Upper Missouri: April 1805 to July 1805
Lewis commented that he would "reather fight two Indians than one bear." River navigation became more difficult. During a fierce windstorm, the pirogue that carried important records and instruments began filling with water and nearly capsized. Sacagawea, who was aboard, saved many items as they floated within her reach. Near the end of May, the Rocky Mountains came into view. The river's current grew stronger. The explorers had to abandon the paddles and tow the heavy canoes with rawhide ropes while walking along the shoreline. When river banks gave way to cliffs the men had to wade in the water, pushing and pulling the boats upstream.
Transporting the heavy boats and baggage up the steep incline from the river and traversing the long stretch of prairie lands was an exhausting ordeal. Prickly pear spines penetrated their feet through moccasin soles, adding to the difficult and exhausting portage.
After shuttling canoes and baggage along this portage for three weeks, a camp was established above the falls at "White bear Island." They had brought along a metal framework over which they stretched hides to make a large, light boat to resume their journey on the river. The plan failed when stitches in the hides leaked water. They had to abandon the framework and make two more cottonwood canoes.
- ↑ Adapted from an article by Irving W. Anderson