No glacier calving terminus, no horizon – we are enveloped in fog over a matte green sea and on grey rocks. Right behind the sound of a four-stroke outboard motor, a boat materializes through the fog, cutting a delta through the thick water. It navigates as an aircraft on instrument flight might: its pilot looking intently at a small window of light through which the Global Positioning Satellites feed insight and clarity. A second boat joins. We jump in. We leave. Greenland is behind us but still around us – invisible. We race across the leaden waters, past ghostly icebergs, sending wake waves into each other’s path.
The Sun pierces a luminous round hole in our grey world. The fog rises a corner. Rocky shores fly by. We look back and the dissolving fog festoons glorious peaks. Greenland is saying goodbye in style. It doesn’t matter where I point the camera. It is all breathtaking in every direction. Greenland is throwing it all in to wave us goodbye. We go by the abandoned US base of Bluie East 2 – thousands of fuel drums randomly stacked line up the 5000ft gravel runway, alone since 1947. One day, I will land on this strip. It calls me like a pack of sirens. Hopefully the analogy ends there.
All the while Guilo drives fully focused on the path ahead, his head into the frigid airstream, his eyes peering ahead to get around the icebergs. Only his fingers move slightly to correct course and choose the long and smooth lines that will get us around the solid and now sparkling chunks of sea and glacier. He proudly wears a thick parka with Greenland’s flag on it – Kaalallit Nunaat is becoming independent just as Arctic warming forces drastic changes upon one of the most finely tuned living systems ever achieved by Humanity to thrive in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
After two hours, we finally return to Kulusuk. Our expedition is complete. On the dock, my two geologists sit next to a large mound of equipment – bear fences, tent, guns, food, sampling jackhammers. They are ready to go to the glaciers – their budget was too small to fly a helicopter and a boat will take them soon. I wish I could go with them.