Archive for the ‘Bushcraft Heroes’ Category
The Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917
In Shackleton’s own words, “After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen who, by a narrow margin of days only, was in advance of the British Expedition under Scott, there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings–the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea”.
When Shackleton returned from the Nimrod Expedition, on which an attempt was made to plant the British flag on the South Pole, attention was turned towards the crossing of the continent as Shackleton felt certain that either Amundsen or Scott would succeed where he had failed, just 97 miles from his goal.
Shackleton felt that the first crossing of the Antarctic Continent, from sea to sea via the Pole, apart from its historic value, would be a journey of great scientific importance. The distance would be roughly 1800 miles, and the first half of this, from the Weddell Sea to the Pole, would be over unexplored territory. Shackleton intended on taking continuous magnetic observations as the glaciologist and geologist studied ice formations and the mountains of Victoria Land. While the Trans-continental party worked its way across the continent, other scientific parties would operate from the base on the Weddell Sea. One sledging party would travel towards Graham Land, making observations and collecting geological specimens while another party would travel eastward toward Enderby Land conducting the same types of studies. A third party would remain at the base to study the fauna of the land and sea and the meteorological conditions. From the Ross Sea base in McMurdo Sound, another party would push southward to await the arrival of the Trans-continental party at the top of the Beardmore Glacier. Two ships were required for the expedition. The Endurance would be used to transport the Trans-continental party to the Weddell Sea and would afterwards explore the shores of the coastline. She was constructed at Sandefjord by the famous Norwegian builder, Christensen. She was barquentine rigged and had triple-expansion engines which gave her a speed under steam of 9 to 10 knots. Some 350 tons, she was built of selected pine, oak and greenheart. Fully equipped, she cost the Expedition £14,000. Aurora, the ship used to take out the Ross Sea Party, was purchased from Douglas Mawson. She was very similar to theTerra Nova of Scott’s expedition.
My grandfather, Maco, had been our chief. I never saw him, but my father often told me of the great size, strength, and sagacity of this old warrior. Their principal wars had been with the Mexicans. They had some wars with other tribes of Indians also, but were seldom at peace for any great length of time with the Mexican towns.
Kephart was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Iowa. He was the director of the St. Louis Mercantile Library in St. Louis Misouri from 1890 to 1903. In these years Kephart also wrote about camping and hunting trips.1 Earlier, Kephart had also worked as a librarian atYale University and spent significant time in Italy as an employee of a wealthy American book collector.
In 1904, Kephart’s family (wife Laura and their six children) moved to Ithaca, New York, but Laura and Horace never divorced or legally separated. Horace Kephart found his way to western North Carolina, where he lived in the Hazel Creek section of what would later become the Great Smoky Mountain National Park:
In the Geographical Journal for March, 1907, Shackleton outlined his plans, some of which subsequently had to be changed. The expedition was expected to leave New Zealand at the beginning of 1908 and proceed to winter quarters on the Antarctic continent. Here the men and stores would be landed, followed quickly by the retreat of the ship to New Zealand to prevent her from being frozen in. Shackleton announced, “The shore-party of nine or twelve men will winter with sufficient equipment to enable three separate parties to start out in the spring. One party will go east, and, if possible, across the Barrier to the new land known as King Edward VII Land, follow the coastline there south, if the coast trends south, or north if north, returning when it is considered necessary to do so. The second party will proceed south over the same route as that of the southern sledge-party of the Discovery; this party will keep from fifteen to twenty miles from the coast, so as to avoid any rough ice. The third party will possibly proceed westward over the mountains, and, instead of crossing in a line due west, will strike towards the magnetic Pole. The main changes in equipment will be that Siberian ponies will be taken for the sledge journeys both east and south, and also a specially designed motor-car for the southern journey…I do not intend to sacrifice the scientific utility of the expedition to a mere record-breaking journey, but say frankly, all the same, that one of my great efforts will be to reach the southern geographical Pole. I shall in no way neglect to continue the biological, meteorological, geological and magnetic work of the Discovery”.
To celebrate each noted event a feast and dance would be given. Perhaps only our own people, perhaps neighboring tribes, would be invited. These festivities usually lasted for about four days. By day we feasted, by night under the direction of some chief we danced. The music for our dance was singing led by the warriors, and accompanied by beating the esadadedne (buck-skin-on-a-hoop). No words were sung–only the tones. When the feasting and dancing were over we would have horse races, foot races, wrestling, jumping, and all sorts of games (gambling).
I was born in No-doyohn Canon, Arizona, June, 1829.
In that country which lies around the head waters of the Gila River I was reared. This range was our fatherland; among these mountains our wigwams were hidden; the scattered valleys contained our fields; the boundless prairies, stretching away on every side, were our pastures; the rocky caverns were our burying places.
I was fourth in a family of eight children– four boys and four girls. Of that family, only myself, my brother, Porico, and my sister, Nah-da-ste , are yet alive. We are held as prisoners of war in this Military Reservation (Fort Sill).
As a babe I rolled on the dirt floor of my father’s tepee, hung in my tsoch (Apache name for cradle) at my mother’s back, or suspended from the bough of a tree. I was warmed by the sun, rocked by the winds, and sheltered by the trees as other Indian babes.
Ernest Henry Shackleton was born at Kilkea House, County Kildare, on February 15, 1874. The Shackletons came originally from Yorkshire. The founder of the family was Abraham Shackleton, a Quaker, who moved to Ireland early in the eighteenth century and started a school at Ballitore, near Dublin. Henry Shackleton, Ernest’s father, was Abraham’s direct descendant in the fourth generation. Henry tried to enter the army but his poor health prevented him. Becoming a farmer instead, he settled in the green, fertile, rolling fields of County Kildare at a place called Kilkea. Ernest’s mother, born Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan, married Henry in 1872, bringing a touch of Irish blood into an otherwise pure Anglo-Irish lineage. Ernest’s birth happened to coincide with the disastrous potato crop failure, so much a part of Irish history. This meant an agricultural depression and difficult times for farmers. Henry Shackleton was a survivalist and therefore abandoned his farm before it was too late. At the age of 33, Henry left his farm to Trinity College in Dublin and started a new career in medicine. In 1884, Dr. Shackleton crossed the water and settled in England. It was in suburban London that Ernest Shackleton spent the remainder of his boyhood years. Ernest’s mother became mysteriously an invalid and remained so for the last forty years of her life. Dr. Shackleton, with help from his mother-in-law and various female relatives from Ireland, raised Ernest and the other children.
John Rae is undoubtedly one of Orkney’s greatest unsung heroes.
Although his memorial is prominent in St Magnus Cathedral, the truth is that, these daya, few Orcadians know of the man or his deeds.
John Rae was born at the Hall o’ Clestrain in Orphir on September 30, 1813. He was the fourth son of John Rae senior.
Rae Senior was the factor of Sir William Honeyman’s Orkney estate, so while most Orcadian families faced a harsh life of near-poverty, the Rae family lived in comfort in affluent surroundings.
Samuel Hearne was born in London, England in 1745 He served in the Royal Navy, joining in 1756 at the tender age of eleven. In 1763 he left the Navy and took employment with the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1768 he examined portions of the Hudson Bay coasts with a view to improving the cod fishery. Then from 1769 – 1772, he was employed in North Western discovery. The Hudson’s Bay Company sent him in search of copper mines that were reported by Indians to be in the North, somewhere along the Coppermine River.
I’ve included Major Les Hiddins in this series of ‘Bushcraft Heroes’ quite simply because back in the eighties when his television series The Bush Tucker Man hit our screens, he brought me a huge amount of inspiration. Here was a man sharing my interest of the outdoors and doing exactly what I dreamed of doing. All be it, in a completely different country/environment, even a different continent for that matter. Every Sunday I was glued to the television screen to watch Les in his distinctively modified Akubra hat, travel the outback of Australia showing us what nature had to offer in terms of wild foods and how to go about obtaing those foods.