Isabella did not make it to Estes Park that day. Instead, around dusk, they had to struggle up a gulch and emerged cut and bruised, scratched and torn.
“Poor Mrs C was much bruised, and I pitied her, for she got no fun out of it as I did. It was an awful climb. When we got out of the gulch, C was so confused that he took the wrong direction, and after an hour of vague wandering was only recalled to the right one by my pertinacious assertions acting on his weak brain.* I was inclined to be angry with the incompetent braggart, who had boasted that he could take us to Estes Park ‘blindfold;’ but I was sorry for him, too, so said nothing.”
Eventually it gets too dark and they are too tired to go on. They bed down in the open under snow flurries. They do have a fire. Isabella makes a pillow out of her inverted saddle and sleeps soundly.
Despite Isabella suggesting that Chalmers hobble the horses for the evening, he does not do this. When the crew awakens, the horses are “merrily trotting homewards. I saw them miles off an hour ago with him after them. His wife, who is also after them, goaded to desperation, said ‘ He’s the most ignorant, careless, good-for-nothing man I ever saw,’ upon which I dwelt upon his being well-meaning.”
They have no water, by the way, because the canteen lost all its contents when the mule fell.**
And then Isabella made her wildest claim: I have found the stomach of a bear with fully a pint of cherry stones in it, and have spent an hour getting the kernels; and lo! Now, at half-past nine, I see the culprit and his wife coming back with the animals.”
Seriously, Isabella? You ate cherries from the belly of a dead bear? I call BS.
*I can only imagine what this sounded like.
** somewhere in here, the mule fell. I missed it.