I have had the recent opportunity to assist historian Marlene Merrill in identifying Captain William Raynolds' route between the Wind River and Jackson Hole. I looked at this briefly during research for "Select Peaks," but did not consider it important enough from a mountaineering perspective.
How wrong I was.
Over the past week, I studied Raynolds' private journal, his official report, his cartographer's (Schonborn) map, the recent studies of James R. Wolf, and correlated this information with modern maps and my own limited knowledge of the vast and rolling, yet complex country at the heads of the Green, Gros Ventre, and Wind rivers.
This has been a very rewarding process and I am very impressed with the perseverence of these men to cross this country in a melting spring snowpack. Incidentally, Jim Bridger was Raynolds' guide on this expedition and a young Ferdinand Hayden was Raynolds' attending doctor and geologist.
I will not delve here into the details of their route over the Continental Divide, but it should be noted that on Wednesday, May 30, 1860, Captain Raynolds and Ferdinand Hayden rode out together for an afternoon adventure from their camp near the confluence of Du Noir Creek and the Wind River. Here's Raynolds' diary entry:
"After dinner, Dr. Hayden and myself started for one of the peaks that were in front of us, the character of which we were anxious to determine. Passing down the fork on which we are encamped we crossed it but not without getting both our horses mired and ourselves in the water....On reaching the other fork we found it impossible to cross though the stream was only a few rods wide. We followed up it for at least six miles and finally got across by finding an old lodge trail...
...After getting across we moved rapidly over the hills, passing over the finest grass I have yet seen. Snow was lying in places on all sides and at length we reached the point at which we hope to get to the crag with ease. It is not more than a mile distant, but betweeen us and it was a deep ravine [east fork Sixmile Creek] filled with a thick growth of small pines. And the day was too far spent for us to attempt to cross it so we were obliged to return without effecting our object. I felt well paid for the trip however as I got a whole view of the crest of the mountains around the entire head of Wind River..."
This is the first recorded attempt to climb Ramshorn Peak.
Corrections and additions for Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone.
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