The Columbia River: Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce/Part 2/Chapter 2
The Lakes from the Arrow Lakes to Chelan
The Lake Plateau—The Glacial Origin of the Lakes—Down the Arrow Lakes from Revelstoke—The Fine Steamers—Characteristics of the Scenery—By Rail from Robson to Nelson—Agricultural, Mineral, and Lumbering Resources around Nelson—Kootenai Lake and its Charms—On the River from Robson to Kettle Falls—Historic Features around Kettle Falls—On Lakes Cœur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, and Kaniksu in Northern Idaho—From Kettle Falls to Chelan—Appearance of Chelan River—First View of the Lake—Delights of a Boat Ride up the Lake—Comparison of Chelan with other Great Scenes—Storm on the Lake—Goat Mountain—Views from Railroad Creek—The Red Drawings—Rainbow Falls and Stehekin Cañon—The Wrecked Cabin and its Story—Railroad Creek and North Star Park—Cloudy Pass and Glacier Peak.
The region of the lakes constitutes one of the most unique and delightful of all parts of the River. Let the reader consult the map and he will find an area of probably one hundred thousand square miles in British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Montana filled with lakes. This lake region constitutes a plateau, crossed indeed by mountains and somewhat rough in surface, but of a uniform general elevation. It constitutes a sort of debatable region between the two great slopes, one from the Rocky summits to the lakes and the other from the lakes to tide-water. On those slopes the white waters of cataract and rapid are found; on the plateau, the deep, still lakes. A glance at the map reveals the fact that the larger of these lakes are long and narrow, and lie on north and south lines. A journey on them reveals the fact that they are deep and clear and cold. Join these facts with the additional one that they are surrounded by snowy mountains, and you have no difficulty in deciding their origin. They are glacial. At some time in the glacial ages, stupendous ploughshares of ice descending from Rockies, Selkirks, Gold Range, Cascades, and Bitter Roots, gouged out profound cañons in the rents already wrought by earthquakes, and these became the lake beds.
IN the progress of our journey down the River on the route of the old-time fur brigades, we have passed over what may be considered the first two stages of the stream. The first is the lagoon-like expanse of the section from Canal Flats to Golden, one hundred and fifty miles. The second is the more swift and turbulent part from Golden to Revelstoke, two hundred and fifty miles. At the latter place we enter upon a third stage of the River, the lake stage.
Each one of the branches of the River in this plateau region has one or more of these expansions. On the Columbia itself are the Arrow Lakes. Kootenai Lake is an enlargement of the River of the same name. Okanogan Lake is likewise an expansion of its river. Christina Lake is the source of Kettle River. The Slocan River derives its icy torrents from Slocan Lake. Flathead, Kaniksu, and Pend Oreille lakes feed Clark's Fork, now more commonly known in its lower section as Pend Oreille River. Cœur d'Alene Lake supplies the Spokane River. Chelan pours its cold flood into the Columbia through a river of the same sweet sounding name. Wenatchee Lake gives life to the Wenatchee River.
We find at Revelstoke that the chief current of tourist travel follows the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Nevertheless, there is a rapidly increasing movement of travellers on the branch by steamboat over the Arrow Lakes and the Kootenai to what is known as the Crow's Nest line from Spokane to Calgary, Winnipeg, and other points east.
The Canadian Pacific line has excellent steamers, the Rossland, the Kootenai, the Kaslo, the Kuskanook, and others of similar grade. The journey on the Rossland or Kootenai down the Arrow Lakes from Arrowhead to Robson is one to dream of, one to recall in waking hours, and even, we almost suspect, in another life. The two lakes together constitute one hundred and thirty miles of steamboating, and every mile has its special charm. It was the peculiar joy of the voyageurs, after having toiled over the snowy and wind-swept Athabasca Pass and buffeted the foamy descent of Death Rapids, to reach the Arrow Lakes and lazily paddle down their tranquil deeps. In fact, pleasant as is our journey on the Rossland, we would rather reconstruct the bateaux of 1840 and in them make the whole long journey to the sea, a thousand miles away.The traveller learns from the captain, if he can persuade that busy personage to indulge in conversation, that the Arrow Lakes derived their name from the fact that in early times great bundles of arrows could be seen stuck in the clay banks or in the crevices of the rocks at the head of the upper lake. The upper Arrow Lake has mountain banks rising thousands of feet to the zone of eternal snow. The shores are usually precipitous, though it is not uncommon to see smooth slopes furnishing timbered margins to enchanting little bays. At various places along the shores we see the beginnings of fruit and dairy ranches. It is only within four or five years that anything has been done here in the way of cultivation. The results thus far attained prove the wonderful adaptability of soil and climate to choice fruits. And the flowers,—Heaven bless them!—the sweetest and biggest and brightest of roses, pinks, sweet peas, larkspurs,—every kind that grows, are seen in profusion at almost every point where there has been any cultivation. By a little conversation with people at the landings we learn that the new-fledged ranches are very profitable. One tells us that he has made a net profit of two dollars and twenty-five cents per crate on his strawberries, or five hundred dollars an acre.
Perhaps the most attractive place on the Arrow Lakes is the point where the upper lake narrows into the stretch of fifteen miles of river joining the two lakes. The mountains on either hand, in great billows of forest green and blue, rise ever upward till they break against the eternal frost. The shores are clothed in dense forests, and on either hand bold promontories enclose sheltered bays, the very beau ideals of camping places.
We find the lower Arrow Lake of a gentler type of scenery than the upper. The mountains no longer bear snow-peaks and glaciers on their crests, and there are no longer to be seen the stupendous rocky walls which in places enclose the upper lake. But as a compensation for the loss of this pre-eminent grandeur, the lower lake possesses a charm of colouring, both of water and shore, a richness of mountain outline and tints, and a certain serenity which may well make it an equal of its grander companion.
At the lower end of the Arrow Lakes the steamer stops and transfers her freight and passengers to the trains running from Robson to Nelson. This is necessitated by the fact that the Kootenai River, which enters the Columbia just below Robson, has a descent from Nelson of over two hundred feet. The railroad follows the Kootenai, which almost rivals the Columbia in magnitude. We pass the Bonnington Falls, the noblest waterfall on the entire system of Columbia's tributaries, with the exception of the Great Shoshone of the Snake.
Reaching Nelson, the metropolis of this entire lake country, we find a bustling, active, well-built little city of seven thousand people. The leading industries centring at Nelson are mining and lumbering. It has been discovered very recently, however, that the soil and air and climate are peculiarly adapted to choice berries and fruits. The shores of the river and lake at this point are rugged and rocky, at first thought ill adapted to horticulture. But it is well known that rough locations produce choicer fruit. Between the boulders or nestling against the hillsides, the peach and apple take on an added blush, absorb a more delicate nectar, exhale a more exquisite perfume. We are told that during the season of 1908 there were twenty thousand crates of berries, mainly strawberries, shipped from Nelson, at a price of two to three dollars per crate.In every direction from Nelson is mineral wealth of untold quantity. Almost every mineral known, gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, to say nothing of every kind of fine building stone, including marble, besides coal and iron, is found east, west, north, and south of Nelson. The town itself was founded by reason of the Silver King mine, which can be seen high up on the mountain side south of the place. The output of these mines has been immense. In spite of the comparatively hard times, the output of the three districts of the Kootenai, Rossland, and Boundary, was estimated at $21,025,500 in 1907. One interesting fact connected with the mining industry in the lake country is that at Nelson is located an electric zinc smelter, the only one of the kind in the world. Zinc is found in association with gold, silver, and copper, and, though valuable, is quite an impediment to the mining of the gold and silver. This unique smelter works by what is called the Snyder process, an electrical system, which, if it accomplishes all that is hoped for, will open every mine on the Kootenai.
From Nelson we find the way open by fine steamers to all parts of the Kootenai. This largest of all the lakes of the Columbia system, containing 141,120 acres of surface, bears a general resemblance to the Arrow Lakes, clear, deep, cold, with lofty mountains on either side and vast stretches of purple forests crowding to the very margin of the water. This lake consists of three arms, northern, southern, and western. The Kootenai River enters by the southern and leaves by the western.
The northern part of the Kootenai region, especially around Kaslo, possesses vast mineral wealth. A railroad proceeds from Kaslo to Sandon in the heart of the mountains, and to Slocan Lake and thence to Nakusp on the upper Arrow Lake. The scenery of Slocan Lake is even more wild and rugged than that of the Kootenai. Both abound in fine trout. We saw a lake trout at Nelson of a weight of twenty-two pounds. Ducks and geese and swan are common on the water, limitless grouse and pheasants are found in the woods, while deer, elk, and bear are common in the wild maze of mountains and cañons;—a sportsman's paradise.
Tourists taking the route eastward go from Nelson on the elegant steamer Kuskanook to Kootenai Landing and there take up again the railway route by the Crow's Nest. Such as desire to go to Spokane can leave the line at Curzon and go southward to a connection with the Spokane International. There is also a rail connection more directly between Nelson and Spokane by the Spokane and Northern. This pursues more nearly the course of the Columbia River, of which the traveller obtains delightful glimpses at intervals. But for ourselves, we would rather go by rowboat from Robson down the River over the historical route of the old voyageurs. No rail route compares with the water.
The River is a superb water-way from Robson, British Columbia, to Kettle Falls, Washington, about ninety miles. In fact, the section of the River from Death Rapids above Revelstoke to Kettle Falls, including the Arrow Lakes, is the longest unbroken stretch of deep, still water on the entire River, being about three hundred miles.Kettle Falls, too, is a historic spot. For here was Fort Colville of the Americans and also the old Hudson's Bay post. Here was the greatest centring of
the fur-trade on the upper River. Here were the strongest of all the Catholic missions, and here were the most fertile fields and the earliest cultivated of any on the upper River. Here is the Colville Indian Reservation, and here for many years the wily and untamable old savage Moses herded his bands of "cuitans," watched the incoming whites with jealous eye, and, as opportunity offered, made way with such wandering prospectors or stockmen as he could find off their guard in rocky glen or forest depth. (And none ever knew what became of them.) Here Hallakallakeen (Eagle Wing) the great Nez Percé chief, commonly known as Joseph, who waged the Wallowa War of 1877 to its bitter conclusion, carried on the sad remnant of his days, and not far distant on the wild Nespilem, he held his summer camp. In all directions around Colville and Kettle Falls, up the Sans Poil and Kettle rivers, are opening mines and farms, one of the most promising sections of all the promising State of Washington.
Time forbids us to visit all the lakes in this wonderful lake section. But we must see the most important. While at Spokane, we should not fail to go, by trolley or train or auto or horseback, to the greatest of all Spokane resorts, Cœur d'Alene Lake. Of its beauties and delights, and of the "shadowy St. Joe River," and of the canoeing and fishing and hunting which may be found there galore, some of our pictures speak. And of them any one who has ever been there will also speak in no uncertain tone. It seems no whit short of the unpardonable sin to give no longer space to that wonderland of lakes, Cœur d'Alene, Pend Oreille, and Kaniksu, in Northern Idaho, each the centre of every conceivable scenic attraction. In their near vicinity, too, lie the great mines of the Cœur d'Alene district, the greatest silver lead mines in the world, whose fabulous wealth (forty million dollars a year) has built many a stone mansion at Spokane, or sent the prospectors of yesterday to the ends of the earth for the pleasure or display of to-day. But the limits of this chapter forbid description of these masterpieces. Though each lake has its individual character, there is a general similarity. All have the characteristics of their common glacial origin and mountainous surroundings.
We may therefore make one visit and give descriptions of the one great inclusive scene or group of scenes which may be said to express the beauty, the sublimity, the wonder of the lakes of the Columbia River. And this one typical lake, the all-inclusive, is Chelan, "Beautiful Water."True to our purpose of following the River from source to sea, we turn back now from Spokane in order to go from Kettle Falls to Chelan by boat. There are no regular steamboats running from Kettle Falls to Brewster at the mouth of the Okanogan, but from the last named point to Wenatchee the steamboat is the regular and indeed only means of public travel. Throughout the entire course of two hundred miles from Kettle Falls to Wenatchee the river is wild and swift. Yet steamers have traversed the entire distance, and Government engineers are now engaged in surveys looking to improvements such as will make steamboat traffic easy and profitable. We pass numberless points of interest, but "Chelan, Chelan," "Beautiful Water, Beautiful Water," is our goal. We had thought that the Columbia was clear, but we did not then know what clear water really was. When we reach the mouth of Chelan River we know. We see a streak of blue cutting right across the impetuous downflow of the River. As we push our way into it we discover that it is so clear as to make little more obstruction to the view of rocks and fish below than does the air itself. This transparent torrent is the outlet of the lake. It is only four miles long and descends three hundred and eighty feet in that distance. It furnishes one hundred and twenty-five thousand horse-power at low water. The cañon, riven and tortured, through which it descends, is a fitting approach to the lake, unique Chelan. For having traversed the four miles, we find the lake outstretched before us.
At this first view the lake has that look of a serene obliviousness to the flight of passing centuries, that impressure of eternity, that belongs to all great works of God or man. But majestic as is the view at the lower end of the lake, we are not content to remain there. "Neskika Klatawa sahale," cry we with a single voice, which being interpreted is, "Let us go up higher," the motto, by the way, of our Mazama (Mountain-Climbers') Club of the Pacific North-west. In skiffs, well-laden with provisions and ammunition, we set forth on our sixty-mile pull toward "where the spectral glaciers shone."
Delightful, delightful, almost ecstatic in truth, this rocking on the glassy swell; this bed of romantic spruce and pine boughs on the beach; this star-lit sky which is our only roof; this murmur of cascades falling from the bluffs; this trolling for five-pound trout; this disembarking on some rocky point and climbing a granite pinnacle from which a perfect maze of mountains, streams, and forests, lies extended below; this experience of the deadly attack of "buck-ague" which paralyses our arms as some goat or deer dashes by; and then the inexpressible delight with which we, "stepping down by zigzag paths and juts of pointed rock, came on the shining levels of the lake." We do not wish to hurry our oars. We must take time to look into the heavenly blue of the waters through the foam-streaks left by our advancing prows. We must suspend the oar-dip entirely at times while we gaze dizzied, with strained necks, up, up, thousands of feet, toward "Death and Morning on the Silverhorns." We must study shore and water as we pass slowly by, finding therein ample confirmation of the theory of glacial origin.This is one of the deepest cañons on earth. Not such another furrow has Time wrought on the face of the Western Hemisphere, at least. At some points the granite walls rise almost vertically six thousand feet from the water's edge. Here, too, soundings of seventeen hundred feet have been necessary to touch bottom. Over a mile and a half of verticality! This surpasses in depth Yosemite, Yellowstone, Columbia, or even Colorado Cañon. As compared with those more familiar wonders, Chelan lacks the incomparable symmetry and completeness of Yosemite; it has not such a multitude of waterfalls and groups of "castled crags" as are seen within the basaltic gates of the Columbia; it does not display that variety of colouring, especially of the lighter and warmer hues, which astonishes the beholder of the Colorado or the Yellowstone and it has no especially curious feature like the geysers of the last; but for immensity, for a certain chaotic sublimity, for the rich and sombre grandeur of the purple and garnet, dusky, and indigo-tinted shore views, Chelan surpasses any of the others, while in its water views,—such colourings and such blendings, light-green, ultramarine, lapis lazuli, violet, indigo, almost black,—such light and shade, "sea of glass mingled with fire," where every cloud in the changing sky and all the untold majesty of the hills find their perfect mirror, all hues and forms, a kaleidoscope of earth and heaven, beyond imagination to conceive or pen to describe or brush to portray,—in all this, Chelan is without a rival.
As we round a shaggy promontory, there the snow-peaks stand in battle array, azure, purple, amethystine, with lines and masses of glistening white, flushed on their topmost pinnacles with rosy light from the westering sun, solemn, solitary, very oracles of mountain revelation, so grand, so beautiful, so true, looking as though they had been there forever waiting for an interpreter,—before that scene we bow the head and make involuntary obeisance, the homage of the true in man to the true in nature, that is, the recognition of a common brotherhood in one divine origin.
Not of every scene on this lake of wonders can we speak. Yet every mile brought its special revelation. Sometimes we found the lake in storms. As we rowed in what seemed a summer calm, Winter from his throne eight thousand feet above sent forth his cloud-legions, which, like the "thunder birds" of Indian story, spread their wings and came down. The thunder clash went echoing in long reverberations "from peak to peak, the rattling crags among." "If a squall ever strikes you, put for the first crack in the bank that you see," had been the parting injunction of the lake sailors when we started on our cruise. We observed the warning and made the best possible time to a cranny in the ill-omened "Windy Cape." And there we lay till morning, when the tumult fell as suddenly as it rose, and lake and sky smiled as serenely at each other as ever.
The chief point on the lake, for photographing, hunting, fishing, and climbing, is Railroad Creek, fifty miles up the lake. Railroad Creek comes from the "Roof of the World," having its source in the very heart of a great group of glaciers. It descends probably six thousand feet in twenty-five miles. It is swift! The fury with which it hurls logs and even boulders down its cataract bed is fairly appalling. The very earth quivers beneath its flail-like strokes.
Nowhere, perhaps, can one see more work done by rivers than here. The entire course of one of these rivers can be traced from the lake. Rising in a snow bank six thousand feet above, its route marked by a streak of foam, sometimes falling in spray hundreds of feet, then hiding behind a cliff, to burst forth in snow-white "chute," augmented by similar streams from lateral cañons, it plunges into the lake with a perfect delirium of motion. So great is the erosion that were not the lake of enormous depth, it would soon be filled with the jetsam and flotsam of the hills.The sunset effects looking up the lake from Railroad Creek are marvellous, though, alas, the cool black and white of the photograph cannot preserve the wealth of colouring, "the illumination of all gems," which for a few transcendent moments fills the mighty cañon "bank-full" with such radiance that one might think it the grand gathering place of all the rainbows of earth. The light greens and blues of the shallower water shade into deepest indigo toward the centre, reflecting the ever-changing hues of the cañon walls, a deep, rich, and sombre purple on the shaded side, while on the sun-lit side are poured forth upon the shaggy mountain slopes perfect inundations of orange, carmine, and saffron. From these floods of glory there falls into the lake a seeming rain of pearls and rubies, barred with stripes of gold and crimson. But the sun drops lower and the splendour fades, the conflagration of the sky is quenched, and it seems as though ten thousand ships, "all decked with funeral scarfs from stem to stern," were putting out from the glooming western shores, strewing darkness as they move,—and night is at hand.
Like all travellers to Lake Chelan, we must make a journey to the head of the lake, to the Stehekin River, and to Rainbow Falls. The view up the cañon of the Stehekin is the crowning glory of this panorama of sublimities. A forest of almost tropical luxuriance covers the morass through which the impetuous river makes its way. On either side tower the cañon walls, capped with snow. The background consists of glittering pinnacles of some of the Glacier Range. Majesty, might, elemental force, eternity,—such are the only words to express the emotions excited by this scene.
One curious thing to be seen at the mouth of the Stehekin, and at several other places on the lake is a series of rude drawings on the smooth, white surface of the granite bluff, the work of some prehistoric artist, unknown to the Indians, and of so ancient date that the lake is now twenty feet below their level. The drawings are of men, goats, tents, and trees, and are in strong red colours, of some very enduring nature. One is ashamed to record that alleged human beings in the form of white tourists have used these curious relics of bygone days as targets to shoot at from their boats, and have ruined some of the finest. Also that some vandal has desecrated the place by painting a glaring advertisement of his ferry underneath.Although it may well seem to the tourist who has attained the head of Lake Chelan that nature has reached her acme of grandeur, and that it would tax his powers of belief to be informed that there is grander yet, we shall run the risk of saying just that, and bid him join us on side journeys up the mighty cañons of the Stehekin River and Railroad Creek. Lake Chelan being, as already indicated, in the very heart of the Cascade Mountains, and these mountains here attaining an average elevation of seven or eight thousand feet, with dozens of peaks of ten thousand or more, and the countless impetuous streams from those snowy heights having cut their way deep down toward the lake level, it follows as a matter of course that the entire Chelan region, for an area of probably ten thousand square miles, is perfectly gridironed with cañons. Many of them have never been explored or even entered. In them are myriads of lakes, waterfalls, parks, glaciers, and, in fact, every species of mountain attraction. There is no question that within this vast cordon of mountains there are more glaciers than in all the rest of the United States combined, and, with the exception of the Sierras and the Canadian Rockies, there is certainly no other region on this continent that can for a moment enter into competition with it. Travellers have assured the author that the Alps in no respect except historical association, surpass, and some say, do not equal this crowning glory of our great North-west State.
Amid the bewildering profusion of great cañons radiating from the lake, the two most accessible are those of the Stehekin River and Railroad Creek. The former enters the head of the lake, after a course of probably fifty miles from Skagit Pass. To ascend this cañon we must commit our lives and fortunes to cayuse ponies and a mountain trail, which, though good enough to the initiated, is a terror to the "tenderfoot."
Four miles up the Stehekin we reach Rainbow Falls, heralded by distant gusts and eddies of mist, which at first seem to be from woods on fire. But a dull roar, a harsh rumble, then a lighter splash,—and we see that what at first had seemed smoke eddying out of the cañon wall is the mist driven before the gusts created by the falling torrents. With a few more hurried steps we find ourselves before a fall three hundred and fifty feet high. Its clouds of spray swirl like a thunder-shower, drenching the rocks and trees far around. Picking our way amid the pelting mist to the top of a slippery hillock from which we can look right down into the very heart of the fall, we see, swinging against the mist, a perfect rainbow, a complete double circle, a blaze of lustre. The thrilling roar deepens as we hang over the slippery verge, and sounds like voices, trampling of armies, clatter of innumerable hoofs, rattling of artillery, all the grandeur and frenzy of conflict, seem to rise from that wild gorge. Now the mist eddies forth and blurs the vision, and then falls back, and that dazzling bow hangs there unmarred. The bridge of Iris or Heimdall, we say,—but no; it is no more a bridge, it is a perfect circle, the symbol of eternity. The symbol also of peace, for eternity is peace. That mist-hung bow becomes to us an emblem of the harmony of all jarring sounds and discordant forces. And so with that bow of peace swaying behind us, and the deep thunder fading in musical diminuendo, we pass on to the next wonder; and this is not far, for every mile brings its special revelation.Time forbids that we pause for more than one added scene on the Stehekin, and this is the Horseshoe Basin, thirty miles up the river. This is in the upper cañon. Imagine yourself perched upon a granite pinnacle, looking possibly a little anxiously for bear in the thick copses at its bases, for this is said to be the greatest bear region in the country, but soon lifting your eyes to the heights on either side. Six thousand feet deep is that stupendous gorge. On the south side you see the "castled crags," glacier-crested, while on the north, Horseshoe Basin stands revealed. A long line of dark-red minarets, at whose foot stretches two miles of glistening and twisted ice, then below that a great terrace, vivid green with spring foliage, and over it falling a perfect symposium of waterfalls, if we may be allowed such an expression. Twenty-one falls and cataracts all in one view. They vary in descent from two hundred to two thousand feet. Joining at the foot of the terrace in one foaming torrent the waters of the Basin plunge in one fall of two hundred feet, thence pass under a snow tunnel and down a rocky chute swept clean by the flood to augment the already raging waters of the Stehekin. The Horseshoe Basin, though not grander, not so sublimely terrible, in fact, as some other scenes in the cañon, has that indescribable look of perfectness which belongs to the immortal works of nature and art. It has a symmetry of form and colour beyond any other in the entire region. The dark-red minarets which form the outer escarpment, ten thousand feet above sea-level, form a marvellous contrast and yet harmony with the green and blue and white of the glacier and the snow-field, and this in turn is margined with the deep-green and olive hues of the lower terrace, while joining and unifying all is the flashing and opalescent splendour of the cataracts.
At the mouth of the Horseshoe Creek, lodged on a little rocky island, is a shattered cabin. We camp near this, and while we are engaged in preparing an appetising meal of fish and venison, a grizzled prospector appears coming down the trail. After the manner of the mountains, he makes himself at home and camps with us for the night. In the course of his conversation he narrates many stories of this wild region and of the prospecting and hunting adventures that have happened in it. Finally he tells us the story of the lost cabin, a story that certainly contains all the elements of a romance. It appears that some years ago two young fellows from the East, cousins, had come to the Stehekin to prospect. The old man who told us the story was then the only prospector in the cañon, and he soon made friends with the two adventurers. From broken pieces of conversation and finally some confidences on the part of one of the boys, he learned something of their story. They had been bosom friends all their lives, but had fallen in love with the same girl. The poor girl, not knowing which she did like best, told them that the only thing was for both to leave her for two years, and at the end of the time she would decide in favour of the one that had showed himself the braver and more successful man. Each kept his destination a perfect secret, but to their astonishment, within a month after, they found each other in Spokane. They concluded that it was the appointment of fate, and so went together to the wild country of Chelan, to seek a fortune.
After they had been there a short time they found a mutual distrust springing up, and finally, by the advice of the old man, they agreed to separate. George was to stay below. He was the more sullen and selfish of the two, and it was due to him that they had fallen out. Harry was of a frank and generous nature, and when it became evident that they must part he insisted that he should help build a cabin for George. And the cabin that they built was the very one that we now saw lodged against the rocks. Harry went up the cañon toward the Skagit Pass, and there in the lonely grandeur of the glaciers he plied his pick and shovel.A few months later there came a mighty Chinook, the warm wind of the Cascades, which strips the peaks of snow within a day, transforms the creeks into raging torrents, and sends floods down every dry gulch. The night after the wind began to blow the old miner came to George's cabin, and in the intense darkness of the cloudy night they listened to the hurtling of the storm and the roar of the rapidly growing river. About midnight there came suddenly a succession of rifle shots near at hand, and in a few minutes a thunder and roar of water beyond anything that they had heard. Rushing out they saw that the water was already surrounding the cabin and they had to run in the darkness for their lives. Stumbling among the rocks they reached at last land high enough for safety, while the floods went tearing by. With the first light they looked out to see that the cabin had gone adrift, but sadder to tell, they soon found Harry, mangled, tortured, at the point of death, just strong enough to tell them that from his situation he had seen that a fearful flood was coming and he was trying to save George. But he had fallen in the darkness and crashed upon the rocks, and even in his suffering he had fired his rifle as a warning, hoping that it might be heard and save, and so it did. And the faithful fellow died content. "We tell the tale as it was told us." But the poor old wreck of a cabin took on something of a new significance as it leaned up against the rocks, while the restless river sobbed and frothed about it.
There is great strife among the Chelan people as to which is the grander section, the Stehekin or Railroad Creek. As a matter of fact, both are so superlatively magnificent that whichever place one is in, that he thinks the finer. But there is one feature of the case, and this is that the grandest part of Railroad Creek is seldom visited. Few have ever been to Glacier Lake, North Star Park, and Cloudy Pass, at the extreme head of the creek, and these are the central features of the scenery. They are about twenty-five miles from Lake Chelan, and the road and trail are mainly good, so that the journey to the head of the creek and return can be made very comfortably in four days.
Neither words nor pictures are adequate to convey any true conception of Glacier Lake and its surroundings. Imagine a park of four or five thousand acres, set with grass and flowers, filled with ice-cold streams of water clear as crystal, and dotted here and there with trees of the most exquisite beauty. On every side except the one down which the creek descends, stupendous, glacier-crowned, and pinnacled peaks penetrate the blue-black sky at an elevation of ten or eleven thousand feet. At the south side of the park lies Glacier Lake, a mile long and half as wide, margined with vivid grass, brilliant flowers, and trees of the Alpine type, clear as crystal, unless darkened by some sudden scud from the heights. At the southern end of the lake is a bold bluff of five hundred feet, over which fall the waters of Railroad Creek, a white band across the darkness of the bluff. Above may be seen the source of this stream. It issues from a smaller lake, which lies in the very end of a vast glacier, a mass of ice two miles wide and about four miles long.Passing west of Glacier Lake through the enchanted North Star Park, a veritable land of Beulah (at least when the sun is shining), we climb a thousand or twelve hundred feet higher, and find ourselves at one of those thrilling points in the mountains, a “divide.” We are on the crest of the Cascade Mountains. To the east the water flows to Lake Chelan, thence to the Columbia, and thence to the Pacific by a journey of six hundred miles. To the west the water descends through the Sauk and the Skagit to Puget Sound, only a hundred and fifty miles away. This pass is almost always wrapped in clouds, and it is fittingly known as Cloudy Pass. The masses of warm vapour rising from the Pacific are hurled against the icy crowns of Glacier Peak, Mt. Nixon, Mt. Le Conte, North Star Peak, Bonanza Peak, and the rest of the wintry brotherhood, most not yet even named, and make of them a genuine "patriam nimborum" in Virgil's phrase.
This is the breeding place of tempests. We had just reached the pass on one occasion, with a smiling sky below, and were just getting our cameras ready to catch the westward maze of peaks, when almost instantly there began to wheel and whirl above us great cloud-masses, seemingly from nowhere, formed right there, in fact, and before we had time to think, we were wrapped in a furious blizzard. With difficulty, benumbed, drenched, and exhausted, we managed to pick our way to camp, four miles below. This was in the early part of August. To be caught in a Chelan snowstorm is a serious matter at any time, and later in the year, may be all a man's life is worth.But the greatest sight, the crowning feature, of all this panorama of sublimities is Glacier Peak seen from Cloudy Pass. This is pre-eminently the storm-king, the "Cloud-Compeller" (Nephelegereta, in the sounding word of Homer), and rarely can one catch an unobstructed view of its glistening cone. After much watching and waiting we caught the base and part of the double crown of the mighty mass. Glacier Peak is the "Great Unknown" among our Washington peaks. Every one has heard of Rainier, most people know of Adams, St. Helens, Baker, and Stewart, but Glacier Peak, alone in its solitary grandeur, not visible from the cities or routes of travel, is little known even to the people of the State. As its name denotes, it is the centre of a vast glacial system. To any tourist with a taste for adventure, Glacier Peak affords the finest field, while it offers an almost untouched mark for the scientist.