November 17, 1912: Some notes from the doomed polar party

–from Tryggve Gran’s account The Norwegian with Scott

17 November.  Back to ‘One Ton Camp’.  The bad weather disappeared yesterday and we had a pleasant march.  The going was soft and we used our skis, which went well–just like home for once.  I am using Scott’s skis; they at any rate will complete the 3,000-km trail.

“We overhauled the sledges tonight before striking camp and, as a result, Williamson and I discovered by pure chance, among the things we were going to dump, a bag containing the letter from Amundsen to King Haakon.  Scott had found it in his tent at the Pole.

“I have been able to read a little more of Scott’s diary.  for 15 January he writes: ‘It’s wonderful to think that 2 long marches would find us at the Pole.  We left our depot today with nine days’ provisions, so that it ought to be a certain thing now, and the only appalling possibility the sight of the Norwegian flag forestalling ours.’  The following day Scott continues: ‘The worst has happened, or neary the worst.  About the second hour of the march Bowers’ sharp eyes detected what he thought was a cairn. . . . Half an hour later he detected a black speck ahead.’  Scott now realized it could not be a natural snow feature.  ‘We marched on, found that it was a black flag tied to a sledge bearer; nearby the remains of a camp.  This told the whole story.  The Norwegians have forestalled us and are first at the Pole.  It is a terrible disappointment, and I am very sorry for my loyal companions. . . .all the day dreams must go. . . .'”

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