Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 21 - fragile earth and Greenlandic chicken

Walking along the black sands I saw many craters in the sand. I could feel my feet pushing through the crust but it took me a while to figure out that ice was the cause of it. Ice that had once detonated from the side of a berg had been washed up and deposited on the beach by the tide. The weight of the ice broke through the hard but thin crust of sand on the beach. Before I saw the clumps of ice I found craters with dark patches; I later realised that this was melt-water where the ice had been.

The midges were rather hungry here and, seeing as it was a beautiful day for a paddle, I saw no reason to linger.

Further along the coast was the hunting camp of Ikorfat. The remains of one cabin, a turf-built and wooden beam construction, took longer to find as I was more than a little preoccupied with the newer cabin with B number 1240 (B for "bolig"). All houses in Uummannaq area are given a B number, including the tiny water stations dotted around the towns and settlements. B-1240 is a classic example of a well-used permanent camping cabin with an all purpose room for cooking and sleeping in. I think they see more use in the winter months as hunters harness their sledge dogs outside, seeking shelter from the elements on the inside. I was also more interested in sleeping inside my tent - we had become well used to one another by now - but the inside of the cabin was worth checking out.  A big stone in front of the door suggested no one was home and that foxes were not welcome!

Time doesn't quite stand still within the cabin. It is possible to move between the ages, back and forth, as one explores the items left behind and some left ready for the next occupants.  Coffee-filter papers had been used to write messages, while the occasional piece of licorice testified to the effectiveness of the stone door-stop. A tea-towel hung over the petroleum stove, the bed boards ready, hunters could arrive any minute and find it just as they left it.

Time had already stopped for me that summer as the sun circled continuously about the horizon and I was quite taken with the alarm clock hanging from the curtain rail, ornamented by the dried curlew (?) head and a small, dried skin bag. Quite taken until I peered out of the window and checked out the front yard. When real-estate agents talk about "location, location, location", I wonder if they were thinking about Ikorfat?

 Back outside, I wandered back and forth for hours. Just wandering, not feeling the need to go anywhere or do anything but wander, look, listen and breathe deep the sea air tempered with the freshness of glacial ice.

I couldn't get enough of this place. It was full of rich finds and stories drifting through the tall grass about the tent, between the cracks in the walls of the cabin and among the pebbles eroded by the sea and tumbling ice. As the icebergs crashed and boomed at incalculable intervals, I wandered some more.

Once, in Uummannaq, I had the chance to buy Greenlandic chicken - seagull, 20,- dkk per gull. I have yet to taste one but imagine they will be a bit ... well, like chicken. This fella had been enjoyed by a fox, perhaps, as his footprints showed where he or she had loitered about the camp.

It was damn fine here and I crawled into my pup-tent and fell asleep to iceberg artillery in the near and far.


  1. Man thanks so much for sharing this journey. It truly is something else. I honestly look forward to each of your posts....and it makes me excited to paddle Labrador next year!

  2. Thanks Lee. I am looking forward to learning more about your Labrador trip. I think the icebergs from Uummannaq might even end up over there! I heard something like that once.