Northward: Peary’s 1908-09 Expedition

I wanted to be alone


Back to our old position near our cache of provisions just below Shelter River. More water here so there is less danger of being forced aground. George and I have been developing pictures in our room. Considering our limitations we had rather good luck. A beautiful, quiet, sunny day, scarcely any change in the ice. After supper tired with so much reading. I went on deck for a little exercise. Impulsively I jumped on the ice and started for the shore. Two of the Esquimaux boys jumped down and followed me. We walked together toward Cape Union. Coming to the delta of Shelter River they proposed a race. I started and ran and ran until I was out of sight.
    I wanted to be alone, to look out upon the Arctic pack from the heights of Cape Union. With no witness and no coat and the thermometer at 15+ I went on, climbed the cliffs, sat in the crevices of the rocks and listened to the slow grinding of the ice along the ice foot – all else was as silent as death. Not a living thing could be seen on the great, wide, white expanse. As I climbed the last ridge a snow bunting greeted me with his sweet chirp.
    I then continued my way along the edge of the cliff up toward the most northern point of Cape Union. As [far as] I could see a narrow lane of open water led from the Roosevelt. I wanted to go on and on toward the big red sun crowning the crest of the high hill to the north, but Commander should know of the lead. So I ran over the hills toward the west in order to descend by the Shelter River valley. Away off at the foot of the cliff I could see the Roosevelt looking like a toy boat against the land. Arriving on board at 12 o’clock I notified the Capt. of open water. Commander came on deck and suggested to the Capt. that he go to the top of Cape Union with a glass and take another look at it on the ebb tide.


Pictured above:
Greenland, Ice floes, Unknown date, ID: 3000.3.125

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