A 15-day adventure by Merry Life
  • Day15

    Big city life ;)

    September 17, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ 🌬 2 °C

    Whenever I get back into civilization from a long hike, I have this strange feeling of disappointment for a short while. I understand that most people love getting back, finally able to sleep in a warm big bed, taking showers and eating fresh foods. Actually, I do usually go straight to a grocery store to stock up on carrots and fruits :) and it's not that I don't like hot showers and large comfy beds. I think I just enjoy the outdoors so much more and have learned to keep myself happy, warm, clean and well-fed when on an adventure.

    But there's of course wonderful perks to civilization - a cozy AirBnb with views over the ocean (whales included in the view! ;) ), meeting people and learning about the local life, chai lattes in cafes, and of course internet access to call the people I love and miss!

    And so we filled our days with some laziness, some exploring and (for me) starting to get back into work - which I really enjoy these days :) We also went fishing for a delicious cod, saw the sky filled with northern lights on 2 nights, and made great new friends. One of my favorites was a day hike, on which three local sled dogs tagged along for the adventure and followed me around almost 8 hours up steep mountains, crossing rivers (they had to swim), and taking breaks for some puppy cuddle time :) Sisimiut is a small town with much less activities than the guys from day 2 made it sound, but filled with lots of beauty and adventure to be discovered.

    Johanne, thanks for an amazing time, I'm sure this was not our last adventure together!
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    Johanne Andersen

    I couldn't agree more: this was only our first adventure together :) Can't wait for the next one!

    9/20/17Reply
    Birga Rohweder

    This view reminds me of Heligoland

    9/20/17Reply
    Merry Life

    Oh ja - well, both islands in the Atlantic ;)

    9/20/17Reply
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  • Day11

    West is best

    September 13, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ☀️ 4 °C

    We made it to Sisimiut! Quite a few days earlier than we thought, but there are much worse problems one could have ;)

    Our last day was another sunny hike full of beauty and adventure. We crossed a wide fjell, covered in snow and really enjoyed the views of the fjord and the mountains. We had a few more river crossings and both were tricked by all the snow and ice up here. I stepped on a stone that was covered in (to me) invisible ice and slipping, I banged my knee against a boulder. Johanne slipped while crossing snowy rocks and found herself standing in the river, the boots completely covered in ice water. So since we were so close to town, we decided to just hike all the way and not camp on the way as we had planned. I would have loved to stay a few more days, but am also very happy I get to clean more clothes, and take a hot shower in town :)

    It's been a really beautiful journey with lots of fun, adventures and time for talks, reading and to think about some of the stuff that might fall aside in busy every day life.

    Oh, most importantly here are our three favorite recurring jokes of the trail:
    1. "In Sisimiut, there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES."
    This one started on the bus back from the ice cap, where I sat with three proud Greenlandic guys talking about their beautiful country. It was nice to learn from them. I asked what I should do or see in Sisimiut (their hometown), and they replied there would be SO MANY ACTIVITIES. I asked for an example and they became still and then eventually said "you'll see when you get there". So we stayed in much anticipation and excitement to see ALL the exciting things to do and see in the small city of Sisimiut - once we get there!
    2. "Water is life"
    This recurring joke was just a constant reminder not to get frustrated with all the water in the trail. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it might have made Johanne only more annoyed, but most time it was a fun joke to laugh about many times a day ;)
    3. "Huh - have you guys tasted the water from this big lake?"
    This one was added to our repertory on one of our last days. We were near the fjord and talking to the Belgians when they had just cooked dinner and one girl noticed something tasted funny. "Have you guys tried the water from this lake? It tastes weird" "No, we carried water in from the river. Because this lake is a really big lake, called the Atlantic ocean..." ;)
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    Birga Rohweder

    Thank you for sharing

    9/16/17Reply
    Birga Rohweder

    but test the rest!!! The true north, for example (Schleswig-Holstein) ;)

    9/18/17Reply
    Merry Life

    ;) luckily, on my way to the true north right now

    9/19/17Reply
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  • Day9

    Water is life - and life is beautiful :)

    September 11, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ⛅ 1 °C

    We've had such a fantastic day! After a bad night - I couldn't sleep much - we woke up to a lovely landscape covered in a sprinkle of snow that came down during the night. Our usual blue sky was back and we thought the valley looked just enchanting.

    The sun did not change the fact that water was EVERYWHERE though and the rivers were unusually high, so we got to do two more river crossings in our sneakers. The water is so cold here that you pretty much need to force yourself to take each next step into more ice water :) Besides the two "pants off" crossings, we had tens of crossings hopping from rock to rock and even more crossings of just jumping over little creeks. Apparently just before we got to Greenland, it had been raining every day for two weeks straight and that water was all coming down the rivers now.

    The water was getting kind of annoying and when we got to more swamps or when the trail would morph into a creek, I could hear Johanne sigh and I'd share the frustrations. But we came up with a song to help us remember that "water is life - and life is beautiful" ;) Either way, we're so thankful for this amazing weather we've had, I did not expect so much sunshine and blue skies and while the icy winds always made sure we don't forget we're in the Arctic, we stayed dry for most of the trail and even when we got wet, we stayed warm.

    Ooh, and I had to share: picture 4 shows Johanne's hiking boots. They were not exactly the biggest fans of the hike and starting losing its soles, but Johanne made due with rope, which in my opinion makes her the hero of this trail! :)
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    Johanne Andersen

    I'm so glad they made it :)

    9/20/17Reply
    Merry Life

    So good we had tons of emergency rope ;)

    9/20/17Reply
    Johanne Andersen

    Me too. Never leave home without 😄

    9/20/17Reply
     
  • Day8

    In, under, over and beside water

    September 10, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ 🌬 0 °C

    Today was the one day we got seriously wet. After a night of storm and rain, the day basically stayed rainy and fog, and eventually snow, joined the party later in the day. And of course, both our hiking boots and our sneakers got wet. The boots because the swamp was just so deep, there was no way around getting wet feet - thanks to wool socks they stayed warm (wet) feet though :) And the sneakers walked us through a river crossing - which is what they're there for :)

    The river was ice cold and the rain from above didn't help, but I thought it was great fun and basically just one very long Kneipp walk for the immune system!

    The further we got into the next valley, the more water joined our trail. By the end, we were walking anywhere but on the trail, as the path was nothing else but a little creek - anywhere from 1cm to 1m deep (as in pic 6). Around 7pm, we reached one of the hiking huts along the trail and decided to sleep in a warm, dry place for the night. At the hut, we got to meet three Belgian hikers and the Canadian mountain biker and it was nice to exchange some stories with fellow adventurers. I'm not a big fan of sleeping in the huts, maybe simply because I'm such a big fan of my little tent, so it should be an interesting night.
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  • Day7

    Welcome to Swampistan

    September 9, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Today started on frozen swamp again, which is always nice. There's a ton of focus needed when going through the swamps, because you could sink in knee-deep with any thoughtless step. So it usually takes a while and often means going zigzags or all around some areas that are just too deep.

    The swamp today is a huge area between two mountain ranges with a river cutting through and feeding from all the mountains around. While still on the fjell, we had carefully tried to study the swamp and found a good route through mostly dried out parts and heavily vegetated sections, which usually means good footing. With this and a few climbs onto hills to see the area closer up from above, we managed to stay fairly dry - meaning our shoes stayed dry from the inside, while we walked up to 10 cm in water :) We managed to find a bridge to cross the river and had a tiring but good hike back into the next mountain range.

    It was only around 5:30pm when we decided to quickly set up tent, as dark rain clouds were forming all around. We were all set up just before the rain started. But what turned out even more interesting was a storm coming along with the rain. We prepped the tent as good as we could, with extra ropes and big rocks as weights on the stakes outside and using our hiking poles to support the tent poles from the inside. It worked great and we had a restful, easy night
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  • Day6

    Up up up

    September 8, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We've had such amazing weather so far! Sunshine most day, no rain except on our second day and the nights are getting warmer, too. So warm indeed that I slept til 8:30am today without even waking up once in the early morning, as I usually do.

    Today was a day full of new acquaintances: we saw a guy riding the trail on his mountain bike (which Johanne found more than impressive :) ), a few dozen polar rabbits, hundreds of annoying but harmless flies and a handfull fellow hikers. The ladder means Johanne has already won a bet for a beer once we get to town. We each guessed how many people we'd meet on the trail in total and I said 6, Johanne said 8. It's been 9 so far, including 3 local hunters.

    The trail was really beautiful today, going uphill onto a rocky fjell covered in lichen and boulders, which is where we met all the rabbits (see pic 4). We're camping on a terrace overlooking a large swamp, which we will cross tomorrow. We're hoping to stay dry, but the swamp looks vast and we've already been in so much water on the trail. We'll see. It's bedtime for now :)
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    Johanne Andersen

    This must be my favorite camp spot on our hike. It was so beautiful with the sunset and the view of the valley.

    9/20/17Reply
     
  • Day5

    Beeeeeeeauti

    September 7, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    It's our second day of following along the shore of a giant lake. On this part of the trail, hikers who are lucky and willing can trade the walking for a two day canoe ride. "Lucky" because there's only 2 canoes on the lake and so if you're lucky, someone just canoed across the lake coming opposite your direction, so the canoe is waiting on "the right side of the lake".

    We weren't lucky arriving at the lake yesterday, but I got to take out a canoe on the other end of the lake for my lunch break today :) Such a treat! Our least favorite part of the trail was just after we left the canoe. In early August, there had been fires on the trail and we walked through the ashes mixed with mud. I really did not like this part, it was dusty and slippery and so we avoided the burnt areas (pic 3) as much as possible.

    A few more hours into the trail, we had my favorite view into the next valley (pic 4) and then down by the lake my favorite campspot and sunset (pic 6). Right next to where we made camp was a large beach and I spent a long happy time, sitting and watching the waves while listening to an audiobook.
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  • Day4

    How to wash your hair in the wilderness

    September 6, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    There are many adventures to be when on a two week remote hike. One of the less glamorous adventures is keeping clean. But it's actually very simple. Wash your clothes in the beautifully clear water, no need for soap, and hang them off your backpack to dry. Wash yourself in the beautifully clear water, no need for soap either. If the water is too cold for a bath, I use a small wash cloth and a lightweight travel towel. And if it's seriously cold, I wash my bottom half first while keeping my coat on and then wash my upper half while having my warm pants back on :)

    When it comes to hair though, it's a bit different. You (or at least I) DO need soap for them to feel nice and clean again. Since you and fellow hikers want to drink the beautifully clear water of the lake or river, you cannot just wash in the lake, even though you're using a biodegradable product. But it, too, is very simple. Just wet your hair, walk away from the lake at least 50 meter - taking water with you - and wash out the shampoo there. The pictures show you how :)
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  • Day4

    The coldest and then the hottest day

    September 6, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    Tonight was certainly the coldest yet. Johanne's satellite weather forecast said -7 at 6am but we both agreed that it felt much colder when we woke up ;) All nights had been well below freezing so far, but camping on a narrow stretch between two lakes gave us the moisture and the cold as a package deal. The tent was covered in frost, both the inside and outside and even my sleeping bag had frost all over its outside.

    It was completely clear sky and so as soon as sun came up, the frost started melting. We acted quickly to get the rainfly off the tent and so the outer tent, my sleeping bag and a few socks and underwear I had washed the previous day were now drying in the day's first sun rays :)

    The lake by the shore, the ground, and even the swamps around were completely frozen and so we started the hike on a nice and dry swamp bed :) The sun did its best though and so by midday, I was hiking in tshirt and it was so warm, we decided to wash our hair in the very cold Amitsorsuaq lake.

    We found a lovely campsite right by the lake and having dinner, a reindeer grazed peacefully not even 50 meters from us. The night looks like it will be cold again, but we're perfectly warm as long as we're in our sleeping bags :)
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  • Day3

    Starting the arctic circle trail

    September 5, 2017 in Greenland ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    So on day four of our trip, we officially started on the arctic circle trail between Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut. We decided not to strain our feet more on gravel roads and get a taxi to the end of the road, where the hiking trail begins. The hiking itself got SO much nicer! :)

    The trail follows a bunch of rivers, lakes and small mountain ranges all the way to the Atlantic in the west. The path itself is mostly heather, lichen or dirt. Even though we're low in altitude, there's no trees around in the tundra. The landscape is dominated by hills, random boulders left here by former glaciers and rivers finding their ways through the hills and swamps inbetween skinny long, fjord-like lakes.

    Quite frequently, reindeer antlers (or other reindeer or musk ox bones) decorate the trail, which is also used by local hunters. I prefer seeing the live reindeers, which we have every day so far :)
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    Birga Rohweder

    Two beauties keeping warm :)

    9/16/17Reply