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Hiking Laugarvegurinn with James and some guests

Pictures are at the bottom...

7-13 July, 2022

Over the winter, Kata and I, and two other couples, made plans to hike Laugarvegurinn in the summer. We booked the huts, and were all prepared. Then, one by one, people started dropping out. Kata hurt her ankle just before we were due to leave, some people's babysitting fell through, too much work, the whole story.

James jumped up and was happy to come along, and I had been looking forward to this for ages as my big summer holiday, so the walk stayed on!

We had some concerns leading up to it, as there had been some terrible weather the few days before, but it was meant to be, "fine" so we were off. We had fine weather up past Brennisteinsalda, but then we walked up into a stiff sideways wind, and poor visibility pretty much all the way to the hut at Hraftinnusker. With not much to see, we made very good time, and relaxed for the afternoon doing a very old and decrepit jigsaw puzzle we found.

Day 2, there had been some patches of blue overnight, and very early, but the forecast was pretty murky, with a potential improvement later in the day. With nothing particular to do, we just headed out again. The track is clear, even if the sights were kind of hidden. This day we got much of the same wind, but just after we headed out, it got wet too. With even less to see, and even less reason to really stop to hang out and take in the sights, we really burned off this leg, arriving all the way down to Álftavatn huts at midday, only three hours from leaving Hrafntinnusker.

We were rather wet by now, but had thankfully made it down the big hill before it had all turned to mud. We saw another couple of people have some slips, and I was quite thankful for having bought new shoes :) Being first into Álftavatn brought some benefits, we got given a private two bed room!

Compared to Hrafntinnusker (and Emstrur) there's not really any drying facilities at Álftavatn, so it was looking pretty rough at getting things dry for the next day, when... the sun came out! With a bright sun and a stiff breeze, and the entire hut covered in coathangers and clothes, pretty much everybody got their clothes dried out for the next day.

James and I had dinner booked at the "restaraunt" here, which was, well, it was hot and we didn't have to make it. (It was tasty, but very very low key) We then passed the evening playing cards with two of the other walkers, Sana and Amanda from Croatia, who we'd continue to meet the rest of the way.

Day 3 dawned grey again, but it was promised to be better, but only early with threats of more rain in the afternoon, so off we went again. A minor panic when I couldn't find my beanie, hoping that someone else along the track had picked it up in the mix of wet clothes. We quickly broke out into delightful sunshine, and continued our merry way, enjoying the views around the sandy plains up to the glaciers here.

At lunch, by the waterfall at Innri-Emstruá, I happily found my beanie in my jacket pocket :) From here it was just a plod onwards along the sand and down to Emstrur. Great drying facilities here for anyone who still had a few wet things. We had a short nap, planning an afternoon walk over to the canyon, Markarfljótsgljúfur, but woke up to rain, which continued most of the night.

So we stayed in, and played more cards, learning some new games from a Quebecois family.

Day 4, Kata and Ásta were going to join us. Kata trusted her ankle for one day, and Ásta and Magne found time off work to do just the one day portion. Magne was going to drive them in, and then drive back to þórsmörk with extra gear and beer and food and meet us there. With no reception down at the huts, we had to hike up the hill in the morning to see if we had any messages, and took the opportunity to walk over to Markarfljótsgljúfur. Walking back, with no messages, and just a loosely agreed plan of "10 am" a jeep rolled over the hill with three waving friends on board!

The gang complete, we took off towards þórsmörk. Another lovely day, with just scattered high grey clouds, perfect walking weather. We took it easy, having good weather, stopped more for snacks and enjoying the views, before coming down to "the hill" between Ljósá and Þröngá that Kata had built up in her memory to be an enormous mountain, but turned out to be no big deal :)

One last crossing, the multi channel braided Þröngá, and we just had the flowers and trees of Þórsmörk itself between us and Magne, with cold beers, snacks and clean clothes.

Except.... Magne wasn't going to be there. The jeep had broken down after dropping the girls off, and he had managed to limp it home up the highway at 50kph. We were planning on staying the night, and had a cabin booked for us, but Magne's jeep was our ride out the next day. James was leaving on the 7pm bus that night, and we considered just going home as well, but well, we were really looking forward to this night together, and besides, they told us the bus was full.

We had a nice beer in perfect sunshine with James before he left, then Kata, Ásta and I just enjoyed the evening sun for the rest of the night, catching up with some of the other hikers we'd met over the last few days.

The next day, we had a bit of drama sorting out a ride home, but eventually found a bus company that doesn't know how to advertise, and just relaxed in the sunshine for the day waiting for our ride. Magne met us at the Hvolsvellir petrol station and it was home again, holidays over!

Note: "Stórihver" isn't really the real Stórihver, which is further west but it's the only useful name for the prominent landmark that little oasis makes on the track.