Upernavik, End of the Line

I was nervous about Upernavik. It’s extremely far north, though it’s amazing how much more of Greenland lies beyond it. Upernavik is also very small––it’s an island with a circumference of just a few miles––and planes fly in and out only sporadically. I landed on a Saturday, and there was no option to leave before Thursday. I hoped that I would like the place and I did, very much. It’s what I think of, now, when I think of Greenland.

Here are some things I did in Upernavik:

The cold, foggy hill where I pitched my tent

The cold, foggy hill where I pitched my tent

I walked around in a heavy fog, looking for the hotel-restaurant my guidebook promised. I learned that it had shuttered, and that there wasn’t anywhere to eat, sleep, or warm up any longer. I pitched my tent on a very high hill, near a giant satellite dish. I cooked elaborate meals on my camping stove and drank whiskey to keep warm. I wore all of my clothes to bed every night. It was always a relief to rediscover feeling in my fingers and toes in the morning.

I took to pestering the quiet man managing the museum in the director’s absence. After a lot of bothering, he finally let me into the old cooperage to shower and shave. The building had been recently renovated to function as a studio for artists. The last artists to live there were two women from North Carolina. They left their long hair in the shower drain and two inches of cold standing water in the stall. I cleaned the drain and took my shower. It was my first in over a week, and one of the best I’ve ever taken. I went to thank the man afterward, but he’d already closed up for the day. I think he was trying to avoid telling me that I couldn’t sleep there.

spoils of the hunt

Spoils of the hunt

I descended the rickety staircase between my tent and the town about a thousand times, always pausing to admire the sawed-off head and hooves of a musk ox, drying on a rock.

View From N72º48’18.2”

View from N72º48’18.2”

I walked the perimeter of the island twice, once clockwise and once counterclockwise. I saw the remains of an old turf hut, barely visible in the grass. On my first trip, I spent a while trying to find the northernmost spot on the island, thinking it was probably the northernmost place I’d ever get. The next day, I saw an aerial photograph of the island, and realized that I’d missed a small spit of rock that jutted out even farther. So, I repeated the trip a second time, in the rain, to reclaim my victory: N72º48’18.2”

I met a Danish doctor who was staying in Upernavik for a month-long residency. He worked mostly out of the hospital, but sometimes did overnights to the smaller settlements, scattered up and down Baffin Bay. At one settlement, of sixteen homes, they pushed two desks together at the school, and put paper down over top, as a place to see patients. Afterward they gave him two kinds of seal meat: one regular and one that confused him as to whether it was “seal lung” or “seal young.”

Navarana Freuchen's grave

Navarana Freuchen's grave

I found the grave of Peter Freuchen’s wife, Navarana, who died on the fifth Thule expedition. The ground in Upernavik is frozen most of the year, so the graves are raised and covered in rocks. The smell of death is faint but detectable.

A view of the pitch

A view of the pitch

I watched many hours of an annual soccer tournament between Upernavik and the surrounding settlements. I ate aebleskiver and clapped for both sides. The crowds were enthusiastic––lots of shouting and airhorns––but the biggest cheers were reserved for the icebergs in the bay, which would calve loudly, every now and again. Sometimes the ball would fly errantly into the bay, and then all the kids would rush down and throw rocks at it in a vain attempt to coax it in. In general, the games were a lot of fun––I was impressed by the skill and physicality of the teams, particularly after learning that, in many of the settlements, there isn’t anywhere flat enough to practice, and they have to wait until the harbor freezes to get a real workout.

I spent hours hand-copying the wall labels at the museum, which detailed the complex dividing principles involved in traditional hunting.

I finished War and Peace.

The old church (1839)

The old church (1839)

I found the most beautiful building in Greenland, a church built in 1839. Inside, there were chandeliers made from brass salvaged from a 1921 shipwreck. There were countless dead flies on the floor and windowsills. They looked oddly lovely against the gleaming white walls.

I met a lab tech from the hospital who was trying to get a kayak rental business off the ground. It took him months to get permission to build––he complained of rampant nepotism––but he got it, and now he’s struggling to get a structure up before winter. I tried to talk him into taking me out kayaking, but the timing and the weather never worked. He was understandably more intent on shoveling his basement out before the ground froze. I helped him move some rocks, and talked to him while digging. He had a terrifically dry sense of humor, and was at once very cynical about Greenland, but also committed to making a life there. I wrote down some of the things he told me in a little notebook. After getting back, someone showed me an article about Upernavik in Outside magazine, in which he says all of the same things, almost verbatim. I laughed at that. I hope he got his basement finished.

I saw the Kingigtorssuaq runestone. It’s much smaller than I expected. It was found atop a cairn on an island north of Upernavik. It’s been dated to 1250-1350 A.D. and represents the northernmost artifact left behind by the Vikings. How it got there is something of a mystery.

Chartering the boat

Chartering the boat

I found out that the Danish doctor and some nurses from the hospital had chartered a small motorboat to travel to the inland ice, and I talked them into letting me pay-in to come along. We sped through the fjords and I sat in the bow and looked up at the giant, intricately carved icebergs while the doctor and the nurses laughed and chattered in Danish. We stopped off at a settlement, where a small group of smiling kids showed us how they liked to hop between bags of gravel for fun. The town wasn’t much more than a few houses, a school with funny wooden cutouts of seal and narwhal on one of the walls. There was also a hand-painted sign memorializing Michael Jackson. I walked aimlessly around, thinking about how I was farther from home than I’ve ever been before––hours by motorboat to Upernavik, two days and three flights just to get to Nuuk, a few more days before the next available hop to Reykjavik, another night before crossing the Atlantic home…

Far from home. Mostly.

Far from home. Mostly.

… But, in the end that’s what I did. It seemed like everyone in Upernavik knew someone who was either arriving or departing on my flight; they streamed up the hill from town to say teary hellos and teary goodbyes. I was the only one who didn’t know anybody. And then the Danish doctor arrived to see a friend of his off, so I got to wish someone well after all.

That’s a wrap, I guess. Thanks so much for reading.


Medison posted on August 23, 2022 at 5:52 am

Great Post Enjoyed Reading it will come to explore more..

Sweety posted on August 23, 2022 at 5:53 am

You’ve picked such unique words in your article and I esteem this. Happy to see your posts reliably.

Sağlık turizmi yazılımı posted on August 23, 2022 at 7:10 am

Meto crm güvencesiyle sağlık turizmi yaızlımı hizmetleri sizlerle.

pinoylambingan posted on August 23, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Thanks to admin for nice article

Aayushie posted on August 24, 2022 at 4:41 am

Nice Article

Burna Boy posted on August 24, 2022 at 4:50 am

nice one thanks for sharing

Net Worth posted on August 24, 2022 at 6:36 am

Nice Article

Dentist in Faridabad posted on August 24, 2022 at 7:03 am

A well written blog is a powerful thing, and I have found that most people lack the skills to write compelling content. I am able to offer a service that helps individuals feel more confident in their writing abilities.

Harphoul Mohini posted on August 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Updates on Harphoul Mohini in Writing Examine the Written Episodes. Latest written updates for the Hindi episode of the Colors TV series Harphoul Mohini are available. Harphoul Mohini has new episodes Monday through Friday.

Kriti Arora posted on August 25, 2022 at 10:06 am

All Picture Are Very Beautiful,Great Skill Thanks For Sharing A Imaginary Art

Sexologist in Delhi posted on August 26, 2022 at 2:37 am

I just wanted to drop a quick note and say thank you for providing such quality content on your site.

Sakshi posted on August 26, 2022 at 8:37 am

I happy to see your informative post . Its really great site post . I really like it .

printer drivers posted on August 26, 2022 at 2:12 pm

I like this one 🙂

Uşak oto kiralama posted on August 26, 2022 at 5:15 pm

Uşak oto kiralama hizmetleri sizleri bkeliyor.

Harga Cor Jayamix Jogja posted on August 27, 2022 at 12:32 am

Being read and shared is a great tribute in itself. For me the dream appreciation would be when someone who has read the piece find something entertaining, connecting, inspiring, thrilling, puzzling, beautiful or humorous in it… I suppose in some way we writers are trying to connect with the reader. whichever way this connection is expressed is always a compliment!
I love this blog as it made me think what I would wish to receive… I never quite thought about it that way. Thanks!

Nobsloaded posted on August 28, 2022 at 7:53 am

This article deserve the world best award

Jual Drumband SMA posted on August 28, 2022 at 10:42 pm

Good !
I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Nice task..

behtarinak posted on August 29, 2022 at 2:09 am

Hello and don’t be bored, thank you for your very good site

vegas79 posted on August 29, 2022 at 4:41 am

Thank you for every one of your hard work on this web page. I enjoy making time for investigations and it’s simple to grasp why. All of us know all regarding the lively way you produce functional guidelines through your web site and attract response from other people on the content plus our own child is certainly starting to learn so much.

Sexologist in Delhi posted on August 29, 2022 at 7:12 am

First, Thanks for this great information blogs. This post is very helpful to all users. Thanks a for sharing this awesome article.

Sheldox posted on August 29, 2022 at 10:56 am

fantastic points altogether, you simply received a brand new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your publish that you made some days ago

Antep fıstığı posted on August 29, 2022 at 4:37 pm

Very good sharing thank u friend

Antep fıstığı posted on August 29, 2022 at 4:43 pm

Antep fıstığı satın almak için tercih edilebilir bir site.

pinoyflix1 posted on August 30, 2022 at 12:59 am

thank to admin

final ank posted on August 30, 2022 at 4:36 am

Our vision is to maintain and strengthen our position as the world’s number one Live Casino provider as gaming markets continue to evolve globally. Our culture is rooted in our corporate values:

آموزش وردپرس posted on August 30, 2022 at 9:44 am

آموزش حرفه ای برای تبدیل شدن به طراح سایت

mp3 download audio posted on August 30, 2022 at 1:01 pm


Workforce Next posted on August 31, 2022 at 5:06 am

WorkforceNext is a multifunctional Employee Workforce Tracking Software for time tracking, automated timesheet & monitoring workforce & fieldforce. We are a next-gen SaaS based Workforce Management Suite for SMEs with cutting edge office, remote & field staff management module.

Ruchika Kapoor posted on August 31, 2022 at 5:08 am

Today, In this article, we will discuss Ruchika Kapoor’s age, boyfriend, marital status, family, height, net worth, and her entire biography and facts.

inizmir posted on August 31, 2022 at 5:08 am

İzmir mekan rehberi, haberler ve dahası.

Diyaa Gupta posted on August 31, 2022 at 7:13 am

It becomes a private count and not a professional one. The personalities of various Escorts in Bangalore.

Best Dentist Clinic in Faridabad posted on August 31, 2022 at 7:55 am

Content is a great place to find quality writing for your business. The writers are amazing, have great insight and offer thought leadership on the topics you need.

Twin Mark posted on September 1, 2022 at 4:20 am

You must close your eyes and sing in order to draw. Freedom means having the chance to be someone we never believed we could be.

Ecoodia posted on September 1, 2022 at 4:47 am

Thank you

Plate Cutting Machine posted on September 1, 2022 at 8:29 am

Content is a useful and powerful platform for communication that could help you in your marketing efforts.

Sanal sunucu posted on September 1, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Sanal sunucu hizmetleri bir tık uzağınızda sizlerle.

은꼴 posted on September 2, 2022 at 2:14 am

I enjoyed reading a good article. It was very helpful and gave me some good information. I will visit you often.

linksys extender setup posted on September 2, 2022 at 4:58 pm

You can extend any access point or router’s wireless signal with the Linksys Wireless-N Range Extender to provide wired or wireless Internet connectivity in difficult-to-reach regions.

شرکت طراحی سایت posted on September 3, 2022 at 2:02 am

Thanks for your nice article

تزریق بوتاکس posted on September 3, 2022 at 2:14 am

such a nice information

Girls in Jaipur posted on September 3, 2022 at 5:57 am

Such a very useful article. I like this article.

happyname454 posted on September 3, 2022 at 11:30 am

Useful article, thanks 🙂

erotic massage posted on September 3, 2022 at 2:19 pm

I’ve found this interesting! Check it out!

Digital marketing posted on September 3, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Creates a consistent brand experience for your customers.
digital agency

طراحی وب سایت posted on September 4, 2022 at 1:05 am

We can help you for your website

تزریق بوتاکس posted on September 4, 2022 at 1:09 am

Here is every things about beauty

canon mx922 driver posted on September 4, 2022 at 6:45 am

that is a good history that prints to be a book and save to the library. It will improve the knowledge of the next generation.

Nowe Filmy posted on September 4, 2022 at 4:10 pm

I’ve found this interesting! Check it out!

sina posted on September 4, 2022 at 5:19 pm

very nice

Son dakika haberleri posted on September 5, 2022 at 6:54 am

Son dakika haberleri oku.

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *