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Harper's New Monthly Magazine

The Rescue Of The Whalers

A Sled Journey Of 1600 Miles In The Arctic Regions.

By Lieut. Ellsworth P. Bertholf, U. S. R. C. S.

June, 1899


          The Peculiar species of whale from which whalebone is procured is only to be found in the polar regions amid the eternal ice, and scarcely a year passes without leaving its history of ships crushed and lives lost. In 1871 thirty-two vessels were driven ashore by the ice and crushed, while in 1876 thirteen were caught in the ice near Point Barrow, drifted in to the northward with the strong current, and neither they nor the sixty men left on board have ever been seen or heard of again. It is supposed that this current, which, as Professor Nansen has proved, sweeps through Bering Strait and across the pole, carried them into the polar basin, where they were crushed and sunk, leaving no trace behind.

          With the advent of spring large schools of whales make their appearance, forcing their way under the floes and through the leads in the ice, bound to the northward. They follow the ice along the shores of Alaska to Point Barrow, and then turn to the eastward along the northern shore, where it is supposed they find good breeding-grounds. Late in the fall they come back, and go south again along the shore of Siberia.

          The fleet of whaling-vessels reach Point Barrow during the first part of August. Arriving there, they follow up the whales to the eastward, as far as and sometimes farther than the mouth of the Mackenzie River. It is along here they make their greatest catch; but they must not remain too long in the season, and the whaling captains generally reckon on leaving that neighborhood by the middle of September, in order to reach Point Barrow again before the last part of that month. From there they work their way over to the westward, pursuing their whaling south along the coast of Siberia, and finally come out through the Bering Strait not later than the middle of October.

          The fall of 1897, for some unknown reason, came exceptionally early, and when the fleet reached the vicinity of Point Barrow they found the way blocked, for the northerly winds had blown the pack ice down on the shores, and the new ice had begun to make. Some of the vessels of the fleet, having made a good catch, had started out early and got clear just in time; but eight of them - the steamers Orca, Jessie H. Freeman, Belvedere, Newport, Fearless, Jeannie, and the sailing-vessels Wandere and Rosario - were caught. This in itself was bad enough, but as they all had expected to reach San Francisco not later than early in the winter, none of the vessels had supplies enough to last them until spring, the earliest date when help could be expected to reach them, and starvation stared the crews in the face. When those of the fleet that had escaped the fatal grip of the ice reached San Francisco early in November, steps were at once taken to ascertain whether help could not be sent to them. The subject was thoroughly discussed at a cabinet meeting, with the result that the President decided to assign the task of getting help to the imprisoned men to the revenue-cutter service, the officers of which had seen so much of Arctic duty.

          It was a novel experiment, starting an expedition into the frozen North during the winter, and as the duty was thought to be dangerous, volunteers were called for, and it was my good fortune to be among those selected for the expedition. The revenue-cutter Bear had but just returned from her usual summer cruise in Arctic waters, and certain repairs were very much needed; but as she was the best and most available vessel for the trip, her commander, Captain Francis Tuttle, was telegraphed on the 10th of November to make all haste to fit her out for the trip north. Repairs that were absolutely necessary were hurried through, all the stores, outfits, and fur clothing taken on board, and she finally sailed from Seattle on the 27th of November, fitted out for a year's absence in the polar regions. It is extremely doubtful if ever an expedition was fitted out for an absence of a year in that part of the globe in such an incredibly short time - only eighteen days. The officers selected for her were as follows: Captain Francis Tuttle; 1st Lieutenants, D. H. Jarvis and J. H. Brown; 2d Lieutenants, E. P. Bertholf, C. S. Cochran, J. G. Berry, B. H. Camcen, and H. G. Hamlet; Chief Engineer, H. W. Spear; 1st Assistant Engineers, H. K. Spencer and J. I. Bryan; and Surgeons, S. J. Call and E. H. Woodruff.

          The Plan was for the Bear, after forcing her way north as far as possible, to land a party, which was to proceed over-land as far as Cape Prince of Wales, where they would find several herds of domestic reindeer. These were to be driven up the coast to Point Barrow, to serve as food for the imprisoned whalers. To pack any considerable quantity of provisions was impossible, because, as the domestic deer from Siberia have not yet been introduced into Alaska in sufficient numbers, the usual, and indeed the only, transportation in Alaska in the winter is by means of dog-sleds. A team of from seven to nine dogs can draw a sled loaded with from 500 to 700 pounds, but for any extensive trip where the trail is bad, 300 to 400 pounds is considered a good load, and as the food for these dogs must be carried along also, it will readily be seen that it is quite impracticable to pack provisions for any but yourself an dogs for any great distance. The officers designated for this overland trip to Cape Prince of Wales were Lieutenant Jarvis, Dr, Call, and myself. Jarvis, who was to command the party, had served eight seasons in the Arctic Ocean on the Bear, was familiar with the coast, knew the natives well, and was eminently well fitted to carry the plans to a successful finish. Besides the provisions for the ship's company. The Bear had taken on board 12,000 extra rations for the shipwrecked men when she should reach Point Barrow in the spring.

          We reached Unalaska, the chief of the Aleutian Islands, on the 8th of December. We left, after coaling, on the 11th, and started north on the really serious part of the undertaking. The weather holding good, we made fair time, so that on the morning of the 13th we passed St. Lawrence island, and having seen little or no ice, we began to hope to be able to make a landing somewhere on the south side of the Cape Prince of Wales peninsula. In the afternoon, however, we began to strike the mushy water (that is, water on the point of freezing), and considerable drift ice began to make its appearance, so that about five P.M. the captain decided it would be impossible for us to get much farther, and we turned and stood for Cape Vancouver, as the next available landing-place. At the time we were in latitude 63 degrees 30 minutes, about twenty five miles northeast from St. Lawrence Island, which is close to the mainland, and it seemed too bad we could not land there, as it would save about seven hundred miles of travel on land. However, there was no help for it, and we headed for Cape Vancouver

          Here we found that fortune favored us, for the water was clear all the way to the shore, although, we subsequently learned, the ice had shut that place in up to within a few days previous, when the strong southeasterly gale prevailing had driven it off to the westward and cleared the beach for us. There was a small village here, and as the Bear was the second vessel that landed there in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, our arrival created quite a stir. Lieutenant Jarvis went ashore in one of the ship's boats, and having learned that there were plenty of dogs to be had in the village, preparations were immediately made to land our outfits, and by the time it began to grow dark our provisions, clothing, and camp-gear had been landed safely on the beach, our good-byes to our shipmates had been said, and we stood on the shore watching the boat as it went back to the Bear, wondering whether we should ever see our friends again. There was another man with us, F. Koltchoff by name, who was to be employed with the government herd of reindeer near St. Michaels, and was to be taken with the expedition as far as that place. We landed about four miles from the village. The natives came to meet us in their kayaks, and transported our outfit to the village. We footed it, arriving soon after. We found this village, the name of which was Tununak, to consist of a half-breed Russian trader and his native wife and children, together with about a dozen of his wife's relatives. His name was Alexis Kaleny, and as it was he that owned the dogs, and indeed everything else in the village, arrangements were made with him to take our party as far as St. Michaels, where we counted on getting a supply of fresh dogs to continue the journey. As one of the dog teams we were to use had returned only that day from eight days' trip, and needed rest, Lieutenant Jarvis decided to use the next day for completing our arrangements and packing the sleds, and to make an early start on the 18th.

 

Map of the expedition route

 

          The Alaskan sleds are built of wood as light as is consistent with strength, and lashed together with hide ropes, so that the whole frame-work will give readily and not be easily broken by the constant rough usage to which they are subjected. The sled is from nine to ten feet long, and eighteen or twenty inches wide, with the runners one foot deep, shod with walrus ivory or strips of bone fashioned out of jaw-bone of the whale. The rails or sides are about eighteen inches high, and at the rear end of the sled are handles coming up high enough for a man to push and guide it without bending very much. There is a cover made of light drilling which is spread in the bottom of the sled, and large enough so that after the articles have been packed on snugly it hauls up over the load and the ends overlap on top. The load is then lashed the whole length of the sled with hide thongs. By this arrangement your sled will stand considerable shaking up and capsizing without spilling the load.

          The morning of the 18th dawned bright and clear, and we were all astir early and ready for our start. We took with us four sleds, each with a team of seven dogs, harnessed in pairs, with the leader in front. Jarvis, Call, Alexis, and myself each had a sled, with an Eskimo to help. About seven o'clock, amidst an almost deafening howling of the dogs, we were off, and were soon initiated into the mysteries of snow travel.

          I have seen many pictures of the manner in which the Eskimos travel, and the man is generally seated comfortably on the sled cracking the whip, and the dogs are going at a smart gallop; but we soon found that picture to be a delusion and a snare. Journeying in the Arctic regions consists mostly in pushing behind the sled, for the poor little animals frequently have to be helped over the rough places and in going up hill or any rise in the ground. Where there is no beaten trail - as was the case most of the distance we traveled - the dogs have nothing to guide them, and one man is obliged to run ahead. He generally runs some distance, and then walks until the head team comes up with him, when he runs on again. When the snow is hard and the road level, the dogs, with an average load, will maintain a trot, which is too fast for a man to walk, and not so fast as he can run. By alternately running and walking, one does not become greatly fatigued. Natives who travel from village to village are so accustomed to this mode of travel that they can keep it up all day without showing signs of fatigue.

          Instead of traveling along the coast from Tununak to St. Michaels, where Alexis told us the road was apt to be very rough, he proposed to guide us across the country, striking the Yukon River at Andreafski, there being native villages scattered along the route at convenient intervals, so that we could hope to reach one every night, and thus get a few fresh dogs in case any of ours gave out. The first day we had to cross a range of mountains apparently some 1500 or 2000 feet in height, and in some places the rise was so steep that it required three or four of us to help the dogs pull each sled up. By the time we reached the summit we began to think how delightful our journey was to be if our trail led us over many such mountains, since we had some 1600 miles to go and this was only the first day. The sight before us was not very encouraging, for we beheld a mountain, higher and steeper than we had just ascended, with a deep valley between.

          We soon forgot our troubles in the excitement of the descent into the valley, for the dogs were turned loose and we prepared to coast down. Trees there were none, and the road looked clear, with only a few patches of brush to keep away from. Each of us straddled his sled, and, with a native behind to do the guiding, started. All the tobogganing I had ever done, even shooting the chutes, was tame compared to this. It had taken about five hours to toil up this mountain, and it took about half an hour to come down. At first we did not go very fast, for the snow was quite deep in places and our sleds heavy, but as soon as we got up momentum we seemed to fly. Once in the descent I lost my balance, and in a second found myself half buried in the snow and the sled rapidly disappearing. But here was where the experience of the native came in, for he thrust out his foot and in some dexterous manner turned the sled, so that it was overturned in the deep snow.

          At the bottom we had to wait awhile for the dogs, for they had been obliged to come down on foot. They hove in sight, coming at a good gait; in fact, they had to come fast, for having got started, they had to keep it up, and one poor little fellow, who could not make his legs go fast enough in the deep snow, was being dragged by his fellows.

          The rest we enjoyed sitting on our sleds while coming down, together with the excitement, put us in good spirits again, and we started for the second mountain with a better grace, for now we had the coasting to look forward to.

          When we reached the bottom of this second mountain, Alexis showed us the village at which we were to stop, not more than three or four miles away, and a level road before us. Our arrival at this place, which rejoiced in the name of U-kog-a-mute, created quite a sensation, and Alexis explained to us that, with the exception of one or two of the Jesuit missionaries, white men had not traveled through this section of the country since the days of the Russian occupation of Alaska. As it was late when we arrived, we decided not to pitch our tent, but to spend the night in one of the native huts.

 

A train of dogsleds drives across the tundra

Traveling with dog-sleds.

 

          These huts are built in a circular fashion, and are about half underground, with the roof arched over by means of brush and what wood the natives could pick up in the rivers in the spring. The whole is then banked up with earth in the fall before the ground is frozen. The floor is made of tough slabs of wood, and in the centre of it is a small opening large enough to admit a man's body. This leads into a passage large enough to crawl along, and finally emerges into a smaller hut, built like the other one, which in turn opens into the outer air. Over each one of the openings is hung a piece of deerskin or seal skin. In the roof of the large hut is an opening, over which is stretched a covering made of the dried intestines of the whale, walrus, or seal, and , being translucent, admits the light during the day. The Eskimos appreciate the fact that hot air rises, for the outlet through the floor, being covered, only admits a small amount of cold air, while the opening at the top, being tightly ceiled, does not allow any of the warm air to escape. They do not have any fires in the hut, as a rule, for wood is scarce, and the heat from the bodies of the dozen or so inmates of each hut is sufficient to make the temperature inside quite comfortable. The cooking, when any is done, is carried on in the outer entrance. While this arrangement of not letting the warm air escape has its advantages, we found out that it has its disadvantages as well, for no sooner did we all crawl in through the passage and emerge into the hut than our untutored noses were assailed with an odder that could not be equaled in any part of civilization that we knew of. The combination produced by old and decayed fish, ancient seal blubber and oil, together with the natives themselves, who do not see the necessity of going to all the trouble of melting snow just to get water to wash their bodies with, has to be encountered to be appreciated; and beating a precipitate retreat, we hastened to pitch our tent.

 

snow huts

A snow-house encampment.

 

          Our camp-gear consisted of a wall-tent, stove and pipe, two frying-pans, two camp kettles, two tea-kettles, an axe, two rifles and one shot-gun, with ammunition, and in addition each man was provided with a knife, fork, spoon, tin plate, and cup. The tent was made of light cotton drilling, ten feet long, eight feet wide, and seven feet high, with walls three feet high. The stove was a simple sheet-iron box, twenty-two by fourteen inches, and twelve inches deep. The pipe was fitted in lengths which telescoped into each other, and were short enough to go inside the stove, so as to take up as little room as possible on the sled. Our provisions consisted of tea, sugar, beans, bacon, pork, flour, and hard bread. The beans and pork had been cooked before starting, and only required to be warmed over at meals, and besides, were thus ready to be eaten in case we were obligated to camp where no wood was to be had. Our clothing was made principally of dog-skin, and besides not being warm, was bulky and heavy, and thus added greatly to the fatigue of traveling. The sleeping-bags were made of goat-skin lined outside with blanket, and provided with two covers, one of canvas and the other of rubber. They weighed thirty pounds each, and besides adding greatly to the weight to be carried on the sleds, were not very warm. These articles were the best that could be obtained at Seattle, however, and as the weather was not severe until after we had obtained a proper outfit, they answered our purpose very well.

          The doctor was our self-appointed cook, and as soon as he had stewed up some pork and beans and made the tea, we all ate a hearty meal, had our smoke, and crawled into our bags, where we were sound asleep in a few minutes, for all hands were pretty well tired out with this first day of unaccustomed travel.

          The next morning Alexis made our hearts glad by informing us that , as far as St. Michaels, anyway, we would not be troubled by any more mountains, for our road now led us across the Yukon River delta, which mainly consisted of frozen swamps and small streams. We broke camp, lashed our sleds, and started about seven, as soon as it was light. But what impressed me most was how the guide knew which way he was going. There was no visible trail; we crossed and sometimes followed numbers of small streams, and the guide did not seem to take much account of our small pocket-compasses. There did not seem to be any marks by which to tell the general direction, for the country was level, and there was nothing to be seen in any direction but snow, with a few clumps of brush here and there.

          Shortly before sundown we reached the next village, the name of which we discovered, by dint of perseverance, to be Ki-yi-lieug-a-mute. Here Alexis informed us that some of his dogs were too young to stand further travel, and that the dogs he had hoped to replace them with at this village were away, and not expected to return for two days. As this would cause a delay, Lieutenant Jarvis decided to take two of the good teams and go on ahead with Dr. Call and two of the native guides, leaving me to follow with Koltchoff and Alexis as soon as possible. By this arrangement he would lose no time, and could have all necessary arrangements made when we arrived at St. Michaels. So early next morning the provisions and outfits were divided, and Jarvis and Call said good-by.

 

Grizzly looking men sitting on a pile of snow and ice

The members of the overland party.

 

          As there was only one tent, I was reduced to the necessity of sleeping in one of the native huts, and having a whole day before me, I concluded to make a tour of inspection to find out which seemed least odorous. There did not appear to be much choice, and having selected one at random, I broke myself in to my new quarters by going inside for a few minutes at a time. This I kept up during the day, each time remaining a little longer, with such good results that by night I was fairly acclimated, as it were, and after eating the usual evening meal, turned into my sleeping-bag, imagining I was comfortable. When I awoke in the morning I found that the foul air had given me a raging headache, but when I got out in the open air it soon passed away. That evening the dogs returned to the village, and having bargained for their use, Alexis informed me that we could resume our journey the following day. It is wonderful how soon one can become accustomed to odd conditions, for I awoke the next morning without any bad effects, and form that on never particularly noticed the odor of the huts.

          We were off as soon as there was light enough to see, and from this on until we reached Andreafski the country traveled over did not differ, and the journey was practically without incident. As we approached the Yukon the brush was more plentiful and larger, and we scared up several flocks of ptarmigan, or arctic grouse - the first game I had seen in the country. As I only had a rifle, Jarvis having taken the shot-gun, I was unable to obtain any, for these birds are perfectly white in the winter, and very hard to distinguish against the background of snow. As Jarvis had left me without a thermometer, I had nothing but my feelings to give me any idea of the degree of cold. The day we separated, the mercury registered 23 degrees above zero, and although some days seemed to be colder than others, I attributed the fact to the rising of the wind. Judge of my surprise, then, at finding, when we reached Andreafski, that the thermometer registered 15 degrees below zero. Of course I knew it was colder than when we started, but traveling daily in the open air we had not felt the gradual change. As soon as I saw what the thermometer had to say, I began to feel cold.

          Andreafski is one of the trading-stations of the Alaska Commercial Company, and several white men and their families live there. Jarvis had arrived two days before, and had given the people a delightful surprise by bringing letters which they would not have received under usual conditions until the following spring; but Uncle Sam's thoughtful postmaster had sent all the mail destined for that part of the country with the expedition.

          Having replenished our larder, we left Andreafski the following day, the 27th. The trail led down the frozen Yukon, and as the road was good, our progress was much faster than in coming across the delta; and it seemed, too, as if we had suddenly struck into a civilized country again, for, whereas, before we reached the Yukon we had met but an occasional native and sled, here we frequently came across parties of miners traveling up or down the river, for several steamers carrying miners to the gold districts had been frozen in at different places in the river, and the miners were constantly going from one to the other. When we reached the mouth of the river and made our camp at Pont Romanof, our guide Alexis was taken very ill, and it transpired he had not been really well when we started, for he had caught a heavy cold which had settled on his lungs, so that he was in great pain, and we had to sit up all night with him. I could do nothing to aid him, for I had no medicines, and, in fact, was not enough of a doctor to know what was the matter with him. The next day he was not able to walk, and had to sit all day on his sled, and as the other native had developed some kind of a sore knee, he also had to ride, in consequence of which Koltchoff and myself had to take turns running ahead of the dogs for the next two days.

          When we reached St. Michaels, about noon on January 1, I found that Jarvis had reached there two days before, and had left again a few hours before we arrived, leaving me a letter of instructions. From this I learned that the large government herd of reindeer which had been maintained at Port Clarence had been transferred to Unalaklik, was now on its way to that place, and had reached the head of Norton Sound. Jarvis accordingly had made arrangements to travel that far by dog teams, and from there to Cape Prince of Wales by deer-sleds, which was supposed to be much the faster mode of traveling. He was then to start the herds of deer still in the vicinity of the latter place on their way up the coast. As it would require several herders to drive the deer, and there was no chance to get provisions between Cape Prince of Wales and Point Hope, I was to transport 1000 pounds of stores from Unalaklik across what is known as the Portage, to Kotzebue Sound, and meet him and the deer herd at Cape Blossom.

 

Reindeer and sleds on the ice

The deer train before loading.

 

          As soon as we reached St, Michaels I requested Dr. Edie, the surgeon attached to the military post at that place, to examine Alexis, whereupon it developed that he had a bad case of double pneumonia, and was a very sick man. So he was put into bed and attendants furnished him, and under the doctor's care he managed to pull through; but it was hard task, and for three months he was flat on his back, and it is quite certain, but for the excellent care and treatment he received, he would never have gone back to his home at Tununal. The dogs we had used thus far were badly in need of rest, for their feet were all cut and sore from breaking through the crust on the snow, but as dogs were scarce at St. Michaels, and I had to wait for the return of the two teams Jarvis took with him, I bought the best one of Alexis's teams, as it would probably be in good shape again by the time I would be able to start.

 

A few members of the train take a break on the ice

A short halt.

 

          Here I obtained a sleeping bag, clothing, and boots of deer-skin, and discarded those articles brought from the ship, Jarvis and Call having done the same. The sleeping-bag is made of the winter skins of the deer sewed together with the hair turned in. The boots are made of skin from the legs of the deer, the hair outside, while the soles are the hide of the oogrook, or large hair-seal. Inside the boots are worn deer-skin socks, with the hair next to the feet, and inside these again are worn one and sometimes two pairs of heavy woolen socks. The shirt, or "parkie", is made of the summer skins of the deer, these being lighter, and is double - that is, it is really two parkies in one, so that there is hair next to the body, and outside as well. It is fitted with a hood, which is trimmed around the face with wolf-skin, for the hair of that animal being long and course, it affords excellent protection from the cold and biting winds. The trousers are generally single, and made of the thick winter skins, with the long hair out. Deer-skin combines two very essential properties - it is very warm and very light; in fact, the double parkie does not weigh any more than the average double-breasted sack-coat of civilization, and our sleeping-bags weighed only twelve pounds. Over the parkie is worn a snow-shirt made of light cotton drilling, so that the driving snow will not get into the hair of the parkie and wet through to the skin. Our hand-covering consisted of deer-skin mittens, with woolen gloves or mittens inside, so that when it became necessary to work around the sled or adjust the dog-harness, the clumsy deer mitt could be slipped off, and the hands still protected by the woolen gloves while working.

          On the 6th of January, my dogs' feet having healed properly, I concluded to go on to Unalaklik, and there intercept the other teams returning, in order to save that much time. I took a native boy with me as a guide, and although Unalaklik is but sixty miles from St. Michaels, it took us three days to make the trip, for the road led along the shore, where the ice had shelved and piled up, making an exceedingly rough and hummocky trail. Imagine a road strewn with rocks and boulders of all sizes, packed close together, and some idea of our trail will be gained. Our progress was necessarily slow, as the sled required constant watching and guiding to keep it from overturning, which, however, it did very frequently, despite our best efforts, and the next three days were very fatiguing; but we finally pulled into Unalaklik on the evening of the 8th, without any serious mishaps. We passed two natives, however, on the way, who were packing their load on their backs, their sled having been broken by the difficult trail.

 

Eskimo children bundled up against the cold

Eskimo children.

 

          Unalaklik has a native population of some two hundred, with Swedish, mission school, and a trading-station belonging to the Alaska Commercial Company, managed by a Norwegian named Englestadt. By this time the thermometer was registering during the day from 35 degrees to 40 degrees below zero, but as we were well provided with skin clothing we did not suffer from the cold, except when we were obliged to face the wind in traveling. After waiting here at the log house of the trader until the 15th, and the dogs not having yet arrived, I concluded to go on to Koyuk, at the head of Norton Sound, taking what provisions I could with my one team, pick up all the dogs I could on the way, and send them back for the remaining part. On the way, as expected, I fell in with the two teams Jarvis had sent back, but as they seemed to be played out, they were of no use to me.

          At Koyuk, which is a native village composed of two huts, on the 19th, I found myself with but one team, for the extra teams I had but one team, for the extra teams I had been led to expect at this place were not visible. So the following day I started for Golofnin Bay, three days' travel to the westward, where there was another trading-post, hoping to be able to get the necessary dogs there. Again I was doomed to disappointment, however, for all the dogs belonging to that station were absent on a trip into the country. A few miles from here was the government herd of reindeer, and there I went next; and after much talking with the Lapp herder in charge (for the superintendent, Mr. Kettleson, had gone up the coast with Jarvis), succeeded in convincing him I was an officer, and obtained some sled-deer and two drivers. With this outfit I returned to Koyuk, reaching that place on the 29th, and there found two more dog teams waiting for me, with the rest of the provisions. In response to an urgent note I had sent to him by a native runner, the trader at Unalaklik had managed to scrape together these two teams, but they were a sorry lot of dogs.

 

rowing a boat across a bay on a sunny night

The midnight sun.

 

          A deer-sled is about half as long as a dog-sled, very much wider, and not so high, so that it cannot be easily overturned by the somewhat erratic movements the deer ofttimes indulges in. The deer-harness consists of a wooden collar and a belly-band. The trace by which he hauls the sled is made fast to the collar and belly-band, and leads under him and between his hind legs to the sled, being made of hide, and covered with soft fur where it takes against his legs, so as not to chafe through the skin. Around the base of the horns is secured the strip of hide rope which the driver uses as a guiding-line. As a single deer is generally used to each sled, and he soon tires with a load of more than 150 pounds, one man drives a train of several, each deer being secured by his guiding-line to the sled ahead, while at the same time his trace is fastened to the sled he is to draw. The head sled is used for the driver only, who generally sits down, except when he is obliged to trot along side to keep warm. In this way, if the deer are well trained and follow readily, one man can drive a train of ten or more. The deer we had were not very well trained, however, and one man drove but three, thus leaving but four of the six sleds for freight. The real advantage of the deer lies in the fact that food for them does not have to be carried if one is passing through a country where the moss is plentiful. In traveling we usually halted once during the day to allow the deer to feed, and again at night, at which times he paws up the snow with his hoofs, using them very skillfully, thus exposing the moss beneath. When the snow is very deep, this causes the deer much labor, so that after dragging a sled all day, and working half the night for his food, he seems to need a day of rest in each four or five, for, after all, the deer is rather a delicate animal. The dogs, on the contrary, are very tough little fellows, and will travel day after day right along if properly fed, unless their feet become badly cut by the crusty snow.

          From Koyuk we followed the course of the Koyuk River, making short-cuts occasionally where the stream turned aside from our general direction, until we reached the head of that stream, when we struck across the hills until we came to the source of the Buckland River, which we then followed to its mouth. This brought us to Ecsholtz Bay, and after that we kept along the coast to the mouth of Hotham Inlet. We passed through a gently rolling country, which was devoid of trees or shrubbery except along the rivers, where we found brush in abundance, together with some scrubby pine trees.

 

The crew sitting in front of some old camp buildings

The Station at Cape Smyth.

 

          Each night, when we reached a clump of pines at which the guide had decided to camp, the deer train was driven a mile or so to leeward, so that the dogs would not scent them during the night and cause a stampede. The one of us would pitch the tent while another chopped a supply of firewood, and still another unharnessed the dogs and unloaded the sleds, for the dogs would devour everything left within reach. Boots or skin clothing left carelessly exposed were always found half chewed in the morning, for the poor little fellows never get a square meal when traveling in the winter, and are ravenous. We would then start the fire in the stove, and another outside the tent to help melt the snow or ice, to obtain water for drinking and cooking. The beans, which had been boiled before starting, were always frozen so solid they had to be chopped off with the axe, and indeed everything that had the least moisture in it was frozen solid in a day. Our meals consisted of pork and beans cooked in the camp kettle, tea, and, when the hard bread gave out, flap-jacks. We would mix up a batter of flour and water, and make the flap-jacks as large as the frying-pan to save time, using the bacon for grease, and when that was gone seal oil took its place. The Eskimos are experts at this sort of cooking, but as they never wash their hands, I always did my own and let them cook for themselves.

          After the meal was finished we would proceed to the very trying task of feeding the dogs. Each man took in his arms one dried fish for each dog, and then tried to get his team all together and away from the others. The poor hungry little fellows would jump up after the fish, and in their eagerness to obtain a mouthful it was a difficult matter to keep from being knocked down and bitten. But finally a fish would be thrown to each one, and then you would have to stand by with a club to drive off any dog that gulped his fish down and then tried to steal from the others. As soon as all the fish intended to be used had been given out and devoured, and the dogs saw no more was coming, they would lie down quietly and go to sleep, and we would then go to our tent, close the flap to keep out as much cold air as possible, and I would enjoy a smoke, and watch the natives puff contentedly at their curious long ivory pipes. And finally, having finished our smoke, we would crawl into our bags and be asleep in a jiffy. Sometimes we were obligated to camp where there was not a sign of wood, and then our supper would be frozen pork and beans and cold water, which latter we always carried with us on the sled in a pail, wrapped tightly in some article of clothing to keep it from freezing solid. In the morning the one that awoke first would arouse the others, and we would have our breakfast and smoke, load the sleds, harness the dogs, and be off again at seven o'clock.

          As I have said, our guide led us through a comparatively level country, and had the snow not been very deep and soft, we would have made a quick trip across. As it was, we were obliged to use snow-shoes nearly all the time, and often had to tramp back and forth ahead of the dog teams in order to pack the snow down for the little fellows. We did not reach Cape Blossom until the evening of February 11.

 

The surviving dogs aboard the ship after the long trip

The survivors of the dog team that dragged us twenty-four hundred miles.

 

          Meanwhile, Jarvis and Call, traveling light, had pushed rapidly along the coast from St. Michaels until they reached the government herd of deer to which I have already referred, whence they sent back their dog teams for my use, and taking deer-sleds, kept on to Point Rodney, at which place was a herd of 138 deer, owned by an Eskimo called Charley (his native name being Artisarlook). The government had contemplated the use of its large herd for an expedition up the Yukon for aid of the miners their, and Jarvis had been instructed not to take from that herd unless compelled to do so. It is difficult to make an Eskimo understand that you can pay back a debt you may wish to contract unless you have the visible means at hand, and had Charley not known Jarvis for several years, and always been treated well by the officers of the Bear, it is extremely doubtful if he would have allowed his deer to be taken. It was not without many misgivings, however, that he finally let them go, for it must be remembered they represented the support of his family and those dependent upon him. He was also afraid there might be a delay in obtaining the deer from Siberia in the spring, and then the other natives would laugh at him, and this last is a very serious offence from a native stand-point. But all his scruples were finally overcome, and he not only allowed his deer to be taken, but agreed to leave his family and go along to help drive the herd. Leaving Dr. Call to come with Charley and the herd, Jarvis proceeded along the coast, stopping at Port Clarence to arrange for provisions to be sent to Point Rodney for the use of Charley's family during his absence, and reached Cape Prince of Wales January 24. At this place is a mission in charge of Mr. W. T. Lopp, and in his charge also were 294 deer, mostly belonging to the American Missionary Society, the remainder being owned by the natives engaged in herding them. It was of course an easy thing to obtain the deer from Mr. Lopp, provided the Treasury Department would guarantee their return, but the same argument had to be gone through with the natives as with Charley. However, the fact that Charley had let his deer go, together with the additional persuasion of Mr. Lopp, soon induced them also to part with their deer. This would give Jarvis a herd of 443 including a few straggling deer he had bought from outside natives, and this was thought to be sufficient for the people at Point Barrow.

          Several days were now taken up with the preparations that had to be made, the sleds repaired, and the necessary fur clothing put together, but on February 3, Dr. Call having come up with Charley and his herd, the whole outfit was ready to start on its long journey north. This was no light undertaking, for there were some 700 miles through practically uninhabited country to be traveled, and the herd was to be driven by Alaska natives entirely, while it had always been supposed that none but experienced Laplanders or Siberians could care for or drive a herd of deer properly. The sequel shows that the Eskimos were fully equal to the task, for the herd reached Point Barrow in a very short time, and with a surprisingly small number of casualties among the deer. Mr. Lopp being well acquainted with the native language, and having his herders well in hand, agreed to accompany the expedition to Point Barrow to overlook things generally in the deer camp, and when the start was made on February 3, besides Jarvis and Call, there were Lopp and six herders in the outfit, necessitating eighteen sleds to carry the provisions, tents, and camp gear.

          The route lay along the northern part of the Cape Prince of Wales peninsula, about fifteen miles from the coast, where the deer-moss was plentiful. The method of driving the deer was quite simple. The herders would go close up to the herd, which would at once start ahead in a walk. Then, with one herder on each flank and a couple in the rear, they would keep the deer moving, the flanking herders preventing any deviation from the general direction to be traveled. The little deer-dogs, of which there were three, were of great service. They would keep behind the herd, and whenever any of the deer would straggle or attempt to get to one side, the dogs would run after them, bark and snap at their heels, and force them back to the herd. These little dogs were of the Lapland breed, about as large as a collie, and seemed to be untiring. Each night the herd was halted at places where the snow was not very deep, so they would be able to feed with little exertion as possible. During the winter months the deer give very little trouble, for they seldom stray or wander from the main herd, being content to crop their fill of the moss, and then lie down until started ahead in the morning.

          The guiding-line of the sled-deer is always left on his horns, so he may be easily caught and harnessed when wanted. The herd was driven on an average from ten to fifteen miles a day, and towards evening, when it was time to go into camp, the deer train would drive ahead, find a spot where the moss was plentiful, pitch a tent, build a fire, and get the evening meal all ready for the weary herders when they came up with the herd. During the day it was usual to halt the deer about noon to feed, at which time the men would fortify themselves for the afternoon with tea and hard bread.

 

The crew standing around a small house, tent, and outbuilding with no snow

House at Point Barrow in summer.

 

          In traveling along the coast-line there is always drift-wood to be picked up for fires, but when the trail leads back from the coast, and the trees are very few, small sticks are gathered during the day, and put on the sleds, in order to have enough to cook with at night and the following morning. Fires are seldom used for warmth alone in traveling, for inside the tent one is screened from the wind, and once you are in the sleeping-bag no fires are needed. The only delay in traveling in the winter is caused by the blizzards. At such times the wind picks up the loose dry snow, and drives it with such force and in such quantities that one cannot see ten feet ahead, and it is impossible to face the gale. The only thing to do at such times is to make camp at once and wait for the wind to go down. Often people who have become separated have wandered about until they dropped from exhaustion, and have then frozen.

          One day when the snow was driving so that the sled ahead could not be seen, Jarvis was seated on the rear deer-sled of the train. Suddenly his sled struck a stump in the road, which broke the trace. He shouted as loudly as he could, but all to no avail; no one could hear him, and the man on the sled ahead could not see what had happened. So after waiting some time for some one to come back, Jarvis concluded that they would not notice he was left until the train stopped to camp - which proved to be the case - and crawled into his sleeping-bag, which he fortunately had on the sled with him. Had he tried to run after the train, he would probably have lost the trail and wandered about all night; but deer will follow a trail when a man could not see.

          When the herd had traveled to abreast Cape Espenberg, Jarvis decided to go to the coast, procure dogs at some village, and come on ahead to meet me at Cape Blossom, leaving Lopp to follow with the deer as quickly as possible.

          I had reached that place on February 11, and he and Call drew up on the evening of the 12th, having crossed on the ice from Espenberg that day. Of course, as we had not seen each other since we parted company Dec. 20, we had lots to say, and sat up far into the night telling each other all about it. On the 15th Jarvis left for Point Hope, leaving me behind with the provisions for Lopp and the herders, and instructions to follow with the herd as soon as it came along.

          The weather up to this time had been generally good, very few days having been lost, and although the mercury was mow registering between 40 degrees and 50 degrees below, we did not experience any great inconvenience except during a blizzard, and then our tent, proved a good refuge. Sometimes, however, the wind was too strong for the tent to stand, and then we were forced to build a snow house. We would find the most convenient drift, dig a hole in it large enough to hold us all, and roof it over with blocks of snow cut with our long knives, leaving a hole to crawl in through, and filling up the cracks, where the blocks joined, with loose snow. Our provisions and sleeping-bags were then put inside, and we would crawl in ourselves and block up the door, leaving no opening at all. The warmth of our bodies would soon raise the temperature so that the snow would begin to melt on the inside, and here we would remain until the blizzard had passed or blown itself out. The dogs outside were all right, for they would curl up and go to sleep, no matter how hard it blew or how cold it was. When the snow drifted over them they would get up, shake it off, and lie down for another nap.

 

The masts of an old sailing ship sticking out of a jumble of ice

The Rosario crushed in the ice.

 

          There was plenty of drift-wood to be picked up at Cape Blossom, but waiting is very tiresome in a country where one sees nothing but an expanse of snow and ice, and I was very glad when Lopp showed up on the 18th. He had crossed on the ice with the deer herd from Cape Espenberg to Cape Krusenstern, reaching the latter place the previous morning. At a native hut there he found a letter from Jarvis, telling him where I was to be found, and had come over to Cape Blossom with dog teams, leaving the deer behind for a rest.

          As I sent back all my dog teams, we loaded the provisions on my deer-sleds and Lopp's dog-sleds, and we returned to Krusenstern, reaching there on the 19th. Here we remained until the 21st, to afford the deer a much needed rest, and then started along the coast toward Point Hope. Our good fortune as to the weather now left us, and for the next few days we had a succession of blizzards, during which time we scarcely made five miles each day. One morning, after having been obliged to camp the previous afternoon on account of the driving snow, we awoke to find our tent nearly drifted over, only the ridge-pole showing. We were obliged to dig ourselves out, and then spend the whole forenoon digging to recover our sleds and outfit. When we reached the mouth of the Kivalena River, at which Lopp was to strike inland to cut off the long journey around Point Hope, I left him, having procured the necessary dog-sleds, and proceeded to this latter place, where according to instructions, I was to meet Jarvis again. When I got as far as Cape Seppings, I learned from some natives that he had gone back to the Kivalena to meet Lopp, so I waited until he returned, when we both kept on to Point Hope, reaching there on the 2nd of March. There being a considerable store of flour and other provisions at Liebes's whaling-station here, it was decided I should remain at this place to care for any of the shipwrecked men Jarvis might send down from Point Barrow, should he find that measure advisable upon reaching the latter place. On March 4, having replenished their stores, Jarvis and Call set out again, this time for the last stage of their journey, and after a very arduous trip, for the snow was very deep and the road bad, they reached Point Barrow on the 29th.

 

the officers of the BEAR gathered in full dress uniform and some great old-time mustaches

The Officers of the Bear in undress uniform

 

          When the whaling-vessels found themselves hemmed in by the ice the previous fall, three of them - the Orca, Freeman, and Belvedere - had by desperate efforts succeeded in cutting and blasting their way around Point Barrow and as far as the Sea-Horse Islands, about fifty miles farther south. Here the Orca was crushed, and sank soon after, her crew escaping to the Belvedere. Later the same day the Freeman, being nipped and threatened with destruction, was abandoned, her crew also escaping across the ice to the Belvedere, which had managed to get in behind the Sea-Horses, where she was protected from the crushing pressure of the ice pack. A day or two later the Freeman was set afire to by some natives, and was destroyed. Here, then, was a worse state of affairs - these two crews destitute, for of course whatever stores the two ships had remaining were lost. At Cape Smyth, ten miles south of Point Barrow, is a shore whaling-station managed by Mr. Charles D. Brower, who has lived in northern Alaska for nearly fifteen years. Having quite a supply of provisions, he took matters in hand when disaster overtook the vessels, and, but for his care and management, it is certain that many of the men would have perished before the expedition came to their relief. Brower employed some 200 natives, and the stores referred to were principally for their support during the winter. With about 300 whalers to feed in addition, things did not look very cheerful. The situation of the ships was as follows: the Rosario close to Point Barrow, the Newport and Fearless about a mile off shore, fifteen miles to the eastward, and the Jeannie some thirty miles farther eastward, and four miles off shore - all, of course frozen in the ice. The whereabouts of the Wanderer was not known at that time, but it was subsequently ascertained that after finding out how ice was at Point Barrow, she made her way back to Herschel Island, where the whaler Mary D. Hume was wintering, with two years' supplies.

 

The Bear tied to ice anchors and surrounded by ice

The Bear caught in the ice at Cape Smyth.

 

          Brower held a consultation with the captains, and it was decided that the vessels should keep on board as many as their stores would support, and send the rest of the crews to his station at Cape Smyth. He then called together his natives, explained to them that all his provisions must be saved for the white men, and told them that they, being well supplied with fur clothing and accustomed to the sever cold of the country, must go back to the mountains and make great efforts to kill all the wild deer they could find, and that though he could not give them any flour during the winter, as usual, they would be well rewarded in the spring when the ships arrived from the south. The natives having assented to this, they took their dogs and sleds, traveled back into the mountains some 150 or 200 miles, and so faithfully did they follow the instructions of Mr. Brower that, during the winter, up to the time when Jarvis arrived, they killed and sent into the station over 1000 wild deer. Providence seems to have had a hand in this, because for some unknown reason the wild deer wandered to that part of the country in greater numbers than had been known for twenty years. Brower gave up all his stores to the whalers and divided them into daily rations, but the amount was so little that many would have starved but for the deer the natives sent in from the hills. Even with these the daily allowance was limited, but it sufficed.

          When the expedition arrived with the government herd, the poor fellows enjoyed the first square meal they had seen for many a long day. It was a memorable afternoon, that 29th of March, when Brower saw two strange sleds approaching from the south; and he could scarcely believe his eyes when these sleds drew up at his house and was greeted by Lieutenant Jarvis. His first impression was that the Bear had been lost somewhere on the coast below, for he had seen that vessel leave in the fall, and could not imagine what would bring any of her officers up to that part of the country in the middle of winter but shipwreck. When the poor half-starved sailors learned that there was a herd of over 400 deer coming up the coast for them, they could scarcely contain themselves for joy.

          The following day, the deer herd having reached a place about twenty miles below Cape Smyth, where the moss was abundant, Lopp halted it, and went on ahead to join Jarvis. Having left his wife and family at Cape Prince of Wales, Lopp was very anxious to get back, now that his work was done, so after resting for a few days he started on his return, leaving Charley and one herder behind to look after the deer. As I had, in the mean time, made a trip up the coast from Point Hope as far as the Pitmegea River, and there cach'ed provisions and dog food for the use of whoever might be coming down the coast, Lopp did not have to pack supplies for the entire trip, and thus being able to travel light, he made the trip in ten traveling days, and reached Point Hope April 19. Resting his dogs there for a few days, he set out again on the 23d, and reached Cape Prince of Wales May 5, thus having, together with his herders, driven a herd of reindeer over bad roads of snow and ice, through a country but little known, dragging all their provisions a distance of about 700 miles, and then returned to his home, in the remarkably short time of three months and two days.

 

The masts of the BEAR sticking up behind a giant pile of ice

Ice piled up by the crush that nearly stove in the Bear's side.

 

          The powers of endurance of the Eskimo dogs are wonderful. The team I bought at St. Michaels, having already brought us that far, took me to Golofnin Bay, back again to the head of Norton Sound, and then across the country to Cape Blossom. From there it took Jarvis to Point Barrow, and finally returned with Lopp to Cape Prince of Wales, thus having traveled over 2400 miles. It had dragged heavy loads, most of the way over difficult trails, and had had only a few days' rest at odd times. Only one dog was lost out of the seven (he having been shot at Cape Smyth); the other six were in excellent condition at the end of the journey. It must be remembered, too, that when traveling through country where villages are few and far between, dog food must be carried along, and most of the time these dogs received but one meal a day, and that meal was a small one.

          The day after Jarvis arrived at Cape Smyth he investigated the state of affairs, and found that though the men had fared better as regards food than could possibly have been expected, they were very badly off in the matter of quarters. In the fall, when Brower had got all the surplus men from the ships to his station, he found the problem of providing quarters for them difficult. There were other buildings besides his own station at cape Smyth, but though Dr. Marsh, the missionary at that place, had a school-house in which he taught the natives, he did not offer it for the use of the shipwrecked men. The old government refuge station, which had been built to accommodate 100 men in an emergency, had been sold to the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, and by it leased to Mr. E. A. McIlhenny, who occupied it at that time, being engaged in scientific pursuits; but he declined to take in any but the officers of the wrecked vessels. There was still another house, an old dilapidated building called "Kelley's old house," and after taking as many as he could into his own house, Mr. Brower, feeling he had no real authority to force the men upon anybody, was obliged to quarter the remaining seventy-eight men in this old building, fifty by twenty-five feet. Of course in such cramped quarters it was impossible to get sufficient ventilation and still keep the house warm enough to live in, and besides, it was very difficult to keep the men and the building clean. When the expedition arrived, Lieutenant Jarvis having authority from the department to assume charge of affairs, immediately made such arrangements that the school-house and refuge station were brought into use, and the men provided with decent quarters. The old house, being in a deplorable condition, was then torn down, and used for firewood, which was very scarce, for all the drift-wood for miles along the beach had been burned during the winter. Owning to the scanty allowance the men had lived on, and the bad quarters in which they had been obliged to live, scurvy had begun to make its appearance, two men being down with it and two more being threatened; but Dr. Call soon got the upper hand of the dread disease, and with the men in comfortable quarters, such sanitary regulations were enforced as would prevent its return. The men were obliged to take exercise regularly, and when there was no work to do, they had to play ball. A Ball-game with the ground covered with snow and the thermometer away below zero was certainly a novelty.

 

men dragging sleds across a field of ice towards ships in the distance

Hauling coal from the Bear to the whaling-ships

 

          It could be said that the overland expedition had finished the difficult part of its task, for the men were comfortably quartered and in good health, the arrival of the deer herd had dispelled any possible fear of starvation, and there was nothing to do now but to keep the men occupied and in good health and spirits, and wait patiently as we might for our ship to arrive in the spring.

          After the Bear had landed us at Cape Vancouver in December, she steamed back to Unalaska, where she remained during the winter. On the 14th of the following June she again pointed her head toward the north. On the 19th she passed St. Lawrence Island, but was turned back by the heavy ice later in the day, when she tried to reach Indian Point on the Siberian coast. The following day she again ran into heavy drift-ice, but finally managed to work through into the St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, reaching there on the 22d. Here she met the steam-whaler William Bayless, and having learned from her that Lopp had returned to Cape Prince of Wales, the Bear was worked through the ice over to that place, where Captain Tuttle received from Lopp all the news of the expedition up to the time the latter had left Point Barrow. Learning that the wrecked men would be in need of clothing by the time he reached them, Captain Tuttle steamed over to St. Michaels, obtained a supply of under-clothing, and again turned the Bear north. She reached Point Hope July 15. I came on board, and after giving all the news I had, was more astonished than I had ever been in my life by receiving the news that our country was at war with Spain, and Admiral Dewey had won the glorious victory at Manila.

          On the 16th we left, and succeeded in working through the drift-ice as far as Point Lay, where we anchored on the 18th in response to signals from the shore. Soon after a canoe came alongside, and Captain Sherman of the wrecked Orca, together with several natives and members of wrecked vessels, came on board. They had come down the coast, sometimes hauling their canoe over the ice, and sometimes paddling and sailing, to bring a letter from Jarvis to Captain Tuttle, telling him the situation at Cape Smyth. From Sherman we learned that the ice was very heavy to the northward, and he did not think we would get very far. Captain Tuttle made the attempt, however; but at Icy Cape the ice turned us back, and we anchored at Point Lay again on the 21st. Another fruitless attempt was made the following day, and on the 23d, Sherman having brought the information that the Belvedere was short on flour, Lieutenant Hamlet was sent up the coast with a canoe-load of provisions to that vessel. He reached her all right, but, owing to the heavy ice along the shore, he did not reach Cape Smyth until the day after the Bear arrived. On the 25th the ice opened up a little, and we got as far as Wainwright Inlet, but were compelled to stop there on account of the fog. On the 27th the fog lifted, and we managed to push through the leads and get around the shoals off Point Belcher, but we were obliged to run off shore and lose the land on account of the heavy drift. We soon got a good opening, however, and headed in again, and about eight o'clock in the morning, July 28, we made fast to the ground-ice at Cape Smyth, opposite the station. This ground-ice is the old ice of the polar seas piled up by the crushing of the floes, until this mass gets so deep in the water that it grounds, and there it remains until it is blown off again by the gale. Where we made fast the water was seventeen fathoms, and yet this ice was hard and fast to the bottom.

          In a little while we saw the people coming out to us on the ice, and soon Jarvis climbed over the side, and later the doctor. We gave them a hearty welcome, but as soon as they made their report to the captain and heard the war news, they asked so many questions that we all forgot the shipwrecked sailors in the excitement of discussing the war as the only thing we knew - the battle of Manila. Later in the day Jarvis went ashore again to send off the men we were to take down, and by the end of the following day most of them had come aboard.

          By this time a westerly wind had sprung up, and the drift-ice began to get so heavy we were forced to move into a little bight in the ground-ice to escape it. The wind was increasing all the time, and although we could see the pack coming in, we could not get through the heavy drift, and on August 1 the Bear was jammed tight up against the ground-ice by the pack, and we were in the same position as the vessels the previous fall, only there was hope for us because it was early in the season and the water was not freezing. The only thing we could do now was to look out for the crush and wait patiently for an easterly wind to carry the pack-ice off shore and open a lead. On August 3, the wind chopped around to the southwest, disturbed the pack, and brought on a pressure, so that our port side was pushed in a few inches. The snapping, cracking, and grinding of the timbers is a frightful sound, and for a few minutes it looked as if the stanch old Bear, that had seen so many cruises to the Arctic, was at last to leave her bones there, but fortunately the pressure ceased before any real damage was done. The danger was not over, however, for with the wind blowing on shore a pressure was likely to occur at any time, and it was almost sure that the next time the Bear was doomed. Provisions were hastily gotten up and all preparations made to abandon her should it become necessary. For the next few days no one went asleep without expecting to be called at any time, and every morning we gave a sigh of relief to find the good old ship still safe.

          Meanwhile the Belvedere had freed herself from the ice that had made around her during the winter, and was ready to start south as soon as the drift-ice cleared from the shoals outside her; the Rosario had been crushed when the ice broke up early in the spring, her crew taken to the station at Cape Smyth and were now on board the Bear; the Newport and Fearless had worked their way close to Point Barrow, and the Jeannie was expected to put in an appearance at any time. On August 3 she succeeded in working up to Point Barrow, and as a lead had opened inside the ground ice, all three vessels came down and made fast on the inshore side of the piece we were jammed against.

          On the 7th we made an attempt to blast a passage through, but powder proved to have very little effect on ice grounded in seventeen fathoms, and we were of course unsuccessful. There was now a long succession of unfavorable winds and calms until the 15th, when the wind came out from the eastward, the pack began moving off shore, and by midnight there was only about fifty yards of ice outside us. The pack had by this time loosened sufficiently to allow the Bear to move back and forward a little, so steam was made on all her boilers, and she began to force her way through, but it took all the forenoon, backing and filling under a full head of steam, to get clear. About noon on the 16th, after a final rush at the barrier of ice, the Bear forced through, and we sent up a rousing cheer as we found ourselves in open water once more. We proceeded down the coast to where the Newport, Fearless, and Jeannie were waiting for us, and after giving them each sufficient coal and provisions to last until they could reach the nearest port, the Bear steamed away southward, having on board ninety-three officers and men of the wrecked vessels. At Port Hope we picked up nine more destitute seamen, the crew of the schooner Louise J. Kenney, which had been driven ashore a few days previous. We steamed into Seattle on the 13th of September, 1898, after an absence in the Arctic regions of nine months and a half, with a consciousness of having performed the task allotted to us.

          The sled journey of the overland expedition from Cape Vancouver to the northernmost limits of Alaska, a distance of some 1600 miles, is, I believe, the longest ever made by a single party in one winter. That no lives were lost and there are no stories of fearful suffering to be told is due, I am convinced, to be the care and good judgment exercised, rather than to any fortuitous circumstances. Hardships are of course inseparable from Arctic travel; a bath is an unheard-of luxury; one is never quite free from unwelcome little visitors inside the fur clothing so long as there are natives in the party. Many times we crawled into our sleeping-bags hungry, when the weather or lack of fuel rendered cooking impossible; running, walking, and pushing behind a sled through deep snow and over rough and difficult trails of broken ice are very fatiguing and exhausting; the weather is very cold, but though the thermometer registered as much as 50 degrees below zero during our traveling, there were only two cases of frost-bite in the party, and these were slight and the result of carelessness in not paying proper attention to the nose, which member, being very much exposed, is most likely to be the first affected; but in an Arctic expedition properly fitted out, if discretion and judgment are used in traveling and camping, it appears to me to be quite unnecessary for the members to undergo any great amount of real suffering, except in case of an extraordinary succession of adverse circumstances.

 

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