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PostPosted: December 17th, 2019, 11:35 am 
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I am well into W.H.B. Hoare's "A Thelon Odyssey". There were several instances described in the book in which the imminent threat of starvation were faced by Hoare and his partner Knox. Downe's opinion was that starvation could be thwarted . Downe's: "it is calculable with intelligence and planning" was his argument. If Downe's argument that the fault for failure resides with the participants and not with serendipity. I am of the opinion that "A Thelon Odyssey" counters Downe's opinion. I leave it there for now and will search out and present supporting passages.


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PostPosted: December 17th, 2019, 3:31 pm 
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david demello wrote:
I am well into W.H.B. Hoare's "A Thelon Odyssey". There were several instances described in the book in which the imminent threat of starvation were faced by Hoare and his partner Knox. Downe's opinion was that starvation could be thwarted . Downe's: "it is calculable with intelligence and planning" was his argument. If Downe's argument that the fault for failure resides with the participants and not with serendipity. I am of the opinion that "A Thelon Odyssey" counters Downe's opinion. I leave it there for now and will search out and present supporting passages.


One could argue that Hoare and Knox choosing to get the hell out of Dodge, so to speak, as their first winter was setting in on the Thelon, where they had their cabin just upstream from the Hornby, Christian, and Adlard corpses, constituted calculated intelligence. I.E., "we don't have enough food laid up for the winter so let's get out of here while we still can."

But overall I agree with you. Starvation was nothing new in that country. It had been going on well before the white men showed up. You can plan and prepare but you can never fully account for bad luck. I will however say that Hornby didn't seem to be big on planning and preparing.

It's too bad Hornby didn't leave a journal. It would have been interesting to know how he viewed the situation as it evolved. When did he realize they were in for serious trouble? Did he consider making a run for Fort Reliance, like Hoare and Knox, early in the season when they still had strength? Or maybe as soon as they failed to make a significant kill of caribou in the fall? Did he feel that was riskier, perhaps justifiably without dogs, than staying put and hoping for the caribou to show up? Maybe he was convinced that the Thelon oasis really was an oasis that would surely support them through the winter and by the time he realized he was wrong it was too late. Certainly, having been in that situation before, he was aware of more than he let on to the others.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 17th, 2019, 7:43 pm 
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Lots of questions Alan, but your assertion " I will however say that Hornby didn't seem to be big on planning and preparing.", which I hold to be true, does not address Downe's opinion that starvation could be thwarted with calculation and intelligence.

Your "Starvation was nothing new in that country. It had been going on well before the white men showed up. You can plan and prepare but you can never fully account for bad luck." does. If I may; intelligence, calculation and experience are not necessarily sufficient and to assert so may demonstrate inexperience and hubris. Perhaps one should "Judge Softly"& "Walk a Mile in His Moccasins" before rendering judgement.


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 11:33 am 
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david demello wrote:
Lots of questions Alan, but your assertion " I will however say that Hornby didn't seem to be big on planning and preparing.", which I hold to be true, does not address Downe's opinion that starvation could be thwarted with calculation and intelligence.


It seems to me that planning and preparing require calculation and intelligence. And if you're intelligent you'll plan and prepare. Both (calculation and intelligence) are required to determine where, what, and how. Where will we winter? What will we need to stay alive? And how will we get there and how will we be sure to have those required things? Intelligence and calculation allow you to decide what should be carried and what should/could be procured along the way.

Intelligence will also allow you to see when your plan isn't working as anticipated and allow you to calculate to odds of forging ahead, altering the plan, or coming up with a new plan altogether, thus (hopefully) avoiding disaster.

When Knox and Hoare were running out of food they used their intelligence to realize they weren't well enough prepared and to recalculate their odds. They made a dash for Fort Reliance to spend the winter while they still had the chance. If I remember correctly, at that time, they were still unaware of the fate that had fallen the Hornby party the previous winter just a few dozen miles downstream, where the corpses still lay. Even without that intelligence they knew they were likely in an untenable position.

Why didn't Hornby reach the same decision? Was he justified when he calculated his odds of staying rather than fleeing? He'd been on the verge of starvation before so he should have been very aware that it was a real possibility rather than some vague thing that only happened to other people.

If Horny had left a journal (or survived) we might see he had good reasons and justifications for doing things they way he did. But unfortunately we don't know and the rest of the evidence doesn't seem to come out in his favor.

To me Hornby's big sin is that he carried other people away with him. People who were completely reliant on his intelligence and calculations since they had no experience on which to base their own. This is not the situation to push the envelope, which I believe he was consciously doing. He let his hopes and wishes get in the way of his intelligence and calculation. The more I think about it the more reckless it seems. Everyone who was familiar with the country and aware of Hornby's "plan" seemed to sniff trouble. Hornby, Christian, and Adlard seemed to be blind to it. Of those three all the responsibility to shake off the haze belonged to Hornby.

For Downes to emphatically state that intelligence and calculation can thwart starvation is wrong. You can't account for everything and bad luck can trip anyone up. But it can certainly go a long way and I can only assume that's what he meant. What Downes wrote he never intended for publication. They were just notes jotted in the margin of a book in his library. How much can we put into them?

As for Downes being an armchair critic that might be true. But perhaps Downes used his intelligence and calculation to come to the realization that spending a winter on the barrens, for him, would be a foolish endeavor likely to end in starvation. He pushed the edge a bit on his own travels but kept the odds in his favor and thus came out the other end richer for it.

While it's important to know your limitations I will agree that we can't all just sit on our lazy butts where it's safe. Someone needs to forge ahead and push the limits. Those people need to do it for themselves and we need them to do it for us.

For Hornby to starve to death in a little cabin on the Thelon river, with no one knowing his location, in a place only a handful of white men had ever seen and where probably no white man had ever spent the winter, would probably be looked upon favorably by history and certainly wouldn't be much of a tragedy. But to take two people with him, who had no real understanding of what they were getting into, is the tragedy.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 5:00 pm 
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Alan Gage wrote: "What Downes wrote he never intended for publication. They were just notes jotted in the margin of a book in his library. How much can we put into them?"

So in effect Alan is saying that thoughts to oneself cannot be trusted because they were not meant for publication. If that be true, then what are we to make of Anne Frank's diary?

Alan also said: "What Downes wrote he never intended for publication" One could assume that "just notes" in and of themselves were not made for publication, one cannot assume they could not and did not serve as a performative, state of mind, that could be fleshed out in another venue another time.

Alan also wrote: "They were just notes jotted in the margin of a book in his library." could be challenged. Downes has a respected position on wilderness travel in the "land of the little sticks. What he writes others read because of
his established/respected position. There can be no doubt many members of mycc have worn the pages of P.G. Downes' Sleeping Island


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 6:28 pm 
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Quote:
So in effect Alan is saying that thoughts to oneself cannot be trusted because they were not meant for publication.


I have many thoughts go through my head. Sometimes they get written down. Some of those thoughts withstand internal reflection and others are cast aside as being silly or incorrect. My mood determines my initial reaction to things, both good and bad. No doubt I could go through my books, journals, and scraps of saved paper and find conclusions and opinions of my own I don't agree with.

While I don't completely discount what Downes wrote in the margin I don't put too much stock in it either. How am I to know if his initial reactions to the diary remained unchanged after he continued to think the matter over? Perhaps he was simply in a fowl mood when he wrote them. Perhaps his feelings softened. Perhaps they didn't.

If he'd left behind writings indicating he'd fleshed out these thoughts I'd put more weight in his conclusions. And if he'd actually written something intended for public consumption it would be completely fair game. But I can't expect him to have censored himself when it came to jotting notes in the margins of his personal books because someone might stumble upon them 70 years later. I don't know that he was much of a legend in his time. Could he ever have expected this to have spurred a debate in 2019?

They're interesting and they give a glimpse into how he saw and interpreted the situation but for me that's all they are, a glimpse.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 6:47 pm 
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Quote:
If Downe's argument that the fault for failure resides with the participants and not with serendipity. I am of the opinion that "A Thelon Odyssey" counters Downe's opinion.


How does "A Thelon Odyssey" counter that opinion?

If you tell me it's because they exhibited intelligence and planning but still almost starved I'll tell you that they didn't starve, which supports Downes' opinion.

Even if they had starved to death there would still be the question of whether they had calculated correctly in their planning.

Did you shake your head as much as I did when reading A Thelon Odyssey as Hoare repeatedly chastises and fines the natives (takes carcasses and pelts when finds them) for hunting within the newly formed preserve only to say in the next breath that he and Knox came upon a heard of caribou and killed 10 of them to feed the dogs.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 9:08 pm 
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Alan Gage wrote "But to take two people with him, who had no real understanding of what they were getting into, is the tragedy. " Then you must condemn me for taking my wife on a journey for which she had no experiential background and was ill equipped for by being a non swimmer. Given the serendipitous nature of these remote adventures dangers are exponentially compounded. I explained them to her as well as I could and she accepted the risk. In some measure only fate determined the outcome. With enough experience my wife read water better than I could and often corrected me on map reading.


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 9:33 pm 
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Alan Gage said: "I have many thoughts go through my head. Sometimes they get written down. Some of those thoughts withstand internal reflection and others are cast aside as being silly or incorrect."

Seemingly not an unreasonable argument. Counter argument: given that Downes owned his annotated "Unflinching" for long enough for him to revisit any doubts and to have revised his original annotations. In fact the notes were written in pencil and he could, upon reflection, have chosen to either erase and replace and juxtaposed. If Alan has evidence that Spike revisited his comments in 'Unflinching', I await. If not then I have no recourse but his "Unflinching" annotations as written. Hypothetical constructs reminds me of: "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"


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PostPosted: December 18th, 2019, 9:47 pm 
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Alan Gage: "Did you shake your head as much as I did when reading A Thelon Odyssey as Hoare repeatedly chastises and fines the natives (takes carcasses and pelts when finds them) for hunting within the newly formed preserve only to say in the next breath that he and Knox came upon a heard of caribou and killed 10 of them to feed the dogs. "

indeed. Almost as much as when I wrote the following:

Quote:
Hornby died on April 17th 1927

From page 312 of Walley's "Legend of John Hornby": "In June of 1927 the Thelon Game Sanctuary was created...." & "to take effect on 1 September of that year"

Thus Downes was not correct in asserting Hornby "...had no right whatsoever..."


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PostPosted: December 19th, 2019, 1:38 am 
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Alan Gage " And if you're intelligent you'll plan and prepare "

In "Lands Forlorn", George Mellis Douglas reflected favorably on John Hornby's intelligence. George Mellis Douglas was held in esteem by PG. Downes. I will find relevant passages.


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PostPosted: December 19th, 2019, 9:49 am 
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david demello wrote:
given that Downes owned his annotated "Unflinching" for long enough for him to revisit any doubts and to have revised his original annotations. In fact the notes were written in pencil and he could, upon reflection, have chosen to either erase and replace and juxtaposed. If Alan has evidence that Spike revisited his comments in 'Unflinching', I await. If not then I have no recourse but his "Unflinching" annotations as written. Hypothetical constructs reminds me of: "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"


I don't edit or alter my old journals even if what I read in them makes me wince and groan. It's a snapshot of a different me in a different time. I don't intend for them to be read by anyone else so there's no need to cover up what I may have written in haste.

And just because he owned a book long enough for him to revisit it doesn't mean that he did.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 19th, 2019, 10:34 am 
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david demello wrote:
Then you must condemn me for taking my wife on a journey for which she had no experiential background and was ill equipped for by being a non swimmer.


Let's say you'd been doing these trips for years and that each one met with some sort of near disaster. Tried to run rapids bigger than you should. You wrecked your boat and lost your gear. You didn't bring sufficient shelter and suffered mightily during protracted summer snow storms. You rarely had enough food and nearly starved, more than once. Yet despite these near misses you continued doing things the same way with always the same result. People who went on these trips with you, who were also experienced, never went with you more than once. You had great skill but poor judgement.

Now you decide to run an unexplored river. One more technical and dangerous than any other you'd previously done. More difficult than nearly anyone has done. A very long and grueling trip. You can't carry enough food so you'll live off the land. For a partner you decide to take your young new bride who still looks at you with awe and hasn't known you long enough to learn your ways. To know your tendencies. To know when you're talking BS. Who has never so much as spent a night in a tent or worked a hard day in her life. Who only knows the stories you've told with a wisftull look in your eye. Every experienced canoe tripper who hears of your plan warns you against it. Warns her against it. Offers alternatives for you to both join their expedition. You shrug it all off.

As usual you arrive too late in the season. You don't have enough food. You're having trouble procuring food from the land. You're at the head of a long canyon with no way out once you start down it. You can still alter your plan and retreat. Instead you push off into the canyon and neither of you come out the other side alive.

Yes, in that instance I would condemn you.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 19th, 2019, 11:54 am 
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whew! I guess I know that I am without blame since everyone of my journeys was a success. No matter how reckless I was. There were many times where "There for the grace of God go I" or Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. But I know that to test fate makes me responsible even if fate forgives. You can mitigate chance, but you cannot eliminate it. Intelligence & planning are not enough. Chaos rules.


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PostPosted: December 19th, 2019, 12:48 pm 
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david demello wrote:
You can mitigate chance, but you cannot eliminate it. Intelligence & planning are not enough. Chaos rules.


I agree completely. Mostly I'm just having fun playing devil's advocate.

I do think Hornby was a bit too much of a wishful thinker and that he took too many chances. That's fine when you're in a more forgiving land or if it's only yourself that you're putting at risk.

No doubt there were other wishful thinkers who were less competent than Hornby who made it out alive. Such are the chances of fate.

Are there any differences between Moffat and Hornby?

Alan


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