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South Greenland - Day 9 : One bridge too far

Usually my reports start with 'In the morning', but not today. There hadn't really been a morning. I had been awake nearly the entire night because of the sound of my tent. I also had to get outside a few times to put my pegs and tentpoles back in place. Around 9:00 my tent poles dislocated a few times in a row, it seemed like on of them had gotten bend. At that point I had been in my tent for 17 hours, but all combined hadn't even slept for one.


My GPS transmitter had three buttons, one for emergencies, one to say I was OK, and one spare one. I had told my parents that I would use that one if I was fine, but wouldn't walk for whatever reason. As I could use some sleep I sent the message and tried to get some more rest.

Two hours later I still hadn't slept. Due to the hard wind my tent was bend over so much that I couldn't put the tent pole back in place and it was making a huge noise. I figured if I couldn't sleep I might as well start walking. I had also checked the map for information about the weather. It mentioned there were occasional "Foehn" winds in the summer. The advice was to then pack all your stuff and take shelter behind a large rock. It was good to know that lying behind a rock for 2 days was the official advice in my situation.


Tired and in the rain I packed my tent. Wearing nearly all my clothes I wasn't cold and my backpack felt light. To indicate I started walking again I sent the usual 'OK' signal home. First I followed the river for 2 kilometers. It had gotten a lot more intense due to all the rain. After some searching I found a spot where it became wider and the water calmer. On both sides was a gravel beach which would allow me to get in and out of my packraft easily. As I would get in at the inside curve I figured I would be easily taken to the other side. I had already assembled my paddles and unpacked my life-vest and raft when I started to get doubts.


The river was flowing pretty fast. There likely was a 95% chance everything would go fine, but if I would fall in I would have a big problem. The alternative would be to walk directly back to Narsarsuaq, instead of along the otherside of the fjord and then paddle across. This would cut two days of my hike, just because of a 50m wide river that was not perfectly calm.

river in greenland

The not so fast (but still a bit) river

spent at least half an hour looking out over the water but eventually decided not to risk it. Determined I packed all my stuff and headed towards Narsarsuaq. After about 2 minutes the route moved further away from the river. However, after a while I noticed two wooden poles near the water and wondered if it was some kind of weather station. I walked a bit closer to the river and started laughing.

The two small poles were part of a wooden bridge that wasn't indicated on my map. This was even weirder than the snowshoes I had found while being surprised by deep snow in Corsica. It felt like I was being rewarded for making the safe decision of not crossing the river. Judging by the map the river would be calm here, but it was actually pretty wild, a bit further it also suddenly stopped. There wouldn't be a...

narsarsuaq bridge
bridge near narsarsuaq

There turned out to be a serious waterfall after the bridge, while the map only mentioned one much further south. This was only a few hundred meters south of where I had considered crossing. I could already imagine myself drifting down the river thinking 'wait, a bridge, that's not supposed to be here!?... huh, a waterfaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal". The crossing would have had to go wrong big time for me to drift this far down river without reaching the other shore, but it still wasn't a great feeling. Fortunately I had now safely crossed the river by deciding not to cross it. Now I just had to walk a few kilometers before the next climb started. In the distance I could see the adjacent fjord filled with icebergs. It took quite some searching to figure out which of the many rivers coming down the hill was the one I was supposed to follow up, but eventually I found it. The map clearly wasn't up to date, but this was the most recent one. Although the climb was steep, I clearly noticed it was easier than most of the section of the black route.

waterfall north of narsarsuaq
waterfall in greenland
hiking north of narsarsuaq
nunataaq fjord
greenlandic hare

An arctic hare

I again hadn't seen anyone the entire day, which meant I had been completely alone for 7 days. (Un?)fortunately I would pas a farm the next day when descending towards the coast. I then planned to camp along the shore and cross the fjord the following morning. After crossing the fjord it would only be a 7-8 km walk back to Narsarsuaq, along the same dirt road as I followed on my way out. That would mark the end of the first part of my, allowing me to get some rest before starting the second half.

river running out of the permafrost

Due to the thick permafrost some rivers seemed to start out of nowhere

greenlandic lake
solo camping in greenland
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