Lewis and Clark Trail Back Home 1805 — 1806

Map of Lewis and Clark Trail Back Home Map of Lewis and Clark Trail Back Home
Map of Lewis and Clark Trail Back Home

In 2001 I am eventually able to finish the Lewis & Clark Trail, I started two years ago. In 1999 I was not able to travel the most interesting parts of this trail in Montana and Idaho due to the lack of an SUV. But since my car buy last year, this should be no problem now.

First I follow the Interstates from Pittsburgh to Missoula in Montana. There starts the part of the trail, which crosses the Rockies. I am back again in 1805, when Lewis & Clark were on their way to the Pacific. This part of the trail was the hardest part, they had to face. They followed an old Indian Trail, the Lolo Trail. But their Indian scout got lost and they went down into the Lochsa Valley. When they discovered their mistake, they already descended 1200ft. This distance they had to travel back up again. But it started to snow and the vegetation was so thick, that it was nearly impossible to proceed. Also the slope was extremely steep. This ascend took the last of their power. They were out of food and there was no game to hunt. Nearly the whole expedition has been wiped out at this place. But with the last exertion they made it to Weippe Prairie, where they met the friendly Nerce Perce Indians. They gave them food and saved their lives.

Even nowadays it is not possible to follow the whole ascend on forest roads. But you can get up to three quarts of the distance. Then you have to turn around and take another forest road to reach the main Lolo Motorway. But you should not be mistaken by the name Motorway to expect a nice paved road. It’s a one lane unpaved forest road with only a few turnouts. It is not uncommon to back up for half a mile to reach the next turnout.

I follow the trail to Lewistown/Clarkstown, then I turn back east. Now I follow the Trail in 1806 back from the Pacific. On their way back, they hit the right way over the pass. At Traveler’s Rest Lewis and Clark separated. Lewis followed a shortcut to the Missouri via Rogers Pass. The Indians, they met last year at Camp Fortunate, told them about this way.

Clark followed the same route, they went last year, to recover their burried canoes and dig out their provisions. This route goes via Gibbons Pass to Dillon and further on to Three Forks. From there he went on over Bozeman Pass to the Yellowstone River. Lewis & Clark planned to reunite at the confluence of Yellowstone and Missouri.

First I follow the route of Lewis up to the Graet Falls. Then I head back to follow the route of Clark.

At the end of my journey I still got some spare time, so I decided to follow some backroads along the Missouri Breaks, which I was not able to travel two years ago due to my rental car and the bad weather. On the Interstates I travel back to Pittsburgh.