I have myself found all the men of Nulato gone scouting, or hiding I could not determine which in the hills with their guns, upon a rumour that the "Huskies," or Esquimaux, were coming; I have known the Indians of the Yukon and the Tanana, and as far as the Koyukuk, excited and alarmed over the friendly visit of a handful of ragged natives from the Copper River to Nenana at Christmas time, although in either case it must certainly have been fifty years since there was any actual hostile incursion, and probably much longer.
On 15th April Esaias and one of the teams were sent back to Nenana. Almost all the stuff we should move was already at this cache, and the need for the two dog teams was over. Moreover, the trails were rapidly breaking up, and it was necessary for the boy to travel by night instead of by day on his return trip.
At Diamond City, on the Bearpaw, lay our cache of grub, and that place, some ninety miles from Nenana and fifty miles from the base of Denali, was our present objective point. It was bright, clear weather and the trail was good. For thirty miles our way lay across the wide flats of the Tanana Valley, and this stage brought us to the banks of the Nenana River.
The mail trail from Tanana to Fairbanks touches the Tanana River only at one point, a few miles beyond the Hot Springs; but, as we wished to visit Nenana, we had to leave the mail trail after two days more of uneventful travel and strike out to the river and over its surface for seventeen or eighteen miles.
It was done in a week or less. Unfortunately, the equipment and supplies ordered from the outside did not arrive in time to go in with the bulk of the stuff. Although ordered in February, they arrived at Tanana only late in September, just in time to catch the last boat up to Nenana. And only half that had been ordered came at all one of the two cases has not been traced to this day.
Right opposite McPhee Pass, across the glacier, perhaps at this point half a mile wide, rises a bold pyramidal peak, twelve thousand or thirteen thousand feet high, which we would like to name Mount Farthing, in honor of the memory of a very noble gentlewoman who died at the mission at Nenana three years ago, unless, unknown to us, it already bear some other name.
If these two fields were open, one would supply the coast of Alaska and one the interior. This program has been acted upon, with the result that the Matanuska field is open to tidewater with a downgrade road all the way. The Nenana road has been pushed far enough south to touch a coal mine near the track, which may obviate the immediate necessity for reaching into the Nenana field proper.
The famine relieved, he had returned to Nenana. The summer before he had worked on a survey party and had thus some knowledge of the use of instruments. By undertaking the entire cooking for the expedition he was most useful and helpful, and his consistent courtesy and considerateness made him a very pleasant comrade.
He spoke the naked truth, and was so gentle and unobtrusive in manner that he was a welcome guest at the table of any mission we visited. Miss Farthing at Nenana had laid her mark deep upon him in the one year he was with her. Before he came to me I had another half-breed for two years, and before that there had been a series of full-blooded native boys. I found the half-breed greatly preferable.
They were picked out from the elder boys of the school at Nenana, all of whom were most eager to go, and were good specimens of mission-bred native youths. "Johnny" was with the expedition from start to finish, keeping the base camp while the rest of the party was above; Esaias was with us as far as the base camp and then went back to Nenana with one of the dog teams.