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Scott's Last Expedition

Saturday, January 7th 1911

The sun has returned. To-day it seemed better than ever and the glare was blinding. There are quite a number of cases of snow blindness.

We have done splendidly. To-night all the provisions except some in bottles are ashore and nearly all the working paraphernalia of the scientific people – no light item. There remains some hut furniture, 2 1/2 tons of carbide, some bottled stuff, and some odds and ends which should occupy only part of to-morrow; then we come to the two last and heaviest items – coal and horse fodder.

If we are not through in the week we shall be very near it. Meanwhile the ship is able to lay at the ice edge without steam; a splendid saving.

There has been a steady stream of cases passing along the shore route all day and transport arrangements are hourly improving.

Two parties of four and three officers made ten journeys each, covering over 25 miles and dragging loads one way which averaged 250 to 300 lbs. per man.

The ponies are working well now, but beginning to give some excitement. On the whole they are fairly quiet beasts, but they get restive with their loads, mainly but indirectly owing to the smoothness of the ice. They know perfectly well that the swingle trees and traces are hanging about their hocks and hate it. (I imagine it gives them the nervous feeling that they are going to be carried off their feet.) This makes it hard to start them, and when going they seem to appreciate the fact that the sledges will overrun them should they hesitate or stop. The result is that they are constantly fretful and the more nervous ones tend to become refractory and unmanageable.

Oates is splendid with them – I do not know what we should do without him.

I did seven journeys with ponies and got off with a bump on the head and some scratches.
One pony got away from Debenham close to the ship, and galloped the whole way in with its load behind; the load capsized just off the shore and the animal and sledge dashed into the station. Oates very wisely took this pony straight back for another load.

Two or three ponies got away as they were being harnessed, and careered up the hill again. In fact there were quite a lot of minor incidents which seemed to endanger life and limb to the animals if not the men, but which all ended safely.

One of Meares’ dog teams ran away – one poor dog got turned over at the start and couldn’t get up again (Muk/aka). He was dragged at a gallop for nearly half a mile; I gave him up as dead, but apparently he was very little hurt.

The ponies are certainly going to keep things lively as time goes on and they get fresher. Even as it is, their condition can’t be half as bad as we imagined; the runaway pony wasn’t much done even after the extra trip.

The station is beginning to assume the appearance of an orderly camp. We continue to find advantages in the situation; the long level beach has enabled Bowers to arrange his stores in the most systematic manner. Everything will be handy and there will never be a doubt as to the position of a case when it is wanted. The hut is advancing apace – already the matchboarding is being put on. The framework is being clothed. It should be extraordinarily warm and comfortable, for in addition to this double coating of insulation, dry seaweed in quilted sacking, I propose to stack the pony fodder all around it.

I am wondering how we shall stable the ponies in the winter.

The only drawback to the present position is that the ice is getting thin and sludgy in the cracks and on some of the floes. The ponies drop their feet through, but most of them have evidently been accustomed to something of the sort; they make no fuss about it. Everything points to the desirability of the haste which we are making – so we go on to-morrow, Sunday.

A whole host of minor ills besides snow blindness have come upon us. Sore faces and lips, blistered feet, cuts and abrasions; there are few without some troublesome ailment, but, of course, such things are ‘part of the business.’ The soles of my feet are infernally sore.
‘Of course the elements are going to be troublesome, but it is good to know them as the only adversary and to feel there is so small a chance of internal friction.’

Ponting had an alarming adventure about this time. Bent on getting artistic photographs with striking objects, such as hummocked floes or reflecting water, in the foreground, he used to depart with his own small sledge laden with cameras and cinematograph to journey alone to the grounded icebergs. One morning as he tramped along harnessed to his sledge, his snow glasses clouded with the mist of perspiration, he suddenly felt the ice giving under his feet. He describes the sensation as the worst he ever experienced, and one can well believe it; there was no one near to have lent assistance had he gone through. Instinctively he plunged forward, the ice giving at every step and the sledge dragging through water. Providentially the weak area he had struck was very limited, and in a minute or two he pulled out on a firm surface. He remarked that he was perspiring very freely!

Looking back it is easy to see that we were terribly incautious in our treatment of this decaying ice.

Erebus and ice reflection foreground. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Erebus and ice reflection foreground. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Penguins and an iceberg. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Penguins and an iceberg. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Penguins and an iceberg. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Penguins and an iceberg. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Penguins resting. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Penguins resting. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Penguins resting. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Penguins resting. Jan. 7th 1911.”

An Antarctic Cascade near house. Jan. 7th 1911.
“An Antarctic Cascade near house. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Pool below cascade. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Pool below cascade. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Lieut. Evans washing at the pool. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Lieut. Evans washing at the pool. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Beautiful broken ice, reflections and Terra Nova. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Beautiful broken ice, reflections and Terra Nova. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Dr. Wilson skinning a seal on ice. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Dr. Wilson skinning a seal on ice. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Dr. Wilson skinning a seal on ice. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Dr. Wilson skinning a seal on ice. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Ponting cinematographing skua gulls. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Ponting cinematographing skua gulls. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Ponting cinematographing skua gulls. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Ponting cinematographing skua gulls. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Lunch in the tent. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Lunch in the tent. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Lunch in the tent. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Lunch in the tent. Jan. 7th 1911.”

Erebus and ice reflection foreground. Jan. 7th 1911.
“Erebus and ice reflection foreground. Jan. 7th 1911.”

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