Today we woke up with condensation on our tent from the moisture and rain last night. But the storm system has blown through and a clear night has meant dropping temperatures. The coolness and wet tent makes it hard to get going in the morning even though it is light by 5:30am. Although we are past the summer days of the midnight sun (and no darkness) there is still plenty of daylight this time of year. It didn’t get dark until after 9pm last night.
I still wouldn’t call it complete darkness. We did not have to use our headlamps at all.
We get going by about 7:20am and stuffed our tent wet and our sleeping bags damp with a little moisture on the top. We plan on stopping later, taking a break and drying them out.
This is known as a hiker’s yard sale, when everything is strewn out on rocks and trees to dry out in the sun and breeze. We used this technique quite a bit when we hiked the Colorado Trail two years ago and had torrential rains for about 2 weeks.
At least it looks like it will be sunny today. Our plan is to get to near the Canoe Center on Lake Amitsorsuaq which is about 17 miles from where we are camped. Lake Amitsorsuaq is about 15 miles long and is where a company took a try at a canoe business. They bought 10 canoes, built a large cabin about 12 1/2 miles from the east end of the lake (the “Canoe Center”) and tried to rent them out to hikers. The business failed but the canoes are still there. It is a rite of passage and a desire by most Arctic Circle Trail hikers to get a canoe and paddle along the lake instead of hiking around it.
From the Katiffik Hut which is on the east end of the lake to the canoe center is about 12 miles. Of course this means that someone has to come in the opposite direction and paddle the canoe back.
Most ACTers hike the direction we are hiking which is Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut so I can envision canoes on the far side of the lake with not many people to paddle them back. Ray and I are open to whatever happens. If a canoe is on shore at the Katiffik hut we will take it. If not, we are fine hiking.
And hike we do. We get to the east end of Amitsorsuaq Lake where the Katiffik Hut is locate. Nope. No canoes. We begin the long, wind around the lake. It is a beautiful day and we enjoy the sunny weather and marvel at the geology. We see a huge recumbent fold in the gneiss and evidence of thrust faults.
The thrust fault and folding of rock speak of a turbulent time. Such a violent past for a peaceful place. It is the way of the world: violent and peace, light and darkness, warmth and cold, earth and sky.
It is so quiet here. Perhaps it is because Greenland is so far north there are no planes flying over head. Even when we are out in quiet places in the USA like the Sierras or the Grand Canyon there are flights overhead. It becomes part of the background noise. But there is nothing flying overhead here. Greenland is vast and isolated.
Even the sound of water is quiet. No babbling brooks, roaring streams or thundering waterfalls. The lakes are isolated here, one after another with small saddles of dry land between them.
By late in the afternoon, we can see the Canoe Center which is about 12 miles from the beginning of the lake where we started at the Katiffik Hut. We have been hiking along the lake most of the day. We stop to observe a reindeer coming towards us. This isn’t the first reindeer we have seen on this trip but this one is coming towards us on the trail.
The wind is blowing right towards him and we are talking to him to let him know that we are here. But he keeps coming and we move off the trail to let him pass. Most of the reindeer we have seen trot off once they know we are there. I’m not sure why this one doesn’t respond to us. He seems to be an old male. Is he blind and deaf? Or just doesn’t care?
It is an interesting ecosystem in Greenland where there are not any major predators for the reindeer. The polar bears are in Greenland but they only prey on the seals and are mainly found on the ice shelf. In the United States, depending on where you are at there are bears, mountain lions, and wolves that prey on large animals such as elk and deer. For the reindeer, it is only man and mosquitoes. Yes, mosquitoes. They can take 3/4 of a liter of blood from a reindeer in a day which is enough to kill a newborn reindeer. The mosquitoes can be deadly up here but luckily for us, it is fall here and after “mosquito season”. We have not had to use our bug nets yet.
Eventually we get to the Canoe Center. It is a well built shelter that can hold up to 16 people. We take a look inside but there is a strong smell of garbage and a large trash bag full of trash. I’m not sure why people leave stuff here. It is not like there is garbage pickup. Leave no trace principles are not well established here.
Ray and I decide to camp even though we know it will be cold tonight because it is a sunny and clear day. We find a nice spot along the beach about a 1/2 mile past the Canoe Center and settle in for the evening.
Daily Data and Feature Map
August 29, 2019
17.8 miles today
40.3 miles total
919 feet ascent
1150 feet descent
People seen on the trail: 5 (all from Germany), Trip total: 18