The wind dropped about 10 last night. This morning it was calm and clear save for a light misty veil of ice crystals through which the moon shone with scarce clouded brilliancy, surrounded with bright cruciform halo and white paraselene. Mock moons with prismatic patches of colour appeared in the radiant ring, echoes of the main source of light. Wilson has a charming sketch of the phenomenon.
I went to Inaccessible Island, and climbing some way up the steep western face, reassured myself concerning the ice. It was evident that there had been no movement in consequence of yesterday’s blow.
In climbing I had to scramble up some pretty steep rock faces and screens, and held on only in anticipation of gaining the top of the Island and an easy descent. Instead of this I came to an impossible overhanging cliff of lava, and was forced to descend as I had come up. It was no easy task, and I was glad to get down with only one slip, when I brought myself up with my ice axe in the nick of time to prevent a fall over a cliff. This Island is very steep on all sides. There is only one known place of ascent; it will be interesting to try and find others.
After tea Atkinson came in with the glad tidings that the dog team were returning from Hut Point. We were soon on the floe to welcome the last remnant of our wintering party. Meares reported everything well and the ponies not far behind.
The dogs were unharnessed and tied up to the chains; they are all looking remarkably fit – apparently they have given no trouble at all of late; there have not even been any fights.
Half an hour later Day, Lashly, Nelson, Forde, and Keohane arrived with the two ponies – men and animals in good form.
It is a great comfort to have the men and dogs back, and a greater to contemplate all the ten ponies comfortably stabled for the winter. Everything seems to depend on these animals.
I have not seen the meteorological record brought back, but it appears that the party had had very fine calm weather since we left them, except during the last three days when wind has been very strong. It is curious that we should only have got one day with wind.
I am promised the sea-freezing record to-morrow. Four seals were got on April 22, the day after we left, and others have been killed since, so that there is a plentiful supply of blubber and seal meat at the hut – the rest of the supplies seem to have been pretty well run out. Some more forage had been fetched in from the depot. A young sea leopard had been killed on the sea ice near Castle Rock three days ago, this being the second only found in the Sound.
It is a strange fact that none of the returning party seem to greatly appreciate the food luxuries they have had since their return. It would have been the same with us had we not had a day or two in tents before our return. It seems more and more certain that a very simple fare is all that is needed here – plenty of seal meat, flour, and fat, with tea, cocoa, and sugar; these are the only real requirements for comfortable existence.
The temperatures at Hut Point have not been as low as I expected. There seems to have been an extraordinary heat wave during the spell of calm recorded since we left – the thermometer registering little below zero until the wind came, when it fell to -20º. Thus as an exception we have had a fall instead of a rise of temperature with wind.
[The exact inventory of stores at Hut Point here recorded has no immediate bearing on the history of the expedition, but may be noted as illustrating the care and thoroughness with which all operations were conducted. Other details as to the carbide consumed in making acetylene gas may be briefly quoted. The first tin was opened on February 1, the second on March 26. The seventh on May 20, the next eight at the average interval of 9 1/2 days.]