Diary of an ACT thru-hiker. Day 11.

Kieran joined us in September 2023 on our inaugural Greenland Arctic Circle Trail trek from the ice-sheet to the sea. He kept a written and photographic journal of his adventure, which he has kindly allowed us to share with you. Check our main blog page for Days 0-10, this is the final shared entry and a longer entry than usual. Keep scrolling past the photos.

The sun rises on our final day

18/9/23 Monday. Day 11.

The last day on the trail.

Cold morning again, but not as cold as the previous couple.  We knew it was going to be a long day, with a climb, a descent, another climb and the final descent into Sisimiut.

Packed up after breakfast and started off along the left-hand side (southern shore) of the fjord. After a couple of kilometres through the undergrowth, crossing a number of small streams, we turned left and started to climb up a steep valley – the first climb.  Almost at the top, we came across Heather’s Loo With A View, a tall narrow almost-Gothic style dry loo. The steps up to the loo were broken, but I got a panorama of Heather sitting in the doorway with the fjord to her right and the valley behind her.

At the top of the valley, we came into another ‘Alpine Meadow’, with a string of 4 or 5 lakes to our left.  This time the snow on the ground made the scenery more dramatic than the alpine meadow after the Bridge. There wasn’t much time for stopping and taking photos (although I did), as we were walking about 3 hours at this stage and had only done about 5km.  At this rate it could turn into an even longer day than thought.

At the end of the Alpine Meadow, we topped another ridge, and the most spectacular valley vista opened up before us. Loads of selfies and group photos with the valley behind us. We stopped for lunch beside a stream about halfway down from the top of the ridge, about 10km done at this stage.

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After lunch, we continued down to the valley floor, to another river crossing. This time we just walked across in our boots. Surprisingly I didn’t get soaked although some water eventually seeped through.  My boots were in better shape than I thought.

At the far side of the valley, we started up a long slow incline, the second climb, longer and nowhere near as steep as the first.  At one stage, I stopped to take some photos (again), and took my time catching up with the group afterwards. They were a few hundred metres ahead of me, marching in line and focused on the destination. I was enjoying being by myself and the sense of openness and freedom around me.

I eventually caught up with them before the top of the incline. When we got to the top, Audrey said she had mobile phone coverage and we were back in contact with the outside world. Shortly past the top, we could see Sisimiut in the distance. We continued down, past a digger building a new road (to where?), and onto a gravel road wide enough for two cars to pass – civilisation of a sort. I looked back and got one more 3-shot panorama, and that was that. I put the camera back in its case and walked on.  And then I rounded the next bend, and a lovely view back over a lake appeared. Just one more panorama…

We walked into the town, took a group photo with the Adventure.ie flag in front of a fingerboard with one board pointing to the ACT 1.5km behind us. There wasn’t any official ACT trail-end marker. We passed a lot of huskies just outside the town. The adults are chained at their own kennels and kept away from each other, but the pups are free. Three young pups approached us and I got down on my hunkers to rub them.  They’re gorgeous, except one of the pups suddenly ran off with one of my walking poles!  Thankfully he dropped it after a couple of metres.

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Added by Cindy:

An official celebratory dinner happened the following evening. We’d all had the opportunity to explore Sisimiut by that stage. Four flew on to Ilulissat to go kayaking among the icebergs of Disko Bay, whilst six of us stayed in Sisimiut to unwind and visit the old, abandoned village of Assaqutaq, where local Greenlandic boatman, Sam brought us for a look around. Although his English was limited, he was able to convey the emotions tied up in this place and the complicated relationship with Denmark down through the years. He was also able to tell us of the changes to the sea and sea-ice during his lifetime. It was sobering.

Ronan and Cindy met with Lisa Germany from Arctic Circle Business to chat about how Adventure.ie could play a supportive role to the local community and the trail in the years to come and after some flight issues, seven of the ten of us met again in Kangerlussuaq for a gorgeous meal at the Roklubben restaurant. The Northern Lights which had made their first appearance of the trip a couple of nights ago in Sisimiut (while we were awake at least!), came back for our final night in this wonderful place.

The entire 2023 team, and particularly us here at adventure.ie, would like to thank Kieran for so generously allowing us access to his journal and for bringing the memories back in such vivid colour. We are all so grateful that he took his heavy camera equipment along and was that guy constantly taking photos. Whilst the kilometres had to be done, getting “just one more” shot was so worth it in the end. Thank you.