3.6.11

Day 6 – Siorapaluk (Arctic Paradise redefined)

Turning 35 is no small thing, celebrating it on the sea ice only one days travel from Siorapaluk (The Northernmost natural Settlement in the world) should make it a day to remember anyway, but just to make sure it would be remembered, Louise was awoken with a birthday song in North Greenlandic and a small present.
I prepared breakfast and chilli tea for us and thanks to this being her birthday the rest of us repacked the camp while she just enjoyed relaxed.

Weather on this day was perfect, sunny, with nearly no wind and warm at around -20C. In short, perfect dogsledding conditions.

The trip towards Siorapaluk took us onto increasing thicker and safer Ice all the way and it was one long smooth and pleasant ride.

About halfway the sleds were grinded to a hold and the two drivers stripped all gear off one of the sleds and turned it upside down. Apparently of the runners had been damaged and the next half an hour the two hunters planed the runner until it was smooth and perfect looking again.



Around late afternoon we arrived in Siorapaluk, a small but gorgeously looking Settlement.
Siorapaluk means “small sandy place” and as it was named it is located along a small sandy shore at the base of what looks like tall sandstone mountains and with a largish glacier visible in the bottom of the small fiord.

We have travelled a few of the smaller settlements both on the east and west coast of Greenland and few seemed so well maintained and well functioning as this one.
Houses were generally well maintained and on this Sunday kids were playing with small sleds, pulling them far uphill and then taking turns practising manoeuvring the sled downhill again. They seem to learn the sledding craft early in this part of the world.

We toured the Settlement for a while, we stopped at the local church which used to function as a school until very recently. Stands with the remains of hunted animals, such as the head of a walrus or the skull from a seal or a dead sled dog are placed, alongside what looks like a tiny sled with fur on the seat. It was not until I got back to Ilulissat that the mystery was solved, it was a tiny sled used to rail the riffle when sneaking up on seals on the ice during winter. Siorapaluk really is an amazing place to visit.

On our way back to the tent on the ice we bumped into arii with an axe in his hand, he ass on his way to a nearby ice flake to chop drinking water (read: ice).
We joined him on the walk there and watched how he expertly chopped two 10-12 kilo chunks of ice off the ice flake with little to no spill.

 I have tried doing the same, but came away with maybe a hundred pieces instead and had a mix of the salted outer layer with me... chopping ice off ice flakes and icebergs is more difficult than it sounds and looks.

We carried the two chunks to the tent and I prepared a birthday meal of boiled rice, chilli sauce and meat balls.


 Later that evening we watched the sunset and a half full moon travel in a slow pace over the sky as sunset skiped nightfall and slowly faded into sunrise before heading to sleep in the warm arctic sleeping bags.

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