was drawing to a close. Cold rain, fog and mist reduced visibility,
so very little could be accomplished and the ship headed south
to Seattle. In March or April of the following year (1908) Captain
Derickson relieved Captain Dickins and the up triangulation
across Dixon Entrance, where the British Ship "Egeria," Captain
Learmouth commanding, had worked during the preceding year.
The lines ranged in length from twenty to fifty miles.
on Duke Island was one of the important points. Its elevation
is only 1778 feet and its ascent presented no particular difficulty,
but a fire had recently swept the slopes of the mountain and
it was covered with charred tree trunks and fallen trees. There
was no trail. A party was put ashore consisting of Dr. Mahone,
the ship's doctor, two seamen, a Japanese boy and myself. A
senior officer who should have had this job suffered from a
heart ailment and for him mountain climbing was TABOO. He was
over seventy when he passed away. For a good long life, get
a heart attack when in the twenties. Having dumped our gear
ashore, the skipper said, "There is your mountain, get your
party up there and start observing." The ship immediately got
under way. Food might be missing, but never an instrument, or
record books. The Executive Officer checked those items. We
back packed in relays toward the peak our instruments, provisions,
tents, tarpaulins, cots, blankets, signal building material,
etc. The ground was water-soaked. About 10 p.m. we came to a
dry, flat outcropping rock and spread our tarpaulins. We had
some hot coffee and beans, then lay down and in less than ten
minutes all were asleep. About 2 a.m. it started to rain and
it rained for ten days. Everything except the instruments were
water-soaked. The next day we pitched our tents near the summit.
insisted on taking his mattress when he left the ship. He had
to pack it and it soaked water like a sponge. We were wet to
the skin and filthy from climbing over burnt timber. There was
much cussing. We were on an island and hadn't any boat to get
away. There were no freight trains. If there had been any way
of getting off, Captain Derickson, upon his return, would have
found a sign nailed to a tree reading, "Not looking for glory.
We have gone and we won't be back!"
Doc and I climbed to the summit, where we saw what looked like
a small white rooster. He resented our encroaching on his domain
by cussing us in rooster language. Doc said, "Must be a farm
here somewhere. Let us look around and see if it is safe to
get that bird." There wasn't any sign of a farm, so we started
shooting with small Colt automatics. That just seemed to irritate
the rooster. After wasting ten shots I picked up a rock and
missed him by about one foot. Well, that wasn't playing fair,
so he went away. That was our first experience with ptarmigan.
At that time they hadn't shed their white coats for the spring
and summer gray.
were not improved when the Japanese boy prepared the first meal.
Never before nor since have I tasted anything like it. We asked
him what it was; he didn't know. He said, "I never cook before;
I peel potatoes and wash dishes in the galley." A cook, in those
days, was never sent ashore with a camp party. The substitute
was sometimes a mess boy, the second cook (dishwasher and potato
peeler), or just a sailor who said he could cook (a dodge to
avoid mountain climbing). However, the digestions of youngsters
who hiked and climbed mountains for eight to ten hours each
day and slept in the open or in tents at night, were very good.
was storm-bound and was a week late in returning to our station.
In the meantime we were short of chow. Medico was a crack shot
with a rifle and got a large gray gander. Fortunately he shot
off the bird's head. If he hit it elsewhere there would have
been nothing but feathers. The rifle was an old Army gun, 45-70.
There really was no danger of going hungry, as there were geese,
ducks, ptarmigan, deer and shellfish. During this storm Quartermaster
Gunderson was thrown overboard from the bridge of the "Gedney"
in Dixon Entrance. He was an excellent seaman, in his early
twenties. He was born in Heligoland. His body was not recovered.
Upon completion of the work on Mt. Lazaroo, the party was shifted
to Cape Muzon.
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