Arctic Circle Trail Day 10 – To the Bakery!

Pack weights (kg): Gavin: 13.33 – Steve: 12.61 – Anna: 10.65

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.

The cloud was forming misty rain, but not enough to warrant waterproofs. There was very little breeze and everything became eerily quiet. We spotted snow patches on the opposite side of the hanging valley we were in. We had a brief break at around 10:20, but the flies were enjoying the calm day so we pressed on.

With sub-300m visibility, at times dropping to less than 100m, cairn spotting was the hardest it had been for the whole trail. A ford was missed, but we again boulder-hopped across at an alternative section. The path descended a little but the cloud did not relent and the rain picked up. We hopped the final ford, waterproofs went on and a brief cold-food lunch was had to avoid sitting in the rain. The rain never got very heavy but it was persistent, staying at a level only just requiring waterproofs.

We passed the Sisimiut ski lift and then the turn off for Nasaasaaq. Given the low visibility there seemed little point in ascending the mountain for the reportedly excellent views, and we were unsure how easy route-finding would be. Two other factors drove us forward towards Greenland’s second “city”:

  1. Anna was dreaming of the bakery mentioned in the guidebook
  2. Steve’s knee, in a support for most of the trail, was finally giving in

The pace slowed but we still made reasonable time. Soon we were next to the final lake and Sisimiut was in sight. The path gave way to a track which in turn became a road and our speed increased once more. We made a bee-line for the bakery. Our route into town took us past the Sisimiut hotel, whose restaurant menu we had examined before leaving the UK. We knew musk ox was likely to be on the menu, which would hopefully make up for not having seen any in the last week.

We arrived at the bakery at 14:30. As the hostel did not open until 16:00, we were forced to stay a while and have two drinks and two cakes each. At the hostel we got booked in without having to phone as the warden arrived at around 16:10 just behind us. Booking in, we discovered that they only take Danish credit cards which could have posed an issue as we were rather short on cash. Fortunately we have booked in for two nights (~225DKR pppn including sheets but not towels), and the warden let us pay tomorrow. Whilst sat in the bakery the rain had intensified and a walk back across town to get cash did not appeal.

With filthy clothes unlikely to impress hotel staff we paid 40DKR to get a load of washing done, changing into a random assortment of leftover clothes while we awaited their return. The showers were hot and powerful and a much-appreciated reward after our trek. As we were relaxing, a very bedraggled Veronique, Alain and Klaus arrived at the hostel, moving into the room next to Anna and I.

When our clothes were dry enough to put back on (still somewhat damp), we asked the warden to book us a table at the hotel for dinner. As it was still raining outside, we treated ourselves to a taxi (60DKR) and were chauffeured to the restaurant for a (Danish) beer and some Greenlandic cuisine. We each opted for the Greenlandic platter to start, while there was a 2 musk ox/1 rib eye steak split on the mains.

The Greenlandic platter came with whale meat, dried cod, smoked salmon, prawns and musk ox. The whale meat was a series of very tough cubes, with a seam of gristle through the middle of each. The meat did not taste of a great deal and wasn’t much fun to try and eat. The cod was dry and inoffensive, while the salmon, musk ox and prawns were excellent. The steaks arrived and were as satisfying as expected, the musk ox a very chunky cut.

Feeling stuffed, we couldn’t fit in dessert but opted instead for two Greenlandic coffees. A trolley was brought across and the coffees made whilst the waitress described the significance of each ingredient: whiskey to represent the greenlandic hunters, Kahlua the smooth and mild women and coffee the polar night. The lights were dimmed and flaming Grand Marnier was added, resembling the northern lights. A final touch was added, with whipped cream to stand in for the central ice cap. It was one tasty coffee (although definitely not cheap)!

Veronique, Alain and Klaus had also come in and had their dinner, so we finished the evening chatting with them about the trail and their plans before another lazy taxi ride back to our beds for the night… once we’d remembered the Danish for hostel!

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