Laugavegur/Landmannalaugar Trek, Iceland - Day by Day Account
Breakfast each day was a simple affair. A touch of brown sugar at the base of your bowl, a generous portion of a sour, thick yogurt called Skyr, and a granola topping. This worked out great because we didn't waste a lot of time waiting for breakfast to be cooked. In addition, to save complexity and a lot of time, we all made our own lunch sandwiches. The spread they put out for us was unbelievable for the trail. They had all the normal lunch meats including smoked lamb and then to top it off smoked salmon. So we made sandwiches and while I wanted to pile on the salmon, I resisted lest be called a pig.
Our blue skies seemed to hide as we stepped out of camp and headed to the Landmannalaugar camp site. We were still technically warming up as the path we were taking wasn't part of the official trail, but a side route ambling across the colorful Rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar. This was perfect for our group that was still feeling out its limits. Our ever watchful guides decided to keep the hike fairly flat and avoided and steep inclines. While there were many strong hikers like Jennifer and myself, there were a few very courageous walkers who had rheumatoid arthritis. These walkers all had different challenges. Some couldn't climb well, others worried about the long days, all were very sensible and talked to me for advice.
Not yet in the prime locations, it was still obvious how dramatically different the landscape was from most treks. The deep black lava sand was comfortable underfoot especially compared to the unforgiving stone steps of Machu Picchu.
Everyone had a story, but perhaps the most touching was Eric and Wendy's. Eric was struggling to walk with a cane before committing to the Joints in Motion trekking program. Along the trail his hand wasn't empty though as it was usually clasped to his loving and amazingly supportive wife Wendy.
Hiking with negligible altitude and without huge, steep climbs was very comfortable. It made it possible to enjoy the subtle beauty before us. Unlike some treks were there is one awe-inspiring climax, the easy pace allowed us to take in all of the simple beauties of the trail. It was much like the Icelandic food. We feasted at one of the highly recommended fish houses called "The Fish Company" before we started the trek. I can't even remember what kind of fish I had because the fish was like the black lava sand, just a base for all of the other treats. On our plates were a spoonful of this and a spoonful of that. Each taste left us wanting more, but then of course there was something else to sample and take our minds off it.
We turned the corner and the landscape changed dramatically. Painted hillsides replaces the grassy ones and everyone's pace slowed to take in the splendor.
When we approached the campsite we understood why 4 x 4's were needed to access the trek. There was no real road to approach, more like a river crossing.
I've been to campsites before where they had a shack selling supplies. This was the first "mall" in the form of a truck that I've come across.
A campsite with a hot tub is too much to ask, however as many of us found out a natural thermal spa is even better.
Sadly, there was one casualty the first day, Suzanne's shoes didn't make it. The soles came completely off. Luckily, there was a spare pair in the group that fit her.
The story continues...