Document 22: Letter from R. Hunter Fitzhugh to His Father

Robert Hunter Fitzhugh Collection, Box 2, Archives, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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Lake Teslin, B.C.
May 5, 1898

Dear Father,

This is going to be a long story, a long trail....We got here May 1st after having been 57 days on the trail....[I] make it 197 miles from Telegraph Creek to Lake Teslin....You see, we were too late in the season, the trail was perfectly bare in spots from a few feet to several miles in length. Nothing that a man could write or say could give you the faintest idea of the awful work that we had to do on that long, long trail....I ran with nearly 600 lbs....we waded all day long down Lost Creek....The strain on our minds and bodies during the five days it took to get through that water was maddening. Our lives and possessions were both in the greatest danger...the creek was full of slush ice which would accumulate ahead of the sleds until it suddenly stopped them, damming up the water until it would run over our grub....

Just think of pulling 400 pounds from Lexington [Kentucky] to Castleton, up a hill steeper than the South Broadway hill. Think of that hill being crossed in every direction by thousands of burnt logs and the space between the logs soft and boggy, with from a few inches to a foot of more of ice water standing on it. Then add a mile of winding, pitching, snowless, down-hill trail crossed here and there with torrents of water, and you have the tail of the Teslin Trail....

To sum up my opinion is that this trail, as terrific as it is, is by far better than the Chilkoot, for no body has lost his outfit, and no lives lost excepting two men who were drowned on the Stickeen and two who were murdered on that river....It is no country for sick men, cowards and women, and don't let anybody tell you that women enjoy it. They don't, and it is very trying on the men who have them in tow...that is just what kept us all going on—the fear of being cowards....Since last September I have walked over 1,400 miles, I have pulled an average load of 350 lbs. 500 miles, and I think that at least 50 miles of that has been over bare swampy ground. But my health is something monumental, and I am as strong as a bull...



Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest