Greenland

Greenland

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  • Day16

    Whenever I get back into civilization from a long hike, I have this strange feeling of disappointment for a short while. I understand that most people love getting back, finally able to sleep in a warm big bed, taking showers and eating fresh foods. Actually, I do usually go straight to a grocery store to stock up on carrots and fruits :) and it's not that I don't like hot showers and large comfy beds. I think I just enjoy the outdoors so much more and have learned to keep myself happy, warm, clean and well-fed when on an adventure.

    But there's of course wonderful perks to civilization - a cozy AirBnb with views over the ocean (whales included in the view! ;) ), meeting people and learning about the local life, chai lattes in cafes, and of course internet access to call the people I love and miss!

    And so we filled our days with some laziness, some exploring and (for me) starting to get back into work - which I really enjoy these days :) We also went fishing for a delicious cod, saw the sky filled with northern lights on 2 nights, and made great new friends. One of my favorites was a day hike, on which three local sled dogs tagged along for the adventure and followed me around almost 8 hours up steep mountains, crossing rivers (they had to swim), and taking breaks for some puppy cuddle time :) Sisimiut is a small town with much less activities than the guys from day 2 made it sound, but filled with lots of beauty and adventure to be discovered.

    Johanne, thanks for an amazing time, I'm sure this was not our last adventure together!
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  • Day11

    We made it to Sisimiut! Quite a few days earlier than we thought, but there are much worse problems one could have ;)

    Our last day was another sunny hike full of beauty and adventure. We crossed a wide fjell, covered in snow and really enjoyed the views of the fjord and the mountains. We had a few more river crossings and both were tricked by all the snow and ice up here. I stepped on a stone that was covered in (to me) invisible ice and slipping, I banged my knee against a boulder. Johanne slipped while crossing snowy rocks and found herself standing in the river, the boots completely covered in ice water. So since we were so close to town, we decided to just hike all the way and not camp on the way as we had planned. I would have loved to stay a few more days, but am also very happy I get to clean more clothes, and take a hot shower in town :)

    It's been a really beautiful journey with lots of fun, adventures and time for talks, reading and to think about some of the stuff that might fall aside in busy every day life.

    Oh, most importantly here are our three favorite recurring jokes of the trail:
    1. "In Sisimiut, there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES."
    This one started on the bus back from the ice cap, where I sat with three proud Greenlandic guys talking about their beautiful country. It was nice to learn from them. I asked what I should do or see in Sisimiut (their hometown), and they replied there would be SO MANY ACTIVITIES. I asked for an example and they became still and then eventually said "you'll see when you get there". So we stayed in much anticipation and excitement to see ALL the exciting things to do and see in the small city of Sisimiut - once we get there!
    2. "Water is life"
    This recurring joke was just a constant reminder not to get frustrated with all the water in the trail. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it might have made Johanne only more annoyed, but most time it was a fun joke to laugh about many times a day ;)
    3. "Huh - have you guys tasted the water from this big lake?"
    This one was added to our repertory on one of our last days. We were near the fjord and talking to the Belgians when they had just cooked dinner and one girl noticed something tasted funny. "Have you guys tried the water from this lake? It tastes weird" "No, we carried water in from the river. Because this lake is a really big lake, called the Atlantic ocean..." ;)
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  • Day2

    We've had such a good first day! The hiking is a bit boring because for the most part, we're walking on a gravel road to the ice cap. I very much prefer trails, but there's an exciting part - it's the longest road in all of Greenland from Kangerlussuaq to the eternal ice!

    The weather has been wildly mixed, we got everything from sun to rain and some hail. And the closer we get to this massive body of ice (an area covering almost 5 times the area of Germany), the colder the air is getting. We set up camp in the late afternoon by a small lake, protected from the icy wind coming from the east. After I took a short nap, we walked up to Russell glacier to explore the enormous mass of ice and later enjoy one of the most magical sunsets. The twilight let the fall-colored bushes and heather glow red and yellow, while the Ice shone in piercing bright white.

    We also made friends with Frank (picture 3), a proud Greenlandic musk ox, with such long hair and short legs, it looked extremely entertaining to watch him run across the Arctic tundra :)
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  • Day3

    We were so impressed and taken by the ice cap, we decided to stick around another day and hike further north and up on same level with the ice. It was going to be a long hike and towards freezing winds, but we were lucky to have sun all day and enjoyed all the different views we got, following the giant glacier northward. Around 3pm, I was standing on the ice cap :) I didn't go far and Johanne decided to stay on terra firma, but it was so exciting to see the endless amount of ice and more and more ice, as far as the horizon goes.

    To be honest, walking on the long gravel road was not the most fun and on the way back, we both had very unhappy feet. But the views were incredible and it was all worth it, plus we were going to get on the trails once back in Kangerlussuaq. But then heaven (I call it Marvin) sent along an empty tour bus and two Danish guides who gave us a ride back to our tent :)

    While packing up and getting ready to hike for at least a few more hours before sunset, Johanne had a small breakdown, which I've had plenty when traveling or hiking in a new place. Sometimes the long and physically demanding journey ahead or all the unknown places or just new challenges can just get overwhelming. I know these moments very well and just as I told Johanne about a "what the h am I doing here" moment I had earlier this year and said "...and as soon as you decide to just keep going anyways, usually something amazing an beautiful follows your doubts". The second I finished the sentence, another tourbus (the second of only two that day) came around the corner. I start running just to catch it in time for them to pick us up, get us all the way back to Kangerlussuaq and up our spirits with free refreshments and a delicious giant dinner sandwich, which we enjoyed at our campsite just outside of town. Thanks, Marvin!
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  • Day8

    Today started on frozen swamp again, which is always nice. There's a ton of focus needed when going through the swamps, because you could sink in knee-deep with any thoughtless step. So it usually takes a while and often means going zigzags or all around some areas that are just too deep.

    The swamp today is a huge area between two mountain ranges with a river cutting through and feeding from all the mountains around. While still on the fjell, we had carefully tried to study the swamp and found a good route through mostly dried out parts and heavily vegetated sections, which usually means good footing. With this and a few climbs onto hills to see the area closer up from above, we managed to stay fairly dry - meaning our shoes stayed dry from the inside, while we walked up to 10 cm in water :) We managed to find a bridge to cross the river and had a tiring but good hike back into the next mountain range.

    It was only around 5:30pm when we decided to quickly set up tent, as dark rain clouds were forming all around. We were all set up just before the rain started. But what turned out even more interesting was a storm coming along with the rain. We prepped the tent as good as we could, with extra ropes and big rocks as weights on the stakes outside and using our hiking poles to support the tent poles from the inside. It worked great and we had a restful, easy night
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  • Day9

    Today was the one day we got seriously wet. After a night of storm and rain, the day basically stayed rainy and fog, and eventually snow, joined the party later in the day. And of course, both our hiking boots and our sneakers got wet. The boots because the swamp was just so deep, there was no way around getting wet feet - thanks to wool socks they stayed warm (wet) feet though :) And the sneakers walked us through a river crossing - which is what they're there for :)

    The river was ice cold and the rain from above didn't help, but I thought it was great fun and basically just one very long Kneipp walk for the immune system!

    The further we got into the next valley, the more water joined our trail. By the end, we were walking anywhere but on the trail, as the path was nothing else but a little creek - anywhere from 1cm to 1m deep (as in pic 6). Around 7pm, we reached one of the hiking huts along the trail and decided to sleep in a warm, dry place for the night. At the hut, we got to meet three Belgian hikers and the Canadian mountain biker and it was nice to exchange some stories with fellow adventurers. I'm not a big fan of sleeping in the huts, maybe simply because I'm such a big fan of my little tent, so it should be an interesting night.
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  • Day10

    We've had such a fantastic day! After a bad night - I couldn't sleep much - we woke up to a lovely landscape covered in a sprinkle of snow that came down during the night. Our usual blue sky was back and we thought the valley looked just enchanting.

    The sun did not change the fact that water was EVERYWHERE though and the rivers were unusually high, so we got to do two more river crossings in our sneakers. The water is so cold here that you pretty much need to force yourself to take each next step into more ice water :) Besides the two "pants off" crossings, we had tens of crossings hopping from rock to rock and even more crossings of just jumping over little creeks. Apparently just before we got to Greenland, it had been raining every day for two weeks straight and that water was all coming down the rivers now.

    The water was getting kind of annoying and when we got to more swamps or when the trail would morph into a creek, I could hear Johanne sigh and I'd share the frustrations. But we came up with a song to help us remember that "water is life - and life is beautiful" ;) Either way, we're so thankful for this amazing weather we've had, I did not expect so much sunshine and blue skies and while the icy winds always made sure we don't forget we're in the Arctic, we stayed dry for most of the trail and even when we got wet, we stayed warm.

    Ooh, and I had to share: picture 4 shows Johanne's hiking boots. They were not exactly the biggest fans of the hike and starting losing its soles, but Johanne made due with rope, which in my opinion makes her the hero of this trail! :)
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  • Day1

    It's time for another hiking adventure :) This time I'm headed into the Arctic - the most northern trip I've done - and luckily in one of the four snow-free months in South-Western Greenland. The idea for this trip started over a year ago when Johanne and I met on a hiking trip in Norway http://bit.ly/2f3TN3U. That day, we didn't only decide to become friends, but also to see each other again on another hike :) We've met up in Copenhagen and Berlin since and are now finally going to hang out in the wilderness again!

    Our hike will be just under 2 weeks and around 260km, going between Kangerlussuaq (Greenland's international airport), the ice cap and Sisimiut, a coastal town of 5,000 people and Greenland's second biggest city. We're packed up with food for 14 days, warm clothing for temperatures well below freezing and a ton of excitement for a good adventure ahead.

    Our adventure started today right when arriving at the small town of Kangerlussuaq. Our first task was to find gas for cooking, since we cannot take gas cans on the airplane. We had done our research and knew the local supermarket should have some - which it didn't. "Sold out." "Hmm. Where else can we find some?" "No idea." End of conversation for the sales rep. End of 2 weeks cooking warm dinners for us. But we weren't going to give up and eventually found gas at a little ice cream shop.

    So with the heaviest backpacks, we headed out in the late afternoon towards the ice cap. The road east is easy and after just 2 hours, we made camp by a river. Feels great to be back on the trails and sleeping in my tent. It'll be great to eat more and more of the food so the pack can weigh less and less ;)
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  • Day4

    So on day four of our trip, we officially started on the arctic circle trail between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut. We decided not to strain our feet more on gravel roads and get a taxi to the end of the road, where the hiking trail begins. The hiking itself got SO much nicer! :)

    The trail follows a bunch of rivers, lakes and small mountain ranges all the way to the Atlantic in the west. The path itself is mostly heather, lichen or dirt. Even though we're low in altitude, there's no trees around in the tundra. The landscape is dominated by hills, random boulders left here by former glaciers and rivers finding their ways through the hills and swamps inbetween skinny long, fjord-like lakes.

    Quite frequently, reindeer antlers (or other reindeer or musk ox bones) decorate the trail, which is also used by local hunters. I prefer seeing the live reindeers, which we have every day so far :)
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  • Day5

    Tonight was certainly the coldest yet. Johanne's satellite weather forecast said -7 at 6am but we both agreed that it felt much colder when we woke up ;) All nights had been well below freezing so far, but camping on a narrow stretch between two lakes gave us the moisture and the cold as a package deal. The tent was covered in frost, both the inside and outside and even my sleeping bag had frost all over its outside.

    It was completely clear sky and so as soon as sun came up, the frost started melting. We acted quickly to get the rainfly off the tent and so the outer tent, my sleeping bag and a few socks and underwear I had washed the previous day were now drying in the day's first sun rays :)

    The lake by the shore, the ground, and even the swamps around were completely frozen and so we started the hike on a nice and dry swamp bed :) The sun did its best though and so by midday, I was hiking in tshirt and it was so warm, we decided to wash our hair in the very cold Amitsorsuaq lake.

    We found a lovely campsite right by the lake and having dinner, a reindeer grazed peacefully not even 50 meters from us. The night looks like it will be cold again, but we're perfectly warm as long as we're in our sleeping bags :)
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Greenland, Grönland, Groenland, Greenman, ግሪንላንድ, غرينلاند, Qrinland, Грэнландыя, Гренландия, Gɔrɔhenelandi, গ্রীনল্যান্ড, Greunland, Grenland, Grenlàndia, Grónsko, Yr Ynys Las, Grønland, Grinland nutome, Γροιλανδία, Gronlando, Groenlandia, Gröönimaa, گرینلاند, Gorwendland, Grönlanti, An Ghraonlainn, Grenlandia, ગ્રીનલેન્ડ, Grinlan, גרינלנד, ग्रीनलैण्ड, Grinlandia, Grænland, グリーンランド, გრენლანდია, Grinlandi, Kalaallit Nunaat, ಗ್ರೀನ್‌ಲ್ಯಾಂಡ್, 그린랜드, Gurenelandi, Gowelande, Grenlandija, Ngowelande, Grenlande, Гренланд, ഗ്രീന്‍ലാന്‍റ്, ग्रीनलंड, Grinlandja, ဂရင်းလန်း, Gröönland, ग्रिनल्याण्ड, ଗ୍ରୀନଲ୍ୟାଣ୍ଡ, Gronelândia, Grönlanda, Gurunilandi, Groenlanda, Gorolânde, ග්‍රීන්ලන්තය, கிரீன்லாந்து, గ్రీన్లేండ్, กรีนแลนด์, Kulinileni, Ґренландія, گرین لینڈ, Băng Đảo, Orílẹ́ède Gerelandi, 格陵兰, i-Greenland

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