National Geographic : 1939 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE business we spent our summer vacations seeking unfrequented byways in the wilder nesses of the West. While we camped from Arizona to the Canadian Rockies, we studied the animals about us, and dis covered that we had a knack for gaining their confidence. Returning home from early trips, we told friends of our experiences-of a mountain goat before us on a sheer wall, running at amazing speed in apparent defiance of gravity; of bighorn sheep lambs butting one another off a huge boulder; of a black bear and a bull elk cavorting about a forest, playfully bluffing one another. "Why don't you take a camera so you can get pictures of some of these unusual things?" our friends suggested. Some even said frankly, "Why don't you bring back a few pictures so we can believe you?" DEVELOPING IN A BEAR DEN So we decided to take cameras. That was seven years ago. When the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE published an ar ticle with some of the photographs we made on our first summer's camera tour, we felt rewarded for our trouble.* Once we used a bear den for a darkroom, heated pans of sand in the campfire to keep developing solutions warm, and washed negatives in a mountain stream. At one camp deer poked their heads into the tent each morning for graham crackers. At another, a pine squirrel, wheezing from a grass barb in her nose, was always on hand at mealtime, springing to the table, getting into everything and making a welcome nuisance of herself. At a third, a pine marten slipped into the tent during the night to carry away our eggs; and a bull moose with unusually large antlers and wattle, or throat pendant, was a neighbor. Moose we found not only in the Bridger Lake country but also in the Gallatin Range, which lifts its pyramid crests into southernmost Montana skies. There, five years before, we had had excellent luck with moose, so we pulled the trailer up the main highway along the Gallatin River. In a valley below the junction of the Beaverhead National Forest and the Gal latin Range, we turned off on a bumpy dirt road. Shadows were creeping down * See "With Wild Animals in the Rockies," by Lucie and Wendell Chapman, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for August, 1935. the valley when we drew up to a familiar log cabin squatting among the hills. As we stopped, a wiry, weather-beaten man burst out of the doorway to call off two bark ing dogs. A TRAILER FOR A TEPEE In rolling cowboy gait he came over, ex tending his calloused hand. "Hello, there!" he exclaimed. "We've been wondering what had become of you." Looking at the heavy trailer, he added, "Is that your tepee now?" "Part of the time," Lucie said. "Back it under that tree, then," the set tler suggested. His wife came running from the cabin, drying her hands on her flour-sack apron. "You're just in time for dinner," she announced. "I was saying to Jack it was a pity to have so much to eat tonight and no one to help us enjoy it. He's just butchered a sheep and the vegetables's been extra good this year." Western food and friendliness were at their best. After dinner Lucie helped clear the table while the host and I went out to dig supplies from trailer and car and to see that packsaddles were in order. We had to get an early start next morning, for Jack was to take out a hunting party a few days later. INTO THE WILDERNESS BEFORE DAWN Long before sunlight penetrated into the deep valley we rounded up the horses, loaded them with bulging packs of bedding, food, cameras, and other camp conven iences, and were off. The animals picked their way between shrubby cinquefoil, now almost bare of yellow blossoms, to an open stretch dotted here and there with scarlet paintbrushes and late-blooming buttercups. Above the click of hoof on stone rose the burble of a fast-running creek as our trail turned to follow along the bank. Soon we plunged into the cool of an evergreen forest where going seemed easier, thick needles of lodgepole pine silencing the beat of feet. Smells of pine and spruce mingled in a familiar fragrance. Midafternoon found us winding along an elk trail through thick timber where we breathed deeply of the cool piny air. Near the edge of the forest the horses tugged the reins from our hands to drink at a rivulet trickling from a clump of lady ferns that concealed a spring.