The results of our winter’s work were briefly as follows: Bush and Mahood, after leaving the Major and me at Petropavlovsk, had gone on to the Russian settlement of Nikolaievsk, at the mouth of the Amur River, and had entered promptly upon the exploration of the west coast of the Okhotsk Sea. They had travelled with the Wandering Tunguses through the densely timbered region between Nikolaievsk and Aian, ridden on the backs of reindeer over the rugged mountains of the Stanavoi range south of Okhotsk, and had finally met the Major at the latter place on the 22d. of February. The Major, alone, had explored the whole north coast of the Okhotsk Sea and had made a visit to the Russian city of Yakutsk, six hundred versts west of Okhotsk, in quest of labourers and horses. He had ascertained the possibility of hiring a thousand Yakut labourers in the settlements along the Lena River, at the rate of sixty dollars a year for each man, and of purchasing there as many Siberian horses as we should require at very reasonable prices. He had located a route for the line from Gizhiga to Okhotsk, and had superintended generally the whole work of exploration. Macrae and Arnold had explored nearly all the region lying south of the Anadyr and along the lower Myan, and had gained much valuable information concerning the little-known tribe of Wandering Chukchis. Dodd, Robinson, and I had explored two routes from Gizhiga to Anadyrsk, and had found a chain of wooded rivers connecting the Okhotsk Sea with the Pacific Ocean near Bering Strait. The natives we had everywhere found to be peaceable and well disposed, and many of them along the route of the line were already engaged in cutting poles. The country, although by no means favourable to the construction of a telegraph line, presented no obstacles which energy and perseverance could not overcome; and, as we reviewed our winter’s work, we felt satisfied that the enterprise in which we were engaged, if not altogether an easy one, held out at least a fair prospect of success.
LAST WORK OF THE WINTER—BIRDS AND FLOWERS OF SPRING CONTINUOUS DAYLIGHT—SOCIAL LIFE IN GIZHIGA—A CURIOUS SICKNESS—SUMMER DAYS AND NIGHTS—NEWS FROM AMERICA
The months of April and May, owing to the great length of the days and the comparative mildness of the weather, are the most favourable months in north-eastern Siberia for outdoor work and travel; and as the Company’s vessels could not be expected to arrive at Gizhiga before the early part of June, Major Abaza determined to make the most of the intervening time. As soon as he had recovered a little, therefore, from the fatigue of his journey, he started with Bush, Macrae, and the Russian governor, for Anadyrsk, intending to engage there fifty or sixty native labourers and begin at once the construction of station-houses and the cutting and distribution of poles along the Anadyr River. My own efforts to that end, owing to the laziness of the Anadyrsk people, had been unsuccessful; but it was hoped that through the influence and cooperation of the civil authority something might perhaps be done.