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Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/207

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DAVID THOMPSON AND THE COLUMBIA RIVER 199 David Thompson was a "goer". If anything further is needed to indicate this let it be said that during the last days of April, 1810, he was at Pend d'Oreille lake of Northern Idaho, and in July of the same year was at the Rainy Lakes near Lake Superior (and probably at Fort William), and on the 6th of September of the same year was again near the head waters of the Saskatchewan preparing to cross the divide on to the Columbia to complete his journey to its mouth and establish the rights of the "Northwesters" on the entire river. He journeyed to the Rainy Lakes because he had an appoint- ment to keep there with his partners, and he hurried back again because he had a duty to perform for his Company and for his Country. Those were not yet the days of fees to porters in Pullman cars or even of the Rocky Mountain stage coach, but time and distance yielded to the energy and endur- ance of such men as the fur traders. David Thompson was possessed of great physical courage and ability to lead men. You or I would hesitate to cross the Rocky Mountains on foot after the winter begins, but let me quote from "The Journals of Alex. Henry and David Thomp- son" (including Dr. Coues' admirable notes) a resume of the story of his terrible journey across the continental divide in mid-winter; prefacing with the explanation that provisions were very low that Fall of 1810 at the few fur trading estab- lishments on the Saskatchewan, and that owing to sudden hostility of the Piegan Indians the mountain pass used in 1807- 8 and 9 was closed to Mr. Thompson then and he was com- pelled to seek an entirely new and unknown one. "Nov. 7th, 1810. At 11 a. m. Pichette and Pierre arrived * from Mr. Thompson's camp. They left him on Panbian river, with all his property, on his way to the Columbia, cutting his road through a wretched, thick, woody country, over moun- tains and gloomy muskagues and nearly starving, animals be- ing very scarce in that quarter. His hunter * could only find a chance wood buffalo on which to subsist; when that failed they had to recourse to what flour and other douceurs Mr. Thompson had in fact the case is pitiful. * * On