sky was clouded, the weather was raw and a cutting wind blew up the
valley on the day we left Disaster Camp, and the following day a rain
set in which lasted for several days. The water could not
have been colder had it flowed from a field of ice. Rain
increased materially the discomforts of travel. When it did
not rain we were wet only to our waists, but on rainy days we were
soaked from head to feet. Constant work in the water
appreciably sapped our strength and at intervals we would find
ourselves shivering, like men afflicted with the ague. Then
we would call a halt to boil the kettle and drink tea to warm and
somehow men in the wilderness do not mind these hardships.
They seem harsh to us here, as we read of them surrounded by the
luxuries and the more or less effeminate life of town. But up
here they were a part of living, they are accepted as a matter of
course, and we glory in them. We are battling with nature,
our blood is heated by the fire of conquest, and we go into the fight
with bared breasts, believing in ourselves. The instincts of
primordial ancestors are revived. We are next to nature, we
are part of it, and we have visual evidence of the Almighty.
About us lies the unsullied world as He made it, and we breathe an
atmosphere rich-scented with the attar of forests. The city
with its clatter and rush and greed are remembered vaguely, as one
remembers an unwholesome, unpleasant dream. There we are
atoms, here in God’s mighty wilderness we are men, and we live, and we
do not mind the price we pay in hardships endured, for it is worth it
all to live and be Men.
passing the Charles Riley River, the Beaver had taken a westerly, and
finally assumed a nearly northwesterly, course in its ascent.
Above the amphitheatre which I have mentioned, it had continued, with
one or two brief exceptions, confined to a single channel.
There was no break, however, in the rapid, and relief from the
necessity to wade in tracking, save on rare occasions when short
portages were required to avoid a particularly dangerous
the evening of July 22, we pitched our camp directly below a narrow
gorge. Perpendicular cliffs rose on either side of this
gorge, and between the cliffs the river poured in a wild,
white rapid. Steep and high above the cliff on the north side
of the river—the side on which we were encamped—a rugged mountain,
which we shall call Bailey Mountain, reared its bald head.
Rising from the cliff on the south side the hills were equally steep,
though not so high.
through this gorge was impossible. No foothold could be had
upon the cliffs, and the water was much too deep and swift to be
forded. These conditions prevailed for a distance of at least
half a mile. Beyond that a view of the river was cut off, and
whether or not it improved above the gorge we were unable to determine
from the position of the camp.
investigation we quickly discovered that an attempt to circumvent the
gorge by portaging along the steep sides of Bailey Mountain would prove
dangerous if not foolhardy, and therefore wholly unpractical.
In view of this it was evident that if we were to continue up the river
a long overland detour around Bailey Mountain would be unavoidable, and
this would involve the scaling of a high and exceedingly steep
elevation behind our camp.
view of these discouraging conditions, it was decided to scout ahead
for the purpose of ascertaining the character of the river above Bailey
Mountain, and if found advisable electing a feasible route and blazing
a trail over which canoe and other outfit could be carried.
the rain, which had been falling intermittently for several days,
ceased during the night of our arrival here, and the following morning
dawned with a cloudless sky and transparent atmosphere. With
conditions thus favorable, Judge Malone and Gilbert set out an early
hour to look the country over, and at one o’clock in the afternoon
returned to report that behind Bailey Mountain they had found still
higher mountains. These they climbed, and from the naked
summit of the loftiest peak obtained a wide panoramic view of the
the aid of binoculars they could trace the river for many miles above
our camp, but nowhere could they discover a break in the
rapid. As far as they could see it, it presented a continuous
stretch of water pouring down from the higher altitudes, but through a
wider valley than that which enclosed it below Bailey
Mountain. Their investigations also so proved that a portage
around Bailey Mountain would not only involve scaling cliffs behind our
camp, but also a carry of many miles through an exceedingly rough
country, including the crossing of at least one high ridge.
Below The Chute. Bailey
Mountain in the background. Farthest advance on the Beaver.
(©Canadian Heritage Information Network)
Camped below The Chute before the
trek to the Susan. Bert Blake’s striped leggings are visible.
Next: Chapter XXIX:
Hell And Twenty