12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles) with 490 net meters (about 1608 feet) of elevation loss (but lots of ups and downs!)
Everyone in our room was up by the end of quiet hours (7am) and wanting to leave as soon as possible. This had nothing to do with the hut, which was lovely and cozy, and everything to do with the fact that the sky was clear and we all wanted to take advantage of the break in the weather. The girls and I got out ahead of everyone else and began walking. It was cold, but the snow from the previous day had melted and the way forward was clear. We followed the path, marked with thin wooden markers topped with yellow paint, away from the hut...though for at least a mile, we could still see the hut clearly behind us across a hilly and icy landscape.
We were kind of lucky with the weather -- the rain did pick up again while we walked, but it never became all that heavy and our layers kept us mostly dry and warm.
|The way forward|
|Looking back from where we had come.|
There were many ups and downs across and through little ravines. Some of the ravines had rotting snowbridges which had held hikers in July and probably early August, but which certainly wouldn't hold a hiker now. We were able to traverse around the unstable bridges easily enough. One wouldn't want to fall into any of the little streams that run through some of the ravines, because one would not know whether or not the water was freezing cold or almost boiling hot. We passed one hiker coming in the other direction who got her foot wet in water that she assumed would be cold but was actually hot enough to burn.
|Looking back after going up and down many little ravines|
After many ups and downs, we finally climbed up to a plateau-like area (very windy!) and walked...
We soon saw this gorgeous view in the distance -- absolutely stunning!
We got closer and closer...our next hut, Alftavatn, was down there in the valley...
|Alex takes a selfie|
The hut was situated on a beautiful lake -- the scenery was outstanding and I don't know why we don't have a photo showing the immediate landscape. Oh well.
The hut at Alftavatn has a unique set-up. There is a main sleeping area upstairs with lots of mattresses, and there are individual rooms on the first floor that surround the common kitchen area. The warden gave us a room for four people, and we never had a fourth person join us, so we essentially had a private room right next to the kitchen area. This was nice, but there were no places to hang clothing in this room and there are no radiators in the private rooms. Therefore, if you have wet clothing (we didn't, except for our puffies...which were only damp and not completely soaked), you will have to jostle for space in front of the small electric heaters which warm the common kitchen area.
After unpacking our backpacks for the evening, we ate in the common area. We were almost the only ones there so far...we had gotten ahead of the other hikers who were on their way. I write "almost" because there was one fellow there waiting for a ride back to Reykjavik. He told us he had not brought the right kind of clothing for the hike and, after everything he had got completely soaked the day before, he felt like he should abort this trek and head back to the city. He was an amiable young man from Australia and, as other hikers began arriving, we had an enjoyable conversation that ranged from the Laugavegur Trek to American politics to schooling systems in various continents. Other hikers joined us in our discussions until a couple of hours had gone by and the place was nearly full. It was fun, sitting there with the Australian fellow and, eventually, the Indian couple, the two young American men, and the couple from the Netherlands.
After a while, the girls and I found the hut's Uno cards and retreated to our room.
A tour group arrived while we were playing cards and had a happy, but noisy, dinner. The individuals of that group were from all over the world; they had each joined an Icelandic touring company to do the Laugavegur Trek guided. Their guiding company transported their belongings from hut to hut for them; they only carried small daypacks while actually hiking. The thru-hiker snob in me looks down on that...unless you have a physical ailment which prevents you from carrying your own things, you should do the whole backpacking thing properly if you are claiming to thru-hike....that's part of the whole thru-hiking experience, to carry everything you need on your own back. Yes, I know, Hike Your Own Hike and all of that. I fully admit that my attitude is holier-than-thou. My snobbery aside, they all seemed like lovely people, and one of that crew helped me look for our passports the next day when I temporarily believed those documents to be lost (more on that in the next post).
Everyone in the hut went to bed well before the beginning of quiet hours (10pm - 7am). Unfortunately, most of us were woken up the next morning at 4am by a large group of campers who came in to use the hut's kitchen and didn't even try to be quiet. More on that in the next post.