Monday, June 4, 2007

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

The group scientists including our crew loaded into the C-130 this morning. It was beautiful here this morning. So, we were anticipating a good flight. Unfortunately, two of us were bumped off the flight due to weight restrictions on the airplane, and possible tent space issues at Summit. NSF is hoping to get us on the next flight which is Wednesday, but Thursday's flight is a possibility. If we miss both of these, then next Monday is the next option. I would like to get to Summit despite what I hear about the cold. Bad weather is predicted for Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

I did a bike ride and a long walk today. The ride took me to a beautiful, partially ice-covered alpine lake. Small fish were clearly visible in the clear, oligotrophic water. Kanger sits in a bowl shaped valley typical of those formed by glaciers. Upon melting, the glacier left behind this wonderful lake. The walk was in town. It is not a pretty place. It is functional. There is a school, an entertainment center, a bowling alley, and some of the other niceties of life. However, none of it is pretty. Tourists (one is shown below and to the right) do come here to view the open beauty surrounding the town, and to see some wildlife. Tomorrow, I hope to hike up Black Ridge. The views from up on the ridge are said to be spectacular, and muskoxen are said to be plentiful. They are hardy herbivores related to goats!

People are friendly at Kanger. There is a mix of Europeans, and Inuit. Inuit is the correct term, Eskimo is not. At the dining room, one can hear a variety of languages, but the three most common are Danish, Greenlander, and English. Food is simple and healthy, the coffee is strong, and the bread hearty.

I learned today that Greenland is the largest non-continental island in the world (Australia, which is a continent, is larger). Greenland stretches about 1600 miles North to South, most of it is above the Arctic Circle, and 79% of the island is covered by ice. The land is not green, but it does have grasses and small bushes. The grass is now brown, and going to seed. Legend has it, Eric the Red named the island Greenland in an attempt to entice settlers to colonize. Apparently, it was a successful advertising campaign. The Norse grazed animals, and were successful for a period of time. Then, they somewhat mysteriously vanished. Legends abound about their demise, but most believe it was due to an inability or unwillingness to adjust to a cooling period of earth. The Inuit arrived at about the same time as the Norse. Their entry to Greenland was from Canada, and they were more successful. Instead of grazing animals, they hunted and fished. It seems like a classic example of adjusting to the land, rather than forcing ill-advised technologies upon it.

No comments: