This was it. The last 12 1/2 miles. The last day on the trail. Charlotte’s trio set off about 25 minutes before us and we followed their progress at they became dots weaving across the landscape. The waterproofs were on as it was another day of boggy patches but progress was slow as it was also incredibly scenic and we were taking photographs every few steps.
We saw the two cheery Germans with fabulous teeth, and the American man and his partner (both of them still looking freshly scrubbed – how?!) and thoroughly radiant.
After about 3 1/2 miles there was a fairly major hoomphf, but this was the last significant one of the trail. The rain of two days previously was a distant memory and it was once again hot and sunny. We stopped for snacks on a rocky crest and tried to soak up as much of the last day as we could.
The descent down to the river was steep, but manageable, and after a quick stop for lunch we boulder-hopped our way across without falling in.
The return to civilization was gradual. We found markers and debris from the Arctic Circle Race – bits of sledges, ropes – and passed the truly strange sight of the ski lift. The area of bouldery scree was difficult in places to cross and seemed to go on for a very long time.
Then we glimpsed the runway of Sisimiut in the distance and dropped down toward the town which appeared to be simultaneously very close and far away. We heard the discordant howling of the sled dogs tethered outside Sisimiut and then found what looked horribly like the beginnings of an ATV track…
We passed two other hikers crashed out in the grass and stopped to chat briefly. They were German. (Or possibly Austrian). (OK they were German). And like the others were going to take the boat north to Ilulissat. Like everyone else, us included, they hadn’t booked accommodation in Sisimiut and were just winging it.
Sisimiut did not quite delight on first encounter. This was partly because we had to walk through ‘the ghetto’ as Charlotte put it, but mostly because of the contrast with days of wild walking. We plodded through town, looking for the harbour as that seemed the most fitting point to declare the trail was at an end. Some people smiled as we passed them, but most looked at us as if we’d arrived from another planet. We saw no other hikers on the way in, and as we made our way down a steep hill I was profoundly grateful to be walking down it rather than up it. Eventually we meandered our way down to the harbour, found a bench next to a funky purple moped and declare the trail complete.
P.S. Of course the moment of triumph was short-lived. There was no accommodation nearby and we ended up hoomphfing our way back up the hill to Hotel Sisimiut who were unbelievably lovely and helpful in finding us a room. Not only did they not mind the state we were in (the hotel is really lovely and beautifully presented) they even gave us a discount for walking to them! The room was fab, the hot shower divine, the restaurant food incredible, and all the staff wonderful. Well worth walking 125 miles for.