Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Not lost in the fog in Greenland

It is important to point out that we weren't lost though it was foggy.

We'd gone for a hike on Kraemer Island in Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord and in principle it was very simple: head north until we see over the other side into Watkins Fjord, and that is indeed what we did.

The view was impressive with the fjord completely jammed full of ice fed by multiple glaciers though the narrow channel heading down to our anchorage was clear:
On the way back the weather changed and we were surrounded by fog.

The terrain was rather rough and on the way out we'd had to zig-zag a lot scrambling up and down ravines across rivers and battling scree, but the general route had been to head north.

So in theory the route back was to head south but where to zig and where to zag was made a lot harder with the poor visibility.

Luckily we had a mix of natural navigation and top tech to hand. I of course relied on the following clues:

  • Vegetation in Greenland is sparse and will struggle on north facing surfaces. It was actually a pretty good indicator of where south was
  • The wind was from the SW and so when at the crest of hills clear of eddies its direction was another good navigational sign

The Mexican's also had their smartphones which all had magnetic compasses.

So we were not at all lost and I never felt my mental map of where we were was that far off.

At one point there was a debate about whether we should go left or right to retrace our steps to the little waterfall with the rock over it, to which I called right and we were rewarded with this:
I'd call that a result for natural navigation.

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