January 9-11, 1913: Mawson alone, and a long way from home

–from Douglas Mawson’s account “The Home of the Blizzard”

“On January 9 the weather was overcast and fairly thick drift was flying in a gale of wind, reaching about fifty miles an hour. . . . Part of the time that day was occupied with cutting up a waterproof clothes-bag and Mertz’s burberry jacket and sewing them together to form a sail. Before retiring to rest in the evening I read through the burial service and put the finishing touches on the grave.

“January 10 arrived in a turmoil of wind and thick drift. The start was still further delayed. I spent part of the time in reckoning up the food remaining, and in cooking the rest of the dog meat. . . .

“The next day, January 11, a beautiful, calm day of sunshine, I set out over a good surface with a slight down grade. From the start my feet felt curiously lumpy and sore. They had becoime so painful after a mile of walking that I decided to examine them on the spot, sitting in the lee of the sledge in brilliant sunshine. I had not had my socks off for some days for, while lying in camp, it had not seemed necessary.

“On taking off the third and inner pair of socks the sight of my feet gave me quite a shock, for the thickened skin of the soles had separated in each case as a complete layer, and abundant watery fluid had escaped saturating the sock. The new skin beneath was very much abraded and raw. Several of my toes had commenced to blacken and fester near the tips and the nails were puffed and loose.

“I began to wonder if there was ever to be a day without some special disappointment. However, there was nothing tro be done but make the best of it.”

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