Q: Can you describe a typical day hauling equipment and you're running by
the sleds. Two or three round trips, nine miles. What was it like hauling
equipment from the ships to the Antarctica up to Little America?
NV: The hauling of equipment from the boats to the site of Little America was
a distance of nine miles. We dog drivers slept in tents at the site of Little
America. The first thing that happened in the morning was we'd get up and
harness our dogs and while we were harnessing our dogs and getting dressed
ourselves out of caribou sleeping bags, we went into the mess tent, which was
right there near the dogs and had nothing but coffee. Now we were dressed in
fur parkas and all our winter clothing and our dogs as I said, were harnessed.
We went back to our dogs, pulled the line and away we went toward the ship,
nine miles. We were so tired from working everyday all the time that we would
sleep by putting our head on our arm and laying on the sled, and we actually
slept during those nine miles. The dogs took an hour and a half to do that and
we had a good sleep. They didn't get off trail. There was no place to go.
They wanted to get there because they got a snack when they got to the boat so
that was good for them. But when the motion on the sled stopped we woke up
because we were used to this motion that we've had as the sled went along over
the ice. Then the men at the ship would turn by hand our dog teams around, get
them pointed back toward the site of Little America while we went aboard the
ship, went down below decks and had a marvelous breakfast. We had everything
we wanted and always there was whale meat and seal meat and penguin meat should
we want it. And I had a lot of it because I love game. But we had bacon and
eggs and I remember the butter was Brookfield Butter and the bread that we had
had been baked on the boat two or three times a week. Fresh bread was made.
So after this wonderful breakfast we'd come out, lash down our loads and start
for Little America.
Now one thinks of a dog driver as getting on the back of his sled and riding
along but we couldn't do that. Our dogs were loaded right to the brim and
Admiral Byrd got the most out of his dog teams by having a big blackboard with
each of our names written on the blackboard and beside our names was the total
number of pounds we had moved to Little America and then there was a space of
the number of pounds on our sled that minute before we took off for Little
America, for everything that came off the boat passed over the scales, and
that's how it was recorded. And by doing that we were loaded right to the
capacity of every dog team. We couldn't ride. We had to jog and we did so.
Either ski or jog and most of it going to the site was jogging because it
wasn't long enough even though nine miles you want to think... oh why couldn't
they in nine miles use their skis but there was enough roughness to the trail
that skiing would have been, was interrupted for we tried it, by climbing over
this little, tiny, small pressure ridges because they were broken with, broken
ice and it wasn't very comfortable. So we stuck right to jogging and we would
jog out nine miles. Have lunch out there. Turn our sleds around and go back
to the sled for the afternoon. Now one round trip was eighteen miles you see
and so we did thirty-six every single day and once in a while Admiral Byrd said
we're under pressure can you do another extra trip, and we did.