One of our favourite things about our excellent Facebook community is that every day, we have the privilege of hopping on and geeking out on gear with folks who love the outdoors and spending time in some of the most beautiful places on the planet. For example, when Jörg recently came back from Greenland with a stack of amazing photos, we knew we had to share with all of you. Here's his report:
Born close to the Alps, hiking and skiing ran through my veins from early childhood. Now in my thirties, I still like trips that let me explore exotic locations. The original plan for this year was setting sail for Iceland, but an article about how climate changes affect Greenland drew my attention. Learning about its endangered artic beauty and natural treasures, I changed my plans, and decided to do a two-week hike in Greenland instead.
When you arrive at Kangerlussuaq, you instantly notice why the Vikings called it Greenland. The currents transport enough warmth beyond the arctic circle to give a variety of plants the right conditions. The fresh air is so clear you can see for miles, which is very tricky at the beginning because your hiking targets end up looking much closer than they actually are. On the other hand, in the summer, the sun doesn't set, so even if you reach your destination after midnight, you won't need any artificial light to pitch your tent.
With a total population of fifty thousand, the landscape is dotted primarily by small villages, with no roads connecting them. If you want to travel around, your options are air, ship, or walking. Even in the more "touristy" places, after a ten-minute hike, you are all by yourself.
I have never been to a place where you experience nature so intensely. Chilly winds with a strong scent of bog rosemary accompanies you, and after a while, a rough beauty unfolds. You notice little colorful plants, cotton grass fields, small birds, butterflies, and (unfortunately) mosquitoes. Occasionally you see trails of musk ox, reindeer, and arctic foxes, though they are very shy and you will often need binoculars to spot them.
Heading toward the inland, ice gets pretty cold, but the view of the towering scarp is rewarding. There is a constant noise of cracking and thunder, and watching house-tall blocks of ice crashing down is breathtaking. Going further north by boat, the number and size of icebergs constantly increases, while the temperature drops. Needless to say, I had to layer properly.
Arriving at Ilulissat is quite an adventure as the ship tries to find a passage through the iceberg-filled harbor. Once you dock, a thirty minute hike brings you to the main attraction – the UNESCO World Heritage Ilulissat Icefjord. Even after several days of being here, it keeps blowing your mind, as every change of the weather and sun position redraws the picture. If you hike further along the fjord, you are soon alone and can enjoy the sight all by yourself. One of the most beautiful natural wonders I have seen so far – unfortunately threatened by global warming.
Hiking in Greenland is challenging. The weather is relatively stable but wind and temperature are constantly changing. As you leave village roads and marked trails quickly vanish, you are quickly outside of network coverage, and you need reliable gear. When it's sunny, you can sometimes hike in just an Rho LTW, but always with a Delta or Gamma within close reach. Also, my Theta was never buried too deep in my backpack, especially as we got closer to the ice, or were caught in some rain. Enjoying the scenery or staying on the deck of the ship made a strong call for my Atom (which also worked great as pillow).