Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/735

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ways well to have some objective point in view to reach, and among the pleasantest desert trips with tents and camels are those to the Sinaitic Peninsula, to the Natroon Lakes, to the Fayûm, and to several other oases to the west of the Nile. Probably the warmest and driest for an invalid would be that from Assiût, Girgeh, or Esneh to the Great Oasis. But one may camp on the edge of the desert, traveling southward along the Nile, in that way having the advantage of more interesting surroundings; for some people might find the desert monotonous." On a trip to Wadi Natroon, where they spent ten days, "we were a party of three, and had eight camels with their drivers, a drag-oman (interpreter), desert guide, cook, hunter guide, and a boy; two tents, three folding bedsteads with mattresses, two folding tables, chairs, rugs, cook-stove, fuel, water, rifles and shot-guns, and provisions for all the party, camels included. Camel-riding becomes easy after a time. One can assume almost any position, even lying down and going to sleep, and one can read with ease. Ladies are not at all debarred from taking such trips. Everything necessary can be procured in Cairo, and the expense should not be over five or seven dollars per day for each traveler."

 

The River from the Lucie Glacier.—The most novel and interesting feature in the Lucie Glacier, Alaska, as described by Mr. Israel C. Russell, is a glacial river which bursts from beneath a high archway of ice and flows for about a mile and a half through a channel excavated in the ice, then to enter the mouth of another tunnel and become lost to view. The stream is swift, and its waters are brown and heavy with sediment. Its breadth is about one hundred and fifty feet. For the greater part of its way, where open to sunlight, it flows between banks of ice and over an icy floor. Fragments of its banks and portions of the sides and roof of the tunnel from which it emerges are swept away by the swift current or stranded here and there in midstream. The archway under which the stream disappears is about fifty feet high, and the tunnel retains its dimensions as far as one can see by looking in at its mouth. Where the stream emerges is unknown; but the emergence could no doubt be discovered by examining the border of the glacier some miles southward. No explorer has yet been bold enough to enter the tunnel and drift through with the stream, though possibly this could be done without great danger. The greatest risk in such an undertaking would be from falling blocks of ice. While the author was standing near the mouth of the tunnel there came a roar from the dark cavern within, reverberating like the explosion of a heavy blast in the chambers of a mine, that he did not doubt marked the fall of an ice mass from the arched roof. At the mouth of the tunnel there are always confused noises and rhythmic vibrations to be heard in the dark recesses within. The air is filled with pulsations like deep organ notes. It takes but little imagination to transform these strange sounds into the voices and songs of the mythical inhabitants of the nether regions.

 

Nansen's Plan for reaching the Pole.—The main principle of Dr. Fridtjof Nansen's plan for reaching the north pole, as it was described by him recently at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, is that of working with the forces of Nature rather than against them. In this view the shortest and most certain route to the pole is probably to be found in the ocean current running north from Siberia and south by Greenland. The existence of such a current seems to be proved by the floating of relics of the Jeannette from where she sank in the waters north of Siberia apparently across the polar sea to the vicinity of the southwest coast of Greenland, and by the frequent appearance of Siberian objects in Greenland waters. Dr. Nansen's ship has been built with especial reference to its resisting the pressure of the ice. It is as small as possible consistently with its carrying the coal and stores that will have to be taken along. It is shaped, avoiding perpendicular lines and angles, so that in case of an ice crush it can not be nipped, but, with regularly sloping sides, shall permit the ice to glide under it and lift it up. It will be one hundred and twenty-eight feet long over all, with thirty-six feet greatest beam, a draught of twelve feet with light cargo, and a bearing capacity of three hundred and eighty tons of coal and cargo. It will be built almost solid, and will be rigged as a three-masted