Spots of Time: “Herald Island”

“Herald Island,” by John Muir, 1881.

Herald Island came in sight at one o’clock in the afternoon, and when we reached the edge of the pack it was still about ten miles distant.… At ten o’clock in the evening we came to anchor in the midst of huge cakes and blocks about sixty-five feet thick within two or three hundred yards of the shore. After so many futile efforts had been made last year to reach this little ice-bound island, everybody seemed wildly eager to run ashore and climb to the summit of its sheer granite cliffs. At first a party of eight jumped from the bowsprit chains and ran across the narrow belt of margin ice and madly began to climb up an excessively steep gully, which came to an end in an inaccessible slope a few hundred feet above the water. Those ahead loosened and sent down a train of granite boulders, which shot over the heads of those below in a far more dangerous manner than any of the party seemed to appreciate.

John Muir, from an account of his 1881 journey to the Arctic, Cruise of the Corwin