CHAPTER VI. GOOD-BYE TO CAPE EVANS
Two and a half days were spent in reaching Butter Point, and then they proceeded up the Ferrar Glacier and reached the Cathedral Rocks on the 19th. There they found the stakes placed by Wright across the glacier, and spent the remainder of that day and the whole of the next in plotting accurately their position. 'Very cold wind down glacier increasing. In spite of this Bowers wrestled with theodolite. He is really wonderful. I have never seen anyone who could go on so long with bare fingers. My own fingers went every few moments.'
After plotting out the figures it turned out that the movement varied from 24 to 32 feet, an extremely important observation, and the first made on the movements of the coastal glaciers. Though a greater movement than Scott expected to find, it was small enough to show that the idea of comparative stagnation was correct. On the next day they came down the Glacier, and then went slowly up the coast, dipping into New Harbor, where they climbed the moraine, took angles and collected rock specimens. At Cape Bernacchi a quantity of pure quartz was found, and in it veins of copper ore - an interesting discovery, for it was the first find of minerals suggestive of the possibility of working.
On the next day they sighted a long, low ice wall, and at a distance mistook it for a long glacier tongue stretching seaward from the land. But as they approached it they saw a dark mark, and it suddenly dawned upon them that the tongue was detached from the land. Half recognizing familiar features they turned towards it, and as they got close they saw that it was very like their old Erebus Glacier Tongue. Then they sighted a flag upon it, and realized that it was the piece broken off from the Erebus Tongue. Near the outer end they camped, and climbing on to it soon found the depôt of fodder left by Campbell, and the line of stakes planted to guide the ponies in the autumn. So there, firmly anchored, was the piece broken from the Glacier Tongue in the previous March, a huge tract about two miles long which had turned through half a circle, so that the old western end was towards the east. 'Considering the many cracks in the ice mass it is most astonishing that it should have remained intact throughout its sea voyage. At one time it was suggested that the hut should be placed on this Tongue. What an adventurous voyage the occupants would have had! The Tongue which was 5 miles south of Cape Evans is now 4° miles W.N.W. of it.'
From the Glacier Tongue they still pushed north, and on the 24th, just before the fog descended upon them, they got a view along the stretch of coast to the north. So far the journey had been more pleasant than Scott had anticipated, but two days after they had turned back a heavy blizzard descended upon them, and although an attempt was made to continue marching, they were soon compelled to camp. After being held up completely on the 27th they started again on the following day in a very frost-biting wind. From time to time they were obliged to halt so that their frozen features could be brought round, Simpson suffering more than the rest of the party; and with drift coming on again they were weather-bound in their tent during the early part of the afternoon. At 3 P.M., however, the drift ceased, and they started off once more in a wind as biting as ever. Then Scott saw an ominous yellow fuzzy appearance on the southern ridges of Erebus, and knew that another snowstorm was approaching; but hoping that this storm would miss them, he kept on until Inaccessible Island was suddenly blotted out. Thereupon a rush was made for a camp site, but the blizzard swept upon them, and in the driving snow they found it utterly impossible to set up their inner tent, and could only just manage to set up the outer one. A few hours later the weather again cleared, and as they were more or less snowed up, they decided to push for Cape Evans in spite of the wind. 'We arrived in at 1.15 A.M., pretty well done. The wind never let up for an instant; the temperature remained about - 16°, and the 21 statute miles which we marched in the day must be remembered amongst the most strenuous in my memory.... The objects of our little journey were satisfactorily accomplished, but the greatest source of pleasure to me is to realize that I have such men as Bowers and P.O. Evans for the Southern journey. I do not think that harder men or better sledge travelers ever took the trail. Bowers is a little wonder. I realize all that he must have done for the C. Crozier Party in their far severer experience.'
Late as the hour was when the travelers appeared at Cape Evans, everyone was soon up and telling Scott what had happened during his absence. E. Evans, Gran and Forde had reached Corner Camp and found that it showed up well, and consequently all anxiety as to the chance of finding One Ton Camp was removed. Forde, however, had got his hand so badly frost-bitten that he was bound to be incapacitated for some time, and this meant that the arrangements that had already been made for a geological party to go to the west would in all probability have to be altered.
All of the ponies were reported to be very well, but Scott's joy at this news vanished on October 3 when Atkinson reported that Jehu was still too weak to pull a load. Oates also was having great trouble with Christopher, who did not appreciate being harnessed and generally bolted at the mere sight of a sledge. 'He is going,' Scott, in referring to this most intractable pony, wrote, 'to be a trial, but he is a good strong pony and should do yeoman service. Day is increasingly hopeful about the motors. He is an ingenious person and has been turning up new rollers out of a baulk of oak supplied by Meares, and with Simpson's small motor as a lathe. The motors may save the situation.'