Wednesday 26 June 2013

Higher than ever

We all associate North with "Up" and South with "Down", so up we go, as high as many have never been before. Already in the morning we crossed 70 degrees North, that is about 590 kilometers north of the Polar Circle. After spotting two Fin Whales in the morning we dropped anchor under a cloudless sky, a short boat ride away from Uummannaq, the island that features that peculiar mountain with the big dent on top. Certainly a landmark, and hence the name - roughly translated from Greenlandic it means "Live up", reflecting the relief of the ancient paddlers when they came across a known place and thus weren't off track.
The huge fjords were the Inuit's hunting grounds for centuries, many remains can be found. One of the most remarkable locations is without doubt the tiny post-medieval settlement of Qilakitsoq, where in 1972 seal hunters discovered a cave with the mummies of six women and two children, all extremely well preserved. Only in the 80s the significance of the find was understood and the bodies were subsequently recovered.

All this we learn on a combined History Landing & Ice Ride in the morning, offering insights in Paleo-Eskimo times and great views on huge icebergs. In the meantime the hike to the well-known hut of Santa Claus on the far side of the village gets on its way; the Old Man, however, is not home. Well, definitely worthwhile anyway.
This wasn't it: Still further north we ride after lunch, until the early evening light finds us in Ukussissat, minute little settlement surrounded by the mountains as cragged as it gets. FRAM entertains very friendly relations to this place, and so the villagers, as usual, come aboard to show us their song and dance, and soon the observation lounge is swarming with curious kids who welcome the opportunity to grab a coke and have fun.
Swarming, too, is the landing site where most of us go ashore afterwards - but this time of fish, a LOT of it.
And as the sun goes down (but not all the way, of course) the bed is made for some - out on deck, for a unique sleeping experience in the open air, whilst FRAM is turning south again.