February 24, 2012

Saturday, 24 February 1912


They reached the Southern Barrier Depot, Scott wrote, and "[found the] store in order except shortage oil -- shall have to be very saving with fuel -- otherwise have ten full days' provision from to-night and shall have less than 70 miles to go." [1]

Notes from Meares, Atkinson, and Teddy Evans relieved their anxiety as to the supporting parties, although the one from Evans was "not very cheerful," Scott added. "Think he must have been a little anxious."

"There is no doubt we have been rising steadily since leaving the Shambles Camp. The coastal Barrier descends except where glaciers press out. Undulation still but flattening out. Surface soft on top, curiously hard below. Great difference now between night and day temperatures. Quite warm as I write in tent. We are on tracks with half-march cairn ahead; have covered 4 1/2 miles. Poor Wilson has a fearful attack snow-blindness consequent on yesterday's efforts. Wish we had more fuel."

That evening, in a temperature that had dropped to -17°, he wrote, "A little despondent again. We had a really terrible surface this afternoon and only covered 4 miles. We are on the track just beyond a lunch cairn. It really will be a bad business if we are to have this pulling all through. I don't know what to think, but the rapid closing of the season is ominous. It is great luck having the horsemeat to add to our ration. To-night we have had a real fine 'hoosh.' It is a race between the season and hard conditions and our fitness and good food."

Oates wrote his last diary entry.

"I'm right in it," Cherry wrote at Hut Point, "to take 2 dog teams out to meet Scott. Crean & Dimitri got in yesterday 12 noon with the news of Evans very bad with scurvy, dogs not started, & Silas or I was to take them out. Atch must stop with Evans here at Hut Point. Left C. Evans with Silas & D. [sic] at 2 pm. & got over without difficulty. Ice good & got outside Big Razorback. Atch settled I was to go." He was hampered by short-sightedness, had never driven dogs before and could not navigate. He nervously filled the front of his diary with notes to himself on the use of a compass, minute details on the Polar Party's estimated arrival dates, and the course from landmark to landmark. "Dimitri & other dog team came in this morning & I have spent the day in navigation, weights & dog training. Start tomorrow if possible, dogs had to rest today but now blizzing a bit. Of course I feel doubtful about my navigation, but what one can do one can do & Scott is not depending on the dog teams. I think he may be in to One Ton by the 30th & if so the dogs now can do little or nothing." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 24 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Apsley Cherry-Garrard, diary, 24 February, 1912, Scott Polar Research Institute. In a letter home of 26 October 1911, Scott had written, "'Cherry' has just come to me with a very anxious face to say that I must not count on his navigating powers. For the moment I didn't know what he was driving at, but then I remembered that some months ago I said that it would be a good thing for all the officers going South to have some knowledge of navigation so that in emergency they would know how to steer a sledge home. It appears that 'Cherry' thereupon commenced aserious and arduous course of study of abstruse navigational problems which he found exceedingly tough and now despaired mastering. Of course there is not one chance in a hundred that he will ever have to consider navigation on our journey and in that one chance the problem must be of the simplest nature, but it makes matters much easier for me to have men who take the details of one's work so seriously and who strive so simply and honestly to make it successful" (quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1).

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