Glaciers and Norse Ruins

I am in a “pinch me” moment. Greenland is beyond my imaginings and that is saying something! This will be an extremely short post as everything is super expensive here, including Internet. But I just had to tell you about yesterday’s extraordinary hike.

I am staying in Narsarsuaq, a small airport town in SW Greenland and across the fjord from the first Norse settlement in Greenland – Brattahlid. My hike yesterday took me the opposite direction, past the old US Army Air Corp base (many of the buildings now being used by locals in the town for homes, businesses and the airport) and through Hospital Valley and Flower Valley to the Narsarsuaq Glacier.

A quick note on the old air corp base. The airport exists here because in 1941, as a layover for planes flying on their way to Britain for the war in Europe, the United States built an air base here. B-17s, P-38 Lightnings, B-25 Mitchells, all the planes I studied as a WW2 airplane enthusiast growing up, landed here in this land of icebergs.

So back to my hike. A full day, through the gorgeous wildflowers – a huge meadow of red, pink, blue flowers intermixed with green and golden grasses. Super buggy, even more so than Wisconsin, but I can handle it! Then walking over rocks past a broad glacial river, filled my water bottle with the cleanest drinking water I’ve ever tasted direct from the glacial meltwaters. I was adopted into a hiking group that caught up to me, a mix of people from Spain and Italy. The guide asked if I wanted to hike up to the glacier, and I did, but wasn’t planning on it since it involves a steep, crazy hike high over a mountain side, often using ropes anchored into the rock to scale bare rock face. By myself there was no way. If I fell and injured myself, who would go for help? But an experienced guide? Absolutely!

So up we went for the most grueling ascent of my life. Self-talking myself for an hour , past lush waterfalls and rocky, mossy footholds, using ropes, carefully placing my feet, I finally made it to the top! So worth it! The glacier is IMMENSE! How to even describe the scale? And it is so full of huge crevasses and even mountain ranges of ice (the scale of the topography of the glacier astounded me), it reminded me of weathered elephant skin. Up close to the glacier, the scale is enormous and the crevasses huge and full of meltwater and the constant sound of dripping as the ice melts. This glacier, like most of Greenland, is rapidly receding and a talk with a local Greenlander named Harry further affirmed that the changing climate is impacting Greenland dramatically within a short period of time.

I’m out of time, so bye for now! Today I am off to Qassiarsuk and the ruins of Brattahlid, the settlement of Erik the Red!


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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