West Greenland - Day 3
In the morning I ate breakfast at the airport and waited a few hours before taking my last flight. It was again in a propeller plane, although now with more passengers. We passed shallow terrain before reaching the fjords around Maniitsoq. After my trips to Iceland and south Greenland I thought I was accustomed to remote landscapes, but this was a whole new level. Everywhere were glaciers, granite mountains, and fjords on a massive scale. The thought of hiking there alone was intimidating and for a moment I wondered if I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew.
After a few minutes, I noticed that one of the bare islands had some houses on it. That was Maniitsoq. With 2600 inhabitants it was much larger than Narsarsuaq (160 inhabitants) which I had visited on my trip to south Greenland, but Maniitsoq is definitely more isolated. I had inquired on facebook for people willing to give me a boat ride to reach the mainland. Johannes, with whom I only exchanged a few text messages, would pick me up at the airport.
Fortunately he was actually there and helped me buy some gas canisters for my stove. Shortly after we stepped in his boat and started the 45 minute ride. It was ridiculously warm and my backpack so heavy I nearly fell over when stepping into the vessel. I asked a few questions about the landscape and weather and then finally arrived at the intended start of my hike.
It felt surreal to finally be here after months of preparation and travelling for 2.5 days. We said goodbye and Johannes disappeared in the distance. There was really no way back now. After filling up my water bottles in a nearby stream I started walking. After a few hours of following a fjord I needed to cross a river running into it. When letting my shoes dry I had another close look at the map. I had been surprised about my progress the entire day, but now discovered I actually was in a smaller adjacent fjord and had walked only a third of the distance I thought I had . My map was in a different scale than the ones I usually used and I clearly still needed to get accustomed to the difference. Fortunately, I easily made it into the larger fjord.
My plan had been to reach the end of the fjord that day, which now seemed nearly impossible. I had given myself a buffer of multiple days when planning the route, but still got a bit nervous about whether I would be able to complete everything in time. To save some time I decided to use my packraft to paddle to the fjords' end. I inflated it and got going. In 2 hours I travelled what would otherwise have taken 5 hours to walk.
Happy I still reached my intended location I pitched my tent. The next day I would start climbing up into the mountains. As far as I knew, people had hiked this section only 3 times before and I would be the 2nd ever do to it solo. In a ridiculous coincidence, I had learned that two Belgian guys would start hiking it tomorrow. Although I didn't really want to meet anyone, their presence would remove some of the risk of being there, as I could contact them with my GPS communicator in case something went wrong.