October 24, 2018

Lewis and Clark – No Game, Lots of Game and Lots of Wolves

I’m winding down my rereading from the Journals of Captains Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark separated into two expeditions at Traveler’s Rest during the return trip. Lewis takes the northern route, mostly retracing the route out, with some detours, while Clark swung south, eventually connecting up with the Yellowstone River (the River Rochejhone as Clark calls it in his journal), until they rejoined expeditions on the Missouri River someplace not too far south of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers.

What is clear in reading the journals is that for the most part the Lewis and Clark expedition struggled to find any game to eat from perhaps what is now Great Falls, Montana all the way to the West Coast. The men lived mostly on dried and mashed roots the Indians taught them about and dogs they traded with the natives for. Sometimes finding anything to eat was a real struggle.

On the return trip home, the further east and south the travelers went, the more game, i.e. buffalo, elk and deer, they found. At times, the buffalo would be so numerous while crossing the Missouri River, Captain Lewis and his men had to wait in their canoes in order to pass.

But what also is apparent is that when there was ample game, there were ample wolves and when there was no game, there were no wolves.

After Lewis and Clark rejoined forces south of the confluence of Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, Clark writes in his journal that one night when the soldiers where sleeping, one man who had fallen asleep, had left his hand exposed. During the night a wolf came by and took a chomp out of it.

From the journals one can easily see that things weren’t “pristine” in a lot of places.

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