Saturday, May 24, 2008

At daylight, four a.m. …………..

…… [21st May, 1827] started on foot accompanied by an old Nipissing Indian who had spent many years west of the Rocky Mountains. Although to appearance upward of seventy years of age I found him a most excellent walker. Passed a deep muddy swamp a mile broad and entered a thick point of pine of five more, when I was informed the laborious part of the journey was over.

Continued my route along Lake Bowland where two men had been sent on to fish. Having been unsuccessful and no breakfast my stay was short.

Passed the small deep rivulets by means of throwing down two trees. All the hollow parts of the plains overflowed with water – to all appearance shallow lakes. Appears to have at one time abounded in Red and Long-tailed deer, many horns being strewed over the ground.

At three o’clock came to Sturgeon River, a small deep muddy stream but at this season large, the banks overflowed. My hatchet being small, two hours were spent making a raft. I would not have lost three minutes in crossing [says intrepid Douglas], but my poor old guide was afraid the chilliness of the water would injure him, having perspired much, and on his account I assisted him in raft making.

Being then only nine miles from Fort Edmonton on the Saskatchewan my spirits revived and I hastily tripped over the ground and passed many muddy creeks, wading to the middle. Night creeping in on me, my view of the country gradually disappeared. At eight I heard the evening howl of the sledge dogs, which to me was sweet music, and perceived fires in some lodges which I knew to be near the establishment [Fort Edmonton].

Being all over with mud, I returned half a mile to a small lake, stripped and plunged myself in and then comforted myself with a clean shirt.

I was most kindly received, and had supper prepared for me of fine moose-deer steaks, which were most acceptable after a walk of forty-three miles through a most wretched country without having anything to eat.

[Now let’s just reprise that. He has risen at 4, with no breakfast, walked 43 miles with no food, wading through swamps to the middle, building rafts for his old Indian guide, and still has time to scrub-up and comfort himself with a clean shirt before supper. Fit as a butcher’s dog!]

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