The Arctic Circle Trail (ACT) is a 100 mile wilderness backpacking route between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut on the west coast of Greenland. I walked the route in August 2014 with my wife Anna and friend Steve.
Here you can find a series of diary entries I made along the way, as well as photographs from the trip.
Inchnadamph Lodge, on the shores of Loch Assynt was to be our base for three days for a trip with the walking club from work. We drove up from Kendal in eight hours on Thursday, arriving at 18:15 in time for an excellent dinner of meatballs cooked by Alasdair, followed by a couple of whiskies and a discussion of Friday’s aims. The two Munros of Conival and Ben More Assynt were set as the target, with Friday’s weather forecast to be the best of the weekend.
Ready for a long day – hopefully including an ascent of Nasaasaaq (or Kællingehætten in Danish) which dominates the Sisimiut skyline – the alarm went off at 06:30 and we got up fairly promptly. Some cards, cakes, candles, balloons and badges appeared, and so it was I departed this morning adorned with birthday motifs.
It was a cloudy start, with mist allowing only a grey view of the fjord. We set off to find the path at 08:10, and ended up slightly too high. We soon rectified this and motored along, easily boulder-hopping the first stream. We started the day’s main uphill section and were soon enveloped in cloud, and we remained in thick clag the whole way to Sisimiut.
We spotted something pointed ahead: was it a hut? A weather station? Steve even suggested that it appeared to be floating! As we got closer it resolved into a small structure with a pointed roof and two gable ends. It was a toilet! Built on the edge of a small outcrop, we had our explanation of why it seemed to hover.
Pack weights (kg): Gavin: 14.15 – Steve: 13.3 (no jumper) – Anna: 11.0 (no shirt)
The planned early start was somewhat disrupted by my watch running out of battery and thus not providing an alarm. We still started to rise by 07:05 and set off by 08:25, before the three in the hut. Rather than retrace our steps slightly to the cairned fording point, we crossed the stream next to our tent spot outside the hut via a boulder-hop.
This morning dawned in a cloud, and visibility was about 30-50m. This lifted as we ate breakfast, replaced with sun. As we dined, we were jolted by a cry from Anna of “giant reindeer stag”! A fair- (though not giant-) sized reindeer was indeed strolling- with a somewhat knock-kneed gait – past our window.
An early alarm was set but not required this morning, with Klaus rising twice: once at 05:30 and again at 06:15. Books were being read by 06:45 so it was time to get up. Klaus was away around 07:30. We did a final wash of faces, hands, bowls and cups before an 08:10 departure.
The alarm still went off at 07:30, but there was no rush to get up. We lazed for an hour snoozing or reading until Anna (of all people) got up first. At first it appeared that she was going to get water, but this was but a ruse so Steve and I took packs and water containers from the hut down to the nearby creek: a ten minute walk. On the way back, we picked bilberries for breakfast. I showed Anna how to use the stove to make breakfast. Will she remember how?
Pack weights (kg): Gavin: 16.3 (no hat) – Steve: 16.8 – Anna: 13.4 (no shirt)
I awoke this morning to clomping sounds. Thinking it might be a reindeer, I looked outside but it was just our neighbour climbing the slope behind us to take photos of the lake. With a new day came new weather, and a still morning provided calm reflective waters with only slight ripples spoiling the effect. There were patches of blue sky, but it was mainly cloudy.
Pack weights (kg): Gavin: 17.07 (no water) – Steve: 17.35 – Anna: 14.97 (no shirt)
The alarm went off at 07:45, just as everyone was sitting up to start the day.
The first pair from Katiffik, the Italians, set off just after 08:00 as we were emerging from the hut. No canoes had mysteriously arrived in the night so the walking route was chosen for us. As the route follows the lake all day, I decided to carry no water at all, and just drink from the lake as I went. Though wearing my softshell and hat, this left my pack at a sprightly 17.07kg!
Our pace was good, and we passed the Swiss couple at ~10:30, as well as another pair going in the opposite direction. We had a bar break at 11:00 by the shore after a small rise. The sky was a little grey with the wind coming and going, but the visibility was good and there was no rain.