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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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