With the sledges off and the ponies not due to start for three more days, there was little to do except write letters home.
Scott wrote to Sir Edgar Speyer, the expedition's treasurer, "Of course I never realised that there was any object in haste this season or I should have brought more dogs as Amundsen has done.... I'm not a great believer in dog transport beyond a certain point."  To Kathleen on the same topic, he added, "[Amundsen] is bound to travel fast with dogs and pretty certain to start early.... On this account, I decided at a very early date to act exactly as I should have done had he not existed. Any attempt to race must have wrecked my plan, beside which it doesn't appear the sort of thing one is out for." 
Despite his nonchalance, this was apparently a subject much on his mind, for he dwelt on it to Kinsey as well: "[If Amundsen] gets to the Pole, he is bound to do it with dogs, but one guesses that success will justify him and that our venture will be out of it. If he fails, he ought to hide! Anyway, he is taking a big risk, and perhaps deserves his luck if he gets through. But he is not there yet!" 
His growing dislike of Teddy Evans began to seep into his letters. To Kinsey, he wrote, "[Evans] is a thoroughly well-meaning little man, but proves on close acquaintance to be rather a duffer in anything but his own particular work. All this strictly 'entre nous', but he is not at all fitted to be 'Second-in-Command', as I was foolish enough to name him." 
"As far as I am concerned," Scott wrote to his mother, "I could not possibly be in better health. I am a thousand times fitter than I was in London -- you see my dear we know all about things down here now -- exactly how to feed and clothe ourselves and how to set to work. It is a simple life and therefore very healthy. I could not wish for better companions than I have got.... I can't say how it is all going to work out but I have taken a lot of pains over the plans so I hope for the best. Well my own dear Mother you must take care of yourself and remember that there is no one to whom I shall be prouder to tell of my successes or more willing to confess my failures." 
Oates was less sanguine. "I have half a mind to see Scott and tell him I must go home in the ship but it would be a pity to spoil my chances of being in the final party especially as the regiment and perhaps the whole army would be pleased if I was at the Pole."  "Scott has put two or three peoples backs up lately and Mears, who looks after the dogs and is a pal of mine had a regular row with him, myself I dislike Scott intensely and would chuck the thing if it were not that we are a British expedition and must beat the Norwegians -- Scott has always been very civil to me and I have the reputation of getting on well with him but the fact of the matter is he is not straight, it is himself first and when he has got all he can out of you it is shift for yourself.... I must knock off a minute, as I am getting hungry and must get something to eat I may then feel a little more kindly to Scott." 
"I expect they [the Norwegians] have started for the Pole by this, and have a jolly good chance of getting there if their dogs are good and they use them properly. From what I see I think it would not be difficult to get to the Pole provided you have proper transport but with the rubbish we have it will be jolly difficult and mean a lot of hard work."
Oates was slated to be in Scott's tent for the ascent up the Beardmore, he wrote. "Whether this means I am going to be in the final party or not I don't know but I think I have a fairish chance that is if Scott & I don't fall out it will be pretty tough having four months of him, he fusses dreadfully.... Scott wanted me to stay down here another year but I shall clear out of it if I get back in time for the ship which I hope to goodness will be the case.... Scott pretends at present he is going to stay but I have bet myself a fiver he clears out, that is if he gets to the Pole.... If Scott was a decent chap I would ask him bang out what he means to do."
"They had prayers but I did not attend as Scott reads the prayers .... I am afraid this letter is very disjointed and badly written and I feel the occasion is one for a special effort but our life here is so monotonous, last autumn so far away that I find it difficult to write a decent letter."
"I expect there will be a bit of a circus getting off," he added dryly.
To Kathleen, Scott wrote, "Everything in these seventeen pages seems to have been of myself and my work, and so far not a word of my thoughts of you and the boy and our home, but I know that I cannot tell you too much of things as they are with me, and I know you will not think yourself forgotten when I ask so much of you. Your postman [Lt. Evans] has very faithfully delivered your little notes, and I treasure them not only because they are yours, but because they express the inspiriting thoughts which I would have you hold. At such a time as this it thrills me most to think of your courage. It is my greatest comfort to know that you possess it, and therefore by nature can never sit down and bewail misfortune. I can imagine you nothing but sturdily independent and determined to make the most of the life you possess.... Do you know that I sometimes feel guilty about mother. In these last strenuous years I seem to have had so little time to spare to her. She is getting old and I am sure you will be good to her.... It seems a woeful long time since I saw your face and there is the likelihood of a woefuller time ahead, and then what. I want to come back having done something, but work here is horribly uncertain and now of course the chance of another man getting ahead." 
"Dear Mrs Scott," Bowers wrote to Kathleen, "We have had to put up with an almost unparalleled succession of initial reverses, and if any man had to endure the trials of Job again, I am sure Captain Scott did when the Depot Journey terminated with such a chapter of accidents following hard upon the news of Amundsen's little game to the eastward. However, good often comes out of the worst and perhaps the necessary reorganisation of the initial plans has been the best thing for our object. Certainly to trust the final dash to such an uncertain element as dogs would be a risky thing, whereas man-haulage, though slow, is sure, and I for one am delighted at the decision. After all, it will be a fine thing to do that plateau with man-haulage in these days of the supposed decadence of the British race. Anyhow, whether we succeed or not, we all have confidence in our leader and I am sure that he will pull it through if any man will." 
"I shall consider no sacrifice too great for the main object," Bowers wrote to his family, "& whether I am one of the early returning parties or not I am Captain Scott's man & shall stick by him though God knows what the result will be but we will do all that man can do & leave the rest to His keeping in which we all are & shall remain." 
The Norwegians built the first of their snow cairns, at 80°23' S, to mark the route. "They will be built at a man's height every 7th or 8th nautical mile," Amundsen wrote. "A little note with the position of the cairn and the bearing of the next cairn to the north will be inserted in the uppermost block of snow." 
 R.F. Scott, letter to Sir Edgar Speyer, October 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.418.
 R.F. Scott, letter to Kathleen Scott, October 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.418-419.
 R.F. Scott, letter to Sir Joseph Kinsey, 28 October, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.419.
 R.F. Scott, letter to Sir Joseph Kinsey, 28 October, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.452.
 R.F. Scott, letter to Hannah Scott, October, 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.452-453.
 L.E.G. Oates, letter, 11-28 October 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.475.
 L.E.G. Oates, letter, 22 October 1911, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.446. It is curious to note the subtle differences in the versions of the same letter as quoted by Crane and Huntford; Huntford omits the last sentence.
 R.F. Scott, letter to Kathleen Scott, [October 1911], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.453-454.
 H.R. Bowers, letter to Kathleen Scott, [October 1911], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.454-455.
 H.R. Bowers, letter to his family, [October 1911], quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.455.
 Roald Amundsen, diary, 27 October, 1911, quoted by Roland Huntford in Race for the South Pole : the expedition diaries of Scott and Amundsen (London : Continuum, c2010), p.90.