National Geographic : 1952 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine the strain on the aluminum masts, which flailed about like buggy whips. It was a shivering, worried expedition leader who crawled back into his sleeping robe. The next morning, in casual understatement, Dick Stewart remarked he hadn't slept much. I inquired what he had been thinking about. "I just lay here and prayed," he replied solemnly. "What do you think I was doing?" I said. He didn't have to ask. Canoe Blown Like Chip When I went outside I found that the 105 pound canoe, which the night before had been parked snugly against our tent wall, had been blown some 50 feet away, turning over several times in the trip. In a couple of days the winds subsided to something like erratic normal, and we shifted camp across to the east end of our lake. Everyone felt better after tents were pitched behind the shelter of a seven-foot sand dune. Judged by Far North standards, our camp was reasonably comfortable throughout our time in the field, despite the exposed location of the first site. Having some experience in the wilderness, I am inclined to scorn chairs as excess bag gage. However, the Arctic is different. The ground is cold and damp, and the rocks be strewing our camp areas were far from com fortably upholstered. The four-pound aluminum folding chairs we took along probably would look more at home on the sands at Miami or Atlantic City than they did in the bleak wastelands. But they proved more worth while per ounce than anything else we brought with us. We slept on collapsible cots with spring steel frames. Some of us rested well on them, but others complained that, with the cots a bare three inches off the ground, dampness would seep up even through the warm thick ness of heavy sleeping robes. Our few spare evening hours were spent in reading, playing cribbage for no stakes (page 19), or working over specimens collected during the day. Crater More than Two Miles Wide One satisfying development was that we finally logged the dimensions of our uncooper ative subject. Chubb Crater, so surveys estab lished, has a rim-to-rim diameter of 11,500 feet and a circumference of 6.8 miles. The lake in the crater bowl averages 9,100 feet in diameter. The shore line measures 5.4 miles around, and soundings showed the great est depth of water to be 825 feet. Before we obtained final sounding data we already knew that the highest point on the lopsided rim was 500 feet above the lake surface. Now we double-checked figures and were jubilant that our crater had a maximum depth of 1,325 feet, unprecedented if we could establish that it was meteoritic in origin. To get accurate measurements of the lake's depth, Fred and Nick outdid the most eager of beavers in the way they toiled on the only two calm days to come their way. Their task was laborious and exacting. The weighted sounding cable had to be lowered repeatedly until it hit bottom, and the various locations had to be precisely plotted (page 30). The lake's waters are remarkably clear. Tests proved it was possible to see an object suspended 115 feet below the surface, even in less than ideal weather (page 29). This crater lake also presented us with a fish puzzle, still unsolved. We took from its waters a number of misshapen Arctic char, a fish of the trout family. They had gro tesque heads, far more developed than their soft, spongy bodies (page 15). Melting snow and ice can explain why Chubb boasts a deep lake. But how did the char get into its waters? Still more baffling is how the fish have survived, for study of lake water proved it deficient in the minute plankton organisms on which fish feed (page 31). Magnetometer Probes in Vain On the crater rim overlooking the lake, Long John Keefe and Len Cowan pressed their magnetometer survey with the zeal of the perfectionists they were (page 31). The search, however, was still no more productive than my nightly radio calls. If a meteorite mass existed somewhere under the crater lip, it, too, was giving no answer that could be detected by delicate instruments. On August 14 a Norseman plane dropped unheralded from the sky and disrupted our routine (page 7). Aboard were Dr. Jacques Rousseau, director of Montreal's Botanical Garden, and Dr. I. W. Jones, chief geologist of the Department of Mines of Quebec, who had been doing field work in northern Ungava, Malcolm Ritchie, Dr. Jones's assistant, Dr. Rousseau's son Francois, Rene Richard, artist prospector, and the plane's crew. These unexpected visitors brought us news and a bundle of mail from home. Their wel come could not have been warmer. Tramping along the crater rim with Dr. Jones, I poured out the story of the expedi tion's work to date (page 27). I told him of our disappointment over the failure to find evidence of a buried meteorite, how my search for meteoritic particles likewise had been fruitless, and how I regretted that only small portions of the vast plain could be cov ered in this hunt.