I’ve been home for almost two months and it feels more like a decade. This one took a long time to write, life lately, moves fast, its busy in good and bad ways. Iceland was an amazing time; I don’t think I could have asked for it to go much better but I do wish I had been there longer. We flew out of Minneapolis late on Wednesday the week of July 4th after a day of work and with a short nap over Greenland, woke up at 6AM landing at the main airport in Keflavik. It was a rainy windy day and after 6 hours in the air, they were only able to unload half the bags off the plane before everything was shut down for almost two hours. We sat and waited for Joe’s bag while Kat and I silently debated slipping off on a bus to Reykjavik.
Slowly we moved towards the airport exit and eventually we were on a bus driving along the highway into the city. The air was cold, a bit of a breeze and light rain, it felt like fall, a beautiful break from the July heat back home. Joe, Kat and I would spend the next two days wandering around Reykjavik as we waited for more friends flying in from LA. We hung out in our hostel, explored museums, wandered around the shops downtown and enjoyed the first vacation each of us had had in a long time. The city was a perfect escape, slow and sleepy but enough to keep you entertained.
On Friday our friends arrived, their journey was as eventful as our’s. Bobby was in full blown vacation mode, poppin drinks and having a great time. Alex and Arianna were in a much more relaxed mood but ready for an adventure. I was just happy everyone was in the same country and we’d be walking into the highlands of Iceland the next day. As we caught up in the hostel bar, we found out there would be a music festival there the next night and of course, tonight was opening night so it was bumpin all night long, getting to sleep wasn’t easy.
We woke up early and stumbled our way to the bus station, it would be a common fixture on our travels around the island for the next week. We stashed our extra gear in the luggage lockers and loaded up on the modified 4x4 bus that would take us overland to Landmannalauger. This 50-passenger tour bus had wheels almost as tall as me and suspension that would probably shoot you to the moon if you bounced on it just right. We drove through rivers and down backcountry roads I don’t even know if I’d take my own SUV down to Landmannalauger. It was a cold and breezy morning, we got our bags setup and started off towards the first hut we’d stay at, Hrafninnusker.
together and move forward in the mist. At one point the group was stretched out on a half mile long snow patch, I had lost track of the trail and couldn’t see the back of our group. I let Kat go on in what looked to be the right direction, loosely following a Swiss couple and waited for the rest to catchup. Arianna was soaked, the mist had drenched her hat and gloves, she was shivering, wanting to sit and rest. We kept pushing her forward and eventually made it to the hut. In hindsight, she most definitely had hypothermia setting in from the wet and cold so we had made it just in time before there was trouble. We sipped on tea and warm drinks while the only sunny patch of the day showered us in warmth. Eventually the clouds came back and the rain set in, it’d be an early night in the tent.
The next day was just as wet, cloudy and challenging in the morning. We packed up looking at the vast snowfield we had to cross as the clouds pushed at the upper bowl of the mountains. As we set off, the clouds pushed over the ridge and the valley clouded out, we pushed on. We’d traverse over windy ridges and passed massive snow caves; we’d have a close call that day with a fall by Alex into a patch of sharp rocks and falls by Kat and Arianna down some steep muddy slopes, it rained on us for over an hour. By the time we reached Alftavatn we were all cold and soaked to the bone but it was incredibly early in the day. I wanted to hike on to the next hut which would give us more time for additional adventures after this, but we made the best of our early day, relaxing, playing cards in the small café, drying clothes and when the clouds cleared in the afternoon, we explored the ridges around the outpost. It was one of my favorite afternoons of the hike.
The following morning, we were up early again hiking towards Emstrur. It was a short day with plenty of glacial river crossings but we had a lot of fun. The broad volcanic and glacial valley we hiked down was basked is sun all day long, it was beautiful. On this section of trail Joe and I spent the day trying to find the place Joe, Emily and Bryan had taken one of the famous RRT photos in (checkout the bathroom panorama next time you’re in the shop). We hunted for the spot taking picture after picture, it was fun, the group mood was light and joyous after two difficult and rainy days. I was happy to be on the trail and enjoying the trip that day.
The Hopeless Wanderer