It was comparatively calm all day yesterday and last night, and there have been light airs only from the south to-day. The temperature, at first comparatively high at -5º, has gradually fallen to -13º; as a result the Strait has frozen over at last and it looks as though the Hut Point party should be with us before very long. If the blizzards hold off for another three days the crossing should be perfectly safe, but I don’t expect Meares to hurry.
Although we had very good sunset effects at Hut Point, Ponting and others were much disappointed with the absence of such effects at Cape Evans. This was probably due to the continual interference of frost smoke; since our return here and especially yesterday and to-day the sky and sea have been glorious in the afternoon.
Ponting has taken some coloured pictures, but the result is not very satisfactory and the plates are much spotted; Wilson is very busy with pencil and brush.
Atkinson is unpacking and setting up his sterilizers and incubators. Wright is wrestling with the electrical instruments. Evans is busy surveying the Cape and its vicinity. Oates is reorganising the stable, making bigger stalls, &c. Cherry-Garrard is building a stone house for taxidermy and with a view to getting hints for making a shelter at Cape Crozier during the winter. Debenham and Taylor are taking advantage of the last of the light to examine the topography of the peninsula. In fact, everyone is extraordinarily busy.
I came back with the impression that we should not find our winter walks so interesting as those at Hut Point, but I’m rapidly altering my opinion; we may miss the hill climbing here, but in every direction there is abundance of interest. To-day I walked round the shores of the North Bay examining the kenyte cliffs and great masses of morainic material of the Barne Glacier, then on under the huge blue ice cliffs of the Glacier itself. With the sunset lights, deep shadows, the black islands and white bergs it was all very beautiful.
Simpson and Bowers sent up a balloon to-day with a double thread and instrument attached; the line was checked at about 3 miles, and soon after the instrument was seen to disengage. The balloon at first went north with a light southerly breeze till it reached 300 or 400 ft., then it turned to the south but did not travel rapidly; when 2 miles of thread had gone it seemed to be going north again or rising straight upward.
In the afternoon Simpson and Bowers went to recover their treasure, but somewhere south of Inaccessible Island they found the thread broken and the light was not good enough to continue the search.
The sides of the galley fire have caved in – there should have been cheeks to prevent this; we got some fire clay cement to-day and plastered up the sides. I hope this will get over the difficulty, but have some doubt.