South Greenland - Prelude
The hikes I had done thus far had been of variable success. My Ardennes and Black Forest hikes had been tough but fun. During the ones in the Vosges and Corsica all sorts of things had gone wrong. My longest hike, in Iceland, had been beautiful and I longed to return for months afterwards.
This year it was two years since I had visited Iceland and three years since the last Bart and Bram cycling vacation. I preferred to go cycling again, for example in Croatia. However, Bart also wanted to go on vacation with his girlfriend Manon, so he didn't have much time. We also considered hiking, Norway seemed nice, but that felt like a step back after Iceland.
I vaguely remembered reading some things about Greenland, but wasn't sure how 'intense' it would be to hike there. Some Googling taught me there was an 'Arctic circle trail' close to the arctic circle. That looked nice but also crowded. After some more searching I found two reports of people who had hiked in the south of Greenland. It seemed really remote and both hadn't seen another person for over 10 days.
The area did have a village called Narsarsuaq, with direct flights from Denmark and Iceland. Hiking there would mean no cell phone service and many fjords and rivers that I wouldn't be able to cross on foot. In one of the reports I read that the guy carried a GPS transmitter to sent his location to a predetermined email address. He also had a type of inflatable raft to cross the fjords. I figured if I bought both I might be able to hike there safely.
I searched on a hike version of Ebay. In the past few months only one packraft and one GPS transmitter had been posted. The raft 3 days ago and the GPS two hours. That was a real coincidence but also meant I needed to make a decision soon. I decided to buy both and with that also solidified my plans of going to Greenland. I still had little idea about what the weather, landscape, and virtually all other things would be like. In the following 6 months I saw no rafts and only 1 GPS transmitter for sale.
I compiled a long list of all the things I would have to buy, test, and arrange. For every bullet point I crossed three more arose. I did the usual stuff such as buying flights and planning a route, but also needed to figure out if I could buy gas canisters in Greenland, if there was an ATM, and buy paddles and a life-vest. After several months of preparation I was finally ready to go. I would fly via Copenhagen to Narsarsuaq and there walk two roughly 10 day long hikes in a figure 8 shape. I had tested everything I would bring at least twice and researched as much as I could about the route and Greenland in general. I hadn't trained a ridiculous amount, but was in decent shape because of all my cycling.
On top of all this I was doing my PhD research. The two weeks before I left felt really strange. The transition from a laboratory with chemicals and expensive equipment to being completely alone in the wild with only the most vital resources was difficult to imagine. It probably sounds a bit exaggerated, but it really felt like my life would pause on a predetermined moment and I would start a completely different life for the following 4 weeks. To get in the mood and break the no-shave record of my Iceland trip I didn't shave my beard the week before. On June 30th 2014, after half a year of preparations, the moment finally arrived. What had I gotten myself into now...
The majority of my equipment