Greetings from Kangerlussaq! Today marked the first true day the expedition. We awoke at 4:45am at our hotel in Clifton park after arriving from all over later the previous night. Looking out in the morning, I took great care to observe the last real sunrise we were to experience for quite awhile. I wish I had taken a photo, but I was not exactly a happy camper to be up that early. Piling into cars and buses, we headed to the US Air National Guard base in Scotia NY. Once we dropped off our cargo, it was time to check in and spend quite a bit of time in a boring white room and wait for the plane to be ready. While everyone seemed a bit sleep deprived it was still a great experience to talk get to know the other members on our expedition, as well as several other groups heading to other parts of greenland on the same flight. As i recall, there were 34 passengers in addition the the Air National Guard crew. By the time 9am rolled around, we were informed that our plane was ready for take off and we headed out to the tarmac.
Getting out of the room, it was really great to feel the warmth of the sun. It must’ve been over 80F, and all of us crazy people are headed up to the arctic. Jon & lindsey even took the opportunity to get a last bit of laying in the grass before the flight.
Packing into the plane and getting situated took quite a bit of time. The plane was cramped and dark with only small circular windows facing outward for light, not to mention VERY full. So much that every single seat was taken. We were given earplugs in advance and warned multiple times about how loud it would be… and they were definitely right. You couldn’t hear anyone unless you yelled directly in their ear. Shortly after we took off, I noticed that the plane appeared to be turning multiple times and that the houses started to get bigger outside the window. After awhile, we landed back in Scotia after flying in circles for awhile overhead. I was pretty confused and puzzled, although the more experienced travelers looked frustrated and indicated that the plane “boomeranging” like this is just part of polar travel.
We were brought back to the boring white room and told to wait to see what was going on. Someone overheard that there was a hydraulic issue on engine #4, thus it was probably a good thing that we didn’t progress with the flight all the way to Greenland. We waited back in the base for another three hours before we were cleared for flight on another LC-130. Since the plane was so full of people and cargo, we had to take a stop in Goose Bay, Canada – Roughly halfway to Kanger – in order to refuel. The drillers were excited to hear that we were stopping in Goose Bay, because they apparently have fantastic ice cream. While I wasn’t expecting packaged ice cream bars, I will admit it was the best dang strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had. With a quick chance to pee & strech our legs there, it was back on the plane for another 4 hours to kanger. Strong vibrations made it difficult to take a steady photo, but I did the best I could.
Later on in the flight, the plane started to get quite a bit colder, and after we dropped below the clouds I saw a wonderful view of ice fjords outside of the small window. It was then at this point that I realized I did not back enough warm clothes in my carry on, which only got worse as we had to wait outside in the cold for the Greenlandic border agent to stamp our passports. I felt quite foolish to have only worn baselayer top and bottoms, a fleece and pants, but even in kanger it was below freezing. The customs agent laughed at me when he saw me shivering, claiming “Hey, its summer here!”. Luckly, I was shortly reunited with the rest of my gear when we arrived at the KISS (Kangerlussaq International Science Suport) facility where we are staying tonight. Being ~11pm local time when we finally got in, the restaurants and canteen were closed, but CPS had purchased a large supply of mystery thai food for us to eat. I didn’t care what it was, for hot food felt really good after eating only granola all day.
We got a briefing from the coordination office here, and were told that our flight was scheduled to leave tomorrow rather than on the 6th as we had first expected. This means that we won’t have much free time to hang out in kanger, but hopefully we’ll get to do some of that after we finish our science. Tomorrow is the big flight to summit, and we still need to check on the status of all of our scientific cargo. Also, better make sure to have my full set of Parka/bibs/boots for the flight this time since the weather forcase at summit for today said it was -32C.
Regards from Kanger!