Part Two: Canoe Camp to Cape Disappointment
by Bill McMillan
After 12 days, the five canoes were completed at Canoe Camp across from today’s Orofino, Idaho on the Clearwater River. Thanks to the Nez Perce people, the men of the Corps of Discovery had mostly recovered from near starvation (although Capt. Clark felt ill from the continual diet of dried salmon) and on October 7, 1805 set off for the Pacific Ocean. It had to be a day of high spirits, knowing the destination of the expedition could now be achieved in the comparative ease of downstream travel via the canoes – or so it seemed. That first day the canoe the Captains occupied sprung a leak, and the men in general found the continual river rapids a challenge to negotiate. The next day proved nearly disastrous. One of the canoes hit a rock in a rapid, turned sideways into another rock, and sank as the side split open. Two canoes quickly went to the aid of several men who could not swim – one canoe manned by two of the Snake or Nez Perce men with them.