Day 6 – Ittoqqortoormiit, and a calibre 12 pump gun:
After breakfast and getting dressed we walked through the crisp and sunny morning air towards Nanu Travel to have a chat with Karina. Karina is one of the co-owners of Nanu Travel and has a huge amount of Knowledge on the area and the fiord, thus we have her and her husband Martin assisting us in the planning of our stay.
We receive a maybe for joining an Icelandic sports expedition into the fiord from Friday and we are told that they know little more than that they are scheduled to arrive the following day around noon and that two seats should be booked for us, price unknown.
Louise gets directions to the home of Theresia, a local woman that produce hand sewn seal fur mittens.
We decide to go to the local Pilersuisoq and do some shopping before heading back to Nanu to talk a little about hiking precautions in the area.
The Calibre 12 shotgun (pump action type with five rounds in the pipe), that Karina hands over is standard issue for hiking, the alternative is a calibre 30.06 single action hunting rifle, but as we are not there to hunt, but need it for protection against polar bears or to scare away the random aggressive musk ox, the shot gun is more efficient and allow for a faster reload and the Bear slugs provided should be able to put a bear to rest.
The shotgun itself was used by her brother when he got attacked by a polar bear. He came away unharmed, so a lot of good karma around this shotgun. I shoulder the shotgun along side a bag of groceries and pocket roughly 20 rounds for it. With a wave and an agreement to talk again the following morning we walk back to the hostel.
Seeing Louise with the shotgun over her should makes for a smile, the shotgun is nearly as long as she is tall.
However nobody seems to care as we walk through town with a rifle on one shoulder, it is simply common sense here. As we reach the city limit I load up the shotgun and we hit through the dog yards towards walrus bay. On our way to the bay we slowly adjust to the idea of perhaps to meet a polar bear, it takes a little while to adjust and learn to relax completely. Walking an area where other people go regularly makes it a little easier to manage, we meet a couple of hunters and fishermen before reaching the area where we planned to practise shooting tech with Louise. I set up a target, walk back to the bags and shotgun and chamber a round.
I bring the shotgun up and release the safety, it falls solid and natural at the shoulder and I gently pull the trigger… A hit:) and wow it felt good to shoot a real shotgun again.
Feeling Confident that she too will be able to pacify a bear if needed, we hike to a nearby rock and sit down for our afternoon tea. Clouds are forming up on the sky and ice bergs are slowly travelling with the tide and currents of the huge fiord. It is quite simply an amazing view and very peaceful. We are slowly adjusting to the regular scan of our surroundings and the fact that the shotgun next to us is not there for fun. It may sound odd, but we both feel that this carrying a shotgun to protect our selves will become part of our daily life fast.
As we are about to break up we see one of the local hunters in the tiniest excuse for a boat I have ever seen (the guy is perhaps 1.5 meters tall and he is barely able to sit in it), rowing towards a bird he has just shot.
On our way back we run into a couple of fishermen again, but neither bears nor musk ox seems willing to show it self. A slowly emerging discussion is on the opportunities for a much longer stay.
Reaching the city limit we unload the shotgun and walks through the amazing settlement towards the hotel.
Having the rifle locked up at the hostel, we walk up to see Theresia about the mittens, as we knock the door softer at first and then hard it is opened by a man with a look that yells special forces in the eyes. He introduces himself as Erik and invites us inside to talk to his wife, Theresia.
It turns out to be a long visit and the elder couple shares a multitude of stories from their life and families, alongside and in between the mitten talk being done by Louise and Theresia.
We hear stories about the 14 children, grand children and Great Grand children.
More stories are told about their life in the settlement, the unbearable loss of two children and how they got back on their feet after the tragedies.
As we are about to leave from what turns out to be one of the most heart warm visits we have experienced, Theresia walks to the kitchen and returns with a bag of frozen musk ox, she wants us to taste the meat from her latest kill. All in all Theresia and Eric gave us everything and opened their home, both Louise and I was speechless of admiration after the visit.
As we got back to the hostel, we sat down outside with a cold beer and just watched people blazing by on ATVs or slowly on foot, we sat for a couple of hours and the talk circled around both a longer stay again and the unexpected kindness and openhearted welcome Theresia and Eric had given earlier.
Louise had a very close, but friendly encounter with an almost grown sled dog pup, it quite forcefully insisted on being patted and stroked before leaving. It was quite a fun encounter and kind of confirms that there is more to these amazing dogs than meets the eye.
It became a late, very late, dinner, but a decent one and save for washing some clothes we went straight to bed after it. Baffled by the adventures of the day and dreaming of the adventures ahead.