Crossing to Iceland after visit to Ittoqqortoormiit

Monday 2015-09-14 evening

We left to begin our crossing to Iceland immediately after our morning visit to the village of Ittoqqortoormiit. We spent most of the afternoon packing up our gear and getting ready to begin the 30+ hour crossing to Iceland. It’s a bit hard to imagine that we’ve been together for almost three weeks and it’s already coming to an end. The days have gone by so quickly and I’m sure we’ll all be disappointed when we have to depart the Polar Pioneer. Many amazing connections have been made and friendships forged in these few short weeks and we’re all thankful to have been part of such an exciting journey.

We should arrive in Keflavik tomorrow night and many of the Elysium team members are continuing on for a few days diving, snorkeling, hiking, and photographing absolutely everything they can find in Iceland. Stay tuned for more photo posts in the next few days!

Yesterday should win some sort of prize

Monday 2015-09-14 morning

Throughout our trip, we have had and shared with you many wonderful, amazing days of travel and exploration, but yesterday was a spectacular day: from the gloriously sunny afternoon weather for iceberg viewing both above and below the water in the Red Island iceberg graveyard, to the farewell BBQ dinner and dancing on the bow at sunset as we slowly traveled through one of the mountain-lined arms of Scoresbysund, to the aurora borealis (northern lights) that joined our celebration around midnight, dancing across the sky and back.

This morning we have an unusually early wake up call (some of the team are still trying to get out of bed).  We are capping off our stay in Greenland with a visit to an Inuit village called Ittoqqortoormiit near the mouth of Scoresbysund.  A few days ago, we called them to let them know that we would like to visit, so that they could prepare the museum and any other activities they would like to share with us.  We will shuttle ashore soon and we hope to get a glimpse of what it is like to live in such a remote place with such extreme cold winter weather.

Ittoqqortoormiit: 70°29’07”N, 21°58’40”W

Photo credit: Brett Lobwein

Lobwein 150915 Northen Lights

Farewell to Greenland

Monday 2015-09-13 evening

We had a really beautiful last full day in Greenland. From the gorgeous tundra walk in the morning to the snorkeling, zodiac cruising, and hiking around Red Island in the afternoon, it was a sun and fun-filled day. The entire landscape was bathed in warm light from about 11 o’clock on, and it accentuated the already vivid red mountains and blue icebergs. Being in the water with these gigantic blocks of water-sculpted ice is a humbling experience few people are lucky enough to have. Sharing the water with these magnificent creations of our planet’s geological history makes us feel insignificant yet at the same time vitally important. We are physically tiny and weak in comparison to the immeasurable power of this much solid water, yet each one of us contributes to the forces that ultimately warm our climate and melt these icy giants. It is our hope that the images and art we create can help convince the unconvinced of the importance of protecting this critical and unique polar region.

The evening “Farewell Greenland” bbq out on the deck was at least as enjoyable as all the amazing nature experiences we had during the day. The food was great, and the company was even better. It’s hard to imagine a more inspirational group of people, and having them all in one place is a true privilege. We’re already planning for the next Elysium expedition in a few years!

Our epic day ended in a perfectly fitting way by treating us to our first sighting of the famed Northern Lights, aurora borealis. According to the crewmembers who have all seen these lights many times before this was a mild display, but for those of us who had never seen them, it was absolutely spectacular. Wisps of glowing green light danced across the night sky, mixing with the majesty of our Milky Way visible just overhead. It’s an image that will forever be impressed upon our collective memories.

Harefjord: 70°57’33”N, 28°03’57”W
Red Island: 70°28’40”N, 28°09’18”W

Iceberg Graveyard at Red Island and Farewell BBQ on the Polar Pioneer, photo credit: Gwen K. Noda

DSCN4343a Noda Gwen 2015-09-13 PM Red Island viewa

DSCN4344 Noda Gwen 2015-09-13 PM pano party Scoresbysunda

Last Full Day in Greenland

Sunday 2015-09-13 morning

The last couple of days have brought us muskoxen and arctic hare sightings, elaborate rock and iceberg formations, and an unbelievable sunset two nights ago.

Sadly, today is our last full day in Greenland.  This morning the ship is holding position near Harefjord (we’re still in Scoresbysund) where everyone will have a chance to land and walk around on arctic tundra.  We will see arctic “forest” – ankle-high birch and willow trees!  We’ll have a few hours to have lunch and travel to Red Island where there may be some diving, snorkeling, and a landing.

Harefjord: 70°57’33”N, 28°03’57”W
Red Island: 70°28’40”N, 28°09’18”W