Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker (12km)
When I woke up at 7.30am it was raining hard so we decided to wait for a while for the rain to stop. This trek was one of my main reasons coming to Iceland. It is known as the Laugavegur hike, from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork. The trail offers a great variety of landscape, mountains in almost every color of the rainbow, great glaciers, roaring hot springs, big rivers and lakes. It generally lasts four days. The rain finally stopped around 11.00am and we were soon on our way. That day we had to walk 12km, all uphill, our destination was the Hrafntinnusker hut.
We started going up towards the beautiful rhyolite mountains and soon we had left Landmannalaugar behind us. The weather was cloudy and the wind was blowing strong.
The landscape was stunning and everything around me seemed so unreal. The moss on the ground, the endless steam vents, the rough lave fields, the hot spring lakes...
When we were crossing the rhyolite mountains with all their different colors and snow patches, I was in awe of the natural beauty in front of my eyes. It could easily be a painting or some movie in a fantasy land.
And then came the hailstorm! Combined with the really strong wind, the hail was hitting your face from all directions causing quite a lot of pain. It was time to tighten our hoods, cover as much of our faces as possible and walk with our heads down. Temperature had dropped down to freezing point and suddenly my backpack started to feel very heavy. My hands were so frozen they had gone numb and I had a runny nose like a small river. We pushed hard and kept on going, fortunately the hail stopped but it would start falling again every now and then.
And then the fog came. Thick fog, you couldn't see further than 10-15 meters so we had to be careful to stay on the trail and not get lost. Just two years before (in 2004, my visit 2006), a 25 years old Israeli guy had left his last breath very close to our destination hut. He must have been lost due to this kind of fog we were experiencing but in his case it was worse because he was also trapped in a vicious storm. Eventually he passed away and died of exposure to the fierce elements... a small memorial was built at the place of his death.
Finally, Hrafntinnusker hut was on sight! The last five minutes of walk to the hut felt like an eternity. It took us four hours to cover these 12km. I was supposed to camp but after being beaten up by hail and exposure to freezing cold I decided to stay in, fortunately there was space even though I didn't have a reservation (don't know how is the case now with Iceland being overrun by tourists). The hut was very warm and the warden was a sweet Icelandic girl with two ponytails. Hrafntinnusker hut is situated just above 1000 meters, it was built in 1977, can accommodate 36 people and has geothermal heating. We put all our stuff on the heater to dry and had some nice food. Gilbert and Florence offered me some hot coffee, drinking it felt like heaven. A few more people arrived after us, two Germans who had a short break in the hut and then headed back (!) because they had left their car in Landmannalaugar (guess they were doing a day hike), three Icelandic girls who had some rest and then went on to hike another 12km to the next hut! Icelandic people are so tough! The toilet was an interesting experience as it was outside, you had to be fast otherwise you (or parts of you haha) would freeze!
Before I go to sleep I went out to admire the view and see our starting point for the next day. The hut had a thermometer outside so the temperature could be monitored. When we arrived at 15.00 the temperature was 0°C , at 19.30 it had dropped down to -3 °C and who knows how further it would drop after midnight. Snow kept on falling as I went to sleep, everything was really beautiful....
*All photos taken with a Canon Powershot S1 IS, 3.2 megapixels, my 1st digital camera.
GPS coordinates for places in this post, click on them to be redirected to the exact point in google maps. Click on the names to be redirected to their official websites (if applicable).
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Iceland (2006) ~ 07. Laugavegur trek Day2 [coming soon]
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