CHAIN OF BLACK MOUNTAINS. THE DRAGON'S DWELLING. CHANGES OCCASIONED BY RISE AND FALL OF THE TIDES, AND DANGERS ATTENDING THEM. UTTAKIYOK'S SUPERSTITIOUS CUSTOMS. SINGULAR EFFECT OF THE TIDE IN THE BAY OF ITTIMNEKOKTOK. ARRIVE AT KANGERTLUALUKSOAK BAY AND RIVER. ITS SITUATION. TRANSACTIONS THERE.
AUGUST 6th. We crossed the bay ABLORIAK, which is large and wide, with many small islands and rocks towards the sea, and high black mountains inland, called TORNGAETS. Uttakiyok, who was always very eager to make us attentive to every object and its name, shewed us here a wide and deep cavern, in shape like the gable end of a house, situated at the top of a precipice, in a black mountain, of a very horrid and dark appearance. This, he informed us, was the dwelling-place of Torngak, the evil spirit. The scenery was, indeed, extremely wild and terrible, and the beforementioned prospect of the rocks and islands at low water gave to the whole country a most singularly gloomy character. Nor is this change, occasioned by the tide in the state of the sea, merely in appearance terrific, it is so in reality: for we never durst cast anchor in less than eight or nine fathoms water, lest at ebb- tide we should find ourselves aground, or even high and dry.
The cavern just spoken of, connected with the chain of black mountains in which it is situated, we called the Dragon's dwelling, but had no time to examine the place, though it did not appear inaccessible. Whether Uttakiyok would have ventured to accompany us into it, is another question, for he was, with all his good sense, strongly attached to the superstitious notions and ceremonies of his /51/ countrymen. Thus, on passing dangerous places he always hung the claw of a raven to his breast, and carried the blown paunch of a seal upon a tent-pole fixed to one side of his boat. The latter is a common practice among the northern Esquimaux, and probably considered by them all as a very efficient charm.
We passed SIORALIK, and many small and flat rocky islands: the bay ISSORKITOK, (a grassy place), a nameless headland; and the larger bay NAPPARTOLIK, (a woody country). The wood is said to commence at the interior point of this bay, and to continue throughout the whole of the Ungava country, which, as we afterwards discovered, extends to a considerable distance to the southward. Then follows TUNNUYALIK, a point, or perhaps an island, on which lies a huge white stone, twenty or thirty feet high, by which it is distinguished from other similar headlands. A chain of low, flat islands, runs out into the sea to a considerable distance, and appearing at a distance as continued land, they are mistaken for a cape. Farther on is the bay ITTIMNEKOKTOK, where it grew dark before we found a suitable anchorage. The wind was high, and some of our company went on shore in the skin-boat, in order to pitch their tent, and spend the night.
7th. On rising, to our great surprise, we found ourselves left by the tide in a shallow pool of water, surrounded by rocky hills; nor could we at all discover the situation of our skin-boat, till after the water had begun to rise, and raised us above the banks of our watery dungeon, when, with great astonishment, not having been able to find it on the surface of the sea, and accidentally directing our eyes upwards, we saw it perched upon the top of a considerable eminence, and apparently on shore. We then landed, and ascending a rising ground, beheld with some terror, the wonderful changes occasioned by the tides. Our course was visible to the extent of two or three English miles, but /52/ the sea had left it, and we were obliged to remain in this dismal place, till about noon, before the water had risen sufficiently to carry us out. We now began to entertain fears, lest we might not always be able to find proper harbours, so as to avoid being left high and dry at low water; for having anchored in nine fathoms last night, we were left in one and a half this morning. Uttakiyok and Thukkekina were with us on shore. The eminence on which we stood was overgrown with vaccinia and other plants, and we saw among them marks of its being visited by hares. Near the summit was a spot, covered with red sand, which stained one's fingers, and among it were fragments of a substance resembling cast iron. We seemed here to stand on a peninsula connected by an isthmus with another island, or with the continent; but probably at high water it may be a separate island.
As soon as the tide would permit, we set out, and proceeded towards a cape called KATTAKTOK, surrounded by small islands. Between the cape and our anchoring place, we passed, on the left, the following objects: KEGLO, a broad deep bay; KATARUSIALIK, a headland, probably of the continent; UKKASIKSALIK, (meaning a place where soap stone is found), a peninsula; and to the right of the latter place, an island, KIKKERTARSOAK, which lies at the entrance of the GREAT BAY, or estuary of the great river KANGERTLUALUKSOAK. We sailed with a strong, but favourable wind, with some rain, between the peninsula and the island; and not trusting to the depth of the water at ebb-tide, sent two kayaks forward to sound. They soon brought us into a good harbour, where we cast anchor about half past five P.M.
KANGERTLUALUKSOAK river was the spot to which we had principally directed our views. It lies about 140 miles S.S.W. of Cape Chudleigh. By an observation at its mouth its latitude appeared to be 58 degrees 57 minutes. But we had no means of finding the longitude. At its entrance the bay /53/ runs rather S.S.E. for about ten or twelve English miles, then turns due S.E. for six or eight more, and after that S.W. At the second turn towards the S.E. there is the greatest quantity of wood, chiefly Larch, but of moderate size. We particularly noticed a fine slope facing the south, which appeared the most pleasant part of the bay, to which a vessel might approach and anchor with convenience, there being from 24 to 30 fathoms water. We also imagined that the entrance from the sea would be free from obstructions, as no islands are seen in that direction. Uttakiyok likewise declared, that there was no bar or sunken rocks near the mouth of the bay.
We found no inhabitants on our arrival, but on the 13th, a whole company of people from Killinek joined us.
Our transactions in the bay of KANGERTLUALUKSOAK, from the 7th, are here noticed more in detail.
AUGUST 8th. We landed, and went in search of our people, who had spent the night in tents on shore. Okkiksuk accompanied us to the top of a hill, overlooking the bay ITTIMNEKOKTOK, where we had anchored the day before. We saw it quite dry, and full of large fragments of rock. Turning towards the land, we discovered some wood at a distance. The weather being calm and warm, the mosquitoes were excessively troublesome. The vallies here are overgrown with verdure, and the hills pretty well clothed with moss, and berry-bearing plants; but we could not continue our walk, on account of the mosquitoes, which persecuted us unmercifully, and drove us back to our tents. All our men were out, two on that side on which we had landed, and the others having crossed the bay in their kayaks, were employed in hunting reindeer. Jonathan only remained at home. In the afternoon he accompanied us in the small boat, to a hill, situated to the South of our station, at about two miles distant, where we landed, and went up the country, but found nothing much worth notice. We observed, /54/ that round the headland near us, the water was very rough, with eddies and whirlpools, occasioned by the rising of the high tides. On returning to our little boat, we found it aground. We therefore gathered some drift-wood, of which there was plenty, and made a good fire, at which we sat down and regaled ourselves with some biscuit and beer. Having pushed the boat into the water, we set out, but owing to the violence of the current had hard work to get to the great boat, and did not arrive till dark. Jonas saluted us from on board, by firing off his piece in token of success, and we found that he had got two, and his companion three reindeer, and a small black bear. The carcases were left at the tents, where part was cooked, and a mess brought to us on board, which proved an agreeable repast after our fatigue. Jonas and his family spent the night on board, the rest of the Esquimaux in their tents on shore.
9th. Jonas having found a good harbour on the other side of the bay, and the current being here very strong, we sailed across and anchored there. The strand was even, and full of smooth rocks, above high water mark. The bottom of the bay is mud, and a slimy substance, covering all the stones and pebbles, left by the tide, makes walking very troublesome. The land is not high, but pleasant, covered with moss, with many small ponds, and marks of being frequented by reindeer.
10th. We went further up the bay in the skin-boat, with Jonathan, Uttakiyok, Thukkekina, Paul, David, and Okkiksuk. At a short distance from the place where we had landed yesterday, we came to a fine green terrace, overgrown with low shrubs and bushes, which delighted us much. From hence, a woody valley, extending to the left, seemed to invite us to take that course into the country, but we would not waste our time by examining it. On sailing farther up the bay, and turning round the above /55/ mentioned terrace, we came to a small inlet, dry at low water, on the left shore. Its banks were pleasantly covered with low bushes, interspersed with higher trees, and the place seemed to us very suitable for a settlement. From hence we perceived, at a short distance, on the opposite coast, a cape or headland, over which the tops of trees made their appearance. We sailed towards it, and found behind it a tract covered with low wood, chiefly larch and pine: on landing we saw tracks of reindeer, which had just left the spot. Jonathan, in an instant, ran like a young man for his gun, and with it into the wood. We followed him for two or three miles, but saw nothing but the track of the deer. The country inland seems in general level, with some low hills, and many ponds; without wood, but overgrown with reindeer moss. No success attended our huntsman, and in the evening we met again in the boat. Brother Kmoch had kept up with Jonathan, and saw, among the bushes, the same kind of large partridge, or American wild pheasant, which is found about Okkak, but seems only to live in woods. It was a hen, with a covey of young birds, one of which he caught, examined, and let go again, nor would he take or shoot the hen, out of compassion to the young brood.
Brother Kohlmeister had meanwhile gone farther up the bay, and thought he had discovered the entrance of the river, but no fresh water appearing, we must still have been a great way off its influx into the bay.
We now lighted a fire, boiled coffee, and cooked a dish of reindeer venison. The weather was warm, and the night fine and clear, but frosty. Having brought our travelling-beds with us on shore, (see page 34 of original), we crept into them, and spent the night at the fire-side, the Esquimaux lying down anywhere about us. In the morning, the whole country was covered with hoar-frost, and the straw we had lain upon was frozen fast to the ground.