Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

On the Trail Once More

I understood that such advice was good, and when John Mitchell would have lingered despite the advice of the trappers, I took it upon myself to insist that we go forward, picturing to him in the most vivid colors the result if winter came upon us before we had scaled the mountain range.

in order that we might not overtax our newly acquired strength, we brought the first day's march from Fort Boise to an end at the bank of the Malheur River, sixteen miles distant. Next day we traveled thirty-one miles to Burnt River, where we halted one day to make ready for a sixty-mile journey to Powder River.

To make any attempt at describing this part of our journey would be repeating the words I have set down many times before. The trail was as rough as can well be imagined, and the labor of getting the heavy wagons along quite as great as had been found elsewhere.

Because of the supplies bought at Fort Boise, we did not suffer greatly from hunger, although we were allowed only a small portion of food each day; but the animals were in a half-famished condition all the while until we had arrived at the Grande Ronde, which is a beautiful valley among the mountains, where grass can be found in abundance.

There in that excellent camping place we remained two days, the cattle meanwhile feeding greedily, as if realizing that it was necessary they add to their strength in order to make the journey over the mountains, fifteen miles away.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Refreshed by the long halt, we began to climb the Blue Mountains, where the trail led over such steep ascents that it became necessary to yoke all our cattle to one wagon, pull it a mile or two up what was much like a cliff, and then drive the oxen back for another load, thus winning our advance with the greatest difficulty, and after the most severe labor traveling no more than seven miles in one day.