With only 2 days left to field season, we needed to make the best of every opportunity. We came to breakfast with daypacks ready to go, had a bite of food and some coffee and away we went in search of erratics on moraines.

Can you spot our camp across the lake?
Base Camp 2 - Lil' Nug Camp

Hiking to moraines is spectacular, grueling and deceptive. In the distance, moraines look like little hills that one can easily walk up and over. However, this 8 mile hike took us almost 11 hours. Nothing is 'little' in Moraine-ville.

What do you see on the landscape beyond the stream?

As we walked past our own El Capitan, the boulders that had eroded off the face of the cliff made me think of the movie, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids."

Erosion of our own El Capitan
Sediments the size of trucks

Beyond El Capitan, we found ourselves in a marsh-like environment. The arctic cotton grass spotted the landscape and identified the wet regions of the trail. The field of cotton grass made me think that we were walking with the Lorax.

 Arctic Cotton Grass
Arctic Cotton Grass

As we approached the higher elevations we were constantly being watched by a massive 16 point caribou. It seemed as we crossed the next ridge, he would be waiting for us. As we got closer he reared up like he was going to take off. Thankfully, Nat had his camera ready and just kept shooting pics. We would not discover how awesome a photographer Nat was until back in the tent that evening.

Photo by Nat Lifton
Prancer making an appearance?

The view from Moraine-ville was everything we had hoped for. The landscape unfolded a mystery to be solved. What do you think created the parallel lines across the valley?

Ancient shorelines
Can you read the landscape?

Nat, Jason and Alia discussing the glacial movement

We stopped on top of a moraine for some crackers, cheese and the sweetest blueberries that I have ever tasted.

Greenland blueberries
The best reward after a hike up a moraine

While on the moraines, we are looking for erratics to date. This valley did not disappoint us.

A perfect sample of an erratic
How do you think the rocks got under the large erratic?

Jason obtaining a 1 kg sample of an erratic

While the team worked on collecting the sample, I hiked up to a small waterfall to refill our water bottles. Just as I approached the water, an Arctic Ptarmigan came around a rock and watched me get the water. I have had some pretty interesting close encounters with wildlife this field season and therefore, the team nicknamed me, Snow White.

An Arctic Ptarmigan
Photo by Bill Schmoker (PolarTREC 2010), Courtesy of ARCUS

Standing on an erratic
Standing on an erratic

On our hike back to camp, we came across several antlers. I just couldn't resist...

Me trying to impersonate Max in the movie, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

As we made our way back to camp, you could hear us humming..."Everything is Awesome!"

Moraine-ville near Base Camp 2
Weather Summary
Variable - started out in fleece jackets and walked home in shorts


Tina Ciarametaro

Dear IMSNate,The caribou are intriguing because they followed us. I would hear them outside my tent on several occasions and I wondered what it was like to see humans for the first time. They were not afraid of us and a few did behaviors to let us know that we were on their territory.


I noticed on your top photo how blue the water is. Do you know how it got to that bright of a blue?


Wouldn't you have been fatigued on your 8 mile hike? Did you take breaks as you where hiking the mountains?

Tina Ciarametaro

Greenland is colder because of the the amount of sunlight it receives and the angle of light that hits Greenland. There are hardly any trees on the island - I saw NONE and as you noted there is very little vegetation. At least 90% of the country is covered with a massive ice sheet that plays a significant role in the climate of Greenland.

Tina Ciarametaro

Helicopters are very expensive to rent. Therefore, when we did use a helicopter, we would use it all day to access the most remote places that we wanted to look for samples. One criteria for picking our camps was how many locations for samples were in walking distance.

Tina Ciarametaro

Lets put it this way, I had no trouble falling asleep at night after a day long hike! We would take breaks along the way and every one did the hike at their own pace.

Tina Ciarametaro

The blue is caused by the sediment that the glacier eroded off of the rock . The small sediment is suspended in the water and the light reflecting off the sediment creates the blue that we see. It is similar to the chocolate being suspended in milk when you make chocolate milk.


Wow 11 hours of hiking you must be tired .Why didn't the team use the helicopter?


Also is it cold in Green Land because it looks more rocky than snowy.


Hi Mrs. Ciarametaro, what was the coldest temperature you have seen throughout your trip?


I really liked the picture of the deer on the hill. Out of all the animals that you saw what was the most interesting to you?

Peggy McNeal

Cotton grass, erratics, blueberries, ptarmigan and that caribou is like in a dream! You must be pinching yourself. Incredible!


Hello again! I saw that when you stopped you ate some blueberries. Did you pack food, or did you find them? If so, what other foods can you find over there?

Tina Ciarametaro

Dear Peggy,our moraine day hike was spectacular for wildlife. I have really enjoyed Jason pointing out the different vegetation. When we come across something he has not seen before, we write down a description and then go through the field guide back at camp.

Tina Ciarametaro

Dear CharlieV,we always pack a light lunch that consists of cheese, crackers, snack bars, trail mix and a chocolate bar to share when we need the extra push. The only wild vegetation that I ate were the blueberries and mountain sorrel. The leaves taste like citrus - something that we did miss in camp.

Tina Ciarametaro

Dear CharlieV,we always pack a light lunch that consists of cheese, crackers, snack bars, trail mix and a chocolate bar to share when we need the extra push. The only wild vegetation that I ate were the blueberries and mountain sorrel. The leaves taste like citrus - something that we did miss in camp.


Hi Mrs.Ciarametaro hope your having a great trip. One question I had was when you saw the arctic cotton grass in the marsh-like environment, did you see anymore types of plants in that area and if you did what were they? Another question I had was how many miles would you usually hike in one day?


Hi Mrs. Ciarametaro,That's a great photo of the caribou rearing up against the cloudy sky! How large can caribou get? And do female caribou have antlers, or just the males?


Hi Mrs.Ciarametaro, if you saw more life could that mean the animals in Greenland adapted its climate like you said that there were more animals than the past. Is it just a coincidence that you had close encounters with animals or is the population growing faster? I can't wait for you to get back!

Tina Ciarametaro

We have seen…arctic harebells, moss campion, arctic cotton grass, mountain sorrel, greenland blueberries, moss and lichen. Our hikes ranged from 8-10 miles and did not include flat land. Most hiking was on boulders, sides of steep terrain or hopping over streams (I am not very graceful with the hopping!)

Tina Ciarametaro

Hi IMSMaxS,I am not sure how large they can be - how about you research it and tell me. I do know that both male and females have antlers.

Tina Ciarametaro

IMSChaseG,those are great questions and insightful. I am not sure I have enough information to answer them. I do not know what the normal sightings are for wildlife in the region where I was located. I know that the Greenlanders do hunt for caribou so they must be abundant in this area.


1] What does a 16 point caribou mean ?
2]What was the temperature where you were that day?

Tina Ciarametaro

A sixteen point caribou is a caribou that has sixteen points on its antlers - 8 on each side. The temperature varied a lot that day. We started out layered for 40ish weather, however on our hike home we were in t-shirts and some of us down to shorts (60s).

IMS Stephen M

Sorry this comment was late but I was away for a few weeks and had no computer on me, but what has been the rate of melting for the glacier Lil' Nug

Tina Ciarametaro

Dear IMSStephenM,great question! I am going to give you that problem in class this year!