The Nez Perce headed south from the battlefield, staying along the western edge of the Big Hole. Chief Looking Glass, who had insisted on traveling slowly through the Bitterroot Valley and who had decided not to send scouts back over the trail, was now relieved of the responsibility for guiding the camp.
From the Big Hole, Chief Hototo [Lean Elk or Poker Joe] was the guide and leader of the Nez Perces. He had been all over that country, east and north, and he knew the land and the trails. He understood, and would have the people up early in the morning, and travel till about ten o'clock. Then he ordered a stop and cooking was done while the horses filled upon grass. About two o'clock he would travel again. Kept going till about ten o'clock at night.... In this way the people covered many miles each sun. They were
outdistancing the soldiers, gaining on them all the time. Everybody was glad.
Traveling was hard on the wounded. So bad that when we reached more safe places, several of them stopped. Remained scattered and hidden away. A few of these were never afterwards heard of.
At the next Indian camp I came to, the still warm ashes showed that the Indians were not far ahead.
The saddest sight at this camp was an old, helpless Indian lying on a few old buffalo robes, with only a bottle of water alongside. He looked as though the snows of a hundred winters had fallen on his head, but still there was no trace of baldness. He volunteered a wan smile at the sight of a human being, and made a feeble motion with one arm, pointing to his forehead, making a mumble with his poor toothless mouth.... I could understand that he was inviting me to shoot him in the forehead and end his misery. Instead of accommodating him I fed him half the piece of bread I had found, which he ate ravenously. He seemed quite disappointed when I made a motion of flapping my wings to indicate that I must skiddoo and be on my way.
John W. Redington
Several people died each night at camp. Every morning, healthy people leading horses ridden by the wounded would leave camp early, ahead of the main caravan, and would travel slowly throughout the day.