Monday, March 5, 2012

100 years ago ~ on this day

Captain Robert Falcon Scott (standing/centre) and his party  ~ January 17, 1912 

I checked the thermometer this morning and it was -15C.   Packing up my camera bag, I headed out to meet and greet the day.   I timidly decided that it was too cold for taking pictures and returned home for another cup of tea.   I sat down at the computer and searched for what had happened on this day 100 years ago.   100 years ago, on this date, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, on his return journey from the south pole, wrote in his journal:  "Lunch.   Things looking very black indeed.   As usual we forgot our trouble last night, got into our bags, slept splendidly on good hoosh (stew), woke and had another, and started marching.   Sun shining brightly, tracks clear, but surface covered with sandy frostrime.   All the morning we had to pull with all our strength, and in 4 1/2 hours we covered 3 1/2 miles.   Last night it was overcast and thick, surface bad; this morning sun shining and surface as bad as ever.   One has little to hope for except perhaps strong dry wind - an unlikely contingency at this time of year.   Under the immediate surface crystals is a hard sustrugi surface, which must have been excellent for pulling a week or two ago.   We are about 42 miles from the next depot and have a week's food, but only about 3 to 4 days' fuel - we are as economical of the latter as one can possibly be, and we cannot afford to save food and pull as we are pulling.   We are in a very tight place indeed, but none of us despondent yet, or at least we preserve every semblance of good cheer, but one's heart sinks as the sledge stops dead at some sastrugi behind which the surface sand lies thickly heaped.   For the moment the temperature is on the -20 degree - an improvement which makes us much more comfortable, but a colder snap is bound to come again soon.   I fear that Oates at least will weather such an event very poorly.   Providence to our aid!   We can expect little from man now except the possibility of extra food at the next depot.   It will be real bad if we get there and find the same shortage of oil.   Shall we get there?   Such a short distance it would have appeared to us on the summit!   I don't know what I should do if Wilson and Bowers weren't so determinedly cheerful over things".   A little over three weeks later, on March 29, 1912, all five men in Scott's party were dead.   To add insult to injury, Scott's party died knowing that the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen and his men had beaten them to the pole.     100 years ago on this date, in King Township, the temperature, overnight, had dropped to -25.6C.     Sobered by these readings, I microwaved my cold tea and headed back out, camera in  hand, to bravely scour the backroads of King Township.
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace    

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