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Polar Routen e.V.
International Association for Hiking
and Conservation of Nature in Greenland
Amitsorsuaq, seen from the canoe center
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[Where humans and animals still share their paths - 2]
4200 years and a hiking trail
An untouched nature in the strict sense will not find those, who walk on this trail. As far as we know, about 1990, the Polar Route was marked as a long-distance hiking trail. But this area between the great ice and the coast, the largest ice-free area on the west coast of Greenland, has long been, since 4200 years, when the first humans set foot on Greenland, a cultural landscape, on which many people walked on foot, or travelled by the dog sledge, kayak or Umiaq in east-west direction back and forth. That means, this hiking area is older than the pyramids of Egypt. As long as people live in Greenland, they also used this area as a hunting ground in summer, and there are hundreds of archaeological sites in the area that testify it. "Untouched," whatever that word means, is the way and the landscape through which it leads, not. But it did not change its face, it still looks almost as it did the day, when the first human set foot on it. This is unique, and that is the message that, what one gets, if one can read the imprints on the trail.
The people, who have left this message on the trail in past millennia and centuries, certainly did not have a scientifically based concept of sustainability - but they have practiced it! If a way can have a message for the world today, that's one.
That's what we stand for!
The number of hikers has increased steadily in recent years. Paddy Dillon wrote in 2010 in his guide: "around 300 people a year walk the trail". Others spoke of up to 600 hikers annually. But nobody had counted them.
That's why in the summer of 2016, when we reopened the Kangerlussuaq campsite, we counted the hikers for the first time using a statistical method. The result was 1,290 hikers a year, much more than anyone had thought before.
The whole report can be seen here
Such a large number will cause problems that make the municipality-financed maintenance of the trail, especially the huts on it, reach its limits. Therefore, a few years ago an association for the promotion of the trail was founded. The association should organize civic engagement to preserve the trail and seek to develop a culture oriented towards a sustainable and responsible use of the trail and Greenlandic nature.
However, the association also strives to achieve a participation of those in the management and design of the path that wander on it. If those who decide and shape the future of the path may never have walked the path, and those who wander on it are not involved in administration and organization, conflicts between the two sides are unavoidable; only by dialogue can be avoided and/or resolved.
Once you've walked the path, you'll see how necessary it all is. All beginning for such an association is difficult. That's why
new members are welcome
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