To Riordan Lake by Horse and Wagon, 1907. A Journal by my Great-Grandfather, Walter L. Cole

In 1907, my great grandfather – Walter L. Cole – kept a journal of a trip he took with a friend, Perry, to Central Idaho’s Riordan Lake just southeast of Yellow Pine, Idaho. This area, which I have spent a lot of time in over the years, is some very rough and steep country.

I first came to know the specific area described in his journal when I was in my early twenties while doing stream surveys for the US Forest Service. Later, in 1996 and 1997, I was a fishing guide in the area and I took clients to the lake on a weekly basis.  We never caught fish of any great size but we did frequently catch small rainbows and the occasional small bull trout.  There are also lake trout rumored to still be in the deep lake which were introduced by a long time resident of Yellowpine, Lafe Cox.  I never caught any but there was one taken in an IDFG survey in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.

One of my most memorable trips to the lake was when I had a family of clients from Texas.  Just before we arrived at the lake I told them that once we got over the next rise in the trail we would see at least one moose.  Sure enough, when we arrived there was a big cow moose just below us in the lake.  Unfortunately, just above us on the hillside, was its calf.  I immediately recognized the danger and quickly told everyone we needed to move quickly along so as not to disturb the moose.  We all survived and had a nice afternoon while the Spanish fiancé of one of the daughters ran up the trail a ways, jumped into the lake, and swam clear across it.

For many years after my guiding job I worked with Salmon on the South Fork of the Salmon River and made frequent trips to Yellowpine for work and recreation.  It is a place that I love and know well.

On many occasions I thought of this journal and the stories my great grandfather told in it and felt a connection to him even though he died the year before I was born.

Below is a genealogy my family put together of my great grandfather:

Walter was born January 5, 1885 in New York City, the second son of George L. Cole and Mary Teal Baker. The family moved to Idaho about 1888, probably first to Mountain Home.

Later the family moved to Boise and the 1900 census indicates they were renting their home and George was a real estate dealer. George’s father Abraham, age 74, a master carpenter, lived with them. The family consisted of wife Mary, age 42, son Wilfred B., age 17, son Walter L., age 14, and son Charles B. age 11. George and Mary had been married 20 years.

Walter married Blanche E. Lore on January 6, 1907 at a ceremony “at the home of Henry Lore on Ten Mile” (as stated on the marriage certificate) south of Boise, Idaho. Walter was fond of saying he was his own boss for just one day since he turned 21 just one day before he was married. During September of 1907, Walter and a friend, Perry, went on a hunting trip by team and wagon to Riordon Lake on the Thunder Mountain road east of Cascade, Idaho. Their first born, Walter Tennyson, was born on October 11, the day after he returned home to Meridian. He kept a daily journal of this trip, which is still in the family.

In 1909 their second child George L. was born and by 1910 the little family is shown in the census as being in Garden Valley, Idaho, a small mountain town about 40 miles north of Boise. Some family members believe Walter was involved in river log drives while living here. The family apparently moved back to Boise before the third boy, Francis Everett was born in 1912. In 1914 their son George died of an illness. He died in Rupert, Idaho where Blanche’s parents were living.

In 1921 a daughter, Mary Lucille was born; and in 1925 a second daughter, Elaine L. was born. Sadly Elaine was killed in an accident by a neighbor child who shot her while playing with a loaded gun.

Walter was always an outdoorsman and loved to hunt and fish and explore new places. His trip to the Thunder Mountain area (the same area made famous by the Zane Grey novel Thunder Mountain) was but one expression of his itchy feet. In 1921 he made the first foot traverse of the area later known as Craters of the Moon National Monument with his friend Robert W. Limbert. Limbert was a well-known taxidermist, photographer, sharpshooter, writer, and Idaho promoter.

In the mid 1930’s, during the great depression, Walter and friends spent time prospecting and mining for gold in the Smith creek area near Big Creek and Edwardsburg of central Idaho. One story the family likes to tell is about Walt’s return from one of his gold mining trips. He knocked on the back door of his house on Franklin street where his daughter-in-law Edith was also He was still in his mining clothes and bushy beard. His five-year old grandson Earl came to the door and Grandpa Walt asked if his mother had any work that he could do for a free meal. When Edith came to the door she didn’t recognized him and assumed he was a hobo down on his luck, and told him he could split some firewood and she would feed him. He then smiled and she recognized him.

There are many stories and pictures of Walt and his sons Waltie and Everett on hunting and fishing trips with many fish, game birds, and animals on display. He had many memories of salmon spearing in Bear Valley when salmon “were so thick they would knock the feet out from under a horse”.

About 1947 or 1948, grandson Gene remembers his grandpa’s last deer hunting trip. It was near Warrens, Idaho where son Walter was working putting a gold dredge together. Two local guys, Walter, Gene and Grandpa Walt were driving down a steep grade between Warrens and the South Fork Salmon River when three or four bucks ran across the steep slope above the road. Everyone in two pickups bailed out and started shooting. Grandpa Walt calmly stepped out of the cab and placed his old 32-caliber lever action rifle with a peep-site, across the hood and took one shot. One buck fell out of the dozen or more shots fired but the only buck that dropped was the one that Grandpa Walt aimed at.

Walter worked as a mechanic for Dufresne Motor Company in Boise in the 1920’s and 30”s. During WWII. he worked as a carpenter building the U.S. Naval submarine training base at Farragut on Lake Pend Oreille and barracks at Gowen Field near Boise.

After the children left home, Blanche and Walter moved to a small acreage west of Boise, north of Hiway 44, on Roe Avenue. They had a house moved to the site and remodeled it. They sold this house and remodeled the chicken house into a home. Sometime in the late 1940’s their son Everett built a new house on an adjacent lot. During this time they bought land in Garden City, a suburb of Boise and had two or three buildings moved to that location where they rebuilt them and rented them out for added income.

Sometime in the late 1950’s they purchased a large house in north Boise on 12th street where they lived and rented out two apartments. Family members have fond memories of the many holiday dinners where it was traditional for Walter to complain that everyone was eating him out of house and home and there would be no leftovers. Walter died in 1965 of cancer.

Walter L. Cole
Walter L. Cole

This copy of his journal is as he wrote it. I haven’t taken any liberties other than to put in paragraphs at the end of each day. I hope you enjoy it.



View To Riordan Lake by Horse and Wagon 1907.kml in a larger map

View To Riordan Lake by Horse and Wagon 1907 part 2.kmz in a larger map

Saturday Sept. 14, 1907
On this day we left Meridian at 12:35 and drove to Box Springs on Willow creek where we camped for the night.

Sunday Sept. 15, 1907
On the A.M. of the 15 we left Box Springs at 7:35 and nooned 1 1/2 miles from Sweet. At 6:15 we camped for the night at about 1/2 mile from Reed’s old sawmill on Dry Buck.

Monday Sept. 16, 1907
Next day at 7:45 o’clock we left camp and nooned at High Valley. At about 6 o’clock we camped 1 mile north of Clear Creek.

Tuesday Sept. 17, 1907
On Tues 17 we started very early and drove to Thunder City and spent until 2 o’clock getting a wheel fixed up and tire set. Then we pulled into Scott’s Valley and camped in a light rain at 5:15. Rain soon stopped and I went out and tried to catch some fish but it was too cold for them to bite.

Wednesday Sept. 18, 1907
Early next morning 7:10 we pulled out of camp and started our journey. We nooned about 4 miles west of Knox. We pulled up some very steep grade for 6 miles and then came to Cabin Creek Summit. Over the summit we drove into Trout Creek and after driving down 2 1/2 miles of the roughest road on the trip we came to camp in a nice little flat which was filled with very nice feed.

Thursday Sept. 19, 1907
Next morning we started early after my taking a picture of Perry and the team. We nooned at the Johnson Creek Summit. That night we camped on Riordan Creek. Today’s trip was the roughest and steepest we have had. We tried to catch some fish in Johnson Creek but was too cold for them to bite. We drove down Riordan Creek about 3/4 mile and camped. It was too muddy to go any further down as we feared we could not get back at all. At least without making about 1/2 mile of road.

Riordan Lake in winter. © Ken Cole
Riordan Lake in winter. © Ken Cole

Friday Sept. 20, 1907
Next A.M. we did not get up very early so consequently did not catch but 6 lake trout. After fishing until 2 o’clock we went to camp and got some supper and went back to fish again. I caught one on a White Miller and Perry caught 8 on a grub worm that he got out of a log. Tired and wet we pulled up the lake and went to camp to bed.

Saturday Sept. 21, 1907
Next morning the 21 we got breakfast pretty early and started to look for deer. After climbing about 4 hrs we did not see any deer sign and went back to camp. I shot the heads off of 4 fool hens and killed 2 more with rocks. After resting in camp for awhile we got dinner fed the horses & watered them and then hunted grub worms. We had fine luck finding enough for bait for tomorrow. We are having one of the best suppers that ever was cooked- Baked Beans- Jiblet gravy – fried chicken, and coffee with dutch oven bread and butter. After supper we cleaned up the dishes and smoked our pipes a short time and then turned in. Shortly before going to bed Tip raised a bark and we saw what was either a bear or a timber wolf within 25 yd’s of the camp. We were not sure that it was not a large dog that belongs at the station until after he got out of shotgun range.

Sunday Sept. 22, 1907
Next morning being, Sunday the 22, we got up early and went fishing – we did not get there early enough however but after fishing from about 9 o’clock until 4 we caught sixty-four trout and killed 2 ducks. We are living in hopes of Roast duck with dressing and brown gravy for tomorrow. We are now getting supper which consists of Dutch oven bread – good coffee, Baked beans & Bacon, Foolhen stew and prospects of duck tomorrow. Tomorrow we expect to go out for deer again.

Monday Sept. 23, 1907
We got up at 6 o’clock and after breakfast went to look for deer. After prowling around some of the worst country that ever was, until about 2 o”clock I went to camp. On the way I killed 2 chickens. About 4:15 Perry came plodding along , tired and hungry and no deer. Tomorrow we will fish again and hope for better luck. We had Bread & Butter- Tomatoes – Beans Coffee and Prunes. Pretty good for campers. And fish, I forgot that.

Tuesday Sept. 24, 1907
Next day we went fishing early. Got up at 4:20 and at 7:10 we were at the Lake. After fishing until about 4 o’clock we went home to camp and counted up. Perry had 110 and I had 75. We threw away about 50 as they were under 6 or 7 in. in length and we did not want to salt any thing so small. After supper we went to bed tired out nearly.

Wednesday Sept. 25, 1907
Next morning we did not get up until 6:30 and in the a.m. we cleaned & slimed fish and washed two towels. This after noon we corduroyed about 100 yd’s of road and had a terrible job of it. It was so bad that we were afraid that we could not get out unless we fixed it. Tonight we were expecting to pull towards home tomorrow but after having a talk with Peterson the stage man we have decided to stay and hunt some different country. He said that he was certain that we could get deer on Meadow Creek so we will try. We put the canvas on the wagon and put our tent up as it looks very much like snow or rain today.

Thursday Sept. 26, 1907
This morning we got up expecting to see a couple of inches of snow but instead the moon was shining. At about 7 o’clock the weather grew very cold and the fish did not bite at all well. We fished until 11:00 and only caught 12. This afternoon we got fish bait for tomorrow and salted down our fish. We think we have nearly 50 lbs. of trout salted and expect to get more. I tried to take a photo of the lake but was too cloudy. Will get one before we leave.

Friday Sept. 27, 1907
Today we went fishing but it was rather too cloudy & windy. We had no luck to speak of until about eleven o’clock when they started to bite pretty fair. We caught 85 good trout and about 25 that we threw back to grow bigger. We caught more big fish today than any other time. I took two photos of the lake and hope to get some more of the country around here before we leave. If we had not run out of bait we would have caught a number more fish. Perry & I shot 5 helldivers today but did not eat them. I suppose the lynx or whatever it is that prowls around our camp at night will get them before morning. Tomorrow we go for deer again.

Saturday Sept. 28, 1907
At last we are in bed again after the hardest day yet. This morning we left camp at 7:25 and went over to Meadow Creek for deer. We went down the ridge north about one half mile from the road when Perry said “Let’s look around”, then we walked out on a rocky little point and he gazed across the valley of Meadow Creek. While he was engaged in this I cast my eye on the bottom near the hill when what do I see but two deer feeding. Hastily whispering to Perry “There is two” he turned around and said “two what”, I replied, “two deer”, and then I pointed them out to him. Then we commenced shooting at them. It was all of 150 yd’s and straight downhill. We over shot them but Perry got the range well enough to get one and wound another. I fired 4 shots and crippled one but was unable to get him. He bled like a stuck hog for a half of a mile or more but could not find him. Perry wounded one too but after trailing it for nearly a mile he too lost the track and did not get him. He and I tracked his quite a way and were standing talking when here came one deer loping along in plain sight of me about 3 jumps and I, like a damn fool, stood there and let him pass. Not that I could not have hit him but I did not know enough to shoot. Then Perry went back to dress his and I took a circle around the flat. I saw nothing however and we met on the East side of the valley. After eating a small lunch that we had we went back to where his deer lay. On the way we separated and I struck the trail of blood from my shot deer. I went up and then we came back and followed it but lost it. I went a way down in the bottom and jumped one but could not get a shot at it. On the way back I heard another deer jumping off at quite a distance. At first I thought that he was coming to me but he went off to one side. Perry was hunting bear at this time but Mr. Bear is still awenting. We dressed the deer skinned her half out and put the front parts up in a tree so the coyotes & cougar would not touch it. Perry hung his handkerchief up to scare them away. If that won’t nothing will. Then we got a pole and run it through the deer’s gumbles and carried her up the hill. It was a very hard climb but at last we reached the top after a hard struggle. Then we rested a short time and struck out for home. It got awfully heavy before we got there. We stopped and gave Mr. Peterson , the stage man a piece and got a bag of white bread for dressing. Then we went to camp and ate all we could hold of venison – deer gravy- fried spuds & onions – black coffee and bread. Perry ate so much that he had to let out his belt. Then we hung up the deer and rolled into bed. Tomorrow we will go back and try to get more. It rained here since 5:45 which we hope is snow up there. If so we are sure of 1 or 2 tomorrow.

Sunday Sept. 29, 1907
We went back this morning and hunted all day and could not even find a track of one in the Meadow creek vicinity. At 4:15 we carried the other half of Perry’s deer up to the horses and came home. Feet wet and hungry too. We got to camp at 6:10. Tomorrow we will try again.

Monday Sept. 30, 1907
Today was but another day of disappointments. We started at 8 o’clock and got back to camp 6:30 and did not see a deer. We both jumped one but did not get to see it. We found no fresh deer signs in all of today’s travel. Today’s trip was the hardest on the trip thus far. It was the steepest and brushiest & rockiest country that I ever saw, on the head of Meadow Creek. Well tomorrow we will try to catch some fish and rest up a little as we are nearly tired out. We have hunted for three days straight now.

Tuesday Oct. 1, 1907
This morning we got up at about 7 o’clock and saw the ground was white with snow. After getting breakfast we fixed up the tent with a pole and also fixed the wagon cover so that it would not leak. Then I slimed the fish and put soup and beans on to boil. Then we salted down the rest of the fish. After dinner of venison soup, beans and bread & coffee. I wrote a letter to Blanche and took it up to the station. While there I met Doc Allen and his party. They had been in to Chamberlain Basin and had 1 elk 1 black bear and several deer. They told me of a big buck track that crossed the road up the gulch a ways so I hurried to camp and got the two rifles and hunted Perry up (he was to the lake after his rope) and we went after him. Perry found a lynx track quite fresh and I found the buck track and followed him quite a ways but gave him up as his track was too old. After coming down the hill for about 100 yd’s I stumbled onto tracks of four deer and followed them nearly to the lake. As it was getting near dark I left them and went to camp. We set my two traps at the skin and meat of the deer Perry got in hopes that Mr. Lynx would get in one of them before morning. Tomorrow we will try for deer again. As it has snowed all day we feel quite confident of getting one or two in the next few days.

Wednesday Oct. 2, 1907
Well to bed again, at 7:45. Rather early but tomorrow we must get up and go for deer again. We started for Meadow Creek this morning and got about half way to the summit when we came across a right fresh bear track. We debated a while whether or no we should chase him and at last as Perry wanted to we went after him. We followed him about 4 miles and got so close to him that he lit out right smart. After following him until we were sure we could not catch him we hunted a while on Riordan Creek and then as I was not feeling very skookum I went to camp. Perry came along about 1 1/2 hours later. We cooked some ribs and heart and made dressing. I made a batch of corn bread and we had a swell supper. We will try over on the East of the summit between Riordan & Indian creeks tomorrow for deer.

Thursday Oct. 3, 1907
Today I got up at 4:30 and we started up the creek at about 7:15. We went up the road quite a ways and then swung into the timber and crossed the divide into some creek or other and then kept along the ridge until quite a ways beyond Black Lake. After going on around the ridge we came back through the Chilcoot Pass and past Black Lake & Poker Jacks cabin and then down Riordan Creek home. We did not see a track or sign of any deer but saw 4 blue grouse. We tried to get some of them but they were too wild to shoot with a rifle. We have found two new places for deer where Peterson says that they are sure to be. Tomorrow we will try over on Indian Creek. We went fishing this afternoon and caught 19. Perry took my picture this afternoon and I took a picture of Peterson’s stage station. We hope to get a deer tomorrow and then we will pull over to Trapper Flat and hunt there a day or two.

Friday Oct. 4, 1907
This morning at about half past six we started for Indian Creek to try and get some deer. We went over in Meadow Creek and hunted a while there and then went on over to Indian Creek. While in Meadow creek flat we found the fresh track of a good big bear and quite fresh. We swung way down Indian Creek and started down into the bottom. While on our way down we saw the tracks of three old bucks but they were quite old. We ate our lunch and I took a photo of the valley facing west (No. 20). After climbing like cats until about five o’clock we at last reached the summit and after I took a photo of the valley facing East (No. 21) we went on our road home. Today’s climb was the hardest of any day yet. I don’t think I will ever care to come in this country to hunt again. It is the worst & roughest & steepest country that I ever saw or want to see.

Saturday Oct. 5, 1907
Today we got up at 7:10 and after a good hot breakfast we went to work on our wagon. While Perry was busy on the wagon I cleaned up the breakfast dishes and started some beans to cook. At 11 o’clock I started dinner which consisted of fried venison – fried spuds & onions boiled rice with cinnamon and raisins in it – coffee and hot flapjacks, and tomatoes. After dinner we went up to Peterson and ground our axes and fixed [any?] iron for the wagon. Then we came back and worked on the road until 5:30. After supper we put the beans in the Dutch oven to bake and went to bed. Tomorrow we will finish the road and pull to Trapper Flat and hunt there for a day or two. The we will pull straight for home. Perry found his pipe which he lost day before yesterday also a can of Eagle milk which comes in very handy as we are nearly out of milk.

Sunday Oct. 6, 1907
Well here we are at Snow’s cabin in Trapper Flat. After working on the wagon and road until about 12 o’clock we loaded up and started at 2:20 at 5:10 we were at the summit. Birch balked 3 different times but by different means we got him to go on again. We got at the cabin at 5:45 and after looking around for horse feed have come to the conclusion that we will have to pull for home in the morning. The sheep have skinned every bit of feed out of here so we wont be able to hunt here as we expected to. It was very disappointing to spend a month and the sum of money we have and then have to go home with only one deer. Next year if I go hunting I am going into the South Fork of Salmon River Country, and go by pack train. If we could wait for 2 or 3 weeks more we could get plenty of deer but cannot do it.

Monday Oct. 7, 1907
This afternoon we pulled into Knox at about 5:30 and after mailing a postal to Art Ballard & buying some hay at $30 per ton and some oats a $2.25 per cwt & a can of fine ? cherries at 30¢ we went into camp at about a quarter of a mile west. This morning we started at 8:30 from Snow’s Cabin in Trapper Flat and made 25 miles today over some very rough roads. At half past two this morning Buck came up to get something to eat and we got up and dressed and went down to the creek and got Birch and brought him up and put in the barn & gave them some more oats. If nothing goes wrong we will be home by Friday noon. That is in Meridian. Oh won’t I be glad to get back to Blanche. Well, I just guess yes. I have had a good hard time. We have hunted and tramped very hard since we got to Riordan Creek and all for nothing. Still I don’t begrudge the time and money. Next year maybe I will get to go on a good hunt.

Tuesday Oct. 8, 1907
At 8:15 this morning we started and at about 6 o’clock we made camp at Charley Cantwell’s 4 1/2 miles from Thunder City. We made 30 miles today. We nooned about half way down the summit in a very nice little flat. Did not see any birds or anything else today. Am getting anxious to get home now. The nearer I get towards home the more anxious I am to get there. Well tomorrow night will see us to Box springs. I hope and then Friday noon we will be in Meridian. Well we can’t get there too quick to suit me. My time is very valuable from now on it seems, so that I must get home quickly. I hope to go on another hunt in the near future but may have to put it off for a year or two. Anyway I mean to go into the South Fork of Salmon River country and then I sure will get game.

Wednesday Oct. 9, 1907
This morning at 4:45 I woke up and got up at 5 o’clock. There was a very heavy frost and everything was very cold and wet to handle. We got started at 8:10 and after driving quite some we nooned at Smith’s Ferry. After dinner we moved on to Dry Buck. We made camp at about 6:45 the very latest yet. Just before coming into camp I shot a pheasant and treed another one but could not find him afterwards. It certainly tasted good for supper. Perry has just put the neck of the deer to boil and we will have some stew tomorrow morning for breakfast. Tomorrow will nearly finish our trip home. We camped in the same little flat which Pop and I camped in two nights when we were up to the Lakes two years ago.

Thursday Oct. 10, 1907
This morning we got up at about 5 o’clock and drove out of camp at 8 o’clock. We got to the summit and helped two men load a couple logs on their wagon. Then we drove down Dry Buck and as we went out we cut some pitch from an old log to make fire with at Box Springs. We stopped at Sweet and got some lard, butter, sugar, and cheese and two bottles of Beer and then drove over to the Payette river and nooned. We drove from there to Box Springs and gathered up a couple of posts on the way to make fire with. We got in at Box Springs at half past four o’clock and made camp. Perry made a couple of corn dodgers and we had “taters” and onions & corn & coffee – also honey. I got a half gallon of milk and 1/2 dozen eggs.

Friday Oct. 11, 1907
I got up at 10 to 6 and got fire started and breakfast going. After breakfast of taters & onions, coffee and corn cake & honey we pulled for home arriving in Meridian at 12:15. After dinner we got shaved and hair trimmed and unloaded and divided up. I started home at 4 o’clock and just got home in time to hear great news. About 8 or half past there came a visitor in the shape of a 6 1/2# boy.






  1. Robert Scriba Avatar

    Interesting story. They were tough guys back then. I wonder how long they could have been in the bush before somebody worried about them and sent a search party? Today we need to have a GPS, Compass, Cell phone, Spot, internet and the kitchen sink.

  2. Rita K. Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K. Sharpe

    Thank you for a glimpse of the past.

  3. Nancy Avatar

    Great read Ken! Thank you for taking the time to post it. As Rita said ” a glimpse of the past”

  4. Jim Waufle Avatar
    Jim Waufle

    Enjoyed very much! I rode 4 wheeler from Johnson’s creek to trail head to Riordan Lake trail and hiked a couple miles to lake. I also had Moose, cow and calf, on trail in. Also saw Cow stand in lake feeding. Also a plaque on a stone in Memory of Someone who also loved Riordan Lake.


  5. SEAK Mossback Avatar
    SEAK Mossback

    It must be great to have that kind of written family connection to one of your favorite places. I’m envious of the amount of time they were able to dedicate to a long non-mechanized outing — pretty rare in today’s world. Thanks!

    Although I live far from where any of my ancestors did, I have one rather remarkable local connection. My grandfather grew up in a shipping family based out of Wiscasset, Maine that ran sailing ships between Charleston and Liverpool. Their business was pretty well crushed by the Civil War and they never converted to steam, but they named the last ship RHT III for my grandfather, Richard H. Tucker III. He made one trip on it to Liverpool in 1873 at age 14 and it was sold soon thereafter. He went on to become an astronomer and did a couple of long stints in Argentina, mapping the southern heavens. I still have the 1873 Winchester 44-40 and the LC Smith side-by-side 12 gauge with Damascus barrels that he hunted with down there. After he wrote up the work in 1912 from his last expedition building and operating an observatory at San Luis, he decided to jump on a steamer and see Alaska, still being a carefree bachelor in his mid-50s. As they approached Juneau coming up the channel, he was amazed to see through his field glasses his namesake, the RHT III moored at the Treadwell Mining Company dock (the remains of which I walk or boat past almost every day), 39 years after he had last seen it nearly on the other side of the world. When they docked in Juneau, he immediately got a boat and rowed across and the night watchman let him on the ship where he checked in a certain place and found his initials he’d remembered carving at age 14 on the trans-Atlantic trip. My older brother knew him for several years but he died before I was born. My mother remembered the story but not much of the detail until my Aunt found a detailed letter he had written about it in an old Wiscasset newspaper. I still picture him rowing across the channel up to that ship in the evening.

    We visited San Luis, a town out on the pampas at the foot of a small mountain range, 3 years ago and a century after the start of his expedition, and were received like royalty and made the front page of the newspaper — my daughter, being fluent in Spanish had inquired ahead for information. The university there had just finished a book about the observatory which was long-ago over-run by the expanding town. We then bussed across the Andes to Santiago on the same route he took across on an adventure trip to Chile by mule, just a few miles south of Mt. Aconcagua. Although we traveled quickly in motorized comfort and cut through the crest in a tunnel, we still saw mule trains in use in that country.

    1. Rita K. Sharpe Avatar
      Rita K. Sharpe

      Thank you,Seak,for that tid-bit.

  6. TLM Avatar

    Yellow Pine is two words sir.

    1. TLM Avatar

      No edit button…

      The old timer you mentioned was Lafe Cox, not Lief.

  7. Steven Avatar

    Great story! I have climbed over those hills and can appreciate what they went through. If a smoke was all they needed at the end of the day, they were tough men indead!


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ken Cole