The local weather men came out with a report last week stating that we were here working during the 4th coldest period of time since they have records in Thule, Greenland. So it was little wonder that it took me several tries to find a day with nice enough weather to stroll out on the sea ice to visit the ice bergs and up on the ice cap.
I made it to the ice cap first. Shep and I headed out one Sunday.
While I would not call it a nice day. Compared to the -30 F temps we had been seeing, it felt OK.
We climbed up a gully from the rocky permafrost onto the ice cap near an area previously used by the US military to build Camp Century, a secret outpost that they built into and under the ice to hide it.
The sastrugi was pretty rough, and I can see where it would get pretty old pounding over it for 1400 miles on the traverse in a tractor.
It was easy to start to feel pretty small and vulnerable in the cold snowy world that is the Greenland icecap. This is what I came for, and I was thrilled to take it all in.
For whatever reason the open space of the great white flat ocean drew me out to it like a rip current. I asked several people if there was anything to watch out for. They all stated obvious things like cracks, sudden storms, bears, and stuff, but no one seemed to really know much about dangers of being out there. I had seen a friend our 2 out there and so off I went. I have long loved ice skating and so being on ice was nothing new, but thinking about the tides coming in and out beneath that ice was a whole new item to ponder.
Hiking around Dundas Mountain was the first of my longer hikes out there. Shep and I went out to the point, and decided that it would be best to just go all the way around. Getting away from the base and the dorm life is a welcome treat. We hiked out there in the evening, and listened to the snow crunch and squeak under our feet.
We celebrated our circumnavigation with a few Emergency Beers from Sheps pack...always good to be prepared to whatever life may through your way.
My next hike out on the sea ice took me further. The goal was to get up close and personal with an iceberg or 2 that was trapped in the bay close enough to us to hike to. I set out with Alan on this mission. Again we hiked around Dundas Mountain and then just kept going.
We again felt pretty small out there on the sea ice. And I did keep an eye open for hungry polar bears. Actually I'm pretty sure anything living out here is always hungry. Unless you can live on snow and cold air, there is just not much else.
I carried my own tea and snacks for the adventure.
We looked into the fjord beyond the icebergs and saw one of the 4 glaciers that feed into it. I'd love to have a way to get up there and back for a closer look. It is incredibly beautiful.
The distant icebergs rose up like a mirage in the desert. Fata Morgana is the name for the process where objects are stretched, flipped and changed to our eyes as to what is really there. It is an awesome sight to behold.
Up close, the icebergs took on all kinds of shapes and sizes as well.
It has been an amazing trip. We have all worked hard to support the GrIT mission, and if all goes as planned the crew will be out on their journey tomorrow afternoon. I have spent the past several days packing loads onto the giant sleds with the trusty 931C Cat Dozer. I took this self portrait during a brief lunch break after clearing a drift that had blown in front of the sled where I then forked over a dozen big fish totes full of tractor parts and tools needed for the trip.
I have leaned up against a tractor on many occasions out in the fields of Illinois where my families farm is and enjoyed many a meal this way. This time, sitting there all alone on the Greenland icecap sucking in all the bright whiteness and silence, it was a joy and a vision I'm not sure I'll get to enjoy again. I've been thrilled to be here and experience working in -40F, and all the interesting people that go along with an adventure in a place like this. With the sleds now all loaded, our plane is supposed to fly out Wed. morning to fly further south in Greenland then to NY for another night and finally home. I'm hoping for a clear sunny day so I can see more of the worlds largest island. Even more so, I'm looking forward to seeing something green and alive and inhaling air that is above freezing. It is 8 degrees above zero today a regular heat wave. About as warm as I have seen it in a couple months. At home it has been 68 or 78 and that sounds to crazy to understand. Going outdoors without putting on 12 layers of clothing or not needing a face mask. That is crazy talk. I cant wait!