CHAPTER VIII. FROM ECHO PARK TO THE MOUTH OF THE UINTA RIVER.
The Yampa enters the Green from the east. At a point opposite its mouth the Green runs to the south, at the foot of a rock about 700 feet high and a mile long, and then turns sharply around the rock to the right and runs back in a northerly course parallel to its former direction for nearly another mile, thus having the opposite sides of a long, narrow rock for its bank. The tongue of rock so formed is a peninsular precipice with a mural escarpment along its whole course on the east, but broken down at places on the west.
On the east side of the river, opposite the rock and below the Yampa, there is a little park, just large enough for a farm, already fenced with high walls of gray homogeneous sandstone. There are three river entrances to this park: one down the Yampa; one below, by coming up the Green; and another down the Green. There is also a land entrance down a lateral canyon. Elsewhere the park is inaccessible. Through this land entrance by the side canyon there is a trail made by Indian hunters, who come down here in certain seasons to kill mountain sheep. Great hollow domes are seen in the eastern side of the rock, against which the Green sweeps; willows border the river; clumps of box-elder are seen; and a few cottonwoods stand at the lower end. Standing opposite the rock, our words are repeated with startling clearness, but in a soft, mellow tone, that transforms them into magical music. Scarcely can one believe it is the echo of his own voice. In some places two or three echoes come back; in other places they repeat themselves, passing back and forth across the river between this rock and the eastern wall. To hear these repeated echoes well, we must shout. Some of the party aver that ten or twelve repetitions can be heard. To me, they seem rapidly to diminish and merge by multiplicity, like telegraph poles on an outstretched plain. I have observed the same phenomenon once before in the cliffs near Long's Peak, and am pleased to meet with it again.
During the afternoon Bradley and I climb some cliffs to the north. Mountain sheep are seen above us, and they stand out on the rocks and eye us intently, not seeming to move. Their color is much like that of the gray sandstone beneath them, and, immovable as they are, they appear like carved forms. Now a fine ram beats the rock with his fore foot, and, wheeling around, they all bound away together, leaping over rocks and chasms and climbing walls where no man can follow, and this with an ease and grace most wonderful. At night we return to our camp under the box-elders by the river side. Here we are to spend two or three days, making a series of astronomic observations for latitude and longitude.
June 18. - We have named the long peninsular rock on the other side Echo Rock. Desiring to climb it, Bradley and I take the little boat and pull up stream as far as possible, for it cannot be climbed directly opposite. We land on a talus of rocks at the upper end in order to reach a place where it seems practicable to make the ascent; but we find we must go still farther up the river. So we scramble along, until we reach a place where the river sweeps against the wall. Here we find a shelf along which we can pass, and now are ready for the climb.
We start up a gulch; then pass to the left on a bench along the wall; then up again over broken rocks; then we reach more benches, along which we walk, until we find more broken rocks and crevices, by which we climb; still up, until we have ascended 600 or 800 feet, when we are met by a sheer precipice. Looking about, we find a place where it seems possible to climb. I go ahead; Bradley hands the barometer to me, and follows. So we proceed, stage by stage, until we are nearly to the summit. Here, by making a spring, I gain a foothold in a little crevice, and grasp an angle of the rock overhead. I find I can get up no farther and cannot step back, for I dare not let go with my hand and cannot reach foothold below without. I call to Bradley for help. He finds a way by which he can get to the top of the rock over my head, but cannot reach me. Then he looks around for some stick or limb of a tree, but finds none. Then he suggests that he would better help me with the barometer case, but I fear I cannot hold on to it. The moment is critical. Standing on my toes, my muscles begin to tremble. It is sixty or eighty feet to the foot of the precipice. If I lose my hold I shall fall to the bottom and then perhaps roll over the bench and tumble still farther down the cliff. At this instant it occurs to Bradley to take off his drawers, which he does, and swings them down to me. I hug close to the rock, let go with my hand, seize the dangling legs, and with his assistance am enabled to gain the top.
Then we walk out on the peninsular rock, make the necessary observations for determining its altitude above camp, and return, finding an easy way down.