It was on Monday, 11:00 A.M., September 2, 1872, when we mounted our horses and ponies for the trip over the Snowy Range, into Middle Park. . . . Our course lay along through Rollinsville, Boulder Park, up the mountains through Boulder Pass.
By mid afternoon a heavy storm came up and they took refuge in an empty log shanty, where they built a fire in a big stone fireplace. By the time the storm was over, night had almost fallen; as they had brought all their gear in with them, they decided to spend the night there. Bearing in mind that many of the readers of the Reformer lived in the New England States and New York, James described the traveling party:
We wish to state that our guide and benefactor, W. B. Walling, is a Vermonter, Mrs. White, Mrs. Walling, and her sister, Miss M. L. Clough, and the writer were born in Maine, and Mrs. L. M. Abbey Hall and Willie C. White are Yorkers.
The four ladies were on ponies. Mr. Walling had the principal part of the baggage in a wagon drawn by two powerful horses, while Willie and his father were each on a good horse, ready to help in packing baggage up the sharpest ascents, or to assist the ladies in the most dangerous places.
But the babe was an object of curiosity with most we met on the route. Some pitied the little traveler, which we shall here call Peregrine, as up to the time of that pilgrimage he had no name, because his parents, brothers, and sisters could not find one good enough. . . . Rover, one of the largest, bravest, most intelligent, and most beautiful Newfoundlanders, who shall hereafter be called Lion . . . was as happy as a dog could be and live.
Tuesday was a beautiful day. As their path was along a narrow, twisting road by a rapid creek, they traveled "Indian file," allowing a little distance between one another. Of the baby, White wrote:
Miss Mary had her little nephew, Peregrine, in her arms, and as she galloped away on Bronco, we decided that it was well that the child was not cream, for in that case, he would turn to butter and buttermilk before noon. But he seemed to enjoy the "movements" as well as any of us. Passing through Boulder Park, with its beauties in wildflowers, carpet of green, and towering, guarding mountains, such exclamations were repeated as, "Delightful! Magnificent! Sublime! Glorious!"
The Pony Throws Ellen White
Soon after starting the ascent again, Ellen White was involved in a bad accident. She had her pony well under control when the strap holding her bedding roll gave way. In a letter to Edson and Emma she described what followed:
As I was in the best of spirits, enjoying the scenery very much, my pack behind me became unloosened and dangled against the horse's heels. Your father had tarried behind to arrange his pack more securely. I was between two companies--three of our company ahead and five behind me. I saw the situation of things, slipped my feet from the stirrup, and was just ready to slip from the saddle to the ground and in one moment should have been safe. But the pony was frightened and threw me over his back. I struck my back and my head. I knew I was badly hurt, but felt assured no bones were broken. I could scarcely breathe or talk for some time, but finally improved a little. I was in great pain through my head, neck, shoulders and back, and bowels. 1872.
James White picks up the story: "We soon became satisfied that bones were not broken. Neither could we discover external injuries of any kind; but as breathing and speaking were so very difficult, we feared internal injuries." With towels that Mrs. Hall brought, and water, hydrotherapy was applied. James reported:
Patient improved, and was soon able to take the writer's arm, and walk a few rods from the company, where we asked the following questions: 1. Shall we pitch our tents here, and go into camp, let Mr. Walling return to his business, and we remain till we see how your case shall turn? 2. Or shall we apply to the Great Physician, and, by faith in the efficacy of prayer, move on our journey?
Mrs. White decided, as she frequently has done under circumstances alike trying, to go forward. As we bowed in prayer, evidences of Divine Presence caused us to weep for joy.
And in a few moments we were in our saddles, moving joyfully, and yet solemnly, along, resolving that we would not leave camp another morning without first thanking God for mercies past, and imploring His care and protection for time to come.
Ellen's injuries were more extensive than at first fully sensed, and she suffered for many years. In 1907 she made reference to her left leg, which had troubled her long after the accident: "The ligaments were torn from the ankle." When she sought medical help, some time after the accident, the word was "You will never be able to use your foot, for it has been so long without close investigation that nothing can relieve the difficulty and unite the ligaments torn from the ankle bone."
With the decision to continue the trip, the party was soon faced with a very steep climb, the steepest of the journey. The wagon was lightened of its supplies and equipment and with difficulty the horses pulled it up the ascent, leaving tents, equipment, and supplies to be taken up piecemeal by James and Willie with their horses. At noontime they stopped by an old log shanty in a forest of pines. Here Ellen White took a warm bath and seemed to be improving. Just before reaching the timberline, they found a good camping spot for the night.
Crossing the Continental Divide
Pressing on early the next morning, they found it a steady climb to the eleven-thousand-foot mark. Here, wrote James White, the air was so light that the climbing horses breathed and panted as though they would lose their breath; and their riders were frequently disposed to take a long breath, which did not seem to hit the spot, nor satisfy the usual demands of the breathing apparatus. This gave an excellent opportunity to expand the lungs and chest. . . . We hastened on, and up the sharp ascent, to the summit of the range, which we reached at 11:00 a.m. . . . From this grand range, the backbone of the continent, waters rise from springs, within a gunshot of each other, which flow, one to the Atlantic, and the other to the Pacific. We had now reached an altitude too cold for trees of any kind to exist. At the top of the range the terrain was rather level but rough and "untrodden, rocky, mountain way." Then they must descend. Ellen White was elected to ride in the wagon with Mr. Walling, but soon she found the jerking wagon seat so uncomfortable she chose to ride with the baggage, sprawled over and clinging to the big bundle of tents. Willie described the descent:
As we descend, the cold winds and snow banks are left behind, but the roads are fearful. They go down so steep you are in danger of slipping over your horse's head, then through little marshes which are numerous near the top of the range, and where you must work sharp to keep your horse above ground, and the rest of the way over loose rocks and boulders, through creeks and over logs, up and down, but mostly down till we reach the park Middle Park.
Lame and weary, we were glad to stop and camp in the edge of a thick forest surrounding a little meadow through which wound a crooked mountain brook, clear and cold, and full of speckled trout. As usual, we tied the horses where there was good grass, pitched the tents, cut spruce boughs for our beds, and then, building a big fire in front of the tents, retired to rest, and slept well till sunrise.
A Week at Hot Sulphur Springs
Now it was an easy trip across the valley to Hot Sulphur Springs, their destination. They picked wild strawberries as they traveled, adding to their dinner rations. An old hunter, Mr. Byers, known as "Buckskin," had leased the hot springs. He helped the newcomers find a good camping place, lent them a sheet iron cook stove, and left them much to themselves. But not his Newfoundland dog, who soon challenged Lion, Mr. Walling's Newfoundlander. Lion won the contest and was put in charge of guarding camp for the week they were there. They found twenty or thirty people camped near the hot springs, and people coming and going. In addition to the sulphur springs, people were attracted by the beautiful scenery and fishing and/or hunting possibilities. In his Youth's Instructor series, Willie described Hot Sulphur Springs in detail:
On the hillside, a few rods back from Grand River, stands a long log cabin, and at the left stands a strange-looking affair built of logs on three sides, and leaning against the perpendicular side of a huge rock for the other. Its roof is made of bark laid on poles.
Through a large hole in the roof, a column of steam is constantly rising, showing this to be the location of the famous Sulphur Springs.
There are three or four of these springs close together. Their waters bubble up through the rocks at almost scalding heat, and, uniting in one little stream, fall over the ledge that forms one side of the bathhouse, into a natural basin in the rock over which the bathhouse is built.
The basin and fall afford a fine chance for hot sitz ... baths.
The water is so hot that at first you can hardly bear your hand in it, being 110 degrees F., and a sudden plunge into it could not be borne; but by entering gradually you soon come to enjoy the heat, and can stand directly under the stream as it dashes over the rock.
Then you have a bath as is nowhere else to be found.
Wonderful stories are told of the healing properties of these springs. The Indians used to bathe in them, put their sick papooses into them, and sometimes try their healing powers on lame horses. They were loath to give up control of them to the whites.
As to the wildlife in the area, Willie listed grouse, sage hens, deer, antelope, and elk, with now and then puma or a grizzly bear. Just before the Walling-White party's arrival, a grizzly bear and a cinnamon bear had been killed. Streams were full of trout. The Indians inhabiting the park were said to be friendly, but they had gone over to Denver to trade and to receive their usual allowance of provisions from the government.
Considering the time of year they were in the park, they experienced no problem in securing good food. Wrote James in his Reformer article:
We found no difficulty in securing the most healthful food.
And here the health reformer has the decided advantage in packing his supplies, as his meal, flour, rice, dried fruit, and the like are much lighter than those commonly used. These, well cooked, with the wild fruit, which is abundant in August and September, are enjoyed with a keen relish by those who have a clean, hygienic appetite.
The sweetest cake we ever ate was one made of corn meal, mixed with pure water from a Colorado creek, and baked before a campfire, upon a tin plate, supported by a stone at the back.
Calls from California Cut Short the Vacation
The Whites hoped they might remain at Hot Sulphur Springs for three or four weeks, but on Thursday afternoon, September 12, after they had been there just a week, Mr. Walling came, bringing mail and the word that the California camp meeting, which had been postponed that the Whites might be present, would open on Thursday, October 3. They must be there. So Friday morning they broke camp and started back to Black Hawk. Hardened to fatigue by camp life, they were able to make the return trip, which had taken four days in coming, in two traveling days. They spent the Sabbath en route, resting.
On Friday, September 20, they journeyed the 110 miles from Denver to Cheyenne, where they caught the Union and Central Pacific train bound for San Francisco, California. They were amazed at the railroad trestles spanning rivers and gorges, and the tunnels and snow sheds as they crossed the Sierras, then on to the broad Sacramento Valley. At last they had reached California.
The Progressive Years