general hiking travel trip reports

Day Four of the Laugavegur hike (Botnar – Þórsmörk)

An early start today, as we had a bus to catch. Well, not that early. We left the hut by 8.45am at any rate.

It was raining as we left, and so to get to the Bridge of Peril we had to walk ourselves down muddy slopes using fixed ropes and chains (it’s actually wasn’t terribly perilous at all).

There was more canyon to see, and more up and down through green landscape. The rain cleared again, and we started getting warm as we hiked up little hills.

There’s something about hiking with a deadline that makes everything a little less enjoyable. Rather than just enjoying the scenery we were passing through, I wasted far too much time calculating when we might arrive in Þórsmörk (that’s Thorsmork for those of you that don’t do Icelandic letters).

Nearing Þórsmörk we stopped for lunch in a meadow, then crossed over the River of Doom – so high that a lot of people were stripping down to underwear to cross. We just made do with getting wet pants.

I had memories of reading of the verdant alpine oasis in Þórsmörk, with great forests. I’d forgotten that this was describing Iceland, where they don’t have trees. The trees were wee alpine birches, and the vegetation in general reminded me of coastal scrub in Australia. It was definitely a change from the Landmannalaugar end of the hike, but we both preferred the stark and colourful mountains of the start of the hike.

In the end we reached the bus stop at Langidalur hut an hour early, and had plenty of time to sit on the grass and watch the 4WDs fording the glacial rivers that were flowing across the huge plain in front of us. We were wishing we’d planned to hike the extension, continuing on to the south for a few days. And wondering what would happen if one of the volcanoes errupted. In each of the huts there’d been a map of the area, showing the areas which would flood in the case of an erruption (something to think about when you have volcanoes hiding under great glaciers), and what escape routes you should take.

Our trusty 4WD bus arrived on time though, and whisked us away from the volcanoes and glaciers. I lost count of the number of times we forded rivers on the way out, although the stairwell of the bus only filled up with water once. We were headed back to Reykjavik, and to pick up our rental 4WD.

Distance: 15km
Terrain: Overall 300m elevation loss, but lots of uphill nontheless