20 August, 1999
Aloha, TSgt. Wilkerson has loaned us his vehicle to use and after a long sleep and a Danish breakfast we set out to explore Crescent Lake, the source of the military's drinking water. We cannot fish without the permit, but we are all anxious to see some possible char sites. Jack is on vacation for a few days and so is kindly going to be our guide. We set out on some rough roads and after trying to sleep on planes for the last two days, my back felt every bump. Jack kept commenting on how much better the roads were now. The base makes its own gravel out of the amazing rocky landscape. The rock were left by glaciers that have receded from the area and the landscape reminds me of the tombstone type rock in cemeteries although it is not polished. It has beautiful layers in pink and golden hues with large stones of white quartz or black granite flecked with surfaces that reflect the light. After 20 minutes we arrived at a large wetlands area bounded by some imposing hills. Crescent Lake feeds the wetlands. A small stream feeds into another low land area which has a larger lake (see Pic). We walked through this area to get to the stream to look for char. We found some small char, probably about six inches, feeding in the grassy stream. They feed on insect larvae in the water. John Babaluk says the larger fish would not be able to swim in the shallow areas and so feeding is good and they don't have to worry about being cannibalized. We would have easily been able to catch some of these fish and would have most probably found some larger fish in the lake. Landlocked char were not the fish we were after, though, as we wanted to study char migration patterns into saltwater. John also told us that the landlocked char do not taste as good as the char migrating into the lakes in the fall. This is because the char that have been feeding in the ocean have a layer of fat from a richer diet. While we were exploring the stream, we saw Jack picking blueberries. We were amazed to find blueberries growing this far north. The blueberries grow very close to the ground and have very small fruit. We also found mushrooms and beautiful lichens growing on the rocks.
We then traveled on about 5 minutes to a waterfall and a view of the three glaciers that feed into Wolfsteinwallen Bay. This is the only place in the world where three glaciers feed into a single bay. It was a dramatic difference from the wetland area. The waterfall was spilling about 10 feet over shale rock. Some areas of rock had circular patterns of flat stone with vertical ridges of the same stone that had been flipped up at a 90-degree angle. It looked like they had been laid down by a master mason but are caused by the freezing and refreezing of the ground (see Pic). The bay was filled with icebergs and we watched and listen to their thunderous calving (the process of large icebergs breaking off the glacier) as they were slowly making their way out to sea. Greenland calves most of the icebergs in the North Atlantic. The sound is hard to describe. At first we thought they were low flying planes, but they rumble as they split and turn. They are very dangerous and Jack told a story of some soldiers who were out with some Inuit on a dog sled trip. They tied the dogs next to a large iceberg that was imbedded in the ice. It became unstable and tipped over drowning all of the dogs and putting the travelers at risk being out in the elements with a long journey back to base. Being prepared and aware in this environment can be the difference between life and death.
Jack grabbed some glacier ice before we returned, because I had heard that it exploded when put into water and we decided to try it. Jack made some blueberry muffins from the wild blueberries and we ate them while drinking glacier ice in water. It did pop, and at points splashed a little water, but no explosion.
We feel like we know our surroundings better today; we are definitely no longer in Hawaii.
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