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Arctic Circle Trail solo hike planning and preparation (Greenland)

Although I try to live my life in such a way that I do not need holidays to escape … well, sometimes I just need holidays to escape. What I really liked about my summer 2018 holiday planning is that I first had taken a week to fully disconnect from the world, both mentally and physically, by solo hiking the Iceland Laugavegur trail before spending time with my family in Hof van Saksen in The Netherlands.

So for 2019, I was looking for a similar structure: disconnect with a hike before heading off with the family. In my search, I considered Tour de Mont Blanc, West Highland Way (both serious options), Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (serious option, but that would stretch my summer holidays for too long) and almost settled for the Kungsleden trail (but the 440 kilometers were a bit of a stretch in such a short period of time), before settling on an Arctic Circle Trail solo hike in Greenland.

For readability, I chopped my post up in different stages:

  1. Settle on the idea
  2. Validate
  3. Settle on a date
  4. Lock-in the trip
  5. Create a rough day planning
  6. Creating a packing list
  7. Budget
  8. Extra

Before we start: Arctic Circle Trail

Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail is often listed as one of the best long-distance hikes in the world. The trail stretches up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the edge of the ice cap to the fishing town of Sisimiut on the West coast. While 85% of Greenland is covered in ice, there’s a narrow strip along the coastline that’s actually green! And red. And purple. And yellow.

Step 1: settle on the idea for my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike.

The Arctic Circle Hike is a 160 kilometer hike in total with the terrain being mostly flat (only 3000 meter ascent/descent), which is not too much, but the main challenges are in other areas.

  • How to get there. Greenland is really not the easiest place to get to. The easiest is to get to Copenhagen and then fly to Kangerlussuaq with Air Greenland. And then -on the end of the trail- fly back to Kangerlussuaq from Sisimiut.
  • How to be self-sufficient. Only 55.000 people leave in Greenland, scattered over the 2.166 million km². The only places to (re)supply are either at the start (Kangerlussuaq) or end (Sisimiut) of the trail. That means bringing all my food and gear with me along the trail. The only thing I really really want to try is to prepare fresh trout from one of the rivers … but that won’t last me 160 kilometers.
  • How to plan for the worst. Safety first. Always (see my separate post on safety while hiking). As only 300-2000 people per year hike the trail, chances are you won’t be seeing other humans for several days (which is pretty much one of the reasons to do the trail). So that means making sure I prepare for emergencies (my Personal Locator Beacon, Garmin InReach+), cold (extra blankets), rain, getting lost (extra food, good GPS, etc).
  • What to do next to hiking. I’m currently looking into things to do next to my hike. Visiting glaciers looks obvious, but as traveling within Greenland is either difficult, slow or expensive, I’m not sure what my real options are.

Step 2: validate my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike plans.

[to be added later, probably somewhere this year]

Some sources that helped me a lot:

Step 3: settle on a date for the Arctic Circle Trail solo hike.

As we already locked in our summer holiday at Hof van Saksen in 2019 (the kids loved it), I have quite the specific time frame: somewhere end of June 2019 – probably June 17th-27th.

Step 4: lock-in the trip.

[to be added later, probably somewhere this year]

Currently locked in:

  • 24/08: Flight Brussels > Copenhagen
  • 25/08: Flight Copenhagen > Sisiumut, Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen

Step 5: create a rough day planning for my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike.

So, here’s the rough day planning:

  • Day 1 of hiking (June 18th) – sleep on the trail
    • 11h00-13h10 Travel from Copenhagen to Sisimiut (Greenland) via Kangerlussuaq (Greenland).
    • Quick visit to Sisimiut
    • Buy gas cannister and last groceries
    • Hiking Day 1 (17km?)
  • Day 2 of hiking (June 19th) — sleep on the trail
    • Hiking Day 2 (33km till lake house?)
  • Day 3 of hiking (June 20th)- sleep on the trail
    • Hiking Day 3 (32 + partly towards Canoe center towards white beach (?))
  • Day 4 of hiking (June 21st)- sleep on the trail
    • Hiking Day 2 (42km + rest of Canoe center)
  • Day 5 of hiking (June 22nd)- sleep on the trail, near the glacier
    • Hiking Day 2 (12km + towards glacier)

Fallback options

Especially since my experience at the Iceland Laugavegur trail and it’s fast-changing weather, I promised myself to make a back-up planning.

Step 6: creating a packing list for the Arctic Circle Trail solo hike.

I have created a first packing list for my Arctic Circle Trail solo hike in a separate post.

Budget

[to be added later, probably somewhere this year]
  • Transportation
    • Flight Brussels > Copenhagen €190,-
    • Flight multi-city Copenhagen > Sisimiut via Kangerlussuaq and Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen 5,620 DKK (approximately €750,-)
  • Accommodation
    • 3 nights in Copenhagen (paid them with IHG points)
  • Food
  •  Extras

Total cost estimate – 

Extra

[to be added later, probably somewhere this year]

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