Adventures in Good Paddling 2005 Complete with Another Visit to Upernavik Greenland - only this time I was paddling on the edges of and crossing Upernavik Icefjord.

Gail Ferris

Once again I decided to take my folding kayak, Mark I, my camping gear, food and clothes for a month and spend August in the fjords of Upernavik.  For the purpose of studying the kayak I have been coming and going since 1992.

USA to Greenland compressed

This time I was to paddle across the Upernavik Isfjord at some point in my travels.  This crossing I feared because of its numerous, sometimes unstable and fast moving icebergs.

7304N 5630W Upv Aap compressed

The shortest crossing distance was about four or five miles but the icebergs were marching back and forth each to their self appointed destination.  Each iceberg has its own personality.  Some of them are very stable, especially the tabular or smooth flat topped bergs.  However I could never know when one of these might decide to make a loud sound like thunder as it dropped a huge chunk of ice into the water sending out a steep sided, fast moving wave anywhere within range.

Other bergs are even more threatening because they are of unstable slab sided construction riddled with slabs of dirt interspersed through out.  These bergs can sudden disintegrate sending out even larger waves along with a load of new chunks of ice.  I knew that I had to ask about how to handle these threats in my little kayak.  Even motor boaters, as fast as their motorboats might be, give these saw toothed topped icebergs a wide berth to avoid such encounters from their unpredictability.

With all this on my mind this time I was without question quite anxious about my once again undertaking another solo kayak expedition.

However I just could not say no to another trip but this time I planned a different strategy.  I brought a satellite telephone so that I could actually communicate should the need arise and I made arrangements to have myself transported by motor boat across the Upernavik Isfjord to a camp site rather than set out from Upernavik in my kayak.  I was very nervous maybe old age had caught up with me as I was now 59, but who knows, all I knew was that I was anxious.

This time I had the fine luck of booking my flights completely through with no stop-over.  I was to begin by flying across the Atlantic Newark to Copenhagen via SAS.  I choose this route via SAS because I had 150 pounds of luggage divided into five fabric bags. I would be self-sufficient for a month aside from water.

In preparation for the physical demands of this adventure I took Pilades exercise to give me better strength and flexibility. 

For my back I sleep on the floor on a self-inflating Therm-a-rest mattress.  This has kept most of my back problems under control as well as keeping me adjusted to sleeping on the ground.

A couple weeks before I left for to Upernavik I telephoned every possible friend in town I could think of.  I vainly tried to get a room in anybody’s house to stay for a couple days while I would be making final arrangements for my kayak travels in the fjords. 

As it happens, in July and August anyone in Upernavik who can goes out visiting and traveling before school restarts, just as I was.  As can be expected none of my friends were going to be around.  I was stuck thinking that I would have to rough by camping near the helicopter airport, deal with all of that luggage and have to walk a long distance across town to visit the Museum.


I happened to mention my problem to Bo Albrechtsen, the Upernavik Museum director.  He told me that the museum had now set aside B-98 as a travelers hostel.  I was welcome to a room for 300 Danish Kroner a night.  Wow! What heaven I thought to myself.

This house B-98 I had fond memories of because it had been beautifully restored since I started visiting Upernavik in 1992.  I was deeply pleased to see that it was still in the same beautiful condition as when I last saw it in 1999.

My greatest anxiety had been that drive to DWR, Newark Airport, because all too often there can be some sort of traffic problem enroute.  All went perfectly and my driver drove me in his pickup truck with my excess luggage in the back just fine.

I did not feel confident in using regular passenger transportation to Newark airport because they do not necessarily want to cope with such physically demanding numerous heavy bags.  I never felt so sure that we would get to the airport without some sort of problem because they make so many pick up stops on the way. 

Missing the first flight is not an option because the connecting flights are much more difficult to access because of their more limited scheduling and heavy passenger loads.

  To further add complexity to this sort of travel, just add a little foul weather into the picture like a wind storm or fog in Upernavik forcing a shutdown in air service for that flight.  Oh it’s just another detail to add into the picture.

Out of shear luck I learned that my neighbor is a professional driver who could take me with my awkward heavy fabric luggage bags in his pickup truck to the airport. 

We had a grand time chatting on our way I so appreciated his mature judgment and skill at getting me to the airport in plenty of time.

Leaving my house Friday at before noon I arrived in plenty of time to Newark and flew overnight to Copenhagen, Denmark.

My second flight was Saturday morning, Copenhagen time, to Søndrestrøm / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.  Then the third flight was to Jacobshavn / Ilulissat and the final fourth flight to Upernavik.  Midsummer weather happened this time to be perfect and all my flights went without any problem.  I slept much of the way during the longest flights. 

Søndrestrøm / Kangerlussuaq looked just the same as always, bright and sunny, as we flew up the long fjord for our landing.

It is amusing to think that this was established as a weather station in the 1920’s by the United States so that we would have some sort of an idea as to what the weather would be doing in Europe.  Only recently have we given up Søndrestrøm as a military base. 

So far so good, but that was easy. 

Now I had to successfully fly to Jacobshavn / Ilulissat.

On one of my earlier travels that airport was fogged in causing me to miss the ferry to Upernavik.  I had to loose a few days waiting for a seat on the very expensive helicopter to Upernavik.  In that situation I had to camp out on the hillside in front of the airport so that I could check a few times a day for the next possible flight to Upernavik.

No kidding, my flight to Ilulissat / Jacobshavn went without a hitch because we had good weather and we even got to touch down for a quick stop at Aassiat to pick up and discharge a few more passengers.  In the last moment we got to see the famous Jacobshavn glacier constantly calving huge icebergs.

The icebergs do not look all that huge until you see a large boat or ship near them looking like a mere black speck.

Now I was in familiar territory where at least I could see some icebergs as we flew over Disko Bay.

Coming into Upernavik, the Dash 7 pilot did the usual short runway landing.  We did not have a view of the airport until we were right on it.  We just dropped out of the clouds and landed almost simultaneously.  It seems like a Dash 7 could land almost on a dime.

I arrived at 2:30pm Saturday afternoon amazingly on time in Upernavik after having started out from my house in Connecticut at 11:30am in the morning, Friday, the day before.  Upernavik is two hours ahead of Eastern Time and Copenhagen is six hours ahead of Eastern Time.

One thing I have learned from all my journeys to Upernavik starting in 1992 is to just hop on the flight opportunities as they come along, because you never know where you may find yourself unfortunately stuck somewhere for an in determinant length of time because of bad weather or other problem. 

The last time that I flew home from Upernavik in 2003, they gave me a pen and a deck of cards.  I thought to myself “is this an omen that I might become stuck somewhere playing endless games of solitaire and writing my memoirs?” 

I kept those cards as a good luck charm so that I might not become get stuck anywhere along the way.  I thought to myself “if that is all it takes, just carrying that deck of cards along so I don’t get stuck, I’ll do it!” 

When I boarded SAS in Newark my luggage was five large fabric bags containing food for a month, camping gear and folding kayak, weighed sixty nine kilos excluding my carry on bag.

At Upernavik airport, Heinz, the school and museum janitor / pedel picked me up.  He is just such a wonderful helpful man who is especially considerate of being helpful and about being places on time. 

Bo Albrechtsen, the Upernavik Museum director, had arranged that I would be driven me down the long steep hill to the Upernavik Museum travelers’ house, B-98.

Heinz loaded my bulky overly heavy bags drove me to B-98 and unloaded and stowed me safely away handing me the key to the house.

I was to spend the next two nights resting and visiting old friends.  It was nice to be in town just long enough to recuperate.  I needed to finalize those last minute details which could only be done once I was actually there. 

All the while I was most anxious to get going because the last thing I wanted to have happen was to be trapped there.  How well I knew that some unknown problem could arise or bad weather could keep me there.

Adventure on the water has its own special calling and after such a long time I felt the call to be once again reunited with my old wonderful friend which is the world of kayaking on the open water from place to place endlessly experimenting with paddling in the ever changing waves.  Those times of looking out the window just wishing does not do it.  Now was the time for action.

This time however I was quite anxious about the icefjord.  I had never actually paddled across it.

During my first visit in 1992 to Upernavik, Mount Pinatubo had erupted in the previous December.  This caused the ice to go out much later and the ice near Aappilattoq.  The ice on the north side of the island was so dense that I could not risk paddling around the island. 

On my previous visit in 2003, a normal year, the ice on the north side of Aappilattoq Island was in places a mere boat length apart.  Now in 2005, I had no idea what to expect for ice density in the Upernavik Icefjord.

In planning this trip I had to consider that unknowns such as the ravages of wind and tidal current can push the ice packing it into areas making them impassable. 

Intense wind storms can come in from Baffin Bay bringing wind that is threatening to any boat especially me as a kayak paddler.  All these thoughts about the unknowns were on my mind.

I had just arrived and found myself comfortably ensconced in Upernavik museum’s guest house.  It was comfortably heated, complete with kitchen running hot and cold water bathroom all in good order.  I had a bedroom all to myself and in the familiar living room I immediately located the trusty old TV, figured out how to turn it on and collapsed on the plush couch in front of it.  I fell asleep contentedly listening to the usual selection of KNR TV.

Out over the water the sun pierced the grey clouds.  There were some islands and icebergs in view through the west facing living room windows.  I thought to myself, how many times before haveI seen this scene, because I lived and worked here at the Museum 1997 into 1999. 


The light at this latitude is different and makes things such as those icebergs, islands and rocks look different than anywhere else in the world.  Today they have a black-iron grey look to them.

As I gazed at the water I was glad that I had arrived with all of my equipment and that none of my baggage had gone astray.  I was looking forward to getting on the water. 

Out there were those exquisite granite islands and peninsulas I had rounded so many times before in my kayak on my various journeys over the years starting in 1992?  Once again I had come here to paddle my kayak alone on another adventure into the unknown.  This time it was to an area I had only once glimpsed from a quick motorboat trip but never experienced from my kayak.

How glad I was that the weather was not some depressing combination of nasty, cold, windy or rainy weather with gigantic waves crashing against the rocks a few hundred feet out in front of this house. 

Here near the Upernavik Museum the shallow rock shoreline make the waves look even more like boat eaters.  When the swells surge into the shallows of the rock ramps they end as steep waves crashing into the vertical rock faces and then rebound to double in size as they combine with the next incoming wave. 

Yet, out from the rocks, just a short distance away these waves are mere swells not especially threatening unless there is a strong wind over fifteen knots pushing them. 

Once the wind is over fifteen knots weather forecast conditions “cooling winds” in Danish are issued to warn small boaters of this small craft warning.

The trick I use when in my kayak is to not get trapped in that type of wave situation when coming in for a landing.  If I have to come in for a landing in these conditions I make a quick landing, jump out pull my kayak up out of harms way before the next wave rolls in and grabs me and my kayak. 

Unless I have no other choice, I would just look for another spot.

Out away from the rocks the waves are usually not that large, however they usually have the same cadence or timing and size range as waves in Long Island Sound.

What a pleasure it was to have Heinz pick me up because I was really wondering how functional I would be after having been traveling for a day and a half non-stop.  I imagined myself just walking into objects etc. in a state of somnambulant fatigue.

In previous years when there was only helicopter service to Upernavik it was very common to be stuck waiting for the weather and in my case also waiting for a helicopter that could accommodate my excess luggage too.  I made many anxious trips to the airport awaiting an opportunity for a helicopter flight.

It seemed strange to me not to have to worry about that problem anymore when flying to and from Upernavik, but what a relief not to have to worry about that anymore.

Sunday July 31st-

On Sunday, typical of Greenland, everything is closed except for church at 10 am. 

I went to church and did not understand any of the service because it was all in Greenlandic since nearly all the parishioners Greenlanders.  Four babies were baptized in a lovely but short ceremony.  Some of the families I knew but unfortunately I did not know the parents so I shyly left after the service.

It was unfortunate that I have never become fluent in Greenlandic because this was one of those moments when I would have been happy to chat with the parishioners. I felt quite helpless not being able to communicate.

On Sunday July 31st- Bo Albrechtsen was attending a special jubilee celebration for the town / bygt, Kangersuatsiaq / Prøven.  Many people in Upernavik have lived in Kangersuatsiaq and have relatives there.  I paddled to Kangersuatsiaq in 2003 just to see this town because I had heard about it from so many people in Upernavik.

August 1st 2005

August 1st 2005 Monday I stopped by the museum to make final travel arrangements with Bo Albrechtsen I needed a motorboat to take me to Puguta. 

Bo Albrechtsen told me the Greenlandic English meaning to many frequently repeated names on the map of landforms.  After all these years it is nice to know these things.  I wish that I had known them sooner.

The names describe, in the sense of how the land looks, a particular name for an island, activities on an island or relate to the historic usage of an island.

Aappilattoq – red,

Amarortalik – island with wolves,

Ateqdrangitorssuaq – with no name,

Augplia – in a,

Ikerassuk – a passage,

Ilua – inside,

Innarsuit – steep,

Miut – people from,

Naajat or Naajat – breeding place for Roseate or small white gulls,

Nunatarssuaq – a large piece of land,

Nutarmiut – new people,

Puguta – dish,

Pugutalik – place with a dish,

Qterssuqq – big one in the middle,

Sarqarssuaq – large south side,

Simintaq – bottle stopper,

Sinerraq – long side,

Suaq – big,

Ujaragssuit – big stones,

Umanaq – looks like a heart,

Out of interest I have assembled this list of the names of birds in English, Latin and Greenlandic, because some areas are named for the birds commonly found there.

Arctic tern - Sterna paradisaea - Imeqqutaalaq

Atlantic Puffin - Fratercula arctica - Qilanngaq

Barnacle Goose - Branta leucopsis

Black Guillemot - Cepphus grille - Serfaq

Black-Bellied Plover - Pluvialis apricaria - Anngilik

Black-Headed Gull - Larus ridibundus - Nasalik

Black-Legged Kittiwake - Rissa tridactyla - Taateraaq

Brant Branta bernicla - Nerlernaq

Canada goose - Branta canadensis - Canadap nerlia

Common Eider - Somateria mokkissima - Meqsiorartooq (Aavooq)

Common Loon - Gavia immer – Tuullik

Common Redpoll - Carduelis flammea - Opimmiutaq

Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo - Oquitsuit or Oqaatsoq

Dovekie - Alle alle - Appaliarsuk (Appaaraq)

Dunlin - Calidris alpine - Saarfaarsuk

Glaucous Gull - Larus glaucoides - Naajaannaq

Greater Black-Backed Gull - Larus marinus - Naajarluk

Grey Gull - Larus hyperboreus - Naajarjussuaq

Gyrfalcon - Falco rusticolus - Kissaviarsuk

Harlequin Duck - Histrionicus histrionicus - Toornaviarsaq

Hoary Redpoll - Carduelis hornemanni - Orpimmiutaq avannarleq

Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris - Qutsissormintaq

Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoides - Naajarjussuaq

Ivory Gull - Pagophila eburnean - Naajavaarsuk

King Eider - Somateria spectabilis - Miteqsiorakitsoq

Kumliens Gull - Larus glaucoides - Naajaannaq

Lapland Longspur - Calcarius lapponicus - Narsarmintaq

Lesser Golden Plover - Pluvialis dominica - Anngilik

Long-Tailed Jaeger - Stercorarius longicaudus - Papikkaaq

Northern Fulmar - Fulmarus glacialis - Qaqulluk or Timmiakuluk

Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus - Sulabassana or Timmik

Northern Phalarope - Lobipes lobatus - Naluumasortoq

Northern Raven - Corvus corax - Tulugaq

Oldsquaw - Clangula hyemalis - Alleq

Parasitic Jaeger - Stercorarius parasiticus - Isunngaq

Peregrine falcon - Falco pereginus - Kiinaaleeraq

Pomarine Jaeger - Stercorarius pomarinus - Isunngarsuaq

Purple sandpiper - Calidris maritime - Saarfaarusuk

Razorbill - Alca torda - Apparluk

Red Knot - Calidris canutus - Qajorlak

Red Phalarope - Phalaropus fulicarius - Kajuaraq

Red-Throated Loon - Gavia stellata - Qarssaq

Rock Ptarmigan - Lagopus mutus - Aqisseq

Ross’ Gull - Rhodostethia rosea - Naajannguaq

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres Taliffak

Sabine’s gull - Larus sabini - Taateraaruaq

Sanderling - Calidris alba - Saartaarsuk

Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis - Qupeloraasuk (qupannaaq)

Snow Goose - Anser caerulescens - Kangoq

Snowy Owl - Nyctea scandiaca - Uppik

Thick-Billed Murre - Uria lomvia - Appa

Thin-Billed Murre - Uria aalge - Appa siqquttooq

White-Fronted Goose - Anser albifrons - Nerleq

Before I left Upernavik I took it upon myself to be truthful with Bo Albrechtsen and Tom Osterman, an old friend and policeman, about my anxiety of taking this another solo kayak trip.  This had been on my mind for quite some time.  I thought that rather than play the foolish game of pretending that I was comfortable about taking this trip, this time, in all honesty, I would talk my anxiety before I took this trip.

In the old days I would never divulge any of this anxiety until I had returned.  I assiduously choose who I would share with that I had any anxiety whatsoever; because I did not want to risk anyone talking me out of my undertaking.

This time I knew that there was really no way I could cover-up my anxiety.  My face and body language had to be revealing all too clearly my acute feelings. 

How well I know that feelings do show very clearly in body language.  I thought it would be best that I, for the first time in my life, discuss this delicate issue before I embarked on this another one of my solo kayak adventures.

Usually I would have avoided at any cost a discussion of this nature because I did not want someone to talk me out of my undertaking, but this time was different.  Beginning in 1992 I had made these trips so many times before, but now I am just that much older, enough so seem to me as possibly being more of a factor.

I was somewhat more concerned about being able to physically handle the heavy demands of this sort of travel.  Even though I had pared my overall load down as low as possible, still the loaded kayak was very heavy to get up above the high tide line.

Bo is a most compassionate person and he most kindly reassured me ”You will be alright you have done this lots of times before, you know what you are doing”.  He was right.  I was so pleased that he really does understand how skilled a kayak paddler I am.  How careful a planner I am and how scrupulously I had chosen the particular kayak I was using and all the equipment.  He confided in me that this area is really not an easy place to chance paddling a kayak.  I agreed just an iceberg falling apart can change things in a moment.  I was so pleased that he understood enough about kayaking and the tricky weather in this area to truthfully tell me “you know what you are doing”.

Tom told me”it is not a good thing to take a trip you are so anxious about because your anxiety may cause you to get into trouble you would have otherwise not had”.  He was right about that too.  And from that I took it upon myself to keep my head on and stay dead calm.  It was either do that “Straighten out and fly right” or quit.  I did not want to quit.

My visit with Bo was confined to Monday because he was leaving while I would be paddling and not returning until my departure date of August 27th.  This was the same day that both Tom and Bo were returning to Upernavik on the same plane I am leaving on.  I was glad I would at least see both of them even for just a short moment to tell them face to face how things went to say a final farewell. 

I anticipate that this might be my last trip to Upernavik because the cost, the stress and the physical requirements. 

Throughout my life curiosity to go see for myself what things look like and to be able to share it with others has always been my driving force for these travels.  Still it shall at some point be very hard for me to call it quits.

Icebergs, what are the different types and how do they behave was my question for Bo.  Just before I left the museum at Upernavik Bo told me about the extreme danger dirty jagged or saw tooth topped iceberg presents.  This iceberg is tabular which seems safe because tabular icebergs are usually stable.  Usually a tabular iceberg just drops small chunks off their sides from time to time without rolling over crashing to pieces and catastrophically splitting apart in great chunks. 

This tabular iceberg has the distinctive appearance of looking dirty with a very jagged saw tooth top.  The dirty appearance comes from the gobs and black bands of dirt mixed with clear bands of ice stacked together vertically like books on a bookshelf forming into a highly fractured jagged topped berg with an overall tabular shape.  This iceberg has a much shorter life than an ordinary white tabular iceberg because it will catastrophically split apart into huge chunks of ice crashing into the water creating a huge wave. 

There is no sort of warning when any iceberg will suddenly collapse.  However August is considered as the most unstable time because of the cumulative effect of 24 hour summer light exposure that began at the summer solstice.  For some reason major collapses most often occur at around 4 in the morning. 

You can just sit there and watch icebergs for hours and absolutely nothing will happen and then out of the clear blue suddenly a berg will with resounding thunderous explosion of sound disintegrate dropping chunks off rocking back and forth, roll over, or possibly split up and then become perfectly quiet as though nothing in the world has ever happened while succinctly rolling back and forth until it restabilizes again on its new center of gravity.

An especially huge iceberg of this type grounded just off Tussaq.  In a single moment during this spring that iceberg suddenly fell to pieces.  This catastrophic collapse generated an enormous very steep wave that roared up Tussaq nearly destroying nearly this entire little village / bygter.  In Tussaq all was gone except a few of the houses highest above the waterline.  The huge wave had in an instant taken away all the lower houses and pier structures within its reach. 

Peter Aaronsen’s house survived because his house was located above where the massive wave reached.  He is presently the only resident of Tussaq.  All the other families have moved to Upernavik or other small towns such as Aappilattoq.

I was aware that icebergs with arches are unstable but I was surprised to find that I was completely unaware of how dangerous dirty jagged icebergs are.  In my travel experiences I had never seen any of that type.  The glaciers in this area do happen to generate them occasionally.  Bo told me that local boaters avoid getting anywhere near these icebergs giving them miles of wide berth.  I was very glad I had asked Bo about icebergs because otherwise I would have never known and might have been in very serious danger during my paddle.

All I knew was that summer, especially late summer, August is when icebergs are most unstable, don’t be dumb and paddle under arches and grounded out icebergs could suddenly break apart catastrophically.

In preparation for arctic paddling, I took surfing lessons and whitewater slalom racing lessons so that I could automatically cope with the steep waves suddenly coming from a disintegrating iceberg:

In 1998 while I was just out for a day paddle I passed by what I thought were two medium sized icebergs.  On my way back just as I was passing quite luckily by the outside of them, I thought that I might just paddle to the beach nearby to get out of my kayak for a break.

All I can say is that luck was with me because in a moment where there appeared to be two icebergs suddenly the nearest iceberg reared up out of the water.  In a twinkling I found that these two bergs were actually one huge berg connected together beneath the water. 

From my kayak I did not happen to see this ice bridge underwater.  I was very lucky not to happen to be any closer than I was nor did I happen to have beached my kayak at the nearby beach I was thinking about stopping at to take a short break.

Among icebergs I have to think trigonometrically with constant moving dynamics involved because icebergs constantly are changing both in the direction they are moving laterally but also by dropping pieces off, which changes their center of gravity thus causing them to roll side to side or completely over, depending on how drastic the weight change has been.

August 1st 2005

Monday on Puguta my first waypoint for this trip is 72°59.485’N, 55°39.623’W which is equivalent to N72°59’29” W55°39’37”on Puguta Island at 13:41 EDT or 15:41 Greenland time. (Eastern daylight time – local Greenland time is 2 hours ahead of EDT).

David Thorliefsen, an old friend of mine and Ole Thorliefsen’s brother, brought me by motorboat / yawl to the island Puguta (meaning dish in Greenlandic named for its appearance) a distance of about fifteen miles.

On our way we passed Karrat Island where I saw the fangsthus / hunting cabin that I had paddled by in 1995.  Then we passed Nutsiaq Island and cut out around Niaqussaq Island to Puguta with Aipee SW and a nasty dangerous iceberg off Niaqussaq.  Just at the end of Niaqussaq we saw three black seals and about fifty King Eiders.  If I had been in control of the boat and rifle I would have bagged a seal for sure, but David did not and kept going heading for Puguta.


I have always admired David for his great skill as a hunter.  He is a man of few words but speaks perfect English.  Some day, if there is anyone I would like to go on a hunting or fishing trip with it would be David Thorliefsen.

Just as we were nearing Puguta David did ask me if I was not sure that I might rather be dropped at Aipee Island because his family and many from Aappilattoq camped there.  I declined as I knew Bruce Simpson and his family had used this campsite at Puguta in 2003.

Judging the size that island I figured that it must be was large enough to have sufficient water available.  Aipee Island was much smaller and I knew nothing about it.  Later I found that there would have only been water other than from possible stranded ice chunks which I would have to melt water from the ice.

Adam Grim told me that everybody used to summer on Aipee and when they had been successful at hunting they would signal across to their houses on Aappilattoq for boats to come and pick up the seals, etc.  That was fun to think about.  Also Adam told me that he takes his family every spring to Puguta.

I have been visiting Adam and his family at Aappilattoq since 1992 and this has always been fun.

Aappilattoq is about fifteen miles away.

Later I also found that taking Bo Albrectsen’s suggestion to go to Puguta was the best choice because not only water available but even more exciting was that there happened to be some birch trees growing there. 


As David let me off at my chosen destination, the northwest corner of Puguta Island, without a word we both warily looked around for the presence of any of these dirty icebergs because we were both concerned if any happened to be lurking close bye. 

There was one complete with jagged top spanning from end to end, a classic example, a few miles to the west.  The route David took me to Puguta avoided our coming anywhere near this iceberg. 

Alone at my campsite on the point facing southwest I cautiously kept a close eye on that insidious iceberg every few hours to see if it was drifting toward or away from me.  This berg was to the west of me.  There was no incoming wind from the west to push this berg toward me so the berg continued its westward out to sea drift on the outgoing tidal fjord currents.

I made sure that all my gear was well up the hillside on the shoreline safely above any likely wave from the icebergs I could see.  The sudden break up of an iceberg sends huge waves big enough to grab and sweep away any object in an instant. 

At Kullorsuaq in 1995 I watched the break up of a stranded berg.  The loud crashing noises brought the whole town to the shore edge grabbing their outhaul lines to keep their motorboats from washing away.  The dogs absolutely terrified screeched in complete terror as the water washed up to their tether lines.  How well these dogs who are on the edge of harbors know waves like this can be deadly.

As I made my camp I purposefully choose a spot that I could set up my tent facing the doorway south to give me the best over all view of the icefjord most especially of that insidious dirty jagged iceberg to the west of my campsite. 

I thought it was a little warm as I sat in the bright sun facing south.  Sure enough I was not imagining things, the temperature was 81°F barometric pressure was 29.80 inches Mercury and had been very level for the past 24 hours with stable weather.

The day was calm, sunny and warm which was it was just perfect for the very robust population of mosquitoes to be out and about.  This was one of those moments when I wished that I had brought mosquito repellant. 

I retrieved and donned my mosquito hat.  I had modified the netting on my sewing machine by cutting a hole in the netting so that I could see without the net obstruction.  I made the hole adjustable by sewing Velcro around the edges so that I could reduce or enlarge the opening as need be.  I do not like paddling and using cameras with partially obstructed vision.  This design modification of my mosquito hat worked out very well so that I could put on my baseball hat on beneath it. 

I always wear a baseball cap because of its brim.  I make sure that the underside of the brim is dull black  which gives me the best distance vision on the water.  I had also planned using the brim of the baseball cap to keep the extra netting away from my face and flopping down into my eyes.  My hat worked fine.

I tried out my new video camera and now was the perfect time to quietly read the directions.  After years of paddling alone on these travels I have found that it is best to just bringh the complete directions for both the video and still camera.  I have found that I never know what information I might just happen to need at the moment that I had not anticipated the need for. 

Specific instructions told me that the video camera would work only after I put in the date and time.  That is something I would have never guessed. 

I was glad that this video camera was an 8 mm tape camera because I was accustomed to tape video cameras and most important reason was that I could replay the tape to see what it is recording. 

However just replaying the tape does make a break in the control track of the recording if you stop when the recording ends so the trick I use is to record a few additional seconds on the tape when I anticipate that I will replay the tape.  At that point when I replay the tape I stop before the end of that recording. Then I continue recording from that place on the tape.  This gets rid of the break in the control track.  I do not have the patience to prerecord control tracks, what is called blacking the tape, on new tapes.

I was very excited about the birch trees because for me so far this is the farthest north I have found birch trees growing.  Birch trees have been written about by Morten Porsild saying that Upernavik was the farthest north birch trees grow.  Unfortunately I do not know at what latitude he last found them.

I am sitting on Puguta nua and numerous motor boats are going by which makes me suspect that I am on the main drag to the three bygter Innarsuit, Naujat and Tassiusak that are north and west from here.  How amusing the map doesn’t show this double cabin fangsthus / hunters cabin right here where I am. 


I can see the dramatic triangular peaked basalt mountain, Sanderson’s Hope, very clearly from here. 

I walked around and enjoyed the vast unexpected profusion of flowers, mushrooms and puffballs.  Birch, Betula nana, grows here flat to the ground in profusion.  I was very surprised to see birch growing here because the last place I had seen it was south of here in the Torssut passage.

1958 compressed

This spot was well used in the past as evidenced by very old seal fat consolidated as a black crust on the rocks, house remains, bones and current remains of fishing lines and seal nets. This site has many types of grass, due to human habitation.  And grass is always a convent indicator of high nitrogen enrichment from either human habitation or eider nesting.

Here I am all alone.  Then add some anxiety – not good!  Now there is no getting out of this obligation to spend the next 24 days depending on just myself in a place doing what I both love and fear.  I lay down under the blue sky and prayed “Lord have mercy” for as long as an hour.  I just did not know what to do about my anxiety and then at last I found the answer that I can do this – just pray “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy”.

For me not growing was unacceptable and life should not to be squandered ending with “gee I wish I had experienced these adventures”.

Recalling years ago, probably 1993, when a friend, Jonhardt Dale-Jacobsen, in Upernavik gave me a pocket version of the New Testament, how little did I know that on this trip I would make up my mind to spend every other reading the New Testament and Psalms.  Every day I would read the daily prayers in the Orthodox Christian Little Prayer book and gaze at the icons.  Through the prayers and icons I feel the presence of God.

To me these adventures, I find myself taking, have always been a rugged challenge because people, who are not adventurers in mind, don’t accept people like me.  I have this pervasive need for finding out what it is like by being there.  Still I find that I just seem live for these adventures, to solo kayak explore in arctic waters. 

I treasure the support of my friends, such as Bo at the Upernavik Museum, because I know how rare we kindred spirits are.  I always find it exciting to find someone, especially a Greenlander, who shares this passion.  Most often they are innovative hunters who love the adventure as I do.

There is a book written of collected stories from people just such as this called We Remember.  Adam Grim’s father, Rasmus, is one of these people and another is David and Ole Thorliefsen’s mother, Joanna.  How little did I know that these friends of mine have such kindred spirits as their parents.  This explains why, whenever I come to Upernavik, they always welcome me.  They too share this love of adventure, exploring the unknown.

I had a clear view across the icefjord as I sat on the southwest corner of Puguta.  I decided now was the perfect time to practice sextant navigation.  I sighted and compared the angles between various familiar peaks with my chart, sextant and plotter. 

For many past years I have not had the patience to do this and actually it was only in 1992, when I was not sure of where there opening of a passage really was that I actually did use my sextant.  Now I took my time carefully aligning the mirrors, which I really enjoyed doing and then the sextant worked just fine.  Of course for starters I did know exactly where I was which made the whole experiment go much easier.  I really had fun this time because I love when things work.  Also there were some points on the map I wanted to confirm that I had wondered about.

The mirrors on this particular sextant were fine because this sextant had not been exposed to enough saltwater to damage the necessary silver backing coating of the mirrors.

That is the only problem I found over the years is that mirrors are not saltwater proof.  The salt just destroys the coating on mirrors.  Before I travel again I should spray the backs of those mirrors with a waterproofing protective coating.

From where I was on Puguta, Aiparssuaq Island just happens to be exactly in line with Aappilattoq and Inugsulik. 

As I looked across the fjord I noticed, to my relief that the spacing between the icebergs in icefjord was not threatening.  However, icebergs are always moving around on the currents and wind.

Cloud cover was advancing over the sun.

My new raincoat Helly Hansen design is fine although the Teflon coated fabric is light the rain coat is solidly waterproof.

My replacement tent was fine however I while I had the opportunity at home I did not bother with sewing the additional sixteen inch wide snow flaps onto the bottom edges.  As I looked at the gaps here and there along the hummocky ground I thought to myself how foolish I had been because during those inevitable moments when the wind blows, the wind will just blow right through these openings.  The flaps would have made the interior of the tent warmer and cut down on some of the mosquitoes by closing the gap along the tent edge and the ground. 

Upv '05 15x11 8-14 2087 compressed

I was very pleased that my original orange, uncoated rip stop 1.9 oz. nylon liner tied into place just fine. I had transferred this original liner into this new tent rather than use a substitute of lesser untested quality.   

In four season nylon tents the liner fabric must be 1.9 oz. rip stop nylon because it has just the right porosity for the exhaled vapor from my breath to pass through and condense on the inside of the urethane coated nylon tent in cold conditions.  This kept me from brushing against the wet condensate accumulated on the inner surface of the tent.

I like the color orange because it is very cheerful.  Once when I was camping on Cape Hat near Pond Inlet across the way to the west while I was resting in my tent we were enveloped in fog.  I was really surprised when I poked my head outside to find that we were in depressing fog my mood inside my orange tent was up and when I saw the fog I felt depressed.  Just the same mood swing as if I were going from a sunny day to a miserable gray day.  So I have always treasured this orange tent liner to keep me in an up mood despite what might be going on outside.

The only problem I really have with a tent is when the wind blows so strongly that the fabric slats.  I really hate that constant noise.  One time in Tassiusak I actually went to a church service and spent time thinking up anything I could do to escape my slating tent.

More recently to avoid having to hear the noise of slatting fabric I have resorted to bringing some ear plugs in my medical supply kit.

It really amuses me that one of my chief problems has always been of not being sure of what was inside each stuff bag and dry bag.  There is no doubt about it being very difficult to figure out what might be in each of these drybags because all of them happen to be the same color, shape and size being light gray urethane coated rollover seal nylon cylindrical bags. 

Finally after all these years of travel beginning in 1989 only now in 2005 did I figure out that I needed to have large labels written on the outside with a wide sharpie pen, stitched on or tied on with the information written on.  I had to use large black letters big enough for me to read without using my glasses. 

I need to use glasses to be able to read regular print.  This seems to happen to most of us after fifty who are far sighted – very humiliating.

Wow what a relief, all those big labels I put on the bags really paid off perfectly, no more of “what is in the bag questions”.  

Wandering around my campsite I noticed that there were numerous rabbit droppings, interestingly enough.  I cannot explain why such a density of rabbits here on this seemingly insignificant island area, but I do suspect that there has to be a good supply of vegetation and water to feed the rabbits in this area.

I was glad that I brought my sextant and protractor in addition to the GPS, a Garmin 76; because I enjoyed figuring out from the sextant and protractor with the map just which peak twenty miles away I am looking at. 

First I had to true my sextant by aligning the mirrors and then I had to frequently recheck it because this inexpensive plastic sextant will change its dimensions drastically with a minor temperature change.  Just a few minutes in the shade, exposure to the bright sun or a change in the angle of the instrument to the sun can cause a drastic change in mirror alignment.  Thankfully these mirrors can be adjusted into alignment quickly and easily.

I was using my sextant to measure the angles between geographic points, peaks and islands. If I didn’t attend to this detail of rechecking the alignment whole mountains and indeed entire islands would seem to move – imagine that!

I was very pleased to find that from where I was sitting on Puguta I could easily see two very prominent peaks.  I was especially interested in keeping track of two especially familiar peaks so that I would be absolutely sure I was looking at them from any angle because these mountains are the highest points to the south of me.  I expected that I would be north of them during this trip. 

Squinting at the map after awhile I did recognize the mountains on Qaerdorssuaq / Sanderson’s Hope, Umiaq Mountain and Nutamiut, where there was an especially memorable peak shrouded with an icy mantle visible near Aappilattoq and Asseritoq. 

I have always found it difficult to relate to the Saga 1:250 thousand scale topographic map.  Unfortunately this is the only map available in print.  At this time I did not know about the detailed satellite images on Google Earth.

While I was in Upernavik Darius Sobczynski showed me on the website, Google – Earth that you can find a high resolution map of anywhere on the Earth.  This is very handy for me.  I was very excited to think this could be possible because finding any detailed of map particularly for this immediate area.

I can copy a Google map with all details by clicking on Print Screen and Shift then copying the image into a photo editing program.

What is especially nice about the Google Earth map is that it is three dimensional which makes it easier to relate to at a glance than the Saga topographic map although the Saga map very conveniently gives land elevation in meters or feet denoting tops of peaks as well to improve the map so that I would have a better chance of relating the map to the precise GPS readings

Drawing these lines accurately required very precise measuring. Under the best controlled conditions I drew lines at home using my drafting table with drafting pencil.  I drew lines on the map for each minute of latitude and every ten minutes of longitude.  I could not put lines on the map for every minute longitude because this far north the minutes are too close together.  Longitude lines are especially difficult to accurately draw because on a Mercator projection each longitude very incrementally from latitude to latitude.  I had to recalculate each new set of divisions between each latitude line and precisely connect those dots.  Any line drawing error would mean a deviation of huge inaccuracy when trying to extrapolate to an on the money GPS reading in minutes seconds, tenths and hundredths of seconds.

I remembered how nearly impossible it is to match GPS readings with this map without these reference lines on my previous travels 2003 in this area.  I spent hours nearly going crazy just trying to find simple points where I knew for sure that I really had been.

I was glad that while I was relaxing in the sun to take the time to compare the GPS with the sextant and the map.  How well I know that I would be very anxious if I was not sure of exactly where I am.  I find looking at vague islands not reassuring. 

Here in the Arctic perspective and depth perception is affected by the refractory atmosphere.  Distances are very hard to estimate because different distances all look the same.  I had a most poignant experience I shall never forget while paddling with Erwin Streisinger on the Baillie River in the Canadian Barren Grounds. 

I was the lead paddler for the day but I found myself fixedly staring at these two inexplicable huge boulders.  Finally I could stand the tension no more and condescended to stop and asked Erwin about them.  With laughter in his voice he assured me that I was experiencing a typical Arctic visual aberration.  Sure enough, as I approached these rocks I found that they were actually only six or ten inch diameter rocks. 

All the while when approaching those rocks I had been imagining that we must be coming up on a huge set of rapids not shown on the map.  Was that ever a surprise!  I found that it is not always so easy to stay calm in the Arctic with among the assorted variables we temperate climate people don’t have to deal with are these visual phenomena that playing tricks in varying degrees on your eyes all the time.

When I first arrived, the campsite was very warm with so many mosquitoes that I had to put on my mosquito hat.  Then as the sun headed more northerly in its circumnavigation of this sky this far north of the Arctic Circle, the temperature dropped and the mosquitoes waned.

I thought to myself, when it comes to mosquitoes, always be prepared, you just never know when you might need that mosquito hat.  There is nothing worse than a face full of mosquitoes especially hundreds of them flying into your eyes, up your nose and in your mouth.  And here there are two choices if you forgot your mosquito netting hat, either you have to retreat to inside your tent or go find someplace too cold for them to be around.

On the Barren-Grounds when they hatched it was impossible to deal with their black clouds anyway other than by wearing a mosquito hat.  There were just so many mosquitoes all packed together in mid air that they could not get out of each others way.

One time I paddled down deep into the bottom of Laksefjorden to look at a refugium only to find myself smothered with mosquitoes.  My visit shortened down to less than an hour, just long enough to make the essential observations and then I high tailed out of there for the cooler outer fjord areas.  I had not bothered to take too seriously the remark by my local friends about how warm it is in the bottoms of the fjords.

Even though the water is just a couple degrees above freezing and icebergs and bits of ice is all around does not necessarily mean the air temperature should cool because calm air on a bright sunny day makes for summer temperatures.  It can be just warm enough for the mosquitoes to come out looking for a high feast on you, the unprotected victim.

As I am sitting here on the southwest tip of Puguta I notice that about five of six boats have gone by.  I don’t know why but I guess that they are avoiding that dangerous iceberg to the west.  Maybe they are coming this way because there is less ice in this passage, Qarngup sarqaa.


The huge berg had now moved west past Niaqussaq Island was heading out the fjord.

As I explored this campsite on this northwest tip of Puguta Island I found that this is a very interesting area for geology, plants and that many precariously poised glacial erratics are sprinkled everywhere.   I don’t think that there is anything more comical looking than a huge boulder perched on some little tiny pebbles.  This place had several right next to my tent.  And to take a picture I had to lie down on my stomach to get the view.  It is something you would not notice until you are sitting on the ground looking a little plants and you suddenly notice that you can see beneath a huge boulder clear through.

I found some interesting bits of red sandstone and there is a large area of brilliantly colored red-orange pegmatitic white feldspar the same as I saw on the east side of Aappilattoq Island in 1992.


I looked at a tiny restricted bay to see what grew there in the brackish water.  As usual there were the regular seaweeds and intermixture of bluegreens, but the density showed how rich the water is in this region from glacial mineralogical and organic materials.  This area supports a fishery of halibut and most recently brown crabs of very large size.


August 2, 2005

Tuesday - putting kayak together, getting on the water and heading to a new campsite

Barometric pressure is 29.99 inches Mercury rising 0.1 inches.  It is sunny at 11:17 but I notice that there are some clouds toward the southwest in the direction of Sanderson’s Hope and Upernavik.  A few cirrus clouds are overhead and it is bright.  There is a light variable wind which is so minimal that no waves are being generated. 

The huge jagged iceberg now to the west a few miles away has broken apart extensively over night sounding like cannons and thunder

The sounds throughout the night kept making me think, in my half awaked moments, that there was a thundershower coming in but causing me to wonder “why is there no wind?” if a thundershower is so close.

Accessing my equipment; My REI Gore-Tex / Urethane coated nylon bivi bag I have owned since 1980 something has started loosing the urethane waterproof layer on the bottom.  The Gore-Tex upper layer is still fine and perfectly water proof, which is a fine testimonial to its good quality.

My old LL Bean sleeping bag designed for bicycling insulated with a thin layer of Thermoloft is still fine.  I am sleeping with a space blanket and a Therm-a-rest pad on the ground and on top of my sleeping bag and Gore-Tex fabric on my bivi bag still expels moisture from my clothing and sleeping bag just fine.

This morning as I was assembling my kayak, I found the middle rib fold over clip that holds the coaming to the frame had a broken.  It was the aluminum rivet which was just too soft to take the stress.  Now in 2007 the manufacturer, designer Long Haul has replaced all these aluminum clips with stainless and added a security fitting so that the clip cannot open under stress. 

I was very glad that there just happened to be an assortment of nylon fishing twine nylon fishing twine on the ground left by other visitors such as Adam Grim.  I found a perfect piece to mend the fitting with that held for the entire trip.

And wow! Was I very glad that I had brought my repair kit with small vice grips and Pak-Man needle nose pliers as I usually do because I found that one of the brass cylindrical chines had become squashed out of round.  I had to reround a crushed cylinder.  I was able to use the rounded outsides of the needlenose pliers to round up the flattened cylinder.  I was most glad that those Pak-Man pliers happen to be rounded on the outside.

Of course this would have not happened if I had been more careful about packing the parts.  I should have been more attentive to gathering likes with likes and tying them together protected by the channels in the side or stringers of the kayak frame.  I remember that Deiter Stiller, who originally sold me my two Kleppers, said you should pack similar pieces together so that they as a group protect themselves from damage during shipping.


I had also forgotten that I needed the extra bungie line for the deck just in front of me to hold the chart / map case, binoculars and GPS, so I improvised with a short piece of extra bungie scrounged from a dry bag. 

I was careful to keep my binoculars readily available on deck because I find that they are the best for spotting rock ramps.  Binoculars have always saved me miles of needless paddling and also grant me a safety margin by revealing to me situations such as wave conditions or availability of water that I cannot see from the cockpit of my kayak until I am right there.

I always keep an extra paddle within easy reach.  Unfortunately this particular paddle does not have enough surface area to propel my loaded kayak in heavy wind situations but it was better than nothing.  I never paddle anywhere even locally without a spare paddle.

The paddle on the ground is a Werner Wenatchee whitewater paddle set without feathering.  The pogies on the take apart shaft are home made of urethane coated pack nylon. 

The Ritchie compass on the deck actually did not work.  I should have tested it before leaving.  I did encounter a situation when I was paddling in fog when a functioning compass would have been very convenient.  There is a possibility that it was seated directly over a stainless steel fitting and this would certainly hang it up.

However there are areas in Upernavik where the iron deposits on islands are dense enough to totally overwhelm the magnetic north function of the compass.  The compass needle will just lead you to these deposits.  I saw one completely dark brown rusty iron deposit in a very narrow passage between Augmaussqarssuaq and Uigordlia islands.

Note the coiled black and white deck line, this is poly propylene about 25 feet long specifically chosen because it floats.  In the blue canvas bag is stowed a waterproof kite with strong string as an alternative source of propulsion should I not be able to paddle.  Carrying a sail rig with all its parts is much too difficult to bother with.  A kite works just as well and can be flown in a figure 8 for propulsion other than down wind.  Sailing a kayak in the arctic is a cold ordeal.

A kite can be used as propulsion and the best long time visible object.  A mirror which I always carry in my lifejacket pocket is handy for signaling distress by pointing it toward a boat or town where people might see it.  Flares are just visible for too short a time to be of practical use other than in an acute emergency last resort.  If nobody happens to see you when you are trying to signal distress what is the point? 


On my stern deck were the solar panel and drybag filled with immediate use items.  The red elliptical shape is the stern deck loading port.  I had both bow and stern loading ports located on the port or left side of the kayak because I am right handed.  I find that I need these loading ports mounted on the same side otherwise I can’t relate to the kayak in terms balancing relative to center of gravity.  Nothing is worse than loading a kayak throwing off the center of gravity such that the bow is down and takes unnecessary effort to propel as the bow is plowing water.


Well it actually happened on my first day on the water, judging by the way my kayak was plowing the water I realized that I had loaded it too heavy in the bow. Nothing like paddling a barge! However this is very easy to accidentally do because the stow-space below deck in the bow is so much larger than the stern.  My heaviest bags usually are small ones filled with food.  I think I might have put one in the bow. Next time I launch I will make it a point to put all of them into the stern next time.

I was able to load everything into my kayak even though I had the extra baggage of the canvas boat packing bags and my shoes / snow sneakers.  I was a little apprehensive as to whether I could actually fit all this stuff into the kayak because I usually would leave the packing bags and shoes in Upernavik, but it all worked out.  It is amazing how much space there is inside a folding kayak and how much easier it is to take advantage of the space filling every nook and cranny when there are loading ports on the deck.  My Klepper Aerius I did not have loading ports and I really doubt if I could have fitted all these items inside and loading was a gruesome exhausting task.

This is the first time in all my years of kayak paddling that I carried regular shoes with me. I did this because I wanted to have good solid shoes to walk around in and climb up and down rocks and slabs with.  In these igneous areas of Greenland there is always plenty of granite slab walking.   I decided that it is not a good idea to walk around with unsupported arches, especially when carrying heavy loads.

I tried wearing fiberglass arch supports in my kayak booties however these made my booties feel too tight, so I never used them.

Later I discovered my problem was from falling arches and that I should attach to my foot pedals some old soles from my boots I always wear because my feet are accustomed to that surface.

I am very glad that I got my weight down to 180 pounds and that this diet of soy protein drink sweetened with fructose, soy powder, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and yeast extract with occasional Gatorade is working very well.

As I put on my drysuit I found that I had forgotten that old tried and true trick before pulling the suit up of smoothing the layers down my back and waist out and then carefully tucking all those layers along with my jacket inside of my  pants.  That would have made pulling up my drysuit above my waist much easier and I would have been more comfortable.  Oh well next time I put on my drysuit I will remember.

My Kokotat drysuit was just as comfortable and as flexible as ever.

On my feet I wore just a simple pair of nylon socks.  My drysuit Goretex booties kept my feet dry and perfectly warm.  I was not expecting that such a thin layer of insulation to be sufficient.  I had brought other socks but I found that they were less comfortable than ordinary nylon socks.

My paddling booties were Ronstan GL-63 with zippers up the inside of my ankles and no Velcro cross the ankle straps as were on my Thunderware booties.  I choose this model because from years of experience I knew that the razor cut rubber soles would not slip on slimy rocks. 

I found that I had forgotten that the spray skirt needed stitching around the edge along the elastic to keep it from riding up in the track.  This made it very difficult to seat the spray skirt over the cockpit lip.  I had a grand fight with that.

As I have written previously. I have an artificial titanium hip and launching is the most likely moment when I could damage the joint. 

Clouds started showing as I was preparing to launch over Sanderson’s Hope the tallest mountain in the picture and Umiaq Mountain the mountain shaped like an Umiaq.  Looking at Umiaq farthest to the right moving along to the right is Torssut passage between the low blue island and mountains behind.

In many past visits I have camped in this passage and experienced some powerful windstorms from Davis Strait there.

 I was not going to just give up so I decided that I would not wait around to see what was going to develop.  Luckily just some temporary light rain developed and minor wind behind me from the southwest.


I was very excited about launching and experienced one of those foolish moments when I blithely made an assumption.  I put the seat in and the foot pedals where and as I assumed they ought to be without bothering to check them.  Oh boy how foolish I was because this time I was in big trouble as I launched.  I had so naively assumed that all would be well.  And there I was a sight for sore eyes so to speak as I settled myself into the cockpit only to find that I was sitting precariously high because I was sitting on top of the now folded down seat back.  I had forgotten to clip the seat back into the vertical position so that it would stay in place as I lowered myself from the rear deck into the cockpit.  So there I was sitting on top of the seatback folded down beneath me.  This was one of those “I can’t believe I just did this” very awkward situations to say the least. 

What I had to do was to simultaneously heist and keep myself wedged at cockpit entry level above the seat while in the cockpit not on the rear deck.  If I sat on the rear deck and attempted to reenter all that would happen would be the same old seatback collapsing forward beneath me just at the moment as I slid into the cockpit.

To put the seatback behind me from under me required the supreme effort of a contortionist with good balance.  I had to wedge myself in the air above in the cockpit high enough for the seat back to clear beneath me while I was reaching beneath myself to lift the seatback up into the vertical position before I lost it and slid back down into the cockpit as all the while I was trying to lift the seatback up from under me.  Then I could sit in the seat. 

After three or so tries I finally got it – whew! Such a humiliating ordeal I am glad nobody was around to see this apparition of “more adventures in fine kayak paddling”. 

Out of disgust with myself, since I was so foolish, I had made up my mind that I was just not going to paddle back to shore and get back out of the kayak to correct clip the seat back into position, which would be too easy.

During all my struggling, my precious home-made, foam lined video camera bag flipped overboard from my cockpit.  Just in the nick of time I noticed it floating horizontally on the surface and I was able to grab it before any no salt water was able to run down inside it.  Salt water and cameras are not a good combination!

And a few moments later to further augment this already horrid situation I had to admit to myself that I had also miscalculated the length of the rudder cables.  I had set them much too long.  As one of those hard to believe solutions I tried some new really strange hyperextensions.  Just imagine here I am only able to touch the pedals if I slither myself down in the cockpit so that I am nearly lying down.  Now only my head is sticking out of the cockpit resting on the now upright seat back and I am attempting to paddle with just my forearms, because the rest of my torso was below deck.  All I can stick out is just my forearms and my head. “Another sight for sore eyes, some paddler these American ladies!  I wonder what she is going to do next, I’m exhausted just thinking about it!”

Because the rudder cables were much too long, even though I had vainly attempted to contort myself by stretching my legs and feet far enough to depress the rudder pedal, I found myself helplessly unable to have even the slightest affect on the rudder. 

And here we have some more moments in fine paddling!  Good thing it was dead calm. 

I gave up on that impossibly contorted body position soon enough and lifted the rudder.  I thought that maybe resorting to no rudder would be a fine idea.  I thought to myself, “after all there are those who claim that one should never use a rudder when paddling regardless”.  I thought to my self “who knows maybe I don’t need a rudder after all”.

Then I became ever so slightly aware that there was a genuine, no doubt about it, tail wind of ten to twelve knots.  I tried vainly to paddle without the rudder in the water.  After trying to just tough it out without the rudder but I found myself faced with the arduous task of constantly having to correct the natural tendency of this kayak to weathercock.  What a lot of work every two strokes on the left side I would have to correct on the right side the weather cocking as the kayak would instantly swing into arc of some degree as it invariably headed up wind.  I will never understand how anybody would consider expedition paddling without a rudder.  I find paddling just impossibly arduous without a rudder and I offset the inherent rudder flat surface area drag by adjusting the height of the rudder to just sufficient to maintain steerage.  I wish someday dihedral low drag rudders were available because flat rudders induce drag that automatically sacrifices a knot or so of speed.

I did notice that I had unfortunately not paid strict enough attention to balance when I loaded it so the result was that I was loaded slightly bow heavy.  Being down in the bow further helps the kayak to weathercock.

To any kayak paddler of even the most minimal skill I must have looked like a sight for sore eyes.

Then after I had been dealing with my cameras I thought about it.  Then I resorted to lifting one knee, the knee on the opposite side of the wind and to running the offending rudder cable up and over the top of my knee to maintain steerage. 

After awhile I got tired of having to paddle with my knee so rigidly held in place to keep the rudder under control.

Finally I got an idea.  What I needed to do was to shorten the cable by tying it off on a diagonal with a short piece of line.  I figured I would estimate what amount of shortening would be just about right for the rudder to maintain direction downwind with just a touch of slack and if it was not right I could easily change the tension by retying the knot to further shorten the cable.  If my initial estimate was correct I could make minimal course corrections by lifting me knee under the rudder cable to shorten the cable and also drop my knee to resume the original cable setting.

A while after I had launched I noticed that storm clouds had accumulated over Sanderson’s and then were passing down the valleys toward and over Nutaarmiut.  Now came some light rain and the light gray sky was overcast.


I saw a spectacular turquoise linear iceberg and took video footage of this. 

It is annoying to have to take the battery out of the video camera, every time, so that it does not discharge. However I next discovered that actually all I do is to simply slide it up in its track in the holder a quarter of an inch. That takes care of disconnecting it but still leaves it in place so that I can simply slide in back into place when I want to use the camera.

I always eventually find myself imagining my audience as I take pictures and video footage.  I like taking video because it shows action and I can narrate what I am seeing with my thoughts about the moment.  Compared to taking still pictures with taking video I sort of feel as if I am holding my breath. I worry that I will remember why I took the still picture later, however I do write a log.  I do appreciate the detail that my still camera records because the lens and electronic sensor system is amazing.  This makes it very handy for capturing tiny plants, such as lichens.  My digital still camera is much easier to use than a film camera for these difficult shots especially from the cockpit in following seas.

Using my still camera from my car, when stopping was not an option, I have done things like just point the camera while driving 50 miles an hour to take an interesting picture.

Writing a log is very convenient because I can record those memories of why I took a picture which is extremely helpful.  I use Rite-in-the-Rain paper and pen.  This paper and pen lasts reliably for years and the pen will write on the paper even if it is wet.  These records have lasted me since I first started using them in 1989.  The paper has not turned yellow and the ink is still perfectly legible.

On my way past the south side of Puguta I saw a few hundred King Eider / Miteq siorakitsoq and Common Eider / Qingalik.  Northern Fulmar were gliding over the wavelets, about fifteen Guillemots which probably had their nests on the nearby rocks, only two Cormorants, and a pair of Glaucous gulls.

How foolish I was not to take a picture of them because I never had the chance to see those spectacular King Eider again.  They are a thrilling bird to see because their brilliant colors and the unique shape of their heads are amazing.  Their heads are considered a great delicacy, indeed an aphrodisiac, by Arctic people.

I saw several inviting lovely bays as I was heading east down the south side of Puguta but I did not stop to investigate them.

7304N 5630W Puguta camps

I rounded the corner between Puguta and Manitsoq islands heading down a very interesting passage called Ikerasaq.  Bo told me that for motor boaters this passage is risky because it is shallow.  I was just completely at home in my kayak wandering down the bay looking at sights.

I paddled closely to the vertical walls of Puguta looking for some delicious sea urchins.  Unfortunately because the tide was just a little too high they were just too deep for me to retrieve by scooping them off the rocks on my paddle blade to bring up to the surface.  I missed the sublime pleasure of breaking them open and eating their orange eggs.

I find it curious that I do not always find them.  I thought that sea urchins would be almost everywhere but that is not true.  There is one convenient island near Aappilattoq which has white feldspar.  I always find many urchins there.  The reason may be that the currents weaker in these areas where I do find urchins.

When I lived in Kullorsuaq I used to have an arrangement for retrieving urchins and a small fishing rod I would catch Sculpin / Ulk with.  They were easy to catch in the shallows and tasty fried up too.

Rounding the bend along the east side of Puguta at four in the afternoon with my binoculars I spotted the ramp at the campsite listed on my map that Bruce Simpson and family had used.  The site was nicely tucked at the end of a sheltered east facing bay on the east side of Puguta within Ikerasaq passage.  The campsite waypoint #043 is at 72°58.139’ N, 55°21.672’ W. 

The measurements my GPS gives is not in minutes and seconds.  To convert them I have to take the number in tenths of minutes 0.139’ N and divide it by 1.66666666666667 which converts it to 0.084 which is in seconds 8.4” which just enough to drive me a little bit crazy.  However most of the time I can get away with numbers in minutes only and longitude is too close to read in anything other than minutes this far north.

There was the only one ramp within the bay and I was glad to find it. 

For getting my kayak up above the waterline I need to use a ramp. The easiest way to get my kayak up and out of the water is on foam rollers. 

I particularly like the granite geology of this area for paddling because I can usually find some sort of rock ramp to roll my boat up on the foam rollers. 

The foam rollers I use are an inexpensive toy called, pool noodles which happen to conveniently have a hole down the center as rollers and auxiliary floatation.  I cut them into three foot lengths.  I have threaded through the center of the rollers polyethylene line knotted with grab loops at each end for floatation.  I keep these pool noodles tucked just inside my cockpit for easy retrieval.

I pulled my kayak up the rock ramp on the foam rollers so that I would scratch or gouge the hull fabric.


As I was negotiating the ramp I thought about how very lucky I was that when David Thorliefsen happened to dropped me at my previous campsite when the adjacent rock ramp was well exposed. 

Later where David had dropped me I noticed that when the maximum high tide came in, the ramp was nearly covered.  The only thing showing was a very narrow band of rock hardly enough to even get out and stand on edged by to a three foot step up to dry ground.

This area happens to have unequal high tides featuring one especially high tide and two normal low tides interspersed with a medium level high tide.  This called a semidiurnal high tide.  During this period it so happened that the unequal range in maximum high tide during the day was half the high tide height during the very early morning hours.  This can be one of those situations where I could be sleeping soundly while the tide silently comes in much higher than it had some twelve hours earlier.

So far I have not found any ripe blueberries or black crow berries on this island Puguta.  In 2003 same time of year I found an almost endless supply of berries behind on Kangerdularssup Island near the ice cap.  The reason might be that I was in a warmer and sunnier area where I found them.  When I was there it seemed unusually bright and hot as is typical when just a few miles away from the icecap.

In this little bay at my campsite although I did not find any live mussels or clams but I did find the empty shells and even a bright pink shell of a sea scallop and some sea urchins crawling on the rocks at low tide just below the surface.

Camping here on this quiet inlet was much different than on the outside next to the Upernavik Isfjord with all its icebergs coming and going on the tides and currents. I had a much quieter evening with only occasional icebergs breaking and they did not boom like thunder as if a thunder shower was arriving.  At my first campsite on the icefjord I awoke several times thinking that a thundershower was on its way wondering to myself why the wind was not coming up heralding the thundershower.  Then I would have to tell myself that it was an iceberg shedding large chunks but every time I looked outside for the source whatever berg it was that thundered was way far away, who knows where.  So my look outside for the source of which berg that sounded just next door was never to be found.  I gave up after awhile because it was all pointless.

The tide looked as though it was fairly well in at 20:20.  Now as the sun has made its way northward in its circle in the sky a cool wind is blowing from the east off the ice cap.

My balaclava paddling hood had unfortunately become wet because I had strapped it to the stringer frame of the kayak and water leaked through the deck stitching onto the hood. 

Water drips off my paddle loom onto the stitching in the deck mid-ship and leaks through accumulating one to two liters a day depending on how many hours I paddle.  I bail it out with a Packtowel.

One of my equipment improvements was to my winter weight polyethylene fleece balaclava which I used as paddling hood.  On my last journey I found that the hood needed an outer windproof over-hood, a thin layer of foam insulation and some thin fleece to cover my neck reaching down to my shoulders.  Unfortunately when I wore this hood while I slept it was warm until the outer nylon shell slipped off, then I would feel cold.

At night even though the sun shines the temperature drops and it feels considerably colder probably the temperature drops into the 40’s and by the time the sun actually sets in mid-August frost shows on the grass.

August 3rd, 2005

The barometric pressure was 30.10 inches Mercury 08:00.

I awoke to bright sun shining out from under a cloud layer.  Cirrocumulus cloud bands were gathering closer.  Wind was very slight.

The previous evening, I gathered water from the pools in nearby stream as it flowed robustly down and over the rounded granite only 30 feet away.  I always like to start out my day with a ready supply of water.

For me first thing in the morning I do not like having to do balancing acts such as straddling the muddy unstable edges of boggy brooks, just to get some water.  That is too complicated for me to coordinate in my half awake state.  I know that I am very likely to do something ignominious like fall in or fill up a boot with mud.  I just know from near misses that I can’t handle too many balancing acts first thing in the morning.  Forget that idea! it is not a good one!  Whether I like it or not I bite the bullet the night before and get myself a supply of water for next morning.

My system for handling water has for years just been a couple four liter Mylar wine bags in a nylon carrying bags.  My bags are now over ten years old, yet their silicon stoppers continue to reclose and seal them perfectly.

The easiest way to fill these water bags is by bailing out of the shallows using a rectangular rather than a round polyethylene food container.  The water will pour cleanly into the wine bag openings from the square corners of the food container.

Just as I awoke I heard very soft chirping sounds accompanied by occasional deep grunts.  Very carefully so as not to lose the moment by alarming them, I peaked out of my tent to spy a large group about 12 or 15 of immature brown eider accompanied by their maternal guardians’ one at each end of the flotilla.  They were on their usual morning out and about scouting for food.

I also saw a female Miteqsiorartooq (Aavooq) – Common Eider Somateria mokkissima with chicks swimming across the bay.  The eider like this protected bay.

Upv '05 15x11 8-15 2096 compressed

Aside from the occasional collapse of an iceberg, the only sounds I was to hear that day was this moment of the eider families making their quiet chirps back and forth to each other.  The eider talk back and forth to each other as a group as they paddle along.  Occasionally there is a low grunt from the adults which serves to guide and alert the convoy to possible danger they had not yet learned to be aware of.

I find it very convenient to be concealed within a tent not very obvious but still they were weary of me and did not stay very long in the lower part of this bay near me.  They quickly made their way to the outer area away from my tent.  I know that they were aware of me despite my efforts at remaining very inconspicuous.  I sat as still as possible so as to not scare them away.  I like these moments of being able to watch this wildlife just being themselves. 

From my tent I noticed when looking at an opening on an iceberg that the berg was rotating in the current ever so soundlessly.  Just to give myself a sense of soundless time, I captured this moment on still camera and video.

You can see in the picture below that the background shows the steep rock faces.  This is on the west side of Manitsoq Island and it is one of those places where there is no place to land unless you happen to have some sort of sticky feet. 

Because I noticed from a distance that the south side of Manitsoq looked just as forbidding I decided not to bother with paddling along that side.  Later during my travels however I did find that the east side had numerous ramps scattered among the glacially rounded escarpments.

1969 & 1970

I ate my usual breakfast of soy powdered fructose sweetened drink extract, brewers yeast, raw sesame seeds and raw sunflower seeds mixed with water into a slurry.  My choices are to try to have quickly digestible simple and complex carbohydrates, protein and with unoxidized fats.  I assumed that I would find epilobium /fireweed and crowberries for fresh greens and fruit along the way.

From my vantage point in my tent my kayak looked just fine. Then to my horror when I stood up and stepped outside my tent I found that my kayak was actually not at all where I had left it.  Indeed at some time while I was blissfully sleeping my dear kayak had been ever so silently floated off by the early morning high tide and left by the retreating tide stranded on top of flat rocks a meter above where I had set it. 


In a moment of heedlessness during my arrival I had merely wrapped just my bow line in a loose loop around a small rock wedged between two larger rocks.  Normally I always moor with both a bow and stern line.

I found my line had just barely held having moved to the gap where the small rock was resting lightly against another rock.  Talk about a touchy deal - that was it!  I told myself to not do that again, it is a long walk home from here!

Much to my relief I found no damage to my kayak, not even scuff marks on the hull, so I gather that my kayak just rose with the tide and gently drifted inward on the slight wind and tidal current coming to rest on top of the flat rock.  This was a humiliating lesson in don’t be so casual about tying up your kayak no matter how somber the sea may be.

I had forgotten that this area of Greenland has these semi-diurnal tides and that I have to be aware that one high tide during the twenty-four hour day is much higher than the other.  During this particular cycle the highest tide happens to be in the early morning hours when I am most likely to be sound asleep. 

Unfortunately these early morning hour high tides are quite inconvenient.  I hate having to drag myself out of my tent to move my boat higher up the beach after I am comfortably ensconced.

I have to be very observant when I arrive to closely look for any seaweed that would indicate as to how far the tide will be reaching when I tie off my kayak.  It certainly would have been convenient if the tide had just happened to be at its maximum flood when I initially arrived.

I chuckled to myself about the fact that I did not think I might need my battery operated high water alarm, so I left it at home.  Next time I will bring a float alarm so that I will know when my kayak is floating.

I tuned in my pocket shortwave radio but it only picked up BBC.  Now I wished that I had replaced either the antenna or the radio before I left so that I would have had better reception.

I went for a botanical walk and found some interesting effects cliff faces have on plants I found the plants larger and greener which suggests the rocks give off more warmth and nutrients.  The plants were much larger and prolific.


There is no lack of mosquitoes.  It is good that I am near the harbor and a cool wind from the icecap is blowing on shore.  I need mosquito gloves.

I have to be careful to keep my Mavica camera batteries warm.  The Mavica camera minimum operating temperature is 50°F however the video camera minimum operating temperature is 40°F which in this temperature regime is quite a difference.

I found a lichen that I had not seen before Omphalima hudsoniana a very pale green flat large lichen 200 feet south of my tent.  This is among the macro lichens one of the largest with structure of about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.  I thought that it was an unusual finding to find such a huge lichen.  Why it would happen to grow here was an interesting question, perhaps it is the richness of the soil or maybe the amphitheater-like warm conditions of the surrounding rock structures or both.  I also found other especially large examples and arrays of plants in this area.  The large amount of blue green algae growing on the rocks indicated high organic enrichment of the soil.

Photo of arctic heath a nice fire starter small branches of Arctic willow, Cladonia / reindeer lichen and flat pale green lichen; Omphalima hudsoniana.


11:19 30.19 inches Mercury, the barometer is rising steadily.  I took a lichen sample but I never found any birch at #044 N72°58’05”W55°21’53”. August 3rd 2005

14:19 high ceiling but sunny with cumulus clouds.

Mosquitoes are active.  Wind less than 5 knots from the east.

Soil in most of this area is very rich which suggests that this area does not have much wind.  Any dry area is covered with Cladonia lichens. Water falls over rocks have Nostoc or some bluegreen alga on the rocks. 


Soil on the rocks is often as hummocks of dense plants, mosses and lichens.




There is plenty of Arctic Willow Salix rotundifolia these tiny underground willows grow underground showing just a bright red immature catkin and leaves. 



Epilobium - Fireweed / edible salad green

Near rocks cliffs protected from the wind, with plenty of water and warmth absorbed by the rock from the sun, the plants are four time the normal size.  This lush growth of plants suggests that highly enriching minerals routinely leach from these rocks enriching the soils below.  I have never seen such lush combinations of plants growing under these conditions anywhere else before.  I would consider this quite unique.

Below is an exciting example of Salix rotundifolia growing as a single tree out of the rock face. The white color to the rock is white feldspar.


Below is a spectacular example of unusually thick moss - sphagnum with Arctic Willow growing out of it


Below is a very dense cluster of Polygonum viviparum surrounded with grasses and Equisetum /Horsetail.


I found red sandstone which I really did not expect to find here because this is a sedimentary stone in this dominantly igneous rock area.  I found a black / gray stone which I suspect is an iron ore because it is very heavy for its size.  The stone has a bell-like ring when dropped and the stone breaks with sharp semicircular edges like chert and other highly silica rocks that are formed at crystallization temperature of quartz. The black stone is not shiny but dull crystalline so also chert is not all that shiny either.

If the sun were out fully I would be broiling – it would be a hot day if the sun were bright.  Today the sun is only at about half of its intensity.

My daily food choice is with a different soup each night and some Gatorade which I find is fine.  I am using baking soda both to brush my teeth with and as a deodorant.  Over the years this double use of baking soda has worked out very well.

I was glad that I brought my repair kit with lots of thread however it should have included some thicker thread as well with a thick needle.  I did fix the spray skirt elastic edge to keep the elaxtic where it belongs on the bottom of the track.  The spray skirt needs a bright red pull tab so that it can be pulled quickly in an emergency situation.

I finally attended to properly adjusting my rudder chains resorting to just using the last link and repositioning the pedals four to five inches toward me, back from #3 rib so that the mast step hole is in between.  This is the same position I used in the Klepper Aerius I.

I brought the kayak up higher and tied it off both bow and stern.  I thanked my lucky stars that my kayak did not disappear at high tide last night.  Just the right waves could have dislodged my arrangement that I had only tied only by a casually looped the bow line under a rock that was leaning against another rock. I won’t do that again!

I decided that in case my kayak should happen to float again I should tie the pair of pool noodles under the hull tied their ends together forming coil around the hull to protect the hull from abrasion.  I could have used two more pool noodles. 

I notice that the weight of the kayak when pulled it up the ramp using the pool noodles as rollers is close to being too much for the polyethylene foam noodles.  They are beginning to become crushed in small area where the keel rides.   I should unload as much as I can before I use the rollers.

When sleeping at night I found that my space blankets were providing just the margin of warmth against the cold.  Unfortunately my several years old Therm-a-rest air mattress is starting to break down so that it makes a pillow on the end.  Thankfully it still does hold air just fine, insulating me from the cold wet ground below.

I was glad I brought my vest pocket Bible New Testament with Psalms. I read my Bible and prayers, which was refreshing and a good learning experience.

As a routine I paddle one day and read this Bible the next day.

18:11 Barometric pressure is 30.20 inches Mercury quiet conditions.

I watched the Eider with family, then four Guillemots came diving for food in the bay.  Large icebergs do not come inside this bay because there is neither current nor wind to carry them but they glide back and forth outside in the passage, Ikerasaq.  These bergs are not so noisy probably because they protected by the high walls on each side of this passage from the intense sunlight all day long.  All they do is just quietly collapse.


August 4th, 2005

The 08:00 Barometric pressure is 30.25 inches Mercury inches.

I awoke to another quiet gray day.  A family of immature eider were diving vigorously for food accompanied by a watchful adult female in the bay in front of my tent.

Barometric pressure is 30.35 down one unit, 0.05 inches mercury, at 20:30.  I noticed that the ceiling was dropping indicated by a cloud forming around the peaks and enlarging although the sun is shining and it is warm with a slight wind.

I broke camp and launched without any problems.  The day was overcast. 

I paddled from the southeast end of Puguta Island to an inlet of Manitsoq Island on the opposite side dodging accumulated icebergs. 

The Mavica still camera, I discovered, unfortunately is much more sensitive to cold than the video camera.  When I installed the Mavica camera battery, the battery level indicator showed that the battery had 45 minutes operating time, but because of the cold the Mavica camera will hardly work.  So I had to take more video in place of still shots because the video camera would work. 

I will have to figure out a way to keep the Mavica warmer on overcast days like this one.

I know that batteries do not recharge in cold conditions.  One technique I am using is that while I am in my tent when I am recharging my batteries is that I am keeping them warm against my body.  I don’t think the FM50 battery is able to recharge at less than 65°F or recharging takes much longer.

I was delighted to find some guillemots nesting on the point very low to the water.  I can always tell when I am near these black and white red-footed birds because the first I hear their very soft ultra high pitched peeps and then I see them flying out from the rocks, to investigate me.  They always roost as single nests on rock indentations just large enough for the nest.

Here I came across some immature ones that were fully feathered but not yet able to fly.  Their parents showed some anxiety by calling repeatedly as I approached but the flightless young stood on the small openings of the sheer rock faces looking at me.  They looked at me as if they were saying “Hey what are you doing here?” and I looked at them with the same thought in mind.

I was delighted to just happen upon this moment when I could take close up pictures of guillemots.  This was the first time I have found guillemot nests just a couple meters above the water.

There were numerous adults intensely busy feeding on the specialized organisms that are only near to the icebergs.  I have found that the best moment to see guillemots and Qaqulluk or Timmiakuluk – Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis is when they are preoccupied with feeding near icebergs.

I enjoyed paddling down the east side of the passage between Puguta and Manitsoq islands.  Manitsoq was rugged dark brown granitic and basaltic rock as mostly steep cliffs straight into the water with a bay made up of broken huge chunks of rock, not place to consider landing unless in extreme desperation.  On the opposite side Puguta had long gently rolling boggy land however I am not sure if there was a spot to land quite as convenient as the first bay I had tucked into. 

Just on the edge of the bay after the small peninsula in the passage Ikerasaq was an island named Umanatssuk meaning a heart or stopper shaped island in Greenlandic.  This Greenlandic name is used to describe what this island looks like in this passage which makes plenty of sense when giving directions as to where you have been.

Toward the end of Ikerasaq passage approaching what would be the north side of Puguta once again rock cliffs unsuitable for landing started to develop.  I said to myself “Glad I camped where I did last night.  That was a nice camping spot Bruce told me about.”

It is a funny thing but we kayakers get to be surprisingly picky about where we might camp.  I find that I like lots of bright sun so I avoid north sides of islands.  Of course water is very important.  Protection from the wind is handy if available but not always.


At waypoint 08/04/05 #046 N73°03’08” W55°09’53” inside the near end of Manitsoq Island there is nothing but steep rock faces continuing around both sides of Qagsserssuit sarqa as far as I could see from my cockpit.

Rounding the end of Manitsoq Island I headed to the opposite side a crossing Qagsserssuit sarqa passage of about a mile.  On the opposite side it was just straight up and down, no where along that escarpment even where the brooks fed down from the top and the bays came in was there even the slightest possibility for a landing on Qagsserssuaq peninsula.  The entire south face of this peninsula offered no refuge and it had permanent icecap on the mountain peaks that could be seen on a clear day from Upernavik.  These peaks were even height that Sanderson’s Hope which was1042 meters on Qagsserssuaq Qagssersuit peak was 1080 meters high rising in about mile straight up from the water. Other peaks on this dramatic peninsula were also in this same range.

The northwest side of Puguta is equally as steep with a peak just about on top of the water that is 820 meters high.  There is also a razorback shaped peak on Puguta called Puso just north of the previous peak that is just as vertical.  No place to land! And I bet the passage is equally as deep as are many passages in this area.  Not a place to drop anchor!

I thought to myself how glad I am paddling this kayak, Long Haul Mark I, because this area is not the place to be paddling anything but a very solid, well designed kayak and spray skirt with solid paddles and proper coldwater paddling clothing.  If I unexpectantly encounter threatening situation such as raging wind I know that I can depend on my kayak.  Here is one of those large areas where you cannot just paddle to shore to escape a situation.

Now at this point I was very glad that I had repaired my kayak last night.  It paddled superbly, gliding over the water effortlessly and the seat was wonderfully comfortable.  Sometimes the sea conditions, currents and waves, harmonize with the hull and my stroke that I rhythmically paddle in synchrony with the waves effortlessly for hours on end. 

This day I could feel that that I would most likely be on the water, exploring for hours. 

On the map the opening to the tiny fjord looked as though it was very narrow.  I was especially excited to see what it would be like to negotiate the passage in my kayak and to find out if or where there were any places to land. 

7306N 5533W 8 4-5 route

I was looking for some more birds hoping that I might happen to find some of the more interesting birds Naajavaarsuk – Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnean, Apparluk – Razorbill Alca torda, Appaworst – Thick-Billed Murre Uria lomvia, Appa siqquttooq – Thin-Billed Murre Uria aalge and Appaliarsuk (Appaaraq) – Dovekie Alle alle.

In 1993 I found a very interesting colony of Razorbills and it was exciting to watch how they fly.  First thing they did was to jump off their cliff face about fifty feet above the water onto their breasts, right in front of my kayak and then to fly they would run over the water until they could gain altitude with their wings.  I never realized that there might be a bird that would have to take flight in this manner.  I felt like telling them that they really ought to try jumping off the rocks and flapping their wings at the same time, but who knows and I would not want to confuse them.  They might wind up flying underwater instead of over the water.  It is best to leave things as they are.  I did wonder how they feel after doing a belly flop from such height, I would think crash landing on water from such a height would really hurt, then again they have feathers and I don’t.

Ivory Gulls choose to nest in these remote areas, so I was hoping that I might come across one that might be nesting in this secluded area. 

Deciding what actually was the entrance to the bay was challenging because all the rocks were the same color and looked the same.  A few icebergs had collected threateningly together in front of the opening. This was a typical situation where ice had accumulated in this bottleneck area.  I found my self passing through a group of bergs crowded together.  Luckily all of them stayed put and nothing broke off because I was not comfortable with being forced to pass so closely by them.  For me this was “too close for comfort” should anything happened to have shifted.

 The opening did not look like an opening from my position it just looked like another dent in the shoreline that might amount to nothing.  I should have stuck to the north side but all looked the same even if I had because I was unfamiliar with the area and the passage from  my cockpit was packed in with icebergs just enough to look like there was opening beyond them.

This was just another example of how everything looks the same because there is no depth of perspective when you are this far north in unfamiliar territory.  The only key to depth perception is color shift where dark brown in the foreground lightens up and fades into blues which become lighter and lighter ending as powder blue.  Lack of depth perception is annoying and is not a good feeling and yet there it is clear as day on the map right in front of you.

As I passed the cluster of icebergs, I made my way through the narrows which were about 100 feet wide.  And now I was well on my way inside the bay.

Standing on some shallow rocks I came across a group of ten or more some eider chicks.  This is something these birds commonly do.

As soon as they saw me they all instantly jumped into the water and swam for safety.  They were unable to fly yet.  Around the corner were about six nesting guillemots.  Another mile heading around south on some high cliff faces was a well established colony of Glaucous gulls crying their alarms to notify anyone within miles of my presence as they flew over me.  The closer I got the noisier they became and the more threatening they became as they swooped over me, typical of aggressive gulls.

Continuing east I made my way into the shallow backwaters to look at the glacial terminus the topography flattened completely out resolving into boring mud and shallow bog.  I decided not to bother with taking the risk of stepping out and sinking up to my eyeballs in the mud which is probably rock flour.  I could not think of any exciting reason to get out and wander around.  Maybe because it was an overcast day everything just looked uninteresting.

I recalled an old experience of stepping into some rock flour mud near the Orpit in Laksefjorden and finding that the bottom was just ever so slightly, hopelessly soft.  Only the rocks beneath kept me from disappearing into grey brown fluffy goo.  The trick is getting your booties out after they have been sucked off your feet, just for a little entertainment.

Once in Stony Creek, where I live, I stepped into some pitch black, organic anoxic goo and the only way out was to slump into my kayak, pull my feet out of my boots and pull with only the most heroic effort my boots back out.  Believe me I did not try that again! And I realized how dangerous soft bottoms actually may be.

Leaving I paddled for a change along the north side where I found a pair of Glaucous gull parents with two young.  One could fly a short distance and the other was just about able to fly.  Because they couldn’t fly as they had probably just left their nest today for the first time I was able to get quite close to them to take video pictures and I was glad to have this unique opportunity to take pictures as close as I could to them.  Had these nearly mature chicks been able to fly I would have never had the chance getting at all close to any Glaucous gulls on the water in this type of circumstance although when flying the adults like to swoop low over you from above.

Then I took video of two Glaucous gull chicks swimming which were just about able to fly with the alarmed parent cruising me over head.

Unfortunately I saw no Miteqsiorakitsoq – King Eider Somateria spectabilis, yet there had been many in the icefjord on the south side of Puguta Island, I do hope I will get to see more of them.

I saw a few Oquitsuit or Oqaatsoq - Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo.  They are everywhere if there are any easy to catch fish about.  They are just those unmistakable ugly shags, just as we have in Connecticut.

Now I was glad that I do have my rudder.  I lowered it in the water just deep enough to give me directional control. I was very pleased that this time I had loaded my kayak as lightly as possible in the bow.  Such wonderful paddling, my kayak paddled effortlessly at about 2.7 to 2.6 mph according to my GPS.  I did not have to work all that hard paddling as I paddled in synchrony with the very slightly riffled water.

Coming out of the bay into Qarfigssuit heading toward Inuvik seemed so easy, just a nothing paddle, because now I knew what the iceberg cluster was all about and I could see straight down the passages in ether direction so that I knew where I was and where I was going.

Curiously enough I saw a couple motorboats passing by the east side of Manitsoq Island and I heard one pull in and stop.  I was too lazy to look through my binoculars to see what was over there but I could dimly make out that there were some ramps over there.  Probably the boat had pulled into one of those landing areas.  The high cliffs shrouded that shore in dark shade.

Bruce Simpson told where they had camped on Inuvik.  I thought that I might as well plan to camp in that area as well but I noticed a very forbidding cluster of numerous large icebergs just about where they had camped.  Some of them appeared to me to be grounded out.  I decided I did not want to sleep that close to those icebergs.

On my way south I could see the icecap south east from me the Upernavik glacier.  In this picture it is eighteen to nineteen nautical miles from me.  The icecap on the horizon is distinctive because it has a unique but eerie brilliant white glow nothing else has.   What also gives it away is the nunataqs or isolated pieces of land projecting through it.


As I paddled south the high rock faces suddenly gave way to a long shoreline of nearly flat rock ramp.  I use the term suddenly because I was expecting the usual inhospitable rocky shores to just continue.  I was very surprised when I came across very shallow granite ramp that extended for a mile south.

Being mindful I needed to have water available at my campsite I paddled along until I spotted some water running down from the very flat marshy land above.  As I evaluated my options I decided that getting the boat up the shallow angled ramp would not be all that bad because the rock was conveniently flat.  All I would have to do is just keep switching the rollers from back to front as they rolled out from under the stern.  

Then I realized that I needed to tie my boat to large stable rock.  At the beginning of the ramp shoreline I saw nothing more than some insubstantial little half buried in loose muddy dirt.  Those rocks I just knew I did not want to risk tying my boat to.  The edge of the ramp was bordered by a two to three foot high lip of tundra which I did not want to bother with heisting my kayak on top of.  I figured that I could risk leaving my kayak on the granite ramp because the distance up the ramp was great enough and there was nearly no seaweed at the top of the ramp indicating the high tide line.  

Sure enough a couple hundred feet later I found some large three and six foot diameter boulders to tie off where a couple loops of motorboat lines had already been left tied around them.  With those lines available I knew that this meant that others had used this place before me, which always means good luck to me.  Of course if a storm came in the waves would just roll right up the ramp but I thought that the weather would probably remain stable.  Storms in the summer most often roll in from the west.

The west facing site was delightfully sunny and to the east was flat low marsh.  I figured that the sun would be probably bright the next morning providing good exposure for my solar panel recharging system. 

Because of this convenient four-sided exposure to the sun I planned to recharge my batteries throughout the night moving the solar panel as the sun moved to maintain the best exposure to the sun.

This is one of those moments when I am glad that I happen to wear Velcro closure boots so that I can easily slip them on at any time and go out for a walk as necessary.  I don’t like to bother myself with any thing any more complex than necessary when I am temporarily awakening from sleep and expect to go back to sleep as soon as possible.

I also wear Gore-Tex pants and jacket so that it does not matter if I kneel or sit down on wet ground to do some project.

I knew that I would have to figure out how to sleep with the battery inside my sleeping bag next to me without accidentally detaching the connection to the solar panel when I roll over.  That was a minor problem and I reminded myself that I would just keep track of every time I rolled over from one side to the opposite side so that I did not wind up encircled by the cord.

From my boat and campsite I had to walk down the shore some distance before I could find water.

At the spring I just happened to sit down to gather water where I spotted a birch tree. I couldn’t believe it, but there it was for real.

Then I looked at the stones and found bright orange feldspar, something I had seen on the back side of Aappilattoq island years ago.  That was exciting.

These I found at my third campsite at waypoints #049 & #050 at N73°02’17” W55°11’08”. 

A few motorboats came past the SE side of Manitsoq Island where there was less ice.

Water drips off my paddle shaft into my lap.  When I am paddling with them out of their drybags on my lap but I found way to keep the drops of water off the cameras.  I put a piece of dry pack cloth (non-woven rayon) over the cameras to catch these paddle drips. 

One problem with cameras is that tying them inside the cockpit is a tricky deal because I am worried about entangling my feet in the tie down lines.

As for my tent the original zipper was a lightweight coil zipper.  At home I am glad that I had sewn on a second heavier duty toothed zipper onto my tent.  The original coil zipper has failed after only two nights.  Even though the coil zipper is self repairing I already know from past experience that I would not trust it to withstand a 40-knot windstorm, which I always experienced some time on each of my trips.

Icebergs are exploding in the yellow sunlight with many big bangs and booms sounding like thunder and cannon.

There is not enough light at night for my solar panel to recharge my battery so I am switching to another batter and I hope that #4 battery was recharged at least somewhat.

Where I choose to camp there were few icebergs.  To the southeast in the next inlet there were many loud disintegrating bergs.  I am very glad I stopped here a safe distance from these threatening icebergs.

On my way here across the bay I did not stop at Inuvik because there were too many large icebergs packed in there.  I stopped before it.  There were lots of loud noises in the early morning hours.  Bruce Simpson and his family had stopped and camped in that area labeled Inuvik on the map two years ago.  Icebergs constantly move about making an open area in one moment may be completely clogged with icebergs the next time.

Looking at those bergs next to the shore in the picture below I decided that I did not want to be anywhere near them.  I could hear them rumbling all night and was most glad that they were not just off shore but rather down there a few miles away.

Behind them are some curious cumulonimbus clouds south east which I thought were strange for Greenland because it is very rare for there to ever be a thundershower in this region.  In the photo to the right is the south east end of Manitsoq Island and in the foreground is Inuvik and the peninsula I will round tomorrow on my way to visit the glacier in Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord.   Those icebergs you see in the photo rolled and rumbled all night.

Weird, I do not see the mountains on Nutarmiut I thought I was seeing them last night.  It was only the clouds I was seeing coming in from the outside bringing in fog.


Looking at this picture you see the peninsula with the bunched up icebergs I have just rounded north of here just after the bay opening on Qagsserssuaq peninsula and above that is the high peak of 1080 meters named Qagsserssuit where clouds are just starting to show.  This photo illustrates how the distance from you fades from brown to lightening gradually to blue.  This is one of the moments when knowing exactly where you are and using the sextant to sight with for measuring angles will tell you what you are looking at.

Cumulus clouds have disappeared and there is mist between the mountains across the way on Manitsoq Island.

Note the clouds starting to form on the 1080 meters peak, Qagsserssuit Peak and a lower peak Nuniat qaqarssuaq 1023 meters with snow patches on Qagsserssuaq peninsula.   To the left in the foreground are Manitsoq and Puguta islands, where I started out from earlier today.


Interestingly I saw two halos around the sun one at 18:00 and the second at 21:00 both were single halos.  I am not sure what the halo around the sun means.

Not it gets to be fun because mist is coming over the water.


Guess what next?  Glad I am settled in my tent and the tide is up.


August 5th, 2005-09-10

I awoke at 00:30 to see fog in a stream and blue icebergs near my tent.  I looked at the tide and its level was okay It has not quite reached my kayak and it is very quiet it is a world of cotton.

Looking south at the fog.  Where is everything?


Next morning you would have never guessed what went on the night before.  This is a cloudless morning bright sun 09:15 barometric pressure is 30.35 inches Mercury but as the day progressed the barometric pressure was dropping steadily so that by 22:00 it was at 30.20 inches Mercury.

At 08:00 I awoke to low tide.  There were a number of Common Eider sitting on a low rock alternately going off feeding and then returning. They were not aware of me in my tent.  They have the habit of rushing back to a low rock if they feel threatened generally unless they can identify the source. 


I heard some quiet chirps and grunts outside my tent, so I as quietly as possible prepared my cameras and opened just a slit in the top of the doorway to look out.  And there they were, a whole bunch of eiders feeding.  There were about two dozen young with a few adults.  One moment they were astride a low rock and the next they were about feeding and just minutes later they were back again on the focus covered rock.  All was bustling with busyness as everybody couldn’t quite decide what to do to get the best food that they were feeding on in the shallows.

And then they discovered me and decided that they better move off, so that was the end of that.  I thought it rather odd that they should have picked this spot right in front of my tent and kayak because I would have thought that there were plenty of other safer places.  I suspect that eiders must be to some extent social curious birds that flee when they decide things are getting threatening.

I took a moment to photograph my kayak on the rock ramp because it was such an ideal situation both to show the kayak but to illustrate this shallow angled ramp.  The other place I had seen similar ramps was in Laksefjorden on Lange Koch Land.


This time my kayak was above the high tide line during the higher of the semi-diurnal tides but to be sure I awoke a few times at night to check.  I don’t like the idea of my hull scraping back and forth over the rocks unnecessarily in the swells.

During my journey in 2003 I got my kayak up as far as I was able but the next morning I found it precariously perched and wedged between rocks above where I had tied it off.  I was very lucky that the rudder assembly which was wedged had not broken.

In the early morning the entire tent was thickly coated with heavy dew.  I dried the heavy dew off the outside of my tent with my Packtowl, because I wanted my tent to be as dry as possible before I packed it.

The newer Mavica battery is working.  I am recharging a second battery in the bright warm sun.  The tent is hot inside. 

I found that I am really stretching my food out farther than I usually would because I am eating two meals instead of three meals a day.  The mix I make is a usual one in general.  My fear of running out food is a powerful motivation.  The fructose content in the Advant Edge Soy Protein drink mix is good for digestion and both for long and short-term energy.

To reduce the possibility that I might need to make a pit stop during paddling I strategized that I ought not eat or drink.  So far I have been only eating breakfast but eating nothing while I am paddling. 

My energy is okay but the more important factor is that I prefer to avoid needing to urinate as my prime motivation.  I would prefer not to have to feel as though urinate because that is a debilitating feeling and it reduces my paddling strength.  I have no detrimental side effects from Detrol that I cannot live with and I am finding that my paddling energy is actually better.

In the last few days I take a “Detrol” capsule each day that I am paddling and, so far I have been able to paddle all day without needing to urinate. 

For a truly dire emergency I worked out a method of urinating without getting out of my kayak by using a Packtowl to absorb the urine.  I have found that any wet residue on my underwear will lead to a nasty diaper rash situation.  For a kayak paddler, diaper rash is very hard to get rid of because we sit.

I added some more air to my Therm-a-rest pad seat because I found that my seat was just a little bit too low.  This was just another one of those “I am glad it did it now adjustment” before I got on the water and paddled with an improperly adjusted seat all day.

I had to fix my foot braces they had slid forward.  It is very important that these foot braces / rudder pedals stay exactly right.  This makes a great difference in paddling efficiency.

I found my lifejacket Stormy Seas medium is too small when I am wearing heavy clothing beneath.  I wear in the winter and when I paddle in Arctic conditions a fisherman’s sweater, two layers of polyethylene underwear and a waterproof jacket and pants.

The Stormy Seas lifejacket binds on my right side drysuit zipper.  I began to notice that my right shoulder was becoming sore from this excess effort and my paddling was slowing.  Taking off my lifejacket made a huge difference.  I cannot risk any situation that would create problem with paddling.  I am paddling with non-feathered paddles because this is the most efficient stroke.

I packed up and launched without my scarf in hand.  It turned out to be a good thing I decided to return because I discovered that I happened to have switched on the GPS which rang an alarm that I was approaching MOB location. 

My scarf I found I had put inside the front hatch.  This surprised me because I thought that I had just left it some place more convenient in my cockpit. 

I always need this scarf.  I designed it to keep me warm and to shield me from the wind.  It is just the right size folded in half to shield the cold wind and insulates my head and neck.  Only in the bright sun do I not need the scarf.  It is two layers of a flat acrylic with fluffy acrylic scarf sewn.  I adjust it as needed sometimes I pull it over my face as a hood to shade the skin on my face and eyes from the sun as well as insulation.

I was very glad that I brought my polarized sunglasses because exposure for hours in the glare from the water would be very damaging to my eyes.

I paddled from waypoint #050 to the bottom of the Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord to see what the end terrain of a glacier looks like at 73°01’ 0.097”N, 55°00’ 23.6”W.

On my way a little lost aquatic chick raced in front of me along the rocky shore.  It was fuzzy, black and white spotted but I could not identify it.  Rounding the corner into the bay flat meadow land, lush with green grasses and complete with rock ramps and a couple tiny pebble beaches was on the north side of Akugdlikavsaup alangua. 

It was a beautiful bright sunny day which made the green grasses look even greener.

Coming into the bay I saw a group of about fifteen immature eiders astride rocks.  They were feeding jumping into the water from the rock for just a few minute swim and then jumping back on top of the shallow rock.  An as usual when they saw me and decided that I was a threat they launched themselves to safety and then found another shallow rock to reemerge on not far away.  They seemed to play hide and seek thinking that they were invisible if they were a few hundred feet or so away.  I was surprised that they did not immediately launch themselves much sooner and make a much more intense effort at fleeing from me.

The water was filled with very large examples of lush seaweeds.  These fjords are always talked about as to how rich they are.  Here I saw a prime example of how large and densely packed seaweeds can grow because they are richly supported by the heavily mineralized waters flowing into this salt water from the glacier only a few miles away. 

I suspect some of the water enriching rock flour was probably various minerals such as iron, potash and phosphates.  Iron is a particularly powerful enrichment.


Later I found an area next to the glacier that had red colored water from the iron minerals colloidal suspension rock flour in the freshwater runoff that would expand and contract with the tides before this fresh water intermixed with the salt water.

It was very exciting to actually approach the terminus of a glacier.  I had been told that this was a quiet inactive one so that I did not have to especially worry about huge chunks of ice crashing into the water generating cascades of waves. For me in my little kayak seeing all this jagged ice precariously mounted still looked threatening to me.

In the picture you can see the distinct red hue to the water.



As I paddled toward the north edge of the glacial terminus I found some very interesting ice that was intermixed with dirt in distinctive striated layers that just fascinated me visually.  The layers were compressed together reflecting where they had come from and passed through and their position within the glacier.  That was delightful to see a record of the growth and travel of the glacier via these striations.   Later I was to see a gigantic berg smothered in fog of this type that looked at first like squiggles resembling telephone poles in mid air. 

Dirt that is pitch black suggests to me that it is heavily enriched with organic material.  The organic material would have originated during a much earlier period before this ice age from heavy plant growth.  That dirt now washing into the water column is acting as enrichment for the seawater.

Off Kullorsuaq I saw blue transparent chunks of ice with black stripes and patches black dirt embedded in the frozen bay.  The interesting thing about snow is that the more heavily it has been compressed the clearer it becomes.  When the compressed snow becomes completely translucent is interesting to look at because it appears to glow.


I was most curious to find glacially polished rock because the degree of polish reveals the weight of the glacier when it passed over these rocks.  Glacial polishing is limited to just the uppermost surface of the rock, like a skin.  The heavier the weight of the glacial overburden the greater the surface density and this polishing can make rock shine like mirrors.


In the picture below you can see the glazed appearance of the rock surfaces and the difference along the crevasse where there is no glacial overburden compression.


I paddled out of Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord on the south side just to see what it looked like.  Then I rounded the peninsula.

Finding a suitable campsite turned out to be a tricky deal.  I had no idea what to expect.  I assumed that paddling south going out and around Akugdlikavsak peninsula past Tunerit Island then following the shoreline east that I would easily find a campsite. 

Tunerit Island is quite a lovely little rock mountain island but from my cockpit I could see that there with no place to land on the east side.  Because it was such a small vertical island devoid of vegetation I did not bother later on my return to look at the west side because I doubt that there would have been any area suitable nor any water available either and water is a critical necessity.

Rounding the peninsula passing next to Tunerit Island, I found absolutely nothing with a rock ramp, and worse yet, with any water or flat land to camp on. 

Although I was hugging the shore which would seem as a safe way to paddle the rock edge of the water went straight down so there was absolutely nothing to land on even in a dire emergency.  Just a short distance away was an extensive line of tall icebergs that were just to threateningly close to where I was paddling.  If any one of them were to break or roll over I would really be directly threatened. 

In this touchy situation even the slightest noise, let alone any waves generated from them, I guarantee you, would have set my hair standing on end.  This was an entirely too dangerous exposure for me as I was not comfortable paddling here.  It looked even worse farther inland toward the glacier so I without the slightest hesitation quickly decided that I was turning around and getting out of there.

That was really quite an unwelcome surprise because previously the Simpson’s had camped much farther down that fjord very near to the icecap around the last peninsula.  The ice was different that year as it always is.

7306N 5533W 8 5-6 route

I turned around and headed back to Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord. 

On my way I passed by a small peninsula projecting into the water only about 30 feet.  The ice pieces were congregating there and swirling around in whirlpools.  I had a good time riding around among them and taking some video footage of their comings and goings.  Later watching the actual video made me a little dizzy for a few moments.

Ice chunks are very handy for showing currents that you probably would not notice otherwise.  Once in 1995 near Karrat Island off Upernavik I thought that I could paddle faster than the two small icebergs coming at me from opposite directions would cross each other.  Then I realized that the probably seven knot current carrying those bergs was moving much faster than my four knot top paddling speed.  I judiciously backed off and let them cross in front of my bow.  I was greatly relieved that I had not been so foolish as to try to beat those bergs.  That was a humiliating but much needed learning experience.  Don’t play with bergs!

For some reason I think it was because the view of the glacier seemed more exciting from the south shore, I felt that I ought to camp on the south shore.  I just dimly remembered that I thought I had seen maybe one possible landing area. 

I thought to myself, “oh this can’t be all that complicated, surely there has to be some nice spot to camp. One major need for a campsite I had to satisfy was flat ground, aside from the rock ramp and sufficient water. 

Wow did I have a problem.  Either the bank down in this bay had no level ground, was without water or any sort of rock ramp.  Finally in near despair because I could not believe in all my peregrinations along this shore that there might be nothing but hummocky very slanted ground I found a place with a rock ramp. 

Even though the only possible ramp was narrow, steep ramp with a couple two foot gaps in the ramp, I had to go for it.  I knew that I would have to take care of not to misjudge and accidentally step or slip into those gaps while I would be stepping backward maneuvering my kayak on the foam rollers up the ramp. 

Luckily the rock was not slippery because relatively little seaweed happened to grow there.  I guess the ice scrapes it off.

I spotted some water just dripping out of the hummocks above but it was not flowing down the rocks into the water.  “Well I told myself that will have to do.  I will have to dig out a pool for the water to collect in for me to fill my water bags.  I know that will work although this is the first time I have been this short of water in Greenland.  Usually Greenland has waterfalls coming out of the sky.”

I delicately stepped out onto the rocks and slid my kayak as high as I could up the rocks.  To slide my kayak up above the waterline with minimal effort I straddle the bow between my legs so that I have maximum control over the kayak.  I lift the bow on its carrying handle between my legs using the floatation in the stern and pull my elevated bow section of my kayak without touching the hull to the rocks.  Once this is done I remove as much gear as possible to further lighten the kayak as much as possible.  Then I put the rollers under it and get it up as far as I can on the rocks above any possible waves.  Next once that I am sure that there is no possibility that any waves might breach the deck of my kayak I open the deck ports and unload the rest of my camping gear.

Getting my awkwardly heavy kayak up this narrow divided ramp required very careful planning with some finesse and trigonometry.  Here is not the place I would want to sustain an injury just because I miscalculated a step or slide unexpectedly.

The ramp ended precariously close to the top of what was now the day’s highest tide during those early morning hours when I am usually sound asleep.  I judged this from what I could see by wave erosion and the presence of fucus seaweed fragments. 

I could see that I was taking a chance because where I was putting my kayak would not be quite above the tide at the top of the ramp.  With great effort and expenditure of physical strength I set the kayak parallel to the shoreline at the top and tied the pool noodles to encircle the hull, should the worst happen.

Above the kayak and tidal residues of seaweed was a line of two foot high round boulders which I decided was just too much of a project to try and get my kayak on top of. 

All I felt I could do was to hope that the kayak was high enough, even though I knew that my kayak was really not quite high enough.  Not a pleasant thing to think about when you are going to sleep because that tided seems to always come in higher after you have dozed off.

Where I landed, much to my chagrin, behind where I set my tent I did not realize that the ground was vastly overgrown with extremely tall two to three foot high hummocks of swamp and willow vegetation. 

Trying to walk over this terrain made for some very tricky balancing acts as stepping from wiggly hummock to wiggly hummock.  To my even horror I noticed that there were some places between the hummocks were deep gaps shouldered with jagged bare rocks.  This made the walking even more dangerous.  Stepping from hummock to hummock was about like stepping from one jiggly, slippery, round topped barstool to another.  Looking between them was dizzying to me who was already nervous because of how high they were.

I have never found hummocks as high as these were ever before.  I wonder how they developed such height.  I guess it is a combination of underlay, frost and airborne dirt accumulation.

In my travels where I noticed the contrast between rich black dirt completely covered with plants I have concluded that air transported dirt does accumulate in greatest amounts where there is the least wind.  This suggests that dead air pockets cause airborne dirt to drop out as it passes over. 

Oppositely in my storm experiences in Torssut wind scoured areas are not a good choice to camp it because if a wind storm does arrive these areas are most severely impacted by high winds.  The plants and soil cover is very sparse being mostly Stone break or Saxifragia.

Being alone, all I could think of was one moment of misjudgment or, worse yet, or of just the slightest inattention and all my hopes and aspirations; indeed my entire trip would come to an instant halt should I happen to fall and injure myself.  An injury sustained from a fall would end my solo kayak expedition, what a sad fate especially since I have an artificial hip and subluxation to the prosthesis would end my travel in many ways.


There is surprisingly little water here even though there was typical bog vegetation.  I enjoyed the robust population of willow, equisetum, bog rosemary and heather, which you can see in this picture.


I took some more interesting photos and video footage I am very glad that I have the video camera.

August 6th 2005

I took a picture of the light at 01:15 of the sun over the horizon and the bay to illustrate midnight sun actual midnight is a calculation at 60° west is exactly at 01:00 local time so local midnight is actually at 24:40.  It was exciting to actually capture this moment in all its brilliance.


At 08:00 the barometric pressure was 30.15 inches Mercury had a quiet windless night.  The tide is out to the same level as when I arrived last night.

My bed is very lumpy due to those charming hummocks and slanted just enough that I have found myself the next morning sleeping soundly but most of my body has slid out of the tent.  I originally thought that I would sort of wrap myself around a handy hummock like a question mark and not slide out the bottom of the tent.  I also thought that putting the bulging delaminating bottom of my Therm-a-rest pad at the bottom would stop me from sliding out the bottom too.  It was very amusing where I kept finding myself after a solid few hours of sleep.  The Therm-a-rest pad is supposedly designed of cloth that resists sliding however on this much of an incline all bets are off.

When I went to sleep I thought I was dressed warmly enough however when I awoke from sleeping my teeth were chattering.  I told myself that next evening I must remember to put on more layers before I retire.  This evening I had been wearing two layers of polyethylene, one seaman’s sweater, a Gore-Tex jacket but I did not put on the quilted underwear.  I hope this combination will be sufficient.

The bright sun is warming the tent nicely.

I find the details of traveling truly daunting.  Seemingly little things like I need 1.75 diopter glasses for reading with contact lenses and 2.75 diopter glasses without contact lenses, just having to remember this little detail is something without another solution is disconcerting.  Having the patience to accept these challenges is a problem but other people have these problems too I just feel uncomfortable traveling alone because of this.

I finally cleaned one of my contact lenses.  I had picked up a piece of dirt behind it and this became increasingly painful.

Today so far I am just dozing and meditating, reading the Bible and finding myself able to understand the humanity and coming of spirituality does not just automatically happen much was a miracle other was an open willing to accept the seeming impossible.  St. Paul bridged the gap. 

I am glad I have this orange tent liner, orange is the best color.

Where I am is a dried up area and a light breeze from the glacier so the mosquitoes are not as aggressive.

I found the source of the water dripping down the rocks I had spotted on my way in.  There was mud at the base of the hummocks along the top of the rocks the water was dripping into.  In the mud there was a pool already started.  I dug the pool deeper.  I have the feeling that someone before me dug out that pool for the same reason.  I am glad that there is water here. 

At about 16:30 some wind came up from the northeast, the icecap.  I believe bright sun thin clouds to the west.  This wind I guess is the same as yesterday 10 to15 knots, that later disappeared as the sun headed northward.  The wind is probably just normal air circulation in these fjords like an on shore breeze which comes when the sun has heated the fjords hot enough and quits when the fjords cool.

Paddling long distance with the current and wind pushing is very convenient.  I often make many very relaxed miles taking advantage of this combination.

Ice is collected into a line on the north side of this fjord forming a distinct line of small chips.  Nearer the terminus there was a line with red stone powder in the water about a mile from the terminus.  This varies with the tide.

The stone flour enriches the water making a profusion of filamentous seaweed draped over fucus and other seaweeds in long strands.  I suspect this is why fishing is so good in these areas near the ice cap.  There is lots of food, nutrients in the food chain, in the water.


Next time I dry peaches I will make sure that I dry them fresh, not frozen and thawed, because freeze thawing caused their cells to break and lose enough of their liquid contents to affect flavor.

I am disappointed with my solar panel recharging.  I thought that keeping the battery on my body would keep it warm enough to recharge.  That didn’t work.  I will have to keep the battery recharging all the time and at night sleep with one battery against my body.  On a bright sunny hot morning the battery really started heating up indicating active recharging.  This evening is bright and sunny. I hung the battery on the tent pole very high in the peak of the tent.  I am glad I have plenty of wire.

At 19:20 barometric pressure 30.05 inches Mercury. The wind is still blowing at 10 to 12 knots NE or N.  The temperature in the top of my tent is 89.4°F.  The battery and holder are warm but the red light is still flashing after an hour.

Barometric pressure is at 30.05 inches Mercury at 20:20.

I was not in any mood for tussock walking but I did take a couple explanatory pictures of the vegetation.  I figured that I could identify and show growing via pictures.

I just read to learn from the Bible those things I could not find focus on before.

For cooking I am using a fuel cube stove inside the heat shield within my tent.  One cube will boils three cups of water.  So my observation is that a heat shield around the stove and one quart coffee pot really works well for getting the maximum amount of heat output from any stove.

I used to notice that much of the heat from a stove would just go up the sides of the container I am trying to heat and be lost because it was not concentrated on the target.  Now that I think of it I should add a lid with some circulation holes to further trap the heat rising from the fuel cube.

Now some burgie bits have blown over here on that north wind and are near my kayak.  I hope that they go elsewhere when the tide comes in.  The wind is still onshore.

A hunter came into this bay in his motorboat I expect that he was probably looking for seals.

Unfortunately there are no seals but there are at least twenty common eider here.  I think it is very unlikely that during the off-season anyone will hunt eider because they are still caring for their young.

I find it very interesting that I paddle much faster when I am retracing a new route.  It is an old story about the subconscious otherwise known as “the horse is going back to the stable”.

My paddling pogies need to be redesigned to strap onto my paddle when I do not need them.  I need better pogies these are very marginal.

Wind has quieted at 21:40 - that is a relief.  Probably the sun has dropped low enough to stop warm air circulation in these fjords.

August 7th 2005 Sunday

Bright sunny morning quiet at 09:00 barometric pressure is 30.00 inches Mercury there is a steady drop in pressure and I am not sure why but it could just be the icecap effect which is known to drop barometric pressure.

Pond Inlet across Baffin Bay has the wildest barometric pressure fluctuations over very short periods in time because of the directional variation in air flow over the Barren Grounds, Penny Ice Cap and Greenland.

I awoke again to shaking in fear; being in terror is hard for me.  The more fearful I am the less I shall observe.

My battery recharged to now having 76 minutes working time the instructions say it takes 250 minutes in 50° – 80°F to fully recharge.

I don’t feel like visiting more of the icecap now.  I think I am more curious about going northward toward Naujat and Innarsuit.

I left my 4th campsite heading back out Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord toward Manitsoq Island.  This is a berg across the way and next is the opposite shore before I head across for Manitsoq.


The south side of Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord in the picture below has extensive shallow granite ramps.  The blue green clumps are white-stemmed willow and the darker yellow-green are probably Arctic Willow or a red-stemmed willow.

Note the fine quality of the granite.


There is a large tabular berg off my bow in front of Manitsoq Island which has probably originated around the corner to the right from Upernavik glacier.  Note the color of the water because it has rock flour in it.


In the picture below you can see that the east side of Manitsoq flattens down to the water’s edge.


From my bow in the picture below I was looking south west at the accumulation of icebergs making their way out of Upernavik Icefjord and the wind was about 10 knots.


My paddle to Sisuarigsut Island was much longer and worked out to be much more arduous paddle than I expected.  I left Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord planning to only have to paddle to horseshoe shaped bay on the north side of Puguta expecting to find good stone slabs there.  But when I got there from my binocular inspection I saw only boulders. 

Along the northeast side of Manitsoq just a short distance from Akugdlikavsaup alangua there were several very nice stone slabs and I believe that some people were camping there a few days ago.  Manitsoq was surprisingly hospitable although I never did pass by on the south side.  I prefer to camp ideally on a south-facing site because the sun shines there best.  On a north facing slope especially if it is high the campsite is in shade too much of the day. 

When I left Akugdlikavsaup alangua fjord crossing over to Manitsoq and paddling up to the horseshoe bay on Puguta the wind and currents were with me making paddling very easy and I covered a long distance with ease.

In the picture below I am approaching the horseshoe shaped bay from the east side on the north side of Puguta Island.


There was a large iceberg within the bay and beneath its overhang were Northern fulmars gliding in landing and feeding on the biota associated only with icebergs.  Here at long last I found the best opportunity I have yet had to take some very interesting detailed video shots of them as they were flying and feeding.  Fulmars are very fast flying birds.  I usually have found that It would often be very difficult and disappointing to capture how fulmars fly on video and what they look like when feeding.  Fulmars are shy and elusive.  They seem only to dare to come close to my kayak when I am busy paddling in the waves generated by wind.  The moment I drop my paddle to grab my camera they disappear.

When I paddled out of the horseshoe shaped bay on the north side of Puguta the razor edged straight sided mountain peninsula, Puso

Then as I came around the end of rounding the on Puguta turned out to be a very inhospitable area.  There was absolutely no place to come in for a landing on either side of Qagsserssuit sarqa passage. From my cockpit all I saw of the west side of Puguta and east side of Sisuarigsut was nothing but steep rock.  There was no place I could see that I could come in even for an emergency landing

The only place which might have been possible was across the fjord a stony narrow passage behind Qagsserssuaq peninsula in the Univilait area and Sisuarigsut Island several miles away westward. 

After I left Puso peninsula on Puguta Island the current had to have turned against me and was really pushing.  I crept along the walls hoping to catch some reverse eddies but there were very few probably because I was on the inside of the curve.  Riding up eddies is a good trick I learned during whitewater slalom racing.

 And then to make paddling even more arduous as I rounded the bend heading west and then south the wind was against me.  All bets were off!  I found that in the last 10 miles with no shelter from the wind. 

To make conditions even worse, something I had not counted on, the sun was just low enough straight in the direction I was paddling that it was glaring directly into my face.  There was absolutely nowhere that I could not get out of its direct glare into my face.

I thought that I might try the old trick of paddling close to rock walls where there ought to be some shade.  To my amazement even though I crossed over to Sisuarigsut I could not even find protection behind the rock walls.  The angle just happened to open directly into the sun in perfect alignment just as if a straight edge had been put along the wall from the sun.

Although I was glad that I did have a good pair of sunglasses and a brim on my cap, still the sun’s glare was right in my face making it inescapable.  I had to paddle looking down at the deck intermittently glancing up to check where I was.  .  This really made paddling an arduous task because this position and method is noticeably very inefficient.

Time dragged on, and the more I struggled against the glare, wind and current, the greater the distance to refuge seemed to become.  I was becoming more worn out.  This was one of those actual few moments when I regretted my decision to head for the west side of Sisuarigsut. 

I might have headed for the passage on north side of Sisuarigsut but from my cockpit it looked like it probably did not have water or flat land. It looked like it was just a jumble of rocks.

I had specially chosen this particular campsite on the south side because I wanted to be camping in view of Upernavik Isfjord.  I wanted to see the progress of the ice and to once again hear all the noises the icebergs might make as they were breaking up. 

I prefer to face south so that I would have the fullest amount of sun illuminating my campsite.  Facing north or being behind tall rocks for a campsite does not appeal to me.

7306N 5533W 8 7 05 paddle

I was desperate for a campsite there was nothing except on the west side of the passage some dry places with ramps.  I knew I had to have water.  I was overtired by the time I found the marked site Bruce Simpson had recommended on Sisuarigsut south side but the view from this site is lovely.

I paddled into the inside of the bay starting at the western end heading east.  I happened to see both a very handy ramp, the only one for a long distance and flat ground and also a driblet of water running down the rocks.

It was dead calm I pulled up to the base of the ramp got out pulled my kayak out of the water onto the ramp.  I unloaded as much as I could get my hands on, put my rollers under my kayak and pulled it bit by bit very easily up the ramp.  At the top I opened the deck ports and finished unloading. 

Now I engaged in my routine of figuring out where to set my tent.  I use aluminum stakes which I drive into the ground.  If the ground is too stony or is impenetrable I resort to stoving them under thick globs of grass on a shallow angle so that they hold.  Or if all else fails I find some good sized stones to tie the tent stake lines around and pile some more heavy stones on top to keep the tent upright.  When I have a snow skirt on my tent I pile stones on that to keep the draughts out.

At the top there was a flat area just perfect for my tent.  To be sure I had found the flattest spot I walked around checking for any other tent site that might be even more comfortable. 

I like to use heathered areas because they are soft as well but there were none and but this was the best, only a few small hummocks and a few stones here and there that I moved out of the way.

I pulled out my nylon shoulder bags which are about 2 feet square by six inches wide zipper top closures and stuffed them full with my drybags and supplies for camping.  I swung them up on my shoulders and trudged over to my tent site.

Next I went exploring for running water. All I could find was some water flowing out from some oversaturated soil in to a shallow, three to four inch deep depression six feet by five feet in the rock.  This depression was the only place I found any water and I found it only because it happened to be overflowing down the rocks.

“God help my unbelief” got me through today. 

August 7th

My fifth campsite is at N73°01.336, W55°47.202 .is equivalent to N73°01’178” W55°47’29” August 7th 2005 Sisuarigsut Island.

I paddled about twenty miles so I am not surprised that I am tired.  As fate would have I just happened to have come in at low tide 21:00. 

The picture below is from my tent looking south over Upernavik Isfjord and the highest mountain is on Nutarmiut island.  This is a very spectacular view from Aappilattoq Island and a campsite at Asseritoq where I stayed in 1992.

The yellow peninsula in the left foreground is part of Sisuarigsut Island.


August 8th, 2005 Monday

On Sisuarigsut Island I awoke to clear bright morning and some very high clouds - a hot day.  The previous evening I walked a long distance up the coast to where I thought that surely I should find water.  I looked at the valley where an obvious brook had been running.  That was as dry as a bone.  I was surprised to find no water as here in Greenland I thought no water was unthinkable on a well vegetated island.

The next morning, because of the bright hot sun, I found that the seemingly well saturated soil no longer had any water to release. All though the soil is rich here very black because it is loaded with humus, the runoff water had now dried up.

I remembered an old trick of gathering and melting ice that I had learned from the elderly ladies camping on the dry peninsula at Arctic Bay. I spotted some ice conveniently near the ramp and rocks at my campsite.  I added a chunk of ice to the rock depression. 

The upper depression overflowed the excess into the lower depression, should the ice melt overfill the first depression.  The only problem with those depressions was that there was loose organic material and bits of fine soil in them.  The upper one was large enough that clean cold water could be bailed out but the lower depression was really loaded with red algae growing profusely in the sun warmed water.  

Gobs and globs of this red algae I was not anxious to add to my palette.  This red algae might resemble tea but it is the particles that bother me.  I just don’t feel like drinking them anymore than I like drinking bits of tea.  I was also worried about the bacterial load that might be in this stagnant warm water.  The red algae indicated that there was probably a heavy bacterial load, just like bird baths become loaded with this same red algae as the birds bathe themselves and the sun warms the bird bath.

When I was in Barrow Alaska the mirror flat tundra made the water so scarce and poor that I was forced to filter the motley suspension of black organic solids out through my Packtowel.  I can tell you that Barrow water looked very unpalatable but when all else fails still it is water.

I am spending the day reading Corinthians and went exploring for interesting plants.

Recharging the battery is a challenge it took overnight to 13:00 to build 46 minutes.  Cool camera body may be the problem. The video camera is still using the same battery and I always disconnect the battery every time so that the battery is not discharging while in the camera.

“Save us from vain thought and evil memories” is in Divine Liturgy – I am searching the Bible for parts of the liturgy.  This is giving me good guidance. 

I finally used up the first week’s food.  I am surprised at how small the amount of powdered foods are needed which are soy protein and seed protein based.  I am glad I also brought some Gatorade and dry fruit. 

I am glad I am taking every other day off, because from past experience I feel that I would really get much less out of this trip if I were to paddle daily.  Generally so far, I find that after ten miles paddling is just labor.

Temperature in the sun is 81°F and inside my tent where there is no breeze it is stifling. 

I am glad that I packed all the books and writing things in with the maps, because it is easier to find like things with like things. I should have left home some of these guides that I am not using.  The geology map is nice to have since I just found out an interesting shaped island that has interesting geology.

I am going to try to be more careful about how many miles I paddle.  But then again sometimes situations work out differently than expected and I find that I have no choice because areas suitable for camping are far apart.

Also wind I need to take into consideration when I am paddling.  Within these passages heading inland the wind from the outside accelerates down curved high walled passages just like a chimney as it narrows.  Cold air outside the passage is just a gentle breeze of less than 5 knots on a sunny day accelerates to 10 to 12 knots inside the passage replacing the less dense warm air.

In practice I am finding how handy it is for me in keeping track of things is to put them in the same place all the time and to have clear labels on the bags.

I checked the angles where I am and surprisingly I am close to Aappilattoq.  An island, Aiparssuaq, three miles to the island Miaggorfik on the other side of Upernavik Isfjord Ikeq which is not bad.  I had all these fears that the distance across the fjord was really scary and that there would be so many icebergs all crowded together that I would be really in a threatening situation.  If the wind came up it would be threatening because the wind would be propelling the ice chunks and bergs faster than I can paddle.

It is quiet and sunny at 20:00 29.95 inches Mercury barometer is steady all day.

No king Eiders are around after I saw them on my first day August 1st.  I can see that they prefer more open water.

I took some pictures of plant clumps showing local sheltered growing conditions.  Below is a picture that shows the effect wind has on willow growing over a rock.  The willow is forced to grow as an espalier.  You can see the down wind scoured side of the boulder where the desiccating wind constantly blows and the sheltered opposite side filled with lush vegetation of willow and Empetrum nigrum in the foreground.

Some lichens are highly adapted to wind scouring and these are showing as black and grey clumps on the left side of this granite boulder.


My camera battery is low again leading me to believe that the solar panel is not working well at recharging.  This is very annoying and I smelled a burning odor to the battery so this is not good even though I am using my new panel.  And two batteries #1 and #4 are reacting this way low tide is at here.

I was seriously wondering if the crank generator on a radio would work better than solar panel recharging system.  ! Have to find someone who knows if two different batteries can be hooked together to recharge? 

Here is a picture showing an overview of the hummocks and below will be pictures of the plants growing on these hummocks in detail.


Dominant flower in this area is Pyrola grandiflora.  I saw Ledum campanula an acid bog plant in the Laurel family at the last campsite but I see none here.

Interestingly enough, there is a huge area of Equisetum indeed whole hummocks of Equisetum.  There is some pretty rose pink flowered Saxifragia and included with it are the little around leaves of Arctic willow Salix rotundifolia buried within the tussock plants.   The willow I am mentioning visible just below center showing as shiny round leaves because the actual branches of the trees are buried with in the tussock.  Remember the example, photo #1989 Salix on rock face, I found of this same plant growing out a granite rock face on Pugata.  That entirely exposed willow tree growing out of the rock face was very unusual indicated that there is little wind in that area.


Oxyria digyna is a member of the dock family and is a very tasty salad green I like to munch on the deep green, chewy crisp, acidic leaves.  It is loaded with vitamin C and very heavily loaded with vitamin A.  Typical of dock are the red seed heads and dark green leaves.

Here is an interesting growth of Stellaria Edwardsii among dead branches of willow.



I found an especially robust clump of Stellaria longipes.  The Stellaria is about eight inches tall.  Behind the Stellaria is grass and in the foreground to the left is the seed head of grass which is about a foot tall.


Lichens are growing robustly in this rich soil.  I come across whole hummocks of Cladonia / Reindeer moss.

Below is Pedicularis hirsuta which bloomed in late June with light pink flowers.  On each side are the large leaves of a red stemmed willow and in the foreground the grass like plants are a form of Equisetum.  Equisetum is an indicator plant for bogs.


The later evening light gave such perfect reflections.  This is a delight to the eyes at about 11pm.


August 9th 2005

I awoke to a sunny bright morning with the barometric pressure at 30.00 inches Mercury.  The sun was steady and hot for the rest of the day. 

I broke camp, packed my kayak and smoothly rolled it on the foam rollers down the ramp into the water.  Those rollers work just fine!  I am so glad I do not have to lift and drag my kayak up out of the water.  Here the tide is six feet, it certainly is not Newfoundland with thirteen inches of tide.

Knowing that I am going to be make a crossing is always a little scary this crossing would be three to four miles and I knew nothing about how soon I might find a landing place on the other side.  I am always glad that I have gone to the expense and engagement of having the finest folding kayak available.  I do not think paddling in the arctic is some casual experience.  Only the best is suitable in judgment, paddling skills and equipment to deal with being an arctic paddler who wants to come back year after year to find out what is there in this region, the arctic.

7312N 5612W to Innarsuit

Below is some highly contrasting strata of minerals along the southwestern tip of Sisuarigsut Island.  I do not know what these minerals are other than it looks like iron and limestone.


This photo just near the southwestern tip of Sisuarigsut Island some yellow, possibly limonite, and brown iron deposits interspersed in granite.  The icebergs in view are in the crossing and I have yet to see fully around the corner.


The last picture looks quite innocent doesn’t it?

I am wondering what is around the corner between Sisuarigsut and Qaneq Island but I am not thinking too seriously about it because after all it is completely quiet, so quiet that I can hear the slightest riffle on the water, should there be one. 

Now look at the next picture.  I would call it a “Holy cow” or “Hey where did that come from?” situation.  Well it is just one of those moments when I am paddling ever so innocently along, ever so quietly just going a little farther around the corner so to speak and in actuality.  When next I see the worst, here is an unstable type of sawtooth topped iceberg.  In the distance is my objective in red hematitic stone Satup Akia.  I was approaching the dramatic visual area of red hematite for which Tasiussaq and Innarsuit are notorious.  Some of the outer islands approaching Tasiussaq are very visually dramatic because they are completely composed of upended stripes of black and red hematite strata.

The photo below I would have never expected to encounter when I came around the corner as these bergs in view are absolutely silent, particularly the tabular saw-toothed berg which was anything but small.


Initially coming out of Sisuarigsut I fixated on the islands Kingigtorssuarq, etc. According to my magnetic compass they appeared to be my goal – wrong!  Glad that the GPS has a good compass to tell me where I am looking!  The lonely island Tussaq was clearly in view a long time and old familiar mountain tops on Qagsserssuaq were right there.  Views of the ice cap were oddly distributed.  Then my magnetic compass was giving me entirely false readings and my GPS told me that I was headed southwest, not at all where I wanted to go.  Somehow the islands near Kingigtorssuarq looked so inviting.  I am not familiar with this view so I did not realize that Tussaq would have to be on my left not on my right.  I needed to be heading toward Itivdlilik.

I somehow think the brilliant refractory day also contributed to my loss of sense of direction.

Below is my view as I am thinking about where to cross as I am just leaving the end of Qaneq Island.  I am actually pointed southwest toward Upernavik which is completely opposite to where I want to go.

From my cockpit these islands in view are deceiving.  They all look as though they are low to the water and easy to land on but I knew from paddling experience that landing places might not necessarily be available.  Odd conditions like rims and boulders not visible from where I am sitting deny landing.

I was not especially concerned because the weather which you can see in the picture is absolutely calm.  I did head myself out slightly to the south when I made the crossing so that I might glimpse any ominous cloud formations lurking in the storm direction, to the west, on the horizon.  The fierce windstorms do come in from the west in a matter of thirty minutes.  I have been advised to always keep a weary eye out for clouds, especially dark dense clouds to the west.


Leaving the end of Sisuarigsut Island there I was I headed first to the nearest island Qaneq having no idea what it would be like other than it was stone. 

Qaneq turned out to be from what I saw mainly yellow limonite colored granite with none of the concentrated iron deposits that Sisuarigsut Island next to it had.  Opening to the west Qaneq is a horseshoe shaped island.  From my cockpit I saw no possible landing sites, however the Saga map indicated that the interior of Qarngup Ilua was a safe anchorage. 

The island, Qaneq, was entirely smooth rounded granitic rock that I did not think it would host any particularly interesting geology or plants.  At the ends of the arms it was just sterile rock. 

The eastern peninsula on Qaneq Island called Qarngup nasigfia was very interesting visually as a sculptural shape.  It had a very long ramp, perfect for driving a dogsled up, starting at the water’s edge and ending some thirty meters up the slope.  All of the yellow granite facing west was very gently rounded.  I wondered if the roundness had evolved from the igneous injection because it was too varied in shapes to have been glacially created.

All in all, the west face of Qaneq Island resembled a soft plastic sculpture but I knew that the north side was probably jagged rock as I had seen many smooth granite formations dissolve on the opposite side to jagged sharp edged precipices.

I was somewhat anxious about the crossing from Qaneq to Itivdlilik Island a distance was about three miles of open water.  The picture below is showing the view with far in the distance I think I am seeing Sanderson’s Hope and directly below it, Umiaq Mountain, and in the far center that is probably Upernavik with just a tiny glint from the satellite dish on the top.  The two closest islands in the center are Itivdlilik to the left and Atarsivik Island to the right with icebergs from Giesecke Isfjord to the right.

To the right or north of me I came upon some icebergs that were tall and uncharacteristic of Upernavik Glacier icebergs.  They were quite stationary, appearing to be not moving in the current, much to my relief.  I don’t like to play beat the berg especially with the large ones.  I had been told that these tall bergs are generated in Giesecke Isfjord / Kangerdlussuaq to the northeast.

I was so preoccupied with these grand icebergs that I hardly noticed that I was making a crossing while I was paddling toward them.  The other side did not seem that far away.


I took a moment to take a picture of this multistory high iceberg.  I had seen pictures of such icebergs but to see this one for real was very exciting.  I think it was at least three to four stories high.  It was like a skyscraper floating around.  This iceberg did not look all that huge from a few miles away in just about the middle of picture 2046.


I headed toward Innarsuit to Satup akia Island about 14 miles away northwest. It was a lovely sunny day with wind and currents behind me except during the last part of the day. 

I had thought about going to Naujat but I changed my mind because I thought it would be more interesting to come to Innarsuit from the south side.  Naujat is a village to the north and I thought that maybe it might not be quite so interesting and that there might only be camping places in town and nothing else available on the island and other islands outside of town.

This is the south side of Satup akia Island this was my first encounter with iron laden basalt injected and metamorphosed with white mineral bands.  Unfortunately I do not know exactly what the mineral is.  But the color contrast and striations are thrilling to see.


Then as I came around the west side of Satup akia Island the wind switched to blowing from the north into my face.  I suspect that the current was running against me as well because paddling suddenly switched from gliding along nearly effortlessly to an escapade in hard work, a slug.  Any missed stroke was expensive.  I would instantly lose what ever momentum I had managed to gather.

Wow! What a drag that was. 

At first I was trudging along first quite undaunted saying to myself “Oh! This is alright”.  Then inevitably after awhile those thoughts came to mind “I wonder if I will ever get there?”  Then as I started to feel more strapped I became tempted to think “Maybe I will never get anywhere for that matter?”    But I kept on.  It was not quite all that bad.  It is that I was just a little spoiled after having spent such a fun time making all that fine nearly effortless progress until this moment when I rounded the corner.

Even though I really did not have to paddle that far maybe just a mile I was concerned.  Then again I was paddling next to very high, vertical, rock faces with no place to stop and I had no idea how much farther it might be before I might find a ramp and campsite.


I decided that now was the time to use the old tried and true strategy to make the distance I was covering seem to move faster.  True this is just an optical illusion, but the sense of reward makes it work.

Instead of paddling a mile or so offshore I pulled in close to the rocks.  Paddling close to the rocks in opposing wind and currents gives me the chance to catch some free rides on shore eddies that revolve the opposite direction of the current.

I don’t know about you but I have found that when paddling off shore it nothing seems to move by fast enough.  It seems like all that is happening is that I am just doing some treadmill paddling that will just go on and on forever.  Oh is that ever boring.

Off shore paddling bucking wind and current makes paddling seems as though by the time I get there or anywhere I will be ancient. 

Then to further add insult and even more tiresome to think about is that after I get there I have to paddle all that distance into shore anyway.  

I could have already paddled into shore earlier and would have had a much more interesting paddle.

By paddling along the shore there has to be something somewhere along the way that will be interesting to look at. 

One of the reasons why I like to paddle in this area of Greenland is because the rocks and plants are always interesting.  Some of these areas have really a spectacular array of mineral strata colorization.  Other areas happen to have hanging gardens filled with all sorts of plants because the air has deposited rich soil pockets on the rock cliff faces.  Other areas have the most interesting rock formations such as nearly perfectly smooth yellow granite that emanates from the very bottom of these often deep fjords to the sky hundreds of meters above.

The wind blowing in my face from the north is probably just the usual circulation of cold air coming in from the outside circulating down inside the fjords to the east replacing hot air.

On the south side of Satup-akia Island I found an interesting mix of basal and injected white minerals metamorphosed together.  Seeing this metamorphism I knew that this was going to be an interesting paddle.

Have a little metamorphism, I was shocked and delighted at this escapade in visual geologic activity now frozen in time. 

Along the west side of Satup-akia Island I found some wonderful geology as vertically upended and metamorphosed strata.  The mineralized layers were in swirls of contrasting colors intermixed.


I saw some concentration of iron in the rocks on Satup akia.  Oddly enough I never came across the red or red/black hematite island I was expecting to see.  I think that island must have been farther out on the water behind Qaersorsauatsiaq Island.  Or it might have been Pikiutdle Island and I was not close enough to it. 

Innarsuit camp

The wind and the current was so strong that I didn’t take any pictures because I did not want to blow backward, loosing ground.  It was enough of a struggle already.  How even all the flat water before I took some huge berg pictures however all the flat water before I took some huge berg pictures and interesting scenes. 

With great relief I finally got to the opening of the passage which leads around behind Qeqertarssuaq Island coming out near Innarsuit. 

A surprising number of motor boats / yawls have gone by.  Everyone must be out and about for their last holiday before school starts.

Paulus Karlsen in his speed boat with his wife, children and mother stopped to say, Hello!  His mother was absolutely delighted that I was out tenting.  She was so excited about my camping on the land as she did when she was younger.  She had to get out of the boat, climb up the rocks, to take a good look at my camp 

She was a very petite sprite Greenlander half in the world of the new ways and half in the world of the old ways.  She would be the one who is always busy preparing seal skins, making mittens and kamiks from the seal skins and any other sort of winter and traditional Greenland clothing for the family.

She was extremely short being only as tall as her four-year-old granddaughter who was just over four feet tall.  Her height reflected what is commonly called in the far north as “the days of starvation” before the 1960’s.

Even though I could not speak any Greenland the children were able to translate the Danish I spoke and I think they might have been able to speak some English as well.  I thought about how hard it is has been for me to learn Danish.  I certainly understand why older people and shy people can only speak Greenlandic, I have the same problem.  Recently I have been able to make progress by tuning into Danmark Radio and TV on the internet.  Here I am finding that my not being able to speak Greenlandic is not good

There are a number of cut off mooring lines leading from the boulders into the deep green water.  These lines might be remaining from halibut long lines or seal nets.   Just a short way away, around the corner at Innarsuit there is a fish processing factory. 

People have left Upernavik to move here, Innarsuit, because in this area the fishing is much better.  Unfortunately I knew several years ago that near Upernavik halibut have been over fished.  Fishermen resorted to taking younger and finally fish too young to reproduce which collapsed the fishery near Upernavik. 

The halibut fishery requires great care because halibut population is slow to recover.  Taking fish that are too small collapses the fishery in a matter of five to six years.  Now a new fishery near Upernavik has been established for brown crabs.

Last night four boats two small and two larger boats with Marine radios came by.  These are not casual people, these are commercial fishermen. 

Here below me on this point there are wrapped around the bases of six to ten foot boulders cut off ends of about fifteen fishing or seal net lines.

I noticed that seaweed is abundant and that there are clam and mussel shells indicating that the water in this area is richly endowed with nutrients.

Looking out from my campsite is the south side of Qeqertarssuaq Island which wraps around ending just past the middle of the picture.  Behind that is the continuing shoreline of Satup akia Island where I am staying.  There are some inlets here and there and we are looking down east into a four-sided narrow inlet.  Beyond are the ten thousand meter peaks on Qagsserssuaq peninsula.  These peaks Nunit and Qagssserssuit are the tallest landmarks for many miles around.  You can see that one of them has snow on it.

When I paddle to Innarsuit I plan to paddle down and around this island Qeqertarssuaq just to see what is there.


August 10th, 2005

I awoke to a bright sunny quiet day just a slight occasional breeze putting down the fjord from the outside around the corner cool enough to challenge the mosquitoes not a cloud in the sky

Below is looking out of my tent first thing in the morning and you can tell that it is a bright hot day.  You can also see that this is really a wonderful camping spot with a view in both directions that is just grand.  I was in view of everyone going by and everyone was in view of me.

In the foreground you can see a large boulder on top of a small one.  This is a glacial erratic.  I know because people don’t just go around piling monstrous boulders on top of little tiny ones all over Greenland.  There are too many and it takes too much work.

On the opposite side is Qeqertarssuaq Island.  It is composed of tonalic and granodioritic gneissic rock with lots of white feldspar in view in this picture.


I am glad that I paddle one day and rest the next because I need the rest time.  The feeling of exhaustion and being overwhelmed just creates in me a lack of appreciation of this experience.

On my way here passing by the west side of this island, Satup akia, I missed out on taking some wonderful pictures of rock because I was too tired.

I also did not realize that there an earlier opening into this passage that I did not notice on the map.  From the water the opening was not visible because it was a narrow winding passage in the high rocks.

Though this area is wet a flowing bog I luckily found some dry relatively flat soil to camp.  There might have been a better place but by the time I found this place I was just out of energy.  The rock ramp happened to be just perfect and it is especially nice to be on the edge of the fjord where I can look out onto the open water and down inside the fjord. 

While reading my bible I found that the last fifty Psalms are hymns we use in our services.  Some are familiar.  I started today’s Bible reading with Mathew and some of Romans to round out reading from old and new testaments. 

Today is a quiet, bright summer day.  The barometric pressure is steady and I see no clouds.

I am planning to paddle around the island across from me to Innarsuit, stop for a short visit, and then to the island of Tasiussaq to see the geology. 

Tasiussaq Island looks interesting from here and has bays that face south.  Hopefully I will find a campsite with a convenient ramp somewhere.

My video camera has happened to have gotten some moisture inside of it so I dried it out.  #5 and 6 battery charging up.  I saw and photographed Arctic sulphur butterfly strictly by luck when walking. 

Tomorrow I would like to ravage the KNI store at Innarsuit for junk food!  I wonder if they have dried whale.

Nobody showed up tonight in boats.  I guess last night was the big night for going places.

I spent the night sliding out of my tent because the ground was so slanted – the usual.  Ah, another fine moment in camping.  What would life be if I were not sliding down and out of my floorless tent all night.  And I do like to roll over every so often so naturally what happens I sort of propel myself when I roll down and out the door. 

I would start dreaming that I was sleeping under a very high orange quilt but something was wrong because the quilt was slanted inward over my head.  I would start telling my half awake self that something was wrong.  Quilts are not that high and they don’t slant inward high up over your head. 

After I could not stand it any more because that dream was just too ridiculous and it wouldn’t eem to go away I would sort of wake up.

Then I would realize that I was sliding out of the tent and the wall of the tent was just over my neck.  I would think about it some more and then I would oh I better do something about this so I wake up grab everything and drag it up to the back wall of the tent again.  I would make up my mind that this time I would fall asleep for as long as possible without rolling over.  Then some time later, sure enough, just like magic, there I am sticking out from beneath my tent.  And on and on until finally I am just too tired to bother any more and in the morning there I am sound asleep sticking out beneath the tent door.  Such fine moments in camping I wonder what the next camping moment will be like.  “Tune in tomorrow for the next episode.”  We’ll just never know!

I am glad that I just happened to find this spot and to be in this area.  I am looking forward to the next which I would like to see close up. 

It gets cold here just as soon as there is any shade.  In bright sun in the shelter of an amphitheater it is hot 85°F but the shade the temperature is in the 50’s. 

I did find something quite interesting it was a piece of chert.  I figured out that it was chert which is a form of quartz that has been exposed to crystallization temperature, quartz inversion.  A flat piece of chert makes a plink sound when dropped. 

As far as supplies I have made the mistake of bringing three to four times the amount of Esbit fuel cubes as I would have needed. I can heat three cups of water with one cube.  It is nice to have a comfortable margin of extra fuel but this quantity is too much.

Later foolishly on my flight home I did not think about it at the moment but I really wound up paying for excess baggage weight for items that were no where near worth what I paid in fees.  I should have just them chucked out.

A succulent with lavender flowers, Pyrola in front and a willow with Salix rotundifolia in back and to the left front.


A large old willow tree that is growing absolutely flat to thin soil layer covering the gneissic rock face.


The trunk and branches of a very old willow growing flat over the rock ground with Salix rotundifolia poking up as yellow green leaves.  Wind rules plant morphology / shapes especially trees.


John Heath told me that these willow trunks are used for kayak ribs, however I cannot see how these tree trunks can be used because they are too crooked.

August 11, 2005

07:30 29.30 inches Mercury awoke to a calm bright sunny morn.  I focused on the St John Chrysosthomum prayer.

I found a huge brown beetle about an inch long in a willow. 

I packed up and took off for Innarsuit going around the back of the island, Qeqetarssuaq, I had camped across from.  I was excited about this little journey because I wanted to see what a cozy waterway might look like.

Innarsuit camp

I always enjoy this sort of wandering around paddling.  In my kayak I especially enjoy these moments.

I like to look closely to interesting rocks and look down in the crystal clear water.   If there happen to be any sea urchins down there it is even better.  Nothing like some fresh sea urchin eggs!

I am looking east and I do not exactly know what the mountain in the background is.  To the right is an opening down a little fjord within 


Here there are commercial fishing boats moored with a sheltered harbor on the north side of Qeqertarssuaq. 

I am just about to round the corner and come into the settlement, Innarsuit.

These boats are moored here because it is out of the way of powerful storm winds and icebergs that come into Innarsuit.  The fishing fleet was recently destroyed there during a fierce storm that blew into Innarsuit.  2003 big icebergs came into Innarsuit and destroyed all the fishing fleet those without insurance had a very hard time dealing with having to replace at their expense.


I stopped at Innarsuit and had a short visit with Jenny Kristensen, Rosa Thorliefsen’s sister.  She is the postmistress.  Her husband, Dennis, has gone to Upernavik in his wonderful commercial fishing boat, Amalie.  Dennis runs the fish factory where halibut is brought by all the local boats for processing.

I was very surprised to see the completely nasty reception I received at Innarsuit because people rather than admire me for exploring via kayak alone, absolutely abhorred me.  I saw none of the three kayaks I saw in 1993 and it appears that everybody fears the kayak because in their current culture the kayak is out of style with the rare exception where of an occasional hunter has decided to use the kayak for hunting narwhale. Children are confused and the fish factory workers are in there 20’s. 

The oily effluent of liquid and small particles from the fish is vented into the harbor from the factory making the town harbor filthy.

The harbor did not have any convenient slabs that I could pull my kayak up above the high tide on as are in Upernavik.

Below is a photo as I am just rounding the bend coming into Innarsuit.  The largest building is the fish processing plant.  The smoke in the sky is from the town dump where everything is typically burned in incinerator or in bonfires ignited with diesel fuel.  The solitary houses are typical of little towns / bygter in Upernavik commune.  These mostly commune owned houses are brought in as materials with instructions by ship from Denmark and constructed by the commune.   The few privately owned houses are the same type but constructed by the owner.  People often wait all summer for their house to arrive by ship sometimes it arrives as late as the last ship in November.

The small long low red building in the center is the school building.  It is a nice modern building well designed.

Usually on the shoreline are the oil tanks which supply oil for the electric generators, one for heating oil and another for gasoline.

Innarsuit had nothing but very narrow foot paths between the rocks until the fish factory was built.  The fish factory construction materials not be unloaded until road building machinery was unloaded and a road was built.

Because the harbor faces open water to the southwest ships cannot be unloaded until the seas calm down and the ice is moved out of the harbor.  The ferry moves ice away from the town pier by using prop-wash.  Sometimes this does not work and the ferry cannot come into this town until the ice goes out.

I talked with the Danish engineer who was working on the building the fish factory in the 90’s. He complained about arriving at a place where there were no roads at all anywhere.  Sure there was ground but there was nothing but stones everywhere, no place wide enough or straight enough to drive even a wheelbarrow.  Little does anyone know that until these last few years all was carried on someone’s back in these tiny villages. 

All water is carried in five and ten gallon containers to each house, which really affects how much water everyone uses.  I was very scrupulous when I lived in Kullorsuaq to use and reuse water.

Since you can see all is sitting directly on rock, imagine that no house has a basement and all is lag-bolted to the stone ground. 

The factory required extensive blasting to make a large enough flat area opening out onto the pier.

When I brought my kayak into town there was no convenient place aside from one muddy rock ramp where I could bring my kayak into shore. 

Offal from the fish factory greasy oily dirty water coated my kayak hull.  I was not too charmed.  The appearance of the town from the water was so ugly I did not take any pictures.

I left remembering how pretty the town once looked in the 1990’s from the water, before the fish factory existed.


I took off as soon as possible and headed north toward Tasiussaq Island.

7321N 5612W Innarsuit to Tasiussaq

I started out paddling gingerly from Innarsuit glad to be on the water once again.  Paddling conditions were a lovely summer day with about five knots of wind, just enough to give the water a slight roll. 

Flat paddling with no roll to the water is much slower because the skin friction of the hull is not broken.  This phenomenum is the same reason why air craft have to generate waves on flat water to take off.  Otherwise they can’t break the skin friction of the water to lift off.

I started paddling across the opening of Natip ilua passage.  I thought that I would just paddle straight across the opening in the direction I was heading covering the shortest distance.  I was taking some risk by paddling through a mile or so wide gyre of ice chunks dodging and weaving. 

As I continued the thought came to mind that this was an opening about two miles wide and getting across it was not all that quick.  There were no landing sites all was surrounded by smooth rock escarpments. 

Then I noticed that a motorboat instead of just going in a straight line was going in an arc, very carefully staying away from this ice jumble. Then I saw a wooden hulled fishing boat also avoiding this ice.  I watched both boats cut a seemingly unnecessary wide arc.

“Oh! Oh! That is strange.” I said to myself.  “Something is wrong. Why are both the motorboat and wooden fishing boat going way out of their way when they can just go straight across this opening as I am doing?” 

Here I was in my neoprene fabric covered hull really taking a possible puncture risk.  “If those boats are avoiding this ice?” I asked myself “Why am I so arrogantly paddling smack right through the middle of all this ice.  I have the feeling that I shouldn’t be doing this.  If I get in trouble nobody is going to rush over and fish me out of this labyrinth of ice chunks?” 

“And why should anyone take the risk of trying to rescue me?  Obviously I am being very foolish.  I can’t just paddle over to shore in a split second.  It is too far away and there is no place to land.” 

Fear and respect crept over me.  I decided that I had better stop this foolishness.  I had better be very careful getting myself out of this couple of mile area ice labyrinth.  In just the slightest moment of inattention I could smash or slice by too closely a chunk of ice. 

Maybe my hull would survive unscathed but then again I could ram a chunk is just such a way as to throw me off balance tipping me into the water.

The impact from just one seemingly little ice chunk say one the size of a five gallon bucket, five gallons weighs forty pounds, is a severe impact serious because not only is ice in of itself very heavy but worse yet melting glacial ice chunks are studded with sharp spikes.  These spikes are perfect for puncturing delicate boat hulls especially when some dummy is paddling along at three Nautical miles an hour with a payload of over three hundred pounds. 

The fiberglass yawl as is typical is thick but not ice clad the second boat I saw avoiding this same patch of ice with a  wooden hulls have metal sheeting galvanized steel sheeting as ice protection.  My kayak had nothing, just neoprene with some hull reinforcement strips over the keel and chines.  I had to carefully make my way out of the arc of ice into open water.

Heading out toward Tasiussaq there was a couple of interesting islands that hosted bird colonies.  One had some gulls which I did not bother with but the other one, Kangarssuk, at N73°16.230 W56 01.114 ~ “N73°16’38” W56 01’19” caught my attention because it had a large Arctic tern colony on its eastern end.


I was delighted because I love to watch Arctic terns fly.  They are such elegant skilled fliers in supreme command of their wings.  They fly over the water in graceful arcs.  Then they spread their wings and hover.  Suddenly they fly straight up and instantaneously change into a vertical dive into the water.

I thought that I would record this fascinating moment because my art and imagination is fired by watching these supreme commanders of the sky.  I I remembered those other moments years past such as on the Baillie River when I first saw these birds that migrate from the Arctic to the Antarctic annually.  I wanted to take some more close up pictures of these terns in flight. 

So there I am one of those naive paddlers.  You can just imagine the next scenario if you have ever had an encounter with nesting terns.  There I was paddling first from afar off a mile or so away but coming closer and closer.  I was thinking that I could get still even closer for some detailed shots, why not!

Suddenly there was a hair-raising whoosh and a millisecond blur of feathers right in front of my hat brim.  Oh! Oh!  That got my attention.  No doubt about it, I was their quarry, that thing in the red kayak with the paddle rhythmically waving up down up down on alternating sides. 

Gosh I guess that they were not just there for sunbathing, that is for sure but they certainly were very serious about nesting.

Now, I found out first hand, what it is like to be dive bombed by these precise little kamikazes.  I had just assumed that they would ratchet up their attack gradually as I came closer and closer.  Not so!  Wow was I in trouble!  I realized that my nice little photo opportunities were not so nice.  I better get out of here right quick and hope that I don’t be directly on the receiving end of a bird beak buried in my scalp.  Whew that was a nasty situation.

It was absolutely impossible to take any still pictures of them.  I tried and even with all the best digital technology all they were in the camera lens was a blur.  Forget that idea, still pictures were hopeless.  I have done things like take digital pictures out of my car while it is moving but these terns were no match.

I kind of attempted also to take some video but these guys were just a blur in the video as well.  I was just getting pot-shotted with certain organic material. It is a good thing that they do not carry rocks as well.

All that was left for me to do was beat an ignominious “I’m out of here now” wishing I had not tried that dumb trick.  Oh well we do learn from our mistakes, don’t we.  I won’t try that one again.

Just the thought of a deposit of bird poop on my nice clean deck was bad enough.  It was unavoidable unless I could have folded up my kayak and disappeared.  But that was a little unlikely.

My red deck did get a couple bombs of the organic nature so to speak, but at least I got away relatively unscathed.  I did not have any bird beaks stuck in my head and I did not have any blobs directly land on me. 

When I got to shore I carefully washed that certain organic material off hoping I got all of it out of the fabric.  Bird poop is loaded with straight ammonia and other organics that are very corrosive to metals and fabrics.  Nothing like some “organic” rain precisely directed at the target, me and my kayak.

This view is of the south side of Tasiussaq Island; note the brilliant red and black bands.  The icebergs are inside the sound between Uvingassoq and Tasiussaq Islands.

You can just faintly see the communication towers on top of Tasiussaq Island.  These are set at the highest point because the communication can be interrupted by other mountains and the radio signal is FM, by line of sight.  The telephone signal is satellite.


A closer picture showing the iron oxide, hematite bands in metagreywacke a form of sandstone on Tasiussaq Island however farther north the actual approach to Tasiussaq the hematite color bands in gneiss are even more strongly defined as separate bright  brick red and intense black strata.  They are rather hard to believe.  And even more exotic are some islands with upended strata in red and black.  One island looks like an upended pyramid in red and black.

I was concerned about this huge gray bank of fog to the North and decided not to continue to Tasiussaq Island but rather stop on a closer small island, Uvingassoq. 

Fog can move quickly and I was concerned about how fast this bank would roll in.


By the time I made Uvingassoq you can see in this photo below that the fog has blown from the southwest and has gotten to the outside of this southernmost peninsula on Tasiussaq.  The fog is starting to blow over the peninsula just a mile from where I am sitting in my kayak. I took some interesting fog coming into the bay pictures however it never did get in here but I had some wind quartering me north. 

Conditions are quiet and sunny but the last minute paddle to this island to beat the fog seemed to take forever.

This is one of those moments as I am watching the fog coming between Tasiussaq and Simiutaq Islands when I am saying to myself ”I think that I had better find a campsite right now. Not later!”


I was looking for water and a rock ramp.  On my way past the east side I spotted some water.  All I saw for water was just a tiny trickle dripping on the east side and a possible but challenging landing site. 

I paddled and later hiked along the upper portion of the north side.  No water, all I found was high completely dry stone cliffs. 

I looked across at the north side of Tasiussaq but it was dry devoid of vegetation.  On this island I was near Uvingassoq I found the lush character of the grassy vegetation most inviting.

In the photo below I am now on the north side having passed by the south and east sides of Uvingassoq Island.  After all I had to see now that I was here to see what is on the north side and as in this case the best view is from my kayak.

Later I found there was no walking on those cliffs unless I wanted to risk some feats of rock climbing.

From my cockpit it was confirmed beyond all doubt as I thought to myself “Well you just never know but one thing is for sure, there is absolutely no place to land on this north side, so forget that idea”.

I never did bother to continue down the west side of the island because it just looked like it was nothing but rock cliffs.

I was in a hurry to beat that fog.

Yes that is an iceberg to my right, no doubt about it, and to get this picture I had to tuck behind it just enough to get out of line with the sun.  You can see the glint on the upper edge of the iceberg.  As nervous and hurried I was I knew that taking a picture with the sun shining directly into the camera was not good to do to my camera.  So I paddled just far enough into the shade of the berg to take this picture.


Oddly enough during the two days that I was on Uvingassoq Island the fog surrounded the island both from the west and filled in around the islands east where Innarsuit was located but the fog never enclosed this island.  As I enjoyed basking in the bright sun I found that the view from this island was always spectacular. 

Innarsuit to Tasiussaq map

Uvingassoq Ø detail

I bet that this island happens to be in a neutral air pocket.

This led me to conclude that this might have been one of the reasons why people happened to have lived for a long time on this island.  Their choice to live here could not have been not by random decision.  I bet the hunting was excellent as evidenced by the numerous whale bones scattered about.

I had the feeling that people probably lived here in the winter and went inside the fjords during the summer.  This is what people always have done in this region.  Visiting, berry picking, hunting land animals, gathering Ammassat and other migrating fish, hunting summer molting ducks is always done down in the fjords.  Until recently everyone did this via umiaqs and kayaks.

Uvingassoq is highest on the north side gradually tapering flat to the water with a sand beach on a peninsula and low rocks on the south side.  On the southeast side along the peninsula is a very convenient gentle sloping sandy beach cirque.  On either side of the peninsula is a perfect place to beach motorboats on and to dog sleds up.  There are convenient low rocks to launch afloat kayaks.  Skin covered kayaks are always have to be launched afloat out of waves so that the cockpit does not take a wave before the paddler puts his twilig or sprayskirt forming a waterproof cockpit seal over the cockpit lip. from rocks.  There was evidence of recent motorboat usage where people had come in to camp on this sand beach facing east.

This view is looking east from Uvingassoq where I am standing toward Ateqangitsorssuaq Island which is north of Innarsuit where I came from.  The rock cliffs in view are gneiss. 

In this picture at that moment even though the fog is hovering outside to the west it has not advanced any closer than the last picture.  Not knowing the area I had expected that the fog would come in and just smother this island but instead the fog just stayed never came any closer that the two previous pictures showed you.  I was surprised about that.

Some ancient seal fat has decomposed leaving the layer of mosses in the right side of this photo.


This view is taken just to give a sense of contrast to show what Uvingassoq looks like in the foreground and then looking south the inhospitable shoreline from where I have paddled.  The two dark islands in front of Ateqangitsorssuaq Island are just two small rock islands off the opening of Natip ilua passage.  It was across the front of this passage in the ice labyrinth.  that opens wide on the west side then near the end becomes very narrow on the eastern end, which I did not bother investigating.  On the map the passage almost looks impassable and I remember it was very rocky and inhospitable.

Note the heavy growth of grasses and large willow trees in this picture below.  Where the grasses are densest are foundations of sod houses.  Grasses grow indicating soil enrichment and in this case it is via human habitation and their usage of dogs.


Here is a large piece of whale rib about two feet long and six inches wide washing out of the soil.  This piece of bone was at the base of the three foot high embankment I showed in the previous photo roughly in the center of the picture.

Note how black this soil is.  This indicates organic enrichment.


In this photo are foundations of sod houses with some hearth stones.  When ever I find straight mounds with lush vegetation growing on them such as you see in this picture they are the remains of sod house walls after the snow over the years has worn them away.


This has been such a well used island that people have left about ten of graves here all in one area north of the beach. 

Here is a stone grave, typical of graves in the Upernavik area.  Unfortunately I found no remains within the stones but I hope the remains were treated with respect and taken elsewhere placed near the surviving relatives dwelling places.

I apologize for this picture being out of focus but it just happens to be the only one I have.


On my way past the island to look at the north side I happened to have noticed some water.  I saw just a mere trickle of water dripping over the rocks on the east side.  Later I found out after trudging all over that that was the only water on this island.

This island has lots of grasses and nice vegetation compared to other islands in view and looks like people use it.  There is an abandoned fangsthus / hunting cabin on the west end which was in much better condition five or ten years ago.

Once again it is time for me to complain about those camera batteries.  I was very annoyed to find out that only the actual battery that came with the video camera will operate the video camera even though the same camera operates the Mavica still camera.  The Mavica will operate on after market batteries just fine!  This  is getting to be very boring.

My sixth campsite is at 08/11/05 #060 N73°17.554 W56 02.124’ ~ N73°17’33” W56 02’07” Uvingassoq Island.

I found this time a nice level spot this time to place my tent.  The site is far enough out in the open away from any elevations that it is exposed almost the entire day to bright sun starting first thing about 4 am in the morning to 10 pm.

From my campsite facing slightly northeast shore birds and ducks would come to feed because there was a shallow cove filled with sea life that would become exposed in low tide but at high tide had enough water for me to paddle over.

I for the first time in Greenland happened to see a single Harlequin female duck.  That was most exciting because this was my first time seeing one of those very colorful birds.  The Harlequin visited the cove at low tide to feed.

At low tide a peninsula developed connecting to another island.  I walked across the dry peninsula on a search for muscles and clams.  I looked under the fucus shrouds on the rocks expecting to find some mussels.  This looked just like an island in Maine minus the fir trees looking like a perfect place for them but there were none.

I wish I had some sort of magic way of detecting mussels and clams they are so rich and delicious.  I know where there are some near Upernavik and I was surprised I did not find any here.

Because this island happens to be so insignificant, I had trouble fixing where on the Saga map this island is and I even thought that maybe the GPS seemed as though it was off.  Then again maybe the map was off.  To figure out where on the Saga map I was required a myriad of little tiny lines, what a project.  I can imagine myself bringing a full set of engineering drawing tools just to figure out where this little island actually might be.  Such a drag!  At that rate I might as well bring a grand piano along too!  It would be about as practical for kayak travel.

At the southeastern edge of the island scampering on the rocks I saw three Black bellied plovers.  They are quite tame and are typically very social shore birds, always seen with at least two of their own time scampering about on the rocks looking for food.  They are fat looking when they stand on the rocks.  When they spread their wings to fly they are really elegant.  They have efficient pointed wings that show a distinctive white zigzag on the wing and on their back when they extend their wings to fly.  They are in the plover family and in some ways also resemble oystercatchers when they fly. 

Later some of those feisty little Arctic terns paid me a visit.  Just to allay your nerves in case you think they were after me all this time, actually they do not go about stalking former nesting site visitors. 

When the sun gets to a low afternoon angle over the water, something like 5 to 7 pm in New England, the terns come and hunt food. 

They were engaged in their usual evening hunt.  They just flew over quiet water of the cove in front of my tent hunting for small fish on the surface of the water at about five or so in the afternoon.  They hunt these waters for about twenty minutes and then are off somewhere else only to return the next day same place and time.

August 12 2005

Friday.12:00 the barometric pressure is at 30.00 inches Mercury there are clouds to the south. 

Today is Bible reading and resting day.

It is a balmy bright day with golden sunshine with a perfect cerulean blue sky above.  Elsewhere there is fog and I am glad not to be there.  There is some fog to the southeast that had probably begun in the west below just south of Innarsuit.  Where I am on Uvingassoq Island, once again, just like yesterday this island is fog free. 

Fog seems to be held off here by just enough air circulation blowing in from north to keep it at bay.  Directly north along the southern shore of Tasiussaq Island just a few miles away I see that there is no fog. I can see across to Ateqangitsorssuaq Island there is no fog. 

To the west, once again, there is that same a low-lying fog bank to the west with some bergs sticking out. 

I am not so sure about how I shall make out navigating in the fog.  I am concerned that I might have a near collision with a fog shrouded iceberg.  That would be a ghastly surprise.  Then again as I think about this possibility usually there is some sort of sound associated with an iceberg that I would hear from my cockpit.  If I were in a motorboat I would not be able to hear such quiet sound but usually there is some sort of dripping sounds.  Because icebergs this time of year are melting so rapidly drips even streams of water come off them and this would certainly warn me of an iceberg.  It is not too likely that I would be in the middle of nowhere on absolutely flat water that there would be dripping sounds for no reason, that just does not happen.

 When I was at the glacier a few days ago there was a particular iceberg that had so much water melting off it that it sounded like a brook was running.  In the bright sun that was how fast it was melting.  I had never heard so much water rushing off an iceberg into the water before.  I guess that the shape of that iceberg happened to cause all the melt water to coalesce into one rivulet which cascaded over the horizontal lip into the water.   There was tons of splashing going on.

Today is a very bright day with a constant slight southwest breeze.  Now there are cirrostratus clouds showing in the south and the east.  Yesterday I saw a jet trail one of the largest I have ever seen that was spread out over at least a third of the entire sky which may portend a storm coming in three to four days.

I am thinking about when I leave here that I shall be paddling due south throughout most of the journey back to Puguta.  The problem with having paddled north out of any protection from the sun is that on the return trip paddling south into the blazing sun is very hard on the eyes and skin.  I suffer from cold sores when exposed to such amounts of sun.  I even resort to covering my lips with a scarf but still the cold sores erupt.

At the moment I am thinking that I will try waiting some time such as 2 pm before heading south, because the sun will be glaring straight in my face.  I think I will shoot for paddling on the east side of Innarsuit the west side of the island is just straight up and down. 

There is very serious lack of water here I literally sucked water off crevasses in the rock and spewed it into a retrieved soda bottle.  I recovered 12 oz of water in about half an hour so that I could avoid having to use much of my reserve water supply that I always carry with me.  I only carry a gallon or so of water in my kayak when I get on the water.  That is just enough for one day. 

My source of water was such a tiny trickle I resorted to sucking water off rocks with my lips and spewing it into a bottle.  Not exactly something to do if you have guests around you have to share your water with, but water is water, it tasted wonderfully of the plants, especially the mosses, it was flowing through down the rock face.  That was the only way I could get the water off the rocks into my bottle that I could think of. 

Now that I think of it I probably could have done better sopping up water off the rocks with a Packtowl and ringing it out to collect the water.  The Packtowl has the capability to pull water out fabric and retrieve water almost entirely off of surfaces.  When I lived in Kullorsuaq I had a piece of that non-woven rayon fabric which I would use to wash the floor with.  It worked perfectly with a quart of water I would wash the floor and still have some left over because this fabric retrieves water so well.  If I had used cotton I would have never been able to wash the floor with that amount of water.

Well I have changed my mind about when to paddle south.  I am going to stick to my morning routine of leaving as soon as I am packed rather than waiting for the sun to come around to the west later in the day before leaving because I hate waiting unless I really have to.  I don’t trust that contrail I saw in the sky last night and I don’t feel like getting trapped here

The barometric level is 30.05 inches Mercury and there is no development in the clouds.

Interestingly, the bank of fog is just sitting outside.  The fog is holding steady, not like last night when it was advancing north and eastward. 

Today I saw some different shorebirds.  They seem like this island. I saw some small ruddy turnstone type sandpipers. I am not sure what they are. They are black and white and stand on rocks they are not big and they can fly fast.

Barometric pressure of 30.05 inches Mercury has been steady all day with a slight breeze and bright sun.

I gathered some seed samples because I was wondering if I could grow willow what would it be like in Connecticut.  This would be an interesting experiment.

I am very pleased with my choice this time of the Esbit cube stove and fuel is so simple and completely quiet.

What a relief from the noise and frustrations let alone the risky business of carrying the smelly liquid fuel, especially gasoline that is needed to operate those cranky heavier stoves. 

Only once in 1992 on my first trip to Greenland did I take a kerosene stove and that was because supposedly gasoline was not available in Greenland.  That kerosene stove it ran poorly all the time, had to be constantly taken apart and cleaned to get it to run at all and the kerosene absolutely stinks.  Then think of what might happen should these liquid hydrocarbons happen to leak into my hull, because they might be solvents for rubber cement which my hull is probably glued together with.   Having a solvent loose in the bottom of my kayak is a terrible fate to think about for my kayak out in the middle of nowhere.  Something as simple as a leaky O ring on a fuel bottle cannot be repaired out in the field.

When it comes to hot food, the only error was that I should have brought the other thicker larger polyethylene screw cap containers.  The thin deli type containers I brought cool off too quickly and are hot to hold. 

I also tried eating a double portion of soy drink and soy flour, yeast, sesame and sunflower seed mix in half concentration of water.  I had no idea how terrible the taste and rather grotesque experience chewing of under hydrated food is like.  I won’t try that trick again, I can tell you. I happen to be one of those people whom it takes a lot to gross out when it comes to eating experiments.  My usual criteria in eating is that I will eat it just as long as it is not still moving.

I have changed my mind about paddling east and I am planning to paddle much of the same due south route as before because there are some exciting pictures of rock mineral assemblages I did not take when I came by them on my way up.

In a way retracing the same route denies me the privilege of new exploration and I will miss the interesting passage I had been looking forward to exploring, Natip ilua, just north of Ilulissat between the islands Satup Akia.

August 13, 2005 Saturday

At 05:00am, early in the morning I woke up and prepared to leave as soon as possible because I could see ideal conditions.  I wanted to beat the sun as I head south on the same route I paddled to get here. 

I decided that I really wanted to pass the west off Innarsuit because I want to see those minerals south of Innarsuit in the cliffs that were spectacular. 

I paddled most of the way on a nice soft swell moving along very easily just in perfect synchrony with the swell from five knots of wind behind me.  When I got to the southern end of Satup akia I encountered contrary current between Satup and Satoq.  I didn’t think it would happen to me, no not me, but that current persisted for the entire distance around Satoq all the way until I got to the southern tip of Atarsivik. 

The only reason why I went this way was because I was curious about this route.  Previously I had paddled around the south side of Satoq.

It was quite nice because there were plenty of shallows and sandy bottoms to look at.  The tide was low and it was calm as a cucumber, so to speak, so I could gaze at the bottom easily.

Conditions were fine as I made my crossing to Qaneq.  I saw a large spotted seal that popped about five times to look at me.  Then he disappeared I was hoping for an opportunity to take his picture so I waited for fifteen minutes but he was gone.

There were none of the spectacular icebergs in that area as there were when I passed through there three days earlier.  I looked at Qaneq closely, thinking about the safe anchorage indicated on the map.  Still the island did not look all that alluring until I happened to notice on the tip of its eastern peninsula some very interesting ramps and rounded shapes in yellow Greywacke. 

Curiously enough these ramps on Qaneq started at the water’s edge and wound upward for maybe 40 meters high in varying degrees of steepness.  The rock itself was completely smooth gently rounded entirely plastic shapes, rather hard to believe.  Of course I knew that on the back side the rock had to be all broken steep rocks.

One time near Aappilattoq I came out of a bay flanked for more than a mile with smoothly rounded stone just as smooth as if somebody had ironed it with just a few exfoliated layer spots showing.  When I got around the back side it was all rough broken stone, completely different.

I took some interesting mineral pictures of the western end of Sisuarigsut I wonder what those particular minerals are aside from the iron which is leaching out on the surface and the black which is probably hornblende.


Along the island peninsula the light was just right revealing glacially polished section of greywacke.  This shows the compression polishing and scratches left by the glacier superimposed on the surface of what is initially a sedimentary deposit of sandstone greywacke.  Note the ripple marks in sandy rock in the upper portion of the picture formed by aquatic deposition then polished by the glacier.


In the picture below there is quite a group of icebergs clustered together.  Behind them is the ridge pack of Puso on Puguta and the peak Qagssersuit on Qagsserssuaq peninsula 1080 meters high.

I actually had to paddle through a group of them between Qaneq and Sisuarigsut that looked impassable.   However even though they were so large and tightly packed I was able to safely thread my way through them.  They actually did have enough space between them for my safe passage.  It was just that from my cockpit because it is hard to judge the distance between tall icebergs they looked to me as though they had to be too tightly packed.  I felt especially threatened because in my kayak I knew that I could not just do what a motorboat can do which is to quickly weave around them.


On my way between Qaneq and Sisuarigsut islands I was alarmed as I came across numerous large and medium icebergs packed together such that I wondered if I was going to make it between with enough space for safety.

I was a little worried then I found some other spots were open.  At the passage, Qarngup sarqa, it looked doubtful that I could find an opening wide enough to paddle safely through.  Gladly I took a middle of the road tactic and got away with it although there did happen to be an unstable berg near Nugssuaq point off Sisuarigsut.

Just as I started across about half a mile away I heard the thunder of an exploding berg and I happened to see a large chunk split off.  The area that split was pure white sparkling bright compressed snow.

I wondered how far a split off chunk of that size would land on the water from a berg of that size.  Luckily that one only hit the water with all its pieces 30 to 50 feet away. 

The reason for the sound like a clap of thunder coming from an iceberg is that there is an explosive release of pressure within an iceberg.  The compressed snow is under a multitude of pressures that can suddenly release. 

Just think of snow in layers being squished together twisted and pushed forward down an incline.  After awhile that snow becomes pressed together in layers at different angles and under different pressures.  When it is released as an iceberg and starts to melt those layers all have different pressures within them that are affected by the constantly changing shape of the iceberg afloat in the warm water.

On this trip I never was able to capture on camera any icebergs splitting up.  Here it all happened and was over so quickly that all I could do was to stare out at the water hoping to figure out which berg it actually was among the many.  Unless the shedding berg happened to be in my direct line of sight I would witness nothing even though it would sound as though it was just over there. What a tease!

Now I realize how lucky I was when I lived in Kullorsuaq over looking the harbor.  I did happen to have some opportunities to film a few icebergs shedding huge chunks.  The most dramatic iceberg experience was watching a grounded out berg split into huge chunks.

The huge grounded berg had sat there all summer quietly melting away. At first, loud thunder came from the berg.  And then, it started to break up making more thunder with huge chunks coming off of it.  Then those were breaking up because the sudden dunking in warm water made them explode apart.  With all that thunder and huge chunks it created a series of huge steep waves.  The waves came up on shore and as they hit the shallows they slammed up as walls of water.  The motorboat fellows raced down grabbed their outhaul lines and held on keep the rebounding waves from dragging their boats away.

I had been considering going back to my first campsite at Pugata but by the time I got to Sisuarigsut Island I had to quit.  I was just too tired to continue on.  I had already paddled about twenty nautical miles at that point.  My extraordinary progress was made most of the journey because I had the wind and tide currents with me.  Only one area around Satoq was the current noticeably contrary.  My kayak has a way of moving nicely through the water as I automatically synchronize my stroke with the roll of the sea.  I usually paddle at the same tempo of one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand.

The last one and a half miles was arduous because it was a deceiving situation.  That distance once I rounded the point on the west side of the island to the inside of this island where the campsite is located is actually a long way when you are tired. 

Below is this view from my campsite.  It faces the eastern tip of the island a much shorter distance.  From the campsite the bay opens out with a spectacular view of the Upernavik ice fjord / Ikeq.

Note the pink mountains in the background are on Nutarmiut.  They are keenly visible from here east to the glacier and Aappilattoq and Asseritoq where I camped in ’93.


Just out of curiosity I thought that I might take a little tour about this bay to see if there might be another site with water.  In all my looking about the bay I found that only my exact same campsite I used previously had any water. 

There was still some water sitting in the rock depression where I had left some ice to melt from the last time.  That was an unexpected surprise.  I would have thought that the sun would have dried that water up by now.

I realized that indeed that the only source of water was, once again, to be those same rock depressions to catch melting water.  I although I had explored this area on foot when I camped here previously I knew that those were the only rock depressions around.  With those factors in mind I admitted to myself this was my only choice.  The rest of this island as large as it is even though I scanned with my binoculars old brook beds was dry because the gravel soil does not hold water.  There were none of the usual squishy bogs that I thought had to be everywhere in this area.

In Pond Inlet, Canada at this same latitude along the southwest edge heading for eclipse sound there was nothing but squishy bogs almost everywhere.  And the higher up the banks we looked the wetter those bogs became. It was a project finding any dry area to camp. 

Once again I would have to camp here only this time I would have to capture ice chunks floating by and haul them up to these depressions to melt.

Just as I was coming in, by great luck, I spotted a perfect sized piece of ice right near the ramp.  The wind was moving the ice along.  It was just about to go around the corner. 

Had I arrived some moments later, the wind that piece of ice would have carried off elsewhere out of range. 

From my kayak I set about guide the piece of ice with my paddle into a hollow in the rocks.  I wanted to buy myself enough time to be able to get out of my kayak and pull it up on the ramp before the wind carried it off.  Although I was not so lucky in nesting the ice within the rock indentation it was still on the move.

With one eye on the ice chunk blowing down wind I estimated whether I could land and get out of my kayak in time before the ice escaped me.   Planning every my move to be as efficient as possible I quickly hopped  out of my kayak and pulled it out of the water so that it would not happen to float away while I was preoccupied.

I retrieved one of my throw lines from the cockpit which I always keep stowed within quick access for emergencies and difficult landings.

I rushed over the rocks as the ice chunk was blowing around the inside the shoreline indentation and just about to start heading out of range.   This was one of the few places nearby that  rocky shoreline was low and even enough along the water’s edge that I could get myself right down and easily walk along it.

I made a loop of rope and threw it around the ice chunk.  After a couple tries the loop dropped around the ice chunk girdling its middle.  I gently, ever so gently, pulled it back toward me and lead it to the ramp.  I was very careful not to risk loosing my rope loop off of it by not let it hit or ground out on any shallow boulders or allow it to rock enough to let the loop slip off.  Whew that was delicate, very delicate.

The whole piece which did not look all that big initially I found as I tugged on it with my rope to get it up the ramp was much too heavy for me to lift and carry up the ramp.  Bear hug or no bear hug although ice is certainly slippery this chunk was too heavy.

Ice is surprisingly heavy, just think how big a five gallon bucket of water is and then think about how heavy a bucket filled with water is. 

Then I figured out that to make the chunk smaller, more manageable, I would have to break it apart.  Since it was too heavy lift out of the water I decided that I would break it up.  Very conveniently the irregular shaped chunk had thin bridges which were the weak spots.  I took advantage of the shallow rocks that it was just barely floating over. 

This one of those moments when it is nice to have your dry suit on as I stood in the water wearing my drysuit complete with attached booties.

I gently rocked the ice chunk against those rocks on the bottom.  This gentle tapping caused it to break into manageable pieces.

I carried the pieces to uppermost depression in the rock where the warm sun melted them quickly.  Now I had a nice supply of fresh water, fresh from the glacier.

It was time to wash my clothes.  The lower rock depression was filled with fresh water that was not quite drinking quality but perfectly fine for washing clothes. 

I rung out my underwear and socks in my Packtowl to remove as much water as possible.  I always carry a Packtowl for this purpose because it is the only fabric capable of pulling the water out of the fibers to the microscopic level. 

While the sun was still warm I hung them on my tent outside.  When the sun no longer warmed in the evening I hung them inside my tent.  Next morning I hung on top of my tent in bright sunshine.

During the next day while I read more of my Bible I would check them and rotate them as need be.  That night anything not completely dry I took to bed with me putting them against my skin to finish off drying them

If I had no other choice I would have rung the clothes out in the towel and put them against my body inside my clothes to dry over night.

I always take multiple layers of polyethylene underwear in its lightest weight just so that I can dry it as quickly as possible.

Interestingly enough I noticed that the barometric pressure has been zooming down one step at time to 29.75 inches Mercury at 21:00 but now it is rising.  I am not sure if this might be just the ice cap effect or if a low pressure system is coming in.  Also when the pressure starts rising often a storm begins.

Now I am on Upernavik icefjord but the bergs are well spaced out and the unstable bergs are not very close. 

One thing I noticed was that rock ramps can be found in seemingly most unlikely places.  I happened to find one on the southernmost tip of Qaneq Island called Qarngup nasigfia.  It leads a long way up to safety but I would not want to camp where there in only bare rock.  I think I saw some water running over the rock there as well.  This launch point would be quite exposed should there be waves from the southwest if a storm might happen to develop.

I use my GPS to determine direction because it is very easy to become confused things look like they are just over there but blueness shows distance when looking at far away islands.  I wanted to be sure of what I was looking at since I had nearly paddled back to Upernavik a few days ago because I thought my deck compass was showing me where north was.

The GPS is a welcome relief to use because it shows you true north not magnetic north.  Here the magnetic North Pole is just over there in Canada the magnetic deviation is quite sizeable.

Drinking water is challenge by I am fine here for the moment


August 14 2005 Sunday

At 11:00 even though there were cirrus or alto cirrus clouds coming in from the south over Sanderson’s Hope it is clear and there is no hat on it which means good weather is in the offing.  Bright sun shining is between clouds. 

Barometric pressure was steady last night but now it is climbing one step at a time 0.05 inches Hg.  It is now at 29.90 inches Mercury.  There is wind this morning.

I am drying my clothes, but unfortunately this is a slow process due to very cool wind coming off the water. 

There are drops of water from yesterday are still on my kayak deck at 09:00 which shows me that the dew point is high.

Drinking water is okay.  I am using the melt water that is filling the rock depression in front of my tent from the ice I gathered last night.

Today I am reading St. John and the operating instructions for my Garmin 76 GPS.  I find that to understand the operation instructions I have to sit down, read and work with them.  My finally learning what the GPS can do for me a nice step.  Who reads instructions anyway, only those guilt driven people such as myself who finally admit to themselves that they really ought to and have time on their hands.

Nothing like getting home and finding out “Gee I really wish I knew that back when!”  Sometimes it takes us a few decades to get to this point.  In my case it is over five.  Oops! I think I am admitting something.

St. John has answers to many of my questions.  I am glad that I am taking undisturbed time on alternate days from paddling to focus on doing some learning of the Bible. 

It is most interesting how much easier it is to paddle on just a few inches of rolling quilted wave patterned water. This reduces the hull friction markedly.

My nose is badly sunburned.  I should have devised some sort of protection for it.  I decided before I left that I did not want to use sunscreen because it dissolves the latex seals on my dry suit.  I was glad that I had made on my mosquito netting hat the opening on the netting adjustable. Unfortunately my netting protection did not protect my lip enough.  I did develop a canker sore on the inside and probably a cold sore on the outside which always cure very slowly.

My best socks turned out to be simple black nylon socks interesting to think about and my feet were very nicely dry all the time with or without water in my boots.

I should have thought of bringing some Vitamin C to add to the Gatorade.  Meals of 1.5 Chinese soup spoonfuls of raw hulled sesame seeds, two spoonfuls of Edge soy drink, 1.5 spoonfuls of sunflower seeds, 1.5 spoonfuls of Faern soy powder and one spoonful of yeast extract seems to hold me from morning until suppertime very nicely. 

Oddly enough I seem to tire easily when I walk but for paddling I am fine although I am paddling every other day.  Later in 2006, I discovered that my thyroid gland is under active.

It is still sunny at 15:00 29.90 inches Mercury clouds advancing.  It became very hot mid day so I was able to dry my clothes.

I hope that this tent is waterproof I have never actually been out in a rainstorm in this tent.  I have the feeling that rain is coming.

At 17:30 waves have arrived but there was no wind.  The sky had become more overcast but the barometric pressure is holding.  These waves are from weather on the outside.  I had the same wave situation when I was lowest in the fjords where they just reached my kayak at high time.

There are no waves at 18:00 the sky is all gray with a high ceiling and the same barometric pressure. Sanderson’s Hope is in full view below.


Quiet gray at 20:00 pressure is at 29.95 inches Mercury it has changed 0.05 inches Hg or one square on the graph.

I am becoming bored of this food I hate the dull taste with overtones in the dehydrated soups Ramen Oriental noodles have a more pleasing spicy flavor.

This cirque is a very warm area in the bright sun but there are no signs of habitation.  Probably the southwest exposure to the weather is a problem and it is not that grand a lookout and this bay could easily fill up with icebergs.

Food, I never feel especially hungry or weak but a larger variety of treats I would like.

The seat in my kayak needs to be raised up at least one inch and the foot pedals are starting to bother my arches I need to put shoe soles under the balls of my feet from my snow sneakers.

The foot pedals have moved forward again – not good because when they are slightly too far forward I find that I am hyper-extended my right knee which is tiresome.

I never did like the Klepper type of foot pedal clamp system it is too easy to accidentally dislodge the whole thing.  The only way to stop the pedals from sliding forward on the tapered keel board is to use a chunk of wood as a spacer between the pedal bracket and the rib. 

The kayak leaks through the stitching in the deck a quart of water a day.

Icebergs burst apart at 02:00 am sounding like thunder.

August 15th, 2005 Monday

10:30 30.05 inches Mercury light rain overcast with some orographic clouds over the mountains in the east and to the north showing the collision of outside and inside air masses. 

Not much wind and yes, the tent is waterproof.

I am not sure but I think it is better to make porridge ahead of time letting everything soak.  I absorb more nutrition from it and possibly via this fuller hydration am activating some of the growth enzymes in the raw sunflower seeds. 

I am spending the day reading.  I do not feel like going anywhere other than in my mind via reading and learning.  St. Paul to the Romans is not understandable unless I had already read the Psalms, St. Mathew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles in an undisturbed situation.  I find that I cannot just pick up from a few paragraphs exactly what he is referring to.  I need the background of what he means about being a Jew and what the Gentiles are. I finished Acts and found that this reading is giving me a much clearer understanding of Christianity when, who said it, where and under what circumstances.  I am glad to have this uninterrupted quiet time to do this learning because for me things have to have connections – things don’t just happen out of the clear blue. In Romans I now understand much of the Orthodox Christian concept of sin and the spiritual life a life not of the law or flesh where there is hope and reconciliation.

13:30 the sun is shining out from under the clouds light rain is stopping.  Note in this picture below that there are two layers of clouds.  The lowest bank is the fog


I have discovered that I have a leak in my outer bag with the bottom space blanket that was projecting out under my tent edge gathering water in the low spot.  My sleeping bag became wet.  I would have brought the space blanket up higher so that the water would drip into the ground.  I am glad it rained because this area was becoming too dry.

I am watching high cirrus clouds breaking apart thinning and low fog clouds are hanging among the mountains but it is open everywhere else.  I took a photo of the squall line of cold fog blowing at me from the northwest.


Cold air is coming in fog is developing and advancing now I can just see the very top of Sanderson’s Hope.

At 17:30 the barometric pressure has dropped two divisions or 0.1 inches mercury on my watch.



Some wind is blowing at about ten to fifteen knots.

I am worried that this might be a new storm as I am watching this fog aggressively blowing through the outer passage.  This could be one of those all too familiar nasty windstorms coming in from the outside.  I have experienced one of those nearly every time I have gone through Torssut passage where Umiaq Mountain is on the approach to Upernavik.

One time I was just sitting there across the way and the shroud of clouds atop the mountain on the opposite side started to swirling ends to it.  I grabbed my video camera and sure enough I got to watch a storm develop from nothing into a full fledged 40 knot windstorm.  The seas started to turn silver on the opposite side and continue across to my campsite I rushed about and tied and weighted down the edges of my tent and pulled my kayak higher up the bank and double tied it to some heavy boulders.  First it became warm and then it became cold hours later it stopped.  Glad I was on land in a somewhat protected area not in the middle of a crossing when that storm came in.

Now the sun is shining with patches of blue-sky.  Cirrocumulus clouds are showing to the south. 


The wind has slacked off and the barometric pressure is steady at 29.95 inches Mercury. 

At 18:30 the sun is out but there is a thick bank of fog over Nutarmiut Island stretching from Upernavik to the icecap obliterating the 940 meter high peak on Nutarmiut, Nalungiussaq, and the 1042 meter high peak, Sanderson’s Hope.


The lower islands nearer are visible.  I think I am in a lucky spot where not much fog comes in from the outside because of the dominant topography and passages dimensions.  That fog is very cold.  I am in the sunlight now.  I gathered more water.  The supply running out from the soil after the rain had already ceased running.  It was a lucky thing I happened to have corralled that chunk of ice when I first landed here because no ice has come in since then.

I restaked my tent and checked my kayak now because it is much easier to do this while it is still calm..

I repaired my failing pogies by stitching the openings up for a tighter fit on the paddle looms.  There is one spot where the seam and cloth is disintegrating.  I am finding that these pogies are too tight for my hands as well.  I stitched them where I hope it will close up the air leak but not make them any tighter on my hands.

No storm ever developed and now gray mist is filling in but icebergs are brilliant yellow in the bright sun.

It is a calm evening barometric pressure is at 29.95 inches Mercury at 21:15. 

It is interesting the air circulation pattern in these fjords.  Now the other side is fogbound.  Here it is still clear but the ceiling is dropping again on the 506-meter peak east on this island, Sisuarigsut. 


To the northeast on Qagsserssuaq peninsula are Qagsserssuit peak at 1040 meters and another peak at 1160 meters that is higher than Sanderson’s Hope of 1042 meters to the south-southwest of me near Upernavik.

August 16th 2005

At 03:30 am there is fog. Does this picture look like a fairy tale?  Well it is real.  I was there. This is one of the reasons why I like to paddle this far north in Greenland.  It is because of the light, the colors, the mountains, the rocks and the plants.


At 07:30 fog and barometric pressure is steady at 29.95 inches Mercury holding the same as yesterday. 

Now at 10:15 the fog is becoming even denser with pressure at 29:90 inches Mercury.  It is a cold morning and I am staying put.  I will just continue reading St. Paul while I wait for the weather to improve, if it does.  Who knows!

I just love that deck compass it is not at all reliable.  I am glad that I don’t have to run this fog just so that I be somewhere at a definite time!

Now the fog is even denser at 10:30 and pressure is at 29.90 inches Mercury – Oh boy!

At 13:00 the weather is clearing again and the distances are increasing.  I have decided that I can chance running in the fog. 

I figure that the visual distance between the bergs is enough to make it worth while.  Right now the visibility is about one nautical mile which is reasonable for this density of icebergs.

Looking at the map I figure that I can paddle from here to Aipee which is not in view in the picture above.  Then from that island to Aiparssuaq and find an iceberg that is easy to see at the bearing of 180° with my GPS.  Then I will paddle to that berg.  At that berg I will take the same bearing lining up on another a berg conveniently visible at that bearing reach that berg and just hop from berg to berg.  The total distance crossing to the other side is only about four miles. 

My strategy I am planning to paddle past Aipee Island which I ought to be able to easily see.  If I cannot see Aipee from the end of this island here then I will probably chicken out because Aipee is only a mile and a half from the end of this island. 

I also know that there are plenty of good camp sites on Puguta in several of the bays along the south side from what Bruce Simpson told me, although I have not actually looked at them in detail with my binoculars.

If the fog becomes too dense I would rather stick to this side rather than go wandering all over the place on the other side because I am not all that sure as to what is suitable to camp on over there.  It could be just rocks everywhere.

In this region some islands are used for keeping the sled dogs during the summer months. 

I notice that I am hearing the gulls.  I think that an indication that the fog maybe lifting is a resumption of gull activity, but then again I really don’t actually know this for a fact.  It might be my imagination suggesting that gulls behave in this way.

Just as I was leaving Sisuarigsut I came across this moment and could not resist capturing it.  Sun shining through ice is always very special.


I paddled past Aipee Island where I found on the southeast corner evidence of habitation.  The island is solid yellow rock very gently sloping to the water edge making it very easy to bring kayaks and dog sleds up.

From Aipee I paddled to Aiparssuaq Island.  Although I had paddled past Aiparssuaq when I initially left Puguta I only saw the north side of the island and I was focused with paddling east then paying no attention to this island. 

Now some how I really felt rather disconcerted because from the west side close up, this island did not seem to be quite as I expected it might be.  It was larger than I expected and looked like a square chunk of cake sticking out of the water with no place to land.  I could not readily see Puguta because I was on the south side of the island and it almost looked momentarily as though it was possible connected to Puguta which certainly could make no sense.  However I stuck with my plan and bearings.  When I made the south east corner of Aiparssuaq I could recognize that it was indeed an island and the last island to the east before I set off for the open crossing of Upernavik icefjord.

Then I choose to head due south 180°.  What I figured out I could was to use the icebergs in the fjord, going from berg to berg. 

First I will take a heading for the most distance readily visible berg at my chosen bearing of 180°.  Next I would shut off my GPS while I was paddling between bergs.  When I got to that berg turn on my GPS again and take another bearing for a berg at 180°.

180° is conveniently due south although in the fog that was completely absurd to think about but I was comfortable deluding myself with this brilliant concept that 180° is due south.  Will wonders ever cease might be said about that one. 

I wanted to be sure that I used my GPS as minimally as possible because I did not want to risk running my GPS batteries out. 

On this trip I had neither any replacements nor did I have any way to recharge my AA batteries.  By accident I experienced the brilliant moment of being careless.  I happened to leave my radio on discharging the second set of AA batteries in my radio. 

On my previous trips I always was much more careful about disconnecting batteries in my radio or tape player the moment I was not using it so that this sort of accident could not happen.  This was one of those moments in fine world of whatevers – how foolish.

Aipee to Aappilattoq map

Waypoint #65 at 13:30 is N72°57’46” W55°39’31” was my starting point off Aiparssuaq Island

I made my way through the icebergs on flat water in place I saw a current was setting east in the fog.  If anything happened to me nobody would know.  I was doing fine paddling from berg to berg. 

Then I came across this apparition. I saw a most minimal hovering image of weird black squiggly inverted L shaped lines sort of like one sided telephone poles up there in mid air almost as if they were very abstract dancing figures. 

These disconcerting hovering dancing figures were beyond my imagination.  I could feel this undeniable link between the works of nature and the spirit world that is very real here in the north. 

I kept paddling, it was absolutely quiet, there was not a ripple on the water.  Then my telephone poles came into reality as they materialized as this iceberg.  I really do regret that I did not snap a picture of that moment when the berg appeared as squiggly telephone poles in mid air.

I gave this iceberg wide berth because its jagged unstable shape.

This curious ice berg is obviously a dirty berg but luckily it was very stable because it was maybe about only thirty feet out of the water and not as so deeply serrated on the top as an unstable berg would be.  It was as you can see quite well compressed together.

Nothing happened it was absolutely quiet, not even dripping water.  The fog was like a cocoon, no bergs broke up or exploded.  I was surprised to find fog could be so stabilizing to icebergs. 

Waypoint #66 at 14:46 is N72°55’69” W55°38’16” blue-black iceberg during crossing to Aappilattoq

I snapped this picture as I passed by this unusual iceberg, and then I sort of guessed how far out of my heading I must be and made up for it so that I would stay on my heading of 180.  I did not want to deviate much at all from this heading because I feared I might wind up somewhere else lost instead of my goal Aappilattoq.


Of my entire trip I think this iceberg was the highlight.

I had to pay attention to both keeping my heading on a distant berg and dodging ice bits right in front of me.  I did not pay attention to the bits immediately off my bow, there they were right in front of me.

Waypoint #67 N72°53’56”W55°37’04” was near an interesting an island, one of the Inugsulik Islands, on the way to Aappilattoq.  I heard this little tell tale cry, then another and another.  Sure enough it was them alright. Nobody else has a voice like that.  Those little dive bombers with the sharp black beaks, pointed wings and forked tails.

Needless to say, I found that I could not see any land until I was one or two hundred feet away.

On the north side of the Inugsulik Islands was a large number of nesting terns defending their territory as I neared.  Funny thing, they did not like me.  I can’t imagine why.  I did not stick around to find out.  I assiduously just kept on paddling.  I already knew what would be in store if I got to close.  There is nothing like being dive-bombed by some distraught terns.

“That is alright” I said to myself, “I am not going there anyway not with those guys there, forget that idea!  I am paddling over here, not over there.  You stay over there and I will stay over here.  See you, bye!”

Just after that island was another smaller island belonging to the group.  I was slightly tempted to stop and get out in the fog until I happened to notice something was a little bit odd.  Just as I was approaching I noticed that I was hearing lots of dogs barking.

At first I thought that the dogs are just over there, somewhere, at Aappilattoq. 

But then again there was just a slight problem. What I was hearing were too many dogs that were too close together.  In any village dogs are not that close together in such a large number.

The most revealing factor was that their voices were too distinct for them to be at all far away, so it was impossible that they were at Aappilattoq which I could not even see and by the map had to be another mile away.  There was no doubt according to my ears that the dogs were right here – only where? 

It was a lucky thing that I did not happen to land in the fog on either of those islands because sure enough there were the dogs. 

Interestingly enough it looked like all of them were tied up.  The last thing I would want to face is some sled dogs, hungry or not.

Off Upernavik they traditionally let their sled dogs loose on islands.  In 1992 I had a close call on Lang / Akia Island where I spotted just in the nick of time some loose sled dogs.

Waypoint #68 at 15:38 #068 N72°53’32” W55°36’23” is near the approach to Aappilattoq

Waypoints #72 at 16:08 #071 N72°52’41” W55°35’57” are at Aappilattoq

I wish that I had figured out how to make my man overboard point waypoint #33 August 13, 3003 N 72°52.971, W 55°35.866 near Adam Grim’s house on Aappilattoq.  Somehow I have to read instructions first before trying that.  It would be the “man overboard” function.  But then again I would have missed all the drama of hunting out the next iceberg while religiously following my heading, 180°.  It would have been just too easy when the alarm went off and there I was at my destination.

Before I got started I should have thought to orient the map in the direction I was traveling.  When I came upon my first island, Miaggorfik, which was on my left and the next island Inugsulik on my right with its western peninsula in line with my goal Aappilattoq that would be at 160°. 

I really did not expect the fog to so thick.

Before I left I should have figured out this actual heading between Inugsulik and Aappilattoq because I wound up over compensating heading more eastward n the fog.  I knew that I remained on the 180° course I would miss Aappilattoq all together.  I arrived at the island but was such a distance from the town that I had to follow the coast around the various bays until I reached the town.

The only indicators I had was one motorboat out on the water heading into one of the bays.  The town is very hard to spot from the east  no sound carries over the water, nothing to indicate its presence until you round the corner and are right on it.  Believe me I know just how tricky this town is to find because I have already had this exact same experience in 2003.  I thought it would be perfectly safe to just follow the entire north coast of the island.  At the end of one of its peninsulas I almost made a crossing to another island because confusion was setting into my tired mind.

I slogged along the coast going from inlet to inlet.  I was really becoming worried as to “where is it?”  Then the thought “surely this should be it by now” kept playing in my head.  As I continued from peninsula to peninsula the thought came “well it has to be the next one”. 

I was feeling exasperated because finding Aappilattoq was starting to take forever.

Fear started with “but this has to be Aappilattoq Island” crept into my consciousness. 

The “Gee I wonders” started developing in my mind until finally, as you might guess from this picture below, I came upon Aappilattoq when I was right on top of it.

Sound carries well on the water but it only carries in a straight line.  Aappilattoq is nicely nestled on its north side to a peninsula high enough to cut off sound.  I could not hear the diesel electricity generators until I was directly in front of town.

I have to laugh when I look at this picture below because my deck compass is telling me that I am heading 195° south when actually I am heading about 150° east.  That compass could have told me the moon is made of green cheese too! It would have been about the same.


Note the grey birds in this photo below that resemble gulls.  These are northern fulmars gliding over the water because they are feeding on the effluent of fish particles from the fish factory.  .  What makes them look much different is their straight wings.


At Aappilattoq I would have stopped on a ramp below Ole Grim’s house in town where I always stop.  Instead I paddled past the town, Aappilattoq, because I did not think Adam Grim was home and I could not think of anyone else whom I know well enough to just drop in for a visit so I just kept paddling by. 

It is complicated coming into a town in a kayak.

I must have looked really weird coming out of the fog, paddling by and not stopping.  There I was dressed in my baseball hat, mosquito netting mostly covering my face and my balaclava hood.  Here I am in this nonsensical vision in a wide bright red kayak complete with rudder no less.  I am paddling with wide blade, short length, whitewater paddle that looked not at all like a Greenlander’s paddle.

I bet everyone thought “Now I have seen everything, I wonder what else will come out of the fog!”

Of course some would have remembered me from all my past visits in one of my red kayaks.  “It is an American what do you expect!” I bet they thought to themselves.

I went on southward another quarter of a mile to Asseritoq where I had an old standing invitation to visit Mathias Løvstrøm and Bente Schneider at their home and tourist camp.

I landed on some gently rounded dome pulled my kayak up on the rollers and proceeded to unload the essentials.

Matias spotted me and invited me to the house for the usual round of coffee all Greenlanders offer. 

I was having a very special time with Matias and Bente. 

Matias and I happen to be born on the same day and year which makes things even more special.  In Greenland birthdays in common are very important especially if in the same year.  “Vi er twiling” which means in English “We are twins”.

We sat and planned some flower and berry gathering trips. 

With Matias I talked about quickly Greenland culture is now disappearing. 

I hope to record Matias on video to preserve what is soon to be gone. 

He talked about living in a tiny wooden house with six to eight people all sleeping in the tiny space lined up like logs.  I always wondered how people could handle living like this.  To Matias this old life was perfectly acceptable.

He told me about the trauma when his father a Dane had to go for tuberculosis treatment leaving his mother caring and providing for all the children when Matias was only thirteen.  He showed me his hands, how large they were from hard work.  How strong his back, arms and hands became from pulling heavy nets alone in a sailing yawl that he rowed.  He told me about all the things he figured out to do to earn some money to give Christmas gifts to the family and friends.   He was always figuring out making and selling things, hunting and fishing. His mother was especially capable because she would sail alone this yawl. 

I somehow after all these years never realized that even at thirteen Matias depended on his kayak for hunting and fishing.  He mentioned to me that the bay called Patoq off the island is always a good quiet spot out of the wind to go fishing from his kayak.  He told me the same trick I knew when paddling.  To avoid the wind avoid the riffles on flat water.  Go from flat area to flat area.

At Patoq he used to come in and walk over to the other side rather than go all the way around because this way was a shortcut to his house at Serfalivik.

I asked him about how one handles those unavoidable issues that inevitably arise when living is such close quarters such as a person’s odor were not considered as anything other than that is life – accept it. 

Now people’s opinion depending on where they live, of what amount of crowding is acceptable is very different.  In Kullorsuaq there are houses at this time where people sleep in shifts because there is such a severe lack of housing. 

Believe me the contrast between life in Upernavik, a big town, and Kullorsuaq, a very small settlement, or worse yet, where there are no waterlines and all water is carried on someone’s back to each house, is like night and day.  I have lived in both.

When Ruber / Ptarmigan are around Matias shoots them from the windows of his house.  He loves eating them as do I.  I used to hunt them in Kullorsuaq but when I got to Upernavik, nobody eats them there.  Wow what those Upernavik people are missing. 

I was delighted to find that here in this area Ammassat, a type of smelt, run in July and October into November.  I did not know that they came in this far inside the fjords even though they come into Upernavik.  Niels Møler used to net them in Upernavik.

Ammassat are netted and dried or can be fried fresh.  These are a universal arctic fish.  People do the same with them in Barrow Alaska and the saying is “you can never eat enough of them” which for me is true.

Guillemots are edible, something I did not know.

Then Adam Grim arrived and Adam said the weather forecast was for snow in the morning – very doubtful.  I thought to myself I think I got here just in time I don’t like fall storms and it sounds like they are beginning.  August is notorious for nasty unstable weather September is even worse.

Adam Grim told me that he takes his family to the fangsthus on Puguta every spring.  That explains why I found so many remains of fishing lines and seal nets there.

August 17th

07:00 29.90 inches Mercury the area was clearer earlier but now white fog is developing.

Bente Schneider & Mathias Løvstrøm, Asseritoq, B1494 Aappilattoq, 3962 Upernavik GREENLAND phone 01 299 590 448 offer several different tours.  They do not think that they can continue their business next year, 2006, because Greenland Home Rule has discontinued the coastal ferry.

Here at Asseritoq there are a number of sod house remains where people who still live in this area grew up.  All that remains of these sod houses are a very low thin line of sod.  Many of these people who are old friends of Matias have very fond memories of living here as children. 

Asseritoq offers a beautiful view toward Upernavik.

Matias grew up in Serfalivik, which is where the island, Aupilagtoq had its first bygt or settlement.  Where Asseritoq is was inhabited before Aappilattoq was established.

Today was a day that the sun did not break through until noon but it clouded in and the temperature lowered to 4 C and at 21:00 the fog mist was unpleasantly cold.

It is a good thing I got here when I did because it is nasty outside the fog has come again as a low ceiling with wind from the north pressure is very steady at 29.90 inches Mercury and it seems as though the warm weather has gone away.

I washed some of my odiferous clothes hanging inside next to the heater on some constructed tent pole arrangement.

Halibut gravid is made with some mustard 3x sugar 1 x salt some celery or dill seed on raw ¾ inch thick fillet   with the skin on.  Put two days in the refrigerator covered with air tight covering.

From here I can look six to seven miles across the Icefjord / Ikeq at Puguta Island now it just looks like it is over there in this refractory atmospheric condition, yet for me the crossing using GPS in the fog was a great accomplishment for me to trust that instrument.

August 18, 2005 Thursday

The barometric pressure is very low, 29.80 inches Mercury, the graph shows it chanting 0.05 inches Mercury every four hours.  I am glad I am in a safe place.  I just have the feeling some wind is coming in, soon.

The morning was sunny morning but now the ceiling is low. There is light wind from the north on the water probably the ice cap.


It was fun watching Matias prepare halibut last night.  He really enjoys cooking.

I slept well on a flat bed without crashes and booms of bursting icebergs, something a little different than sliding out of my tent halfway or most of the way out under the door while the bergs are rumbling outside.  For those priceless moments in camping, there is nothing like vague, occasionally wiggling appendages projecting out from a nylon pyramid.  Floorless tents do have their qualities, you know.  Ah another visual organic moment one never gets to experience while sleeping on a flat bed inside a cabin.

I was very glad that I got my own supply of ice yesterday to melt for water on top of the heater rather than to burden Bente and Matias with this labor. 

I was most interested about how Inuit preserve greens during the winter.  Matias’ mother used to preserve for winter Epilobium leaves and flowers with seal fat covering them in a jar. 

I always wanted to talk with someone who really knew about sod house construction and had lived in one. Matias explained to me that a sod house is built with a piece of sod upon a flat piece of stone as alternating layers and the roof is of wood and or whale ribs.  The roof structure was covered with old kayak skins that were overlaid with sod to form an insulated layer.  Kayak skins had to be protected from the dogs, the sun and intense drying during the winter which would cause them to shrink so greatly that they could not be used again.  These houses are very warm and easy to heat with a seal fat lamp elliptical about 18 inches long.

I met Ivalu a friend of Matias from one of the bygter.  I told them the great never to be forgotten story about life in Kullorsuaq.  Kullorsuaq being the most northerly bygt in Upernavik commune gets to have quite a reputation because things just are a little more likely to be extreme there.  The story is that they had used up all their toilet paper throughout the town and what ever else they could find.  So finally the last thing to go for toilet paper was coffee filters.  So every time I see a coffee filter I think of those good old days in Kullorsuaq and what coffee filters were ultimately sacrificed for.

When I told Ivalu and Matias the story of what people used coffee filters for in Kullorsuaq they could not stop laughing.  This was the first time I actually saw a couple Greenlanders totally loose it.  They just laughed and laughed.  Everybody knows for Kullorsuaq this just had to be true but imaging it made it all the funnier.  All those poor coffee filters and their last moments in Kullorsuaq.  At least it wasn’t pine cones or mullein leaves!

We had a nice day berry picking with Matias and Ivalu.  Matias took us in his motor boat just a short distance to Uigordlia Island on the eastern end south facing stone cliffs for berries and picked Black crowberries and blueberries for the entire day. 

I have paddled by this white feldspar island since 1992 whenever I have left Aappilattoq.  In the crystal clear water on the white feldspar I happened to have noticed a lovely population of sea urchins.  I always made it a point to stop and fish them up on my paddle.  I would open them and eat their gonads.  Wow what a feast, nothing like fresh uni.

This time I did not spare them either.  I grabbed a number of these little treasures, the sea urchins at low tide and feasted on their gonads.  I ate a dozen of them.  Matias and Ivalu looked on thinking I was some sort of nut.  Strange as it may seem Matias never knew that sea urchin eggs were only the finest eating imaginable.

I had hoped that Royal Greenland might expand into harvesting uni / sea urchin eggs for the Japanese food market but, so far, they have not considered this market.  People in Greenland need more sources of income than they currently have.  Matias happens to be gifted and resourceful.  He has found a niche market for smoked halibut locally.

I took some pictures of Campanula, which is usually found growing at the bottom of high cliffs.


Matias is planning to take me to Upernavik if the fog is not as thick as is forecast.  The weather forecast is for wind to blow at 50 meters per second tomorrow.  That is very strong wind.  This is typical of late August weather.

It has been much colder since I got off the water I can’t believe that this is August.  I am glad that I am in doors with good friends rather than freezing in my tent.

There are very few blueberries this year.

Matias confirmed to me that he eats Oxytropis, his mother used to prepare it to keep for the winter eating in January.  She probably put the leaves under seal fat.  I am not sure if Pyrola is edible it is in the wintergreen family.

Matias mentioned that eating frozen meat, such as seal and whale, is the major source of vitamins and that he can feel the difference.  This is well known.  The amount of iron in these meats is very important for keeping people warm.  The type of Omega 3 fatty acids in the blubber keeps people healthy and warm.

I knew that the Inuit in the Thule area consume the contents or Ptarmigan crops.  When I was in Kullorsuaq we ate those bits of willow and plants in the crops from Ptarmigan I shot.  I was greatly interested to find out that Matias and his people also ate the contents of Ruber / Ptarmigan crops.  I already knew that this was the only source of non preserved vegetable matter Inuit ate during winter months.

Matias told me that his people would keep the smooth stones, which are in the Ptarmigan’s gizzard that grinds the contents of the crop in preparation for digestion.  These stones could act like prisms diffracting light if they happen to be the mineral, quartz, calcite and other similar character minerals.

In Greenland there is an Olivine mine has been just been opened near Manitsoq.  Greenland is rich in minerals.  Diamonds have been found near Kangerlussuaq.  Gold has been found near Kullorsuaq.

For dinner Matias made fish balls are made from halibut.  He ground for the balls he ground most of the halibut like hamburger but he set some aside as quarter inch chunks.  He mixed together two eggs, bread crumbs, a powdered barbeque spice mix of onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Then he mixed all together and made into balls with a large soup spoon dipped into water.   Then he fried the balls in a mix of butter and oil on the top of his oil heater.  This was a tasty dinner and it might sound silly that I recorded this recipe but Matias happens to be an excellent cook and once was a chef.  I treasure knowing this information.

I had to laugh to myself as I watched Matias cooking on the oil heater because I would have done exactly the same.  I noticed that these oil heaters all have very convenient cook tops on them.  I would not think of wasting energy using a propane or electric stove if I had an oil heater available. 

The joy of these oil heaters is that they only require oil not electricity.  When I lived in Kullorsuaq there were some moments when our town generator shut down because it was over heating and would automatically shut off all electricity in town shut off along with our electrically controlled furnace.  There was a situation in Tussaq when something like six months went by before their town generator was repaired.   

Any Greenlander in this area will tell you that the best water comes from melted glacial ice is the best for drinking and cooking.  This is the only water Matias uses.  Chunks of ice are brought in by the wind, when the wind is right, into a little bay below his house.  He goes down and collects it. 

Every day I went down to the shore and collected ice chunks that I melted on top of my oil heater in the cabin I was staying in for water to save Matias the labor. 

In that same spot also looked for and found some mussels which I gathered at low tide, cook and ate with great relish.  Arctic shellfish, mussels and clams, are absolutely delicious and better eating because unlike shellfish in New England, they fill theirs shells completely.

Just as I did when I lived in Kullorsuaq I planned my water use before I decided to wash clothes, wash myself make tea and cook.  I would always keep an eye on how much water was in the storage jugs before I started to use the water.  I always wanted water for tea at least.

Now there is a cold mist so cold that my hands grew numb while I was outside.  At 17:00 Barometric pressure was 29.70 inches Mercury it had risen 0.05 inches Mercury for a short time. 

For tomorrow there was a forecast for strong wind from the north.  Matias was going to take me to Upernavik.  I was concerned about how we would do this.


August 19, 2005 Friday

The morning is relatively clear at 08:00 and the cloud cover is above Sanderson’s Hope.  Now at 09:00 the ceiling is dropping with a graduated fog coming down 29.70 inches Mercury interestingly low pressure.  The forecast for southern Greenland is for stormy weather. 

Today is a gray day I am lucky I saw the sunset last night. 

At 09:45 there was a stratus cloud layer is starting to develop over lower sections at about 600 to 470 meters on Qaersorssuaq Island.

Matias took me to Upernavik.

On the water in a motorboat I wore three layers of underwear one of quilted nylon and next to my skin two layers of light weight polyethylene a fisherman’s sweater and outer waterproof jacket and pants.  I borrowed a pair of insulated windproof gloves.  My clothing was too easily compressed by the wind because this clothing had been planned for both warmth and flexible layers beneath my drysuit.  I knew that in a motorboat I would have to hunker down out of the wind to stay warm.

Most Greenlanders wear heavy nylon insulated jumpsuits for motor boating. 

On our way to Upernavik near a little granite dome island near Ikermiut Island, I saw hooded gulls maybe Kittiwakes or Pomarine Jaegers.  I saw also a blue fox.

While I was in Upernavik I saw Gaba Petersen.  Gaba comes to Upernavik for commune meetings representing Aappilattoq.  It seems that every time from year to year when I come to Upernavik I always seem to see him.  We are always so happy to see each other.  It is people like him that make me so glad to be back once again. 

In 1992 it was Gaba who was one of the very kind fellows who cheered me in my red kayak as he and the other fellows in town met me near the pier the first time I came to Aappilattoq. 

He speaks Greenlandic, Danish and even English.  He so kindly directed me the best place to land my kayak.  I have always been most grateful for his help and instant friendship when I landed at Aappilattoq for my first visit. 

When Matias and I left Upernavik the waves were two feet from the north.  We went the so-called back way, going south in front of town, past the museum and the dump around the corner into flat water between Upernavik and Lange Island.  From there we headed across a short expanse of open water toward Atiligssuaq Island into Torssut passage another sheltered spot.

Within Torssut we stopped in the first bay where Matias showed me the area of mineral strata on the south side of Atiligssuaq Island that is very rich in Zinc.  This deposit of zinc continued to the 470 meter peak on the nearly straight up and down sided island, Qaersorssuaq, on the opposite side. 

Although I have paddled this interesting passage, Torssut, many times I never knew about this zinc deposit.  The wonder of traveling with Matias is learning, the why, to what I am seeing. 

The next day he showed me pieces of Moonstone, Plagioclase feldspar bluish white translucent but not transparent pieces of stone.  He found Moonstone on top of Uigordlia where we picked liters of crowberries for winter cooking.  I think some of the pebbles found in ptarmigan gizzards might have been of this material from the way Matias described their translucence.

As we crossed open water from Torssut passage we avoided the waves by going close to the south side of Angmaussarssuaq Island.  This island has the brown and white stratum which also shows on Atiligssuaq and Qaersorssuaq islands. 

We left Torssut and made it to Angmaussarssuaq Island an then to Aappilattoq without any huge waves crossing our bow. 

Although I would have liked to visit the southern end of Aappilattoq Island where I camped in 1993, we did not because we were anxious about getting home and away from the wind.

The southern end of Aappilattoq, Ilorrit, was interesting because you could just pull your kayak or dogsled right up on shore.  The rocks were yellow very shallow domes perfect for landing, however I never did find where there might have been any water.  I did find some graves nested next to the vertical surfaces of the rocks a few hundred meters inland.  I had the feeling because of the wonderful view and landing conditions that this area had once been heavily used. But perhaps it was inhabited only when ice could be captured for water.

On Aappilattoq we came to Patoq Bay on Aappilattoq Island where we stopped.  Here, Matias told me about how important this bay, Patoq, was to him because this was a great spot for hunting and fishing out of his kayak or any boat because the water would be calm here while everywhere else could waves. 

I had to laugh to myself as I noticed that we were running between the cat’s paws to avoid the wind. Then Matias told me that he always did this in his kayak.  I was delighted to hear that Matias kayak strategies were the same as my own.

On my return from Laksefjorden in 1993 I discovered this same trick.  I was paddling a long straight passage flanked by high cliffs on both sides, Torssukatak passage returning from Eqalugarssuit / Laksefjorden fjord when the thought came to mind as to how I could conserve energy in my kayak.  Then the idea came to me where it is flat there is probably no wind unless the water happens to be being blown flat by the wind. 

I experimented and my effort was rewarded the energy I expended paddling the extra distance put on by zigzagging from flat area to flat area far outweighed slugging it out paddling in a dead straight line. 

I found it great fun experimenting with what angle was the best between flat spots so that I would catch the least wind and make the best progress.  This challenge was much more fun and far less boring than shooting for the perfect geometrical solution for shortest distance by slogging it out paddling in an absolute straight line.  This is one of those moments “in fine paddling” when being tough is just dumb.  I really do not paddle for exercise, I paddle to get to a place; on the way I paddle to explore and experiment in between

For hunting with a rifle or harpoon from the kayak flat water is important. 

Matias told me that he used to cross overland at Patoq to get home because the overland distance across the island here is short and easy to cross on foot. 

The depth in Patoq is 600 meters good for catching halibut.

Matias told me that there is a lake, which was open in the 1950’s and now has filled in with vegetation east of Patoq.  I do not know why this happened but it was an interesting thing to think about since nobody lives in this area human impact can be discounted.

I was very glad to be able to ask Matias how they drive dogsleds over the notoriously thin treacherous ice between Aappilattoq and Upernavik.  The ice near Upernavik is very well known for being extremely dangerous because of those seven knot currents that whistle around the islands in among the deep fjords of that area and the warmer winter climate. 

He told me that Torssut is passable on the ice with full moon if the current is not strong.  The current can make the ice very thick or thin.  The current is strongest on the south side but the current is also strong on the north side. 

I asked Martin Hjort, H.C.’s son, how he drives dogsled over the ice because I knew that HC, his father, used to drive dogsled.  He told me that he drives his dogsled according to the color of the ice. 

With my kayak I found paddling in the current either way quite obvious.  When the current is with me I can make the twenty-mile trip easily because the current is pushing me along. 

I had plenty of time in my cabin to do paperwork projects.  I discovered my aeronautical protractor does fine.  Until now I never have sat down with it and really looked at it.  It has a scale of 1:250 that corresponds with my 1:250 Saga chart.  I related my GPS reading to the map but still this project was difficult because of the definition being in seconds and hundredths of seconds.

At 22:00 29.55 inches Mercury the barometer dropped two steps I have not seen such a drastic drop in pressure this must be associated with the strong low-pressure system mentioned I the weather forecast.  Adam who has a captain’s license told me that usually the forecasted weather reaches Aappilattoq a couple days after it is forecast.  This explained why Matias was going to Upernavik when he went whereas with that forecast I would have stayed home.  Local knowledge is very handy to have. 

August 20, 2005, Saturday

Gray morning at 08:00 the barometric pressure is at 29.40 inches Mercury holding steady with a 0.05 inch drop.  There is some wind but not much.  Although it is clear there is low ceiling and I can’t see the mountain tops.

At 09:00 the pressure is steady at 29.40 inches Mercury and at 21:30 the pressure is at 29.50 inches Mercury.  The barometer went down 0.10 inches mercury and it is not rising. 

Right now fishermen are catching Havkat / Sea Cat in Sortehulle / Akornat passage.

I am glad that Matias took me to Upernavik yesterday so that I would talk with David Thorliefsen and Bo Albrechtsen at the museum.

In Aappilattoq I visited Adam Grim at his house.  We enjoyed our usual computer discussions and now he has a nice Acer laptop although it does not fire wire it does have a built-in DVD burner which I thought was good.

I asked about how he stores information and he is relying on cards for memory storage.   In some ways I worry about this system because these cards are so small it is easy to loose them.  But then again they are more portable than my external storage system.

When I was at Adam’s house we looked at the weather forecast on his computer. The forecast said that there is low pressure off the west coast for the next several days according to DPI and Weather Underground.

Last in May, Adam Grim and Ole his half brother shot a polar bear out on the ice miles about 30 miles west of Upernavik.  It took them six hours to bring it back to town because it was so late in the ice season.  They had to do a lot of skirting around open water and dealing with bergs and pressure ridges. 

As usual we looked at these pictures of his polar bear hunt on his computer.  If there is one place in the world were people really appreciate digital cameras it is in Greenland because the results are instantaneous, so much easier to handle than film images and can be put on the internet to share with the world.  Adam has a webpage. 

Looking at his polar bear hunting shots I could clearly see that there was open water here and there.  Showing me what it looks like to be out on the ice far from land.  This is something I have not done yet and I am quite reluctant to do.

I have heard the hunters’ stores of what it feels like to be out on the ice when there is a storm somewhere miles away but I have not really seen pictures of hunting out on the ice.  The brilliant light in May fascinated me because you are surrounded by intense bright white light everywhere except where there is open water a place you don’t want to be on your snow mobile.

Adam Grim paddled a kayak when he was ten to fourteen years every summer when they went to stay on Aipee Island.   This island is in sight of Aappilattoq.  When they caught seal they would make a smoky fire to notify the people at Aappilattoq to come over and get the seal or if they wanted to go home.

Matias paddled a kayak but he did row an umiaq as others in his village did, however his mother had a sailing skiff.  He rowed this skiff alone and with his mother since he was a child, which he explained to me is why he has such large shoulders from having done hard work.  He and his mother would sail the skiff when conditions permitted.  His mother often sailed the skiff alone.

Back at Asseritoq Matias was preparing to smoke fish.  He begins by filleting the fish removing the bones but leaving the skin on, he rinses the fillets in seawater and then he coats them with salt that has Iodine in it.  He leaves the fillets overnight laying them on dry wood boards covered with plastic weighed down with ¾ to 1-inch thick wood slab to squeeze the water out of the fillets.  Then he rinses them again in seawater. 


Next he lays them flat on dry wood slats covering them in his enclosed wood structure smoking chamber that has breathing holes for ventilation. 

In preparation for smoking halibut I watched Matias handle the Empetrum nigrum / Black Crowberry and to select the best branches.  He spent time peeling off small pieces wrapping them together.  To accelerate the burn he would add into the burning chamber the dryer brown pieces lighting them with a match just as Greenland women do when cooking.  Burning these green plants requires constant attention so before lighting any fire the plants are sorted and prepared according to what would be needed to maintain the fire at the desired level.  These plants can just burn up very quickly so for smoking purposes it is important to gather them into clumps and reserving shredded bits of leaves for slow cold smoking into discreet piles a handful for each hour of smoking.

Upv '05 15x11 8-20 2114 compressed

He lights a small fire of Empetrum nigrum / Crowberry using only small branches separated into a clump pushed into a four foot long pipe about six inches in diameter set on about a 10 degree climbing angle.  At the end of this pipe there is another pipe also set at about the same climbing angle that is slightly larger, about ten inches diameter, with a ventilation hole to allow for a feed of cold air and a small hole in the top to check for volume of smoke.


After first burning at just a smolder some handfuls of green branches stuffed two feet into the open end of the climbing hill smoker.  He continues with a combination of green and dry brown branches for the next six hours.  He adjusts the ventilation around the fish to just let the smoke penetrate slowly and to go out through the second chamber. 


Today is cool and overcast, this cold air is important for keeping the smoking process cold.  The second four-foot section of pipe is covered with dirt and leads into the first chamber.


Cold smoked fish is laid on dry slats of fir that is used in making packing crates.

The fish has larger spaces between the boards to let the smoke exit more quickly because this fish is spiced with dill requiring even cooler smoking.  Monitoring and control is the trick!

Thoroughly cool smoke leaves pale tan particles on the white-fleshed fish fillets.  After 24 hours of smoking the raw fish is well smoked.  The unseasoned fish is in the first chamber then it is moved to the second chamber and meat for hot smoking is placed into the first chamber. 


Matias is experimenting with dehydrating crab legs in dry cold without oxygen the meat becomes brown needles.  He showed me how he convert his system for hot smoking using 8 hours burning plants in the first four foot section of pipe six inch diameter feeds into the floor of the first hot chamber as hot smoke then it goes beneath the floor and comes out in the rear portion of the second chamber.

Ammassat are hot smoked hung by their gills and meat is hung on hooks.

In the picture below is Matias with his box of smoked halibut that he will take and sell in Upernavik.  These delicious smoked fish sell in a matter of minutes.  People are just waiting for Matias to arrive.


Sunday August 21 2005,

I awoke to strong wind blowing from the southwest the barometric pressure climbed in steady steps up to 29.65 inches Mercury clouds are angry looking.  There is what is called a cooling wind of +25 knots equivalent to 23 meters per second.

This is first strong wind storm (cooling wind) the since I have arrived.

The sun is very bright even though it is windy.

20:45 barometric pressure 29.80 inches Mercury steady climb all day Today is warm but the wind is blowing there was snow at the 940 meter height and clouds are still on top of the 940 and Sanderson’s.  There is a large amount of clear blue sky. 

This is what +25 knots or 23 meters per second / cooling wind looks like.  You better believe it is nasty over in Upernavik where they are getting its full brunt.  Notice how the clouds are pouring over Qaersorssuaq island from the outside but Umiaq mountain is still exposed.  I have seen this phenomena when I was in my kayak and when I was camping over there near Umiaq mountain.  It was not pleasant.  I am glad I am over here in a wooden cabin where I do not have to listen to hours on end of slating tent fabric.

You can see from this picture what I mean about being down in the protected fjords.  The shear mass and density of the cold air that sits over the icecap often deters the invasion of low pressure systems and windstorms from Baffin Bay.


Matias and Bente are planning to go to Upernavik on Tuesday because the evening wind is supposed to switch around. 

I am not going to see the back side of Aappilattoq Island again because I would rather not deal with the wind that is forecast for the next few days.


I wish I had taken apart my kayak yesterday when it was calm I do not like letting my kayak sitting on the rocks exposed to the wind. 

Now was the time to fold up my kayak it was a warm sunny moment to deal the complex task of properly take my kayak apart and pack it for the flight home.  I did not want to leave it out there on the rocks any longer especially in this wind that in a moment could just roll it over possibly damaging it.

Matias told about how they preserved food starting in late July they would find a depression and surround it with stones or even dig down to permafrost layer.  They would wrap each fish, Fjord Torsk / Cod, in seaweed and seal fat. 

Seal meat would be dried in five different ways, each way being drier to be used later in the year through the spring months.  The first type of dry meat for use soonest was only partially dried and wrapped in seal fat.  The plain dried meat was thick and the last of the dried seal meat was thin and very hard capable of lasting in this state of dryness for years.

Eggs were collected in mid June and put into a cold hole where they stayed until mid November then they would taste fine.

Of the ducks the legs and backs were eaten immediately and the breasts were dried and stored in a cold hole.  The dry cold places suitable for storage of dried food was at the base of north facing cliffs covered with rocks. 

Dry holes were specially chosen because if the hole were wet filling the hole with large flat stones to cover the food and keep animals out the rocks could possibly freeze down so that they could not be lifted out.  The flat rocks had to be specially cantilevered downward on the inside to make their removal difficult for animals such as fox and bear.

Food was stored in sealskins. 

Large seal intestines like sausages were cleaned out regular food such as coffee, flour and sugar was stored in them and worn around the neck looped under the arm to also act as insulation under an anorak. 

Containers were made from seal stomach and bladder and ptarmigan crops.

Sewing thread was made from back sinews of whales chin to stomach sinew of large seal they would be torn or cut in 1.5 to 2 meter lengths with an ulu / woman’s knife.

The most important item for a woman was a needle and thread.

This evening was the final day before the sun actually set.  I happened to take this picture from the porch of my cabin with the sun behind Matias house and of the mountain.  The mountain is illuminated with yellow to pink light which is very typical of long light in Greenland at 22:15 in the evening.


August 22, 2005 Monday

At 09:00 the barometric pressure is at 29.90 inches Mercury steady rise in pressure.  The sun is shining intensely Sanderson’s Hope is clearly visible and the clouds are altocumulus with no wind.

11:00 clouds are coming in again enveloping Sanderson’s as predicted.

Matias took us picking Black Crow berries and Blue berries.  We picked them on a large rise that looks straight into Torssut.  I saw many interesting minerals I never noticed before.

At 21:45 the barometric pressure is at 29.90 inches Mercury it is fairly stable no wind only 5 knots. 

I talked with Bente about house designs available to Greenlanders brought up on ships.  She told me that their cape which is the first type of design is not as good as Ole Thorliefsen’s one story with large windows ranch style house.  I think it is the insulation that is the factor rather than the shape of the structure, although in a cape the heat will rise upstairs.  If I were them, I would close off the upstairs unless they have to use it.

When it comes to building a house Greenlanders have their family help them because they are not able to build a house by themselves.  The houses arrive in stacks of lumber with written instructions, which means that the builder has had some previous knowledge of home construction.

In Kullorsuaq Lars Jensen’s house because the bottom was not closed well enough the snow would blow up inside the walls and come out on the floor of the second floor.

At 23:00 the light is pink gray. The clouds are to the southwest over Nutarmiut, Qaersorssuaq islands with smaller islands in the foreground.


I was very surprised to find so many interesting minerals on the west side of Aappilattoq that I never noticed before.  In close examination many more showed up than I ever knew of.

The range of feldspar colors is from white to very dark pink even to blood red in this area. 

This view is more westerly than the photo above to show the incoming clouds over Umiaq Mountain, not far from Upernavik.  The next day strong wind blew. 


August 23, Tuesday

I awoke to see some of the most threatening clouds I have ever seen over toward Upernavik in the west with a strong wind of 20 to 25 knots from the east off the ice cap.  No wonder I feel ill at ease here.  Clouds come over mountains with extreme clarity.  Wind where I am is blowing but it is off shore.  I would say that east and west weather systems are colliding.  I am glad I washed my clothes and dried them over night.  I have fears and nightmares I hope I get to Upernavik okey.  I fear change!

I took pictures of the clouds being controlled by low wind from the east over the icecap.  I never saw this spectacular sight before. 


The last day of summer was August 22 (why this particular day I do not know?)  It is not cold outside there is some wind that is dropping back now.

At 08:00 29.90 inches Mercury unchanged surprisingly enough.

Thomas and Rosa Petersen Thomas of Aappilattoq whom I met in 2003 fishing for salmon in Laksefjorden are great hunters.  They also will take people on tours.

Clouds in the southwest are receding.  It is amazing how clouds come and go.  There is a hat on Sanderson’s Hope.

Matias took Bente and I to see the lake and the waterfall where water was gathered for household use in Aappilattoq before they had the waterline and pump station installed just a few years ago.  Water jugs were brought by boat to the waterfall that came from this lake and filled from a pipe leading down from the outflow to the shore.

As you can imagine water was used very sparingly when all of it was carried to each house on someone’s back,

Presently many houses have water brought to the house in water jugs only now it is drawn from water stations along the water pipe into those same eight gallon plastic jugs.

I can imagine that there had to have been times when conditions were such that getting water by a boat was impossible due to ice or storm conditions.  Waiting for the ice to change must have been stressful so that liquid water could be gotten from this lake.

Grabbing chunks of ice along the shore is fine but the ice has to be melted to be useable. Then again having lived in much cruder circumstances just having an oil heater with a cook top for cooking and melting ice would have been a huge improvement in everyday life.

This is a picture of the lake.  There is some but not a large amount of water on this island.


This is a view from the lake looking out northwest over Upernavik Icefjord.  The peaked island was Puguta.  Note the tabular iceberg which is typical of this icefjord.


The hillside where we picked huge Black Crow berries / paarnaqutit in Patoq on Aappilattoq was covered with birch / avaaliaq / Betula nana.  I was quite surprised.  Vegetation on this hillside was very lush.

There was plenty of pink feldspar in this area as you can see in this photo.  This is a typical dome shape the rock takes in this area.


Below is a closer shoreline view of the rocks with their contrasting white and orange strata.  In the foreground is the unusual color of the crystal clear water that has developed from the light reflecting off the rocks along the water.

Among the vegetation are thick mats of moss with arctic willow patches and crowberry.


I visited Adam Grim again.

Adam Grim said his grandfather taught all the boys age seven and older how to paddle and roll a kayak. He taught them the hunting skills of how to shoot a rifle and use a harpoon from a kayak.  They paddled with each other in a designated area near Aappilattoq. 

Adam paddled kayaks when he was ten to fourteen years old.  His youngest brother, Ole, started paddling kayak when he was seven taught by his father, Rasmus. 

When Adam Grim was a boy he said that the dream of every father was that his sons would become great hunters.  Adam and Ole Grim are fine hunters among their other skills to this day. 

Rasmus, Adam and Ole’s father, no longer hunts because he is too old but recently because of Rasmus several kayaks have been built.  Through Rasmus a wonderful umiaq complete with proper seal skin covering was built and taken to Upernavik for use in the Jubileum. This umiaq is now on display in the museum.

Adam has the frames of the school kayaks that he and others last paddled in 1985 on his porch.  Only the sun bleached tattered remnants of canvas skin remains on the frames.  The weather is taking them apart.

Johanna Thorliefsen’s father taught Johanna and any other children in Kujakeq Upernavik how to paddle.  This was a major difference between families and towns. The fact that girls as well as boys were taught to paddle and hunt from kayaks in Sønder Upernavik surprised me, but to Ole this was very ordinary.  In Upernavik I think it would have been much different.

Another unique factor was that Johanna’s family had permission to hunt caribou in JP Koch land no other family had this specific permission.

At 17:20 quiet sun shining gray over Upernavik 29:90 inches Mercury I am waiting for low tide to gather some mussels.

Below are pictures showing clouds coming in from the southwest.


Looking more westward.


In the center of the picture is my first view of the moon since I left Connecticut in July.


Here is a study in the development of clouds coming in from the south over Nutarmiut.



At 22:00 the tide is low and I got a few mussels for dinner.  Wow, the water is so cold it is acutely painful on my forearms.  What I thought was going to be a simple few minutes of just reaching into the water grabbing mussels off the bottom turned out to be a gruesome ordeal of pain verses desire to feast on them.

August 24, 2005 Wednesday

At 07:45 barometric pressure is at 29.65 inches Mercury showing a catastrophic drop in pressure starting eight hours ago.  At 08:00 barometric pressure is at 29.60 inches Mercury.  One thing I failed to do was to reset my watch for sea level altitude at the beginning of my trip.

There is a strong wind from the east that arrived at midnight, now the wind is slacking off.

Listening to the weather on the local radio is very challenging I think they forecast when and how long the wind will blow this is quite interesting? Only after I had talked with Adam Grim can I understand what really will happen with the weather. 

After all my effort in studying Danish I still cannot understand a weather forecast on the radio.

I was just thinking that I could have brought a laptop computer and connected to the Internet via satellite phone to bring in the weather forecast.  I do not think it would be worth all the effort.  When the weather is bad just hunker down and don’t play games with dark clouds on the horizon.

Wow, what a surprise I actually found the location where I camped in 1992 the first time I visited Aappilattoq.  Just over near the cliffs here in Asseritoq was where I camped.

I so fondly remember the unique view of Nutarmiut and the high mountain Nalungiussaq shrouded with snow running in paths down its north side.  Where I had chosen to camp was actually just a very short distance from Aappilattoq town but I had no idea at that time.

I recognized a little island just to the right.  I remember how charmed I was with an old clear iceberg grounded out next to me that looked like a chandelier.  Without a sound it disintegrated.  I did not take its picture because I assumed it would be there while I ate dinner.  This was a sad lesson in how ephemeral icebergs are. 

However I had my first experience of watching from my campsite on the edge of the water mist develop as the dew point dropped.  I was able to take some interesting pictures of the evening mist as it developed.  Finally all the world seemed to have turned into a cocoon as the mist enveloped all about.  

This year I happened to experience the same situation at my third campsite. It was so exciting to peek out of my tent every so often and once again take some more of those magical pictures.  I took even one picture with an iceberg as it turned blue in the foggy light.

It is so curious how ice berg ice will become brilliantly blue in low light foggy conditions.  This intense blue color in the clear portions of the iceberg ice is caused by all the gas trapped in the snow having been compressed out and ice like water absorbs red and yellow light spectrum.  Fog absorbs red and yellow light leaving the blue spectrum to bathe the icebergs.  This intensifies the blue glow from icebergs on grey and foggy days.

Water and pure water ice scatters or indirectly reflects back the blue color which further intensifies the blue color the deeper into the ice you look.  Iceberg crevasses look bluer than surface ice because of the increased concentration of water or ice.

In 1993 before I arrived at Aappilattoq I stopped and camped at Asseritoq.  I just happened to arrive at the peak of high tide.  I remember that the next morning it was a long way down the rock slab to launch because I was leaving at the bottom of low tide.  At that time I did not have those foam rollers I later used to transport my kayak down to the water.

Coming from the south finding Aappilattoq was very easy as I paddled up the coast of Aappilattoq Island.  All I had to do was paddle toward the pitch black plume of smoke rising from the burning garbage pile.

Here at Asseritoq I am cut off from the southern horizon by cliffs and I found that there is no shortwave radio.  Perhaps if I had a longer antenna reception might be better

Once again as I have experienced on my other trips I have been experiencing pain in the balls of my feet.  I think the wood foot pedals bother my feet and next time I will strap old pieces of shoe sole from worn out boots I always wear to the rudder pedals to try and correct this agonizing problem.  The only thing that alleviates the pain is towels soaked in cold water wrapped around my feet.

The tide is much lower this morning so the maximum low has switched around and is now in the morning.

I used my Iridium satellite phone and talked to the USA she said that August has been a very hot humid month this is the worst summer ever.  The Iridium phone was clear but cut out in a very short time, which was very annoying.  I neglected to bring the instructions for how to telephone within Greenland.  The only way I can recover instructions is to find them on the internet.

Very low tide is at 09:30 no problem 10:30 barometric pressure is at 30.70 inches Mercury having risen 0.05 inches.  Condition was gray with less than five knots wind.

No ice is coming in so I have resorted to gathering washing water from the pond.  The pond shows an evaporation line of eight to ten inches this pond is probably just filled with snow melt water.  I also saw the same in a lake on this east of here.  I do not think it has rained much this summer.

The terns are here having a great time diving for food in the lee. 

Among the equipment repairs I need to sew a windproof layer on my kayak pogies made of thick springy cloth. The wind blows right through them.

At 13:30 barometric pressure is at 29.60 inches Mercury and I am see that fog is dipping down over Upernavik.

Thick fog is coming in but it is interesting to note that there is no hat on Sanderson’s Hope even though the fog is even and dense at water level.

At 17:00 it is continuing to rain heavily. 

At19:30 barometric pressure is at 29.60 inches Mercury light rain and mist.  At 20:30 it is very foggy and raining with the same barometric pressure.

August 25, 2005 Thursday

At 06:30 barometric pressure is at 29.65 inches Mercury with light rain all night, no wind and a gray sky.  The wind is starting and broken clouds are coming over the mountains west.  It looks like we will have some wind.  Few boats were on the water yesterday. 

Very thick clouds are now covering the mountains coming lower and lower and it is warm. 

Adam said that the weather forecast is a day ahead of the weather, isn’t that nice! 

Wind is from the east at five knots and the air feels suspiciously warm.  Why I suspect something is going on with the warmth of the air is that in severe wind storms I have experienced the nice feeling of warm air, fierce wind so strong it was hard to stand up in it and then cold air with snow coming in. 

Because of the wind blowing from the east during the last few days there is no ice blowing into this leeward shore.  My only source of water is a snow melt water pond

Curiously enough there is nobody on the water I have the feeling that it is nasty elsewhere on the water.

At 09:15 the barometric pressure is at 29.70 inches Mercury was flat all night but now it is rising.

Matias went to Upernavik on Tuesday afternoon.  He said that there were large waves when he rounded the corner coming into Upernavik.  Here inside the fjords the water was flat and you would never guess wave conditions were like that like that just a few miles away in Upernavik. 

I had a similar experience in 2003 leaving Aappilattoq in calm conditions but encountering horrendous wind 20 knots with capping waves at the last island westward before I made Upernavik.

Living down in the fjords is much easier the weather is quieter and the hunting and fishing is better.

The weather Wednesday was rough with rain squalls in Upernavik so they waited until today to return. Matias has returned at about 16:00 the weather was good with wind from the southeast. 

Matias started paddling when he was five.  He learned also from his uncle how to roll after two of his cousins drown in their kayaks.  He shot birds from his kayak.  He had a child sized kayak, harpoon and a three pronged leister for birds.  He did not paddle his kayak alone.

He used his father’s rifle for hunting after his father left because there was no one else in the family who could hunt.  He shortened the stock on his father’s rifle to fit his 10 year old body.  He made money by hunting.  On one of his hunting trips he shot three ptarmigan.  He sold one for one Kroner to the nurse who loved to eat ptarmigan.  He and his family ate the other two.  He would continually sell ptarmigan to whoever would buy.

Nothing was wasted from the ptarmigan such as the crop of the ptarmigan is used for various purposes such as a float on a bird harpoon.

His father made a small kayak for him he paddled when he was around five years old.  Later his father made a larger kayak for him.

When he was ten, his father went for tuberculosis treatment to Denmark and never returned.

August 26, 2005

Sunny wind is ten knots pressure at 08:30 is 29.60. 

During my stay in Upernavik I found the town was enveloped in an interesting gray fog.  When I exhaled I had the unique experience I had never quite had before even though I have lived in Upernavik.  I found myself having the most amusing experience of exhaling a very distinct cloud of vapor.  I think that I had never had this experience before because it probably can only occur right along the edge of the water.  I just did not happen to be there at the right moment.

The fogs of Upernavik are one of its claims to fame.  It used to be some project flying in by helicopter to Upernavik, now it is much easier by airplane.

As I visited Ole Thorliefsen, we talked about his mother, Joanna.  They lived in Kangersuatsiaq and after his father died they moved to Upernavik.  Ole’s family was the only family who had the right to hunt reindeer/caribou.  The hunted them all summer, dried the meat, prepared the pelts.

The kayaks had to follow the umiaq home.  Joanna, Ole’s mother, was taught by her father to paddle a kayak and it was normal in Kjalleq Upernavik for everyone including girls to paddle a kayak. 

I found out from Ole that hunters by nature do not talk about themselves out of humility but they are always the most challenged of the people.  They are under constant pressure as providers of the food.  Hunting is never guaranteed, one never knows if he will be successful or not.

When I lived in Kullorsuaq Nikolaj Jensen always was talking with Lars about where the game might be and how best to hunt it.  I wish I had understood Greenlandic, I missed a whole world of knowledge.  Nikolaj was an extraordinary hunter.

At that time no muskox existed in this area.  Within the last few years muskox have been brought to Upernavik and Uummanaq commune area by helicopter from southern Greenland where their population is flourishing so greatly that they are being hunted.  Just in March 2007 muskox meat was exported to Spain for a festival.

August 27, 2005 Saturday

I awoke feeling anxious about will I get to the airport okey – whew – my baggage was sitting at the harbor just fine and Heinz was there just exactly  and picked up everything in the school pickup truck.

HC was at the airport to see people off and to greet people.  We had another grand chat.  He is dong so well because both he and I do not drink.

Once again I found myself looking on the water off Upernavik with its special waves wishing that I were on them.

Martin Hjort is working with Neils Thomiassen who has won five metals this summer in Greenland kayak competition and is a kayak guide.  .

Martin and Neils hope to get a broken down INI house near the harbor and convert it into an office for tourism.  We both agree that the museum is already too busy.  Martin said it would be nice for tow tours to spend a few days in a traditional Greenlandic home

Google world atlas is Google Earth, which shows the world in great detail.  Geonav4c has GPS maps of the Upernavik area that you can navigate by in the fog with a GPS.  .

Talking with Bo Albrechtsen at the museum I was glad to see him once again.  I told him about the Birch on Puguta and at the third campsite.  We compared notes.  When I told him that I had explored between Puguta and Manitsoq Islands and he said that for a motor boat it exploring such a shallow passage would be too risky.   I certainly understood his opinion as I happen to live near the Thimble Islands where we have an endless supply of shallow rocks.  Now I could see that there is a big difference in the type of tour I can take in my kayak and what I would be doing via motorboat.  I am glad I can explore by kayak.

I told him about my experience of staying on Uvingassoq.  As an archeologist and museum director I was most excited when he told me that he was very familiar with this island.  He told me that this island, Uvingassoq, once had a large settlement on it.  This explained all the graves.

I told Bo of my observation about how the fog just wrapped around this island but covered Innarsuit and the other islands eastward.  I suspect that this particular island was located in a good hunting area which is a major factor in why people have chosen this place to live.

August 28, Sunday

At Ilulissat I rented a bunk bed at the Sports Hall for two nights at 150 DKr. for each night and I ate cheaply at the restaurant that is conveniently there as well. 

I visited Nature tours Silver he offers a tour called Atatta a kayak paddle north of Ilulissat on Disko Bay on a fjord and on a lake places that are interesting also there are kayak tours available on  Aassiat Tourist service offers kayak tours in an interesting sheltered area.  I found this out at Greenland’s Tourist Bureau/ in Ilulissat

At the Knud Rasmussen Museum I visited my old friend the director, Morgens Andersen.  He just opened the Art / Kunst Museum.  In 2003 he had gathering of sculptors who worked in the local granite of Ilulissat / Jacobshavn.  The sculptors worked on the edge of Disko Bay overlooking the deep blue water and endless mass of huge icebergs.

This most beautiful granite suited for carving is everywhere around Ilulissat.  Just walking down the roads I always see exquisite granite.  It is too bad that Greenland is so far away.

August 29, Monday

Baggage fees on the way up were for 69 kg over weight and on the way back my baggage was 54 kg over weight.  Had I ever quite realized the small fortune I would have to spend, wasting my money transporting uneaten food back home I would have disposed of it. 

I did not want to risk just leaving my kayak for another couple years at a friend’s house in Upernavik because I did not want to have any possible problem develop with my kayak while it was in storage. 

As it happened when I had my kayak at home several design problems were corrected for my next trip I hope to take in 2007.  The worst problem being that the way the foot pedals were attached to the keel board was corrected.   I had the fourth kayak off the production line.  Since then some very important improvements have been made.

The extra baggage fees starting at Upernavik were 2,229 Dkr. my baggage 54 extra kilos in Ilulissat I paid another 4,000 Dkr. And who knows what SAS will charge me I think it was $150 USD Copenhagen to Newark NJ. It is interesting how flying up the baggage was much cheaper.

At Copenhagen I took a taxi to the Youth Hostel the sign said that they were full

I had forgotten that there was a big conference in the area.  Wow was I very lucky because they had a bed – the last one!  Whew.  I checked my bags at the airport 70 Dkr and taxi x 2 in  Ilulissat was 80 Dkr taxi to youth hostel was 140 Dkr. bed at the hostel was 135 Dkr. 

So that was the story.