Daily Journey Updates
Thursday, August 9, 2012
***Scroll down to see newly uploaded photos!***
Expedition Update - 10:30 pm EST
New update from Participant Coordinator, Kathleen Connelly:
After a smooth and rapid transit of the Davis Strait, those on deck before breakfast witnessed the Ioffe negotiating the narrow tricky entrance into the harbor of our first Greenlandic town, Qeqertarsuaq. The town lies on Disko Island and was once an important whaling center. The attractive little town with its multi-coloured houses lay under towering 1000 meter bluffs and with the iceberg-dotted ocean, made for a postcard picture setting. As students arrived and passed under the whalesbone arch, they headed to the local museum. The museum featured a kayak and dog sled display as well as some original paintings from the world famous Greenlandic artist Danielson.
the rest of the morning, we explored this delightful little town. It was then
back on board for a special outdoor lunch! What a fabulous job the crew did of
preparing a lunch outdoors. The meal had barely finished and we were back on
shore to do some hikes. Students had the choice of three hikes, all varying in
difficulty. For the most difficult hike (the blue route), students climbed 1000
meters to the top of the bluffs above town. The red route passed the heliport,
crossed the river and followed the river up the valley of the winds culminating
in some beautiful waterfalls. Those who chose the yellow route left the red
group at the river and wound its way along the coastline, passing some unique
geological features. The weather was good up until the last 45 minutes when
rain clouds began to envelope our surroundings. Some rain cooled off the blue
route hikers but they quickly dried off back aboard the ship. One more
delicious dinner and we were off to bed after a recap and briefing.
Expedition Update - 12:30 pm EST
New update from expedition leader Geoff Green:
We have arrived in Greenland! It was another beautiful morning as the ship passed hundreds of icebergs in the bay and pulled into the calm harbour of Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island off the west coast of Greenland. This is our first day of four in this stunning country and the students are currently off exploring this picturesque little town - some are at the local museum, others are strolling the streets while others have headed to the post office to send postcards! They will all return shortly to the ship for lunch, and then it's off for a hike up one of the local mountains to a scenic waterfall.
During our crossing of the Davis Strait yesterday, we were busy with lectures, workshops and various presentations. We have four full days scheduled here in Greenland before making our way home.
Please note that, although our expedition was delayed in Iqaluit, we will be returning to Iqaluit and Ottawa on Sunday, August 12 on the same flights as per our originally scheduled itinerary.
Jaw bones of a Blue Whale
Wild blueberries enjoyed on our hike
Enjoying the view in Disko Bay
The church in Qeqertarsuaq
Student Journals - August 9
On Thursday morning, after making a quick journey across the Davis Strait, we woke to the vibrant colours of Qeqertarssauq, Greenland! Our ship carefully made its way between icebergs and soon we were in zodiacs speeding toward the small fishing village. The morning was spent on shore visiting museums, shops, beaches and soaking in the beautiful view! Qeqertarssuaq was charming and peaceful and scenic, but the real highlight of the day was in the afternoon!
The sun came out just as we started our 5 hour round-trip hike! It was rocky and steep but the view was incredible: the village became a smaller, the icebergs became more numerous and the clouds hung below us! When we reached the top, we were greeted by a light rain and a huge glacier!
Arrival in Greenland! Another beautiful day - the weather has been pretty unbelievably great this whole trip - calm seas, clear skies, no rain - and today is sunny and actually quite warm. We went into Qaqatarjuak this morning: a picturesque little town surrounded by a sea full of icebergs. Icebergs are the thing that are just blowing my mind over and over on this trip: There is something so other-worldly about them, so majestic and strange and magical...and they are everywhere around us, and I still can't believe it. Last evening as we were crossing Davis Strait, I spent an hour on the bridge of the ship, just watching the big big ocean, scanning for whales, and looking out at the icebergs passing by. Suddenly I noticed a small spot on the horizon, and the crew all noticed it too, but even through binoculars, it was hard to tell what it was: was it an iceberg, or was it possibly another ship? We haven't passed a single other ship in the whole trip so far, except for our day with the Coast Guard; it's kind of a wild experience to feel so solitary out here, just us, the occasional polar bear or walrus and the constant flotilla of icebergs. Turns out it was a ship on the horizon.
Qeqertarsuaq is sunny and I am in awe of the Arctic up in Greenland, and how magnificent the Arctic land is.
So I found my Canada Goose vest in the library, but unfortunately no memory card. I'm slowly coming to terms that I may not find it at all, and I will never see the photos I took in Ottawa or Iqaluit. Extremely sad for me, but at least there are cameras all over this place so I'll see what happened, although it won't be the same as photos I actually took. It hasn't stopped me from enjoying what is left in these last few days though. Today we had our first landing in Greenland! We landed in Qeqertarsuaq, a small town in Disco Bay on the west coast of Greenland. It was wonderful! Many colorful buildings, and giant icebergs everywhere! I ended up tripping and skinning out my leg (shocker, I never do things like that...), but luckily it didn't hurt at all and I was with someone who had a first aid bag. It's pretty ugly, but it'll be fine! We spent the entire day there, first exploring the town to shop, sight-see and send postcards (I sent three back home), and then hiking after having lunch outside on the stern. There were three hike options: Blue was 4 hours of strenuous and steep, Red was 2 hours of medium and a slight incline, and Yellow was 1.5 hours of easy and pretty much flat; I decided to go with Red. At least, that's what it was supposed to be. Yellow ended up going much further than Red by accident! But all the same, we saw a beautiful waterfall carved into the rocks! We came back to the ship and watched The Neccessities of Life, a francophone movie about tuberculosis and how it effected the Inuit in a sanatorium in Quebec City. The rest of the evening was pretty relaxed, and we had an early supper. Again, I am sad about my photos - everyone on board knows what the memory card looks like and where it could possibly be - but when I was in Iqaluit I did think about how I would like to come back someday. Maybe now I have more reason to, perhaps another year when there's a chance of lots of ice again.
Samia Madwar (staff)
The more I get to know the students on this expedition, the more I’m impressed. We went hiking today, and the students and staff were given a choice of two short hikes or one longer trail that would take them to the top of the mountain across the bay from the Greenlandic whaling village of Qekeqtarsuak.
Most of the students who opted for the longer hike bounded up the hillsides. A few, however, were trying something new. One in particular shared my irrational fear of heights. And she faced it head-on.
When you’re afraid of heights, climbing down is far more difficult than climbing up. It was on the way down that I had trouble breathing, panicking every time I slipped on loose gravel. Yet she pushed on, determined to reach the bottom. When we arrived at the beach, we all turned around to face the mountain we’d just summitted. It was raining, and the clouds hung low, covering part of the trail.
“I’ve always wanted to touch a cloud,” the student said before continuing on toward the zodiacs waiting to take us back to the ship.
As we climbed, some of the staff stayed behind to help us face our fear, literally holding our hands along the way, never once complaining that our slow descent took us an hour longer than the rest of the hiking group. Later at dinner, another student who had watched me struggle came up to congratulate me.
Throughout this expedition, one of the lessons we’re learning is that there will always be a supporting hand and an encouraging word for young people with dreams to fulfill.
We are now in Qeqektarsuaq, Greenland. It is a very beautiful place. We got here this morning. And I toured around with Monica and Annie. We had lunch outdoors at the stern of the deck. The ice cream was so delicious. After lunch, we went hiking, but Monica, Saalia and I ended up berry picking instead. It was a lot of fun looking for blue berries when there were a lot of black berries around. I just had dinner. It was great.
Anirrarumatsiangitsunga kisiani paingnguqunga everything and everyone. Puitjurarumallisiarqunga. I miss doing everything on my own for a little bit.
As I woke up in my bed I was very happy to be out of the open sea because I knew that I wasn't going to feel sick from the waves anymore. When I went outside I was happy to see the village of Qekeqtarsuaq meaning big island. When we went to the town I went to the store and I wanted to take out money, every single time I start to take out money when I am traveling my card doesn't work (very heart broken). So I borrowed money and bought a pop and a chocolate, they were so good. Then when I was going to the store I saw a place where they sell fresh meat like whale meat. Later on in the day we went for a hike to the falls and walked across the town, and when we were walking back I was talking about what I eat out of the caribou meat, and my friend was geting sick of me and it was funny.
As the days go on, the excitement continues to soar with great itineraries every day, such as interactive workshops, presentations, visits to communities and various hikes. Luckily there were no more major difficulties after our delayed departure from Iqualuit. I continue to enjoy every second of this trip and hope that the time does not continue to fly by as it currently does. As well as that, we crossed the Davis Strait yesterday and overnight, and reached Greenland in the morning. The team continues to be great, efficient as well as respecting instructions and carrying them out successfully. Great friendships are continuing to develop and the only thing I can say is that I look forward to the next couple of days.
Steve Sheppard (staff)
Greetings from Greenland. Tonight we are in Disko Bay, sailing from Qeqektarsuaq to Ilulissat to see one of the worlds fastest producing glacier fjords, the Jacobshaven Fjord. But let me tell you all a little about today. We woke this morning in Greenland and coming into Disko Bay amongst a floating art gallery. I'm not sure that the photos I have taken will do this place justice, but we will see. When I looked out the portal this morning there were 31 icebergs in view, and pardon the pun but that was just the 'tip of the iceberg!’ We landed in Qeqektarsuaq just after breakfast and spent the morning walking around town and enjoying the scenery. We had the opportunity to meet some locals and learn a bit about how life is lived here in the small fishing villages of this magnificent country!
We came back to the ship for a lunch on the stern of the ship. The crew and cooks are spoiling us a little. After lunch we had some time to hike in the mountains around town. A group of 32 of us hiked to the summit of a mountain to get a glimpse of the ice sheet here on Disko Island, and what a view it was! There in front of us was a retreating ice sheet. A local couple who were hiking with us told us that 10 years ago, the place we were standing was under snow and ice year round. Today, the ice sheet is about two kilometres from that spot. Climate change is having a huge effect up here. The view from the mountain top over the bay was something to behold as well. There were literally hundreds of icebergs in view! We have certainly been blessed to be a part of this expedition, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. The trip is coming to an end in the next few days. We have a couple more stops here in Greenland, then it's back to reality. I look forward to sharing tomorrow’s adventures with you....stay tuned!