This is a variation on a theme that Miller explored several times, two of which survive as oils and two as watercolors. In the oils (one that is in a public collection and thus included here, CR# 238A), the trappers seem to be making a hearty gesture to nature’s grandeur. In this watercolor, however, and in what is probably a study for this work (CR# 238) their attentions are focused not on the grand display of mountains but rather on the arrival of the American Fur Company’s wagons which are dotted across the distant green meadows. Miller wrote that at the base of those “lofty pinnacles crested with snow and reflecting light with the brilliancy of burnished silver,” the trappers spy their immediate prize, their future supplies. They thrill at the thought of the culmination of the trapping season, the rendezvous. There, they will, in Miller’s words, enjoy the promise of “a grand carouse and drinking bout” (Ross, 157).
Peter H. Hassrick