National Geographic : 1899 Apr
SOURCES OF THE SASKATCHEWAN in foaming breakers and dark whirlpools. For a mile or so above this fall there is a fine trail through a light pine forest, and then comes a burnt area with trees crossed in such confusion that it required two hours to make half a mile, and we were so much delayed here that our progress for the day could not have been more than three miles in nearly six hours. On the following two days we advanced about 10 miles up the valley, having a trail wherever there were green forests, but suf fering much delay from burnt timber and muskegs. On one occasion when marching along a steep bank of the river a pack horse stumbled among loose logs and rolled over into a deep pool. The horse was carrying over 200 pounds of flour, a bur den that kept it for a short time at the bottom of the river, but after some violent struggles it came right side up and climbed out. No damage was done, however, as flour absorbs water only to a slight depth and very soon makes an impervious layer on the outside. Ten miles up the river a stream from the west unites with the North Fork. As the two streams are about equal in size we were at a loss which one to follow in order to reach the Atha basca. In order to get a more extended view of the country, an ascent was made of a mountain which lies between the two rivers. On the summit, at an altitude of 8,400 feet. it was seen that the western stream takes its source in a large glacier about 12 miles distant. A fair idea of the branch streams was given by the valley openings, but it must be confessed that less is known about this river than of any other source of the Sas katchewan under discussion. As a result of this ascent we were firm in the belief that our route did not lie up the western branch. The other valley, however, seemed exceedingly deep, canyon-like, in the very short distance that it was visible at all. Though the air was smoky from forest fires, in spite of consider able rainy weather of late, I tried some photographic work, and during a brief but fatal moment, when I was reaching for a plate holder, the strong wind blew my camera over and broke it badly on the rough limestone rocks. The most fragile parts, the ground glass and lens, fortunately escaped, while the wood and brass work were in pieces. With a tool box carried for such emergen cies the camera was reconstructed after a few hours' labor and did excellent work later in the trip. Our men returned in the evening and reported that there was a trail in the deep valley to the northwest.