A Trip Up The Chagres
F.W. Johnson

     There were seven of us that left Empire in the motor car at five o'clock a.m. on the 22nd day of February, 1908.  We proceeded through the Canal, and with a good amount of switching back and forth arrived at Gamboa at 5:30.  We then loaded our supplies and dunnage on our backs, and filed over the hills for a mile to the river.  Here six "Spies" were waiting with two large dugouts, "cayucos" they call them.  Four of the fellows piled into one and the remaining three with the greater part of the dunnage in the other.  The crew then poled the cayucos up stream about two miles to Las Cruces, famous as a stopping place of Morgan, the Isthmian pirate; here the crew stopped to get their grub.  They then poled on up the river twelve miles to Alhajuela, where we stopped for dinner.

Here we decided to let the crew take the cayucos to Vigia, and we crossed the river and took the trail, which was much shorter.  The trail ran on the top of immense lime stone cliffs bordering the river which were at least one hundred and fifty feet high.  One place where the trail was on the edge of the cliff and over the river we saw a large gator lying in the water below.  One fellow shot and hit him and that was the last we could see of Mr. Gator as he riled the water too much.

     We arrived at Vigia at dusk and camped for the night on a long sand beach a short distance above it.  Till late in the evening we sat around a roaring fire, for the nights in the tropics are chilly and we were wet from wading over ripples in the river all day, and told stories.

     We were up at day break the next morning.  Some of the fellows went hunting, some fishing.  The "spies" said they would show us where we could get all the fish we wanted so we jumped into the cayucos and went up the river a mile to a large open place.  Here the spies took out some dynamite and set it off in the water, stunning all the fish for quite a distance.  They put the fish into the boat and proceeded back to camp, leaving us to walk or swim; we did both and arrived in a short time.  We spent the time after dinner in many ways, and then packed up and started on the return trip.  We arrived at Gamboa at 4 p.m., and took the train from Obispo at five.  We were in Empire in time for supper.  We all voted that we had had a fine time and would like to make the same trip again if the opportunity offered.

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