Goodbye Greenland

It was my last full day in Greenland and it had to be a special one. I woke up early, grabbed a bike and rode to the Kantina for a superb Greenlandic breakfast. After fueling up, I immediately headed for the fiord below the airport runway, but on my way I noticed a police officer leaving the airport. I stopped him and asked if he could stamp my passport (since we arrived late upon entering Greenland, there was no one to stamp our incoming passport). He was very happy to stamp my passport and smile for a picture.

Kangerlussuaq Policeman
Kangerlussuaq Policeman at the Kanger Airport. He stamped my passport.

Typical Greenland homes.
Typical Greenland homes. The colors are a welcome sight since the landscape can be a bit dreary. Not a lot of green vegetation around and lots of rock!

I rode to the end of the airport where I was told there were fossils to be found in the sediments eroding into the fiord. On my way, I passed the familiar colorful houses scattered around Kanger and eventually ended up on an eroded hillside. I looked down and noticed some interesting looking rocks.

Fossil bed
Exposed fossils on the outskirts of town. The fossils were exposed during a recent erosion event.

I picked one of the rocks up and it was shaped like a tooth. I picked another one up and it was shaped like a flattened vertebra from some organism. Ah ha, I found the fossil bed my friend, Commander, had mentioned. The fossils were exposed due to recent rains that eroded the fine sediments that so carefully preserved these pieces of ancient remains. I spent about 30 minutes picking up as many fossils as I could put in my pockets. Next stop, husky town!

View of the fiord
View of the fiord looking away from town.

On my way to the husky kennels, I looked back at the fiord. It was overwhelming to realize that just a few thousand years ago, this fiord was filled with moving ice, carving, flowing and scraping the rocks we see today. Glaciology is becoming an interesting topic and one I plan on exploring deeply in the near future.

After arriving back in town, I had lunch at the Kantina and continued my quest to find the dogs. I rode all the way around to the other side of the airport and down a hill to some cages. There I could hear the barking and eventually saw the kennels. I immediately went to the loudest one and discovered a litter of husky puppies. They were very excited to see me as they were jumping on top of each other to get a sniff. Dog sleds are used as a main source of transportation in the colder months. Many of the locals take dog sleds up to the mountains during Musk Ox season to bring back their game.

Husky puppy
Husky puppy in kennel. The dogs were kept in a kennel just below the south end of the airport run way, away from the town.

On my ride back to the KISS building, I noticed a very interesting rock outcrop. I stopped to try to identify the slick looking black rock located right in the middle of the mouth of the fiord. Upon closer inspection, I identified the rock as Gneiss http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gneiss. Gneiss is a type of metamorphic rock that was once probably a granite or diorite. Sprinkled within the foliated layers were 1-2 mm sized garnets. The rocks made great souvenir’s for my nieces and nephews.

Gniess rock outcrop.
Gneiss rock outcrop at mouth of fiord.

Kangerlussuaq Gneiss
Kangerlussuaq Gneiss

One of the goals of my time in Kangerlussuaq was to find out more about the locals. About two blocks from the KISS building, I ran into some kids riding their bikes and playing in the street. They were excited to see my on a bike and eagerly posed for a picture.

Local kids riding bikes and playing.
Local kids riding bikes and playing.

While talking to the kids I noticed an interesting truck next to one of the science buildings. I went to get a closer look and found one of the coolest trucks I have ever seen. I think I know what I want for Christmas this year!

All-terrain vehicle with tracks.
All-terrain vehicle with tracks. Fun!

Upon retuning to the KISS building, I had to take a picture of the spent rocket booster. Sometimes, when the Hercules C-130 aircraft are too heavy and unable to take-off, they attach eight of these to the rear of the place to provide 20% additional thrust. They are located all over town and are used as ashtrays now!

Spent rocket booster - now ashtray.
Spent rocket booster, now ashtray. Recycling at it's finest!

Hercules C-130 using rocket boosters
Hercules C-130 using rocket boosters. The rockets provide 20% more thrust when fired.

It was now 2:30pm and I still needed to shower, pack, and load my gear into the cargo pallet by 3pm. Whew! I made it just in time, 2:59pm. Now I was ready for the big end of season party. We were shuttled up to Lake Ferguson by Commander and there we were presented with an amazing spread of food and great company.

End of season party at Lake Ferguson
End of season party at Lake Ferguson

During one of my many conversations, I met an Air Guard officer who was going to be evaluating a Navigation candidate on our plane tomorrow. I asked him about the navigation system and was amazed to learn that they are required to use a sextant and astronomical bodies to assist in guiding the plane.

Sextant in C-130 roof.
Sextant in C-130 roof.

After a few hours of hanging out, I was ready to go back to the KISS building and say goodnight to my wife and kids via Skype and prepare for tomorrows long trip home. Before I left, I took a picture of the Summit Station summer crew. They were a unique bunch of individuals that I hope to someday meet again.

Summit Station summer crew.
Summit Station summer crew at Lake Ferguson.

The next morning came a lot quicker than I had planned. First, I mistakenly set my alarm to PA time; second I stayed up late last night trying to get a glimpse of the Aurora. No such luck. I quickly grabbed  a cup of coffee and boarded the bus to go to the airport.

Loading bus to depart Kangerlussuaq
Loading the bus to depart Kangerlussuaq

The Air Guard had everything ready to go! Within 30 minutes we were off of the ground and flying down the fiord. It was sad to leave such an amazing place. Several people I spoke to said that Greenland today is what Alaska was like before statehood. There was a sense of adventure and unexplored terrain to be had. The pace was much slower than in the US and the people were very kind and helpful.

Greenland will always have a special place in my heart. I hope to someday return and explore more of this very special place.

See you back home,

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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