Greenland 2008

Kangerlussuaq airport
Kangerlussuaq airport

Greenland 2008

In late 2008, Aaron made a journey across the tundra of Greenland. From Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut he endured freezing rain, deep snow, ice-choked river crossings, and several blizzards. Each of these conspired to defeat Aaron in his attempt to hike the Arctic Circle Trail a full month after the common season ended. And, he did this solo.

Most trekkers backpack along the trail from June to the end of August in order to avoid the poor weather conditions during the rest of the year. This forces them to endure the relentless black flies and mosquitos, all the while avoiding severe sunburn from the Arctic sun. Many times, backpackers wrote of how they had to make a small fire and smear charcoal on their face to protect themselves from additional sunburns.

Pond above Lake Tasersuaq
Pond above Lake Tasersuaq

To avoid these problems and make an expedition out of this trek, Aaron chose to travel to Greenland outside the normal season and experience the Arctic in its element – snowy, harsh and beautiful.

Greenland flag
Greenland flag

Nearly losing all of his gear in the first river crossing during a blizzard, Aaron quickly learned just how harsh Greenland can be. Above the Arctic Circle, there are no trees due to the short growing season. Greenland has hundreds of miles of tundra, ripe with life, without a single tree. There is no significant shelter from storms as a consequence. However, the Greenland tourism organization, based in Sisimiut, has placed cabins along the way to aid trekkers during their backpack trips. These shelters make it possible for skiers to do the Arctic Circle ski race during March, in the dead of the Greenland winter.

The first shelter at Kattifik Lake was where Aaron recovered from his near-disaster of soaking his boots, socks and himself during an icy river crossing. With just two votive candles, Aaron was able to dry out his boots and socks. Had he not been able to do this, he would have likely suffered trench foot and possibly frost bite from the -30 degree temperatures he experienced. With a little ingenuity, Aaron kept his expedition going and arrived in Sisimiut just over a week after starting out at Kellyville, a remote science station.