It's easy to visualize a group of increasingly excited men, knowing that their incredible journey is close to completion -
Capt. Clark, Sept. 11, 1806--The papaws nearly ripe.
Capt. Clark, Sept. 15, 1806--...we landed one time only to let the men geather Pappaws or the custard apple of which this country abounds, and the men are very fond of.
Capt. Clark, Sept. 18, 1806--at 10 oClock we came too and gathered pottows [paw paws] to eate we have nothing but a fiew Buisquit to eate and are partly compelled to eate poppows which we find in great quantities on the Shores, the weather we found excessively hot as usial.
we saw very little appearance of deer, saw one bear at a distance and 3 turkeys only to day. our party entirely out of provisions subsisting on poppaws. we divide[d] the buiskit which amounted to nearly one buisket per man, this in addition to the poppaws is to last is down to the Settlement's which is 150 miles the party appear perfectly contented and tell us that they can live very well on the pappaws.
Capt. Clark, Sept. 19, 1806--Set out this morning a little after day & proceeded on very well the men plyd their oares & we decended with great velocity, only came too once for the purpose of gathering pappows, our anxiety as also the wish of the party to proceed on as expeditiously as possible to the Illinois enduce us to continue on without halting to hunt. we calculate ariveing at the first Settlements on tomorrow evening which is 140 miles,
A number of the men had complained of sore eyes for several days. While Captain Clark felt that this was due to the many hours in the sun, it is possible that they had a dermatitis from the juices of the paw paw fruits. (See Moulton's reference from Rogers)