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.
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.
While I headed towards 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 there either. Finally I reached the shore.
The Greenlandic farm
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 felt fair to state I had been hiking alone in Greenland for 8 days straight. That was definitely one of the most amazing things I had ever done. WOW.
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 had hardly used it. Paddling along icebergs was a really cool experience.
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 then so I quickly packed everything and sent my GPS location again to communicate I was OK. There was a 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 there, this time 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. During my hike I had also sent a message at least twice a day and properly waited until the device indicated satellite connection and successful sending of the message. 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, did not necessarily mean that the message would also be received by the recipient. That was absolutely ridiculous and just plain dangerous, especially because that was not clearly indicated in the 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 have never used anything made by them again].
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 would be less remote so it would be less of a problem if the transmitter didn't work. I also cooked some dinner and wrote this story. The following day it would likely take roughly 2 hours to reach the river north of Narsarsuaq and then another 15 minutes to get back in town. There I would take a good rest and eat as much as possible.