Arctic Circle Trail Day 7 – Here I Am, On the Road Again

Pack weights (kg): Gavin: 15.9 (softshell in pack, 15.6 without) – Steve: 15! – Anna: 12.15

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.

We were straight into the uphill section, winding on and off a track made to the nearby dam. The gorge we followed had massive crags on the opposite side, with potential for surely dozens of multi-pitch climbing routes. Flies plagued us on the ascent and we longed for the occasional breeze which temporarily abated their attacks.

Perhaps the most unusual “wildlife” sighting of the trip so far occurred when we encountered two local hunters. We saw two people descending the track, and were wondering where they had camped. They turned out to be hunters with half a reindeer each. One would guess that it was originally a single reindeer in one piece, but it’s never good to assume. The carrying technique differed per half; the fore section was strapped to a rucksack, while the rear section was carried on the shoulders: one hind leg either side of the hunter’s neck.

At 09:00, we climbed onto the crest of a ridge and were met by tremendous views over the peaks of Taseeqqap Saqqaa and the lakes below. The logbook in the previous hut had referred to some tops of the Taseeqqap Saqqaa massif looking like breasts, but I think its definitely in the eye of the beholder. We had a short breather to take in the views and Anna decided to take over photography duty. The colours on this section were fantastic, with blue skies, red-brown scrub and sandy rock combining to splendid effect.

The route swung west along the rocky crest, and we reached the day’s high point at 10:00 before dropping down to the shore of a small lake for a rest and a bar. It was 10:30 and we’d walked around 3km, so progress was reasonable. Walking around the shoreline of this first lake, a seemingly rocky outcrop had to be traversed. Anna requested that we pose to make it look “extreme”, but derided our acting efforts. I questioned the direction, while Steve mused about his character’s motivation. This section was abundant with mushrooms and I again lamented my lack of identification skills.

At 12:00 we dropped down to the third lake of the day for lunch. The path was getting slightly more rough, but still simple enough to follow. Figuring we only had ~7km remaining for the day, we had a leisurely hour for lunch. Rounding the headland at the end of the third lake, the path grew indistinct in places. We followed the curve of the river which at first mislead us about which valley was our target. Remembering the guidebook saying we didn’t need to cross any rivers, I prevented us fording and we stayed on the correct track. This lead us to the boggiest section we’ve yet encountered on the trail; though it is still dry by Scottish standards.

We pressed on and reached the accommodation decision point. Tonight’s finish has two huts available. A small, Katiffik-style three-bed hut on a hill vs. the ten-bed “luxury hut” by the shore. Opting for a night of solitude – and hopefully a slightly later awakening – we struck upwards for the bijou option. We unpacked and hung a few items out to air, scoffed a packet of Jelly Babies, then took a stroll to a beach on the nearby lake to get drinking water.

An attempt was made to go in for a swim, but I only made it to lower thigh before deeming it too cold. Despite the day turning out to be a scorcher, the wind had picked up and the lake was too large to have warmed to a sensible temperature.

Opposite the hut is a reasonable buttress of rock, perhaps 100m high. Today we have seen some very impressive crags, particularly while crossing the bog near the end of the day’s walk.

The hut has a heater, but the fuel tank is empty. The hut is cosy and the evening was sunny so this was not a problem. I spent five minutes practising the harmonica while Steve and Anna had a cup-a-soup starter. I hear a little improvement, but my audience is still not appreciative. The hut has a couple of windows, making it feel light and airy inside. The window opposite the sleeping platform allows a scenic view over the lake below, and the hills behind and is a hard to beat view from a bed.

The interesting wildlife spotting continued today with more reindeer sightings. As we followed the river from the third lake, we saw a young one not 100m away. Attempts to get close proved fruitless as it got scared and took flight. We also spotted deer in a lake from the hut in the evening.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *