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David Douglas explores the Cascade Mountains

In a recent post David mentions the number of Brits keenly climbing Swiss mountains in the mid-19th century and sometimes breaking their necks. Another one of the many Brits exploring and taking risks was David Douglas, who was searching America for new plants for the London (later the Royal) Horticultural Society.

In September 1825, in western Washington, Douglas made the first recorded ascent of the Cascade Mountains with the help of a Chinook Indian friend. Douglas wrote in his Journal,

On the summit of the hill I slept one night. I made a small fire of grass and twigs and dried my clothes which were wet with perspiration and then laid myself down on the grass with my feet to the fire. I found it very cold and had to rise four times and walk to keep myself warm, fortunately it was dry and a keen north wind prevented dew.

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Before he was killed by a wild bull in mysterious circumstances on Hawaii, Douglas sent back seeds of the Douglas-fir. One of many British horticultural explorers, he introduced 240 new plant species to Britain.
Image: Government of British Columbia

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