Camp Life

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

On our first night after the kayak journey, when back in the hostel in Kulusuk, I woke up with an alarming start.

I couldn’t breath. In a room with 8 others, some snoring but most resting peacefully under our first roof in a week, I felt like I was suffocating. I desperately wanted to sprint up and outside, gulp in the fresh cool air and alleviate the tension in my throat. Rationality (I was in shorts and it would be damn cold) and consideration (didn’t want to wake my snoring friends) forced me to slip back into my sleeping bag and into fitful sleep.

In the morning, recounting this to myself and to the others, I realized the cause of my mid-night anxiety. For this typical non-camper and luxury-seeker, I was surprised, but I missed living outdoors.

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We woke up each morning groaning – or at least I did – reluctant to get out of the cozy warm nook, especially when gentle rain still pattered on the thin green canvas over my head.

Camp-Life-Greenland-10

The one thought that urged me up was that as much as I didn’t want to get out of my cocoon, I knew I would have the same reluctance to get out of my kayak later.

First order of business was to inspect our watery surroundings. I checked for the appearance of breaking waves that might hold us back, but mostly focused on the brilliant chunks of ice scattered. Had they moved overnight? Turned? Broken?

And another inspection/discussion with the crew: what had the wily arctic foxes stolen from us the night before?

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A few motor boats would peel by on the less foggy days. One morning a few of us heard a loud repetitive song – a chant, really – coming from a two-manned boat. I strained to see but couldn’t quite make out what they were carrying in the boat’s rear. I speculated that the singers had already made a big kill for the day and this was their celebratory song, but I couldn’t be sure.

Breakfast was porridge, day in and out, as it was easy to carry and prepare, and kept us fully sated until lunch. The available toppings kept it interesting, colourful M&Ms were a popular choice among the dried fruit and nuts. For lunch along the way: an assortment of meats, cheeses, the required carbs, and sweets. For dinner, while under the protection of a large tent, we all huddled over steaming bags of dehydrated food, plumped up by hot water and spiced to taste. Discernible foodies, we were not, but dinners were warm, tasted surprisingly good, and provided the fuel we needed to paddle.

While under the protection of a large tent, we all huddled over steaming bags of dehydrated food, plumped up by hot water and spiced to taste.
Greenland Tours Back to the Wild - Lunch is Served
Setting up Camp
Supper Tent

At the end of each day, we popped open our kayaks to reveal the items stuffed into every available corner of space, and drug everything up to higher ground. I stamped around to find a flat(ish) spot, Pete would set up the simple tent and I would organize us inside. Sometimes it was a race against threatening rain and things were shoved under cover in total disarray, but time permitting we were quite organized.

Greenland Kayak Trip - Meal Tent

Greenland Tours Camp at Ikateq

Dalene Looking Hot

Day three greasiness

Every couple of days before bed, we’d each partake in a lavish wet-wipe “shower” to keep odors (somewhat) at bay – I wish the same could have been said for the grease which clumped my hair together. At least I could keep that masked with a hat or mosquito net when needed. Pete repeatedly claimed that I had never been more attractive, to which I insisted that he had obviously married the wrong girl, as this was not a look I would be repeating often.

Or maybe I would?

The thought of the camping aspect of this Greenland trip was almost enough to scare me off in the beginning – I had previously done such excursions in much smaller doses, but nothing for this length of time. Sleeping bags, dehydrated food, lack of a proper shower – all things I was sure I couldn’t handle for over a week.

Never did I think I would actually miss it. (But I did, according to my mid-night panic, and I kinda still do.)

Our journey in Greenland was courtesy of Greenland Tours. All opinions, as always, are our own. For a review of our entire trip with them, please click here.
30 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • As much as I’m dying to visit Greenland there is just no way I could camp there. You rock for doing it!

    • September 16 2013

      Oh c’mon Andi! I think you might surprise yourself. It’s totally worth it!

  • September 14 2013

    This experience looks so amazing. Definitely on my list of things to do someday soon.

  • Joy
    September 14 2013

    Dalene, that was one of my favourite reads, great writing girl!

  • Mom
    September 13 2013

    Dalene…you look like you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar & are being scolded for it. (inside the big tent pic) Gorgeous pics !!!!

    • September 16 2013

      Haha, I might have snuck a few M&Ms.

  • September 14 2013

    Beautiful shots! And a great story as well…

  • September 14 2013

    how cute is that fox. I know they’re wild creatures and all, but he was very adorable.

  • September 14 2013

    Those foxes look adorable! Were they completely docile? This must have been an amazing adventure Dalene πŸ™‚
    Makis Giokas recently posted..The Whispering Gallery in St Paul’s Cathedral in London

    • September 16 2013

      Not docile, but very curious and enjoyed hunting around when we weren’t looking. πŸ™‚

  • September 14 2013

    I’m so jealous of you right now. I would love to be out there!!! I live pretty outdoors right now but in a tent in the middle of nowhere, nothing beats that.
    Gabriel recently posted..What If You Have a Gun to Your Head? Part VI

  • September 15 2013

    I think we all need to get outdoors and ‘rough it’ every now and again… it definitely clears the head and puts things in order. This experience looks incredible. What a ruggedly beautiful landscape to camp in.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..The Fire That Burns

    • September 16 2013

      We couldn’t have asked for a better location, that is for sure. I think you’re right about roughin’ it (although I never would have believed it before), but we will definitely be making something like this happen again.

  • Charlie
    September 15 2013

    The scenery looks absolutely stunning. I’m not too sure I could manage to camp there – way too chilly for me! – but looks like an amazing experience.

    • September 16 2013

      The cold honestly wasn’t that bad. It got as low as 2 deg C, so completely tolerable with the right amount of layers!

  • September 16 2013

    I don’t blame you… what an ideal place to camp!
    I’d recommend Lush’s dry shampoo but who really cares when you’re out in the middle of nowhere πŸ˜‰ I know from experience it doesn’t FEEL pleasant though! Girl problems.

    Happy travels πŸ™‚
    Lauren Meshkin recently posted..Photo Guide: Most memorable places in Budapest

  • September 19 2013

    I understand completely. Once you get used to it, It is hard to return to normal, every day life with typical things like a roof, running water and electricity which seem so essential, until you adjust to not having them! I hope you will have the opportunity to pursue similar experiences again and again!

    • September 23 2013

      I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did. But now we’ll have to put such adventures on our to-do list a couple of times a year, I think!

  • September 22 2013

    My camping days are behind me, but I enjoyed living vicariously through you and your pics. I, too, loved the fox!

  • September 22 2013

    Ha ha, I recall the wet wipe showers from the time I hike the Inca Trail. On the fourth night of camp, I took a cold shower with only a hand towel to dry me and it was the best shower of my life.

    Glad you made it through and ended up loving it so much. πŸ™‚

    • September 23 2013

      Eight days without a shower – longest stretch in my life! I was grateful for the colder weather for such a trip, so that I didn’t get too sweaty or stinky. πŸ™‚

  • September 23 2013

    I can totally share your sentiment on this one.

    Don’t get me wrong- I love the outdoors- love camping. But after camping for 50 day in Africa, 30 days camping through New Zealand and 30 days camping through Australia – I honestly thought I would never want to hear the word tent ever ever again.

    But, the first week back to sleeping in a bed – with a roof over my head – I too felt trapped and claustrophobic.

    I missed the freshness of the air. I missed the absence of electricity. I missed the freedom.

    The power of human adaptability is inspiring.

    Looked like a wicked trip guys! Cheers.
    K.T. @TheLifescape recently posted..Want to Travel? You Better Work, WORK!

  • September 24 2013

    Nope, no camping for me. And even though I can handle skipping a shower here and there, several days in a row without showering would make me feel so incredibly disgusting. Good for you for doing it, but I’m happy reading and looking at your pictures while YOU do the camping! πŸ™‚
    Ali recently posted..Our Big Berlin Announcement

  • September 25 2013

    I’m impressed! I would have a really hard time with sleeping in a tent for that many days straight.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Portland’s Lone Fir Cemetery

  • September 30 2013

    I’m not a big camper, but I think I would do it for this. Such a fantastic landscape!

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I especially (even though he’s a little thief) love the pictures of the wiley arctic fox πŸ˜‰
    BakoymaTravels recently posted..Summary :: Barcelona

  • October 2 2013

    I can so relate. We were in the Gobi for 7 days and got one real shower during the middle of the week, otherwise it was wet wipe showers. I had been craving a real shower and toilet for days, but when we returned to the capital, I had my first bout of culture shock going from the serene, quiet, open space (and clean air) of the Gobi to the polluted, in every sense of the word, capital.

  • Natasha
    October 2 2013

    You are really brave to have accepted this tour. I’m not the camping type ( I’m unable to overcome the toilet issue lol ). Sleeping on such challenging terrain is highly admirable. Do such tours exclude those who suffer from chilblains? ( btw I also read about the divorce boat -Haggai totally relate πŸ™‚

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