« AnteriorContinuar »
Notwithstanding every exertion on the part of our travellers, their labours had not thrown much light on the geography of this part of the coast, nor added any information that could be of practi. cal use in directing the operations of the ships. The important question respecting a second pas. sage leading to the westward still remained as much a matter of mere conjecture as at first; while the advanced period of the season, and the unprom. ising appearance of the ice now opposing our progress, rendered it more essential than ever that this point should, if possible, be decided. Under this impression it occurred to me, that the desired ob. ject might possibly be accomplished by pursuing the route along the head or western shore of Rich. ards's Bay, part of which I had already traversed on my former journey, and found it much less la. borious walking than that experienced by Captain Lyon on the higher and more rugged mountains inland. I determined, therefore, to make this attempt, taking with me Mr. Richards and most of my former companions.
This night proved the coldest we had experien. ced during the present season, and the thermometer stood at 24° when I left the ships at four A.M. on the 3d, having previously directed Captain Lyon to remain as near their present station as might be consistent with safety, and carefully watch for any alteration that might occur in the western ice.
Being favoured by a strong northwesterly breeze, we reached the narrows at half past six A.M., and immediately encountered a race or ripple, so heavy and dangerous that it was only by carrying a press of canvass on the boat that we succeeded in keep
ing the seas from constantly breaking into her. This rippling appeared to be occasioned by the sudden obstruction which the current meets at the western mouth of the narrows, aided, in the present instance, by the strong breeze that blew directly upon the corner forming the entrance on the south side.
Having landed at Cape Northeast, I made sail for the isthmus at ten A.M., where we arrived after an hour's run; and hauling the boat up on the rocks, and depositing the greater part of our stores near her, set off at one P.M. along the shore of Richards's Bay, being equipped with only three days' provision, and as small a weight of clothing as possible. The coast, though not bad for travelling, led us so much more to the westward tha:) I expected, in consequence of its numerous indenta. tions, that, after above five hours' hard walking, we had only made good a W.S.W.
course, direct distance six miles, We obtained on every emi. nence a distinct view of the ice the whole way down to Neerlo-nakto, in which space not a drop of clear water was discernible; the whole of Rich. ards's Bay was filled with ice as before.
We moved at six P.M. on the 4th, and soon came to a number of lakes from half a mile to two miles in length, occurring in chains of three or four together, round which we had to walk, at the expense
of much time and labour. six, on gaining a sight of the sea from the top of a hill, we immediately recognised to the eastward the numerous islands of red granite described by Captain Lyon; and now perceived, what had be. fore been surmised, that the south shore of Rich
At half past
ards's Bay formed the northern coast of the inlet, up which his journey with the Esquimaux had been pursued. Our latitude, by account from noon, be. ing now 69° 28', we felt confident that a short walk directly to the south must bring us to any strait communicating with that inlet, and we therefore pushed on in confident expectation of being near our journey's end. At seven P.M., leaving the men to pitch the tent in a sheltered valley, Mr. Richards and myself ascended the hill that rose beyond it, and, on reaching its summit, found our. selves overlooking a' long and narrow arm of the sea communicating with the inlet before seen to the eastward, and appearing to extend several miles nearly in an east and west direction, or parallel to the table-land before described, from which it is dis. tant three or four miles, That the creek we now overlooked was a part of the same arm of the sea which Captain Lyon had visited, the latitude, the bearings of Igloolik, which was now plainly visible, and the number and appearance of the Coxe Islands, which were too remarkable to be mistaken, all con. curred in assuring us; and it only, therefore, re. mained for us to determine whether it would fur. nish a passage for the ships. Having made all the remarks which the lateness of the evening would permit, we descended to the tent at dusk, being di. rected by a cheerful, blazing fire of the andromeda tetragona, which, in its present dry state, served as excellent fuel for warming our provisions.
Setting forward at five A.M. on the 5th, along some pleasant valleys covered with grass and oth. er vegetation, and the resort of numerous reindeer, we walked six or seven miles in a direction par.
allel to that of the creek; when, finding the lat. ter considerably narrowed, and the numerous low points of its south shore rendering the water too shoal, to all appearance, even for the navigation of a sloop of ten tons, I determined to waste no more time in the farther examination of so insignificant a place. The farther we went to the westward, the higher the hills became; and the commanding prospect thus afforded enabled us distinctly to perceive with a glass that, though the ice had become entirely dissolved in the creek, and for half a mile below it, the whole sea to the eastward, even as far as Igloolik, was covered with one continuous and unbroken floe.
Having now completely satisfied myself, that, as respected both ice and land, there was no navigable passage for ships about this latitude, no time was lost in setting out on our return.
At half past eight we arrived on board, where I was happy to find that all our parties had returned without accident, except that Lieutenant Palmer had been wounded in his hand and temporarily blinded by a gun accidentally going off, from which, however, he fortunately suffered no eventual injury.
The result of our late endeavours, necessarily cramped as they had been, was to confirm, in the most satisfactory manner, the conviction that we were now in the only passage leading to the westward that existed in this neighbourhood. Notwithstanding, therefore, the present unpromising appearance of the ice, I had no alternative left me but patiently to await its disruption, and instantly to avail myself of any alteration that nature might yet effect in our favour.
A Journey performed along the South Shore of Cockburn Isl.
and.-Confirmation of an Outlet to the Polar Sea.- Partial Disruption of the Old Ice, and formation of New.-Return through the Narrows to the Eastward.-Proceed to examine the Coast to the Northeastward.-Fury's Anchor broken.Stand over to Igloolik to look for Winter-quarters.--Excur. sion to the Head of Quilliam Creek.-Ships forced to the Westward by Gales of Wind.-A Canal sawed through the Ice, and the Ships secured in their Winter Station.--Continued Visits of the Esquimaux, and Arrival of some of the Winter Island Tribe. - Proposed Plan of Operations in the ensuing Spring.
A LIGHT air springing up from the eastward on the morning of the 8th, we took advantage of it to run up the margin of the fixed ice, which was now, perhaps, half a mile farther to the westward, in consequence of small pieces being occasionally de. tached from it, than it had been when we tacked off it ten days before.
The pools on the floes were now so hardly fro. zen, that skating and sliding were going on upon them the whole day, though but a week before it had been dangerous to venture upon them.
This latter circumstance, together with the fine. ness of the weather, and the tempting appearance
of the shore of Cockburn Island, which seemed better calculated for travelling than
that we had seen, combined to induce me to despatch another party to the westward, with the hope of increasing, by the only means within our reach, our knowledge of the