Safety Camp. Got away at 10 again: surface fairly heavy: dogs going badly.
The dogs are as thin as rakes; they are ravenous and very tired. I feel this should not be, and that it is evident that they are underfed. The ration must be increased next year and we _must_ have some properly thought out diet. The biscuit alone is not good enough. Meares is excellent to a point, but ignorant of the conditions here. One thing is certain, the dogs will never continue to drag heavy loads with men sitting on the sledges; we must all learn to run with the teams and the Russian custom must be dropped. Meares, I think, rather imagined himself racing to the Pole and back on a dog sledge. This journey has opened his eyes a good deal.
We reached Safety Camp (dist. 14 miles) at 4.30 A.M.; found Evans and his party in excellent health, but, alas! with only ONE pony. As far as I can gather Forde’s pony only got 4 miles back from the Bluff Camp; then a blizzard came on, and in spite of the most tender care from Forde the pony sank under it. Evans says that Forde spent hours with the animal trying to keep it going, feeding it, walking it about; at last he returned to the tent to say that the poor creature had fallen; they all tried to get it on its feet again but their efforts were useless. It couldn’t stand, and soon after it died.
Then the party marched some 10 miles, but the blizzard had had a bad effect on Blossom – it seemed to have shrivelled him up, and now he was terribly emaciated. After this march he could scarcely move. Evans describes his efforts as pathetic; he got on 100 yards, then stopped with legs outstretched and nose to the ground. They rested him, fed him well, covered him with rugs; but again all efforts were unavailing. The last stages came with painful detail. So Blossom is also left on the Southern Road.
The last pony, James Pigg, as he is called, has thriven amazingly – of course great care has been taken with him and he is now getting full feed and very light work, so he ought to do well. The loss is severe; but they were the two oldest ponies of our team and the two which Oates thought of least use.
Atkinson and Crean have departed, leaving no trace – not even a note.
Crean had carried up a good deal of fodder, and some seal meat was found buried.
After a few hours’ sleep we are off for Hut Point.
There are certain points in night marching, if only for the glorious light effects which the coming night exhibits.