National Geographic : 1952 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine slightly tilted (page 2). The rim rears up hundreds of feet above the surrounding waste land, and the lake deep in its bowl has an un believable color of purple-blue. I was pleased to see the water was ice-free. This would facilitate lake research. On my three-day visit to the crater in 1950 I had found most of the surface covered with drift ing cakes of ice, some of them three feet thick, although near-by lakes had none. On Museum Lake shore that night there was no haste in pitching camp. Even at mid night, when we decided things were ade quately squared away, we still had bright daylight. A beautiful sunset, which had appeared to the northwest two hours earlier, was now straight to our north, its glory un diminished. Camp under Four Flags Because of this virtually continuous day light, all but one of our tents were dark green to make sleeping possible. Only the cook tent was white, for visibility inside. It also aided in spotting our site from the air (oppo site page). Throughout the stay our little encampment operated under four flags-the Union Jack for Canada, Old Glory of the United States, and the banners of the expedition's two spon sors, the National Geographic Society and the Royal Ontario Museum. Our first morning witnessed the debut of Dick Stewart as the expedition's chef de cui sine. He volunteered to assume all mess-tent responsibilities, but served this ultimatum: "The first man who complains about the food replaces me as cook immediately!" Dick held his job until we struck camp to go home. The lack of any complaints may be interpreted as a tribute to his culinary genius. I often marveled that the meals were so appetizing, considering that much of the food was in dehydrated form (page 32). If Dick and Fred Chubb, his mess tent aide, lavished any special care on that first break fast, their pains went for naught. Everyone just bolted it down; all in our party had a single thought-to see Chubb Crater close up. It was the same with the four crewmen of the Canso, who had remained overnight. Only two miles separated our camp and the crater, yet it took as much time to cover the distance as five miles or more of normal cross country hiking. The boulder-littered plain made progress tormentingly slow. We scraped, scrambled, and slithered through the jumbled rocks that always seemed an invita tion to a very bad sprain at least, if not a broken ankle (page 11). At intervals we scaled granite ridges appar ently concentric to the crater. These rear up from 20 to 30 feet above the rest of the plain. Finally we clambered up the 250 slope to the rim's summit, which rounds off gently to a broad, almost flat surface (pages 26-27). When Fred Chubb and I had climbed to this same point the year before, our first view had left us speechless. It was the same this time with the others, rooted solemn and silent where they stood by the harsh majesty of the scene. The strange, almost unearthly silence height ened the effect. To my mind, the most stirring view of Chubb is from the rubble down at the very edge of the cold lake. An aerial view is strik ing (pages 12-13), but it leaves one without a full appreciation of this natural wonder. Seen from the crater rim, which averages 400 feet above the water, the lake seems dwarfed -far smaller than its true diameter of more than a mile and a half. It is only down along the wave-wet rocks, I think, that the senses can begin to comprehend the splendor of the crystal-clear lake and the bare magnificence of the crater panorama. While most appreciative of such unmatched scenery, I found my thoughts concentrating on other matters. I again marked the amaz ing points of similarity which Chubb shared with Arizona's Meteor Crater, long officially recognized as the largest proven scar of a meteor's collision with the earth.* Both are much alike in circular shape, in general appearance, and in their settings amid fractured rocks. Meteor Crater cradles no beautiful lake like Chubb. On the other hand, during my 1950 inspection the Chubb area had yielded no meteorite fragments or droplets such as bestrewed the vicinity of the Arizona scar, and I would have been happier if some such meteoritic evidence were already in hand. Of course, I hoped we would secure it. Chubb Far Larger than Arizona Crater The striking difference between the two craters is in size. Arizona's crater has a diameter of about 4,000 feet. I estimated that our survey would show Chubb's rim-to rim breadth almost three times that. In depth the Arizona scar is approximately 600 feet. Even without measuring, my eye told me Chubb was deeper, even if its lake proved deceptively shallow, which I doubted. Thus Chubb bid fair to become the world's newest and largest natural wonder of meteor itic origin. The catch was that we had to prove that Chubb was a meteor's handiwork. My thoughts were interrupted by Captain Allard, the Canso's pilot. "Time to get back to the plane and start * See "Mysterious Tomb of a Giant Meteorite." by William D. Boutwell, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, June, 1928.