It has been over a year since President Thomas Jefferson named you to lead an exploration of the newly-purchased Lousiana Territory. Jefferson hoped for two things: that you would document the vast, unexplored area between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, and that you would find the Northwest Passage, an easy water route that linked the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and opened trade with the Orient. So far, your journey has been successful. You have discovered numerous new plant and animal species. In fact, youve just sent a boat full of reports and scientific specimens including a prairie dog back to the East and to Jefferson.
But you have yet to locate the Northwest Passage. You assume that it lies somewhere in the miles ahead, but you have no idea how many miles away that is. After all, the maps you have only go as far west as you are now. Youre about to lead the expedition off the map, into the unknown.
With six dugout canoes and two pirogues (larger canoes) fully loaded with supplies, you and your men bid the Mandans farewell, and start paddling up the Missouri.