The seventh volume of this new, definitive edition of Lewis and Clark's journals begins as the expedition turns homeward. On March 23, 1806, the Corps of Discovery left Fort Clatsop, their winter quarters on the Pacific Coast, for the long return journey to the United States. Although they were largely retracing their outbound route, their journals were still filled with descriptions of the country and its people, and new discoveries were yet to be made. They departed from the Columbia River at one point to take an overland shortcut between the Walla Walla and Snake rivers and reached the latter a little below the mouth of the Clearwater. Detained by winter snows at the edge of the Rockies, the Corps camped among the friendly Nez Perce Indians. Here, in modern west-central Idaho, the captains attended to sick Indians and continued their scientific studies while others in the party passed the time hunting and socializing. By June 9 the captains decided to resume their move eastward. According to the Nez Perces, the snow would not be gone from the mountains along the Lolo Trail until early July, but the party, looking homeward, left the Clearwater valley for the flats above the river.
Incorporating substantial new scholarship concerning all aspects of the expedition from Indian languages to plants and animals to details of geography and history, this edition greatly expands and updates the annotation of the last one, published in 1904–5.