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we intend to wait for a blow to pack it."

December 31st, after weather that had usually been good for two months, we have "a howling gale from the east. As Crawford was building a fire this morning the dogs set up a howl and Crawford rushed out but it was impossible to see more than a foot or two. The dogs soon quieted down and so whatever was in camp did not stay long. Hard luck. Snow drifting as hard as can be imagined." This gale continued the first three days of 1923.. "Blowing a howling gale . . . . Part of the north wall (of the outer house) blew away and some snow drifted in (between the house wall and the outside of the tent) but did no damage. The wind on the afternoon of January 3rd nearly died down and it is now cloudy."

January 4th we have the next mention of the trip. "I have been busy packing up to-day as we hope to get away in a day or two." January 7, "Crawford and I spent the day getting ready, loading the sled, getting things together, etc. Maurer and Galle to their traps. Maurer got a fox and saw several tracks."

Then we have apruptly under date of January 7th, "At 1 A.M. Crawford and I started due south over fine going and making good time. We traveled west an hour and hit broken-up young ice with soft snow in between. The moon is about one-quarter on the wane and it was slightly misty as we went east along the rough ice for two and a half hours. After numerous tip-overs because of increasing darkness, we camped. We are now about six miles east of camp and a mile offshore. Our load is rather heavy and the dogs soft from inaction, so we will go in to the beach to-morrow and travel east along it, watching for an opportunity to go south on good going. We lost one of our two ice picks and a pot lid. Rather a bad start."

It has seemed strange to some commentators that the party

Last edit 22 days ago by Samara Cary
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traveled east, for you will see on any map that the farther east you follow the coast of Wrangell Island the farther away you are from the Siberian coast. To one who considers traveling over sea ice dangerous or difficult, the obvious thing would be to go west where the southwest corner of Wrangell Island is only between ninety and a hundred miles from the Siberian coast where the traders and natives live. But we must remember that the party was going on Knight's advice. Knight's judgment was necessarily based upon his experience and he had traveled so many months and so many hundreds of miles over shifting sea ice that it had no special terrors for him. The diary shows that the objective was Siberia only incidentally and Nome primarily. Traveling east you get nearer and nearer to Nome. He probably thought also that the ice in the straits between Wrangell and Siberia would be the most broken and mobile where the channel is narrowest, and on that basis it is reasonable to go east before crossing.

Contrary to some other commentators, I find nothing in this plan of Knight's to disagree with until several days later they decided to turn back. I would have been in hearty agreement if this had meant discontinuing any attempt to go to Siberia, for I should not have considered the possible gain from that trip to be worth the trouble and effort. But having traveled east and still keeping in mind the purpose of going to Nome, they should certainly have struck south at all hazards when their farthest east was reached. Going west again and making a fresh start from the southwest corner of the island would necessarily tire the dogs if it had no other result. As provisions were not abundant, it was not easy to feed up the dogs to bring them back again to their original strength and freshness. For dog feed like man food has to be adequate not only in quantity but in kind. They seem to have had little for the dogs at this stage except hard bread and seal oil, which will do for a few days as an emergency ration but will not keep up

Last edit 22 days ago by Samara Cary
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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 mentioning 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

Last edit 22 days ago by Samara Cary
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started due south. A short way from the beach we unexpectedly hit soft snow and I had to get in harness with the dogs. About two miles offshore we again came to the edge of the rough ice, which was impossible for the small team and the poor sled that we have. We traveled east about four miles, getting nearer to the shore all the time, and finally camped on the shore side of the pressure ridge due south of Cape Hawaii, about two miles offshore. The going ahead looks very bad and as we only have five dogs in poor condition and the weather is very cold, it is needless to say that going is very difficult. Unless we get started south soon I am afraid that we will have to go back to the main camp and then west, looking for a way through the rough ice."

Since we know that both Knight and Crawford knew that sea ice is always roughest near the land, we must conclude that they considered the rickety sled good enough for the rest of the journey if they could only get past without breakage the first few miles of the crushed inshore ice. They were looking for a gap in this rampart and were not finding it. Under ordinary conditions we do not look for such gaps but tackle the ice directly ahead, no matter how bad it is, making a road with pickaxes. The alternative frequently employed is to leave the teams behind while men go several miles ahead to reconnoitre, selecting eventually the least difficult route.

January 11th: "Blowing a light gale from the northeast and drifting snow. Stayed in camp. Cold and clear."

January 12th: "Broke camp at 9:30 A.M. and traveled until 11:30. We first went south to the pressure ridge and from the top of it saw smooth ice running east and west. We made a road through several hundred feet of rubble and got to the smooth ice to find it a lead that had been opened up some time yesterday. It was covered with young (unsafe) ice and drifted snow although it had looked like solid ice to us when we started for it. The going to the east is practically impossible for five dogs and a weak sled, so we

Last edit 13 days ago by Samara Cary
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decided to get back to solid ice and camp. Built a snow wall and put a tarpaulin over it (a sort of camp intermediate in comfort between a snowhouse, which is better, and a tent, which is much worse). Both primus stoves are out of order and Crawford worked with them for several hours, at last getting one of them working after a fashion. There does not seem to be a chance to get to the mainland now from here and Crawford and I have been racking our brains on the best thing to do. Matters now stand thus: We have only five dogs, a weak sled, and not a great deal of provisions, and the ice is so bad that we cannot travel to sea to get open water (for sealing to replenish the traveling food supplies). I am nearly all in. I hate to admit this but I am sure I can't help it. My scurvy has been coming back for the last month or two although I have said nothing to anyone about it except Crawford. When we started I was in hopes of fairly good going and a chance to get fresh meat, but I find that my legs go back on me in this rough ice where I am forced to get in harness to help the dogs. When we do get in rough ice the dogs can hardly haul the load on account of the temperature which is very low, and I am afraid of the sled which is none too strong. Our gait on level ice is about two and a half miles per hour.

"This is what we have planned to do. We will go back to camp and lighten the sled load as much as possible (so there will be less danger of breaking the sled) and Crawford and Galle will start south and make as much time as they possibly can. It will be impossible for all of us to stay at the land main camp, for there is just enough grub there for three people to last until the seals and birds come. I would like to make this trip but I really do not feel able. This is just a rough outline of our plans; more later. Crawford has several of his finger tips frozen and they give him considerable pain, but nothing serious. A fairly fresh bear track seen going east."

Last edit 22 days ago by Samara Cary
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