Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/681

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ARCTIC TEMPERATURES AND EXPLORATION.

open polar sea is correct, they would take to the canoes and follow along the west coast of Greenland as far as it may project northward. The Tyrrells made five hundred miles over the waters of Hudson Bay in this way, and others can do the same. In all they did, however, the surveyors would be guided by past practical experience. If they had their choice they would probably prefer ice to water, but whatever came they would meet it with the equanimity of brave and resourceful men. Above all others, their training in the field has qualified them to cope with the difficulties they are likely to encounter.

It is quite probable that the pole would not be reached the first summer. From Mount Parry to the pole is five hundred and fifty miles. If the most northerly point of Greenland does not reach within a hundred miles of the pole and there were no islands visible beyond, they would scarcely trust themselves on a trackless sea in canoes. They would then have to return and commence the arduous task of portaging a good-sized steam launch piecemeal from the head depot to the polar sea. The whole freighting force of the expedition would be laid under contribution, and the work pushed with unflagging vigor. The boat, of course, would be specially constructed beforehand for the purpose, and would go together and be ready for navigation in a week. Allowing the launch a speed of six miles an hour, the pole would be reached in four days.

The way to accomplish a task of this kind is to go at it quietly and systematically, and stay right there until it is done. Ship companies have always been confronted with the terrifying possibility of being cut off from all human succor. My plan renders such a contingency impossible. The steamer would visit the main depot every summer and then sail for Newfoundland, whence news of the expedition would be telegraphed over the world. The members of the expedition could thus communicate with their friends, and the depressing feeling of isolation would be obviated. There would be no danger of running out of supplies, and the expedition could go cheerfully ahead with the assurance that their retreat was provided for.

There are many reasons why Baffin Bay and Smith's Sound should be chosen as the route to the north pole. To put them shortly: 1. Greenland is the most northerly land known, and probably extends a good deal farther than at present explored. 2. Smith's Sound has been already traversed as far as the open sea. 3. Upernavik is the most northerly permanent abode of civilized man. The moral influence of this on the expedition would be great, because it would be but a short distance from the main depot. 4. A whisp of the Gulf Stream runs along the west coast of Greenland as far as the seventy-eighth degree of latitude, rais-