January 16, 1912: Forestalled at the Pole

–from Scott’s diary–

“Tuesday, January 16.  –Camp 68.  Height 9760.  T. -23.5.  The worst has happened, or nearly the worst.  We marched well in the morning and covered 7-1/2 miles.  Noon sight shows us in Lat/ 89-42′ S., and we started off in high spirits in the afternoon, feeling that to-morrow would see us at our destination.  About the second hour of the march Bowers’ sharp eyes detected what he thought was a cairn; he was uneasy about it, but argued that it must be a sastrugus.  Half an hour later he detected a black speck ahead.  Soon we knew that this could not be a natural snow feature.  We marched on, found that it was a black flag tied to a sledge bearer; near by the remains of a camp; sledge tracks and ski tracks going and coming and the clear trace of dogs’ paws–many dogs.  This told us the whole story.  The Norwegians have forestalled us and are first at the Pole.

“I am very sorry for my loyal companions.  Many thoughts come and much discussion have we had.  To-morrow we must march on to the Pole and then hasten home with all the speed we can compass.

“All the day dreams must go.”

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