From The Autobiography of William Allen White

I Find "The Hills Whence Cometh My Strength"

 Thirty miles from the railroad, we joined a group of university boys, mostly members of Phi Delta Theta, with three Phi Psi's who were camped in a cabin by the Big Thompson River in Moraine Park, a valley above Estes. It was the most notable summer I had ever had, notable for the fact that I was associating every hour of the day with men who were intellectually my superiors including the two Franklins, who in their thirties were to become scientists with international recognition; Fred Funston, who within a decade was to be a national hero and a major general in the Army; Herbert Hadley, who in a store of years was destined to be attorney general of Missouri and then governor, and still later stand for four clays under the national limelight in a Republican national convention as a possible nominee for President--all young fellows in their late teens and early twenties.

We were not a serious crowd. We lived simply, gayly. We had two rules, only two, as the laws of our republic: every man must clean his own fish, and no razor would be allowed in the camp. So we grew whiskers. Mine were red and upturned from under the chin-an Irish mustache.

 Every man made his own bed, which was on the floor, of the one-room log cabin, for we all slept in a row over spruce boughs and under our own blankets. And every man looked after his own kit-a change of underwear, his store clothes which he never wore in the park, a book or two or three or half a dozen which he brought, and his gun if he had one, which I did not, and his fishing tackle...

Vernon and Funston and I were an inseparable trio. I went with them when they hunted, sometimes. I often loafed along behind them within yelling distance. I liked to gather the wild red raspberries and strawberries in the canyon, which the Franklins put into delectable shortcakes. I was, willing to cook and wash dishes. I made a passable flapjack, fried fish with reasonable skill, helped to cut up the contraband mountain sheep which Funston shot, took my turn and probably had more than my turn in hauling down wood from the mountain for our cabin. I hung a hammock in the pine woods above our cabin and went up there many an afternoon to read.

I should define life that summer as hilarious. It was a roar of laughter at me somewhat as a poky fool, or at Funston who could not walk a log across a creek, and had to coon it. But once he took his rifle all alone, and marched all alone down the road to where some advertising painters were smearing huge boulders with admonishings to use somebody's sarsaparilla. Literally Funston chased them down the road, largely by his unique and convincing profanity, supported somewhat by his cocked rifle. We laughed also at Wilmoth, a Phi Psi who baked for us excellent bread of which he was justly proud and one day, leaving it outside to rise in the sun, came home and baked it; when he started to cut the loaf, found a chipmunk in it.

We were not a drinking crowd. On the Fourth of July we had one case of beer for twelve boys on an all-day celebration. Two or three days later, we had our picture taken with the empty case, all pretending to be very drunk. The picture, printed in many a newspaper and magazine later when we were grown into man's estate and somewhat celebrated, has frozen us there as the young devils we were not.

But we lived well on grouse and sage hen and bacon and a few ptarmigans tougher than boiled owls, rabbits which were plentiful, and trout--thousands of mountain trout in streams which had scarcely known a fly before. We saw, forty miles from our camp, a deserted mining town-a marvelous picture like Pompeii. For twenty years before a rumor had come of a rich strike forty miles below on the Grand River; and overnight, it seems, the thousand inhabitants had pulled out. There was the post office, with the letters in the boxes; the saloons with the empty bottles on the shelves; the billiard tables with their green baize, moth-eaten and rat-gnawed; the stores with their shelves like grinning skulls empty of their fleshly furnishings; in the cabins the cookstoves stood in the kitchens, andiron safes standing open, too heavy to be moved. It was a dramatic picture that little town of Lulu down on the Grand.

Twice that summer, Kellogg and I climbed Longs Peak: once with no one else along; and once with a party which included Funston, Hadley, and Ed Franklin. It is a hard, long climb, impossible by any machine that mail has yet made. Of its 14,500 feet you go Up 2,000 on all fours, creeping and climbing along crevices and cracks in almost perpendicular rocks. You come down on all fives until you strike a level 2,000 feet above timber line. Then you walk a mile over huge boulders, jumping from one to another, When I got to the summit the first time, we could see across the plains the smoke of Pueblo two hundred miles away. We could see over into Wyoming.  It was a beautiful sight. But when I started down that precipice I was frightened, literally scared numb and stiff, and Kellogg had to coax me down

The summer passed--certainly the most profitable two months I had ever spent in my life, for I learned to live with others. Proteus, who changes us from decade to decade, with some kind of transmigration of souls as the years pass with their ceaseless mutations, worked his miracle on me. If I ever grew up and became a man, it was in the summer of 1889, in Colorado, in a little log cabin filled with a dozen boys on the Big Thompson River.

 

Copyright OldEstes/D. Tanton

All Rights Reserved 1999 - 2011

Revised:  11/01/2011

Copyright OldEstes/D. P. Tanton

All Rights Reserved 1999 - 2011

Revised:  12/22/2011

Copyright OldEstes/D. P. Tanton

All Rights Reserved 1999 - 2011

Revised:  12/22/2011

Copyright OldEstes/D. Tanton

All Rights Reserved 1999 - 2012

Revised:  01/26/2012

Copyright OldEstes/D. Tanton

All Rights Reserved 1999 - 2012

Revised:  01/26/2012

[bottom.htm]