Arctic Circle Trail Day 9 – No Mussels, No Tokens

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.

The first stage of the day lead through a mighty forest, with towering willows soaring to as high as 2m. The valley curved round and we continued following the river. There was a lot of high cloud cover, and sun only occasionally made it through. We missed the next fording point and went to the mouth of a gorge before realising. A short boulder-hop crossing and a quick stomp up a steep bank put us back on track.

The return crossing – taken in the correct spot – was harder, but still manageable without having to ford. We stopped and had our first break on the other side at 10:00. Anna and I had elected to wear gaiters today, and this proved wise; although the bog was navigable without them, it did allow for a more gung-ho attitude. The valley turned some more and we walked though some of the least impressive scenery of the trail. The valley was wide and shallow, and they grey cloud did little to throw the empty landscape into more interesting relief.

Reaching the lake shore at 12:00, we had a short (cold food only) lunch before finding the stream mentioned in the book as having a pool filled with arctic char. We spotted a few zooming along the stream and in the pool. Most were dark grey in colour, but one was a rusty orange-brown.

Noting from the book that the path up was not not necessarily obvious, we looked ahead to spot where we expected to find it. There was a track on the hill where the map suggested it should be so we headed for that. Crossing a stream whose banks were blooming with willow-herb, a cairn above the far bank marked the point where we started uphill. As we reached the top, both huts became visible nearly at the same time. The line of cairns was well to our left, though, so perhaps we had not found the intended route up.

We got ourselves onto a track which eventually lead to the hut on the hill, but not before crossing more bog; not the avoidance route we had intended to take as suggested by the book. We still arrived by 13:50, around five and a half hours after departure.

We made lunch and settled in, then hunted for the last geocache tokens. Alas, they were not to be found – we should have gone via the other hut!

The sky turned to intermittent light drizzle and we did a bit of pottering about: I got water and climbed the bump behind the hut for excellent views over the fjord. I built a small cairn on top. Anna read the guestbook and saw tales of mussels being collected from the fjord for tasty meals. Steve and I decided to go and harvest some mussels and find the geocache tokens in the other hut, around 2km away. On reaching the beach, we found the tide in: no mussels for us.

At the hut Alain, Veronique and Klaus were in residence, so we caught up and looked for the tokens. We couldn’t find them there either! The hut seemed to be undergoing renovations, with new shelves and some “wood”-panelling having been installed since the photo in the guidebook was taken. Although it sleeps a lot more people than the small hut on the hill, it is definitely not as cosy.

We said our goodbyes and set off back up the hill empty handed. Too empty-handed in Steve’s case it transpired. Less than 200m from the hut we heard a shout; Steve had left his shiny new waterproof behind! On our way once more, we found some good-sized bilberries. They were under-ripe. We did find lots of crowberries though, and rapidly picked half a cup full for breakfast tomorrow.

The luck of the draw in food roulette had left me with Pasta in Lasagne Sauce for this evening’s meal: our final dinner on the trail. Despite Steve believing that this meal had made him ill a couple of days ago, I was looking forward to this. I’ve eaten it before and it was the best of the freeze-dried meals I’d had. Sadly, this one tasted not-so-good. Anna, who had the same, decided not to eat it and to have a dessert instead! I ate mine anyway.

While tea was being prepared – i.e. the packets opened and the water boiled – two lads arrived at the door. They both were English, and had left Sisimiut this morning. Seeing that the hut was full, they decided to head for the other hut.

One thought on “Arctic Circle Trail Day 9 – No Mussels, No Tokens

Leave a Reply

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