Wyoming

The Journey

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Hear the narration:

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Flaming Gorge
May 26, 1869
The first canyon we enter and the first rapids we encounter and run, we name Flaming Gorge. We set up camp and stay here for several days in order to explore and gather data. We break camp and run rapids through Flaming Gorge.

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Ashley Falls
June 2, 1869
It is a lovely morning as we make a trail among the rock cliffs to transport our goods to a point below the falls. As we walk along the trail, we notice the inscription: “Ashley 18-5” high up on a rock. After looking up at it for awhile, we found the third figure was obscure and we could not make out what it read. Some of the men in the party read it as 1835 whereas others thought that it read 1855. I was once told by an old-time mountaineer, that a party of men started down this very river and one of their names was Ashley. The story tells of the boat being swamped, causing some of the party to drown in the canyons below. Knowing this, the word “Ashley” serves as a warning to all of us and we move forward with even greater caution. Ashley and one other member of his party survived.

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Lodore
June 9, 1869
We enter into a canyon; my Emma Dean advances in front of the others so that I can give signals to the men behind me. A flag waved to the right meant to proceed in that direction; when waved down, the signal meant to stop immediately, as danger was approaching. As we row through, blind to what lies ahead, one member of the expedition suggests that we name this place, Canyon of Lodore. It is in this canyon that we run into our first major disaster. We approach a fall and I signal for the boats to stop, but No Name misses my signal and moves forward.

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Disaster Falls
June 12, 1869
The No Name takes the fall, and the Howland brothers and Frank Goodman are ejected from the boat, thrown into the river’s twisting and tumbling water. Caught by the current, they head downstream and we struggle to rescue them. Fortunately no one drowns, but unfortunately the No Name is wrecked by rocks and we lose all of the cargo. As we set up camp for the evening, we discover the remains of another wreck and determine that these must be the remains of the Ashley expedition. We decide to name this spot Disaster Falls.

I had planned for a 10-month expedition, which is now impossible since we are only two weeks into our journey and have already lost a third of our food. Frank Goodman was shaken from the boat wreck and has decided to leave the expedition. He and I hiked out to the Uinta Reservation Indian Agency Office to replenish what we could and to mail letters, and it was here that he remained.

Hell’s Half Mile
June 15, 1869
We come upon a nasty section of the river in which we encounter drops of more than 100 feet for a distance of one-half mile. We name this section of the river Hell’s Half Mile. The Maid of the Canyon is lost, but we recover her undamaged.

Each day our journey moves forward through many canyons and creeks. We discover and name Desolation Canyon, Cataract Canyon, Glen Canyon, Marble Canyon, The Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Creek and Lava Falls.

Separation Rapids
August 28, 1869
Pacing back and forth all evening, unable to sleep, I am not sure how I feel about the Howland brothers and William Dunn leaving the expedition. It is the 96th day of our journey and we are faced with a fall more terrifying than any we have ever seen. I searched all day long, climbing up and down the surrounding cliffs, looking for a path around. Unfortunately there were barely any footholds, and portaging was impossible. We were going to have to run it. We are hungry and exhausted, and running this part of the river is associated with certain death. I informed the men that I had been noticing certain changes in the rock formations and elevations which indicate to me that we are nearing the end of the canyon. And though I beg them to stay, as daylight breaks, the Howland brothers and Dunn begin their climb out of the canyon. I leave the Emma Dean behind for these men in case they change their mind. The rest of us board the remaining two boats and move into the waters of the wild rapids. Less than a minute in running it, we land at a reasonable point and fire off our guns to signal to the other three men that it can be done, and be done easily. Hoping that the men will board the Emma Dean and run the rapid, we wait for several hours. When this does not happen, we push onward, naming this Separation Rapids. I found out later that these men were killed by a band of Shivwit Indians who believed they were their enemies