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Trekking Iceland

Trekking Iceland
18 October 2013 No comments

Adrian Harris is a keen outdoor photographer currently building a portfolio of landscape images that can be found on his website www.adrianharris.eu. When not indulging his passion for photography, Adrian can be found working in the Outdoor Department of our Covent Garden store, amassing a gear wish list for his next adventures. Adrian's most recent trip was to Iceland to hike the Laugavegur Trail, an incredible path taking you through some of Iceland's most dramatic volcanic scenery.

"My four day walk started at Landmannalaugar in the Icelandic Highlands (altitude 6000 meters). From Landmannalaugar it was 12 km to the first hut, taking me up another 470 meters. Iceland lived up to its reputation as 'Land of Fire and Ice' that first day: Hot springs often boil under the snow releasing grey steam into the icy air. The appropriately nicknamed 'rainbow mountains' rose in the distance, adding a strange beauty to the amazing landscape.

The aptly-named Rainbow Mountains.

"Day two began with a walk though a snow covered valley, and the rainbow colours gave way to dark mountains that contrasted with the white of the glacier. As the path descended I saw more vegetation, until by early evening I reached the huts at Álftavatn and a grassy pitch by the Lake.

The Black Desert
The Black Desert - Barren, stark, and enchantingly beautiful.

"Day three was a fairly easy 15 km, with a decent of just 40 m. That said, there were two rivers to ford. The first crossing was ankle high but the much deeper Bratthálskvísl proved trickier. My Icelandic companion assured me that rolled-up trousers would suffice and I took him at his word. I regretted it soon after as the river water rose to mid-thigh! It didn't matter; a stiff wind dried my trousers as I crossed the black desert that led to the huts and camping at Emstrur.

"On the last day the 15 km route descended another 300m. The highlight came early with a steep climb into a canyon where a narrow bridge crosses the Syðri-Emstruá river. Next came the Almenningar hills and the Þröngá - the last river to be forded. This proved to be both the deepest and the fastest flowing, but I'd had a fair bit of practice by then. Once over the river the landscape changed again. Having seen no trees at all for days, I was suddenly in a forest! The verdant green valley of Þórsmörk made a dramatic contrast with the rest of the trek and provided a delightful end to an amazing walk."

Kit list:
The weather is varied and unpredictable, so being prepared is crucual! I took a sun hat, breathable waterproof jacket, soft shell trousers and GORE-TEX waterproof trousers. Even though it was July, it did get chilly and I wish I'd had a pair of lightweight gloves. A one-season sleeping bag was OK, but I did use a silk liner and I was glad I had a down body warmer for the evenings. Decent boots and merino wool socks are a must. You'll also need something to change into for fording rivers and for use in the huts - I used The North Face Hedgefrogs which were brilliant. My walking poles were a big help for fording rivers and took some of the strain the rest of the time. If you're camping, make sure your tent can cope with stiff winds. Final tip - keep your gear as light as you can; 12km may not sound like much, but with a heavy pack you'll feel every step.

You can find more stunning shots of Adrian's Icelandic trip here: www.adrianharris.eu.