Winter journal

December 28, 1910. Turner Pass, Alaska.

This journal, here, at the end of my journey, I will keep diligently as, either, my last testament or my monument to the expiation of my sins. In either case, it may serve for me – when spring comes to this rugged land - or for who might follow, finding, instead of healing, my carcass become only frozen meat.
I pray that it might be the former.

December 29, 1910.

I have my provisions stocked in what will be my home through these dark months and, today, since the pass is still clear, I saw one coach thunder through with wheels spinning like fair-ground kaleidoscopes and horses foaming. The driver saw me and saluted but stopped not – the journey to Fairbanks is still long from here. Later, some of the Native trappers who inhabit these parts passed. They were silent and dignified. I offered them of my supplies but they refused. They told me, in words of their language and some French, that the Spirits of these glorious mountains make ready to send the snow and cold that will cause the land to sleep and rest.

December 30, 1910.

Today, with my hound, I walked up the mountain somewhat with my paints and a small (12x17”) canvas. Aye, it had become colder; the paints soon froze as did my fingers as soon as they were removed from the rabbit fur mittens. I soon gave up and worked instead with a piece of charcoal from the fire trying to capture the shifting hues of light upon the mountain faces. My notebooks are full of sketches such as this and they will allow me to paint when the winter closes in. Even in the fervor of my work, my memories of New York were upon me. By the time I returned to my cabin and stoked the fire, some flakes of fresh snow were dancing in the air, sparkling in the last light of day.

December 31, 1910.

So too as the year has come to a close, the snow has come as was told me. The Spirits sent their wrath down the mountains in the night – the snow falls thick - and, today, I can scarce see my hand before my face venturing outside. I tended to my mare in her little stable but fear I may need to bring her into the cabin for safety and warmth. The cold!

January 1, 1911.

This snow is a blanket upon the land and shows no sign of cease. The cold only grows more intense.
This year will be a year of rebirth for me; every day, I will paint to release what haunts me and capture the visions, sketches to prompt my memory, that inhabit my notebooks. Already, I have completed two: one which shows the majesty of the mountains illuminated in the fickle light of a jaundiced and distant sun and, another, in which, the snow is the protagonist and, in it, against a backdrop of mountains, uncertain shapes move. I do not know the origin of this image.

January 2, 1911.

The winter here is as cold as a miser's heart and as bitter and cutting as the memory of a treasonous lover.

January 3, 1911.

Still it snows and... the wind! How it howls day and night!
Yet, I am content and occupy myself with my visions. Were not they becoming so oppressive, I would be more content. Today, I painted from a sketch and using the autumnal colors I had recorded during the journey here. The mountains glowed with light but, somehow, the sky, in my representation, became thick and ominous, lowering and threatening to crash down upon the land.

January 10, 1911.

I have been negligent. I would like to report that I have been busy but that is far from the case. Yes, some canvases have been completed but I cannot bear to look at them. They are as dark as the Armageddon.

January 12, 1911.

My beautiful Magdalena!
How could you not forgive me?

January 14, 1911.

I have slept much and despite the despair which lingers in my heart, I am much improved. I fear that it is not in man's nature – this solitude – to endure. Rather, we are meant to be with our kind such as we may find them for, they, as are we, are of all the colors of the palette. My spirit flags in this darkness.

January 17, 1911.

The mare is dead.

January 21, 1911.

Through every crevasse this wind howls like a tormented soul. It comes night and day – never ceasing and, with each new howl, I worry my hands like a dowager preoccupied that they might come to fetch me. Yet, carried upon the wind, I hear voices that taunt and call me. I know this is my mind having fun with me – there is no soul near here. Indeed, perhaps the world has fallen away beyond this veil of snow and wind and nothing yet remains of all I dreamed. I fear I am lost.

February ... 1911.

What day? Does it matter or even the year?
The canvases have provided fuel for the fire. The sketchbooks, as well.
My Magdalena is as lost to me as I am now to myself.
All is lost.

February ... 1911.

I will trek southward following the line of the mountains.
I have my shotgun, some dried dog meat and flints for the fire.

February ... 1911.

The sun has appeared.
It is on the wrong side.

Transcription of journal discovered June 26, 1958 with human remains located two days travel north of Turner Pass, Alaska.

<< Go back to the previous page