Blue skies finally and views of icebergs in the fjord from our campsite

Trekking Greenland – Unplugged Wilderness Day 6

Day 6 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek saw us wake up to better weather than we had on Day 4 and Day 5 thank goodness!  It looked like the sun might even come out at some point during our hike!

Views of mountains and the runway at Bluie East Two
A better looking morning for our hike today

After packing up camp, we convened on the abandoned airstrip of Bluie East Two for a little more info about the area. The US left the cleanup operation in the hands of Greenland and Denmark claiming that the cost of defending the free world had to be shared.  Adding that if they foot the bill for Greenland, that would set a precedent for the many other countries in which they’d established and then abandoned bases during WWII.

Yes, the Greenland flies also finally managed to find us (note the head-nets)!

Maxime talking to the trekking group who are standing on the old runway at Bluie East Two
We are actually standing on the runway here

We farewelled the rusted remains of this environmental disaster (which the Danish and Greenlandic Governments have now committed to cleaning up) 

Hundreds of rusted fuel barrels in front of the mountains of East Greenland
You really can’t believe the number of fuel barrels at this site

and set out along the Ikateq Strait towards the Tunu Fjord.   This was a very easy hike compared to the past few days and I spent the majority of it chatting with Filip.  

Different views of mountains and water as we hike along the Ikateq Strait towards the Tunu Fjord
The different views of the Ikateq Strait as we hiked along

The “highlight” of the day, and the thing we’d all been looking forward to with great anticipation (some might say that “dread” was a more accurate word), was the crossing of a major glacial river just before we reached our next camp in the Tunup Kua valley.  Given the recent rain, it wasn’t clear exactly what we’d find when we got there, or for exactly how long we would have to wade (hopefully not swim!) through the water to reach the other side.

The wide river valley we had to cross to get to our next campsite

Maxime did an amazing job of keeping us out of the water for as long as possible and scouting the best places to cross, managing to find locations where the water only came to knee depth on me.  

Trekking group picking their way along the rocks lining the river to avoid the water for as long as possible
We were determined to avoid the water for as long as possible

He gave us a bit of a pep talk, and left one of his hiking poles for me to use (it did actually help with the rivers and I was one of only 2 people trekking without them – I tend to find them more of a hindrance than a help in most instances)

Maxime and some of the trekking group preparing to cross the river

and led the way into the river.  There was nothing for it but for us to grit our teeth and plunge in after him.

Maxime standing in the middle of the river watching the group hike across
Maxime really doesn’t feel the cold!

The above image highlights why I could never be a guide in the places I love to trek.  While we all waded through as quickly as conceivably possible, Maxime just stood there in the middle of the freezing river in case anyone needed assistance.  No way!   And although he assures me that you can train yourself to better cope with the cold, I think he may have started with a much greater tolerance for it than I currently have.  After all, this is a bloke who’s led the Greenland Icecap Crossing twice!

In the end, there turned out to be 6 river channels that we had to wade through.  And I was seriously hurting and wishing for numbness by the time we’d crossed the last one!   OK – this was infinitely worse than crossing the river at the start to the Brewster’s Hut track in New Zealand!

Maxime leading the trekking group across a particularly wide section of water
My feet were in significant pain at this point

Fortunately the campsite was not too far from the last river crossing, though just far enough that I’d warmed up a little by the time we got there.   It also helped that the sun finally came out and we were able to enjoy amazing views 

Blue skies finally and views of icebergs in the fjord from our campsite
Blue skies finally!

and some warmth, before the sun sank below the mountains behind us and plunged us into the cold shadows again.   

View of the green vegetation and the mountain behind our campsite on Day 6
The sun set directly behind this mountain

But not before spectacularly lighting up the tops of the mountains 🙂

Golden light from sunset on the peaks across the fjord from our campsite

Trekking Time:  approximately 6 hours

Read more about the Unplugged Wilderness Trek

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in East Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure on the the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Tour with Greenland Adventures:

  • 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

If it has sparked an interest in Greenland more generally, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

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