Diary of an ACT thru-hiker. Day 7.

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 0-6 and daily entries following this one!

Hikers descending into the broad, wet u shaped Itinneq valley

The Infamous Itinneq Valley

14/9/23 Thursday. Day 7

In camp.

Woke up to ice on the outside of the tent. Slept reasonably well. It was meant to be windy in the first part of the night, with winds up to 40 kilometres an hour, but didn’t hear any of it – tiredness and earplugs are great!  I left my boots and the socks in the hut overnight, so they were reasonably warm when I put them on but still wet.  The boots are saturated and heavy with it.

A long day. Left camp a little after 8:30 as usual. We almost immediately were into a climb, coming up what was essentially a stream flowing down against us. A little further on, there was another 100 metre climb, after which we were on a high plateau.  Passing one of the many lakes, Ronan asked me to get a photo of the group and their reflection in the water.  I took a few shots of the group, and the rest of the lake to the left that I could stitch in, and hopefully one of them will come out ok. Just after that I got a photo of a young arctic hare.

At the end of the plateau, we were overlooking a wide flat-bottom valley. Magnificent views and everyone took loads of photos, but we may not look at them as fondly now that we know what the valley floor is like. It was a steep descent.  Just after getting down, we stopped to have lunch on rocks that looked like whale backs.  There was some sunshine, and a nice waterfall just to our left. The only problem was the midges, we were being eaten by them. We eventually moved on, and the next three or four kilometres was just a slog through the bog. We stayed close to the left-hand side of the valley, which certainly helped. I gave up on trying to stay out of water – today was the day I fully came to terms with being wet.

We eventually headed out into the centre of the valley and across towards the hunters’ camp – it was actually a big glamping-style tent.  In front of it was the famous bridge.  We crossed it one by one with our waistbands and cheststraps undone in case we fell in. Thankfully none of us did.  We rounded another small lake and another climb, and then we were on a track left by ATVs.  We could see a collection of boats moored downstream from the bridge.  More climbing. I got a shot of an eagle that was drifting overhead, but only with the small lens. He was gone by the time I changed lenses. 

Shortly afterwards we came to Eqarlugaarniarfik Hut, set in an alpine meadow with big mountains just behind it.  The American woman from last night, Hannah, was there already. People were tired from the bog in the valley floor and the climb up to the hut so we rested, perhaps too long, although there was a great view back to the river and where it met the fjord.

Eventually we moved on another three kilometres, most of it climbing. We set up camp next to a small lake with a big rockface behind it. Later I was wandering around by the lake while brushing my teeth when I nearly kicked a couple of ptarmigan. They just scuttled out of my way a couple of metres, then stood there looking around and making soft chirping noises. They’re lovely birds, but could so easily be wiped out as they are so unafraid of humans.

Time for bed it’s cold again and feels a few degrees below zero already.