Unplugged Wilderness Trek Day 2 – East Greenland

Karale Fjord camp at 2am - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

These were the views that greeted me when I got up at 2am to go to the loo.  Yes, occasionally it is a good thing to have to get up once/night!  Unfortunately on this trip to Greenland, I never actually made it above the Arctic Circle (we were less than 100km away here), so the Sun did set briefly each night between around 11:30pm and 2am.  

Several hours later, we were all up and in the cook/dining tent for breakfast where a daily routine was quickly established.  Given I was almost always the first one at the tent, I would put the water on to boil and have a lot of the stuff out on the table before most people put in an appearance.  Didn’t mind doing it at all (it also meant I got to sit closest to the gas burners … the warmest place in the tent 😉 ) and I actually enjoyed the morning routine.

We had a wide variety of food from which we could make breakfast for ourselves – Danish cheese (a semi-soft cheese (might have been Havarti) that I became completely addicted to, blue, brie), cream cheese of every flavour imaginable, pate, processed meat of every description, Fitness bread, Wasa crispbread (also a staple for me in the South, my favourite was the sesame Wasa), jam, Nutella (I think I ate my bodyweight in Nutella on this trip), cereals, and regular bread (at least for these first few days) – plus Maxime cooked porridge on several mornings as well.  For drinks there was tea (fruit and Earl Grey, which is not the same as black tea, sorry Karl 😉 ), and freshly brewed proper coffee.  It was great!

Making Lunch - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

This was lunch on the second-last day so our stocks were quite depleted … still, you get the idea. Photo: Damien Elsaesser

Once we’d finished with breakfast, we’d then each make our own lunch from the same ingredients to take with us while out hiking for the day.  We’d fill 3 thermoses with boiling water and distribute tea, instant coffee and other snacks (usually dried fruit or sweet biscuits – Prince biscuits are awesome!) amongst ourselves to carry as well. 

Day 2 saw us hiking to the ~3km-wide Karale Glacier at the end of the fjord – the largest in the area.  This glacier has retreated more than 6km in the past 80 years – yes global warming is having a huge impact in Greenland!  If you ever get the chance to see the documentary Chasing Ice, I highly recommend it (I saw it on the ship on the way to Antarctica last year – stunningly scary!)

Hiking to Karale Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

It was not a difficult hike if you don’t mind walking over boulders and scree the whole time.  

Hiking to Karale Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

And, because there happened to be another unnamed glacier between us and the closest point to Karale, we also did some glacier hiking. Given I’d been ice-climbing on the Viedma Glacier in Argentina in 2015 (truly awesome experience!), I was already familiar with using crampons and hiking on ice, but for most in the group it was completely new.

Maxime explained the intricacies of putting on crampons and the best techniques for hiking on the glacier 

Unnamed Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

and off we set.

Hiking on unnamed Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

The views on the glacier were absolutely stunning.

Hiking on unnamed Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

and I found a very cool rock (Greenland is full of cool rocks) – where was my geologist friend that I was also wishing for in South Greenland??!!

Geology - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

On the other side of the unnamed glacier, we were confronted by a bit of an obstacle, but Maxime (easing us into the whole experience) set about constructing a bridge/dam so we could walk across without getting wet or changing into our river shoes.

Hiking to Karale Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

On the other side, and up a short, steep climb, we arrived at our lookout over the Karale Glacier

Karale Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

But the glacier was not the only awesome view.  The mountains are spectacular!

Hiking to Karale Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

From this furthest point on our hike, we had to retrace our steps back to camp.  Back across the unnamed glacier

Unnamed Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

More adjustments to crampons 

Adjusting crampons - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

A guide’s work is never done.  Yes, Maxime carried a gun for our entire trip, in case of Polar Bears.

Down off the glacier remembering (well almost) what we’d been told about glacier “quicksand”

Hiking on unnamed Glacier - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

And back to camp.  The image below also shows one of the “challenges” faced on this trip… There are no trees in Greenland.  This meant it was usually quite a trek to find some privacy!

Karale Fjord camp - Unplugged Wilderness - East Greenland

Thanks to Dusan for the unexpected opportunity to practice my Spanish before dinner and also the 52-proof Slovakian Slivovitz taster – wow that stuff really sets your lips to tingling!

 

Trekking time:  approximately 8 hours, but we did this very slowly!

Read more:  links to my other blog posts about the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Trek with Greenland Adventures by Icelandic Mountain Guides:

  • Day 1 – Tasiilaq to Kulusuk and along the Sermiligaaq Fjord 
  • Day 2 – Hike to the Karale Glacier
  • Day 3 – Hike to the lookout over Sermiligaaq Fjord and Karale Fjord
  • Day 4 – Karale Fjord camp to Beach camp
  • Day 5 – Beach camp to Bluie East Two
  • Day 6 – Bluie East Two along the Ikateq strait to the Tunu Fjord
  • Day 7 – Tunup Kua Valley to Tasiilaq Fjord
  • Day 8 – Along the Tasiilaq Fjord
  • Day 9 – Tasiilaq Fjord to Tasiilaq Mountain Hut
  • Day 10 – Tasiilaq Mountain Hut
  • Day 11 – Tasiilaq Mountain Hut to Tasiilaq Fjord to Kulusuk
  • Day 12 – Kulusuk to Reykjavik
  • Video Slideshow – of some of my favourite images
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