Disko Bay – Day 15

Today was just a short day, but we needed to build in quite a large margin of time to allow for our exit through the tidal narrows.  As it turned out we were able to eddy hop and use ferry gliding to exit the inner part of Pakitsoq a couple of hours earlier than planned.
Almost as soon as we left the narrows we were re-united with our constant companions, ice bergs, something that we had missed for the last few days.  As usual when paddling in this fjord we saw a number of whales, although sadly they were quite distant.
This was a day when we were able to relax as it was just a short paddle to the slabs at Anoritoq, where we had camped 14 days earlier, at the start of our journey north.  I have always found the paddles, heading south, towards the end of the trip much gentler when heading north.  There seems to be less urgency and a feeling of sadness that once again we will be flying away from this amazing sea kayaking playground.
Leaving the campsite.  It really was very pleasant apart from the swarms of insects.
Nicky heading out through the narrows.  Through the application of some appropriate ferry gliding we were able to exit the inner part of Pakitsoq a bout 2 hours earlier than anticipated.  As we left the narrows we had stunning views of a white tailed eagle, which had been perched on the shore.
Almost as soon as we left the inner part of Pakitsoq we returned to the world of ice.
Conditions were pretty much perfect.  We had distant views of whales, so we kept up our 100% record of seeing whales every time we have paddled in this area.
 Entering Anoritoq, for another evening of camping on the slabs.
 Always a spectacular backdrop for cooking the evening meal.  If everything went to plan the following evening we should be eating on the H8 restaurant.  Always an indication that the trip is drawing to a close.

Disko Bay – Day 14 – Pakitsoq

After a truly memorable day exploring glaciated landscapes the day before, it was time to start to head west back towards the open waters.  The tide hadn’t risen high enough to float the kayaks so initially we had to drag the kayaks through some rather sticky glacial mud, at the head of Pakitsoq.
Eventually with a falling tide and slight tail wind we made rapid progress through the narrows, reaching the open water relatively quickly.  For the first time on the trip we saw a number of groups of geese, close to the waters edge plus a some distant views of an Arctic Fox.
We finished for the day relatively early and some of us passed an hour or so rolling and rescuing.  Although the water was cold it wasn’t as harsh as we had experienced on other days, which might have been because of the lack of ice floating in the water.
Whilst chatting about a particular rescue I swallowed 4 insects, which was an indication of what it might be like on the land.  That evening was the worst we experienced on the trip for insects.  To say they were unbearable would be an under statement.  It was impossible to be outside for more than a few seconds, the only refuge was in the tipi.  The lack of photographs for today, is an indication of what an impact they had that evening.
It was an early night and probably 30 minutes was spent inside the tent, ensuring that all the biting insects had been dealt with, before we settled down to sleep.
Probably the only negative aspect of kayaking in Greenland.
It wasn’t that warm as we prepared to drag our kayaks across the mud flats in search of water deep enough to float them.
Looking west as we paddled out of the narrows.  The milky water indicates that we were still pretty close to the meltwater streams.
How often is that you come across a roche moutonee, whilst out sea kayaking.  The glacial landscape was always revealing new features.
Lunch was taken on one of the small islands in an attempt to reduce our contact with the insects.  It seemed to work.
 The summit of the island was covered in a range of small plants and lichens.

Disko Bay – Day 13

It was strange to be kayaking with no ice visible in the water, it was as if we had entered a completely different world.  Somehow the landscape seemed less harsh, initially.  We had decided to explore the southern arm of this large, sheltered inlet, access to which, was protected by fast moving tidal streams.
Lunch was taken on a beautiful sandy beach, something we hadn’t seen too much off in the last couple of weeks, just before we headed into the narrows of Qingua kujataleq.  What followed later that afternoon were some of the most memorable experiences of our summer in Greenland and guaranteed to send anybody with an interest in glacial landscapes into raptures of delight.
 A rare sight in Disko Bay, a small sandy beach.  This was a perfect place for lunch prior to entering the narrows at Qingua kujataleq.  There were no insects, so it was a completely relaxing break.
 Entering the narrows.  The change in water colour is an indication of melt water streams feeding the inlet.
 Nicky trying to seek some sheltered water to make progress upstream.  At this point there was a significant flow from left to right.
 We should probably have foreseen this, but suddenly we started to run out of water.
 This was a far as we could go, although looking at the map we thought we should have been able to make further progress towards the ice cap.
 A steep climb up a stream bed, just behind where we landed and a walk along a raised valley delivered us to this viewpoint.
 A world of moraine, melt water streams and ice.  It would have been so easy to miss this remarkable glacial landscape if we hadn’t made the effort to go walking.
 On our maps this was marked as the sea, which it clearly isn’t.  We are still trying to decide whether it was a glacial outwash plain or an old lake bed.
 Whatever the origins of the flat landscape there were very few splashes of colour.  We did see some other human foot prints but interestingly this was the only day on the entire trip when we didn’t see any other people.
We are pretty certain this is a varve, an annual layer of sediment.
 After a lovely day kayaking and truly memorable walk we were rewarded with a spectacular camp site.

Disko Bay – Day 12

This was to be a day dominated by some white water kayaking, not something that I have experienced that frequently whilst paddling in Greenland. It finished with our entry into the inner part of the Pakitsoq fjord.  A considerable  area, which differs in numerous ways from the rest of the kayaking, which is experienced off the west coast of Greenland.  It was the start of a couple days of memorable experiences
Preparing to depart after breakfast.  Our early morning porridge was made slightly more interesting due to the fact that as we sat on the rocks, our friend Yann, from southern Brittany paddled past.  Sea kayaking really is a small world.
 Alex heading south in Ata Sund.  Quite a bit of the ice from the previous day had disappeared.
 We arrived at the entrance into the inner section of Pakitsoq, slightly early, so the tide was still ebbing with some force.
 Jim heading out into the current, for a bit of play time.
 Toby crossing into the main stream.  Once the tide reached a certain level the rough water disappeared really quickly.  It was an interesting 90 minutes of play in the white water, which is in total contrast to most of the kayaking experienced in Greenland.

 Passing through the narrows into Pakitsup ilordlia.  It was strange to think that we were still paddling on the sea.
 Once through the narrows a totally different environment is revealed.  The ice cap is just visible through the dip in the skyline.  The complete lack of ice bergs also meant that we didn’t have to carry our kayaks so far in the evening, to avoid any possible waves generated by calving bergs.
 A delightful campsite, made even more enjoyable by the complete lack of insects.
On evenings like this there is always the temptation to leave the tent door open.