Arctic Circle Day 6: Gale Force Winds Bring Us In

Arctic Circle Trail Day 6: Innajuattoq Hut to Kangerluarsuk Tulleq-Syd Hut (Red highlight)

It was cloudy last night so there were no northern lights to gawk at. That meant we got a good night’s sleep. Today is also cloudy and overcast which is probably more typical for weather here than the last several days we’ve had of sunny weather.

Our goal today is to hike for about 21 miles and get to the general area around the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq huts. Supposedly there is good camping on the beach at the fjord but we may also stay at one of the huts depending on the weather and whether they are taken by other people. We plan on bypassing the Nerumaq Hut which is about 10.5 miles from here.

Looking back towards the Taseeqqap Saqqaa mountains and unnamed lake where the Innajuattoq huts are located

We climb up to a divide and start down into a large glacial valley. As we start down we hear a “hello!” And look over to see Cally and Ralph who are from the UK. They are experienced world travelers and we have a lovely conversation with them.

Meeting Cally and Ralph from the UK. They are true world adventurers and we get a few good tips on other places to hike.

Ralph seems to be puzzled by how small our packs are. “Do you have something to cook with?” “Do you have a tent?” Yes, yes, we exclaim and then mention that we have been warm enough with our set up. Overall, I have been really happy with our set up (see gear list in https://thru.live/2019/08/23/from-ice-sheet-to-ocean-getting-ready-for-the-arctic-circle-trail-in-greenland/). People have generally been surprised I am wearing trail runners but they work with waterproof socks and a pack that, at it’s heaviest, was 30 pounds (with 8 days of food and a liter of water). Ralph and Cally are still breaking camp so soon we are off.

Storm clouds are moving in.

As the day goes on the temperature drops and the wind picks up. A storm is coming in and I can feel it in my bones. It is one of those days where you are warm enough when hiking but it is chilly if you stop. We usually stop every 2 to 3 hours for a quick snack break but skip it this morning as we will wait until we get to the Neramuq hut where we will have some protection from the weather. We hike through a long straight glacial valley with a classic U-shape.

Walking through the U-Shaped valley carved by glaciers.

This valley was once filled with a glacier that scoured and flattened the shape of the valley floor. If there had only been a river here, there would not be a flattened valley floor; it would be more “V”-shaped. The landscape reveals it’s story when you look around. There are other signs that a large glacier had once been in this valley: hanging valleys, Kame terraces, and lateral moraines.

Hanging valleys are where side valleys have been cut off when the main valley was widened and deepened during glacial scouring.

The Fall colors are popping today, perhaps because the sky is grey or they are hitting peak colors in this area. We are to the Neramaq Hut by around 11am and stop for a food break. It is nice to have these huts available on colder days like today.

Neramaq Hut.

The Neramaq Hut is small and fairly typical of the Arctic Circle Trail huts. It can sleep 6 and has a small cooking area.

Inside the Neramaq Hut.

After our food break, we cross the river and hike along the bottom of the valley for the rest of the afternoon. We have several river crossings which are very doable at the end of the season in a dry year. It is mainly just rock hopping.

The river crossings were easy this year in late August and early September.

We also thrash our way through a willow jungle which grows 3 to 5 feet high. This is the only area on the trail where you feel you are in dense vegetation.

The northern willows were 3 to 5 feet high in this section of the trail.

By mid-afternoon, we have hiked over 20 miles and make a turn to the east. We are now across from where the fire was that detoured hikers this summer for about a month in late July and early August. It is hard for these peat bogs to recover in this environment I think to myself. The fire has burned the entire hillside and area across from the small lake before the fjord.

The burn area from the 2019 wildfire that detoured hikers to the south.

As we make the turn towards the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq fjord, the wind picks up, blowing off of the ocean, now only about 15 miles away. It starts raining and our pace picks up. We should be less than a few miles from the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq hut. Ray and I are no longer thinking about camping. We are hoping to stay in the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq hut tonight. But the hut only has space for 3 people so if there are people already in the hut we may have to camp out.

It was boggy as we got closer to the hut.

Picking the right hut is a little confusing in this area. Luckily I had talked to a friend before the trip who gave me some advice: “Don’t go to the orange hut you see on the ridge (it is a private hut). Instead go to the left and up the ridge about 1/2 mile and you will find the tourist hut.” There is also a second hut down on the fjord which is an option but Paddy Dillon states that it may be used by local fisherman. We decide to head up the ridge.

The Kangerluarsuk Tulleq-Syd Hut.

We head up the ridge as the wind speed picks up. The wind is now blowing horizontal and I am sure it is gale force. I am really keeping my fingers crossed now for an empty hut. We eye it for about a half mile before we finally get to the hut. There is no sign of people. We luck out and set up in the hut. The wind is blowing very hard now, whistling through the cracks in the door. It is a good thing the hut is held down by cables I think as we warm up some water for some hot chocolate and tea and settle in for the evening and night.

A cable keeps the cabin from being blown off the foundation.
We were glad to have a hut this night.

Daily Data and Feature Map

September 2, 2019
21.6 miles today
105.1 miles total
1101 feet ascent
1647 feet descent
People seen on the trail: 3 new (2 from the United Kingdom, 1 from Taiwan), Total: 32
Innajuattoq Hut to Kangerluarsuk Tulleq-Syd Hut

4 comments

  1. We stayed towards the end of the U shaped valley before the Neramaq hut. It was one of our favorite camping spots. We got there fairly early, and had had lunch up on the rocks on the high trail, looking down below at the lower trail. A mother reindeer and baby were running along. We had a rare afternoon of light winds that allowed us a few hours of headnet free eating and relaxing outside. The next day, through the brush and bogs was to me our most difficult. But for us, it was extremely hot and muggy. That would be the very day the fire started for those who came after us. Some had to be evacuated. We were so worried for you and others. Most of the hikers on this trail come with a lot of experience. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen a fire of that scope.

    Wonderful pictures and narrative.

    Like

  2. We learned of the severity these norther latitude storms carry whileseeking but refuge in Iceland. It’s clear to me why man evolved in equitorial regions! You had me on edge as you described the incoming storm and the worry about vacancy in the hut! I am so glad you lucked out!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s