The Snake River here wound its devious way between low banks through the great plain of the Three Butes; and was bordered by wide and fertile meadows.
The lofty range of the Three Tetons, those great landmarks of the Rocky Mountains rising in the east and circling away to the north and west of the great plain of Snake River, and the mountains of Salt River and Portneuf toward the south, catch the earliest falls of snow.
The plains were swept by keen and bitter blasts of wintry wind; the ground was generally covered with snow, game was scarce, so that hunger generally prevailed in the camp, while the want of pasturage soon began to manifest itself in the declining vigor of the horses.
The two miserable springs in the long passage between the Rio Negro and Colorado were caused by trifling inequalities in the plain, without them not a drop of water would have been found.
Hence the need of the fortifications; hence the few houses and little cultivated land without the limits of the walls; even the cattle are not safe from the attacks of the Indians beyond the boundaries of the plain, on which the fortress stands.
I have no idea, of course, how long it took me to reach the limit of the plain
, but at last I entered the foothills, following a pretty little canyon upward toward the mountains.
There are swift-flowing rivers which dash through jagged canons; and there are enormous plains, which in winter are white with snow, and in summer are grey with the saline alkali dust.
A band of Pawnees or of Blackfeet may occasionally traverse it in order to reach other hunting-grounds, but the hardiest of the braves are glad to lose sight of those awesome plains, and to find themselves once more upon their prairies.
Are these plains composed of arid sand, as the first astronomer maintained?
It is supposed that these vast plains are strewn with blocks of lava from the neighboring volcanoes on its right, Ptolemy, Purbach, Arzachel.
Just beyond them he was tossed aside upon the ground, and the last he saw of his strange foeman the latter was galloping off across the plain in the direction of the forest at its farther edge.
And a moment later, amidst a cloud of dust, the raiders were galloping madly across the plain, and out from the concealment of the reeds along the river, crept a party of black warriors toward the spot where the golden ingots of Opar lay piled on the ground.