Ruth Aaqqii just thru hiked the length of her home country Greenland and became the second person to finish the whole of Via Suecia.
Nobody has better described the epic 117 days on Via Suecia and the subsequent end in Smygehuk November 14 than Ruth Aaqqii herself in an Instagram post that same day:
“This hike has been both an outer and inner journey.
The outer – physically – journey with it’s variable challenges has been incredible enjoyable.
It was also easier than I had expected.
I wouldn’t call it a walk in the park, 😄 but, still, perfectly doable for anyone with reasonable health and enough motivation to keep going!
I never wanted to quit.
I felt safe and at home, first in the mountains and later on in the woods.
Every day felt like a precious gift. 😇
Nature has been kind and welcoming, embracing me in many different ways.
People I’ve met have hugely enriched my life, and will, I’m sure, continue to do do. 🙏
My true challenge from the very beginning, therefore, has been the inner journey.
I felt quite miserable and also depressed last winter and spring, before I started my hike.
Worn down by loss and grief, I was unable to take steps towards re-building my life – apart from planning this thru-hike.
I coudn’t feel much joy or enthusiasm for anything in a long time.
I came to Sweden to heal my wounds.
To make peace with what happened in the past.
To take responsibility for my own happiness – under all circumstances.
While the outer journey – this thru-hike – has come to an end, it feels as if my inner work has only just started.
Only time will tell, where it will lead me.
One thing I want to continue to do – I want to say “yes” to life.
Birth and death, I’ve come to understand, are part of life’s natural circle.
To resist them is to fight life itself.
I want to learn to flow with life instead of resisting it, no matter how painful that might feel, at times.
I want to live life to the fullest – wild and free – until the day of my last breath.
And so the hike is over and Ruth Aaqqii is back to the everyday world where everyday people go about their everyday life. A lot of people who have done long distance hiking feel a sense of loss of purpose and alienation when they get off trail.
So far Ruth Aaqqii has felt none of that.
“Maybe it’s because I’m still traveling, visiting friends and my parents in Germany,” she says.
Advice from other thru hikers is to look forward and plan new adventures to avoid possible “post trail depression”.
“I will try to follow that advice. I guess when I return to Greenland in December I will have plenty of time during the dark winter to plan ahead for some new challenge.”
Ruth Aaqqiis body is still on trail time and she wakes up five’o’clock every morning and gets tired and want to go to bed around eight at night. She has also put on some weight now when the “machine” has stopped doing 20-30 km days.
“I feel fine, but I’m kind of tired and need to lay down and rest when I have been out walking in town. I guess it’s my body taking its down-time.”
A friend in her home village Ittoqqortoormiit, on the East Coast of Greenland, pointed out that she has hiked almost the full length of Greenland (the length of Greenland north–south is about 2650 km).
The last two weeks of her hike was cold, wet and dark. But fiends stopped by and kept her company on the trail:
“When I arrived at Smygehuk, just a few meters from the finish, someone approached me from behind, waving a Danish flagg – it was Malene from Denmark, who had hiked with me on Bergslagsleden.
“She and her boyfriend had travelled to Smygehuk to be there when I finished! Taking a mini-vacation in the area.”
“It was such a surprise!”
Also, fellow thru hiker Peter Bergström caught up with Ruth Aaqqii by car twice during the last 8 kilometers, serving coffee and kanelbullar from his car in a village 4,5 kilometers before the end, just as he did for Kim Norberg, who finished her hike October 30th.
“He’s been incredible supportive to both of us, a fantastic Trail Angel!” says Ruth Aaqqii.
“I’ve met so many kind and inspiring people, both hikers and non-hikers, here in Sweden. A true gift of the trail!”
TEXT: JONAS HALLEN and RUTH AAQQII
PICTURES: RUTH AAQQII