Igaliku, Greenland Day 2

Leaving my cabin for the hike

So it was hike day around Igaliku.  I had a light breakfast, made a to go lunch of reindeer sausage, cheese, bread, carrots and green peppers and was off on what was billed as a very easy hike to a local waterfall.  Now the first part of the trek was in fact easy … down the road to the bottom of the hill, turn right and walk through the fields past the huge barn then follow the path.  Unfortunately, no one told me about the fence that I had to climb since I could not figure out how to open the gate.

The beginning of the hike
The waterfall

Anyway, one climb over a fence later and I was walking through yet another open field past some very nervous sheep (and one angry looking mother who did not appear happy I was near two babies) and then around a hillside and viola … the waterfall.  Now I have seen a lot of waterfalls, but this waterfall looked like it was on its last legs.  A mere trickle.  Yikes.

I hiked closer to see if maybe I was missing something, but nope … this was it.  Gesh.  Not a lot to see although I did spot an eagle overhead circling for breakfast.

Mama sheep
Hiking higher to the waterfall

So now I had a dilemma.  Do I simply go back the route I came in on or do I hike up the humongous hill and try to find the upper path that they had told me about in the hotel.  Aw what the heck … I opted for the hill climb.  Dumb move!

Closer to the waterfall (still not much to see)
The plateau
Top of the plateau

The hill climb turned into a series of hill climbs.  I made the first part of the hike to the top of the hill only to find that behind the hill was yet another hill and from what I could see, one more.  Ugh.  As I climbed, I could see a bunch of fenced in sheep with rather big horns looking at me.  I didn’t want to rile them up so rather than walk towards them (which was the shorter distance) I walked to the left and up and over the third hill.  Now here is where it got really tricky.  I found myself on top of the hillside overlooking Igaliku.  And while the view was spectacular, the the only way to the road was to hike down a VERY steep hillside.  I took baby steps, but I finally made it to the bottom only to discover that there were a series of streams between me and the road.  This required more maneuvering (and avoiding unpenned sheep), but I finally made it hopping over stones and jumping across the smaller streams.

I then found a path paralleling a fence that lead to … a locked gate.  Yep, that’s right, the fenced area I found myself in was locked with yet another gate … so I ended up climbing over yet another fence to finally reach the path that lead to the road.  Now the funny thing was that I had been told that all I needed to do after I reached the waterfall is follow the path marked by red circles.  I had not seen a single one until I climbed the fence and there it was … the first red circle followed by another.  Where the heck were the others and how were you supposed to follow the path without climbing the fence.  Good grief.

Anyway, once on the path, it was a quick five minutes down the hill into the village and my lovely cabin.  And what was supposed to be a quick one hour hike turned into a two hour and ten minute odyssey.  But, at least I had the pictures to prove I made it!

Grave of the last bishop of Gardar

So after a quick rest, I ended up back on my veranda in the lovely mid day sun.  I ate my lunch, did some stretching cause my body was threatening to boycott the rest of the trip and then set off Ed own the hill to meet a guide who was conducting a tour of the UNESCO ruins in Igaliku.  Yep.  Igaliku had a World Heritage site in the ruins of ruins Gardar, which was the archdiocese and religious capital of Viking Greenland.

Gardar UNESCO ruins
Gardar UNESCO ruins (cow barn)
Gardar irrigation system still in use

Now while there was very little in the way of remains of the historical site of Gardar (which was occupied from 1124 until the end of the 14th century), the remnants of the stone buildings still allowed you to visualize what the site looked like back in the day.

There was, of course, a church complete with a grave that is believe to be one of the last bishops in Gardar, the bishop’s house, a ceremonial hall, a huge farming complex with two large cattle barns (large enough for 100 head in each barn), stables and storehouses along with tithe buildings divided into two rooms: one for storing pelts, and nonfungible goods and the other for cheese, meats and other fungible goods (all given for the benefit of the bishop and the church).   However, the site that impressed me the most was the well that is still operational today.  Now there is of course, a new pump house, but the original stone framed drain is still visible and the system still uses the water from the streams I hiked across in the morning, as it did centuries ago, to provide water to the 20 residents of Igaliku.

Marker from Iceland

After the trip through the UNESCO heritage site, our guide took us on a little tour of the village pointing out the school (3 students), the former dairy and weaving house, and of course, the new church.  Fronting the church was an impressive monument commemorating the the influence of the Vikings in the area, which was a gift from Iceland.

The tour turned out to be really informative (kudos to BaBa – no way I can pronounce her full native name – a local woman who studied tourism, has a farm with her husband and is raising a 5, 3 and 1 year old).

So with the tour done, I relaxed on my veranda until dinner and then it was off to bed.  I was off to Nusak tomorrow.

Author: lawyerchick92

I am a lawyer by trade, but long to be a full time traveller. My life changed for the better when my brother donated a kidney to me on October 14, 2002.

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