Landmannalaugar- Skogar Trek

July 2-6th 2009

On July 2nd, Chrystèle and myself embark on what is my first trek with the goal to join the coastal town of Skogar from Landmannalaugar. The total hiking distance is close to 70km: about 53km from Landmannalaugur to Þorsmork on the route called Laugavegurinn (the Hot Spring Route) which we continue to Skogar on the south coast by adding an extra 25km. We opt to do the trek in total autonomy packing enough food and a tent for four days. The trek is well-know in Iceland and popular with foreign and Icelandic hikers as it offers a great variety of landscapes from hot springs, rhyolite mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, etc. The variety of weather is also part of the experience. The weather may be really bad at times, but incredibly beautiful at others. I had to wear my best ski gear while walking the Laugavegur, but I also walked in just my t-shirt.

July 2th: Landmannalaugar- Álftavatn

We depart from Reykjavik at 8.30 and after a brief stop at Selfoss we reach Landmannalaugar around 1pm. The weather does not seem promising as we drive along the coast: the rain has combined with the fog to form a blurry mass through which the bus steadily goes. As the weather clears up, we can distinguish the Hekla volcano, nicknamed the Hooded One as its summit is most of the time shrouded in cloud. By the time we reach Landmannalaugar, the fog has disappeared giving way to a grey and drizzling sky.

We set up for Hrafntinnusker, our first halt and the first refuge we can reach, where we intend to camp. A steadily trail up goes through a lava field and mountains in almost every colour of the rainbow. Steaming vents and boiling water are all around. After about 3 hours we arrive at Stórihver, a hot spring where we also start seeing more and more snow and fog around us.

We were expecting some snow but not that much. When we reach the first hut we realize we can clearly not camp as a thick layer of snow covers the whole area. After changing for warmer gear, we decide to go further up to Álftavatn. The trail takes us through a valley and we leave the colourful rhyolite mountains and enter an area with dark palagonite mountains and glaciers.

Vegetation increases all around us as we leave the snow behind and see from a distance the Álftavatn lake. The landscape now strangely resembles the Bolivian wilderness. Mountains after mountains create a feeling of vast openness. After a hiking day with an elevation increase of about 960m, we finally reach about 9pm the shores of the Álftavatn lake when wet and frozen we can rest.

July 3rd : Álftavatn - Emstrur

After a first wet and foggy day we wake up by the lake under a beautiful sky. We leave behind green mountains and snow for black sanded plains. The change is quite dramatic as we walk through a desert-like area with superb views on the Myrdalsjökull glacier. The mix of black and white from the sand and the distant snow and ice of the Myrdalsjökull glacier is overwhelming in its beauty. Reaching the camp site at Emstrur, we set up our tent and take a side trip to Markarfljótsgljúfur - a gaping green canyon.

July 4th: Emstrur - Þórsmörk
The weather has changed again and alternates between rainy and sunny patches before eventually settling on the bright side. The leg of the trip takes us through various rivers among which "Þröngá". The current is very strong and the water, straight from the glacier.... glacial! Its coldness is almost painful. When we reach Þórsmörk, the vegetation has changed again. After barren mountains, we walk among birch trees and the vegetation is strangely similar to the middle of France. We decide to camp in Þórsmörk after meeting by pure chance in the middle of the Þórsmörk campsite Siggi whom I befriended in Skagaströnd.

It is Saturday night and at 10pm all campers gather around a bonfire: all generations sit together to sing along until the rain dispersed us. Magical!

July 5th - Þórsmörk- Skogar
On our fourth day we begin the last portion of the trek. The landscape changes rapidly as we steadily go up. This time it feels more like we landed in the middle of Central America. The beauty of the surroundings makes me forget how exhausting the 3.5 hour climb is. We meet the snow again and strong wind. However, we are lucky to not get much fog quite common here. A tomb dedicated to a few hikers who lost they way on the pass few decades ago reminds us of how inclement the weather can turn.

We finally reach Fimmvörðuhals Pass (1093m) where we stop for lunch before putting up warmer clothes to begin the climb down. After passing through a fairly plain and arid landscape, we reach the Skógaá river. We follow down the stream to the waterfall Skogafoss. We wonder at waterfalls after waterfalls until we reach our final destination: the 62m high waterfall Skogafoss. Goal accomplished!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Merci Nadège de nous faire partager ces magnifiques paysages et de nous faire participer au déroulement de vos treks. Ce sont des moments inoubliables que vous avez vécus et nous comprenons avec quelle nostalgie tu as dû quitter ce beau pays. Mille bisous