And so we took the passengers to Eternity, which is the popular English name for Evighedsfjord, some 250 miles to the south of Ilulissat. Overnight the fog had returned, yet again as thick as a hedge, but I had been assured that once we were in the fjord the sun would take over and burn away the all enveloping grey murk.
Indeed it did, but it took several miles, which didn’t really matter, as we were to penetrate fifty miles into the interior. Within an hour we were approaching Mount Taterat and by then we had passed several small glaciers way up in the mountains, but on either side of this 1,500 meter peak two glaciers came down from the great ‘Sukkertoppen’ ice field above.
The view was staggering in its beauty. Great dark jagged mountains reaching up to the crystal blue sky, wisps of thin white cloud lying with the snows of winter in their tops, a ribbon of twisting gnarled ice crawling down to join the glacier below. The lateral moraines had come together to form a dirty dark debris stain in the pristine white.
We stopped a mile or so off, not knowing the depth remaining further in, and sent away our expedition boat in order to take photos of Saga Ruby in this magical setting. Gradually I worked her over towards the base of Taterat itself. An almost sheer cliff where thousands of birds were nesting on every conceivable ledge, their guano leaving white paint like stains below and supplying sufficient nutrients for tufts of grass and lichen to exist. As we closed the wall the sound developed into a noisy din of birds screeching their social intercourse.
And then I saw the Arctic Eagles nest, built inconspicuously under an overhang. One bird was perched looking across the void, we searched for the other and eventually found it standing statesman like on a big rock not so far away. From time to time it took off only to land a few dozen yards away and spend more time just waiting and watching. I quietly swung the stern around and moved the ship gradually away to await the boat and not disturb this amazing spectacle of vivid nature in the raw. What a privilege.
We carried on and found why the fjord is known as Eternity. When it seems to come to the end, there is another hidden bend and it continues. We passed more glaciers than you could shake a stick at, some receding, some advancing, great waterfalls racing out from underneath and, in places where the sun managed to shine on alluvial melt, we could see a purple flowering plant forming a low cloth across the barren ground.
After a few more hours, by mid afternoon, we did come to the end, a glacier several hundred feet high and over a mile or two wide, pushing its way down to the blue milky waters of the fjord. There was brash ice for a mile or so before and we had to carefully sail through, watching the depth indicator all the way. It remained at over 150 metres until just a few hundred yards from the cracked and precipitous face.
This solid wall of white and blue came so close it seemed we just had to reach out to touch; the passengers below me on the open deck were in awe, clicking away and waiting for the gun like cracks that might indicate a calving. There were a few small ones, seen by one or two quickly followed by a dozen pointing hands and audible expressions of surprise.
The sun by now was high, and its heat meant our short sleeve uniforms out on the bridge wing were perfectly adequate, all slightly incongruous, as perhaps was that lady back out sunbathing again on her balcony further aft. No one at home will surely believe her... unless they read this blog I guess.
For me it was mentally hard to break the spell, but of course we had to leave it all behind and move on. But the memories of this day will live with everyone of our passengers, of that I am sure, and for myself, yet again it makes me realise why I love what I do.