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the wedge in as far as the 500 yards notch, so that I had been overshooting the mark each time of firing.
Looking at my watch, I find it is 12 o'clock, and, feeling quite peckish, we devour our ham sandwiches with a relish, notwithstanding our disappointment, quenching our thirst at a little stream of snow water which trickles down almost at our feet. Then, seeing we are so near the summit, we decide to proceed, as it will evidently only take us another forty minutes to arrive there.
Before us is an inaccessible cliff, but by skirting around its base to our right, for a hundred yards or so, we shall be able to continue our journey up. This
"A vast field of snow and ice."
we accordingly do, and come to a rockslide a little over a hundred feet in width, which we shall evidently have to cross. Downhill a short distance the slope breaks off, and it makes one shudder to think of what our fate would be if we were to go over the edge. Now, on a rockslide of any description I am always particularly shaky, with the fear that by dislodging one rock the entire mass may start in motion. In fear and trembling, therefore, we pick our way across, and breathe a sigh of relief when we reach the other side in safety.
Then we work our way around a jutting point on a rocky ledge seven feet
in width, and with what nervous prudence, for one false step will be the last! We arrive at the source of one of these mountain torrents, which pours forth from a small cave at the foot of a glacier. This cave, or hollow, is in the snow and ice, and, peering in, we can almost fancy ourselves to be in Fairyland, the sun shining through the ice as through a prism, and flooding the whole place with the most beautiful and delicate colours.
With not a little difficulty do we clamber up on the surface of this glacier, some 400 feet higher, but when there we feel amply repaid for all our hard climbing. The view is simply indescribable. Looking back, we see the valley from which we have ascended, with the river threading its tortuous way like a minute silver wire; beyond that, mountain after mountain, with snow-clad peaks innumerable. We are surrounded by a sea of mountains, with here and there some beautiful valley, or a lake sparkling like a diamond in the sunlight.
In contemplating such scenes as this one is impressed with the awfulness and inconceivable magnitude of the creation, and the head is bowed with a spirit of reverence to Him, the Almighty Creator. Turning, we seem encompassed by a vast field of snow and ice, fringed by jagged peaks, rearing their gaunt pinnacles against the clear blue sky. The whole scene represents an absolute and awful solitude, and not a sound breaks the oppressive stillness. The glacier extends three miles in front of us, but so difficult is it to estimate distance that it may be more or less, and on the left a mile would seem to be the extent. But on our right the ridge which we are standing upon winds around almost in a semi-circle, being as abrupt and sharp in some places as the roof of a house.
The torrent by which we have ascended is evidently not the only outlet, as
we can see where, about half a mile distant, the slope of the glacier descends abruptly, most probably towards the other valley of which we can discern the opposite side. Scarring and seaming the surface of this icefield are fissures or crevasses, some only a foot in width, others yawning chasms, and into one of these we peer. Near the top the colour of the ice is a light green, then blue, graduating to a deep purple in the depths. The sides not being perpendicular, we are unable to estimate the depth, and it is impossible to count the duration of the fall of a stone dropped from the top, for the rattling against the sides gradually dies away. There is no distinct and sudden cessation as there would be if it struck the bottom. This would lead one to believe that the depth is even greater than we first suspected; and the outlet to our right must be very much lower than the one at this side.
Here and there are small pools of water, and at the bottom, is invariably to be found a stone. This is accounted for by the fact that these stones are carried on the surface of the glacier by small slides; then, of course, as soon as the sun's rays become powerful enough, and the stone absorbs sufficient heat, the surrounding ice and snow melts, and in this manner forms a pool of water.
There were other instances of what it appeared to me should have resulted in the same thing. Several large stones were resting upon columns or pillars of ice, and one was fully eighteen inches in height, the surrounding ice evidently having melted away, leaving this column that supported the stone intact. The reason for this has since been explained to me. The stone being, of course, of a certain thickness, the upper surface would alone be affected by the sun's rays, the under part being still cold, and acting as a
A FISSURE OR CREVASSE.
shade and preventing the melting of the ice beneath.
"Three o'clock, by thunder!" I hear Scotty exclaim. "And time we were off for camp."
And so it was, for although it would only occupy about half the time on the downward journey, there were several ticklish places to pass, and they would be even more trying going down than
on the upward journey. In ascending the danger is behind, but in descending we are forced to face all difficulties, and a glance at a bad drop is apt to have an unsettling effect upon one's nerves. Then, again, a rifle is a fearful nuisIt is impossible to carry it in the hand, because both hands are required to grasp projections and shrubs, and with a sling the butt is continually tripping one up, or causing one to overbalance. However, off we go, and, arriving at the narrow ledge, I take the lead, and am creeping carefully around the point when, just on the other side of the rockslide before mentioned, I see three goats. The first is an old "billy," the other two females, and one of the latter I mentally mark as mine. There is no room for both of us to stand abreast, so signing to Scotty to keep still, I bring my rifle into position. They are, as yet, unconscious of my presence, but the "click" produced by my rifle in throwing a cartridge into the barrel speedily brings them to "attention.” I never move a muscle, but wait breathlessly with my finger on the trigger.
For a period of two minutes, which seems almost an eternity to me, we remain as if carved out of the rock that surrounds us, intently eyeing each other; then their eyes seemed to dilate, then their bodies and limbs extend and stiffen, and with one stamp of their feet and a toss of their heads they are off like flash of lightning up the very face of the cliff. As they turn and expose their flanks I pull trigger on the second goat, aiming just behind the shoulders, and, instantly pumping up another cartridge, fire again. Whereupon, with one convulsive bound, she dropped, rolling over and over down the hill to where they were when I first shot. I sent three or four shots after the others, but without any success; and it was just as well, for we should never have packed any of them down with us.
As a general rule, goats, and, indeed, nearly all wild animals, move about very little during the heat of the day, so that we might consider ourselves
lucky in coming across them; and, as Scotty remarked, we should have something to show for our day's outing.
Hurrying around the point and over the slide as quickly as the dangerous nature of the ground would allow us, we arrived at the side of the goat just as she was departing from this vale of sorrow, and it seemed to me that I never felt more like a butcher than at that moment.
Scotty proposed packing the carcass, as fresh meat would be a great treat, and in bad places rolling and throwing it down. But as it would have been hashed goat in real earnest before reaching camp, if treated in that way, we concluded to make a pack of just the hind quarters rolled up in the skin. The skinning operation did not occupy much time, and we were again jogging off down the hill.
After passing the dangerous places it was all plain sailing, and we covered the ground at a famous rate; indeed sometimes a little too fast, as a certain portion of our nether garments bore witness. Several times it made me wish I had been provided with similar means of locomotion to a goat, at least for this occasion, and one does not wonder how surefooted these animals are after examining the feet. The point or toe part is as hard as that of a deer, but the under surface, or pad, is of a soft, clinging nature, more nearly resembling india-rubber than anything else; so that one can easily understand how a goat would never slip when jumping on a smooth surface of rock, even if it were wet.
We arrive at that point where the two slides merge into one, and oh! what a great relief it is to step out on the even surface of the snow. Tired is no name for my condition at this time; my thighs are aching, and at every step it seems that my knees will no longer uphold me. However, the prospect of something to eat before very long brightens me up, and I am just meditating on what fearful inroads we shall make upon cook's good things, when Scotty exclaims, "There's a bear!" and, sure enough, there is a full grown
"silver tip," not more than two hundred yards away, walking among some small huckleberry bushes at the edge of the slide.
Now, we had been foolishly wasteful of our cartridges, amusing ourselves on the downward journey upon nearly every occasion, when resting, by firing them off, and the consequence that Scotty had only three and I one left, not many cartridges to meet a bear with; still, we decided it was too good a chance to miss, and prepared to give him a lively reception, Scotty giving me another cartridge, so that we had two apiece.
The bear had not yet seen us, or if he had, he took not the slightest notice of us; but there was no use in approaching any nearer, as with a couple of bounds he could be out of sight among the bushes, so we concluded to fire from where we were.
I fired first, the bear giving one great leap up hill, then standing still for a few moments, and turning sharply in our direction, he gave a loud snort and started for us at that curious shambling gait peculiar to a bear. Then we fired together, but it had no other effect than to make him stagger for a moment. At seventy-five yards I fired my last shot, but he still came straight for us, rolling his head continually from side to side, and from time to time emitting low growls, whether of pain or rage it was difficult to guess.
Now if Scotty had been excited when we saw our first goat up the mountain, he was cool as the proverbial cucumber now, and lucky for us both that he was. For it is not a little trying to wait for a wounded bear to come up to you, and know that your sole available weapon is a knife. Because it would be simply suicide to attempt to use a rifle as a club, a bear being able to use his paws as effectively as any boxer, and a blow would be very quickly warded off. My heart was thumping like a trip-hammer, and had I yielded to my inclinations Scotty would have been left to face the music alone.
The bear is only a hundred feet away from us, and not being able to stand
the strain any longer, I yell, "Let him have it " !!!
At the sound of my voice the bear stops, and rises to an erect position. Just a moment after, Scotty fired, and without waiting to see the result of his shot, started running down the hill for dear life, with your humble servant a close second.
After running as far as the snow extended, at such a rate that a game of seven-up might have been played upon our coat tails, we stopped from sheer want of breath, not having, at that altitude, the same amount of "puff" as at sea level.
Seeing that no bear was following in our wake, we decided to go back again in the timber along the edge of the slide and reconnoitre. Climbing up carefully, we at last came in sight of the scene of our late sanguinary encounter, and there, sure enough, was Mr. Bear, lying in the place where he had been shot. Whether he had departed for the happy hunting-grounds or was merely stunned we would have given much to know, for to approach a bear that may revive at any moment, without weapons, requires quite an amount of cool nerve. We were able, however, after a time, to advance within a hundred and fifty feet on a high bank that overhung the slide at that place, and from this point of safety we saluted the mighty departed with a volley of
After about fifteen minutes of this programme, including frequent consultations, and our attentions being treated with silent contempt by Mr. Bruin, decided to advance cautiously. There was many a heartquake, though, before we reached the bear, and if even a hair had moved, a stampede would have resulted.
As it was, in a few moments we were able to stand beside the great carcass with composure, and examine the results of our victory at leisure. He was a magnificent animal, and a terrible foe to meet even when armed.
Surely it was a most reckless and foolish proceeding to have gone back at all, for had that bear been merely
badly wounded we should have prob- weapons, but for general purposes a ably had an ugly experience.
Of the four shots we had fired three only had taken effect, two in the breast and one, the first shot, through the throat. The two in the breast were regular raking shots, and were a proof of the efficacy of heavy bullets.
45-70 (405 or 500 grains of lead) is more serviceable, and it is ammunition that can be procured anywhere, which is a great recommendation in its favour.
We both carried 45-70 cal. rifles, and it seems to me that is the smallest calibre that should be used, for bears at least. In hunting big game, what one requires is a heavy bullet of fairly large calibre, great penetration being a secondary matter. Take, for instance, the latest long-range military rifles of small calibres, with which steel-tipped bullets are used; they have enormous penetrative power, and answer their purpose well, one bullet probably placing three men hors de combat as effectually as if three larger and heavier bullets were used, and still allowing the wounded a chance of recovery. For, in their course through the body, these bullets make a clean puncture even through bone, and cause no bad fractures. When, however, a man is facing an animal as tenacious of life as a bear he is not in favour of any humane method of procedure, but requires something that will effectually put a stop to Mr. Bruin's further progress, and the most powerful agent, in my opinion, is a large, heavy bullet. The shock resulting from the impact of such a bullet will cause an animal to drop, even if the wound is not mortal; whereas there are instances when men, even after being mortally wounded with a 22 cal., have then had sufficient strength to kill their aggressor. Then, again, the bullets should be soft (1 in every 16 parts tin) so that the lead may spread and scatter when it comes in contact with bone. Express rifles and explosive or hollowpointed bullets are the most killing
Although we knew that the bear would be far more easily skinned that night than if left until the morning, we decided to adopt the latter course as it was becoming late. Before leaving, however, Scotty cut off a claw to show as proof of our prowess when we reached camp.
Shouldering the remains of the goat, and our rifles, so hastily discarded a short time before, we soon arrived in camp where we were besieged with questions concerning the day's adventures. Upon relating our encounter with the bear, Ramsay, as usual, was incredulous. Ramsay was the greatest pessimist. He disbelieved everything he heard, and was always imputing bad motives; indeed, I believe if he heard that a man had committed suicide in mid-ocean, he would say immediately he was doing so in order to save funeral expenses on shore. This time, however, I fancy the disgusted way in which Scotty threw the bear's claw at him, saying, "That didn't grow on a tree," was convincing enough.
In spite of our fatigue we made a fearful attack upon the eatables, and it is truly wonderful with what relish one can enjoy plain, wholesome food after vigourous exercise in the open air. The answer which the Spartan made to the tyrant, Dionysius, when accounting for the zest with which they enjoyed plain black soup, would have been quite applicable on this occasion: "It is by hardship in the chase, a journey to Sparta, hunger and thirst, that the feasts of the Spartans are seasoned."
David Owen Lewis.