It was eleven o'clock on the morning of the 1st of April when the three heavily laden sledges moved out from Camp Daly on to the shore ice of Hudson's Bay, and commenced the long march toward King William Land. Lieutenant Schwatka's preliminary sledge journey in the direction of Wager River, during midwinter, had determined him upon taking that route, though across land entirely unknown either to previous explorers or to any natives with whom we had come in contact. Whether we would find practicable watercourses, such as rivers and lakes, or whether mountain ranges would oppose their granite walls to farther progress, was yet to be ascertained. Its recommendation was that it was the most direct course, and whatever obstacles it might present would, when overcome, always leave us that much nearer our goal. As we reached the smooth salt-water ice, we turned to take a last look at Camp Daly, which had been so long our home - a comfortless dwelling-place indeed, but for all that a home - and I never expect to lose a feeling of affection for its barren rocks and forbidding scenery. Its snow-clad hills were almost hidden behind the hummocks that everywhere bound the shore and make it a difficult undertaking to get on or off the ice at low tide. The loaded sledges were making but slow progress as they wound through the rough ice, but greatly enlivened the landscape, which at other times is dreary and monotonous in the extreme. The drivers, by voice and whip, were urging on their teams; while the dogs made the wilderness ring with howls of pain or impatience. The men were bending their shoulders to the task, as the women and children walked ahead and coaxed the dogs to greater exertion. It was not difficult, as we looked upon this picture, to realize that we were at least under way, and the work for which we had renounced the comforts of civilization for so long a period had at last begun, and our spirits rose with the prospect of action.

It was not Lieutenant Schwatka's intention to make a long march this day, but to break loose from camp and get well straightened out on our course. Our direction was due east until we reached Winchester Inlet, where we turned north-north-west and took up our line of march upon the frozen waters of the newly-named Connery River. The sun was setting when we halted about ten miles from Camp Daly and built two igloos, one of which was occupied by Toolooah's family and the four white men, the other by the remainder of the party. After the first night, however, there were always three igloos, Joe and Ishmark, his father-in-law, building a separate one for themselves and their families. There was at first some dissatisfaction manifested by the Inuits of the party at the determination of our commander to move always with the entire outfit, whenever practicable, and never to make portages or, in other words, transport a portion of the loads ahead before moving on with the remainder, unless absolutely forced so to do, and experience demonstrated the wisdom of his decision. Inuits always prefer to move by portages when they have heavy loads and plenty of food on the sledges, and such had been the custom on all the previous sledge journeys made by "Esquimau Joe" in company with white men. He particularly was anxious to travel in that way, but Lieutenant Schwatka was resolute, and many days and many dogs were saved to us thereby.

The party was composed of four white men, Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, United States Army, commander; W. H. Gilder, second in command; Henry W. Klutschak, and Frank Melms, with thirteen Inuits, as follows: "Esquimau Joe," interpreter; Neepshark, his wife; Toolooah, dog driver and hunter; Toolooahelek, his wife, and one child; Equeesik (Natchillik Inuit), dog driver and hunter; Kutcheenuark, his wife, and one child; Ishmark, Karleko, his wife, Koomana, their son, aged about thirteen, and Mit-colelee and Owanork, Equeesik's brothers, aged respectively about twenty and thirteen. The sleds were drawn by forty-two dogs, accumulated by hard work, persistent effort, and overpowering liberality with regard to guns, ammunition, and other articles of trade. The loads aggregated about five thousand pounds on the day of starting; but a large part of this consisting of walrus meat, both for dogs and people they were materially lightened from day to day. Our provisions besides the walrus meat comprised -

  Hard bread 500 Lbs. 
  Pork 200 Lbs. 
  Compressed corned-beef 200 Lbs. 
  Corn starch 80 Lbs. 
  Oleomargarine 40 Lbs. 
  Cheese 40 Lbs. 
  Coffee 40 Lbs. 
  Tea 5 Lbs. 
  Molasses 20 Lbs.

This, it will be seen, is only about one month's rations of civilized food for seventeen people, and was, in fact, nearly exhausted by the time we reached King William Land. Our main dependence was, therefore, the game of the country through which we were travelling; a contingency upon which we had calculated and were willing to rely, having full faith in the superior quality of the arms and ammunition with which we had been so liberally equipped by American manufacturers. It is well for us that our faith was well founded, for there can scarcely be a doubt that it was this that made our expedition possible. In all other respects we were probably in a much worse condition than any previous expedition; but the quality of our arms put us at once upon a footing to derive all the benefit possible from the game of the country, a benefit of which we availed ourselves, as the unparalleled score of 522 reindeer, besides musk oxen, polar bears and seals will show. This is what was killed by our party from the time we left Camp Daly until our return. The quality of our provisions was excellent, and it was only deficient in quantity. The Inuit shared our food with us as long as it lasted, and, indeed, that was one of the inducements to accompany us on the journey. Some of the compressed corned-beef, corn starch, and cheese was reserved for the use of detached search parties on King William Land, as being the most condensed form of nutriment among our stores, and even that was shared with the Inuits who accompanied us during the search. Late in the afternoon of the second day's march we left Connery River, after crossing, with much difficulty, three rapids where the ice was piled up from fifteen to twenty feet high. The Connery was abandoned here on account of its direct westerly bearing and we moved across land to the Lorillard River, which we reached about noon of the 4th. This gave us several days good travelling in a northerly direction, when we again took the land, and moved somewhat to the eastward in order to avoid the Hazard Hills, which Lieutenant Schwatka discovered in his preliminary sledge journey. He found that range exceedingly precipitous, and so devoid of snow upon its summit as to materially impede our progress were we compelled to force a passage that way.

We witnessed a most peculiar and interesting spectacle on the 8th, in what appeared to be a frozen waterfall, about twenty-five feet in height, where a branch seemed to flow into the Lorillard from the west. At a distance it looked like a mountain torrent which had been arrested in its progress by some mighty hand and transformed into stone. Its ripples of crystals gleamed in the sunlight, and sparkled as if studded with myriads of gems. After enjoying its varied beauties for some time, I climbed to the top of the bank to make a closer inspection of it. Tracing its course for a short distance from the shore, I found a shallow brook which had frozen in a level place at the top of the hill, forcing the water to the right and left until it spread in a thin sheet over the face of the rock for a space of about fifty feet in breadth. Successive layers of ice were thus formed, and this novel and beautiful effect produced. The first few days of our journey were excessively fatiguing. The sleds were heavy, and we often had to put on our harness and help the dogs over a ridge or through a deep drift. We had not yet become hardened, and consequently experienced much difficulty from blistered feet and chafing; but as we got rid of our superfluous flesh these petty troubles became less annoying, and we did not so easily become fatigued from walking.

During the afternoon of the 12th we came suddenly upon a herd of reindeer, and the hunters killed three of them. The sleds then moved on and we went into camp in the vicinity of the carcasses, in order to get them in and cut up before dark. Soon we saw another smaller herd running over the hills pursued by five wolves, which we could hear howling at intervals during the evening until we went to sleep. That night they came into camp close to the igloos, and Toolooah, who always sleeps with one eye and one ear open, heard the dogs giving a peculiar low bark, with which they announce the presence of wolves. We had a box of Coston night signals close at hand in the igloo, and, knowing that a light frightens them away, made a small hole in the igloo and thrust out a "distress" signal with the most brilliant result. Toolooah was already dressed and outside the igloo as the light started, and said the wolves stopped and looked at it for a second and then fled in dismay, each change of color in the signal light seeming to lend additional wings to their flying feet. We saw them prowling around during the next day's march, but they kept at a respectful distance. During our entire trip the Coston signals served us a good purpose in keeping the wolves from our doors, though I don't remember that the prospectus mentioned this application as one of the advantages of keeping the signals on hand.

On the 14th of April the thermometer rose above the freezing-point in the middle of the day for the first time, and as we remained in camp while the hunters went ahead to pick out a better road, we gladly embraced the opportunity to dry our stockings. It is one of the greatest discomforts of Arctic travel that the exercise of walking wets one's fur stockings with perspiration. At night they freeze, and it is anything but an agreeable sensation to put bare feet into stockings filled with ice, which is a daily experience in winter travelling. But it is astonishing how soon one gets accustomed to that sort of thing, and how little he minds it after a while. The warmth of the feet soon thaws the ice, and then a wet stocking is nearly as warm as a dry one, except in the wind. During the next day we were passing through a high rolling country, but with plenty of snow and not bad sledging. We found the descent of the hills always greater than the ascent, and presumed that we were approaching the bed of Wager River, as our route crossed the lower branch of that river, as mapped, well down toward the fork. The slope of these hills was usually so steep that we had to take the dogs off the sledges and let them run down upon the lakes by gravity. This was an exciting but not very dangerous method of travelling. So rapid would be the descent, that we had all we could do to hold on to the sleds trying to retard their progress. Some would be taking steps ten feet long, while others, with their feet planted straight out before them, were ploughing up the snow and scattering it in every direction. The dogs followed behind the sleds, running and barking, some of them, entangled in their harness, rolling over and dragged along by their swifter comrades. We were gratified to see plenty of reindeer nearly every day, as it relieved our anxiety concerning our commissariat. The ice upon the fresh-water lakes where we encamped averaged about six and a half feet. An occasional salmon is caught through the water hole by one of the women, who usually drop a line in after the hole is made.

The sun for the last three days had been insufferably hot, and my forehead and face were blistered painfully. It was altogether a new experience to have my nose blistered on one side by the sun, and on the other by a frost-bite. During my first winter in this country my nose was particularly tender. I could scarcely go out of doors without having it nipped. There is no pain in a frost-bite, but the cold upon my nose would cause me much suffering when first exposed to it, without exciting the least sympathy in my companions; but just as it would begin to feel comfortable once more, some one would run up and tell me, "Tling-yack quark" (Nose frozen), at the same time pressing a warm hand against it to thaw it out. The person who has the frozen nose is almost invariably surprised when informed of the fact. During winter travel people always have each other's noses and cheeks in charge, and one readily acquires the habit of occasionally taking hold of his nose, especially when it feels comfortable, to see if it is frozen. The frost-bite is at once detected by a white, wax-like patch, with edges sharply defined against the ruddy color of the healthy flesh. When you touch it, it feels cold and hard, and as if you had hold of somebody else's nose. It thaws readily, and without further inconvenience, under the pressure of a warm finger, unless it has been frozen for a long time. During the second winter, though exposed to an intensity of cold that is seldom encountered, it was seldom that I had a frozen nose or cheek. No serious frost bites occurred to any of our party, and I noticed that the Inuits suffered from the cold quite as much as the white men. The skin invariably comes off the frozen part within a few days, even when only slightly nipped. The consequence was that my nose was constantly peeling, and at all times as tender as an infant's. Now that the freezing days were about over, it began to peel from sunburn. I don't know how many layers of skin were thus removed, but more than I could account for, unless a man's nose is like an onion.

The sun was now having a very perceptible effect upon the snow, even when the black rocks began to peep up through the surface, and great patches of moss could be seen completely bare. The great bugbear of sledge travelling is stony ground, or a hidden rock beneath a thin layer of snow that cuts through and sweeps the ice from the runners before the sled can be stopped. When the ice is gone from the runners all comfort has gone with it. The sled that the dogs would drag without apparent difficulty suddenly seems to weigh tons. All hands in harness and pulling like slaves cannot accomplish more than two miles an hour. The ice is put upon the runners the first thing in the morning when coming out of the igloo. The sled is turned upside down, and the water, after being held in the mouth a little while to warm it, is squirted over the runners and freezes almost immediately in a temperature below zero. In this way successive layers are applied until a clean, smooth surface is acquired, upon which the sled slips over the snow with comparative case. Now, the ice was usually all off the sleds by noon, and progress was slow and laborious.

We got an observation on the 21st at noon, which showed us our latitude to be 65 deg. 45 min. north, agreeing closely with Lieutenant Schwatka's dead reckoning. This, according to the chart, would put us on the north bank of Wager River; but as yet we had seen no signs of it, nor did we subsequently see anything that looked like such river. This can be accounted for by the presumption that the survey was made during the early summer, when the lakes are full, and some of the valleys connecting them may have contained water enough to float a boat. Before winter these might dry up and leave only a series of disconnected lakes. Fresh musk-ox tracks were seen on the 27th, and on the 29th we lay over to hunt some that Equeesik had seen after coming into camp on the 28th. After a chase of about three miles we succeeded in killing four, which completed our musk-ox score, as we saw no more either in going to or coming from King William Land. May 3d, we found water at a depth of eight feet, and on the 6th had to dig through eight and a half feet. This was the thickest ice we saw of one winter's formation. About noon of the 7th we ran into a herd of fourteen reindeer, lying down upon a hillside, and in less than three-quarters of an hour ten of them lay dead upon the field, and I believe those who got away carried some lead with them. Lieutenant Schwatka, who remained with the sleds, said that when the firing began it sounded for a while like a sharp battle, so rapidly and incessantly were the shots delivered. It clearly illustrates the advantage of breech-loaders and magazine guns when game is plentiful and much is required.

The next day a storm kept us in camp, but on the 9th we pulled out again and found the sledging in a most wretched condition. The country was very hilly and the snow entirely gone in many places, so that it occasioned much halting and considerable trouble to pick out a route by which the sled could move at all. About noon, however, we were rejoiced by reaching the head of a small river or creek by a perilous flying switch down a very long and steep hill. One of the sleds was overthrown, but fortunately it sustained no material damage, and was soon righted and landed on the ice below. One more flying run and we were safe upon the river. We had to congratulate ourselves upon the good fortune by which we discovered this river, for the land was getting more rugged all the time, and we began to fear that the snow, which was disappearing very rapidly, would soon be in such a condition that we could not travel at all, and we be left so near and get beyond reach of our destination. The range of hills from which we descended to the river was from eight hundred to a thousand feet high and their peaks entirely denuded of snow. Lieutenant Schwatka decided to keep to the river under all circumstances, though at present it was impossible to tell whether it was the Castor and Pollux or a branch of Back's River. It proved to be the latter, and quite an important branch, which we followed for upward of ninety miles, leaving it only when it turned due south and at a right angle to our course. The entire length is 110 or 120 miles. It empties into Cockburn Bay, on the eastern shore of Back's River. Lieutenant Schwatka named it Hayes River, in honor of the President. On the 11th of May we killed seven reindeer, and on the 13th nine. The country seems to be filled with game, and nearly every day we saw two or three large herds. Our dogs get well fed, and are really in finer condition than when we left Camp Daly. We had the misfortune to lose one of our best dogs, Toekelegeto, Toolooah's leader, on the night of the 13th, who choked to death with a piece of bone in his throat. He had eaten a piece of the shoulder-blade of the reindeer, which is thin and breaks into fine splinters. The Inuits usually hide this bone in the snow, as they say such accidents are frequent, especially when the dogs eat rapidly, as they always do when there is a number together.

The northern shore of the river is here bounded by high hills - in fact, almost a mountain range, and as I walked along the crest on the 14th, the sleds moving along the river at my feet looked like toys. Inland I could see the rocky hills piled together, barren and forbidding, and I could not help feeling grateful that we had found so good a road out of this country, for it would have been next to impossible to have crossed these ridges with our heavy sledges. About noon we came upon a freshly cut block of snow turned up on end, an unmistakable indication that natives had been there within two or three days, and a little farther on fresh footprints in the snow led us to a cache of musk-ox meat, and near by a deserted igloo. Equeesik knew by these signs that we were in the Ooqueesik-Sillik country, and as the natives never go far from Back's River, or the Ooqueesik-Sillik, as is the Esquimau name, this was joyful news and we were all excitement at the prospect of speedily meeting the natives. We followed the tracks upon the ice, and could see that they had used dogs to drag a musk-ox skin for a sled. This is a usual mode of travel with these people, who have very little wood with which to make sledges. Their supply consists entirely of drift-wood, with the exception of the material they obtained from the small boats of the 'Erebus' and 'Terror', two of which were found on Adelaide Peninsula and two on King William Land.