South Greenland - Day 2 : Greenland
I had woken up a few times at night from all the noise in the airport and from 5:30 onwards I really couldn't sleep anymore. I packed my stuff and went in search of breakfast. Much later my flight was mentioned on the screen, but I couldn't check in yet. There was also something wrong with the baggage system so there were huge lines everywhere. This started well, hopefully my flight wouldn't be cancelled.
Ready to go
I was tired and the flight was a bit boring at first. 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. After sleeping a bit I felt better. Then lunch arrived, we got macaroni with chicken, 2 buns, cheese, and a chocolate ball, of which I ate every crum as it would likely be my last real meal in a while. I still had some mixed feelings about going to Greenland, on the one hand it seemed very pretty, but on the other it would likely be tough and perhaps lonely. As a real workaholic I also didn't like that my research would be on hold for a month.
When I looked out of the window I suddenly noticed a bunch of tiny white dots organized in stripes. At first I thought it were clouds, or ice crystals on the plane's window, but those normally didn't look like this. Then I thought it was maybe the waves breaking, but also those look different. 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 bare mountains and fjords. Then the landing. One thing I had 'forgot' to mention at home was that Narsarsuaq airport is listed as one of the most dangerous 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 will stink 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 carried 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 are only 145 people living in the village they probably don't get a lot of fresh food shipped in. Danish seems a lot like the dialect in the region of the Netherlands where I live, 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 really ready to hit the road.
Although road isn'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. On the other shore of the river started a dirt road. 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 overdue it the first few days.
After pitching everything I ate the apples and cooked rice. I also updated this story in my notebook and took some photos. By now it was 23:55 and definitely time to go to sleep, as it was still light out I didn't really feel tired. Tomorrow would be the real start of the trip.