weighed about 500 pounds, but was lean and tough. The horns of this species are very large, thirty-three inches between the tips, with five prongs on each, all inclining forward, the largest three feet all but one inch long; body of an uniform brown, with a black mane four inches long. I am pretty certain that this is the same sort of animal that I have seen at the Duke of Devonshire's, and unquestionably a very distinct species from the European Stag. I ascended a low hill, about two thousand five hundred feet above its platform, the lower part covered with trees of enormous size, and the same sorts as on the Columbia. On the summit are only low shrubs, small oaks and a species of Castanea. This fine species I first took for a Shepherdia, as it was only shrubby in growth, but I shortly found it on the mountains, growing sixty to one hundred feet high, and with a diameter of three to five feet. The leaves of this tree (Castanea chrysophylla) give quite a peculiar and lovely tint to the landscape. The fruit seems extremely rare, as I only saw it on a single tree, and that growing on the very summit of the mountain. Under its shade is a fine evergreen shrub, new to me, apparently a Clethra. Here, too, Pinus resinosa grows immensely large, two hundred and fifty feet high and fifty-five feet in circumference. Arbutus Menziesii and laurifolia are abundant, but their fruit is almost all taken away by the bears. Two species of Caprifolium, that I never saw before, grew here. My feet are very sore with walking over the burnt and decayed stumps, and struggling through the thick undergrowth of Pteris Aquilina and Rubus suberectos, which are bound together with several decayed species of Vicia.
Friday, the 18th, to Monday, the 16th.--For the last few days our progress has been much retarded by rain and heavy fog. The difficulty of proceeding becomes greater and greater in consequence, for the poor horses slip their footing continually and get bad falls, and to ensure the safety of my collections I carry them on my back, tied in a bear's skin. We have passed three ridges of mountains, about two thousand seven hundred feet high, Mr. McLeod and I taking the lead, and chopping off, with the help of Baptiste McKay and two Indians, the branches of trees which impede our progress. The numerous trunks of fallen Pines are of almost incredible size, often measuring two hundred and fifty feet. A tree, apparently belonging to Myrtaceae, struck me much: its leaves, wood, fruit and bark are all aromatic, smelling like Myrtus Pimento, and producing sneezing like pepper. The fruit is large, globular, and covered with a fine thin green skin, enveloping a small nut with an insipid kernel, which appears to be the favorite food of squirrels. I trust this fine tree will ere long become an inmate of English gardens, and may even be useful in medicine, and afford a perfume. It is Laurus regia.
Want of food, and the difficulty of making our way along, renders this journey most exhausting. We were somewhat cheered at seeing the Umpqua River rolling along below us, when we reached the summit of a weary ridge of mountains today. The stock of food being quite done, Mr. McLeod and McKay went out to shoot, while I employed myself in chopping wood, kindling the fire, and forming our encampment, and after twilight refreshed myself by bathing in the Umpqua. Our distance from the ocean could not exceed thirty or thirty-five miles, as I observed Menziesii ferruginea (Bot. Mag. t. 1571), and Pinus Canadensis, both of which always keep along the skirts of the sea. The poor horses are so fatigued that it is found impracticable to bring them up tonight, and mine being among the laggards, I cannot lie down, as I have nothing whatever to spread beneath me, my blanket and bearskin being among the luggage on the horse's back. Mr. McLeod returned unsuccessful, so that we were both supperless, but he hopes that a large doe, which though wounded, yet managed to elude his search at night, may still be found tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, the 17th.--Last night sat by the fire till two o'clock, when Mr. McLeod most kindly insisted on giving me his own blanket and buffalo robe to lie down upon, while he took a turn of sitting up, wrapped in a great coat. We all three went out to seek for the wounded doe, and found her with a ball that had pierced both shoulders; still, another shot was necessary to dispatch her. McKay having also brought down a fine buck, weighing 190 pounds, we returned to the camp in high spirits, and made a comfortable meal on the excellent venison these animals afforded. Our horses did not arrive till four o'clock, and in a very exhausted condition. The luggage which mine carried was almost destroyed by the poor beast's repeated falls; the tin box containing my notebook bruised quite out of shape, its sides bent together--a small case of preserving-powder quite spoiled--and my only shirt reduced, by the chafing, to the state of surgeon's lint. I congratulated myself exceedingly on not having trusted my papers of plants to the same conveyance, but carried them on my back. The country towards the upper part of the river appears to be more varied and mountainous, and may, perhaps, afford me the much-wished-for Pine, as it certainly considerably resembles the spot described to me by the Indian in whose smoking-pouch I last year found some of its large scales. If the morning proves fine, and any provision has been killed, I intend to start tomorrow for a few days' excursion in that direction, Baptiste McKay having given me one of his Indian hunters, a young man about eighteen years of age, as a guide. To what nation he belongs he does not know, as he was brought from the South by a war party when a child, and kept as a slave till McKay took him. He is very fond of this mode of life, and has no desire to return to his Indian relations, and as he speaks a few words of Chinook and understands the Umpqua tongue, I trust to find no difficulty in conversing with this my only companion.
Wednesday, the 18th.--I set off this morning, proceeding due south, and crossed the river five miles from an encampment of Indians, where there were two lodges and about twenty-five souls, mostly women, the wives of Centrenose, who is chief of the tribe inhabiting the upper part of the Umpqua River. They very courteously brought me a large canoe, in which I embarked, and swam the horses at the stern, holding their bridles in my hand. My guide proving less conversant with the language of the people than I had expected, my intercourse with these Indians was but limited. They gave me nuts of Corylus, with the roots of Quamash, and a sort of meal prepared from the roots of a Syngenesious plant already in my possession, mixed with the roasted and pulverized nuts of the Myrtaceous tree before mentioned. A decoction of the leaves and tender shoots of this tree is by no means an unpalatable beverage.
Soon after a herd of small deer sprang off before me, and I shot a female through the vertebrae, when she instantly dropped. Since leaving Fort Vancouver, I have often seen these creatures run several hundred yards before falling, after a ball has gone through the heart. No fording place appearing here, nor for a considerable distance, I began making a raft, which blistered my hands fearfully, and proved, after all, too small, so that I closed the day's toil by kindling a fire and roasting some of my venison for supper.
Thursday, the 19th.--Finding my hands in such a state that I could not proceed with my raft, I wrote a note to Mr. McLeod, then nine miles distant, informing him of my situation, and sent it by my Indian guide, during whose absence I took my gun and went out to the chase. I soon after wounded a very large buck, but in the eagerness of pursuit fell into a deep gully among a quantity of dead wood, and lay there stunned, as I found by watch when I recovered, nearly five hours, when five Indians of the Callipooia tribe helped to extricate me. A severe pain in the chest quite disabled me, and I found my only plan was to regain the camp as fast as possible, my Indian friends lending a hand to saddle my horse and assist me to mount it. It gave me more pleasure than I can describe to have some excellent provision left, with which I could recompense these friendly savages for their timely aid. After expressing my gratitude in the best way I could, I endeavoured to creep along with the help of my stick and gun, but was thankful to meet with John Kennedy, whom Mr. McLeod had kindly dispatched to render me assistance, and who accompanied me to the camp, where a little tea considerably revived me. I also bled myself in the left foot, and felt much better. Several deer have been killed since my departure.
Friday, the 20th.--Much better, only stiff and sore, as if from carrying a heavy load; proceeded slowly about ten miles, but was much fatigued. On Saturday fell in with several Indians, accompanied by their chief, who gave us a large number of very fine Salmon-trout, three feet and a half long, of excellent quality, and taken by the spear, as netting is here unknown.
Sunday, the 22d.--Little worthy of note occurred. Our Indian friends brought us more fish, and a very large Black-tailed Deer (Cervus macrotis) was brought down by Mr. McLeod's rifle. This is a grand animal, seldom seen further north than 47° N. lat., and one-fifth larger than the Long White-tailed Deer. It is often taken by a snare made of a species of Iris (Iris tenax, Bot. Mag. t. 3343), which, though no thicker than the little finger, is strong enough to secure the largest Buffalo and the Elk. The women of this tribe are all tattooed, chiefly over the lower jaw in lines from ear to ear. This marking is considered a great addition to beauty. I doubt not that such a lady in London, particularly when in her full dress, of red and green earth applied to the upper part of her face, would prove, at least, an object of great attraction.
Mr. McLeod has been much engaged all day in making arrangements for his journey to the country south of this river, where one large and two small rivers are said to exist. While he is in that quarter, I purpose, if in health, to resume my route toward the headwaters of the Umpqua, where I have no doubt many rarities may yet be found. Centrenose (the principal chief) came to our camp this afternoon, and with him Mr. McLeod means to make arrangements for my being accompanied either by him or some of his sons.
Monday, the 23rd.--Mr. McLeod has made the desired arrangements, and while Centrenose goes with himself to the coast, one of his sons will accompany me in my researches, which are chiefly directed towards the discovery of the great Pine so frequently mentioned. The road being hilly, wooded, and difficult to travel, I declined the use of more horses than were absolutely needful, namely, one for my guide, and the other to carry my blanket and paper, and on which I could occasionally ride. Started at ten, and pursued the same course as I had taken four days ago, the Indians again behaving very civilly, putting me across the river in their canoes. By signs I made them understand my wishes, and they kindled a fire and brought me water, nuts, and roots of Quamash, with some fresh Salmon-trout, for which I repaid them with deer-flesh and tobacco, beads and rings. A scrubby Lupine grew on the banks of the river, nearly four feet high, but I could obtain no perfect specimens.
Tuesday, the 24th.--My new friends had, during the night, gone to a small rapid on purpose to spear Trout for me, and woke me this morning long ere daylight, to eat. Proceeded about nine miles near the river, through a district which the thick woods rendered fatiguing, and then climbed over a bare hill, three thousand feet above the level of the sea, and re-entered an almost impenetrable thicket. The rain fell in torrents. I ate the last bit of my deer-flesh, and with difficulty boiled a few ounces of rice, but as I am not sure of meeting with any Indians so as to obtain fresh supplies, I mean to limit myself at present to one meal a day. Here I observed, climbing over trees, a species of Vitis, the only one I have ever seen west of the Rocky Mountains. I made seventeen miles today.
Wednesday, the 25th.--Last night was one of the most dreadful I ever witnessed; the rain, falling in torrents, was accompanied by so much wind as made it impossible to keep up a fire, and to add to my miseries, the tent was blown about my ears, so that I lay till daylight, rolled in my wet blanket, on Pteris aquilina, with the drenched tent piled above me. Sleep was, of course, not to be procured; every few minutes the falling trees came down with a crash which seemed as if the earth was cleaving asunder, while the peals of thunder and vivid flashes of forky lightning produced such a sensation of terror as had never filled my mind before, for I had at no time experienced a storm under similar circumstances of loneliness and unprotected destitution. Even my poor horses were unable to endure it without craving, as it were, protection from their master, which they did, by cowering close to my side, hanging their heads upon me and neighing. Towards daylight the storm abated, and before sunrise the weather was clear, though very cold. I could not stir without making a fire and drying some of my clothes, everything being soaked through, and I indulged myself with a pipe of tobacco, which was all I could afford. At ten o'clock I started, still shivering with cold, though I had rubbed myself so hard with a handkerchief before the fire that I could no longer endure the pain. Shortly after, I was seized with intense headache, pain in the stomach, giddiness and dimness of sight. All my medicine being reduced to a few grains of calomel, I felt unwilling, without absolute necessity, to take to this last resource, and therefore threw myself into a violent perspiration by strong exercise, and felt somewhat relieved towards evening, before which time I arrived at three lodges of Indians, who gave me some fish. The food was such as I could hardly have eaten, if my destitution were less, still I was thankful for it, especially as the poor people had nothing else to offer me. The night being dry, I camped early, in order to dry the remaining part of my clothing.
Thursday, the 26th.--Weather dull, cold and cloudy. When my friends in England are made acquainted with my travels, I fear they will think that I have told them nothing but my miseries. This may be very true, but I now know, as they may do also if they choose to come here on such an expedition, that the objects of which I am in quest cannot be obtained without labor, anxiety of mind and no small risk of personal safety, of which latter statement my this day's adventures are an instance. I quitted my camp early in the morning, to survey the neighboring country, leaving my guide to take charge of the horses until my return in the evening, when I found that he had done as I wished, and in the interval dried some wet paper which I had desired him to put in order. About an hour's walk from my camp, I met an Indian, who on perceiving me instantly strung his bow, placed on his left arm a sleeve of Raccoon skin, and stood on the defensive. Being quite satisfied that this conduct was prompted by fear and not by hostile intentions, the poor fellow having probably never seen such a being as myself before, I laid my gun at my feet, on the ground, and waved my hand for him to come to me, which he did slowly and with great caution. I then made him place his bow and quiver of arrows beside my gun and striking a light gave him a smoke out of my own pipe, and a present of a few beads. With my pencil I made a rough sketch of the Cone and Pine tree which I wanted to obtain, and drew his attention to it, when he instantly pointed with his hand to the hills fifteen or twenty miles distant towards the south, and when I expressed my intention of going thither, cheerfully set about accompanying me. At midday I reached my long-wished-for Pines, and lost no time in examining them and endeavouring to collect specimens and seeds. New and strange things seldom fail to make strong impressions, and are therefore frequently overrated, so that lest I should never again see my friends in England to inform them verbally of this most beautiful and immensely grand tree, I shall here state the dimensions of the largest that I could find among several that had been blown down by the wind. At three feet from the ground its circumference is 57 feet 9 inches, at one hundred and thirty-four feet, 17 feet 5 inches, the extreme length 245 feet. The trunks are uncommonly straight, and the bark remarkably smooth, for such large timber, of whitish or light-brown color, and yielding a great quantity of bright amber gum. The tallest stems are generally unbranched for two-thirds of the height of the tree, the branches rather pendulous, with cones hanging from their points like sugar-loaves in a grocer's shop. These cones are, however, only seen on the loftiest trees, and the putting myself in possession of three of these (all I could obtain) nearly brought my life to a close. As it was impossible either to climb the tree or hew it down, I endeavoured to knock off the the cones by firing at them with ball, when the report of my gun brought eight Indians, all of them painted with red earth, armed with bows, arrows, bone-tipped spears and flint knives. They appeared anything but friendly. I endeavoured to explain to them what I wanted, and they seemed satisfied, and sat down to smoke, but presently I perceived one of them string his bow, and another sharpen his flint knife with a pair of wooden pincers, and suspend it on the wrist of the right hand. Further testimony of their intentions was unnecessary. To save myself by flight was impossible, so without hesitation I stepped back about five paces, cocked my gun, drew one of the pistols out of my belt, and holding it in my left hand and the gun in my right, showed myself determined to fight for my life. As much as possible I endeavoured to preserve my coolness, and thus we stood looking ut one another without making any movement or uttering a word for perhaps ten minutes, when one, at Inst, who seemed the leader, gave a sign that they wished for some tobacco: this I signified that they should have, if they fetched me a quantity of cones. They went off immediately in search of them, and no sooner were they all out of sight, than I picked up my three cones and some twigs of the trees, and made the quickest possible retreat, hurrying back to camp, which I reached before dusk. The Indian who last undertook to be my guide to the trees I sent off before gaining my encampment, lest he should betray me. How irksome is the darkness of night to one under my present circumstances! I cannot speak a word to the guide, nor have I a book to divert my thoughts, which are continually occupied with the dread lest the hostile Indians should trace me hither and make an attack; I now write lying on the grass, with my gun cocked beside me, and penning these lines by the light of my Columbian Candle, namely an ignited piece of rosiny wood. To return to the tree which nearly cost me so dear: The wood is remarkably fine-grained and heavy, the leaves short and bright-green, inserted, five together, in a very short sheath, of my three cones one measures fourteen inches and a half, and the two others are respectively half an inch and an inch shorter, all full of fine seed. A little before this time of year the Indians gather the cones and roast them on the embers, then quarter them and shake out the seeds, which are afterwards thoroughly dried and pounded into a sort of flour, or else eaten whole.
Friday, the 27th.--My last guide went out at midnight in search of trout, and brought me home a small one, which served for breakfast. Two hours before daylight he rushed in with great marks of terror, uttering a shriek which made me spring to my feet, as I concluded that my enemies of yesterday had tracked out my retreat. He, however, gave me to understand, by gesture, that he had been attacked by a Grizzly Bear. I signed to him wait till daylight, when I would go out and look for and perhaps kill the creature. A little before sunrise Bruin had the boldness to pay us a visit, accompanied by two cubs, one of last year's brood and one of this, but as I could not, consistently with safety, receive these guests before daylight, I had all my articles deposited in the saddle-bags, and driven upon one horse to a mile distant from the camp, when I returned, mounted on the animal Mr. McLoughlin had given me, and which stands fire remarkably well, and found the bear and her two young ones feeding on acorns under the shade of a large oak. I allowed the horse to walk to within twenty yards, when all three stood up and growled at me. I levelled my gun at the heart of the old one, but as she was protecting her young by keeping them right under her, the shot entered the palate of one of these, coming out at the back of the head, when it instantly fell. A second shot hit the mother on the chest, as she stood up with the remaining cub under her belly, on which abandoning it, she fled to an adjoining hummock of wood. The wound must have been mortal, as these animals never leave their cubs until they are themselves on the point of sinking. With the carcass of the young bear I paid my last guide, who seemed highly to prize the reward, and then abandoned the chase, deeming it only prudent, after what happened yesterday, to retrace my steps towards the camp of my friends. So I returned, crossing the river two miles lower down than formerly, and halted at night in a low point of wood near a small stream.
Saturday and Sunday, the 28th and 29th.--Both these days being very rainy, as yesterday also was, and having very little clothing, I made all the exertion in my power to reach Mr. McLeod's encampment near the sea. It was impossible to keep myself dry, and the poor horses so fatigued that I was obliged to walk all the way and lead my own by the bridle, the road becoming continually worse and worse from the floods of rain. On Saturday night I halted at my second crossing place, but could procure no food from the Indians, the bad weather having so swollen the river as to prevent their fishing. I boiled the last of my rice for supper, which gave but a scanty meal, and resuming my march the next day, proceeded pretty well, till, reaching the wooded top of the lofty river bank, my jaded horse stumbled and rolling down descended the whole depth, over dead wood and large stones, and would infallibly have been dashed to pieces in the river below, had he not been arrested by getting himself wedged fast between two large trees that were lying across one another near the bottom. I hurried down after him, and tying his legs and head close down, to prevent his struggling, cut with my hatchet through one of the trees, and set the poor beast at liberty. I felt a great deal on this occasion, as the horse had been Mr. McLoughlin's present to me, and was his own favorite animal. Reached the camp at dusk, where I found only Michel La Framboise, our Chinook interpreter, and an Indian boy, who told me that the savages had been very troublesome ever since our brigade of hunters left him some days before. The former kindly assisted me to pitch my tent, and gave me a little weak spirits and water, with a basin of tea made from some that he had brought from Fort Vancouver, and which greatly refreshed me. Rain very heavy.
Monday, the 30th.--Last night, about ten o'clock, several Indians were seen round our camp, all armed. Of course, instead of sleeping, we had to watch; we then made a large fire, and leaving the camp, hid ourselves in the grass, at a little distance, to watch their movements. An hour and a half before day, a party of fifteen passed near where we were, crawling among the grass towards our fire. We immediately fired blank shot and scared them away, then returned to the camp and breakfasted on some tea and a little dried salmon, and as I had not had a thread of dry clothes upon me for some days, and the rain still continued, I sat within my tent, with a small fire before the door the whole day.
Tuesday, the 31st.--Heavy showers, accompanied by a northwest wind, blowing off the ocean, which renders the air excessively cold and raw. Brought in wood this morning for fuel, and branches of Pine and Pteris aquilina (the bracken of my native land) for bedding. At noon an Indian, who had undertaken to guide two of the hunters to a small lake about twenty or thirty miles distant, returned to our camp, wearing one of their coats, and having in his possession some of their hunting implements. All this looks very suspicious, but as we know nothing of his language, and are too few to risk coming to a quarrel, surrounded as we are by foes, we take, at present, no notice, hoping, too, that he may only have robbed and not murdered our poor countrymen. We continue our watch, and in the anxiety and fatigue find myself far from well, and very weak. The night, however, passed off quietly.
November 1st, Wednesday.--Heavy rain. At two in the afternoon Baptiste McKay returned from the coast; such bad weather, he says, he never experienced. The tribes, too, are so hostile, that one of his party has been killed, and an Indian woman, wife of one of our hunters, with five children, carried off; what became of them we have never been able to learn. It is a relief to find our little party becoming stronger, and the addition of McKay is peculiarly welcome, as he is so good a hunter that he will soon procure us fresh food.
Thursday, the 2d.--Our hopes from McKay's prowess are realized; he has brought home a fine doe of the Longtailed Deer, and I gladly turned cook and soon prepared a large kettle full of excellent venison soup. Just as we were sitting down to eat, thirteen of the hunters arrived in five canoes, and of course we invited them to partake. This evening has passed much more comfortably than the eleven preceding ones, and although the society may be somewhat uncouth, still the sight of a visage of one's own color is pleasing, after being so long among Indians. We have all been entertaining one another, in turns, with accounts of our chase, and other adventures, and I find that I stand high among them as a workman, and passable as a hunter.
Friday, the 3rd.--Early this morning made a trip of about twelve miles in hopes of meeting Mr. McLeod, who is daily expected. My course lay along the river banks, which are steep and woody, the stream averaging seven to eight hundred yards wide, with a fall of four feet, owing to the tide, which runs thirty miles up the river from the sea. Collected a fine shrub, with abundant racemes and red juicy berries, also Vaccinium ovatum (Bot. Reg. t. 1354), loaded with fruit. The former is not eaten, but the latter is pleasantly acid, and much used by the Killeemuck Indians, as is also another species of Vaccinium, that I never saw before.
Saturday, the 4th.--Late last night we were joined by Mr. McLeod, who has been a good way to the southward. He informs me that this river, the Umpqua or Arguilar, is three-fourths of a mile broad where it flows into the sea, but that a sandbar, which crosses the mouth, renders it impassable for shipping. Twenty-three miles further south is another river of similar size, and affording the same sort of salmon and salmon-trout. At its mouth are numerous bays, and the surrounding country is less mountainous than the north, and twenty miles further still is yet another river, but smaller than the two preceding, deriving its source, according to the Indians' account, very far up the interior. Here McLeod's investigation has ceased for the present, as he waits till all his party is collected, before proceeding further. The Indians state that sixty miles to the southward, where the Indians are very numerous, a much larger river surpassing, as one stated who had seen both streams, the Columbia in size, gains the ocean. The latitude is about 41° North. Mr. McLeod observed that the vegetation changed materially as he proceeded to the south, the Pines disappearing altogether and giving place to the myrtaceous tree which I have described, of which he measured several individuals 12 feet round, and 70 to 100 feet high. Its fragrant leaves, when shaken by the least breeze of wind, diffuse a fragrance through the whole grove. All the natives, like those in this neighborhood, had never seen white men before, and viewed them narrowly, and with great curiosity. They were kind and hospitable in the extreme, assisting to kindle the fire and make the encampment, while they were delighted beyond measure at being paid with a ring, button, bead, or any the smallest trifle of European manufacture. They have the same garments and dwellings as the people here. As Mr. McLeod tells me that two of his men are going to Fort Vancouver with a dispatch on Monday, I mean to accompany them, the weather being such as to prevent my botanizing to any advantage; besides, it is doubtful whether there will be any other opportunity of my returning thither before the beginning of March, when I mean to start for the opposite side of the Continent. Thus I have made up my mind to return, and can only express the gratitude I feel toward Mr. McLeod for all the kindness and assistance received from this gentleman.
Tuesday, 5th to the 7th.--All my goods have been packed for two days, but the heavy rain detains me. As, however, the weather at this season may probably become worse instead of better, I am determined to wait no longer. Started at ten a.m., with John Kennedy, an Irishman, and Fannaux, a Canadian. Mr. McLeod kindly expressed much regret at seeing me depart with a very slender stock of provisions, and that none of the best: a few dried salmon-trout, purchased of the Indians, and a small quantity of Indian corn and rice mixed together, which we had brought from Fort Vancouver, in all, a week's food for three persons. But at this season, I trust there is little to be feared, as we may hope to shoot deer or wild fowl. The late rains rendering the river impassable for loaded horses, we sent our luggage in three small canoes, and camped up the river near the lodges of some Indians, from whom we obtained a small quantity of trout.
Wednesday, the 8th.--Made little progress, the road being dreadfully bad, and the horses much exhausted with fatigue and poor fare, as there was hardly any grass. Twelve days of extreme misery, during which we traveled with great labor, under all the disadvantages of hunger, cold and rain, brought me back to the Columbia, where I arrived much disheartened in consequence of having lost nearly the whole of my collections when crossing the River Santiam, one of the tributaries of the Multnomah. On reaching the Fort, I had the satisfaction of finding comfortable letters from my friends in England. Here I stayed till the 9th of December, when the hope of replacing some of the objects which I had lost induced me to revisit the coast, but this was a still more unfortunate undertaking than the first, as I had the disaster to.be wrecked in my canoe, and returned home sick from the effects of wet and cold, having added nothing to my collection but one new species of Ledum L. dealbatum. From this date to the 6th of March I spent my time in the same way as the preceding winter, when I once more visited the sea and was again driven back by bad weather, having failed for the third and last time. The remainder of my time on the coast was spent in packing up my collections.
"Journal of David Douglas," Oregon Historical Quarterly, March 1905, page 76-97 *Douglas didn't in fact cross the present border--which didn't exist in 1826--into California.
Last revised January 24, 2018