Trekking Greenland – Arctic Circle Trail – Canoe Center to Ikkattooq

It turned out Tyson and I were the only people to camp last night at the Canoe Center, despite both of us hating his tent.  Everyone else took the opportunity to sleep inside and had hit the trail early – long before we even got out of bed.  Admittedly, we took a very relaxed approach to our mornings…

My sleeping quilt and bowl of porridge in Tyson's tent - - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
We were all for late starts and breakfast in bed!

Even though it was only the start of Day 3, we had already started to recognise and strike up conversations with most of the hikers heading in the same direction as us.  There were the 3 Poles, the 2 Red Germans, the 2 Green Germans (denoted by the colour of their pack covers), the 2 Trolley Germans (they were pulling a trolley as well as carrying backpacks!!), the 4 Young Germans (yes, a lot of Germans!), the 2 Austrians (just for a bit of a change), the 2 Asian Girls, the Crazy Hungarian Guy (his plan was to hike the Triple Crown in an insanely short amount of time), and the 2 Kiwi-Canadians (a New Zealander couple living in Canada).   Yes – we had nicknames for everyone, but they also had them for us 🙂

All up, about 20 people that we would see every now and then as we hiked (often in the distance) and perhaps at the end of each day at the huts (along with a handful of people coming the other direction).  That’s it.  And this was peak season for Greenland’s most famous trek!  

The first part of today’s hike delivered us to the end of the Amitsorsuaq Lake and our first section of really boggy ground.  This is something that you read a lot about when planning to hike the Arctic Circle Trail, and my goal was to complete the trek without getting wet feet through my boots.  I figured I had a good shot at it with my Lowa mountaineering boots 🙂

Boggy sections of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Hmmm…. how to get through this?

Although the trail had already presented us with some mud and wet areas to negotiate, it had not been too bad.  This was the first time we really had to pick our way through and sometimes backtrack a little.  That being said, we hoped that it wouldn’t get much worse and that the reports we were getting from hikers coming the other direction were over-blown! 

Aside from negotiating the bog, the rest of the hike until lunchtime was easy going, with low-lying cloud obscuring the tops of the mountains.

Tyson hiking through the arctic tundra under heavy grey skies

We had our lunch perched on a small rise above the Tasersuaq Lake, with the Green Germans and another dead reindeer perched on a stone cairn for company

Stone cairn with reindeer antlers in front of a lake - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Beautiful spot for lunch

before descending to the one of the very few sandy shorelines along the trail where the Red Germans had decided to stop early and set up camp.  One of the many beautiful things about hiking in Greenland is that you are allowed to camp anywhere.

Campsite by the beach in the arctic wilderness - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you spot the tent in this landscape?

From there, we had the first real climb of the trek – a relatively steep ascent of 400m.

Rob ascending the trail to a ridge - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This trail was surprisingly steep!

Fortunately, the views back down into the valley and across the lakes were spectacular and provided an awesome excuse to stop for numerous breaks.

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

Rob also thought it looked like a good location to spot Musk Oxen and so set himself up to see what he could find.

Rob looking for Musk Oxen from a high vantage point - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Looks like Musk Ox country doesn’t it?

He didn’t end up seeing any there, but did manage to spot an Arctic Hare a little further along the trail.  They are surprisingly large animals!

Arctic Hare sitting and stretching - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
This hare stretched in exactly the same way as a dog!

From the top of the climb the view was unbelievable!  This is one of the many reasons why I love long-distance hiking – to fill my heart with scenes like this 🙂

Panorama of lakes on Day 3 of the Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland

[move cursor over the image to see the full panorama]

But there was still no sign of the Ikkattooq Hut!  The next 6kms were up and down across the Arctic tundra

Hiking the tundra on the way to the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Beautiful hike along the plateau

until, finally, we spied the hut on a ridge in the distance.

First view of the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Can you see the Ikkattooq Hut?

It was surrounded by burned ground – a stark reminder that Arctic vegetation does not re-grow quickly after a fire (this one from back in 2017)

The Ikkattooq Hut surrounded by burned vegetation - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Fires in the Arctic Tundra are devastating

and had a very clever and sneaky resident 🙂  

Arctic Fox near Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
Our host for the night – an Arctic Fox

Our Arctic Fox kept us entertained as we pitched Tyson’s terrible tent right down on the lake (it was the least windy spot and his tent didn’t do wind well, despite what the marketing material said!)

Tyson's tent set up on the lake near Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
We hated this tent

and went about preparing our dinner.  Once again, Tyson and I begged for gas.  And once again, our fellow trekkers were more than generous 🙂  The Kiwi-Canadians promised us whatever gas remained in their first canister after they cooked dinner tomorrow night, and we also found 2 canisters in the hut with a sniff of gas in each.  Yes – we totally took them!

Cooking dinner outside the Ikkattooq Hut - Arctic Circle Trail - West Greenland
The Kiwi-Canadians cooking dinner

Read more about hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure over 8 days on the Arctic Circle Trail:

If it has sparked an interest in Greenland more generally, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

Trekking Information

Distance = 22.8 km

Time taken = 8hrs 23mins

GPX File =Arctic-Circle-Trail-Canoe-Center-Ikkattooq.gpx

Strava Link = https://www.strava.com/activities/1813015327

Map

Basic map of the route from the Canoe Center to Ikkattooq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland- from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of the route from the Canoe Center to Ikkattooq Hut on the Arctic Circle Trail, West Greenland - from Strava
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