Heart of the Arctic – Day 11

Monday, July 27, 2015
Evighetsfjorden, Greenland, 65˚40′ N  53˚31′ W
Sunshine, 10˚C
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Back to gorgeous sunshine today. Little glinting diamonds sparkled on the water. We cruised along the incredibly glorious mountainous coast to visit Evighetsfjorden, the “fiord of eternity,” to see a glacier upclose and personal, and go for a hike.

1-IMG_5686aBefore breakfast, a call went over the PA, a whale or two had been spotted on the port side. A crowd subsequently gathered with binoculars. The whale spouted  several times about a half km away, –double spouts, which meant it was a bowhead. There was speculation that it could’ve been a mother and calf. I saw only one dark ridge of a back and a tail fin as it dived though.

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Heidi Langille, Devon Bayley Jones, Tom Kovacs, Cathie HIckson, Latonia Hartery, and Lee Narraway sporting their zodiac cruising hats.

We anchored during breakfast with the first zodiac tour scheduled for 8:30. When I got down to the gangway loading room, (which incidentally has stainless steel walls, ceiling and floor) Matthew James directed us to a plastic tub of hats. There were a variety of unusual (crazy)  plush hats to choose from, some were fish, others zany animals. I chose a crown. 1-IMG_5739Brian was my zodiac driver with the horse’s head.

When zodiacs were fully loaded, we zipped around the boat and headed to the end of the fiord to get a closer view of the Maniitsoq ice sheet. The ice sheet is 58 X 41 kms in size. The snout of the glacier, where it comes down the mountain valley to the water between snow peaked rocky mountains is a 30 metre high cliff of white and blue ice. 1-IMG_5885While we were watching a couple of chunks calved off the glacier, which revealed very old, deep azure blue ice beneath.

We respectfully kept our distance from the glacier. The snout of it was divided in half by a short peninsula, the rocky cliff face of which was the residence of hundreds of noisy birds (probably murres, but I can’t recall). 1-IMG_5796

Apparently, a decade ago this peninsula was hidden behind the glacier, which has significantly receded. On our second cruise of the morning, the tide was out and more of the scree beneath this cliff was visible. Pieces of corrugated clear glacial ice floated in the murky brown water around us. These pieces are thousands of years old.  Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet.

Heading back to the ship, we watched  as Milbry Polk dipped a huge painting of three polar bears in the glacial water below the glacier. The water would cause the paint to run dramatically. 1-P1140055This is part of an art project through the Explorers Club, to raise awareness of melting ice and how it is affecting the Arctic. The painting had been dipped in waters off Baffin. She and Stefan, Linda and Jessie lowered the painting in the frigid water closer to the glacier, then headed back to the ship. An enormous chunk of the ice broke off and crashed into the water, seemingly close to where they had been, but of course, they were far enough away. 1-IMG_5952

The old ice where the chunk had come off was a deep sapphire blue. The wave caused by the calving, rippled out to beyond where the ship was anchored.1-IMG_5888

Then the ship weighed anchor and we cruised through the fiord closer to where 1-IMG_5977we would land. The scenery was breathtaking, snow peaked mountains Caribean blue water.

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For those without bug hats, bandana’s worked equally well, as Linda Kuprat Kindberg demonstrated.

After lunch we went ashore at one of the fiord’s coves. Upon landing, we were fiercely swarmed by mosquitoes. This part of Evighetsfjorden, the beautiful “fiord of eternity, was for anyone without a bug hat, the fiord of eternal mosquitoe hell.  Some folks didn’t last and headed back to the ship not long after landing.

However, it was a stunning location. 1-IMG_6050From our landing spot on the rocky shore, we hiked up a steep, hummocky hill over thick clumps of turf. 1-IMG_6052

There were many lovely little flowers growing in clumps among the rocks and hummocks of turf. There were three sort of levels to the climb and each one had a lovely little pristine lake.
The third at the summit was the top of the valley, surrounded by mountains. The views of the surrounding mountains with the aqua coloured water in the bay of the fiord below offered incredible photo opps. 5-IMG_6077We spent several hours exploring the valley.

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Cathie Hickson, geologist and gun bearer, keeps watch for polar bears at a spectacular lookout in Evighetsfjorden.

Late afternoon, we  reluctantly headed down the hill to catch the zodiacs back to the ship. Despite the bugs, it was a fabulous landing spot.

Dinner was followed by a sing-along with Brian, Tyler, and Tom, and a disco, disco ball included, after the singers warmed up. 1-P1140242

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About Season Osborne

I am a writer with a passion for Arctic history. After finding a photo of Capt. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier, who claimed the Arctic for Canada in 1909, I was inspired to write my master’s thesis on Bernier’s contribution to Arctic sovereignty. This ultimately led to extensive research into Canadian and ‘foreign’ expeditions to the North, which morphed into my recent book, In the Shadow of the Pole: An Early History of Arctic Expeditions, 1871-1912.
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