September 8 - September 11, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Notes on Preparation and Expectations

It's October 28; if you would like to stay in the huts in summer 2017 while hiking Iceland's Laugavegur Trail, then contact the good folks at and book now!  If it's too early, then ask when you should write back.  I contacted them in February of 2016 and almost all the spaces were already filled for mid-June through the end of August 2016.

Hut information and reservations --  You must email them for reservations -- again, start this process EARLY.

Guidebook - I enjoyed Zimmer's descriptions of the landscape and his humorous notations.

Map -- Pick one up at the BSI station in Reykjavik

FlyBus -- to get to and from the airport --

Bus to/from Landmannalaugar --

Bus to/from Thorsmork --

Misc. Notes

Bring food from home.  Seriously.  Everything in Iceland is three times as expensive as it is elsewhere.

During this trek, you will be exposed to the elements ALL THE TIME.  There are no trees to keep the worst of the wind/rain/snow away.  Whatever is going on outside, you will be IN IT 100% the entire day.  Bring layers, and make sure your waterproof layers are truly waterproof.  Do not leave the balaclava and winter gloves at home.  Bring extra shoes for the water crossings (do not attempt to cross barefoot, as there are sharp rocks and strong currents...just bring the extra shoes).

We wore our full winter gear, including our puffies, during most of our hike.  Yes, we went during the shoulder season of September, but there are frequently blizzards in July.  Play it safe and have the layers you need to survive a bad day above treeline.

This view can happen to you!  Dress accordingly.

If you are a regular, all-season hiker, then the trail itself is not difficult.  If you are used to rocks and roots, then the footing on this trail will be a nice break -- it's soft dirt or gravel most of the time (sometimes ice).  However, again, it is not the footing that makes this trek challenging -- it is the complete exposure.  If there is a white out, or if snow covers the tracks and trail, then you could easily get lost...and stay lost.

I was surprised at the number of people hiking in mid-September.  I thought there would only be a few...nope, the huts were full and the hikers were plentiful (bring earplugs!).

The scenery is gorgeous!  Straight out of a fairy tale.  Don't worry, if the weather is awful and you can't see anything one day, the next day will likely make up for it.

Have fun!  This is a great trek for those who want a gorgeous adventure but don't have a lot of vacation days.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Þórsmörk (Sept. 12) and the Blue Lagoon (Sept 12-14)

We enjoyed a leisurely morning of not having to wake at 6 and pack right away.  We took our time and finally left the hut around 9:30am.  Our bus to Reykjavik didn't leave until 2pm, so the girls and I had some time to hang out and explore the immediate area.  We left our backpacks at the little store (you can't leave them in the hut once you've checked out) and meandered a bit.

Camping area at Þórsmörk

The braided river our bus would drive through.
For those folks continuing their hike to Skogar, walk downstream a bit and
cross the pedestrian bridge.  Do NOT try to cross this water on foot.
It is far deeper than you realize.

After killing the time walking about and eating overpriced food from the little store, our bus arrived and drove through a bunch of rivers, past the volcano I hoped wouldn't explode, and eventually back to the paved ring road and mainstream civilization. 

We were dropped off near the main tourist information center in Reykjavik instead of the BSI bus terminal.  Whoops...I didn't use the same bus service leaving the Laugavegur Trek as I had going to it.  No matter, everything in Reykjavik seems to be no more than twenty minutes walking distance from everything else.  The plan was to take a bus from BSI to the Blue Lagoon Clinic Hotel, where I had a room booked for the next two evenings.  Of course, we saw a bunch of taxis as soon as we began walking to BSI and, since my mind was now finished with walking and had moved on to the more luxurious part of our vacation, I spontaneously decided to take a taxi all the way to our hotel.  That's a $150 car ride...ouch...but hey, this was the end of our stay in Iceland and I had barely spent any cash thus far.  It was a stupid move financially, but it felt right in the moment.

Our room at the Clinic Hotel was lovely.  We had our own little lava field right outside our balcony door, and the hotel had its own private blue lagoon.

The main, huge, touristy Blue Lagoon is a short walk away from the Clinic Hotel.

The cost of the Blue Lagoon was included with the cost of our hotel room, so we made sure to spend a good portion of a day there.  Yes, it's touristy and crowded, but it's still pretty cool. 

There's a restaurant at the Blue Lagoon that offers a four-course Icelandic dinner.  That dinner was absolutely divine; it was expensive (about $99 each), but I thought it was worth every cent.

The girls take a selfie; the lady behind them does an unintentional photobomb.

The girls are trying to look dramatic...the lady behind them looks dramatic too, lol.
Outside, folks stood by the Lagoon and took photos of the moon...

We walked back to our hotel...our last night in Iceland.

aka Clinic Hotel
We made our short way to the airport the next morning and bought some chocolate to bring back to family and friends.

This had been a fun trip.  I'm a bit sad though, because for the next couple of years, the girls and I will have to stay close to home when we thru-hike.  I need to save money so we can complete our highpointing (minus Denali) before both girls go to college.  It's important to all of us to finish what we started back in 2010.  Guide services on Rainier and on Gannet/Granite will cost a lot of money...I have to save for three people...the only time we've ever needed a guide before was on Hood, but we'll need/want one again for our remaining three highpoints.  We have great long-distance trails practically in our backyard (Vermont's Long Trail and New Hampshire's Cohos Trail are two examples), but since we hike that kind of terrain every single week of the year, we like seeing new landscapes when we take vacations.  However, staying close to home means not having to pay for airfare, car rentals, or hotels.  I do realize that we are extremely fortunate to have the chance to thru-hike anything at all, so I'll keep everything in its proper perspective and we'll soon figure out what trail we'll tackle during summer 2017.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Laugavegur Trek, Hiking Day #4 (Last Day). Emstrur to Þórsmörk. September 11, 2016

15 km (9.3 miles) with 300 meters (984 feet) of net descent.

Last day on the trail!  Sage said she was just getting into the thru-hiker mindset when....the thru-hike ended.  I felt the same way.  Still, this trek is great if you would like a beautiful end-to-end walk that doesn't take up too many of your vacation days.

We were last out of our cabin for a change -- usually, we're first.  Once on the trail, however, the girls sped along like they usually do and we ended up passing everyone.

This cool bridge is fairly close to Emstrur.  It is steep getting down to it, and there's a rope to help you if needed, but only the most timid of hikers would have a problem with this section.

You climb a small hill once you cross; there is one part that requires hands, but it's still fairly simple.  Sage took some photos of the other hikers crossing...

Once up the little hill, the walk alternates between flat/slightly hilly and a gentle descent.  The weather completely cleared and it was gorgeous out.  The entire day was simply lovely.

We entered an area with...gasp...vegetation!  You could smell the difference between the relatively barren areas through which we'd been hiking and the lush and life-filled valley into which we were descending.

To our right we could see Unicorn Mountain.  You can see this mountain as you hike all the way to the big hill just before the last water crossing (a mile or so from Þórsmörk).

Heading down, down, gently down.


We ascended a hill, crossed the top of it, and began our descent to the final water crossing of Laugavegur.  Behold, the river Þröngá.

This crossing wasn't a big deal.  The water was braided...meaning, the river did not fill the entire valley, but ambled along in multiple narrow branches which were never more than five feet wide and one foot deep.  The girls and I took off our boots and plowed through without much ado.

Once across, we climbed a short hill and began a lovely walk through some trees and bushes.

The path joined a road and angled upward.  After a mile or two, we reached this intersection.

For the fancy Volcano Huts (with hot tubs and restaurants), keep going straight.  For the more humble but, as we happily discovered, gorgeous hiker hut, take a left.  We took the left.

We had to go up a small hill, then we could see the hut below us.  Don't know why none of us have a picture of that view..oh well.  After coming down the hill, one walks straight toward the hut like so...

The hut at Þórsmörk!

We officially finished the Laugavegur Trek!

Sage took some selfies with the surroundings.

This hut is NICE!  Here's the big common area, complete with lots of books (in Icelandic), games, tables, stools, and cards.

Here's the boots area...

Our room consisted of a large area with smaller, semi-closed bunks of four.  Here's our little cave...

Back down in the common area, checking out the books...

There's a little store by the hut.  It's open only when the buses arrive, so you have to watch the clock if you want to get anything.

We got some food and drinks, then sat directly outside at a picnic table and looked at the scenery.

Looking back at the hut...

We took our food and drinks back inside and played games, built things with blocks, etc.

Views from right outside the hut...

Inside, eating...

Close-up of the books...

There's a river in front of the hut -- buses and cars must cross it in order to get to and from the road/parking area.  A photo album of unfortunate buses and cars partially submerged in water demonstrates what can happen if a vehicle crosses at the wrong spot.

Sage passed most of the evening building wooden dwellings.

Sage with her creation...

We took one last look outside before retiring for the evening.  By the way, that snow/ice covered thing directly across the river...that's Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and stalled international flights for days.  It's RIGHT THERE...we hoped it would behave itself, at least until we left Iceland. 

The only people in our sleeping area were the Indian couple, the two American guys (Brandon was still wearing the boots that were a size and a half too small), and a couple of young women and a young man who had arrived at the hut via bus.  We had already said goodbye to Lars and Dasja, who had taken the afternoon bus to Reykjavik immediately following their hike.  We slept well, feeling good about the fact that we did not have to get up first thing and head out...our bus to the city wouldn't arrive at the hut until the afternoon.

So ends our official thru-hike of the Laugavegur.  I'll post twice more -- one post will be about our trip back to Reykjavik and our time at the lovely (but expensive!) Blue Lagoon, and the other post will detail planning and gear specifics for those considering hiking this trail for themselves.