Entry One: Arrival in Greenland

 

Arrival in Greenland

On 13th of July, Steve, Mihai, Dave and I met up in Reykjavik Iceland, the starting point for this year’s and the 2002 Greenland expedition. This was the first time we had all met and it provided an opportunity to get to know each other before our month of research and discovery.

The next day, the four of us were dropped off by a Fokker 50 twin-prop plane at the tiny Constable Pynt Airport in Jameson Land, Greenland. This is currently the main entry point for geological and botanical expeditions to the east coast of the country and also provides the only access to the outside world (by helicopter – there are NO roads) for the approximately 550 people of Ittoqqortoormiit, reputedly the most isolated town in all Greenland!

Arriving at the airport at mid-morning, our main task was to locate our field gear and the food that had been shipped out ahead of us. These supplies were to fill all our needs for at least the next two weeks, and possibly more if the weather turned bad. In addition, we had some last minute goods to find, materials that could not be shipped from the USA - jet fuel for the stoves, morphine in case of any serious injuries and a rifle in case of polar bear attack. Last, but far from least, our safety gear was checked and details of our emergency beacon verified and confirmed with operating staff at the airport. Since a satellite phone was to be our main means of communication (a check in every other day) we spent several minutes checking contact numbers, the operation of the system and the essential solar powered chargers.

That afternoon, ready to set off, we loaded up the helicopter (a Bell 222), but were to be delayed by one hour while coastal fog at Kap Stewart, our final destination on the coast of the world’s largest and longest fjord Scoresbysund, cleared. Flying down the coast we used the journey to reconnoiter the great cliffs that stretch out of the Hurry Inlet for their geology and to look for a potential campsite close to fresh water and an area we hoped would contain the plant fossils we sought. An obvious campsite soon presented itself, with a good source of fresh water, a low cliff down to the beach and good access to the best geology. What clinched it though were two hunters’ huts that might provide good shelter and some comfort. Although our optimism about the huts was dashed as soon as we looked inside and saw their rank and rotting condition, we found good firm ground nearby, an apparent rarity, and quickly set up a camp that was to become our home for the next three weeks. On the 21st of July Finn Surlyk joined our party, flying down by helicopter, with extra supplies of food and news from the outside world.