Smoking Place

Smoking Place

View south

aerial photo of Smoking Place, a long ridge in the mountains

© 2001 Airphoto, Jim Wark. All rights reserved.

They pushed hard on June 27, covering an estimated 28 miles "without releiving the horses from their packs or their having any food." About three hours into the day's travel their Indian guides requested a smoking break at a conic landmark of stones piled six to eight feet high topped with a fifteen-foot pine pole. The monument had a practical purpose. "From hence," wrote Clark, "they informed us that when passing over with their familes some of the men were usually sent on foot by the fishery at the entrance of Colt Creek in order to take fish and again met the main party at the Quawmash glade on the head of the Kooskooske river."

The captains were duly impressed with their pilots' ability to find the road wherever the snow had melted, even if was for a short interval. Then, " after smoking the pipe and contemplating this seene sufficient to have damp the sperits of any except such hardy travellers as we have become, we continued our march."

The white line etched in the tree-scape is the Lolo Motorway, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It generally parallels, and sometimes coincides with, the ancient Nez Perce "road" called K'useyneiskit.

It was a memorable moment for the Corps as well. From this place, Clark recounted:

we had an extensive view of these stupendous mountains principally covered with snow like that on which we stood; we were entirely surrounded by those mountains from which to one unacquainted with them it would have seemed impossible ever to have escaped; in short without the assistance of our guides I doubt much whether we who had once passed them could find our way to Travellers rest in their present situation for the marked trees on which we had placed considerable reliance are much fewer and more difficult to find than we had apprehended.


Funded in part by a grant from the Idaho Governor's Lewis and Clark Trail Committee