Trek with the Best Girlfriends – Kangerlussuaq – Sisimiut
For many years, I had the trek from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut on my bucket list. The Corona situation put a halt to all international vacation plans, so my family and I had the opportunity to explore our own country.
On June 16, 2020, while chatting with my friend Magdaline on Messenger, we decided that we would trek from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut this year. The next day, I asked our other trekking friends if they were interested, and our friend Evi immediately agreed. My two wonderful globetrotter friends, with whom I have experienced many amazing things around the world over the past years, naturally, it had to be the three of us ❤️. We have run Vasaloppet in Sweden, Birkebeineren in Norway, Nice half marathon, participated in the Arctic Circle Race in Sisimiut several times, and trekked and run in Nuuk together.
Magdaline, Evi, and I decided on dates and planned to complete the trek in 6 days with 5 overnight stays. We booked and bought tickets, and preparations began.
If you are interested in the training leading up to the trek, equipment, clothing, food, and how we prepared in general, please read previous blog posts.
Arrival in Kangerlussuaq
On Saturday, August 15, after 2 months of preparation, we arrived at the airport, excited and happy that the time had finally come. We took the flight from Nuuk to Kangerlussuaq, landed at 10:15 am, took care of necessities, filled our water bottles, and were immediately driven to Kellyville by the lovely Heidi Schermer ❤️
Kangerlussuaq – Katiffik
From Kangerlussuaq to Katiffik, it was a 24 km trek. It’s quite long and feels even longer in your head. The first 10 km are saltwater lakes, so it’s important to refuel in Kangerlussuaq to have enough water. We did that and were sent off beautifully by lovely Hedi Schermer and her son, just after Kellyville (which is 12-15 km from Kangerlussuaq airport).
We started with a slight detour as work on the road to Sisimiut had begun (they had reached 1 km of the road, we were told by one of the workers). So the journey continued along mirror-like lakes and through the beautiful green and autumn-colored nature.
We were told that the first part of the trek was relatively straightforward and highway-like. That’s not entirely true; from Kangerlussuaq to Katiffik, the terrain is varied, up and down, dry and mossy, etc. I mention this because we expected an easy walk all the way on the first day, but it wasn’t. It was fairly tough and long with 17 kg backpacks. But damn, it was beautiful, truly beautiful!
The weather was perfect, the sun had started to peek through the clouds, and the warmth hit us quickly, so we took off our jackets. We kept an eye on the map and constantly checked if we were on the right track, well-assisted by a very clear path and cairns (we love cairns). After a 14 km walk, when we wanted to take a break and have a little lunch, we sat by a lake, dried our feet (wet from sweat and moss), and it was wonderful.
After about an hour, when we wanted to continue, we momentarily lost the trail as we ended up in a wet area. But we walked in the direction we assumed would lead us back to the trail for 5 minutes, and there it was, and we were back on track.
We saw 3 reindeer on the way; one of them made a great impression on us as it was so majestic and totally unaffected by us. Beautiful animal.
The last couple of kilometers were tough on shoulders, lower back, and legs; the body was a bit shocked by the many hours of trekking with a 17 kg backpack. Every time we took off the backpack for a little break, it felt like we were lifting off and weightless. We stumbled around like drunken people; it was a bit wild 😂😂.
According to my Suunto watch, we reached the Katiffik hut after 23.76 km of hiking in 8 hours and 26 hours including breaks. A tiny hut with room for 6 (if you pack tightly), located by Lake Amitsorsuaq, a huge 20 km long lake that looks like the sea.
We had the hut to ourselves 🤗
We unpacked, turned on the Jetboil to heat water for our food, and went down to the lake for a much-needed and refreshing cold bath.
Before we left home, we had all taped our ankles, toes, heels, and insteps to prevent blisters and injuries. Upon arrival, all the tape was removed, and during breakfast, we started a new round of taping. Since we spent a lot of time on it and were quite good at it, we jokingly established the Bandage Association. Damn, how we taped; hahahahahhhhaaa, we agreed that we would end up reaching Sisimiut as mummies.
Katiffik – kanocenteret
On Sunday, August 16, we woke up around 7:30 to the most beautiful weather. The sun was shining over the giant lake, Amitsorsuaq.
I slept well, even though I took a long time trying to fall asleep. When you are three girls out in the giant unknown nature, you can easily let your thoughts wander, which doesn’t help with peace of mind. A small sound, silence, imagination of Qivittut, psychopaths, polar bears, and more can easily raise the pulse. But I know it’s useless, so I decided to let go of those thoughts, find peace in my body, and fell asleep.
We got up, had our breakfast, loosely taped ourselves, and packed up.
The route along Lake Amitsorsuaq is the most accessible on the entire route. 15 km straight along the lake, a really beautiful trip.
On the way, we sang Ole Kristiansen’s songs and enjoyed ourselves. 8.3 km after Katiffik, we took a small lunch break, dried our feet, and changed to dry socks. The weather was lovely, and we were all in good spirits.
On the way, we saw a reindeer, and I encountered my first Tuullit (birds that sound like dogs).
We passed a giant cairn that we had seen others take pictures of. It was quite impressive, and we left our mark by placing some small stones on it.
We arrived at the Canoe Center already in the early afternoon.
The Canoe Center is a huge cabin with 20 beds.
We had it all to ourselves. We unpacked, found the cooking equipment and change of clothes, went down to the lake and bathed (in the lovely ice-cold water). After the bath, we washed our clothes so that the next day we would have something reasonably clean.
As I started my new profession “bandaging,” and being totally inexperienced and amateurishly, I accidentally pulled off my Compeed, along with a blister I had, aaaaaaavvvv. Important advice from a somewhat experienced bandager: REMEMBER to dissolve it in water before pulling off your blister plaster.
Not very nice, considering the thought that we hadn’t even reached halfway yet, damn! 😱
We chose the smallest room with 8 beds and decided to share a double bunk bed 😅 3 fully grown women, none of us wanted to sleep alone (a bit silly, but safe, hi hi).
We went to bed early since we had a long 33 km hike the next day.
Again, sleep was difficult; the cabin was too big, and the other two were restless. But I fell into a deep and secure sleep nonetheless.
Canoe Center – Ikkattooq – Eqalugaarniarfik
Monday, August 17, 2020, we got up at 05:30, to another beautiful morning with the coolest sunrise over Lake Amtsorsuaq.
The other two had a rough night, not getting much sleep and having nightmares. We started the Bandage Association’s activities, taped our feet and toes so they were ready for the long journey we were embarking on. We had breakfast and got our little surprise from Magdaline. While preparing for the trip, we agreed to bring a surprise each. Magdaline’s surprise for us was a small fresh ginger shot for breakfast 😊
At 7:30, we were ready to say thank you for the safe shelter at the Canoe Center and walked about 3 km along Lake Amitsorsuaq before heading out on a nice and lush plain/valley towards another huge lake, Tasersuaq. We reached it after 11 km of hiking from the Canoe Center.
On the way, we were greeted by 2 reindeer who curiously looked at us and fresh Muskox dung, but never saw the animals.
Along the way, we also passed a wet area, which was a bit annoying. Here was our first experience with our lifesavers on the road, our rubber boots.
Just a little side story about rubber boots. It was not the plan to bring them because they weigh too much. Instead, we had bought smart rubber/latex covers for boots, which are undoubtedly used for festivals and the like. But in the days leading up to the hike, Evi’s friend Nivi from Sisimiut did the trip and strongly advised us several times to bring rubber boots. At first, we were a bit “We’ll manage without,” but 10 minutes before Torrak Fashion closed, the day before we were leaving, we decided to follow the advice and bought our rubber boots. OMG, Nivi qujanarujussuaq 🙏
At Tasersuaq Lake, where we took a little break, and I needed even more experience with taping on my bandager CV (changing tape on feet and toes), we spotted a white tent down by the edge of Tasersuaq Lake. We kept a close eye on it, thinking if we were lucky, they might have a boat on the lake and could perhaps sail us across to save some distance. A woman appeared, and immediately Evi approached and asked. To our great surprise, they were willing to sail us across and asked us to come down. 🙂 ❤️
They were reindeer hunters from Sisimiut, Nikolaj, Maasi, and Justine.
So, we ended up being sailed, 11 km, all the way to the bottom of the lake, to Itinneq, sailed past Ikkattoq, so we skipped a cabin. We were very grateful and felt very privileged. The lake was completely calm, and the sun was shining.
On the way to the bottom of Tasersuaq, Itinneq, Evi spotted a reindeer, and suddenly, we were on a reindeer hunt. The Nuuk girls, Magdaline and Mette, had to be hushed along the way because we were about to scare the animal away with our chatter 😊 We sailed quietly to the edge where the reindeer was, and Maasi and Justine were dropped off. Maasi climbed up towards the animal and shot it. Great to be a part of.
While Maasi and Justine prepared the animal for transport, Nikolaj sailed us all the way to the bottom of Tasersuaq, and we hopped off at Itinneq, about 10 km from Eqalugaarsuit, which was the goal for the day.
When we were dropped off, we received very clear instructions on where to go. The landmark was a “cleft” in a mountain far in the horizon. We should walk a bit to the right of it, and we would come across a sign for tourists. When we reached it, we would find the trail we should follow up to Eqalugaarsuit.
But first, we took our lunch break, off with shoes and socks and ate our rations.
Then we walked 10 km to Eqalugaarniarfik. It was also the day when we would cross a river for the first time. We had all looked forward to it and had definitely had our fantasies about it.
After crossing the river, we encountered approximately 5 km of moss, swamp, and wetland terrain 😫. It was truly challenging, strenuous, and, at the same time, we were being roasted by the sun. Seriously, it felt like navigating through Florida’s swamps on an excessively hot day, puuuha. Fortunately, no alligators, turtles, or unpleasant insects appeared, but an Airboat would have been cool. Nevertheless, focusing on the positive, we were fortunate with mosquitoes – there weren’t many.
We were quite tired as we anticipated reaching Eqalugaarniarfik’s cabin. However, the last few kilometers to the cabin involved a small ascent, with the last 300 meters being almost vertical. It was quite challenging, especially when tired. As we ascended the first slope, we encountered a young Czech couple camping about 200 meters from the cabin. Approaching the cabin, we saw three people outside and became a bit anxious about whether there would be room for us inside (as we had left our tent at home and relied on cabins throughout the journey). Luckily, there was space for six people 😅.
The three men were from Hungary and were IT enthusiasts (for those curious, they were heading to Ilulissat and Nuuk afterward. Interestingly, Magdaline had met them in Qinngorput when they were in Nuuk, having just visited Store Malene).
To our dismay, we discovered there was no river or lake nearby, which was a bit inconvenient since we wanted to bathe, wash our clothes, and have water nearby at all times. However, we found out that downhill (about 200 meters) there was a spring suitable for bathing, drinking, and more. One of the three men from Hungary kindly fetched water for cooking, coffee, etc., so we didn’t have to carry it around.
The area around Eqalugaarniarfik is part of the Aasivissuit-Nipaat area, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Evi’s surprise for us brought immense joy as we changed clothes and got ready for dinner. She had carried a tray of Tapas and non-alcoholic beer all the way – wuhuuuuu.
Eqalugaarniarfik – Innajuattoq
We woke up at 07:00 on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, to the most beautiful sunrise (again, again), after the three men from Hungary and the young Czech couple had left.
The journey began with a fantastic ascent from Eqalugaarniarfik, up a mountain leaning against another massive peak. It was insanely beautiful. I love ascents; it suits me perfectly. The first 15 km were magical, some of the most beautiful on the entire trip. As we gained altitude, the most amazing view opened up over giant lakes, mountains competing for beauty, and terrain that took your breath away.
We encountered a small reindeer calf searching for its mother, aww. And as we reached higher altitudes, we passed our Czech friends (not that it was the goal 😇).
Descending from the heights, we arrived at the most beautiful lake, “Mattaliip tasia” (atserpara 😊 ❣️). Through a beautiful green thicket, along a small river, and to the opening of the lake, wooooow. We took a short break, cooled off, filled our water bottles, and had a photoshoot. Our young Czech friends caught up and joined us in a photoshoot for their wedding invitation (as we suggested).
After walking around the lake and reaching the last 5 km of the route to Innajuattoq, we encountered a moss hell, OMG. Thank God for our lifesavers, rubber boots. The journey almost killed us (me). It was really challenging and tough. At one point, the ground shifted, rumbled, and roared under my feet. Aaarrgh, totally gross, and I felt so small in this huge world.
A 20 km hike from Eqalugaarniarfik to Innajuattoq. Below the cabin is a huge lake and 100 m from a river. We bathed, washed clothes, and enjoyed the company of the three Hungarians and the Czech lovebirds. We tasted Hungarian, salted ham, and dried-ish apples and Czech (homemade pig jerky) specialties, and they tasted our delightful Marie’s homemade tuttu beef jerky and Evi’s naturally dried reindeer. There was room for all of us in the cabin, which had 12-13 bed spaces.
After inspecting the day’s river crossing and brushing our teeth, we went to bed at 20:00, as we wanted to leave at 05:00 the next day. The journey from Innajuattoq, past Nerumaq and on to Kangerluarsuk tulleq, is about 35 km. So a long day awaited us.
Innajuittoq – nerumaaq – Kangerluarsuk tulleq
We woke up at 04:00 on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, to yet another beautiful sunrise ❣️Vi stod op kl. 04.00, onsdag den 19. august 2020, til endnu en smuk solopgang ❣️
We taped, packed up, had breakfast, and put on our rubber boots. Important to emphasize that 😊 The evening before, we had decided that we could easily cross the river in our rubber boots, so we didn’t mess up our taping and start over.
At 5:15, we were ready while the others slept.
We crossed the river without getting our feet wet and avoided the lake near Innajuattoq’s cabin. We actually woke up with the animals; in just an hour, we encountered 16 reindeer, 2 tuullit, and a couple of ptarmigans. Deep into the country, far from the coasts, as if they knew that the reindeer hunting season had begun 😊
The journey to Nerumaq was absolutely fantastic, beautiful, and extremely accessible. It was a kind of valley that descended all the way, dry and easy to traverse. We had to cross three rivers, which we successfully did with rubber boots – wuuuhuuu, we love rubber boots! Our best investment and weight-gaining decision.
We walked about 10 km with rubber boots on the route, a total lifesaver, but also really hard on the feet.
We met someone from Finland walking the opposite way alone.
When we reached Nerumaq after a 17 km hike from Innajuattoq, we crossed the river and took a break right by the river. We spent about an hour there, drying our feet, eating, enjoying a luxurious spa experience (bathing in the river, massage, eyebrow plucking, and relaxation) before continuing.
We ventured into the last 17 km to Kangerluarsuk tulleq, in good spirits, with the sun shining and warming us from a cloudless sky, a few mosquitoes, and August flies. After walking for a little over half an hour, we became a bit irritated by a red helicopter that kept circling above us (high up) and wondered if they were looking for someone. But we were puzzled about why it was flying so high. “Can’t we have a bit of mindfulness on our trip?” 😊 Hhahaha
Then the little red helicopter disappeared, and we could have some peace…
We wondered a bit but continued walking and reached an area with densely overgrown thicket, a forest-like area that was quite fascinating to walk through.
Suddenly, a giant gray seahawk appeared on the horizon, rising from a slope and starting to circle around us.
We panicked a bit and didn’t know how to act – should we wave, give a thumbs up, shoo them away, do a somersault to show we’re in control, or what?
Suddenly, being ready in a soldier position, hahahah, (nooo).
The helicopter came very close to us, so we stood holding onto each other, not to be thrown away or suddenly hoisted up and kidnapped (just kidding). The helicopter ascended and disappeared, leaving us standing like the biggest three ? ever. What was that, what were they doing, who were they looking for, why so close to us, did we accidentally press the emergency call on our phones, the spot device we had with us, or were our families worried, etc. Each of us had these thoughts for a while. We only got the answer in Sisimiut 😊
We crossed the large river in rubber boots (🤩lifesavers), which runs all the way down to Kangerluarsuk tulleq. And then we entered the area I had been looking forward to, namely the area where we had skied during the countless Arctic Circle Races we had participated in. I was so excited to see the entire landscape without snow, and it was truly a beautiful sight. Once we placed everything, it all looked familiar. Really cool to see.
Last year, 2019, there was a huge area where there was a mountain fire. We walked past this area, and it was crazy to see how large an area had been affected.
About 5 km from the cabin at Kangerluarsuk Tulleq (the upper one, as there are two), we took a short break by the river, which again was paradisiacal. A large rushing river, the sun shining from a cloudless sky, green thicket around, the most beautiful mountains surrounding you, and, not least, the company – fantastic.
34 km and 13 hours after the beautiful morning at Innajuattoq, the most beautiful and longest hike, about 3 km of swamp, and an ascent to the top of a mountain where the last cabin we were going to stay in was located, we arrived at the cabin.
There is no river nearby, so you have to walk a bit to get water, bathe, and wash.
For dinner, I revealed my surprise. The two girls had talked during our preparations about missing cola on the trip, so I had bought the next best thing, Sun cola for them. Not only that, but during the day, I had collected small stones that I would put together into small memory cairns for them. Uuuuhh, there wasn’t a dry eye, and the happiness knew no bounds ❤️.
Kangerluarsuk tulleq – Sisimiut
We woke up at 06:30 on Thursday, August 20, 2020, and quietly began preparations for the last day and the hike towards Sisimiut. Ahhh, today was my favorite ascent, namely the infamous killer hill / Qerrortusuup Majoriaa, which I know so well from the Arctic Circle Race, a climb of 3 km. The fantastic thing about experiencing this climb was that it felt exactly the same to walk up it as when I have skied it, my body recognized it completely. I love it, nowann ❤️
Right after the killer hill / Qerrortusuup Majoriaa, we walked towards the ACR campsite on the lake under the Aapilattorsuaq mountain and continued directly towards Sisimiut. We could hardly hold Evi back anymore (she just wanted to finish and get home to her hometown Sisimiut), but we persuaded her to take one last break. We took this break at the top and tip of a mountain, where the view was directly towards Nasaasaaq, the valley below with the river and the most beautiful nature ever. I was completely overwhelmed by the beautiful view and couldn’t hold back the tears. I truly had my moment right there ❤️
In the midst of my moment, with tears in my eyes and the coolest happiness / mindfulness, I was interrupted by “do you have any painkillers left” talk, and I had to say “Shhh, I’m sitting here crying and having a moment,” hahaha, we laughed a little.
We reached Sisimiut 12.5 km. 6 hours after starting from Kangerluarsuk Tulleq.
Thank you very much for following along. If you have considered the trip, do it!
P.S. If you’re curious about the helicopter, it was Evi’s cousin Nukappiaaluk, who, along with his team from the Arctic Command, was out on an exercise and wanted to say hello on the way.”