- 48 -
their strength indefinitely.
We can infer from letters written at this stage by Fred
Maurer to his family that he disapproved of the plan to cross to the mainland,
apparently because he thought success unlikely and that staying on the island
was safer. Anyone used to living by hunting in the North would agree as to
the safety of staying on the island, but it is not easy to agree about the
difficulty of making the journey to the mainland except on the basis which
Knight mentions, that the sled was weak and likely to break down under its
heavy load in the rough ice. Up to the time of Knight’s and Crawford's
original start the factor of shortage of supplies on the island does not appear
to have been taken into consideration. Here we regret what we may admire from
other points of view, the laconic character of Knight’s diary, seldom men-
tioning motives and merely recording what was done.
With these comments we will let Knight's diary continue
to tell its own story, omitting nothing that has a bearing on the case:
On January 8th, “Broke camp at 8:20 A.M. and traveled
until 2 P.M., camping because of darkness. .... on the outside of Rodger's
Harbor sandspit. Going all day was wonderful, very little snow and as hard
as concrete. The only signs of life seen were some old bear and fox tracks.
Our load consists of about 700 pounds besides the sled. The food is nearly all
pilot bread and seal blubber. There are a few pounds of dried meat for the
dogs and when that is gone I will feed four sealskins that we have along for
that purpose. In all we have about thirty days' rations and by then we should
be in Siberia. Light breeze from the west, clear and very cold."
January 9th: "Did nothing but sleep all day as both
Crawford and I were badly chafed and sore. A rather poor excuse but the only
one we have. Clear, calm and very cold."
January 10th: "Broke camp early this morning and again
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