Login | March 18, 2019

Going green Part 2.

Pete’s World

Published: August 6, 2018

Last week I suggested Greenland as an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime hiking venue. In this week’s column I’d like to talk about several day-hiking options that can be found in three different Greenlandic venues. Then next week I’ll be devoting a full column to one absolutely amazing 124-mile Greenlandic backpacking route - the world renowned Arctic Circle Trail.

Okay, so let’s tackle the day-hiking, and I’m going to start with Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city, largest city (population 17,800), and easily its most accessible city. Now the wonderful thing about hiking amidst Greenland’s suburban areas is the fact that you can literally hike right out of any city center and into the wilderness within the blink of an eye. Heck, even in bustling Nuuk this “get-out-of-town” shuffle can be accomplished in under an hour.

With that being said, forget about using cabs or buses to exit Nuuk - simply hoof it to the trailheads. By doing this you’ll experience the truly unique sensation of city morphing into back country and vice versa, a really cool transitional contrast you’ll never forget.

Now out of the multitude of day hikes available in the Nuuk region, I’m suggesting two three- to five-hour summit hikes. The first is a trek around Quassussuaq Peak, and then an accent up to its summit.

The actual trail starts near the airport at little peat house called Aanaap Illua. From Aanaap Illua, get yourself situated on any one of the several trails that anastomose their way around the peak. It’s pretty easy to circumnavigate the mountain by keeping it on your right side as you do the loop. Once you’ve circled the peak, head to the top via the ski lift trail where you’ll be treated to an amazing panoramic view of Nuuk and the surrounding fjord. 

The second Nuuk day-hike is up to the top of 2,532-foot-tall Ukkusissat peak, from the top of which you can soak in amazing views of both Nuuk and the otherworldly glacier filled Kangerluarsunnguaq Fjord.

Ukkusissat looms behind the Qinngorput neighborhood, approximately three miles as the crow flies from the city center. Now this hike is a tad more difficult than Quassussuaq because there are areas along the route where you must use your hands to “boulder” and “scramble” through some slightly technical terrain. Simply follow the orange dots painted on rocks and cairns and you’ll be led to the top of the mountain.

For detailed maps of the Nuuk area - and I do suggest you buy at least one good topo map - go to the Atuagkat Bookstore in downtown Nuuk.

The second day-hiking venue is outside the city of Kangerlussuaq, another frequently visited and easily accessible Greenlandic destination. Now Kangerlussuaq is only one of a couple Greenlandic cities offering an easy approach to the ice cap’s edge. This particular edge happens to be the Russell Glacier, a monster, 197-foot wall of blue ice which stands like an impenetrable fortress to Greenland’s interior ice kingdom.

The Russel Glacier is 15 miles from Kangerlussuaq, so you can either hike there and back (killer long day that I don’t recommend), rent a bicycle for a bike-to-hike-to-bike trip (better option), or hire an outfitter to shuttle you in and out of the area via 4W drive (best option). Yup my vote is to hire the outfitter so you can spend the entire day hiking through the glacial valley and alongside the Russell Glacier - it’s well worth the money.

The third day-hike, Palasip Qaqqaa, is a summit hike located near the beautiful coastal town of Sisimiut. By Greenlandic standards this hike is pretty mellow, yet it offers a spectacular view of Sisimiut and the emerald waters of the Davis Strait. The trailhead is easy to find, but the trail itself, well, it isn't exactly the NY Thruway. Again, as with a lot of summit hiking in Greenland, the best way to stay on track is to aim yourself toward the mountain and meander your way up to its peak. My only cautionary note for this hike is to make sure you have sturdy boots in order to negotiate some loose talus slopes.

So these are just three out of a multitude of day-hiking venues I’ve visited in Greenland. There are many, many more which still loom high on my hit list.

Next week we’re going to take a walk on Greenland’s wild side - the Arctic Circle Trail.