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Published: August 3rd 2014
This is a 4-day backpacking trip is the reason we were in Iceland. We started with a bus from our campsite to Landmannalaugar.
Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker
12 km, 4 - 5 hoursElevation increase: 470 m
We took the hiker bus from campsite to landmannamaugar. The bus goes through some interesting mountain roads, wading a few rivers. It stated out as cloudy and drizzly but became a bit sunny by the time we reached the starting point.We were somewhat apprehensive about the hike - how difficult is it, how is the weather going to be and how are we going to deal with the snow etc. We knew that a stormy front is coming on Sunday, but we were supposed to have finishes the hike by then. So we gathered as much info as we could. Had a lunch of bread and stuff prepared last night, filled out water bottles and started on the trek.
The beginning of trail is a bit steep, and goes thru a somewhat active lava field. There were fissures from which stream and sulfur was coming out. Once
a bit high we could look back at the valley and colourful surrounding mountains. In 30 min or so we came upon a surprise picterusquw bowl. It was like a painting, work surrounding high mountains and waterfall at a distance, a lake in between. Unfortunately since the weather was not great the pictures did not do justice to the place.
After this was a steep climb on a ridge with sweeping views. The whole hike was full of colours, the kind of colours you would not see elsewhere. After this initial climb we reached above snow line. Fortunately now the way was very gently uphill, mostly flat. While crossing a snow field close to next campsite, we were suddenly surrounded by fog, a impenetrable fog. It was like one min we were looking at the people ahead of us and other we are just looking at write curtain. Fortunately route finding was not hard because we could follow steps but I can see people getting lost here if they don't have a GPS or a good sense of direction. Just as the fog carne, it also lifted once we crossed this field. The hurt was not far
now. After an another 30 min we saw it. There was lot of snow on the ground here, finding a dry, flat, non rocky campsite was but of challenge. We settled on one, set up camp and got ready for dinner. It was getting chilly now but at the same time clouds were clearing. 9 pm and sun was coming out. We took the opportunity to take some pictures and then settled in for the night.
Day 2 : Hrafntinnusker - Hvanngil
12 km, 4 - 5 hours.
Elevation decrease: 490 m
We woke up to partly sunny skies. There was a lot of snow in this area, so we had to cross many snow fields. Luckily most were just flat, and there was a well marked route. I had no problem crossing them, except of course its a lot of work. After going through some ups and down, we came upon the highest point of the trail on a ridge. The views from here were amazing. So many colours in the mountains, dotted with white of the snow. It was a great site. From here the way was flat for a while, and then
going down mostly. Parts of trail were close to edge, clearly carved out of recent snow melt and landslide. We crossed some more sulfur fields. Then we come upon a nice perch, perfect spot for lunch. Here there is view of glacier in the background, some green hills in front, and a green valley with river at the bottom. It was a really pretty site. To top it all off, there was one of the most gorgeous waterfall I had seen, white water between red / orange rocks. We had a nice break here. From here starts a very steep way down into the valley, care must be taken while crossing it. Once down, the way is mostly flat going through lush green valley. It was very lovely, but quite long. At one point we reached a thin stream with bright green grass around it. It was almost not real. After this long walk, we started seeing the lake and then the Álftavatn hut. The hut and campground are next to a lake.
Now was the difficult decision, should we camp here or push on ahead. The Hvanngil hut is ~5km from here. We took a long break, ate
some, freshened up, and then decided to push ahead. Since the days are never ending, there was no real time limit. The way is suppose to be mostly downhill, so we knew we can do it even though we were quite tired. As soon as we got out of the hut, we were faced with a small but deep stream. There was some way to jump, but I decided to take my shoes off and not risk getting them soaked in 0C water. Dipping feet in cold water actually helped. From here its a small ridge to climb, and then a long flat road. At this point sun started shinning with its full glory, and sky was getting clear. In the sun we saw even more colours in the surrounding valleys. We met an amateur photographer here, who was taking pictures left and right. We kept marching on, enjoying the sun now, there was some more gentle hills on the way. We were soon met with a wider service road, and it goes down to the huts. We also had a surprise view of the glacier far ahead. We took a lot of pictures.
At the campsite, we were
lucky to find a very nice flat camping spot. The sun was still shinning, so it was nice time to dry our damp clothes, wash some and then prepare a nice meal. We considered climbing one of the high peaks nearby, but it was not that sunny. So we decided to skip and take it relaxing.
On to day 3 & 4 ...
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