The Unimog is a multipurpose all-wheel drive vehicle produced by Mercedes Benz. Apparently when other off road vehicles reach their limits, the Unimog comes in to its own. The limit comes early here in Kangerlussiaq, Greenland and so there are quite a few Unimogs used to travel from the town, overland to the Greenland Ice Sheet. A Rosehearty team of 11 assembled in front of the vehicle enlisted for the day's expedition, an army green monster with knobbly tires and seriously high suspension. Catherine and Mark were the two crew whose turn it was to join the owner and guests. The purpose of the expedition was to provide some understanding of the zone between the retreating Greenland ice sheet and the top of Kangerlussiaq fjord. Some I spoke to described the ride as bumpy and uncomfortable, but Mark, who appreciates anything mechanical, described it as "mean."
Mounds of pulverized rock and boulder litter the area where the ice sheet used to be. When ice moves, everything gets pushed aside so there is a zone, created in the last 20 to 40 years, of glacial debris and of course melt water, fast running melt water. The further away from the glacier you get, the more plant life is evident. That Arctic ground cover dominates, providing color for our eyes but also nourishment for the musk ox and reindeer that graze this zone.
Cat later told me that the group was not allowed to walk too close to the ice edge. Apparently, ice slabs can break off at any time and because they hit hard land rather than water they shatter on impact and can throw very large shards of ice out a significant distance. Deaths have been reported in this no-go zone.
Our team saw herds of musk ox -- introduced in Greenland from the high Canadian Arctic - gathering in dry river beds and lush meadows. Locals hunt the beasts, whose numbers have exploded due to the abundant food supply and lack of predators. A lone reindeer cruised passed. The Unimog brought everyone home.
This journal entry marks the end of the Arctic/Greenland portion of the voyage. The boss and his friends have departed and now we are just crew, left to prepare the boat and ourselves for the 3,500 mile sail from Greenland to Italy. Thanks for sailing with us so far; jump back on board once we cast off the lines at the end of the month.