SOLVING the PROBLEM of the ARCTIC
Part VI.--Further Discoveries of New Land CONCLUDING INSTALMENT
WE spent December, 1915, in crossing the south end of Banks Island by approximately the same route that we had used in 1914. Again the sun was obscured and we kad to do most of our t veling in darkness, but we now the advantage of knowing the topography thoroughly and there was little difficulty and practically no danger. We were lucky also in having clear moonlit weather, and, although this gave us fj'-st which went well below r’ 50°, the ease with which we
t Able to find the road more 2*1$ aade up for the handicap of low temperature. Dressed as we were, we did not feel uncomfortable. The trouble with extreme cold in traveling is that it gives the grains of snow a consistency resembling sand, so that the sledges drag over it with friction comparable to that of sledding on a sandy beach. When steel is used for the shoeing of the sledge, as was the case with ours at this time, a drop of 15° or 20° in temperature often more than doubles the hauling weight of the sledges, which results in a lowering of speed.
The period just before and after New Year’s we spent at our base at Cape Kellett on the southern
corner of Banks Island. THis base was being maintained by Captain Bernard, Mr. Thomsen, and half a dozen Eskimos, with the idea that if ever any of our other parties came to grief farther north, we could retreat upon this base, where we had not only stores of food and equipment, but also a seaworthy vessel which couft take the party out when summer came.
About the middle of January we left Kellett and proceeded north along the west coast, preparatory to the exploration of the coming spring. At the northwest corner of Banks Island we had another base camp under command of Mr. Wilkins, and here our smallest vessel, the North Star, with her Captain, Castel, and crew of four, was wintering.
It is natural that in ten years of living by hunting we have learned a good deal about the habits of northern game animals. Incidentally, we have had to unlearn a good deal that we knew either by hearsay or from books. One of these things is the “well-known fact” that caribou and musk-oxen migrate southward in the fall. Our experience shows that this is true only in certain localities for the caribou and, so far as we can learn, is never true for musk-oxen. Unless disturbed by man, musk-oxen do not move in any direction much faster than they eat up the feed in their vicinity, and the direction in which they move may be considered accidental, for it may depend upon the contours of the land or the direction of the wind. The rate of movement is probably not often more than five miles a month. But caribou are comparatively mobile animals and for one cause or another are likely tc travel great distances in any given month. There are many things which may frighten them, such as the smell of a wolf, the hearing of a strange noise, or the appearance in the distance of an animal, be it a man, a bear, a wolf, or another caribou. They are in such continual fear of wolves that any distant moving object, even an animal of their own kind, is identified as a wolf and avoided accordingly.
npHE deterioration of feed, due to one climatic reason -*■ or another, will also set a caribou herd moving. In some places this movement is southward, and men used to observing the migrations of birds and obsessed by the theory that the North is a cold and disagreeable place in winter and that animals by instinct know the advantages of the South, have combined theory with observation and concluded that there is a regular southern migration of caribou in autumn. We have special knowledge of many regions in Alaska, in the northern Canadian mainland, and in the islands north of Canada. Each is a law unto itself. In Banks Island caribou are at all seasons, so far as we could judge, more numerous in the north end of the island than anywhere else, but there seems to be an especial preponderance in the north end in the winter, in the
very season when, according to popular theory, they ought to be, if not traveling south, at least crowded into the south end of the island. There seems to be no relation between caribou migrations and either wind velocity or temperature of the air. The remaining factor, therefore, is the feed, which in the north end of Banks Island is probably of a variety preferred by the caribou.
Accordingly, Wilkins’s party had been far more successful in the caribou hunt than the party at Kellett. There was also good sealing on the northwestern corner of Banks Island where Natkusiak had a camp on one of the small Gore Islands. He had accumulated the fat of several dozer, seals which we needed, especially along with the lean caribou meat, to make a suitable diet for men and dogs. But Natkusiak and all the rest of the North Star party were Christians, at
least to the extent of celebrating Christmas. So he had left his hunting-camp to visit for the holidays the North. Star twenty miles away, and during his absence several polar bears had a celebration of their own at his Gore Island camp. When he got back and found his stores of blubber depleted, he expected to be able to replenish them promptly, for seals had been numerous in the fall. But success in seal-hunting in a place like the Gore Islands depends upon the direction of the wind (although in many other localities the wind has nothing to do with it). It happened now that for several weeks the winds were northwesterly, and this is here the worst direction. Accordingly, we were short of fat, though we had plenty of lean meat. The hope of getting seals delayed us about two weeks because we did not think the hunting conditions nearly so good farther east along the north coast, and a change in wind might any day give us a dozen seals at the Gore Islands.
Unfortunately, we were forced eventually to start with insufficient blubber, and, as we expected, we got none on the journey eastward. We had tc make up for this by killing an increased number of caribou. There was a little fat on them, but not nearly enough for an adequate diet. Seeing that we had the upper hand of the dogs, we monopolized the fat and they, in spite of gorging themselves with ham and shoulder meat, lost in flesh and became weaker, compelling us to travel more slowly than would have been the case had their diet been more suitable.
One advantage of this slowness of travel was that we had more time for the exploration of the interior of northern Banks Island. Either Wilkins or myself used to take long walks inland while the sleds traveled along the coast. This led to the discovery by Wilkins of a large outcrop of bituminous coal in a deep ravine, and later both he and I discovered many other outcrops. It seems, therefore, that the north end of Banks Island is one of the many places in the Arctic that are richly supplied with coal.
End of McClure’s Expedition
A T the Bay of God’s Mercy in the northeast of Banks Island we camped for several days near Sir Robert McClure’s winter quarters of 1852-54. As the name of the place implies, he considered it fortunate that he got his ship into the bay in 1852; but she was held there all too safe by the ice, which for two years refused to let her go, and eventually the party abandoned her and walked sixty miles across McClure Strait to Melville Island, where they knew of the presence of a vessel of the British navy that could take them home.
Both now and on previous visits to Mercy Bay we examined carefully the locality where the ship Investigator was abandoned. Though some of the crew died there, we found no trace of graves, and the chief thing that marks the place is an incredible number of scattered barrel-staves and a pile of six or eight tons of coal. It seems that when the Eskimos found the depot left behind by McClure, they were not familiar with either the food or the liquids contained in the various casks and barrels or of the wood of the barrels themselves, but only of the hoop-iron, which they accordingly removed. The weather, with possibly the assistance of some animals, has destroyed most of the traces of food, although in two or three places we found little yellow heaps which were so thoroughly decayed that they may have been cheese or peas or flour or almost anything else. The coal and the wood to some extent were used by our parties for fuel, although we valued them less than we otherwise might have because we knew of native coal in the vicinity, and knew also of various other articles of fuel which, by Eskimo methods and other sensible ways of our own devising, we were in the habit of using, both in Banks Island and on the other islands. In fact, the islands of “Second Land” and “Third Land,” which we had not as yet discovered, are the only islands we have seen in the North where we had any difficulty in securing fuel. I believe “Second Land” really has no fuel. But on “Third Land,” after spending three weeks there with nothing to burn, we found a coalmine the day before leaving. But of course “Third Land” is dèvoid of fuel only in the sense that the plants do not seem suitable for burning. The vegetation is satisfactory food for the caribou, which were fat enough to supply us with tallow for fuel. There always is a way.
In March we crossed from Banks Island to Melville Island and then crossed Melville Island near its middle. In April we traversed Hecla and Griper Bay and reached the land discovered in 1915. The month of May was devoted to the mapping of the west coast. This was difficult because of the weather, for at this season six days out of seven are thick either with fog or with falling snow.
The land in places is so low' and slopes so imperceptibly to the sea ice that even under the best of light conditions it is necessary to dig through the snow with a shovel to make sure whether you are on land or ice. In thick fog we commonly cannot see beyond fifty or one hundred yards, and as, moreover, all relief is lacking, land seen through the fog cannot be told from ice which in the sunlight could easily be distinguished.
At first, with an ambition to do especially accurate survey work, we used to remain in camp for days at a time waiting for clear weather. Later, I concluded that by this method practically nothing would be accomplished. And so we began to travel and work, no matter what the weather. Though our maps of this coast will undoubtedly prove to be bad, we have the consolation of knowing that most of the explorers who have worked in the Parry Archipelago have for the same reason made equally poor maps.
Explorer Sprains Ankle
AT this time our method of living on the country had one of its severest tests. It had for years been my custom to do practically all the hunting in those parties where 1 myself was present. But now one day as I was running along beside the sled I stepped into a low place and sprained my ankle. I foolishly failed to realize at first the seriousness of the situation and ran for about two miles after the injury was received. It is probable that the sprain was not originally serious, but this made it so, and for twentyseven days after that I did no walking. At first we remained in camp, but evidently that would not do. The dogs were well fed and in high spirits and, although the load was already fairly heavy, we resumed travel, I riding on top of the load. On this journey we had a support party with us, but they were ready to return at the time I suffered the sprain. I kept some of them with me a little longer than I should otherwise have done, but eventually all went back except two—Karsten Andersen, a Dane, and Harold Noice, a young high-school boy from Seattle.
I found these two boys about the best traveling companions I ever had. This was largely because they were still willing to learn. The tricks of the exploring trade are few and simple and easily acquired by any one who tries. They had learned a good deal during the winter, but they still had something to learn as we journeyed along and learned it very quickly.
In shooting the chief factor is eyesight, and Andersen’s eyes were exceptionally good. He killed the first seal he went after and practically every seal that he tried later. His doing this would be difficult to reconcile with the common theory that the 'ability to hunt seals is a sort of instinct with the Eskimo which white men lack. But as this theory does not happen to coincide with facts as I have seen them, I do not bother about any reconciliation.
My riding on the sled cut down our speed considerably and we averaged less than ten miles a day.
When we finally came to the north coast of “First Land” my ankle was nearly well and so we struck off to the north. The season was too late for us to go out on the moving ice, the edge of which we found a few miles off-shore bearing northeasterly. We therefore kept on the land-fast ice and followed the edge of the land floe till it brought us to Cape Isachsen on the northwest corner of Ellef Ringnes Island. On the way we made no discovery of new land. We had, however, run a line of soundings (which geographers
value as much as the survey of a coast-line), and at Cape Isachsen we took tidal observations every ten minutes for thirty hours. We took these with special reference to the theory of Dr. R. A. Harris, of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. He had published an argument for the existence of an undiscovered land to the northwest. In his argument he placed his main reliance on tidal observations, and as we were now not far from his hypothetical land, our observations here ought to be of value in proving or disproving his argument.' The conclusions from such observations cannot, however, be instantly drawn; for not only must the observations themselves be calculated, but they must be compared with tidal data from all other portions of the Polar Sea before results of value can be announced. This is a woi'k which has not as yet been done in the case either of our Cape Isachsen observations or similar ones which we took in half a dozen other places. And so we do not know as yet what light, if any, they may shed on Doctor Harris’s theory.
From Cape Isachsen we again proceeded northeasterly. It was now June and I was able to walk,
although only with care. On the first day of my walking it happened that we were a little short of food, so the time seemed to have come for me to lend a helping hand in the providing. After traveling all night we camped in the morning, and while the others were making camp I walked off about half a mile to the top of an ice hummock of about fifty-foot elevation. With my field-glasses I saw a seal a mile or so to the westward.
Fallling Into a Crevasse
A T this season of the year, because of the glare of the sun, it is necessary to wear some protection for the eyes. The best are amber-colored glasses. This we knew when we outfitted the expedition, but the loss of the Karluk had made us short of these as of almost every other kind cf equipment, and my party had only two pairs. As T had been riding on the sled, the other men who neeaed them most were using the good glasses and I was csing an Eskimo pair of eye-protectors. These consist essentially of a block of wood with narrow slits to look through. I like the Eskimo arrangement in every way except that ir: walking you cannot see where you are stepping, for the restricted field of view prevents that unless you look directly down at your ¿oes. This was the cause of one of the fewr adventures of our expedition.
I had just put my field-glasses in their proper place and was starting to walk down the ice hummock when all of a sudden I began falling. Like every one else, I have heard of sinners and others reviewing a whole lifetime wrhile they are falling to their deaths from a precipice. Curiously enough, this saying about sinners was the first thing that occurred to me as I fell. The next thing to occur to me was that evidently I was falling into a crevasse, and that it did not seem right that an Arctic explorer should fall into a crevasse. That is the special prerogative of Antarctic travelers and mountain-climbers. But here I was falling exactly as if I were a Shackleton or a Mawson. The next thing I thought of was that my fall was not exactly like one of theirs, because they were sure that they were going to land on something hard (either a ledge or the bottom of the crevasse), but I had two possibilities. My crevasse was evidently the result of the ice cracking under stress. This would1 probably have occurred in a gale, and we had had one about two days before. There had been, of course, other gales previously. Now if this crevasse was a week old I should fall on hard, or possibly glare, ice. If it were two days old I might fall into water for this was springtime, when freezing is slow. I had my rifle strapped on my back, my fieldglasses under my arm, a pouch of ammunition also tied to me, and several other things which, when added to my momentum, would make me go down rapidly should I strike water.
I have the word for it of my diary, which I wrote up a few hours later, that all these things and others still passed through my mind while I was falling. I have, therefore, the pleasure of verifying at least one popular old belief, although I have often been distressed at my inability to verify other better attested ones. Later observations showed that all this cogitating was done while I was dropping fifteen feet, at the end of which I landed on glare ice. On striking bottom I remained motionless for some time for fear I might break through the ice on which I had landed, which was not very thick.
I think it was thirty seconds or so until I decided that if my impact after the fall had not broken the ice, then doubtless I could move without danger of
breaking it now. I made the first movement very slowly and carefully, for noticing that both my snowshoes were broken, I assumed that some at least of my bones must be broken, too. But this did not prove to be the case, and after getting on allfours and disengaging the broken snowshoes from my feet, I stood up tofind that, while I was sore in several places, nothing seemed to be broken and my sprained ankle had not suffered particularly.
T OOKING up, I could see the hole through which I A-y had dropped. The crevasse was about four feet wide and had been completely roofed over with snow. It was hopeless to climb up. but I remembered that the hummock which I had climbed was oval, and therefore it was obvious that a short walk along the bottom of my crevasse would bring me out. It turned out tobe about forty-five yards to where the crevasse was about nine feet deep, and here I found a broken fragment of ice which enabled me to climb out. Seeing that my ankle was all right, I went for the seal and got him in about an hour. He was a mile and a half or two miles from camp. I knew that dragging him would be hard work and dangerous for my ankle, so I climbed on a hummock and after some signaling was able to attract the attention of one of my companions, who came to my assistance. As he dragged the seal homeward I walked behind slowly and carefully, remembering that it was possible to sprain my weak ankle again, and halfway home I made a misstep and so, after having escaped unhurt from my spectacular fall and other adventures, I suffered a serious injury through the most prosaic of stumbles. For a week after that I had to ride on the sled.
The evening of June 12th Karsten Andersen reported that he thought he could see land to the northeast. The conditions of visibility were rapidly changing, and a little earlier I had thought I saw land, but later concluded that it was a fog-bank. Between us Noice and I convinced Andersen that it was only fog he had seen.
But the next morning after a few miles of travel the land was plain in front of us. It was only about ten miles to the northeast, and the cliffs of Ellef Ringnes Island, which we had left a few days before, were still visible to the south.
Captain Isachsen could therefore
have discovered our island years before us had his weather conditions been fortunate and had he climbed to the top of one of the high hills when he was exploring Queen Louise Fjord.
Without denying that the discovery of this my “Second Land” was exhilarating to me, I know that it meant a good deal more to either of my companions, to whom it was their “First Land.” They half apologized for their excitement by saying that putting a new land on the map did not happen to them every day.
When we got to “Second Land” the sun was shining brightly, so after camping I stayed at home to get observations for latitude and longitude while the boys went ashore. Andersen followed the coast-line for some distance and picked up a handful of most marvelously colored pebbles which, in spite of the rule of the expedition that ail specimens found belong to the Government, I allowed him to keep and carry home to his friends, who are doubtless now using some of them as jewelry.
Noice went seven or eight miles inland, but as he found the topography undiversified and as a farther walk promised him no conspicuous view, since there were no hills anywhere near, he came home sooner than he had expected with the report that the land was remarkably uniform, although it rose gradually toward the interior.
My observations showed the southwest corner of “Second Land” to be 102.25° west longitude, 79.84° north latitude.
A Land That is Entirely Barren 'pHE work of the next two or three weeks showed -*■ that this is a roughly triangular island about thirty-five or forty miles in its greatest diameter, and we judged it to be about eight hundred feet high. It is the only land I have seen in the North which in its entirety appears to deserve the name of barren.. We found some signs to show that caribou have visited it, but there were none when we were there and the visitors must have been but transient, for we saw practically no lichens or grass. Thei'e must have been some somewhere, for there were a few lemmings. We saw none of these, only the egurgitations of owls which had been feeding on lemmings. Neither did we see the owls, and the remains appeared to be several years old. But we did find a large number of Hutchins geese.
There is a multitude of water-fowl on most parts of the north coast of the North American mainland. The first tier of islands to the north, such as Banks and Victoria Islands, have two kinds of ducks, the King Eider and the Old Squaw, and also the Canada goose, the black brant, and the Hutchins goose. On the second tier of islands going north, such as Melville or Prince Patrick, we found all these, but in much smaller numbers. But in the third tier of islands, such as our own “First Land” and Ringnes Islands, there are no white geese or black brant, and the ducks are found
only on the south coast, or at least were so the years wre were there. The Hutchins goose alone goes north into what we may call the fourth tier of islands. At least we saw no other, but they were more numerous than we have ever found them anywhere else. As this island is never visited by human beings and apparently rarely by wolves or foxes, it is evident that the Hutchins goose has found it as safe a home as possible for her young.
Most geese prefer to have their nests near a lake or a river, probably partly because of their food habits, hut mostly because the water is for them a safe retreat from predatory animals other than man. But the Hutchins goose has her nest in the high hills, commonly at great distances from any water in which she can swim, and not necessarily close to even a trickling rivulet. Although they were more numerous in “Second Land” than we have ever seen them elsewhere, we would only see forty or fifty in a ten-mile walk, so, in our experience, these geese are not numerous in any land.
“Second Land” was an excellent illustration of how something to eat can be found in the most unpromising places. As I have said, it was exceedingly barren, so there was no ordinary game on the land. The ice outside of it was half a dozen years old and we should have had to go ten or fifteen miles from shore to get to the edge of the moving pack where seals are to be expected. But we wanted to follow the land to map the coast-line, and so, as I walked along, taking compass bearings from point to point, and making notes in my pocket memorandum-book, I also kept an eye for the nests of the Hutchins goose and was able to pick up twenty or thirty eggs between camps. Those alone would not have been enough for both men and dogs, but we had some seal blubber with us, which for a few days served as an emergency ration for the dogs, and the eggs were enough for us. This is the only time on the last expedition that we robbed bird's nests. We don’t make a special virtue of this, for, contrary to w’hat the theorist would expect, none of us was hungry for a change of food. Perhaps the robbing of nests is no more cruel than the killing of caribou, but to the caribou-killing -we were hardened enough so that we always felt a reluctance to robbing nests when a caribou or seal was to be had. On “Second Land” we should have had to kill some of the geese as well had our stay on the island been longer, and as a matter of fact we did kill one. This was, however, to get the skin for a sure identification of egg specimens which we gathered and took home to show this northern habitat of the Hutchins goose
Comments on Dr. Cook’s Book I HE discovery of “Second Land” brings up certain interesting literary and scientific considerations.
I have often wondered how a magazine article should he ritten and often wished I knew how to make a book. I read some popular narratives with an idea of finding out how it is done, and have avoided others for fear reading them might make mine seem to lack originally through unconscious copying. I have been told that Peary’s style is too bald. I have heard from the readers of books many expressions of delight over the antics of puppies and dogs and practical jokes of sailors which are an outstanding feature of the narratives of the great northern explorers Nansen, Sverdrup, and Amundsen. An appreciation of canine and sailor humor seems a family trait with these writers. It is a good thing to be able to enliven one’s narratives in this fashion, no doubt, but what I have always wanted is a convincing style. People have told me that the things I write about seem so simple and easy that one not only loses interest, but gets a feeling of unreality. Commonly these people have also mentioned the fact that in spite of how thoroughly discredited Doctor Cook is, they personally have been convinced by his realistic style. A man could not tell things with such fidelity of detail if they had not really happened.
There, evidently, was the model °f the convincing style I wanted but did not have, and there, accordingly, was a book I must read. But, somehow, I had never read it until one day in Seattle, more than two years after the discovery of “Second Land,” I happened to see in a bookstore a book that cost only a dollar and was labeled My Attainment of the Pole, by Dr. F. O. Cook.
Had I not been prejudiced by ten years of Arctic experience, I should, no doubt, have found the book as convincing as it was interesting. It goes into minute details of events and of psycho-analysis. It tells with utmost verisimilitude how meals were cooked, how camps were pitched, how astronomical observations were taken with frost-bitten fingers, and is vague only in such uninteresting details as the latitude and longitude that resulted from the computations. The journey northward from Cape Thomas Hubbard toward the Pole was undertaken with high courage. The prize that had eluded so many courageous and determined men lay there, far away beyond the icy horizon. Others had followed the gleam to failure always, and to tragic death in some cases. And now the question was, “Would this become another failure, .another tragedy, or the final triumph of the ages?” The literary suspense created is so successful that one almost forgets having read in the preface that the Pole is actually attained and the writer is still alive. Your admiration and your sympathy are equally enlisted as he struggles bravely northward and faithful Eskimos and faithful dogs and his own brave heart to carry him on. But all the forces of hunger and cold, adverse wind and stubborn ice barrier are against him and make the outcome increasingly doubtContinued, from page 37
Continued on page 75
fui. But finally the goal is i-eached, several astronomical observations are taken which show that the party are at the greatest distance possible from the Equator. The triumph is won, but the question of safe return still remains.
Those who have read the poems of Robert Service, the novels of Jack London and Rex Beach and the other real and imagined tales of the North, are prepared for just the kind of description which Doctor Cook gives us of his return journey. It has literary truth if it has no other. He suffers exactly what we expect him to suffer and he meets each difficulty and each danger as our hero would were we writing a novel of the Far North.
Provisions Run Low
IT is traditional that provisions give out in polar journeys, and accordingly our hero’s provisions began to run low. When that happens the traveler always goes on short rations and pulls in his belt, and so we find it here. The dogs and the men lose spirit day by day; they grow weaker and weaker between the short rations and the terrible cold they become little better than living skeletons. You can imagine what thoughts would fill your mind and mine under such conditions, and these are accordingly the thoughts that fill Doctor Cook’s mind at night when he has time to think. Daytimes he has little time for thought while he struggles bravely on with increasing weakness of body but an ever-sustaining courage. To add to the difficulties of an already distressing situation, the sunlight, which had befriended him so far, failed when he came back to 86° latitude, and the sky was continually overcast—never, for days on days, a glimpse of the sun to guide through the swirling snow and the fog. Worst of all, the wind was persistently from the east. It is well known that polar ice is always in motion before wind or tide. As the wind blew easterly, it was only reasonable that he would drift west—a condition which actually increased his weariness.
There was nothing to do except to travel south by compass. But south by compass is of course an uncertain direction when the heavenly bodies cannot be seen and when no check on the compass can be maintained by astronomical observations. The situation was getting desperate indeed when one day the sun of a sudden came out bright and clear. This was the long-hoped-for opportunity, and we have as convincing a description as usual as to exactly how the astronomical observation was taken; but, curiously (and, as it were, unfortunately), we have in this case not only an exact statement of the method used in taking the observation, but an actual state-' ment of the result. The latitude observed showed that the party were at 79° 34' north and 101° 22' west. When this was plotted on the chart it showed that they were a little west of Axel Heiberg and a little north of Ellef and Amun Ringnes Islands. And, true enough,'when the weather cleared a little more, they could see to the east the beautiful Axel Heiberg and to the south the lower and less picturesque Ringnes Islands, with the gap between which they knew must be Hassel Sound. The ice all about was in rapid motion. Not only had they been carried west, as they feared, by the persistently easterly winds; they were now far west of their intended course, but also they were in immediate difficulty on account of the Tapid ice movement and the water lanes between, the ice cracks. As every one knows, water lanes are the most serious obstacles that the polar traveler has to meet. Accordingly it was these which
Îtrevented Cook’s party from making a anding. as it desired, to the east in Heiberg Island and forced it to proceed south and enter Hassel Sound, where it was at last on firm ice.
What makes this narrative remarkable is the fact that, contrary to Doctor Cook's observation, we found that the spot of latitude and longitude given by Kim did not show any moving sea ice
nor any sea ice at all, and is instead 1 near the centre of the island which we \ have named “Second Land” and seven ¡ hundred or eight hundred feet above j sea-level. We have in this fact, which I crust will still remain a fact when the j next explorer goes there, either a proof I that obviously truthful narratives are not necessarily true; or else we have | here the most remarkable instance on j record of that well-known (although in non-volcanic regions seldom rapid) j geographical phenomenon of land ris! ing from the sea.
Light on the Cook-Perry Controversy
THE story of the island which Doctor Cook did not see, although his plotted route as published in his book lies right across it, would not be worth telling if people’s knowledge of the Peary-Cook controversy were proportionate to their interest in it. Those of us who have taken the trouble to sift the facts from the chaff of assertions j based merely on sentimental bias know that the evidence is satisfactory both j that Peary reached the Pole and that Cook never tried to. There is nothing less admirable than kicking a man when he is down, but, thanks to his “convincing style,” Cook is not yet down and, as a consequence, Peary is t yet up in the minds of a good many people who talk loudly on the subject.
So this case is worth citing. There has been a good deal of cumulative evidence before. No single fact has been conclusive, but in the aggregate they have given a clear verdict. But here at last we have an incontrovertible proof. Cook shows us how he came nearly straight from the north into the mouth of Hassel Sound. And our “Second Land” lies right north of the mouth of that sound. Therefore even had Cook not cited the astronomical observation which places him near the middle of our island when he says he was on moving ice with open water all around him, he would have been equally convicted by the description in which he says that he could see Heiberg Island to the east of him and the Ringnes Islands to the south, with the gap between them which was Hassel Sound. Had he been in any such position, he must have been either on “Second Land” or must have been just south of it after crossing it, since he came from the north.
After leaving “Second Land” we passed through Hassel Sound. To the south we found the great island of King Christian Land to be non-existent in any such form as that given on the British Admiralty charts, where it shows a greatest diameter of eighty or ninety miles. The error arose when English explorers of Bathurst Island sighted to the north two islands of unknown extent which they named Paterson and Findlay Islands. This was in the ’50’s of the last century, and in the first decade of our century Captain Isachsen, in his exploration of the Ringnes Islands, looking southwestward, saw land which he named King Christian Island. The geographers did the rest. They assumed that, although these lands were sixty or seventy miles apart, as located by the discoveries, they were merely the north and south sides of the same island. This proved not to be the case.
King Christian Island is, as a matter of fact, about twelve miles in diameter, Paterson about three miles, and Find| lay nine or ten miles. There is an ex! panse of sea between Findlay and King j Christian Islands of an approximate 1 width of sixty miles and a greatest ! depth of one hundred and seventy-two fathoms.
To the northwest of Findlay Island j we discovered our “Third Land.” This is an island about twelve miles wide and fifty miles in length. It was August by the time we came there and we had for some weeks been wading in deep water on top of the ice, as the summer thaws were well advanced. This was most unfavorable traveling, so we spent the remainder of the summer (twenty-seven days) on the south end of “Third Land.” Here for once we found no fuel and had to restrict ourselves to one meal a day in cooking-, for we had to burn the back fat of caribou, and we did not care to kill enough to supply ourselves with plenty of fuel, as that would have meant a great waste of meat and skins.
This ended the discovery of new lands of any considerable size on our expedition, although during the two following years we explored areas of ocean of even greater extent than in any other year's of our trip.