The expedition spent the winter at a camp called Fort Clatsop in present-day Oregon before beginning the journey home in late March, 1806. On the return they had to wait five weeks before they could cross the Rocky Mountains. The snow was too deep in the mountains for travel.
Near the present-day city of Missoula, Montana, Lewis and Clark separated and each took a separate route. Sakakawea, together with her son and husband, traveled with Clark’s party. She was so helpful in finding trails and landmarks that Clark called her his “pilot.”
Clark’s party got ahead of Lewis’s party and reached present-day North Dakota on August 7. Lewis’s group entered North Dakota the next day. On August 12, they were reunited near the present-day city of New Town, North Dakota. The site of this reunion is now a historical site named “Reunion Bay.”
The day before the separated parties were reunited, Lewis and Cruzatte had been hunting in the bushes beside the river near Williston. Cruzatte, who was blind in one eye, mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him. The bullet hit Lewis in the buttocks and stuck in his leather pants. He ended up lying on his belly in the pirogue for a couple of weeks while his gunshot wound healed.