Time  3 days 2 hours 24 minutes

Coordinates 6943

Uploaded August 30, 2012

Recorded August 2012

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3,468 f
653 f
0
9.1
18
36.53 mi

Viewed 19736 times, downloaded 536 times

near Skógar, Suðurland (Lýðveldið Ísland)

Day 1 = Landmannalaugar Park Trailhead to Hrafntinussker Hut.
Do not start this trek without first visiting the hot springs at the park/trailhead. They're certain to be crowded, and many of the bathers chose to bathe au naturel, but don't let that stop you. They're some of the best raw/natural hot springs in Iceland. When you're in them, try pressing your fingers into the gravel and digging them down about an inch or so. You won't believe how hot the earth beneath the water really is.

As for the trail - this section is supposed to be one of the most picturesque views on the entire trail. Unfortunately, we were socked in the whole 1st day. Visibility was as little as 20 meters at times. Glad I brought the heavy, delicate, expensive camera..... sigh. Oh well. The fumaroles and steam vents were still pretty interesting, though. "Hrafntinnussker" is Icelandic for Obsidian Mountain - or so I'm told. And it's accurate. There is black volcanic glass laying about in fields on last 5th or so of the section. So much, in fact, they have 3 meter high cairns of the stuff. Some of it is sharp - mind your step.

We were weatherbeaten at the end, but the hut was full. We had to pitch camp in an obsidian field and suffer a windy, rainy night. Being well equipped for a hike, but not a swim - after all, this is August, and we're Californians!! - we had to decide on pressing on or turning back. Morning and the weather would tell.

Day 2 = Hrafntinussker to Alftavatn Hut. Weather was just as gloomy, but a lot less rainy so we dried out and continued on the trail. Most hikers do this trek from North to South to take advantage of the net elevation loss. It also puts the biggest climbs on the first day when you are freshest. On the descent we got to see some of the greenest hillsides I've ever seen, but we didn't see them until we dropped below the cloudline. The Alftavatn lake camp was dry when we arrived, but it rained sideways in the howling wind the entire night and flooded our campsite. The tent site is past the hut down by a creek. If you suspect any rain, try to place your tent as far upslope from the creek as possible or you will swim in your tent.

If I've learned anything about Iceland it is that the weather is fickle. Absolutely unpredictable.

Day 3 = Alftavatn to Emstrur (Botnar) Hut. Hiked for first part of day in blowing rain and fog. You can see our track on the map how we lost the trail out of camp and had to re-acquire it. It was about 12 meters visibility during the worst of it. We continued on this way, in passive acceptance that we would spend the rest of the day soaked. Rain gear does nothing to prevent rain blowing in from the side and even below.

But then...... the SUN! Out of nowhere. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, and we rolled up the rain gear. The second half of the day was gorgeous on the descent into Botnar. Grey sands juxtaposed by bright green hillsides and craggy stacks. Amazing. The rain had swelled the river crossings. We had to ford them arm in arm and, instead of being shin-deep, they were waist deep.

Dried out our bodies and our gear in the sun and wind with a huge group of hikers on some well constructed boardwalks and cabins at Botnar before pitching camp just down hill from the huts in an angelica grove.

Day 4 = Emstrur to Thorsmork. Nicest hike of the 4 sections we did. Made us want to press on and climb between the glaciers from Thorsmork to Skogar but we were spent - still too damp and out of packable food.

This leg of the trek crossed churning rivers on single track bridges, had rope-assisted descents, had some of the best views and the most rewarding end-point. The volcano huts at Thorsmork had an all you can eat buffet and, of course, hot tubs. We closed down the lodge that night hamming it up in some cozy chairs sipping beer and hot chocolate with two Danes, an Irishman, and a Spaniard. The next day you can pick up a bus out of the park right in front of the hut. Excellent service. Damn good trip despite the hell that was the first 2 days.
  • Photo of Emstrur Hut
This was waist deep due to all the rain. Should normally be only about knee deep
  • Photo of Fumaroles and Steam Vents
Vulcanism on the trail. Steam vents, fumaroles, sulfur spouts.

16 comments

  • Traipse Apr 13, 2013

    Looking forward to this hike. We've been planning an Iceland trip for 4 years now. I hope we have better weather than you though!

  • Photo of Problema

    Problema Apr 15, 2013

    Enjoy!! Take good rain gear!

  • Avemondo Jul 29, 2013

    I have followed this trail  View more

    очень рекомендую, маршрут достаточно простой и очень живописный

  • Traipse Aug 6, 2013

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Yay! I did it!
    Your info was exactly what I found on the trail. I had better weather than you did in your experience, though. Lucky me.

    The real world trail out of Alftavatn is not nearly so complicated as it looks on Problema's GPS track. I think it was just cuz I had better weather. You just cross an easy bridge right out of camp.

    We also deviated from the track at river crossings. They weren't nearly so deep or swift as he experienced.

    We paid the extra $$ to stay in the huts at each stop just cuz we're softies. Followed his advice regarding the hotsprings before and after the trail. I have to agree - they're amazing and worth the extra time.

    Emstrur was my favorite hut and easily the most scenic and comfortable.

    My favorite part was day one crossing the lava field, seeing the fumaroles, and hiking thru all the obsidian.

    Thanks, Problema

  • Photo of Volcano Huts

    Volcano Huts Sep 18, 2013

    Nice to see that you guys made it safely back home and thanks for staying with us here at the Volcano Huts in Þórsmörk. Thanks for sharing your story here on Wikiloc so others may benefit from your experience.

    Best regards from Þórsmörk, )

  • lysenkod Dec 4, 2013

    Hi guys, if you do this track in winter do you need crampons/ice axe...meaning are there the descends/ascents steep enough not doable with micro-spikes? looking at weather forecast unfortunately the temps could be positive even in winter..

  • Photo of Volcano Huts

    Volcano Huts Dec 5, 2013

    Hi lysenkod, you would not really need crampons as much as you would need snowshoes or cross country skis as there is a lot of snow on the trail but there are not really steep icy hills or cliffs.

    However, this trail is very difficult to do in winter and you will need special form of transportation to get to and from the trail. There are no open huts along the trail so you would be doing this unsupported.

    I would not recommend doing this trail in winter unless you are very experienced in winter travel. There are some more information available on our website www.volcanohuts.com but keep in mind that most of the information refers to summer travel.

    Feel free to contact us via email [email protected] for further information.

  • Photo of Problema

    Problema Dec 5, 2013

    @Iysenkod -

    I second what Volcano Huts said and I'd add that wayfinding may be very difficult. If freshly fallen or windblown snow obscures the trail, and you cannot see the cairns and markers, you'd be reduced to a map or GPS only.

    I've only done the lightest of winter backpacking, so this trail is completely out of my league, but if you're qualified, I'd imagine the views and the solitude would be worth it.

  • lysenkod Dec 5, 2013

    If I find a way to get there for a reasonable cost I will be doing it in one go, like unsupported mountain marathon. From elevation profile and trail condition I estimate non stop completion time about 17-18 hours if not stopped by weather (extreme winds) or streams (the position of the biggest stream makes this trail very interesting in a sense you may be stuck in mere 10k from the finish...). There is not much to see in winter as it all dark, and GPS is a primary mode of navigation...but the solitude is definitely here to enjoy...not sure if there are chances to see northern lights while on the trail..

  • Photo of Problema

    Problema Dec 5, 2013

    You're hardcore, friend!

    Godspeed and fair winds.... and a sincere hope the hot springs are open and usable at both ends of the trail.... :)

  • Photo of Volcano Huts

    Volcano Huts Dec 6, 2013

    Inspiring stuff, ) Take good care out there and make sure you take every precaution you can.

    For well prepared persons with the right kind of gear the Laugavegur is a spectacular winter trail.

    For safety you should have a look at www.safetravel.is.

    We would be interested in hearing about how things work out and if we are open when you arrive in Þórsmörk we will be sure to award you with a hot cup of coffee when you arrive.

    We can also hook you up with some guides that offer assistance and transportation to and from the trail if needed.

    Best of luck, )

  • lysenkod Sep 14, 2014

    Hi guys, I am finally try to hike Thorsmork to Landmannalaugar. What is the best place to drop off the bus, the schedule as below. Is Husadalur the "official" starting point of the trail (as map suggest)? I have troubles to read this schedule, it appears to be cyclical to me.

    Þórsmörk Húsadalur 12:00
    Stakkholtsgjá Canyon Canyon 12:45
    Þórsmörk Básar 13:10
    Þórsmörk Langidalur 15:15
    Stakkholtsgjá Canyon Stakkholtsgjá Canyon 15:35
    Þórsmörk Húsadalur

  • Photo of Problema

    Problema Sep 15, 2014

    I hiked North to South - i.e. Landmannalaugar to Porsmork - so I couldn't say what the best bus stop and schedule is for a South to North trip. I would recommend contacting one of the sets of inns/huts at the southern terminus. They would know best. I stayed at Volcano Huts - you can reach them here:

    [email protected]
    http://www.volcanohuts.com/

    They have a Wikiloc id here: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/user.do?id=892312

    Best of luck on your trip!
    Travel safe!

  • binniflosa Sep 15, 2014

    @lysenkod
    Húsadalur is the first stop the bus comes into from the main road (and Reykjavik), it is the closest one to the start of the trail, after the bus stops at Húsadalur by the Volcano Huts it takes a circle to the other huts (Básar and Langdalur) before it comes back to Húsadalur to pick up the departure guests before returning to Reykjavik.
    Hope this helps with your planing, note that the huts on the trail are closing in the next days and bus is not running any more to/from Landamannlaugar, Volcano Huts will be open all winter.

  • lysenkod Oct 9, 2014

    Hi guys, anyone know the current conditions on this trail? is there lots of mud. I guess there is no snow, the temps are mostly positive, so even if early first snow it won't stick for a long.

  • Photo of Seneketh

    Seneketh Aug 7, 2015

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Hi! Thanks for sharing!

    The trail is easy to follow and all the info is correct. We did it this July 2015 and had a bit of bad luck as we had to camp in snow at the first camp. Meaning that we had to dig a hole in the snow and set up the tent there. That was unpleasant the least. Please check the weather conditions with the wardens in Landmannalaugar, bring a GPS in case of bad visibility and register in http://www.safetravel.is BEFORE you go to Landmannalaugar as there is no wifi.

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