Sunday, 24 August 2014

Some good company for Da Lang Ayre

I'm sorry it's been a little while since I posted, but the weather has been pretty poor in general, I've had a bit of camera fatigue after Greenland and also done my ankle in again!

Any how, it's on the mend and with good weather this weekend I took a group of friends over Ronas Hill and down to Da Lang Ayre...


The route and a video of a past trip are on the link above, but generally after parking at Collar Firth Masts I head over Ronas Hill and begin the decent to The Burn of Monius. Here's the view over Ronas Voe as you start the decent...


There were a lot of hares about today, all in full summer coats, but with this noisy bunch of folk walking over the hills we didn't get close...


Both couples of friends are reasonably new to Shetland and had never been to Da Lang Ayre and it was a great day to go. We had a good laugh along the way.


The Burn of Monius...


On the way back up we saw this lonesome frog and the bank to the side of the Burn of Monius!


The final scramble to the beach with the support of a kindly placed rope...


The tide was out so we had a walk right along the beach with dinner at the far end. We actually me another person down there, though he did seem a bit lost!


 A great day out in great company too and hopefully more to come...
 


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Greenland trip report

So after a ferry to Scotland and a plane to Iceland, one more plane had me set foot on Greenlandic soil in Kulusuk, a small island on the East Coast of Greenland...


Click on pictures to enlarge them


All that remained was one more flight by chopper to the village of Tasiilaq on Ammassalik Island...


And the landscape was already impressing...


Here's the helicopter and the luggage transport...


And the airport arrivals building...


First my friend and I dropped our luggage at his kayak storage container before heading into the village in search of fuel and food.


So I got my first chance to see Tasiilaq, the centre of my world for a couple of weeks...




We popped in to see Lars Anker-Moller of Travellodge Greenland who organises some of the transport logistics for my friend Martin's kayak expeditions...


And carried on into the village to explore. The red building here is the community service house which is open for showers and laundry 3 days a week...


After a trip to the small Pilersuisoq store we were surprised to find a pizza shop! Not to look a gift horse in the mouth after 2 days travelling we tucked in and made the most of it...


And then it was back to the container to retrieve our gear and plod up the hillside above the village dump to find a nice spot to camp...



Though if you looked down from the other side of the tent you saw the dump...


There is an official campsite near the helipad, but you pay a fair bit for little in the way of facilities and anyway we both like being away from it a bit.

Not a bad view eh?


I took some time wondering about the shore and the village from time to time, though even walking around the village can be hard going with steep hills and dusty rough roads with trucks passing you by.


A dog sled laid up for summer...



A view along the hillside from our camp...


Icebergs in the bay...










Old boats laid up...



And old bones too...




Housing in the village is generally pretty basic with little in terms of plumbing...




And most houses have a bucket toilet emptied by these beasts of lorries that were backwards and forwards all day...


Just on the edge of the village is the telecommunications network for the area...


And the book store come internet cafe, below. It was quite a challenge having a go on the computers which were hopelessly slow, had Danish keyboards and several keys missing. Still it was a good place to pop in for a drink or an ice-cream and to check the weather forecast...


The mortuary...


There's a museum too...


With some great information, old photographs and artefacts including an umiak, or womens canoe outside...





And I was lucky to hear a fascinating talk on Greenlandic Shamanism given by Professor Kenneth Petersen (I think) from West Greenland...


There was also a reconstructed sod house next to the museum. The local people would have lived in these through the winter...



And a gathering place in the village was the footy pitch where teams would come from the surrounding villages to play. Not a blade of grass to be seen and rocks the size of you fist liberally scattered across the pitch...


Of course I didn't come here particularly for the local culture, although that was great to experience, I came here to walk and take photographs. Unfortunately my back injury back in Easter had laid me up for a few months losing much hard won fitness and the dry heat (I know one days it was 29c with very low humidity) meant that I wasn't going to be able to manage the long trek around the bottom half of Ammassalik I'd originally planned. It was no disaster though I still got out and about for day walks along with a few nights further away from Tasiilaq.

My first walk of any note was to the local hill of Qaqqartivakjik (679m), a prominent hill and about a 4 hour walk from the tent.

On my way I passed this little bit of land art some one had left...


Here's the view of the hill from near the telecommunications disc...


The views as I ascended making my own way were stunning...


Looking back toTasiilaq...


My first snow field turned out to be a solid ice field, so I went around the rocks...



Getting there...



Conquered!


The view returning to Tasiilaq with a nice willow tree...


Another day I went in search of some waterfalls I'd seen on the map. There a very few names on the maps of either rivers, lakes or valleys with them often just referred to by a number. 

I passed these cuties on the way...


With their parents chained up for the summer below...


And this was marked on the map as a bridge, I guess I expected it to be a bit bigger if it was marked on a 1:100,000 map!


The walk to the falls was hot and a battle with midge, mosquito and black fly but well worth it with great views...


Lunch at the falls with a tarp for a wind break...


The falls were more cascades than falls, but still wonderful...






And I returned over the hills via 'The Valley of the Flowers' with yet more get water features...


Great views...


And flowers too...















And fungi too...


I also had the chance of a boat trip some way north to an old US airbase. Sadly the ice closed in too much before we got there so we had to detour to visit the village Kuummiit and a couple of nearby glaciers.

But what a stunning trip...








Heading into Kuummiit...


And being over taken at warp speed...


Some views of Kuummiit...





Those trampolines get everywhere...


Hot dogs...



Next stop was a couple of glaciers...



I did venture out away from the village for a few days despite my achy back and squeezed in the highest hill of my trip, Ymers Berg (830m).

Plodding away towards Lake 171 with midgies galore...


Home for a few days on Lake 171...


A view to the distant Greenland Icecap on my ascent of Ymers Berg...


Glacier to the left, snow field to the right...


Kev woz 'ere!


I pottered around a few other places with no name in the area and generally enjoyed the views and silence...


Back in town one of the handful of supply ships had arrived and was unloading supplies for the area. During the freeze up nothing can get though so, June to October everything needs delivering from food to fuel...


A few more views of Tasiilaq...




Martin was there to do some work on his kayaks before his clients arrived for their kayak tours and spent time 'networking' with other regulars to the area to discuss routes to places, ice conditions and good campsites...



He also caught up with some local friends he's made over the years of his trips. This guy still used a kayak and traditional harpoon to hunt as well as the power boat and rifle...



And hunting is what people do here. There's no way to grow your own, imported foods are stupidly expensive so fish, seal and whale are staples for many people as well as the dogs.



Seal blubber (I think ) drying...



Ribs anyone?





Or may be whale...




Seals in cold storage in the harbour were a common site...



Many people were butchering seals on the rocks...




And even a killer whale...






Anyway enough of that blood and guts here's a few more cute huskies. To hear them all howling at feed time was something else!







And if you're still viewing, well done and thank you. Take a pee break , make a cuppa and then you can watch this video of the trip.



And a little timelapse...



I hope you've enjoyed a little slice of the East coast of Greenland!