2 February 1911 and 3 February 1911 proved to be incredibly significant for the British Antarctic Expedition. Not because the Depot Laying Journey made more than its expected progress. Indeed, the company put in a respectable nine miles on the days' hauling behind ponies wallowing in soft snow. They laid and then broke camps 4 and 5. Rather, the amazing development is a sudden and breathtaking poetic turn in Scott's journal entries. To the recounting of the daily events, which stray only a little of the necessity imposed on the company by their mission and the harsh climate, Scott began to jot down his "impressions." They are evocative and earnest, if a little saccharine. The title to today's blog is the first line in the impressions Scott recorded on 2 February. From the intimacy and attentiveness these "impressions contain," it is clear that Scott is romantically attuned to this place, what he calls a "great white dessert." (Journals, p. 115, Carroll & Graf ). That other bloke will win this mad, mad race. And Shackleton may be better remembered as a triumphing hero. But they were only visitors to the southern continent. This is Scott's land, home of "wind-blown furrows" and "drift snow like finest flour. . ." (Journals, p. 115, Carroll & Graf ).
Scott ordered the company to march at night when the cooler temperatures would hold the snowy surface better for the ponies. Even the single of pair of pony show-shoes in the company's possession - when put to their intended use - was enough to stir Scott's ecstasy: "the triumph of the snow-shoe again." (Journals, p. 116, Carroll & Graf ).
As for the absurd debate over the advantages of ponies or dogs, Scott is already showing himself to be stubbornly inflexible. On 3 February 1911 he devoted his "impressions" to agonizing over the "pathetic" sight of the ponies in the deep snow, plunging "gamely until exhausted." (Journals, p. 116-117, Carroll & Graf ). Nevertheless, the last entry of the day is devoted to a disturbed recounting of the dogs' "alarming" ferocity, which turns them from tame creatures to "blind, unreasoning" beasts. (Journals, p. 118-119, Carroll & Graf ). Scott was never going to be the man to conquer this continent with dogs.