June 10, 1833
10 June: In the morning, overcast sky, windy, warm. To the right, rather flat, grayish green hill chains; to the left, high earth bluffs without any vegetation, not even grass, [and] before them, some willows and cottonwoods. Early, two wolves at the top of the bank; [they] leave and return, not at all shy. Opposite us to the right, an island with thickets appears to be Lewis and Clark’ s Caution Island. Opposite, to the left of [the island], a gentle prairie valley with fresh grass; somewhat before it, opposite the promontory Pointe aux Frènes, Psächte-Ojú (‘ch’ velar) in the Dacota language.
[We made] a halt about seven o’ clock to take on a large supply of split wood: ash and cottonwood. For this purpose we halted at a nice forest on the left bank, where there were many ash trees (Fraxinus [— —]), with tough wood, and Negundo maple (box elder) with a willow and cottonwood thicket before them. In the forest, tall, luxuriant grass and numerous elk tracks. Here an old female wood rat was caught with two half-grown young. My hunters shot Fringilla grammacea Say and the cow-pen bird (Icterus pecoris Temm.)
About 7:30 we continue on.M29At 7:30, 71°F [21.7°C] The forest on the left bank runs along the promontory to the left, which the French call Pointe aux Asniboix (artichoke in English), named for an edible root of this region [— —] that the Dacotas call panchä́-ojú (‘ch’ velar). To the right, on the other hand, there are bare, extensive hills colored greenish gray, large boulders on some of the domes, individual bushes in the ravines, and driftwood here and there on the bank. To the left, before the promontory, large sandbars. Because the river turns, the hill chain [is] to the right and before us: in part, very singular domes with flattened points, no longer bare but covered with greenish gray grass.[Page 2:114] Before us on the horizon, several nice gradations. Some of the old trunks along the bank [are] short and stunted. On the hills to the right, a troop of elk (Cervus canadensis). An abundance of Artemisia to the left along the river, at the foot of the hills; in the thickets along the bank, tall buffalo berries and many blooming roses (Rosa [— —]). The hills to the right are now flattened like tables; to the left, cedars in the ravines. A flight of blackish ducks.Gray, naked earth bluffs to the left; to the right on the bank before the hills, a forest border from which a creek, the Rivière des Asniboix, flows. Here the river flows for a great distance, almost from the northeast. Far ahead of us we see the Isle Pascale.
The boat tore loose; we put in at the left bank at a ravine with many dry cedars and sent another boat after it. The men who went ashore with their axes looking for wood saw elk; immediately several hunters went out with their rifles and muskets. As it turned out, the supposed elk were actually seven antelope. The young Indian interpreter Ortubise, who had shot the antelope yesterday, now shot at these three or four times; [he] killed first one and then another, which they also got. Both were male; their horns [were] not very large (one of them had a point; the other, not yet). When they were brought aboard, they were completely without hair on their backs, because they [had been] shedding heavily. Mr. Bodmer, too, had come within one hundred paces of them but could shoot only with pellets.
While the hunters were out, I found several interesting plants, including Cactus opuntia, Prunus padus with berries still unripe, the beautiful vermilion [— —], and most of the already mentioned plants that grow on the prairie. On the barren hills, or those partially covered with grass—the former showed distinct traces of fire—I found numerous tracks and small trails of bison, as well as their droppings, [although] one does not now see any of these animals along the river. I found the bones of one such animal with a gigantic skull. The finch with the colorful head (Fringilla grammacea Say) was common here and not so timid as before. Otherwise I saw scarcely any birds.
A good hour later, when the woodcutters had felled many cedars and the two antelopes had been brought in, we continued on. It was twelve o’ clock. We reached Isle Pascale, which [was] covered with tall cottonwoods and willows; it remained to our right. From the ship, one could recognize the trails of antelope and elk along the steep sand bluffs to the left. They come to the river to drink. Pretty view of roses blooming on the bank, mingled with buffalo berry and the silver-white Artemisia. We sailed for a long time along the island; it had large sandbars at the upper end. The wind this noon was very strong and troublesome. Blackbirds strolled along the water on the left bank. A creek emptied opposite the end of the sandbars above the island.
We reached a second island, likewise with willow and cottonwood, as it began to rain. To the right the hills on the bank are flat and unimpressive; to the left, gray bluffs of clay, sand, or argillite. In the gorges here and there, all the trees are dry; they cover entire walls with their gray skeletons; individual ones [are] flatly umbrella-shaped. The white papilionaceous flowers of the prairie bloom like bushes along the slopes; on very steep blackish and completely bare clay walls, the large white flowers of the Oenothera [— —] [are] individually distributed like white dots. The little [— —] forms brownish red patches on the hills. 47 Rugged, desolate, barren nature! A flight of about twenty ducks, undoubtedly young ones. We ran aground but [experienced no] delay. To the left, a lowland with dense willows and cottonwoods now begins. Between the willows [there are] often red willows (Cornus sericea) [and] also much buffalo berry. As we gazed over the willows onto the flat prairie, we saw four large female elk standing there, which our noise had driven from the thickets. They looked very dark reddish brown. Their calves were undoubtedly sitting in the thickets near the river. On the riverbank there were large round holes at mid height; [— —] make them.
We move to the right bank. Severe rain darkens the region. After about an hour, sand hills appear to the left, some of them completely denuded like sand dunes, some overgrown with tall grass. To the right we now reach the mouth of the Little Cheyenne River, [which emerges] from thickets; behind them, prairie hills. There are said to be very many elk still in these thickets. Little water in the river, which now has a long, beautiful stretch straight ahead. [The] long series of bluffs on the left bank is colored blackish violet by the rain.[2:115] To the right, tall forest. After about an hour, sandbars. The sun has set. We turn now, sail to the left bank, [and] halt for the night. Cedar wood is cut. We went out onto the prairie for a while. It was almost dark, and the mosquitoes [were] very tormenting.