|Greenland Dog Sled Trip Begins at Qaanaaq
April 21, 2011
We met the rest of our group of eleven at the Copenhagen Airport on April 19 for the 9:00 a.m. flight to Kangerlussuag,
Greenland. There we boarded another flight to Illulissat where we stayed over night before boarding still another flight the next
morning to Qaanaaq with a stop along the way.
Qaanaaq is one of the most northernmost towns in the world. There is only one small scheduled flight a week to the northern
half of Greenland and it was booked long before our trip, so book early.
In Qaanaaq, we met our hunter/drivers. We were supposed to start at 10:00 a.m. on April 21, but our start was delayed
because of a storm so we started a few hours late which was no problem since we had 24 hours of daylight.
Each of the ten participants and guide had a hunter/driver with dog team making a total of eleven sleds.
Below, the trip begins with Qaanaaq disappearing in the background.
The sled drivers used whips to direct the dogs, but the whips seldom touched the dogs.
Below, Jackie riding behind her guide, Martin.
We rode for about five hours a day with hourly stops to give the dogs a rest. The dogs are trained to stay in front of the sled
when the sled stops to avoid a tangle of ropes. Failure to stay in place is an invitation to the whip snapping overhead.
This is me with my guide Avigiag. Like most of the Inuit men in Greenland, he was a smoker. He did not smoke in the tent and
asked my permission to smoke on the sled. He was 22 years old and very shy but incredibly attentive to all our needs.
And this is another picture of me and my guide. Even though temperatures hovered around zero, and reached at least minus
14, he never wore any face protection or eye protection.
Unlike Alaska and western Canada, the dogs each have a single rope to the sled. This permits them to constantly change
positions. It also permits them to pause ever so briefly and awkwardly to take care of nature's call.
The ride was often very bumpy. And when it got bumpy, we were hanging on and not taking pictures!