John Muir


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Ice just ahead as we accompanied her N ward while the Captain visited her. The sun is low in the N.W. at 9 o’clock. A lovely evening, bracing, cool, with a light breeze flowing over the polar pack. The ice is marvelously distorted and mirage; thousands of blocks seem suspended in the air; some seem poised on slender black poles and pinnacles; a fridge of ice with innumerable piers, the ice and water wavering with quick glancing motion. At midnight the sun is still above the horizon about 2 diameters; purple to W. & E., gradually fading to dark slate color in the S. with a few banks of cloud. A bar of gold in the path of the sun laid on the water and across the pack, the large blocks in line burning like huge coals of fire. A little schooner, the R.B. Handy, Captain Winants, has a boat out in the edge of the pack killing walruses, while she is lying a little to E. of the sun. A puff of smoke now and then, a dull report, and a huge animal rears and falls – another, and another, as they lie on the ice without showing any alarm, waiting to be killed, like cattle lying in a barnyard! Nearer, we hear the roar, lion-like, mixed with hoarse grunts, from hundreds of walruses lying like black bundles on the white ice. A small red flag is planted near the pile of slain. Then three men pull off to their schooner, as it is now midnight and time for the other watch to go to work. These magnificent animals are killed oftentimes for their tusks alone, like

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