National Geographic : 1949 Oct
x I .S. Coast Guard, Official Ringsel, Author's Escape Ship from Norway, Brings New Weather Observers to Torgilsbu In August, 1940, just four months after the Germans invaded Norway, Knutsen set sail for Greenland in the Ring Seal. The Germans did not detain him, probably because he was born an American citizen in Brooklyn, though he had returned to Norway as an infant. The picture was taken in southeast Greenland from the U. S. Coast Guard cutter Northland, Capt. (later Rear Admiral) Edward H. Smith commanding. It was "Iceberg" Smith who arranged for Knutsen to return to the United States (page 558). the Norwegian shipping firm that had bought it from its British owners (page 549). As for Greenland and me, it was love at first sight! I still thrill recalling the wonder of jagged mountains, blue fjords, and glitter ing icebergs (pages 552-3).* At Cape (Kap) Stosch in Godthaabs Gulf (Golf) the Quest's crew helped Karl Nico laisen and me rebuild an old Norwegian trap per's hut. Karl and I planned to trap foxes and hunt seals and walrus for a year. Then the Quest sailed up to the head of Loch Fyne fjord and froze in for the winter. Members of the ship's party also spent the winter trapping foxes. Of our catch, 90 percent were white foxes and 10 percent blues, the latter six or seven times more valuable than the whites. The crop of foxes and other wildlife in the Arctic seems to depend, to some extent at least, on the prolificacy or scarcity of lemmings. Lemmings are those small, mouselike ro dents that in some years inhabit the northern tundra by the millions. The cycles of their abundance and scarcity present a biological puzzle. In the early fall Karl and I found lemming burrows dotting the tundra like holes in a Swiss cheese. Lemming Army, Locked in Ice The first sharp October freeze laid a clear skin of ice on the bays strong enough to support us and our sleds. Karl and I crossed to the west shore of Godthaabs Gulf next day to set some deadfall traps for foxes. The ice was so clear we seemed to be gliding over flat-calm water. * See "Greenland from 1898 to Now," by Robert A. Bartlett, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1940.