Saturday, October 29, 2011

-throwback- Greenland 2007: Chapter One- Getting to Greenland

The Greenland story basically begins with our buddy Josh, the common thread and organizer of our group. I've known Josh since 2003, when we met in the Bishop substitute teacher world. Through other connections actually, we ended up living together. Before I met Josh, Annie had met him while hitch hiking one day. Kadin and Josh met in 2nd grade, raced salamanders across New Hampshire mud puddles and now climb together on far flung mountains. Darcy impressed Josh as they worked together for the National Outdoor Leadership school. Darcy is a Canadian teaching rock climbing in an Indian accent for a US company in South America. Nate is a ridiculously strong rock climber, grew up racing mountain bikes in California and is studying to be a doctor of outdoor things. Really. We're still not sure how he's connected to the group.
Josh started bringing us and the details of the trip together in early 2006.
Team Greenland '07 clockwise from top: Kadin, Darcy, Josh, Nate, Annie, Jed

We swapped e-mails, bought tickets, trained, saved money, and talked about polar bears for about a year. Then we all met up in Iceland, THE portal for East Greenland. But you wouldn't know it wandering around Reykjavik. Everyone there seemed more concerned with four wheel drives, hot springs and sweet night clubs. But it served our purpose.

In Greenland, straight off the plane, icebergs and big rocky mountains and people that looked really different greeted us. We landed in Greenland on a dirt airstrip next to a tiny airport terminal. The east coast of Greenland has no year round ports. Everything comes in either on an expensive, small plane to that dirt airstrip, or on a ship on one of about four trips each year. The boat trips come during the ice free four months of summer, separated by a month each. Truly remote, very exotic feeling; way excited 'Mericans. Our group excitement was quickly tempered by reality. We had arrived before the first ship. Plane space for us, and the grocery stores, was way too expensive to fill with food. We had none, the stores in the area had little more. We scoured the stores of the three small towns in the Ammassalik district- Kulusuk, Kummiit, and Tasiilaq. The shopping took us many hours of slow-boating through icebergs, many frantic moments in the aisles and tense minutes as the back woods credit card scanners beamed our numbers to who knows where. It all seemed pretty stressful at the time. We ended up with a serviceable food supply for the first half of the trip. Complete sustenance would require a mid-trip trek out to Kummiit after the supply ship arrived.

Once we were at least semi-satisfied with our food supply, our charter-boat driver Dines dropped us on the greening tundra at the head of the Tasillaq fjord. We schlepped almost a ton of food, camping gear and climbing equipment seven miles to a beautiful meadow in the middle of braided glacial rivers. Purple, rugged fireweed bloomed first, random yellow flowers followed, and blueberries came out just as we were leaving.
Walking to basecamp, along tidal mud flats in Tasiilaq Fjord.

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