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THE FINAL STAGE
FEBRUARY 23 TO MARCH 4
Bluff Depot reached: Marshall's Condition worse on February 25: Marshall and Adams remain in Camp while Shackleton and Wild make a Forced March to Hut Point: On board Nimrod: Relief Party start to bring in Marshall and Adams: All Safe on Board Ship March 4, 1908
February 24. We got up at 5 A.M., and at 7 A.M. had breakfast, consisting of eggs, dried milk, porridge, and pemmican, with plenty of biscuits. We marched until 1 P.M., had lunch and then marched until 8 rat., covering a distance of fifteen miles for the day. The weather was fine. Though we have plenty of weight to haul now we do not feel it so much as we did the smaller weights when we were hungry. We have good food inside us, and every now and then on the march we eat a bit of chocolate or biscuit. Warned by the experience of Scott and Wilson on the previous southern journey, I have taken care not to over-eat. Adams has a wonderful digestion, and can go on without any difficulty. Wild's dysentery is a bit better to-day. He is careful of his feeding and has only taken things that are suitable. It is a comfort to be able to pick and choose. I cannot understand a letter I received from Murray about Mackintosh getting adrift on the ice, but no doubt this will be cleared up on our return. Anyhow, every one seems to be all right. There was no news of the Northern Party or of the Western Party. We turned in full of food to-night.
February 25. We turned out at 4 A.M. for an early start, as we are in danger of being left if we do not push ahead rapidly and reach the ship. On going into the tent for breakfast I found Marshall suffering from paralysis of the stomach and renewed dysentery, and while we were eating a blizzard came up. We secured everything as the Bluff showed masses of ragged cloud, and I was of opinion that it was going to blow hard. I did not think Marshall fit to travel through the blizzard. During the afternoon, as we were lying in the bags, the weather cleared somewhat, though it still blew hard. If Marshall is not better to-night, I must leave him with Adams and push on, for time is going on, and the ship may leave on March 1, according to orders, if the Sound is not clear of ice. I went over through the blizzard to Marshall's tent. He is in a bad way still, but thinks that he could travel to-morrow.
February 27 (1 A.M.). The blizzard was over at midnight, and we got up at 1 A.M., had breakfast at 2, and made a start at 4. At 9.30 A.M. we had lunch, at 3 P.M. tea, at 7 P.M. hoosh, and then marched till 11 P.M. Had another hoosh, and turned in at 1 A.M. We did twenty-four miles. Marshall suffered greatly, but stuck to the march. He never complains.
RETURN JOURNEY OF THE SOUTHERN PARTY: AT THE BLUFF DEPOT
March 5. Although we did not turn in until 1 A.M. on Feb. 27th, we were up again at 4 A.M. and after a good hoosh, we got under way at 6 A.M. and marched until 1 P.M. Marshall was unable to haul, his dysentery increasing, and he got worse in the afternoon, after lunch. At 4 P.M. I decided to pitch camp, leave Marshall under Adams' charge, and push ahead with Wild, taking one day's provisions and leaving the balance for the two men at the camp. I hoped to pick up a relief party at the ship. We dumped everything off the sledge except a prismatic compass, our sleeping-bags and food for one day, and at 4.30 P.M. Wild and I started, and marched till 9 P.M. Then we had a hoosh, and marched until 2 A.M. of the 28th, over a very hard surface. We stopped for one hour and a half off the north-east end of White Island, getting no sleep, and marched till 11 A.M., by which time our food was finished. We kept flashing the heliograph in the hope of attracting attention from Observation Hill, where I thought that a party would be on the look-out, but there was no return flash. The only thing to do was to push ahead, although we were by this time very tired. At 2.30 P.M. we sighted open water ahead, the ice having evidently broken out four miles south of Cape Armitage, and an hour and a half later a blizzard wind started to blow, and the weather got very thick. We thought once that we saw a party coming over to meet us, and our sledge seemed to grow lighter for a few minutes, but the "party" turned out to be a group of penguins at the ice-edge. The weather was so thick that we could not see any distance ahead, and we arrived at the ice edge suddenly. The ice was swaying up and down, and there was grave risk of our being carried out. I decided to abandon the sledge, as I felt sure that we would get assistance at once when we reached the hut, and time was becoming important. It was necessary that we should get food and shelter speedily. Wild's feet were giving him a great deal of trouble. In the thick weather we could not risk making Pram Point, and I decided to follow another route seven miles round by the other side of Castle Rock. We clambered over crevasses and snow slopes, and after what seemed an almost interminable struggle reached Castle Rock, from whence I could see that there was open water all round the north. It was indeed a different home-coining from what we had expected. Out on the Barrier and up on the plateau our thoughts had often turned to the day when we would get back to the comfort and plenty of the winter quarters, but we had never imagined fighting our way to the back-door, so to speak, in such a cheerless fashion. We reached the top of Ski Slope at 7.45 P.M., and from there we could see the hut and the bay. There was no sign of the ship, and no smoke or other evidence of life at the hut. We hurried on to the hut, our minds busy with gloomy possibilities, and found not a man there. There was a letter stating that the Northern Party had reached the Magnetic Pole, and that all the parties had been picked up except ours. The letter added that the ship would be sheltering under Glacier Tongue until February 26. It was now February 28, and it was with very keen anxiety in our minds that we proceeded to search for food. If the ship was gone, our plight, and that of the two men left out on the Barrier, was a very serious one.
We improvised a cooking vessel, found oil and a Primus lamp, and had a good feed of biscuit, onions, and plum pudding, which were amongst the stores left at the hut. We were utterly weary but we had no sleeping-gear, our bags having been left with the sledge, and the temperature was very low. We found a piece of roofing felt, which we wrapped round us, and then we sat up all night, the darkness being relieved only when we occasionally lighted the lamp in order to secure a little warmth. We tried to burn the magnetic hut in the hope of attracting attention from the ship, but we were not able to get it alight. We tried, too, to tie the Union Jack to Vince's cross, on the hill, but we were so played out that our cold fingers could not manage the knots. It was a bad night for us, and we were glad indeed when the light came again. Then we managed to get a little warmer, and at 9 A.M. we got the magnetic hut alight, and put up the flag.
All our fears vanished when in the distance we saw the ship, miraged up. We signalled with the heliograph, and at 11 A.M. on March 1 we were on board the Nimrod and once more safe amongst friends. I will not attempt to describe our feelings. Every one was glad to see us, and keen to know what we had done. They had given us up for lost, and a search-party had been going to start that day in the hope of finding some trace of us. I found that every member of the expedition was well, that the plans had worked out satisfactorily, and that the work laid down had been carried out. The ship had brought nothing but good news from the outside world. It seemed as though a great load had been lifted from my shoulders.
The first thing was to bring in Adams and Marshall, and I ordered out a relief party at once. I had a good feed of bacon and fried bread, and started at 2.30 P.M. from the Barrier edge with Mackay, Mawson, and McGillan, leaving Wild on the Nimrod. We marched until 10 P.M., had dinner and turned in for a short sleep. We were up again at 2 A.M. the next morning (March 2), .4 and travelled until 1 P.M., when we reached the camp where I f had left the two men. Marshall was better, the rest having done him a lot of good, and he was able to march and pull. After lunch we started back again, and marched until 8 P.M. in fine weather. We were under way again at 4 A.M. the next morning, had lunch at noon, and reached the ice-edge at 3 P.M. There was no sign of the ship, and the sea was freezing over. We waited until 5 P.M., and then found that it was possible to strike land at Pram Point. The weather was coming on bad, clouding up from the south-east, and Marshall was suffering from renewed dysentery, the result of the heavy marching. We therefore abandoned one tent and one sledge at the ice-edge, taking on only the sleeping-bags and the specimens. We climbed up by Crater Hill, leaving everything but the sleeping-bags, for the weather was getting worse, and at 9.35 P.M. commenced to slide down towards Hut Point. We reached the winter quarters at 9.50, and Marshall was put to bed. Mackay and I lighted a carbide flare on the hill by Vince's cross, and after dinner all hands turned in except Mackay and myself. A short time after Mackay saw the ship appear. It was now blowing a hard blizzard, but Mackintosh had seen our flare from a distance of nine miles. Adams and I went on board the Nimrod, and Adams, after surviving all the dangers of the interior of the Antarctic continent, was nearly lost within sight of safety. He slipped at the ice-edge, owing to the fact that he was wearing new finnesko, and he only just saved himself from going over. He managed to hang on until he was rescued by a party from the ship.
A boat went back for Marshall and the others, and we were all safe on board at 1 A.M. on March 4.
THE SOUTHERN PARTY ON BOARD THE "NIMROD." LEFT TO RIGHT: WILD, SHACKLETON, MARSHALL, ADAMS