Farthest North, Log 5: Eternity Glacier
© 2013 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved
Southbound along the Greenland coast. The morning fog clears slowly, and then its mountains and pinnacles and eskers and peaks all along the way. Upon the vast snow fields and below the hanging glaciers the white is raked with dark rills, the tracks of many small avalanches (and some not so small). The peaks run upwards of two thousand meters, small as mountains go, but because they start at the sea they have the aspect of a range many times that high. At the mouth of a fjord we drop anchor again, and take to the small boats.
This is Evidghedsfjorden, “Eternity Fjord.” At the apex, an aging glacier, all blue ice fractured and crevassed in vertical lines 50, 60 meters overhead. And threatening to cleave away. The resident flock of Black-legged Kittiwake own the floating ice. They stand on the small glassy flows and only take off when you are so close you can read the bright of their jet black eyes. On the narrow shore and the dark bare cliffs that close in on the glacier from either side, it is the Glaucous Gulls that rule. Many are in that halfway plumage of summer molt, mottled brown and creamy white. But a distance it is more their pale pink legs that set them apart from the Kittiwakes. In flight, against the glacier’s face and in the air above it they both provide scale which otherwise is almost impossible to judge. Not very big as glaciers go it is plenty big enough.
Mike Beedell is at the Zodiac’s helm. He is a nature photographer’s photographer, the kind of guy who will sit there eaten by bugs or freezing his tail off for the sake of a Decisive Moment He knows wildlife and its landscape with an intimacy only decades of experience can buy, and easily points out where to look, what we are looking at, and always lines up for the best shots. With all, he keeps a safe distance. If one of those bad boys decides to break away you want open water between you and where it drives down, and plenty of it. Fjords run deep, and it’s a long, long way to the bottom.
Stresses in the ice snap like gunshots. Ba-BAM! BAM!
Nothing happens (You relax thinking “False Alarm”)
Without warning a chunk lets go…
It hits the water in fragments, not with a splash but concussion. The slurry of ice that follows goes on and on. It sounds like running water. There is that here too, glacier-fed waterfalls that hiss all the way down the worn granite faces between ice and sea. An eider duck flies over the glacier’s fragmented white top. We must have startled him up, I did not see from where. A big bird, against this landscape he is very small. And again, that sense of scale and how tiny we are. Glacier; Arctic; Greenland; I can’t get used to it, have to keep reminding myself of the reality of the place. Well the place is real enough. The reality of me – here –that will take time and reflection.
Special thanks are due to Jillian Dickens of Adventure Canada and http://www.Bannikin.com without whom none of this would have taken place.