Although it rained for 3 days while they traveled up the Columbia River, Narcissa kept dry by staying under oilcloth. She described the evening stops “At night, when a great fire was made, our tents pitched and the cloth spread for tea, all was pleasant and comfortable. I rolled my bed and blankets in my India-rubber cloak, which preserved them quite well from the rain, so that nights I kept warm and comfortably as ever. My featherbed was of essential service to me in keeping my health this rainy voyage.”
This trip required them to repeat the portages at the Cascades, the Dalles, and the Chutes that they had made in September, this time uphill, walking a mile, two and a half miles and a half mile, respectively, on the path beside the river, in the rain, in long dresses. Sometimes we forget that these women were not dressed in casual clothes and appropriate hiking boots and outerwear.
Hopefully, Narcissa’s India-rubber cloak kept her fairly dry. It sounds like her cloak was made of rubber, but later in the 19th century “The New Household Receipt Book: Maxims, Directions and Specifics for Promoting Health and Comfort, and Improvement in the Homes of the People” by Sarah Josepha Hale gave instructions for using a cloak made of “strong unbleached or brown calico” and painting three coats of a mixture of India rubber and linseed oil on the fabric. However, linseed oil is very flammable, so they were probably extra careful about going near the fire.