Following Steelhead to Spawning Headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains
The Corps of Discovery was hell-bent to return as soon as possible to St. Louis, despite knowing that they were preceding the primary food source of the Native people on their homeward route up the Columbia, Snake, and Clearwater rivers – spring Chinook salmon. Full knowing their dependency on the Native people to provide them with food in the Columbia Basin, they nevertheless persisted in their hurry. Although it had great physical costs, nearly as great as on their prior route through the Bitterroot Mountains in the fall of 1805, they would unknowingly document the spawn timing and spawning locations of Idaho steelhead that would not be rivaled for 90 years until described by Barton W. Evermann (1896). However, there was much river and land to cover by the explorers after leaving Celilo Falls before reaching the Clearwater River in what is Idaho today.