Sunday August 20 DAY 9. The Final day on the Arctic Circle.
I must have fallen asleep at some point because at 5:30 am I woke up to this. Yikes!
It was raining snowing and sleeting in every direction. The inside of my tent was beginning to get wet as was my sleeping bag. Lisa and I shouted back and forth trying to decide if we should pack up and get the hell out of here or wait a while longer. Finally at 8:30 I couldn’t take it anymore and I was starting to get cold and I knew I needed to start moving soon. I managed to make hot water for coffee and I downed a power bar. Then I carefully packed everything but my tent into my backpack while I was still in my tent.
In order to stay warm while hiking I wore all my clothes, except my down jacket. This decision was a bit risky because if I fell in the river or if I got wet I wouldn’t have anything dry to put on. On the other head taking off any of my layers in 32 degree weather didn’t seem like a wise choice! I also decided to cross the river in my boots ( something I never ever do) instead of changing into my river crossing shoes. Extreme circumstances call for extreme and flexible measures. My boots were already completely soaked and I seriously doubted my fingers would function enough to allow me to change back into my boots once I was safely across the river. Thankfully the crossing was easier than I imagined and the rain, snow, and sleet had stopped. Notice I didn’t say the wind stopped.
The wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to move forward without being blown backwards! The best news though….I was completely warm in all my clothes. Although the trail was completely covered in snow, I could still make out the faint outline of the edges. I kept an eye out for the red cairns and consulted both map and GPS frequently. In order to move through the wind I had to put my head down low and propel myself forward with my trekking poles. The scenery was incredible, the most stunning the entire trip. Unfortunately It was difficult to take many photos without risking being blown away. Yes, it was THAT windy.
Soon we started descending and we were back walking in the snow free bog. I welcomed the soggy muddy bog! Eventually we began seeing a few colorful out buildings and began hearing the barking sled dogs. WAIT! WHAT? Sisimiut! WE MADE IT! I was so excited I simultaneously jumped for joy and started tearing up.
We walked into the first hotel, actually 1 of 2 hotels in town and sat our wet selves and dripping gear down on a couch! A couch! Then we waited to see if there were two rooms available. The person at the hotel was so nice, just the nicest. He let us hang up our wet tents in the laundry room and told us stories of his town. He kept apologizing for taking so long to get our rooms ready. We were thrilled to be inside out of the wind and rain and would have gladly waited all day in the lobby.
The warm shower was fabulous! I even washed both of my 5 day shirts. Then I turned my room into a huge drying rack in an attempt to dry all my soaking gear. I turned my boots upside down on the heater and miraculously they were dry in the morning! Dry boots? Now that’s not only crazy its also a luxury!
The Arctic Circle Trail was an exceptional trip. We experienced extreme weather variations of 40 degrees. It was unusual for the Arctic to reach 72 degrees as it did the first 4 days of the trip. We hiked through fire and rain, sleet and snow, crossed rivers and walked on tundra and slogged through bogs. We sat on lakeside beaches leaning against our backpack loungers and we jumped into one frigid lake. We went to sleep and woke up to the calling of the loons. We endured the wind whipping our tents and ourselves around. We saw reindeer and an Arctic fox and a hare. We crashed through willows and ate wild Arctic blueberries. We hiked and completed the Arctic Circle Trail. It was an epic adventure indeed.
Happy trails until next time!
This blog was typed trailside one letter at a time with my index finger!