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    T r a v e l R e p o r t-S e i t e  4
M e n u e
East Greenland - In the tight grip of the pack ice
  Due to the extreme conditions, my equipment starts to show the strain after just 3 weeks. The strong ultraviolet radiation in the Arctic has made the rubber seals on my new drysuit extremely porous, even though they've been covered. So I end up with a deep tear in my collar seal when I take off my suit one night. Thankfully, I always carry spares with me, in case something needs to be repaired, and I am able to deal with this mishap the same night. Capsizing could otherwise quickly spell disaster in water temperatures around freezing point.
  Without spare parts the damaged drysuit could have spelt disaster. A water temperature of around zero degrees Celsius rapidly leads to hypothermia and death.
  The closer I get to the open coast, the more strongly I feel the swell. A belt made up of small floes has formed in many areas along the beach, and it is stirred incessantly by the surf.  In the fjord's estuary, the masses of pack ice that used to keep a check on the swell at the beginning of my journey are now gone. The wind, too, has increased a little during the last few days. When I turn into the Hurry Fjord, a south wind of about six Beaufort keeps driving me into the slipstream of the small icebergs for shelter. I find a sheltered beach on the east coast, and watch a flock of ptarmigan in their summer plumage only a few meters from my tent.
I find a shelterd beach on the east coast, and watch a flock of ptarmigan in their summer plumage only a few meters from my tent.
I have already seen the glacier that crowns the Roscoe Bjerge from afar, and I set out for it the next day. I brave countless ranges of scree hills before I stand, six hours later, at the edge of an 800 meter deep abyss and look down on several glacial lakes that have formed in its gorge. In the distant south, I can already make out the town of Scoresbysund.
  Two days later, I turn into the small, familiar and now ice free bay of the town. The final paddle strokes just before I land my boat make me feel a little wistful. Civilization has me back ! Now I must dry my gear as best I can, and get it ready for the return journey.
I stow most of my stuff in the boat, and the next day I check it in with the port authorities for the return transport by ship. After I have paid approx. 120 Euros at the post office, a fork - lift truck disappears into the storeshed of the supermarket with my kayak.
  My arrival in Scoresbysund seems almost like a homecoming to me. Although I have only spent a day here at the beginning of my journey, most of the inhabitants seem to know me. I am greeted warmly everywhere I go, and people ask about my trip and even invite me for coffee and cake. Even the children don't show any of the timidity that I've experienced almost everywhere else in West Greenland so far. They come up to me with their broken English, and ask for my name and where I come from.
  While I've been away on my trip, five polar bears appeared in town with the ice. One of them had to be shot. The pelt is drying on a rack between the houses. So the threat of polar bears is very real indeed.

I find out a lot of details about life in this community. While I've been away, five polar bears in all have been sighted in town. One of the bears had to be shot because it attacked the sled dogs. On one of my walks I see its pelt drying in the sun. For a time, there was so much drift ice in the bay that the cruise ships were unable to call at the port for 2 weeks, and as a result the tour operator suffered heavy losses. The evening before my return, all the hunters went out together and killed nine narwhales, which have been dismembered in a neighbouring bay and been distributed amongst all the inhabitants. Even the two Inuit who are staying at the guesthouse with me have profited. This is how we come to dine on Mattak that night, the blubber of the narwhale, which is cut into bite -.sized pieces and eaten raw with a spicy sauce. As the consistency of the skin can be compared with a 2 centimeter thick rubber mat, this is a serious challenge for the neglected jaws of the West European. We end our evening together with a glass of whisky and enjoy one of the first glowing sunsets of early fall.

  On the last evening we dine on Mattak, the raw skin of the narwhale. It's an acquired taste but full of vitamins.
Both the summer and my journey draw to a close, and the next morning I enjoy a last look from the plane across the sea and the icebergs that have been >home< to me for a short while.
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Last update: 10/31/08
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