John Muir


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Point Barrow. The pack is close and impenetrable, though made up of far smaller blocks than usual, owing, no doubt, to the mildness of last winter, and to the chafing and pounding of a succession of gales that have been driving over it at intervals all the spring. We pushed into it through the loose outer fringe, but soon turned back when we found that it stretched all around from the shore. But retreating we avoided the danger of getting fixed in it and carried away. Nearly all the vessels that have been lost in the Arctic have been caught hereabouts. The approach to the ice was signalized by the appearance of walruses, seals, and King eider ducks. The walrus is very abundant here, and when whales are scarce the whalers hunt and kill great numbers of them for their ivory and oil. They are found on cakes of ice in hundreds, and if a party of riflemen can get near, by creeping up behind some hummock, and kill the one on guard, the rest seem to be needless of noise after the first shot, and wait until nearly all are killed. But if the first be only wounded, and plunges into the water, the whole “pod” is likely

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 21 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist