Thursday, July 20, 2006

Qaqortok, Greenland

I had big ambitions to race north past Narsaq to an old Inuit grave site that was reputed to be in such a state that skulls could be seen through the makeshift graves. What's not to love about that?

I packed everything up and raced north, passed Qaqortok without stopping and wove through a series of narrow passes between islands and raced for Narsaq. It was only after a couple hours that I started trying to figure out precisely where this site was. I'd managed to circle the wrong spot on the map, and was at least another hour out. A little mental math of the time and gas required led me to see the folly of my plans. There was simply no way to make it out, shoot some images, turn around to Narsaq for fuel and still make it back in time to catch the ferry.

It was as simple as that. I circled around in the middle of the bay and head back. I stopped briefly at a lovely arched iceberg that was nearly tourquoise in color. Just as I motored up beside, it dropped a small shelf of ice into the water barely ten feet away. it sent up a great splash that startled more than frightened me, though I did get a bit of water over the boat.

The berg began making a series of deep, pointed cracks. Short, sharp snapping sounds of something serious about to happen. You could almost feel the pressue inside the ice, torqued by wind and tide and immense pressures, it simlply gave way. The ached span collapsed with a roar, followed by the entire face, sending up a great wave of ice and sea water. I kept shooting, until the wave approached, then turned to the boat to face it.

And then it was gone, a receding wave, dissipating adrenaline, shattered shards of ice spreading out on the water.

I raced back to try to catch the ferry in Qaqortok, not at all certain if I even had enough gas to make it.

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