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here they were unloaded, while he with two members of our party proceeded to run the cañon and the rapids. Along this dangerous part of the river, no less than three portages are necessary, which is a work of the most slavish toil, there being a steep ascent up the rocks at the head of the cañon, with a corresponding descent at the lower end, followed by a scramble along the rugged cliffs of the White Horse. It is a matter, in fact, of hard labour for four days, while the run through the canon and down the rapids is reckoned by minutes.
Owing to unavoidable hindrances which had occurred, there was a delay at the head of the cañon of several days until the arrival of the remainder of the party, who did not all come together again after leaving Lake Bennett until they reached this point, and here the goods which had been unloaded by McCauley were packed and divided up among the rest.
The cañon is described as a most formidable-looking place; the river from having a width of about 200 yards is suddenly compressed into a space of about 30 yards, between perpendicular rocks of basalt looking like walls of masonry 75 or 100 feet high. Between these walls of rock the river rushes with tremendous velocity, boiling up in large waves, and it is only by frantic paddling that your boat can be kept in the middle and away from the rocks, against which, if it were dashed, it would be crushed like an egg-shell, and nothing could save you from death. Half-way down the cañon it opens out into a sort of basin, but again contracts, and the descent is more rapid than before, but the whole thing is over in a minute, though the cañon is nearly a mile in length.
From the foot of the cañon to the White Horse Rapids is a run of two to three miles, which are made in six or seven minutes. *You go plunging along, and if you touch a rock it is all done with you,' says one of the letters. The White Horse Rapids themselves are about half a mile long, and are the most dangerous rapids on the Lewes River, the worst of these being at the lower end, where the basaltic banks suddenly close in, and the river is hardly more than 100 feet wide. The water rushes over boulders, dashes against them, and then recoils and boils backwards, covering itself with a white crest supposed to be like the niane of a white horse, whence of course the rapids take their name.
All the members of the party who attempted to run the cañon and rapids were fortunate enough to get over this part of the
journey in safety, the boats undamaged and provisions brought over all secure. Twenty-five miles below the rapids the Lewes River runs into Lake Labarge, which is over 30 miles in length; and at the foot of the lake another boat was built, for there were still 400 miles awaiting the adventurers before they could arrive at the gold-fields. The worst part of the journey, however, was past, and the difficulties that afterwards presented themselves were regarded as trifles in comparison with those which their pluck and determination had already overcome. Issuing from Lake Labarge, the Lewes River is still followed, until it finally unites with the Pelly River to form the Yukon, at which point are yet to be seen the ruins of old Fort Selkirk, which was raided by the Chilcoot Indians in 1852, and afterwards burnt. This part of the journey is dismissed in a few sentences. Near where the (miscalled) Hootilinqua flows into the Lewes they had to run a bad shoot, which was not marked on the maps ; but the Five Finger and the Rink Rapids, some way further down, did not give them much trouble. The Rink Rapids, in fact, are simply caused by a barrier of rocks extending half-way across the river from the west side, over which barrier there is a ripple, while on the east side there is no ripple and the water is smooth and deep. Below the junction of the Lewes and Pelly the course lies for the remaining 170 miles down the main stream of the Yukon, which averages a quarter of a mile in width; and, though the current is swift, there is no rough water, so that the rest of the voyage to the Klondike was all plain sailing.
Throughout the journey there was no trouble about fresh provisions, for they got moose-meat and fish from the Indians all along the route, and on one occasion a bear was shot on the bank and made ‘fine eating.' Superfluous articles were traded off with the Indians in exchange for others of more practical value to the travellers. One man got a dressed moose-hide for some tobacco, and another secured one in exchange for his curling jacket, which was scarcely likely to be required at the gold-fields.
On July 31 they reached Dawson City, all in good health and spirits, but glad enough to get out of the boats, the unanimous conclusion being that it was a trip of a life-time.
They thus arrived at the Klondike just at the time when the news of the rich finds had reached the English newspapers, but practically twelve months ahead of those Englishmen who are anxiously awaiting the advent of next spring before they can
hope to start for the same destination. These latter, however, should not imagine that the state of things will then be any different from that above described, except that the crowds pressing in will be enormously greater. The difficulties above enumerated are precisely what will have to be encountered in the spring of 1898, for just exactly as things were left on the route when winter set in, so they will remain, for no improvements can be undertaken until spring has thoroughly cleared the ground, which will probably be some time in the end of May.
The trail over the White Pass (a route to Lake Bennett alternative to the Chilcoot) was reduced to an impassable condition even by the inrush of gold-seekers, which took place in the autumn, and more than three thousand pack-horses were lost along the route, either through falling over the precipices on the south side, or being bogged with their heavy loads in the treacherous swamps on the north side. And this rush was a mere bagatelle compared with what is expected to occur in the spring.
Railways there may be ultimately, but these are the work of time. Some knowledge of the proposed routes must be obtained, Acts of Parliament or their equivalent must be procured, and an elaborate survey must be had, before anything in the shape of track-laying can even be begun. The summer season is short, and it will probably be 1899 before any substantial improvement can be looked for. It will, in fact, be best for a man to be prepared to rely entirely on his own resources.
Then when he has finally reached the gold-fields, he will find that all the available claims have been taken up long ago, and he will have to wander far afield until fresh ground has been discovered, when, if he happens to be on the spot, he may have the good fortune to locate a claim. Otherwise he must look to whatever employment may happen to offer, even to dish-washing in an eatinghouse, or working in the streets of Dawson City, but this would doubtless be preferable to starvation. Many a well-brought-up Englishman have I known in the North-West, who has come to the end of his resources and been glad to earn his bread by work as a navvy or a day labourer, and the only way for a man to avoid such a possibility would be to take with him the wherewithal to keep him alive for one or two years, by which time he would probably have made up his mind whether he would like to go or stay.
It did not take our adventurers long to grasp the situation. Two of them in particular took a trip up to the mines, and spent
three days looking round. As might be supposed, they found things altogether different from what they expected. One of them writes :— There is no chance of getting anything in the way of a claim, unless some new strike is made. The claimowners have a big thing, but if you have to work, it is no snap (i.e. an easy job). Wages are a dollar and a half per hour, but the miner has to pack his living and outfit for fifteen miles over the worst trail ever known, and it takes the cream out of the miner's wages. So you see, with all the gold in sight, if you do not own a claim, you are not in it.' He offers the very pertinent piece of advice that no one should go to the Klondike expecting to get gold • lying around in chunks,' adding that there were any amount of men there, and fresh ones coming in all the time. And finally, they came to the wise determination, that if they could not get into a claim by some means or other, they would go to work at anything that came along, with the hope that some new find would be made.
T. C. Down. (Of the Bar of the North-Western Territories.)
DURING the early days of our cruise in the South-seaman * Cachalot,' Abner Cushing, one of the 'green' hands, suffered many things at the skipper's hands. So ungainly and hapless a man apparently stood little chance of breaking our spell of bad luck, which had been so persistent that a bounty had been offered to whoever should first sight a useful whale, payable only in the event of the prize being secured by the ship. In consequence of our ill-success, and to stimulate the watchfulness of all, that bounty was now increased from ten pounds of tobacco to twenty, or fifteen dollars, whichever the winner chose to have. Most of us whites regarded this as quite out of the question for us, whose untrained vision was as the naked eye to a telescope when pitted against the eagle-like sight of the Portuguese. Nevertheless we all did our little best, and I know for one that when I descended from my lofty perch after a two hours' vigil, my eyes often ached and burned for an hour afterwards from the intensity of my gaze across the shining waste of waters.
Judge then of the surprise of everybody when, one forenoon watch, three days after we had lost sight of Trinidada, a most extraordinary sound was heard from the fore crow's-nest. I was at the time up at the main in company with Louis, the mate's barpooner, and we stared across to see whatever was the matter. The watchman was unfortunate Abner Cushing, and he was gesticulating and howling like a madman. Up from below came the deep growl of the skipper: 'Foremast head, there, what d’ye say?' * B-b-b-blow, s-s-sir,' stammered Abner, "a big whale right in the way of the sun, sir.' 'See anythin', Louey,' roared the skipper to my companion, just as we had both raised' the spout almost in the glare cast by the sun. *Yessir,' answered Louis, but I kain't make him eout yet, sir.' 'All right, keep yer eye on him, an' lemme know sharp,' and away he went aft for his glasses.
The course was slightly altered, so that we headed direct for the whale, and in less than a minute afterwards we saw distinctly the great black column of a sperm whale's head rise well above the sea, scattering a circuit of foam before it, and emitting a