May 26, 1805: Meriwether Lewis first sights the Rocky Mountains

Capt. Clark walked on shore this morning and ascended to the summit of the river hills. He informed me on his return that he had seen mountains on both sides of the river running nearly parallel with it and at no great distance… He also saw in the course of his walk, some elk, several herds of the big-horn, and the large hare; the latter is common to every part of this open country.  Scarcely any timber to be seen except the few scattering pine and spruce which crown the IMG_0195high hills, or in some instances grow along their sides. In the after part of the day I also walked out and ascended the river hills which I found sufficiently fatiguing.  On arriving to the summit of one of the highest points in the neighborhood I thought myself well repaid for any labor; as from this point I beheld the Rocky Mountains for the first time…

These points of the Rocky Mountains were covered with snow and the sun shone on it in such manner as to give me the most plain and satisfactory view. While I viewed these mountains I felt a secret pleasure in finding myself so near the head of the heretofore conceived boundless Missouri; but when I reflected on the difficulties which this snowy barrier would most probably throw in my way to the Pacific, and the sufferings and hardships of myself and party in them, it in some measure counterbalanced the joy I had felt in the first moments in which I gazed on them; but as I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled to believe differently.
Saw a few Elk & bighorns at a distance. On my return to the river I passed a  creek about 20 yards wide – near its entrance it had a handsome little stream of running water;  in this creek I saw several  soft-shelled Turtles which were the first that have been seen this season…

On the Starboard shore I killed a fat buffalo which was very acceptable to us at this moment; the party came up to me late in the evening and encamped for the night on the larboard side. It was after dark before we finished butchering the buffalo, and on my return to camp I trod within five inches of a rattle snake but being in motion I passed before he could probably put himself in a striking attitude and fortunately escaped his bite…

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