Thursday, August 29, 2013

Icy East Greenland - Part 7

During the last couple of days we had thoughts about exploring the northern settlement of Kummiuut or even the calving Apusiaiik glacier. However, from our vantage point on Angmassalik all we could see was densely packed sea ice. Even if we could get to one of these locations, it would be uncertain if we could get back in time for our flights home.

We eventually decided to paddle past Tasiilaq into a remote part of Kong Oscar Havn to set up camp for the last couple of days. This allowed different members of the group some time to relax and spend some time exploring some hiking trails.

One of the trails is called 'Sermilikvejen' and leads west and across Angmagssalik island to a research station that overlooks Sermilik Fjord where we had been the week before.

This was an eventful walk full of challenges that are typical of trekking in the mountains. Not only was the first river crossing deep in places, but the river bed was slippery and the water painfully cold.

We crossed several other streams and torrents flowing from ice-fields and glaciers on the higher parts of the island.

The drier meadows in between the rivers and lakes were littered with colonies of Niviarsiaq, which is the national flower of Greenland.

Other areas with wetter, richer soils have cotton grass and mosses growing. We could never stop for very long in these areas because after only a minute or two we would be discovered by the local and very hungry mosquito population.

At the highest part of the trail we found steep snowy slopes and semi-frozen lakes. The consequences of slipping here would be to fall through the ice and into deep water beneath.

Eventually we got the view of Sermilik Fjord that we had come for. Following a brief stop for a snack, we headed back for our camp.

On the final day of our trip we paddled into Tasiilaq for one final evening enjoying pizzas and a few drinks in the only bar in east Greenland.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Julie, Gordon, Bill, Royanne, Les, and Gwyn for their company on the trip. Thanks are especially due to Martin Rickard of Sea Kayak Adventures who organised this amazing expedition. I would also like to acknowledge the support that I got from Ortleib dry bags, P&H Custom Sea Kayaks, Mitchell Blades kayak paddles, Peak UK clothing and equipment, F-Stop Gear camera bags and Clif Bar.

We spent one final day in Reykjavik exploring the city's many cultural attractions, relaxing in the naturally heated swimming pool and visiting an 'English' bar to remind ourselves of the culture that we would be returning home to.

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