South Greenland - Day 2 : Greenland
I woke up a few times during the night from all the noise in the airport and at 5:30 I really couldn't sleep anymore. I packed my stuff and went searching for breakfast. Much later my flight was mentioned on the screens, but I couldn't check in yet. There was something wrong with the baggage system and huge lines were forming everywhere. This started well, hopefully my flight wouldn't be cancelled.
Ready to go
I was pretty tired and the flight was a bit boring at first. After a brief nap I felt better. There were at least 50 'real' Greenlanders in the plane. As there are only 50.000 in existence, I realized that this was the equivalent of 17.000 Dutch people. When lunch arrived we got macaroni with chicken, 2 buns, cheese, and a chocolate ball. I ate every last crumb, as it would likely be my last decent meal for quite some time. I still had some mixed feelings about going to Greenland, on the one hand it seemed very pretty, but on the other it would almost certainly be tough and perhaps lonely. As a real workaholic, I also didn't like that my research would be paused for a month.
When I looked down out of the window I suddenly noticed a bunch of tiny white dots organized in stripes. At first I thought they were clouds, or ice crystals on the plane's window. Then I thought it might be the waves breaking, but something looked off. Then I realized what I was looking at: it were thousands of icebergs drifting from Greenland. A few minutes later Greenlands' shore came into view, it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. There was the sea filled with icebergs and next to it all sorts of granite mountains and glaciers as far as I could see. Unfortunately I was in the seat farthest removed from the window. Luckily the girl and the man next to me offered to take pictures.
After a few minutes there was only ice everywhere. Later the landscape became lower and there were mostly barren mountains and fjords. Then the landing. One thing I had 'forgotten' to mention at home was that Narsarsuaq airport is one of the most dangerous ones in the world. Fortunately all went well. As soon as we got out I noticed that the air smelled super fresh, I hoped that wouldn't mean everything would smell when I returned home. The combined terminal, customs, tax-free store, and kiosk were the size of a large house.
After picking up my backpack I went to the 'Blue ice explorer', a small tourist office. There I bought gas canisters and asked if I could leave half of the food I brought behind for my second loop. In the supermarket I bought some 'apples'. They were the size of walnuts and had expired long ago. As there were only 145 people living in the village they probably didn't get a lot of fresh food shipped in. I discovered Danish is not that different from the dialect in the region of the Netherlands where I lived, as I could read much of the packages in the store (Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark).
I also called home to let my parents know I had arrived and to check how well the location send by the GPS transmitter agreed with the online map we would both use to track my progress. The map turned out to off by about 200 meters, which was not too bad. Now I was finally ready to hit the road.
Although road wasn't really the right word. I wouldn't encounter anything along the way, there would be no houses, cabins, or even paths. The route I had planned was based on a 'suggested route' on the hiking map I carried. That meant it indicated the best way to move through the landscape, but in the end I would still have to do most of the navigating. The suggested routes came in four different colors, indicating their difficulties from green to black. The entire first loop I would hike was black.
Two hundred meters out of the village was a large river that I would have to cross with my packraft. It took 2x 15 minutes to inflate and (un)pack everything, while the crossing only took two minutes. Still, it was really cool to do. A packraft really adds a whole new degree of freedom. There was a dirt road starting on the other shore of the river. I walked passed an old farm where I saw a Greenlandic farmer on his 4-wheeler. A bit later I decided to camp along a stream. It was only 15:30 Greenlandic time but already 19:30 in the Netherlands, I needed to be careful not to overdo it the first few days.