Iceland '17


Quick Adventure Facts:


Who  - Joe (see gear list), Buzz (see gear list) & Will

What  - Laugavegur & Fimmvörduháls Trails

When June 15th to June 20th 2017 | 6 Days

Where  - Iceland | map, .gpx, .kml  *


Trail Overview


Trail

The Laugavegur & Fimmvörduháls Trails traverse Iceland's rugged, barren, and beautiful landscape, passing by ice caves, glaciers, hot springs, steam vents, and volcanoes. If that isn't enough for you, there are 26 pretty spectacular waterfalls on the last day. They are two of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland and can be connected as one continuous path or hiked individually.

Length

The combined length of both trails is roughly 48 miles (77 km).

Terrain

The trail is pretty easy to follow, and any cross-country snow sections have plenty of footsteps to follow. This hike has a few climbs but most of it wasn't that steep or strenuous. The hardest part can be slogging through melting snow pack for the better part of a couple days. Think hiking in beach sand. There are a couple knee to thigh deep river which need to be forded.

Weather

The Icelandic late spring and summer, the weather is mild or cool during the day and usually stays above freezing at night. You can expect a mix of drizzle, clouds, rain, wind, and sunshine.

In Iceland in summer, the sun barely sets. In the middle of the night the sky is as bright as an overcast day. You could hike at any time of day if you want, and sleeping can be hard. At camp, you can expect people up and about most of the night which was is kind of unexpected. A sleep mask is helpful.

Timing
Most people choose to hike in Iceland during the summer.  There are daily shuttle busses to and from the trail starting late spring from Reykjavik. There are also huts that you can reserve, or camp at, but they are only open when the busses are running. Be aware that the trails can become very crowded in mid-summer.

Logistics

The main airport in Iceland is in Reykjavik. There are shuttle buses that run from the airport to a larger station on the outskirts of Reykjavik.  From there you can take one of the daily shuttle bus for the few hour trip to Landmannalaugar to begin the hike.

The bus station has a small outdoor store right in it where you can buy fuel canisters and a variety of gear items that you might have forgotten. There is also a restaurant in the station, and a gas station-convenience store next door with limited re-supply. There was a Subway restaurant at the gas station.

Landmannalaugar (where the bus drops you off) is a just a "base camp" with camping, and bunks that you can reserve. There is a small camp store run out of a converted bus that had pre-made sandwiches, snacks, coffee, and odds and ends that hikers might need. You might miss the bus-store if you aren't looking for it because it just looks like a parked bus in the parking lot.

Shuttle busses pick hikers up daily from Thórsmörk (by Volcano Hut), or Skogar. You can book round-trip in advance.

Everything is expensive in Iceland. Whatever you think something would cost in the US, double it or more. The currency is the Icelandic Króna, which typically runs close to 1:1 with the USD. Want a beer? $12. Camping is about $20 per person, per night and is only allowed outside the huts. You can reserve a bunk for more, however we stayed outside every night. If you want to go inside a hut to warm up or get out of the wind or rain, that will be $5 for an hour, if there is space.

Resupply

The huts are relatively small. They have bunks and you can cook inside but they don't serve meals. Some sell candy bars or sodas. For the most part you will need to carry your food for the whole trip.

There is one restaurant on route at Volcano Hut in Thórsmörk. It is maybe a mile off the main route, but totally worth it if you are hungry and willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a hot meal after a few days of walking. You can reconnect with the route without backtracking much.

There is also a restaurant and hotel at the end at Skogar.

Gear

Typically, a standard 3 season set up like Joe, Will and Buzz used will work well in Iceland.  You can check out Joe's gear list here and Buzz's here .


Trip Report


By: Will Wood 

 

On Wednesday June 14th, 2017 we arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland where we would pick up the bus that would be transporting us to the start of the 34-mile Laugavegur Trail. The Laugavegur Trail is located in the middle of nowhere. The only things around were volcanoes and glaciers.  We would hike this trail to its end and then take the 15.5-mile Fimmvorduhals Trail to our finishing point at a truly stunning waterfall, Skogafoss.

The journey of getting to the trailhead was almost as rewarding as the trail itself. The bus was specifically designed to venture off-road and we would definitely be doing lots of that. Before we would arrive to the trail that bus would drive through multiple steams and one pretty wide river. Meanwhile the surrounding landscape made us feel as though we had traveled to another planet all together. Before we had even begun to hike we could tell that Iceland was a special place. We arrived to the trailhead early in the evening and set our tents up and hit our sleeping pads early anticipating the following snow filled days on the trail.

We awoke early in the morning on Thursday, June 15th, which was easy to do seeing that it was daylight 24 hours a day this time of the year in Iceland. We instantly began to climb into the surrounding mountains weaving our way up and over snow-covered ridges and across streams via some pretty cool ice bridges. We really didn’t have many miles to do each day so that gave us the ability to move at a slower pace and truly enjoy each day on this trek.

From our very first steps on these two adjoining trails we were hiking in snow. It wasn’t too bad or difficult to traverse and made following the route easy as all we had to do was follow the footprints. We were however there on one of the first days of the season any earlier and access to the trail would have been difficult as the buses had only just started for the season.

All along both trails were huts. The huts were located at incredible locations and varied in size. Many hikers reserved bunks in advance in order to stay in the huts however we decided to sleep in our tents but having the huts along the trail was great because it gave us the ability to take some breaks inside the huts out of the cold weather, rain and strong winds.

After thirty-four miles and two nights hiking around volcanoes and glaciers on the Laugavegur Trail it came to an end in Thorsmork. What a trail. Luckily for us we still had another trail to hike, Fimmvorduhals Trail.

We picked up the trail in Thorsmork and it began with an incredible climb up between two different glaciers. The views throughout the climb were some of the best views we had seen anywhere. This area of the hike was more crowded as more people chose to hike around the Thorsmork Valley area. Once we reached the top there was a hut and a breathtaking view far below us of the ocean. The descent down took us out of snow and into rolling green hills and endless waterfalls before finishing at the best waterfall of them all Skogafoss.

Of all the places we have hiked, Iceland truly stands out for its beauty and other-planet feel. There is so much to see and we only barely touched the surface. But if you ever find yourself in Iceland, make sure to hike both of these trails you wont regret it!

 

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