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too late to climb out. It was rather a solemn parting, for each party thought the other was taking the dangerous
My old boat having been deserted, I went on board The Maid of the Canyon. The three men climbed a crag that overhung the river, to watch us off. The Maid pushed out, we glided rapidly along the foot of the wall, just grazing one great rock, pulled out a little into the chute of the second fall, and plunged over it. We were scarcely a minute in running it, and found that, although it had looked difficult from above, we had passed many places that were worse. The other boat followed without more difficulty.
We landed at the first practicable point below, fired our guns as a signal to the men above that we had gone over in safety, and remained a couple of hours, hoping that they would take the smaller boat and follow us. We were behind a curve in the canyon and could not see the spot where we left them. As they did not come, we pushed on again. Until noon we had a succession of rapids and falls, all of which we ran in safety.
At twelve o'clock on August 29th we emerged from the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and entered a valley from which we could see low mountains sloping up from the river below. At night we camped on the left bank in a mesquite thicket. The sense of relief from danger and the joy of success were great. The river rolled by in silent majesty; the quiet of the camp was sweet, our joy was almost ecstasy.
We ran through two or three short, shallow canyons the next day and, on emerging from one, discovered a band of Indians in the valley below. They saw us and scampered away to hide among the rocks. Although we stopped and called to them to return, not an Indian remained to be seen.
Two or three miles farther down, after turning a short bend in the river, we came upon another camp. So near were we before they could see us that I could shout to them and, being able to speak a little of their language, I told them we were friends. But they all fled to the rocks except a man, a woman, and two children. We stopped and talked with them. They were without lodges, but had built little shelters of boughs, under which they wallowed in the sand. Sumner looked in the boat for something to give them, and found a little piece of colored soap, which they received as a valuable present; rather, however, as a thing of beauty than of use. They were either unwilling or unable to tell us anything about other Indians or white people, so we pushed off, for we had no time to lose.
Soon after dinner one of the men exclaimed: "Yonder's an Indian in the river!" Looking for a few minutes, we certainly did see two or three figures. The men bent to their oars and pulled toward them. Approaching, we saw three white men and an Indian hauling a seine. We were at the mouth of the long-sought river! The exploration of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado was accomplished!
REACHING THE NORTH POLE
REAR-ADMIRAL ROBERT E. PEARY, U.S.N.
At ten o'clock on the forenoon of April 6, 1909, we were at the end of the last long march of our upward journey. Yet with the Pole actually in sight I was too weary to take the last few steps. I was actually too exhausted to realize at the moment that my life's purpose had been achieved.
As soon as our igloos had been completed and we had eaten our dinner and double-rationed the dogs, I turned in for a few hours of absolutely necessary sleep, Henson and the Eskimos having unloaded the sledges and got them in readiness for such repairs as were necessary. But, weary though
I was, I could not sleep long. It was, therefore, only a few hours later when I woke. The first thing I did after awaking was to write these words in my diary: "The Pole at last. The prize of three centuries. My dream and goal for twenty years. Mine at last! I cannot bring myself to realize it. It seems all so simple and commonplace."
Everything was in readiness for an observation at 6 P. M., in case the sky should be clear, but at that hour it was, unfortunately, still overcast. But as there were indications that it would clear before long, two of the Eskimos and myself made ready a light sledge carrying only the instruments, a tin of pemmican, and one or two skins; and drawn by a double team of dogs, we pushed on an estimated distance of ten miles. While we traveled, the sky cleared, and at the end of the journey I was able to get a satisfactory series of observations. These observations indicated that our position was then beyond the Pole.
Nearly everything in the circumstances which then surrounded us seemed too strange to be throughly realized; but one of the strangest of these circumstances seemed to me to be the fact that, in a march of only a few hours, I had passed from the western to the eastern hemisphere and had verified my position at the summit of the world. It was hard to realize that, in the first mile of this brief march, we had been traveling due north, while, on the last few miles of the same march, we had been traveling south, although we had all the time been traveling precisely in the same direction. More
over, in order to return to our camp, it now became necessary to turn and go north again for a few miles and then to go directly south, all the time traveling in the same direction.
As we passed back along that trail which none had ever seen before or would ever see again, certain reflections intruded themselves which, I think, may fairly be called unique. East, west, and north had disappeared for us. Only one direction remained and that was south. Every breeze which could possibly blow upon us, no matter from what point of the horizon, must be a south wind. Where we were, one day and one night constituted a year, a hundred such days and nights constituted a century. Had we stood in that spot during the six months of the arctic winter night, we should have seen every star of the northern hemisphere circling the sky at the same distance from the horizon, with Polaris (the North Star) practically in the zenith.
Of course there were some more or less informal ceremonies connected with our arrival at our difficult destination, but they were not of a very elaborate character. We planted five flags at the top of the world. The first one was a silk American flag which Mrs. Peary gave me fifteen years ago. That flag has done more traveling in high latitudes than any other ever made. I carried it wrapped about my body on every one of my expeditions northward after it came into my possession, and I left a fragment of it at each of my successive "farthest norths." By the time it actually reached the Pole, therefore, it was somewhat worn and discolored.
After I had planted the American flag in the ice, I told Henson to time the Eskimos for three rousing cheers, which they gave with the greatest enthusiasm. Thereupon, I shook hands with each member of the party surely a sufficiently
unceremonious affair to meet with the approval of the most democratic. The Eskimos were childishly delighted with our success. While, of course, they did not realize its importance fully, or its world-wide significance, they did understand that it meant the final achievement of a task upon which they had seen me engaged for years.
Then, in a space between the ice blocks of a pressure ridge, I deposited a glass bottle containing a diagonal strip of my flag and records, of which one is the following:
90° North Latitude, North Pole, April 6, 1909.
I have to-day hoisted the national ensign of the United States of America at this place, which my observations indicate to be the North Polar axis of the earth, and have formally taken possession of the entire region, and adjacent, for and in the name of the President of the United States of America.
I leave this record and United States flag in possession.
ROBERT E. PEARY,
The thirty hours at the Pole, what with my marchings and countermarchings, together with the observations and records, were pretty well crowded. I found time, however, to write to Mrs. Peary on a United States postal card, which I had found on the ship during the winter. It had been my custom at various important stages of the journey northward to write such a note in order that, if anything serious happened to me, these brief communications might ultimately reach her at the hands of the survivors. This was the card which later reached Mrs. Peary at Sydney: 90° North Latitude, April 7th
My dear Jo,
I have won out at last. Have been here a day. I start for home and you in an hour. Love to the "kidsies." BERT