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South Greenland - Day 10 : People

In the morning (yes this night I had slept) I woke up 2 hours later as usual. That was annoying, but I also enjoyed it as it increased the change of me reaching 8 days without seeing anyone.

canyon in greenland
hiking in greenland

After packing everything I went on my way. It was another 14 kilometer until the ocean. The route would be mostly downhill along sheep paths with a nice view of the distant mountains. At one point I took a break and realized I hadn't come up with a good definition of 'seeing people' yet. Did it count if I saw someone 5 km away on the other side of the fjord? And what if I passed a farm but there was no-one home? I decided to use the most strict definition. If I could discern a human being it would count, but deserted farms would not. I also took some photos of myself, as I had hardly done that thus far.

greenlandic sheep
greenlandic mountains
hiking in greenland

While I headed back to the fjord I regretted going back to civilization, although I could use some rest. After a few kilometers I noticed a farm in the distance. Despite looking at it for over an hour I still hadn't seen anyone when I passed it. Slightly later I passed someone's home, but there didn't seem to be anyone home. Finally I reached the beach.

greenlandic farm

The Greenlandic farm

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Eriks Fjord
 

When I arrived at the shore it happened, at 17:05 I noticed a boat in the distance with something in it that must have been a person. A little later I also saw a distant tractor. Although it had been 'only' 7 days and 22 hours since I last saw someone, both people didn't get within several hundred meters of me and I didn't see anyone else for the remainder of the day. Therefore it feels fair to state I have been hiking alone in Greenland for 8 days straight. This is definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever done. WOW.

eriks fjord

First person in 8 days, spot the fishing boat
 

Having arrived at the coast it was time to cross. The water was calm and back home I had already paddled 8 km with luggage, so I felt comfortable doing this. I walked a bit further north to where the fjord was at its narrowest, about 600 m. I inflated everything, attached my backpack, and send my location home. The packraft I carried was the lightest available and definitely not the fastest or most convenient. Slowly but steadily I moved forward. Carrying the packraft for the past week had been worth it, even though I hardly used it. Paddling along icebergs was a pretty cool experience.

packraft in greenland
packrafting in greenland
packraft in greenland
paddling in greenland
packrafting in greenland

I had a decent headwind, but after half an hour (that's only 1.2 km/h) I safely made it to the other bank. It was raining by now so I quickly packed everything and sent my GPS location again to make clear I was OK. There was small climb to the dirt road, but from there on walking was easy. About 5 km before arriving in Narsarsuaq I pitched my tent on a spot with slightly less sheep poop than elsewhere. According to the map there was another Inuit ruin here, this one I could actually recognize, although barely. With a view over the iceberg filled bay I listened to some music while lying in my sleeping bag.

As I finally had cell phone service again I called home. When my sister said 'Hi Bram' I realized that this would be my first time talking to someone in over 8 days. I said that everything was OK and explained I was almost back in Narsarsuaq. Back home everything was fine as well, only my dad had some bad news. I had tested the GPS transmitter (a SPOT-2) multiple times without problems. Here I had sent a message at least twice a day and properly waited until the device indicated satellite connection and that the message had been sent. However, it turned out that my parents had often received only 1 message a day and several days ago hadn't heard anything for 2.5 days, without knowing if I was still alive or not. That was really unfortunate.

 

[Back home I contacted the manufacturer which plainly told me that the device indicating it has 1) satellite connection and 2) successfully sent a message, does not necessarily mean that the message will also be received by the recipient. That is absolutely ridiculous and just plain dangerous, especially this is not clearly indicated in its manual. I am now translating this story 6 years later and still get angry about it. I'm sure some people have good experiences with SPOT but I wouldn't recommend them to anyone].

At least my parents now knew everything was OK and I agreed to now sent 3 messages per day and leave my transmitter on even longer. Fortunately the second part of my hike is less remote so it will be less of a problem if the transmitter doesn't work. I also cooked some dinner and wrote this story. Tomorrow it will take roughly 2 hours to reach the river north of Narsarsuaq and then another 15 minutes to get back in town. There I will take a good rest and eat as much as I can.

greenlandic ruin

The ruin

camping in greenland
greenlandic sheep
greenlandic sheep