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Scott's Last Expedition

Archive for July, 1911

Monday, July 31st 1911

Monday, July 31st, 1911

It was overcast to-day and the light not quite so good, but this is the last day of another month, and August means the sun.

One begins to wonder what the Crozier Party is doing. It has been away five weeks.

The ponies are getting buckish. Chinaman squeals and kicks in the stable, Nobby kicks without squealing, but with even more purpose – last night he knocked down a part of his stall. The noise of these animals is rather trying at night – one imagines all sorts of dreadful things happening, but when the watchman visits the stables its occupants blink at him with a sleepy air as though the disturbance could not possibly have been there!

There was a glorious northern sky to-day; the horizon was clear and the flood of red light illuminated the under side of the broken stratus cloud above, producing very beautiful bands of violet light. Simpson predicts a blizzard within twenty-four hours – we are interested to watch results.

Saturday, July 29, Sunday, July 30th 1911

Sunday, July 30th, 1911

Two quiet days, temperature low in the minus thirties – an occasional rush of wind lasting for but a few minutes.

One of our best sledge dogs, ‘Julick,’ has disappeared. I’m afraid he’s been set on by the others at some distant spot and we shall see nothing more but his stiffened carcass when the light returns. Meares thinks the others would not have attacked him and imagines he has fallen into the water in some seal hole or crack. In either case I’m afraid we must be resigned to another loss. It’s an awful nuisance.

Gran went to C. Royds to-day. I asked him to report on the open water, and so he went on past the Cape. As far as I can gather he got half-way to C. Bird before he came to thin ice; for at least 5 or 6 miles past C. Royds the ice is old and covered with wind-swept snow. This is very unexpected. In the Discovery first year the ice continually broke back to the Glacier Tongue: in the second year it must have gone out to C. Royds very early in the spring if it did not go out in the winter, and in the Nimrod year it was rarely fast beyond C. Royds. It is very strange, especially as this has been the windiest year recorded so far. Simpson says the average has exceeded 20 m.p.h. since the instruments were set up, and this figure has for comparison 9 and 12 m.p.h. for the two Discovery years. There remains a possibility that we have chosen an especially wind-swept spot for our station. Yet I can scarcely believe that there is generally more wind here than at Hut Point.

I was out for two hours this morning – it was amazingly pleasant to be able to see the inequalities of one’s path, and the familiar landmarks bathed in violet light. An hour after noon the northern sky was intensely red.

Thursday, July 27th, Friday, July 28th 1911

Friday, July 28th, 1911

Calmer days: the sky rosier: the light visibly advancing. We have never suffered from low spirits, so that the presence of day raises us above a normal cheerfulness to the realm of high spirits.

The light, merry humour of our company has never been eclipsed, the good-natured, kindly chaff has never ceased since those early days of enthusiasm which inspired them – they have survived the winter days of stress and already renew themselves with the coming of spring. If pessimistic moments had foreseen the growth of rifts in the bond forged by these amenities, they stand prophetically falsified; there is no longer room for doubt that we shall come to our work with a unity of purpose and a disposition for mutual support which have never been equalled in these paths of activity. Such a spirit should tide us [over] all minor difficulties. It is a good omen.

Tuesday, July 25, Wednesday, July 26th 1911

Wednesday, July 26th, 1911

There is really very little to be recorded in these days, life proceeds very calmly if somewhat monotonously. Everyone seems fit, there is no sign of depression. To all outward appearance the ponies are in better form than they have ever been; the same may be said of the dogs with one or two exceptions.

The light comes on apace. To-day (Wednesday) it was very beautiful at noon: the air was very clear and the detail of the Western Mountains was revealed in infinitely delicate contrasts of light.

Saturday, July 22 1911, continued

Saturday, July 22nd, 1911

This and the better ventilation of the stable make for improvement we think – perhaps the increase of salt allowance is also beneficial.

To-day we have another raging blizzard – the wind running up to 72 m.p.h. in gusts – one way and another the Crozier Party must have had a pretty poor time. I am thankful to remember that the light will be coming on apace now.

Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911
“Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911”

Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911
“Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911”

Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911
“Herbert Ponting at work in the Darkroom at Winterquarters Hut. July 22nd 1911”

Thursday, July 20th, Friday 21th, Saturday 22nd 1911

Saturday, July 22nd, 1911

There is very little to record – the horses are going on well, all are in good form, at least for the moment. They drink a good deal of water in the morning.

Wednesday, July 19th 1911

Wednesday, July 19th, 1911

Again calm and pleasant. The temperature is gradually falling down to -35º. Went out to the old working crack north of Inaccessible Island – Nelson and Evans had had great difficulty in rescuing their sounding sledge, which had been left near here before the gale. The course of events is not very clear, but it looks as though the gale pressed up the crack, raising broken pieces of the thin ice formed after recent opening movements. These raised pieces had become nuclei of heavy snow drifts, which in turn weighing down the floe had allowed water to flow in over the sledge level. It is surprising to find such a big disturbance from what appears to be a simple cause. This crack is now joined, and the contraction is taking on a new one which has opened much nearer to us and seems to run to C. Barne.

We have noticed a very curious appearance of heavenly bodies when setting in a north-westerly direction. About the time of midwinter the moon observed in this position appeared in a much distorted shape of blood red colour. It might have been a red flare or distant bonfire, but could not have been guessed for the moon. Yesterday the planet Venus appeared under similar circumstances as a ship’s side-light or Japanese lantern. In both cases there was a flickering in the light and a change of colour from deep orange yellow to blood red, but the latter was dominant.

Tuesday, July 18th 1911

Tuesday, July 18th, 1911

A very brilliant red sky at noon to-day and enough light to see one’s way about.

This fleeting hour of light is very pleasant, but of course dependent on a clear sky, very rare. Went round the outer berg in the afternoon; it was all I could do to keep up with ‘Snatcher’ on the homeward round – speaking well for his walking powers.

Monday, July 17th 1911

Monday, July 17th, 1911

The weather still very unsettled – the wind comes up with a rush to fade in an hour or two. Clouds chase over the sky in similar fashion: the moon has dipped during daylight hours, and so one way and another there is little to attract one out of doors.

Yet we are only nine days off the ‘light value’ of the day when we left off football – I hope we shall be able to recommence the game in that time.

I am glad that the light is coming for more than one reason. The gale and consequent inaction not only affected the ponies, Ponting is not very fit as a consequence – his nervous temperament is of the quality to take this wintering experience badly – Atkinson has some difficulty in persuading him to take exercise – he managed only by dragging him out to his own work, digging holes in the ice. Taylor is another backslider in the exercise line and is not looking well. If we can get these people to run about at football all will be well. Anyway the return of the light should cure all ailments physical and mental.

Sunday, July 16th 1911

Sunday, July 16th, 1911

Another slight alarm this morning. The pony ‘China’ went off his feed at breakfast time and lay down twice. He was up and well again in half an hour; but what on earth is it that is disturbing these poor beasts?

Usual Sunday routine. Quiet day except for a good deal of wind off and on. The Crozier Party must be having a wretched time.