May 31, 2006


Guest opinion by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

â??On September 1, 1805, the party set out, traveling cross-country over high, rugged hills, to todayâ??s North Fork of the Salmon Riverâ?¦They were entering mountains far more difficult to pass than any American had ever attemptedâ??steep and massive peaks thrust up by tectonic forces deep within the earth, thickly timbered in pineâ?¦The confusion of creeks and ravines cutting through deep mountainsides has made the route the expedition used the most disputed of the entire journey. Clark described the route: â??Throâ?? thickets in which we were obliged to Cut a road, over rockey hill Sides where our horse were in perpetual danger of Slipping to Ther certain distruction & up & Down Steep hillsâ?¦with the greatest dificuelty risqué & c. We made 7 1/ miles.â??â??-Stephen Ambrose, â??Lewis and Clark: Voyage of Discoveryâ??Celebrated author, the late Stephen Ambrose, began an extraordinary family tradition in 1976. Stephen, his wife and five children began to take summer vacations to places along the route that Lewis and Clark traveled in the early 1800s. Over the years, they selected their favorite spots, two of the three in Idaho: Lemhi Pass and the Idaho portion of Lolo Trail. In Lewis and Clark: Voyage of Discovery, Ambrose recounts Meriwether Lewisâ??s first meeting with the Shoshone Tribe. This encounter meant life or death for the mission and its members. As we know, the tribes welcomed the men and their long-lost Shoshone relative, Sacajawea. Offering food, shelter, horses and a guide, both the Shoshones and later, the Nez Perce, helped the hardscrabble group of explorers survive perilous Idaho weather and terrain on toward the end of their historic journey.In 2003, Idaho began commemorating its major role in the Lewis and Clark expedition. In January of that year, Idahoans traveled to Monticello, Thomas Jeffersonâ??s home in Virginia, as representatives at the national bicentennial inaugural event. The Idaho Governorâ??s Lewis & Clark Trail Committee has worked tirelessly over the years to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the accomplishments of these early explorers, the hospitality and cultures of the tribes who aided them and what it means for us today. Cities and towns along the route have sponsored events and educational exploration opportunities for Idahoans and visitors who are interested in experiencing this momentous journey. New interpretive centers have been constructed in Salmon, Lolo Pass, Weippe and Lewiston. Along the Trail, new interpretive signage and public art guide tourists. Lands traversed by Lewis and Clark have been purchased for permanent preservation. There has never been a better time to visit the Lewis and Clark Trail. This is the final year of Bicentennial activities in Idaho: -June 14-17: The Nez Perce Tribe hosts Idahoâ??s only National Signature Bicentennial event featuring re-enactors, a Nez Perce village, film festival, quilt and hide show and hourly presentations. The main venue is Lewis-Clark State College, but other events are scheduled for Kamiah, Spalding, Lapwai and Moscow. -June 5 â?? 17: The National Park Serviceâ??s national touring exhibit, Corps of Discovery II, with interpretive exhibitions from several other federal agencies will be set up on the Lewis-Clark State College campus in Lewiston with hourly free live interpretation and entertainment.-May â?? October: The Idaho State Historical Museumâ??s Lewis and Clark exhibits.-June 13 â?? June 15: Lewis and Clark Symposium at Lewis-Clark State College.-August 18 â?? August 19: Sacajawea Heritage Days in Salmon, Idaho.This summer might be the perfect time to do something like the Ambroses didâ??make this learning experience one for the whole family. For information on upcoming events, please see my website: WORD COUNT: 595