I must apologize for the temporary pause in posts about this trip, but the past week has been a mad dash to finish the downloading, selecting, and starting the printing of images for an upcoming Open Studio event that will happen (gulp!) in less than four weeks. I have about a dozen prints to take over to my framing guys tomorrow and I hope they don’t have a backlog of other requests because I still have another 12-15 to go. I am wondering if I was a little rash in promising to feature the Artic in this year’s show.
Evening Clouds, Baffin Bay
Enough complaining! Time to resume the story. The weather turned gloomy as we left Ilulissat and continued north up the western coast of Greenland. It would turn out that cloudy weather is the norm here, but landscape photographers find that can often bring opportunities.
Light Rain, Baffin Bay, West Coast of Greenland
We were now entering Baffin Bay, named after one of the early European explorers who searched for the Northwest Passage. We were following the track of Robert Bylot’s and William Baffin’s 1616 expedition that pushed to a point (770 45’) that would not be matched for another 157 years. On that voyage, Baffin provided the first maps of the shoreline we were now passing. The conditions they encountered that summer as they threaded through the pervasive sea ice were far different than what we were experiencing 400 years later:
“Our shrouds, ropes, and sails were so frozen, that we could scarce handle them.”
Source: James P. Delgado, “Across the Top of the World,” p. 41.
Once Upon a Time, A Glacier was Here
Unlike Bylot and Baffin we still had seen no sea ice and, as we passed along the coast, we saw valley after valley that not long ago had been funnels for glacial ice sheets terminating in the sea. The glaciers are barely visible now, only the debris-filled moraines left behind as they retreat. Today, those valleys only have a stream of meltwater coursing down the moraine as the glaciers continue to lose ground.
The next day we stopped in Kullorsuak, a small Inuit village where we disembarked (via Zodiacs) to see demonstrations of traditional hunting and fishing as well as a start-to-finish butchering of a recently killed seal. We were given the opportunity to sample the very fresh, raw seal’s liver but I graciously allowed the person next to me to enjoy the portion that I was offered. I will also omit photographic evidence of these activities in accordance with my policy of censoring images of a disturbing nature. The Inuit here, as elsewhere, have been interweaving the practices of western society into their culture. Pallets of Coca-Cola and kids checking their iPhones were as common as the numerous sled dogs who remain a key means of transport during the long winters.
Leaving Kullorsuak at Sunset
(Note houses on right side)
Our last day in Greenland was spent near Savissavik, cruising in Zodiacs among grounded ice bergs in a so-called “iceberg graveyard.” The low hanging clouds and light rain created a primeval mood as we passed between scores of ice monuments, sculpted into bizarre formations by nature’s elements. My favorite was the 40-foot tall speciman with three arches shown below.
Rare Triple-arched Ice Berg, near Saviisavik, Greenland
Next: Across Baffin Bay into the heart of the Northwest Passage