The new mission

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The new land mission moved on as soon as the weather cleared up, with the story of my Nile river expedition in their heads.
I was unsure whether the team were afraid of what might be ahead or more determined to face the consequences.
There was little distance made over many weeks due to the steep mountains we had to share the load in our backpacks to help the horses. The sight of the Missouri River and the snow-covered mountains as a backdrop was magnificent.
The lush fertile valleys and magnificent forests were breathtaking.
I sat down on a rock and soaked it up for what seemed to be an hour; the trip down the mountains to the river was steep and dangerous. I breathed a sigh of relief at the river's edge, and then travelled three miles upstream to a suitable campsite.

There on flat ground on the edge of the river we then built log cabins where we would stay the winter.
Everyone knew their tasks well, each day the shooting team would provide fresh meat deer and elk.
The winter wasn't far away so we dried and salted the meat that along with grain flour and oats would be our diet until spring.
The winter was bleak and miserable the snow was so thick that doing anything was difficult the team managed to build the rafts. Living in the extreme cold and the short days was tough, how the Indians survived the winters here was a wonder to me.
Two shooters reported seeing Indians watching them bringing the game back so Jake sent Hinmah out to meet them.
He was from the Nez Perce tribe the ones rumoured to be on the verge of waging war, Hinmah never returned.

In early spring I went upstream a further nineteen miles with Jake and his Indian scout Kamak until I found the start of the Missouri River. I then started mapping on the return trip back, three large sturdy rafts were ready and it was a magic moment when we first pushed off. The river was wide deep and crystal clear not at all like the Nile, there wasn't much current.
The rafts were well-equipped with oars each raft had a bark shelter and the provisions were all stored in watertight barrels.
Travel on the rafts was easy as we all took turns rowing, the countryside was picture perfect.
I felt relaxed and wished each day would never end but they did and as each day drew to a close a camp was set up and we slept in four-man tents.

The river was in a deep ravine so daylight hours were short, there was plenty of salmon and game so we ate well.
There were mountain streams flowing into the river, we camped one night at the junction of a stream.
Lou and Mario wandered off with their gold pans; they came back before dark and told Jake that they had found a few specs of colour. Now they would leave the team here in search of their fortunes.
Next morning Jake issued them with a pick, shovel, axe, flour, sugar, salt, oats and biscuits.
The next two weeks saw farmers, settlers, trappers and prospectors leave at their chosen location, and the farmers got seed grain as well as their provisions.
A couple from Scotland Alan and Jodie McNabb and two French trappers left at the junction of a large river.
This was an ideal spot and had miles of lush flat land; the third raft was not needed because we only numbered twenty-seven now. The French trappers said they would help the McNabbs build a cabin before setting off upriver.

Three days further downstream we saw Indians on horseback so we camped on the opposite bank that night.
When we set out the next day we had not got far when we were attacked by Indians in canoes. It was terrifying, they were everywhere and we had no chance they were picking us off like flies.
I saw the wounded trying to escape in the water but was shot with arrows. I was in the lead raft with Jake when one of the canoes approached as Jake was reloading his rifle.
One of the Indians in a canoe was Hinmah, who had gone missing weeks before.
He came up to the raft and said to Jake you go back and tell what happened here.
Tell them this will happen to others who enter our land, you will be the only one left alive, Jake yelled jump!
The Thompson's, Nellie Jamison and I immediately jumped into the water, the river bank was close.

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