Arctic Circle Trail Day 7: Why I Will Miss This Place

Arctic Circle Trail Day 7 Kangerluarsuk Tulleq-Syd Hut to Sismiut

Hard to believe it is our last day on the trail. The gale force winds from yesterday’s storm have died down and it is partly sunny this morning. We start off high paralleling the fjord but soon start to climb up into the Qerrortusup Majoriaa Valley.

Hiking along the Kangerluarsuk Tulleq Fjord in the early morning before the climb up to the Qerrortusu Majoriaa Valley.

This part has the steepest climb on the Arctic Circle Trail, where we climb up about 1300 feet in less than a mile. As we get to the top we see what Paddy Dillon calls in his book “a rather curious toilet hut”. Ray says he doesn’t need proof that that it is a toilet hut but I open the door to check. Yep, it’s what we call a pit toilet in the United States.

A toilet with a view over the Qerrortusup Majoriaa Valley

I don’t know why it is here. We are about 10 miles out from the town of Sisimiut but there are no regular cabins or huts nearby. Is it for hunters? Snowmobilers in the winter? Whatever the reason, it is a poop with a view.

A fluffed up Redpoll on our the last day of our hike.

As we hike through the valley of Qerrortusup Majoriaa I notice the character of this area is different. It is less rounded and ground down by the glaciers than the earlier part of our hike. We can see the more rugged mountains of Nasaasaaq off in the distance which likely did not get covered completely by the ice sheet at is full extension, or glacial maximum, about 20,000 years ago. We soon start our gradual descent towards the fishing town of Sisimiut.

Hiking toward the town of Sisimiut with Nasaasaaq off in the distance.

As I always do on the last day of a thru hike I reflect on the hike and the character of a place. Greenland and the Arctic Circle Trail are so unique.

Reindeer along the Arctic Circle Trail

I think about the “big” animals here. Musk ox from an ancient time that swish their long hair like ponytails, reindeer that trot off with noses in the air and tails held high, and arctic hares that leap from their hind legs and burst with speeds of 40 mph. Their presence is pronounced; there is no hiding on the tundra.

Musk ox on the Arctic Circle Trail
Arctic Hare about to take a flying leap.

I have loved being here in late August and early September, with the fall colors in full display. The gold hues of northern willow with brilliant red smudges of blue berry bushes and dwarf birch, highlighted by the low angle beam of the sun. And the northern lights. I may be a true addict now, chasing after the streams of color wherever they will take me.

The low-angle sun in the Arctic gives vibrancy and life to the land

But what sets this place apart from other places we have hiked is that “quiet” and “solitude” take on a deeper meaning. There are no planes overhead, no small critters rustling in the bushes, no mice in the huts or ants building hills. Even lakes reflect an aura of quiet. Many of the lakes are isolated having been left behind from the glaciers without a river to feed them.

The quiet and solitude of isolated lakes.

There is rarely the sound of rushing rivers or crashing waterfalls in the background. There is also no hum in the distance from cities, roads, or human activity. The ice cap looms over everything here and it’s voice is the silence. I feel like I have been listening to the voice of silence this whole trip.

The Greenland Ice Sheet east of Kangerlussuaq.

We descend down into the coastal fishing village of Sisimiut and the quiet disappears. Barking of sled dogs, the sound of cars, people walking along the streets and talking, fog horns on ships announcing to us we are in a harbor.

Hiking towards the fishing village of Sisimiut.

I feel the quiet and solitude slip away and begin to miss it already. The wilds of Greenland have pulled me in with every sucking step through it’s spongy bogs, and bounce of tundra. How can I not come back?

Sled dog puppies on the outskirts of Sisimiut.
Happy to have completed the trail but missing the solitude already.

Daily Data and Feature Map

September 3, 2019
12.8 miles today
117.9 miles total
1491 feet ascent
1731 feet descent
People seen on the trail: none today, Total seen on trail: 32
Kangerluarsuk Tulleq-Syd Hut to the town of Sisimiut

11 comments

  1. That last day. Yes, I could walk with you along the 12.8 miles. I did not want that day to end, and almost had a bit of anxiety coming into town. Which was a dirt road for a while. Thank you for your great pictures. You certainly covered more mileage each day than we did, but I think we will return at a later time of the year so to see the Northern Lights and have some cooler weather. Our packs will probably be a bit larger than yours… Thank you for filling in the details we missed. xo Stacy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You gave me a WOW, and ahhhh, and an LOL (puppies) today – thank you! What a stunning account, Kerrie. Thank you for sharing this, this is truly an amazing accomplishment, not only carrying out your childhood dream, but documenting it this way. Just – WOW.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If you didn’t get an “A” on your report in 5th grade, maybe you can retroactively submit this one for extra credit! This was truly a mind-expanding, interesting, and wonderous “report.” Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

    Like

  4. Thank you for the descriptions and gear list. As I start thinking about doing this trek next summer I wonder if you have suggestions (edits/additions or deletions) from your gear list?

    Like

    1. Hi Ann! Great question. Mostly I was happy with my gear. If I were to do it over, I might wear thicker pants. Also, our tent was fine the 2 nights we used it but may not hold up in a really strong wind. Luckily, on the Arctic Circle Trail you have the huts as a backup so it was worth the risk in our case.

      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