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Adventure Magazine

Adventure Main | E-Mail the Editors | Adventure Customer Service | Subscribe April 2002

Life on Assignment
Lewis and Clark on the Rocks
Writer Tim Cahill on tackling the trail that nearly killed America's ultimate explorers
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Writer Tim Cahill

In the fall of 1805, Lewis and Clark horsepacked Idaho's Bitterroot Mountains on a precipitous trail known as the Lolo. Though the Bitterroots barely top out at 7,000 feet (2,130 meters), the Lolo is a twisting, steep passage through dense pine woods, and its daunting reputation persists nearly 200 years since the explorers' Corps of Discovery traversed it.

Even if the expedition members had been up to the trail's challenge, bad weather, bad directions, and plain old bad luck made their crossing a treacherous one.

We sent writer Tim Cahill to tackle what expedition member Sgt. Patrick Gass called those "most terrible mountains" (see "Lewis and Clark Get Lost" in the April 2002 issue [read excerpt]). Author of nine books, including his upcoming collection of travel essays, Hold the Enlightenment, Cahill can spin the most frightening trips into hilarious, rollicking tales. But how would he fare on the route that nearly spelled the end for the Corps of Discovery?

Reporting back from his Adventure assignment, Cahill recounts his seven days on the Lolo in the audio clips at left.

—Nicole Davis

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Audio

Lewis and Clark: Laid Low by Lolo (2:02)
"What is it about these low mountains that almost killed them?"
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Massive Steepness (2:14)
"The topography is just this massive steepness complicated by downed timber."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Rock Bottom (2:09)
"On September 14, 1805, Lewis and Clark were exactly where they didn't want to be."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Fiendishly Complicated (2:44)
"There is no real difference between this [trail] and the face of a cliff!"
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Guides Are Good (2:42)
"There are many, many places … I never would have found on my own."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Starving (3:41)
"They ended up killing colts … to eat. They were down to eating candles. …"
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Lacking Dedication? (1:19)
"I didn't feel any particular need to be half frozen and starving to death."
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


The Quintessential American Exploration (1:33)
"If I had been around in 1805 and President Jefferson said, ‘Why don't you go on this, Tim Cahill?' I would say, ‘You bet!'"
LISTEN
RealPlayer 28.8 | 56.6
Windows Media 28.8 | 56.6


Plug-Ins:
RealPlayer
Windows Media Player

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April 2002:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | Canyonlands Photos | Rain Forest Controversy | Lewis and Clark | Forum: Guide Responsibility | Gear Guide: Luxury Camping | Gear Guide: Multisport Shoes | Laos Travel Guide | Travel Calendar




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