zaterdag 7 december 2013

John Franklin -- 8 december 1820

December 8.
We set out on the lake with an excessively cold north-west wind and were frequently interrupted by large pieces of ice which had been thrown up by the violence of the waves during the progress of congelation, and at dusk we encamped on the Reindeer Islands.

The night was fine with a faint Aurora Borealis. Next day the wind was so keen that the men proposed conveying me in a sledge that I might be the less exposed, to which after some hesitation I consented. Accordingly a reindeer skin and a blanket were laid along the sledge and in these I was wrapped tight up to the chin and lashed to the vehicle, just leaving sufficient play for my head to perceive when I was about to be upset on some rough projecting piece of ice. Thus equipped we set off before the wind (a favourable circumstance on the lake) and went on very well until noon, when the ice, being driven up in ridges in such a manner as to obstruct us very much, I was released, and I confess not unwillingly though I had to walk the remainder of the day.

There are large openings in many parts where the ice had separated and, in attempting to cross one of them, the dogs fell into the water and were saved with difficulty. The poor animals suffered dreadfully from the cold and narrowly escaped being frozen to death. We had quickened our pace towards the close of the day but could not get sight of the land, and it was not till the sun had set that we perceived it about four miles to our left, which obliged us to turn back and head the wind. It was then so cold that two of the party were frozen almost immediately about the face and ears. I escaped from having the good fortune to possess a pair of gloves made of rabbits' skin with which I kept constantly chafing the places which began to be affected. At six P.M. we arrived at the fishing-huts near Stony Island and remained the night there. The Canadians were not a little surprised at seeing us whom they had already given up for lost—nor less so at the manner by which we had come—for they all affirmed that the lake near them was quite free from ice the day before.

John Franklin (1786-1847) was een Britse marineofficier en poolreiziger. In The Journey to the Polar Sea doet hij verslag van zijn eerste reizen naar het noordpoolgebied.

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