By Cecil Kuhne
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Extra info for Near Death in the Arctic
On our first day’s trek we had covered only three miles, which meant that so far, in spite of all our efforts, we were actually nineteen miles farther from our goal than when we had left the ship! This observation immediately drained me of almost all hope. But then the thought that summer was on its way–and that northerly winds would prevail throughout most of the season–restored my courage and convinced me to carry on. So we made ready, packed up the tent, and set off. Then a new, disturbing incident occurred: we had hardly gone a few yards before we were overcome by dizziness and felt so weak that we had to lie down.
Of course, I may have simply been ill at the time, as my hallucinatory state the previous day had shown; but from then on I would never forget that dream. It was still vivid in my memory, despite all our trials and tribulations, when we finally arrived safe and sound at Cape Flora. My traveling companions also gained renewed strength from my dream, and their confidence grew even greater when on that same evening we came upon a large polynya,* where we were able to shoot some seals, which gave us a supply of fresh meat and blubber for fuel.
We could only assume that he must have fallen through a fissure in the ice. Perhaps he succumbed to the shock of the icy water, for he had often complained of a bad heart. We had done everything in our power to save him. Now all that I could do was to organize our departure, in order not to further endanger the lives of those who remained. This sad turn of events was enough in itself to dampen the men’s spirits; they sincerely regretted the loss of their companion, who had set off with such noble intentions, only to meet his death.