We set out before day, though, in fact, we were all much fitter to remain, from the excessive pain which we suffered in our joints, and proceeded till one P.M., without halting, when Belanger, who was before, stopped, and cried out, “Footsteps of Indians.” It is needless to mention the joy that brightened the countenances of each at this unlooked-for sight; we knew relief must be at hand, and considered our sufferings at an end. St. Germain inspected the tracks, and said that three persons had passed the day before; and that he knew the remainder must be advancing to the southward, as was customary with these Indians, when they sent to the trading establishment on the first ice.

On this information we encamped, and being too weak to walk myself, I sent St. Germain to follow the tracks, with instructions to the chief of the Indians to provide immediate assistance for such of our friends as might be at Fort Enterprise, as well as for ourselves, and to lose no time in returning to me. I was now so exhausted, that had we not seen the tracks this day, I must have remained at the next encampment, until the men could have sent aid from Fort Providence.

We had finished our small portion of sinews, and were preparing for rest, when an Indian boy made his appearance with meat. St. Germain had arrived before sunset at the tents of Akaitcho, whom he found at the spot where he had wintered last year; but imagine my surprise when he gave me a note from the Commander, and said that Benoit and Augustus, two of the men, had just joined them. The note was so confused, by the pencil marks being partly rubbed out, that I could not decipher it clearly; but it informed me, that he had attempted to come with the two men, but finding his strength inadequate to the task, he relinquished his design, and returned to Fort Enterprise, to await relief with the others. There was another note for the gentleman in charge of Fort Providence, desiring him to send meat, blankets, shoes, and tobacco.

Akaitcho wished me to join him on the ensuing day, at a place which the boy knew, where they were going to fish; and I was the more anxious to do so, on account of my companions: but particularly that I might hear a full relation of what had happened, and of the Commander’s true situation, which I suspected to be much worse than he had described.

George Back
South of Reindeer Lake
November 3, 1821