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Trekking and Photography: The Laugavegur Trail

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

I previously shared a post containing the best of my photos from my Laugavegur trail trek. This follow-up post is aimed at anyone who's considering this trek themselves, or something similar - Especially if you intend to combine hiking with photography. It's a fairly comprehensive discussion of logistics, locations, problems, and our choices. If you haven't read the previous post, I'd recommend reading that one first. If you follow this blog purely for the photos, then this is probably not the post for you. There are photos in this post, but they're a combination of 'out-takes' and illustrative imagery, rather than 'proper' photos. Otherwise, I hope you find it useful or interesting. It's very much the story of a man out of this depth, but enjoying the challenge.

Warning: This is a long post. In fact I'm reading the Icelandic Sagas at the moment, and this blog post is not far off one itself. Albeit with slightly less violent marauding.

As I mentioned previously, I undertook this hike with fellow landscape photographer Elliot Hook, who's also shared some great posts about our trip. There'll obviously be some cross-over information in both our blogs, but I'm sure Elliot's will contain all the crucial logistical information and practical advice which I've forgotten, and more fantastic photos. So the two perspectives should complement each other for anyone interested in hiking the Laugavegur trail. Between us, Elliot and I had very little experience of this sort of thing. We just wanted to try something a bit 'out-there', and push our landscape photography in a slightly more adventurous direction. Fortunately in that respect, we were joined on this occasion by my dad and my brother, who are less into photography, but have a huge enthusiasm for hiking and climbing. They've so far escaped death everywhere from the Alps & the Dolomites, to Death Valley, Yosemite, and Everest. They helped us a lot, adding some much needed experience to the team.

Of course it's possible to hike the trail as part of a tour group. And there are various options out there for that; both photography tours, and hiking tours. But Elliot and I wanted to do our own thing, plan our own custom schedule, and do things the way we wanted. For some people, that might not appeal, in which case there is every reason to do this with a tour group, who'd take care the logistics and planning. You also benefit from the experience of the tour leaders, which is of great value. Some tours even carry your kit from hut-to-hut, and cook your meals for you! But my philosophy is that I'd generally rather bumble through on my own, struggle, and hopefully learn in the processes, than take a tour which might hamper my freedom or creativity, or dampen my feeling of achievement. I think it would also diminish my feeling of ownership of my photos if I'd been lead to someone else's viewpoints. But, to each his own on that one.

The Laugavegur Hiking Route

The Laugavegur trail is a multi-day trekking trail in the south-west highlands of Iceland. The route runs between Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk (Þórsmörk). As a cheeky bonus, you can also add an extension to Skógar, via the Fimmvörðuháls path. As we were planning our trip, I found it hard to visualise the route. Many of the maps I found online were unclear and too small/large, so I've drawn my own for this blog.

A map, showing the route of the Laugavegur Hiking Trail, in the highlands of Iceland.
Laugavegur Hiking Route

The classic way of hiking this trek is over 4 days:

Day 1: Landmannalaugar -> Hrafntinnusker

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker -> Álftavatn (or Hvanngil)

Day 3: Álftavatn (or Hvanngil) -> Emstrur

Day 4: Emstrur -> Thórsmörk

However, these distances are pretty short for experienced hikers, and it can comfortably be completed in 2 days for those in good shape:

Day 1: Landmannalaugar -> Álftavatn (or Hvanngil)

Day 3: Álftavatn (or Hvanngil) -> Thórsmörk

We decided on a custom itinerary as follows:

Day 1: Landmannalaugar -> Álftavatn

Day 2: Álftavatn -> Hvanngil

Day 3: Hvanngil -> Emstrur

Day 4: Emstrur -> Thórsmörk

The idea there was to maximise time on the trail as much as possible, by staying at each hut - except Hrafntinnusker, which is prone to bad weather (being the high-point of the trail), and is generally regarded as an unpleasant accommodation. By getting half the distance done on the first day, meant that for the remainder of the trip, we'd only have short distances required. And that meant that we could stop for photos along the way as much as we liked. We would also have plenty of time for photo shoots before and after the day's hike. Either side of the trek, we had 2 nights in Landmannalaugar, and 1 night in Thórsmörk at the end.

My dad and my brother decided to tack on the Fimmvörðuháls extension at the end, whereas Elliot and I prioritised photography opportunities by spending the last day in Thorsmork. By all accounts the Fimmvörðuháls was totally spectacular, and I'm told we should have done it too. But in hindsight I don't regret our decision at all. In fact if we'd have had another day there I'd have spent that in Thorsmork too, such is the scope for photography in that area. So for others this decision is probably going to depend on whether your priority is photography or hiking/adventure.


Boy, did we plan for this trip. The huts sell out well in advance, so we had to book them as early as possible. We booked in late December, and managed to secure only three of the six hut nights we wanted; going onto a cancellation waiting list for the other three nights. This meant that up until a couple of weeks before we went, we didn't know if we would be camping some nights or not. That's not ideal, so I'd suggest avoiding this situation by either booking earlier than 7 months in advance, or being flexible in your dates, to work around availability. In the end we did get into huts for each night, so we knew we'd be warm and dry come the evening. More importantly it lightened our load; not needing to carry tents, cooking equipment, etc.

Speaking of weight, that was a massive factor in our planning (and concern on my mind). The advice is to carry no more than one third of your body weight for this kind of trek. So for me, that maximum weight allowance was 20 kilograms. I was never going to go genuinely ultralight (this is a whole world within the world of hiking), but it seemed like a fair split would be 5kg for photography kit, 5kg for food, and 10kg for everything else. That was always going to be very very tough to achieve, but it was my goal, and I knew that the lighter my rucksack, the easier the hiking would be, and the more I'd enjoy it. And the more I'd be fit to get out with my camera at the end of the day - which was the main point of going in the first place. So like any healthy obsessive, I drew up a spreadsheet of required kit, including the weight of that kit. The initial weight came in around 25kg. I had a few months to get that down to, or under 20kg. Not needing a tent was a big (albeit last minute) help as that saved me 2kg. Every single item of kit I carried was under scrutiny, and I managed to strip the list down to the bare necessities to make a final weigh-in of 19kg.


Below is a list of the kit I took, and my thinking behind it.


  • Rucksack (2,250g)

  • I bought an Osprey Atmos AG 65 backpack. I went to a few shops and tried on different rucksacks, of different brands, and the Osprey AG ("Anti-Gravity") range were a stand-out favourite. The suspension of the weight, and distribution of the load was great. I'd read recommendations of rucksack size for this trek being around the 70 litre mark, but since the Atmos 65 (65 litres) was rated for 20kg of kit, which was all I could carry anyway, I thought I might as well be on the snug side. If nothing else, it would help me stick to that weight limit if there wasn't physically space for more. In hindsight, I'm really pleased with this choice of bag. It was just the right size, and it held up well, keeping the weight off my shoulders. Elliot went for it's big brother; Aether AG 70 litre, and was similarly impressed, so I would suggest this range if you're in the market for a trekking rucksack.

  • Pillow (100g)

  • A cheapo inflatable Quechua pillow from Decathalon. It was fine. I wanted something, as I wanted to be comfortable sleeping, and the inflatable ones were the only ones light enough and packable enough to take. 100g might not seem like much, but I gave serious consideration to everything I took, and I had to really justify the usefulness of a pillow in order to bring it. There are lighter models around, from better brands, but I already had this one, so I decided not to buy another.

  • Sleeping Bag (1,010g)

  • Rab Ascent 400. I splurged a bit on this one, as we weren't sure if we'd be camping when I bought it. So I went for warm, lightweight, down bag, with protection against damp. If you're staying in huts then you won't need one this warm. But it is a good idea to get a down bag, as it packs smaller. In my case, I hope it'll still be handy in the future, to justify the cost.

  • Sleeping bag liner (262g)

  • I got a very warm Reactor Thermolite Liner. Again, planning for camping. If you're in huts a lighter silk liner would be a better option.

  • Trekking poles (480g)

  • Most people suggest taking trekking poles, but I was really keen to avoid it, due to the weight. But I bought some, and in trial runs, they were hugely beneficial. In practice they made a real difference to my knees, and helped my back and posture when carrying the 20kg rucksack. What also helped get this into the packing list was the realisation that the weight didn't count towards my rucksack weight, as they wouldn't be in my rucksack while hiking. I bought a pair of Cnoc Outdoors Vertex Carbon and Cork poles, as recommended by a friendly YouTuber called Darwin on the Trail. They're cheap and cheerful, but they did the job well, and they're very lightweight for the price. I recommend getting cork handles, which are much nicer on your hands than plastic/foam.

  • 1.5L Camelbak (1,675g)

  • I drink a lot of water, and a Camelbak is really helpful while hiking. Water weighs around 1kg per litre, so this 1.5 litre pack was a real drain on my weight allowance, but an essential for me. For the long hiking day ("Day 1"), I also carried a 500ml bottle, to get me up to 2 litres. I doubt many people would carry that much water, but hydration is an issue for me, so I had to ensure I'd have enough water.

  • Spork (10g)

  • A design classic, and Swedish cultural icon.

  • Penknife (100g)

  • Because you never know when you'll need to hack off your leg to get out of a situation.

  • Hiking Boots

  • I debated between my 1056g hiking boots and my 800g trainers, both of which are GoreTex. In the end the higher ankles won out, and that was the right decision I think. If the weather had been better, trainers (proper hiking trainers) would have been fine, but we were trekking through snow, slush, and puddles, so an extra inch in height was reassuring.


  • Tripod Legs (1150g)

  • I have a Manfrotto 190CXPRO3. It's my normal everyday tripod. It's carbon fibre and I couldn't find something lighter that was stable enough, without spending a lot of money. Once you're in the £200 to save 200g territory, it's just not worth it. So I decided to get a lightweight head, and stick with the legs I already had.

  • Tripod Head (+ centre column) (382g)

  • I used a Three Legged Thing ('Corey') tripod head, which was very strong for the weight, and will be my tripod head of choice for future hikes & treks.

  • "Internal Camera Unit" aka "ICU" (390g)

  • I needed a case for my photography equipment, that would fit in the bottom ('sleeping bag') section of my rucksack. Keeping the camera kit there would mean it was easily accessible, and also close to my hips - a good way to load the heaviest item in the rucksack. I already had a cheapo ebay ICU, and that did just fine. You can get better quality ones from the likes of Tenba Tools.

  • Nikon D810+battery (1050g)

  • My camera. Must remember to pack that. I decided not to bring a spare camera body. This would be a gamble for some, but I didn't feel that I had the space or the weight.

  • Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 (1030g)

  • This was a tough decision. The dream would be to take one lens, in the region of 24-300mm, that's sharp and lightweight. Even f/5.6 aperture would be fine to save weight, if it was sharp. But such a lens doesn't exist. So I think 2 lenses are required for a trip like this. This was my wide-angle option, and there are equivalent lenses at half the weight, and less. A couple of well chosen primes would have been around 250-300g. But I decided I'd rather put the effort in to carry this lens, in order to get the sharpness and zoom range it offers. I think that was the right decision for me, but it might well not for you. There are a lot of considerations that go into lens choice, and I spend months deliberating wide angle options.

  • Sigma Contemporary 100-400mm f/5-6.3 (1150g)

  • I was initially going to take my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, plus my 1.7x teleconverter. But The reviews for this Sigma were good, and it seemed sharp. The zoom range was perfect, so that's what temped me. It's not light for a multi-day trek - but it's lighter than the nikon 70-200 + teleconverter, and it would mean less swapping required plus extra reach. I decided to go with it, and I'm really pleased I did. The Sigma lens is indeed very sharp, and I'm now debating whether to keep the Nikon 70-200, since I've chosen the Sigma over it in every decision since I bought it.

  • Spare batteries (5) (440g)

  • There's nowhere to charge batteries along the way, besides solar or USB charging units you want to carry. The lightest option is to carry charged spares, so that's what I did. I took 6 batteries in total. I only used 3, but I would definitely take 5-6 if I did it again, just in case. If the weather had been better, I could easily have used 4 or 5, and I'd rather carry extra batteries than risk running out.

  • Filters, remote release, memory cards (470g)

  • A circular polariser (used a couple of times), two ND filters, an ND grad (which I didn't use, and never use), memory cards, lens wipes, remote release, etc.


  • Total 290g

  • Lip balm

  • Another essential for me. Hot, cold, windy, wet, dry; all conditions associated with Iceland, and all leave me with chapped lips.

  • Sunglasses

  • I was loathed to make space for these, but I did it at the last minute. Only wore them once, but I guess if the sun had come out, I'd have regretted not having them with me.

  • Sun cream

  • Same as sunglasses.

  • Plasters

  • Ear plugs

  • Totally recommended for sleeping in the huts, or camping. My god there are some snorers.

  • Eye covers

  • I can't sleep without them if there's any light. So essential for me - both during the night (the sun isn't down for long) and for resting during the daytime.

  • Towel (118g)

  • Sea to Summit Pocket Towel (L). Good size, lightweight, packs very small.


  • 8L dry sack (10g)

  • This was to contain all my clothes, within my rucksack.

  • Merino underwear x2 (156g)

  • One for sleeping, one for hiking. Yes that's grim, but needs must. And having wool helps a lot - both for hygiene, smell, warmth, and comfort.

  • Wool socks x2 (192g)

  • Same as above.

  • Merino base layer top x2 (320g)

  • Same as above.

  • Merino base layer legs (144g)

  • The only thing I took which I didn't use! Probably worth having, in case of very cold weather.

  • 'Waffle'-type thin long-sleeve fleecy mid-layer (206g)

  • Warm Fleece with neck and head (316g)

  • I heartily recommend the 66 North 'Vik' hooded fleece sweater. It's warm, light, and versatile.

Travel In

Yes, an extra set of clothes to those above which were packed:

  • Thin socks

  • Merino underwear

  • Zip-off trousers

  • This was a gamble. I only took one pair of trousers, which doubled up as shorts (the zip-off variety). Not an especially trendy look, but in keeping with the environment. They were very lightweight (around 160g), and I'd have been in trouble if they'd have torn or something, but the gamble paid off, and I saved precious grams by sticking to this limitation.

  • Wool jumper

  • Would love an Icelandic one, but Swedish made a very good alternative. This trip really made me fall in love with wool. It's just amazing. It's light, warm, comfortable, comforting, packs down small, and resists smell over days of use. I genuinely love wool now

  • Merino tee-shirt

  • River-crossing shoes (425g)

  • I probably spent more time researching footwear for crossing rivers than anything else. Essentially, you can't cross barefoot in case of injury (sharp rocks, or something), so you need some footwear. That means carrying footwear the entire trek, to wear for a total of around 10 minutes, through a few rivers. It's mighty annoying. I explored all kinds of options, from Crocs (a popular choice) to tough socks (eg 'Skinners'), or Vibram Five Fingers. I dare say I could have found something lighter and/or cheaper, but I ended up going for the North Face Litewave Flow trainers. They were pretty light, and they were comfortable, and I needed to get some that I'd use another time too. I wasn't going to buy something that would only be of use for this trip. So I was happy enough with the choice, but I still resent having to carry them all that way for the limited time they were required.

Waterproofs etc:

  • 66 North jacket (268g)

  • Must be fully waterproof! I have a 66 North Skalafell jacket which I trust, and it's very lightweight too.

  • Waterproof legs (344g)

  • It will rain in Iceland. You really need proper waterproofs.

  • Hat (72g)

  • I took a warm wool hat, and also a lighter merino hat too. If you have the luxury of a head of hair, then you won't need the latter.

  • Snood (44g)

  • Got to keep that neck warm.

  • Wool gloves (48g)

  • Bought some on a previous visit to Reykjavik. These were great. Those crafty Icelanders know their wool.

  • Waterproof gloves (114g)

  • These were a waste of time. I have a pair of Trekmates GoreTex gloves, but they're just not waterproof over several hours. I generally wore the wool gloves, even in heavy rain. They're warmer and feel better.


  • Passport (36g)

  • Phone (132g)

  • I debated leaving my phone at home, as the battery was never going to last the week without charging, but I decided to take it, to use on the buses (which have USB charging sockets, and wi-fi).

  • Phone USB charging cable

  • Head Torch (86g)

  • I resented having to take this, when Iceland has so few hours of darkness, it was never likely to be needed. But I was assured it was wise to take it, so I did. And I never used it.

  • Cash (50g)

  • I heard that although the huts take card payments (for food, showers, etc), that's only if the card readers have power and signal, so it's a good idea to take cash as a backup. I think I only took about £50.

  • Bank cards (10g)

  • ipod shuffle (26g)

  • The battery lasts ages on this, so it was great to have for the long buses, as well as down time, resting in the huts. Outside of 'quiet time' (10pm-8am), people are constantly cooking, packing, unpacking, chatting. So if you want a quick rest - which we regularly did between hiking and photography time - it's good to have some music to play over the background chatter.

  • map book

  • I took a book with me, which included a map of the route, and some text about each section of the hike. Although I'd read it a couple of times at home, it was handy to re-read each evening, to refresh my mind with what was in store for the following day.

  • Spare water bottle x 2

  • As mentioned before, I drink a lot of water. I carried a lightweight water bottle for when we were around the huts, and a versatile collapsible bottle to add more options to the Camelbak listed above.

  • Printed itinerary, Boarding passes, Bus booking info.

  • Bus tickets were paper print outs, so we needed those with us. I couldn't rely on my phone battery, so I printed my boarding pass for the flights too. Also had a printed copy of our daily itinerary, so I could refer to notes, and double-check hut bookings, etc.


They say that your food will weigh approx 1kg for each day. I would have struggled to carry that, so again I had to consider every gram, and save as much weight where I could. I ended up with a total food weight of 4kg, for 5 days. I was also targeting a total of 3000kcal per day, but after a couple of days, it was clear that I'd have been fine (better off) with more like 2000-2500kcal per day. I ended up giving food away along the route, as I wasn't able to eat my daily ration, and didn't want to carry what I wasn't eating. Anyway, the following is a list of what I had for each day, which totals 3000kcal:

  • Porridge

  • An easy breakfast. Got some of those little 'just add water' sachets.

  • Belvita

  • Something sweet to have after my porridge, but not too sugary.

  • 2 Tortillas.

  • Versatile and lightweight. Also no risk of going mouldy in the course of the week, which bread / pitta can do.

  • Tuna

  • Filling for the tortillas. I didn't bring enough tuna for every day, but I wish I had.

  • Poppyseed thin x 3

  • Some thin things with poppy seeds on them. An attempt to snack on something savoury, rather than sugar. I didn't like them, but that's because I like sugary things. They did their job, but I didn't eat them all.

  • Rivita Thins x 2

  • Another savoury snack, to have with lunch. Again, not really my thing, but they did a job.

  • Flapjack

  • An easy no-brainer snack.

  • Nut mix (85g)

  • Mixed fruit and nuts. Ticks a lot of boxes, and can be snacked upon while hiking.

  • Salt and pepper cashews

  • I'd read a few reports of craving salt by the end of a week like this, so I took something overtly salty to have along the way. These were really delicious, and I'd recommend them.

  • Bear YoYo

  • This was my wife's stroke of genius. She noted that we've seen our nieces and nephews with these fruit snacks, so I had a look at them. They're tiny, lightweight, sweet, and one of your five-a-day. So ideal for a trip like this.

  • Elk snack

  • Ikea do these elk sausages which don't need to be kept refrigerated. They wouldn't be my first choice - very strong smokey flavour, but they did the job.

  • Snack cheese x 2

  • I bought little individual 20g packets of cheese, and they were another success. You need fat on these hikes, and cheese is a great way to get it. They went in my tortilla wraps and in my dehydrated meals.

  • Expedition Foods dehydrated meal

  • My evening meal. Elliot found these, and they proved a great buy. As a calories-to-weight ratio, they're a real winner. They come in packs of 450kcal, 800kcal, and 1000kcal. I bought the 1000kcal meals, but when it came to eating them, it was clear that 800kcal would have been ample.

  • Herbs, salt, pepper, and chilli flakes

  • What a tip to pack these. And one I ignored. Had to borrow from Elliot, and they made all the difference to the dehydrated meals.

  • Chocolate 60g

  • After the scenery, this was the highlight of my day. I took a 300g bar of my favourite Lindt chocolate, and divided it into 60g over 5 days. I had to split it before I left, otherwise I knew I'd have eaten it all by day 2.

Daily food ration for the Laugavegur Trail. Each column is one day. Click to enlarge.
One column = one day. First and last days were snacks / breakfast only.

Landmannalaugar & Getting There

We landed at Keflavik Airport early in the morning, and took the Flybus transfer from the airport to Reykjavik central bus station ("BSI"). The BSI is just (10mins walk) outside Reykjavik city centre, and it's where our bus to Landmannalaugar left from too. We booked the last bus of the day (1pm) to go to Landmannalaugar, so that we'd have 2-3 hours in Reykjavik between buses, to walk into town, pick up any supplies, and eat our last hearty meal for 5 days. The main thing people buy in this downtime is camping gas. If you're staying in huts every night, then you won't need camping gas. But if you are camping, you'll need gas for your stove, and you can find it at the petrol station 100m from the BSI. Note you can't take it on the plane, so you have to buy it locally. If you're in a rush, there's fast food at the petrol station (the hot dogs are good), or there's a decent looking canteen at the bus station itself (featuring boiled sheep's head, for the full tourist treatment). But we had plenty of time, so we walked up to the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, and ate in the little Cafe Loki. This was a tip-off from a local, and if I had my time again, I'd do exactly the same. Gratinated Mashed Fish (Plokkfiskur) with homemade rye bread went down a treat. So much so that I've learned to make it myself since getting home (oh, spoiler alert: we did survive this trip).

We got back to the BSI in plenty of time, and I had a nervous half an hour waiting for the bus, anxious about the days to come, and whether I would cope with the demands. To complicate things further, a storm was forecast the following day, and the Icelandic Search and Rescue ( were advising (strongly) against starting the Laugavegur trek that day. Fortunately we'd scheduled to spend that day in Landmannalaugar rather than starting the trail right away. But the storm would write off our plans for hikes and photos that day, and we also had to hope that it passed through enough that we could safely start out on the trek the following day, which was 50/50 at this point. Despite travelling with my experienced dad and brother, Elliot and I were fairly adamant that we would stick to the advice of, and only hike the trail if they deemed it safe. So waiting for the bus on a sunny afternoon in Reykjavik, I was pensive about the upcoming 48 hours, and what it would hold for us. Having booked our huts, we had no flexibility on dates, and would have to abandon the trek if the storm didn't pass. Anyway, the bus arrived, and off we set.

The buses are generally very reliable, but unfortunately our bus broke down with around 20km to go. When maneuvering to let another bus pass along a one-track road, in the middle of nowhere, our bus reversed over a road sign and burst a gas pipe. Having lost phone signal, we couldn't call for a replacement bus, which would have been 4 hours away anyway. After stopping to try and repair it, the driver ploughed on at what must have been around walking pace for the rest of the journey. The bus had lost it's suspension, and anyone who's taken this dirt road before will know that it's full of potholes, rocks, drops, and ramps. It was killing me to see the beautiful light on the mountains around us, knowing that this evening was our only chance to get some photos in Landmannalaugar before the storm hit. We eventually crawled into Landmannalaugar at nearly 9pm (scheduled arrival time was 5:15pm). We'd pretty much lost the light by this point, and no longer had time to go up Blahnuker ('Blue Peak') as planned. We rushed out to try and salvage something of the evening, but the rain started, and I got nothing except wet. The storm was coming in, so we went back to the hut.

Oh god, the hut. I feel sick thinking about it. I'm a quiet, polite, anxious, middle-class boy, with a clearly defined sense of personal space. The hut was the antithesis of my idea of holiday accommodation. Our bedroom can best be described as two beds, one on each side of the room, with 9 people in each bed; side-by-side. And because of our bus delay, we were the last ones to arrive. So people had to shuffle up, to make space for us in the middle. It was by far and away the worst aspect of the trip, and Landmannalaugar was the worst of the huts. In fact I can only think of one thing worse than that Landmannalaugar hut, and that would be camping. In spite of everything, at least the hut was warm, and we were out of the storm. I didn't sleep much that night. I laid awake, thoughts racing, and in more doubt than ever that I had it in me to do this.

The following morning it seemed like the rain wasn't as heavy as forecast, so we nipped out while it wasn't too bad. We went up Sudurnamur, which offers a spectacular vantage point over Landmannalaugar and the surrounding area. We couldn't go all the way to the top due to the strong winds and low cloud, but we got high enough for some good views. Below, this handsome man withstands the gale force winds to shoot with that beautiful Sigma 100-400mm lens.

Me shooting longer-focal length landscapes in Iceland.
Photography in Iceland

Because of the low cloud and rain, I only used the telephoto lens here. Even though the rain was light, the wide angle lens wouldn't have stayed dry. And the tops of the mountains were lost in the cloud, so I felt the best option was to pick out smaller scenes and abstracts from our vantage point.

After that we decided to try and get up Blahnuker, as it would be our final chance to do so. I'd guess we got around a quarter of the way up before the wind became so strong it was difficult to stay on our feet. The rain had intensified, and it was clearly well beyond the point at which I could get my camera out of my bag. So we had to abandon that, and confine ourselves to the hut for the rest of the day. It was a long afternoon and night. All the time crossing our fingers that the storm would pass, and we'd be able to start the trail the following day. I slept a little better the second night though.

I didn't get any great photos in Landmannalaugar. I shared a few in the previous post, but they're nothing compared to what we could have got if the weather hadn't been so restrictive. It's frustrating, but that's Iceland. It can be spectacular, but you have to respect the forces that make this island so unique in the first place.

Day One: Landmannalaugar -> Álftavatn

We had a long walk ahead of us, and the morning suffered the tail end of the storm from the previous day. So we took our time with breakfast, and didn't rush off, figuring the later we leave the better the weather would be. This was true, but obviously we couldn't leave it too late as we didn't want to be rushing. We had ideas about sunset photos that night, so wanted to get to Álftavatn by late afternoon. So we left around 10ish I think, in the drizzle.

I was nominated to carry the flag.
The start of the trail. I had been nominated to carry the flag for the duration of the hike.

We stopped at the other end of the lava field (left of the photo above), to take photos of the meadow and the mountains behind, but were confounded by rain and low cloud. I was questioning the point of it all, but also relishing the challenge of the hike in spite of the difficulties. And I knew that the further we got from Landmannalaugar, the better the weather would be. That morning, we passed some of the most unique geology and scenery I've ever witnessed. All the time in gale force winds and rain or hail. It was gutting not to be able to take photos. In the past this missed opportunity would have crushed me, but I'm working to change that mindset, and I was prepared for that sort of disappointment on this trip. I think I took it well, and I enjoyed the views and the experience, photos or not. Those views will live with me, despite having no photos to share of them.

So we pressed on, up, and up, and up some more, to the snowfields of Hrafntinnusker.

hiking accross the snowfields of Hrafntinnusker
Trudging through the snowfield

Until we reached the Hrafntinnusker hut, which was our lunchtime stop, and the high-point (altitude, not morale) of the trek. You can see from the photo below, what sort of scope this place offers for abstract photos, as well as mountain and adventure photography. But it's pretty hard to do much when the cloud covers all the peaks, and you can't keep the lens dry from the rain. I wouldn't have wanted to stay the night in this hut. It's regarded as the most basic of all the huts along the way (yes, worse than Landmannalaugar) and things can get pretty bleak up there.

The Hrafntinnusker hut area. Beautiful but bleak
Hrafntinnusker Hut

From that halfway point of the day, we carried on through more active geothermal areas, until we reached Jokultungur (Glacier Tongue), a lookout over the green Álftavatn valley. This was probably my favourite viewpoint of the entire trek. There's such a wide view, and so many shots and angles available. Yet, still the tops of the mountains were clipped by the low cloud, rendering these wider shots useless in my opinion. Below is a panorama image of the valley in front of us at this point, with Lake Álftavatn in the centre, and the hut just about visible in front of it.

Panorama of the Alftvatn valley from Jokultungur, on the Laugavegur Trail.
Alftvatn Panorama

There weren't many decisions we made along the way which I regret in hindsight, but moving on from here was one of them. We reasoned that after 10-20 minutes the cloud wasn't lifting, and we had a long way still to walk. So we ought to get on and get to the hut in good time, to give us time for a rest and something to eat before a sunset shoot. In reality we got to the hut, had a shower, and didn't want to go out again, after a long tiring day. We should have scrapped our sunset plans earlier, and stayed at Jokultungur for a couple of hours, watching the cloud and light change (which it did later on). We missed a great opportunity here, and one I'd take if I were to have my time over. We were still a couple of hours walk from the hut, but really we could have stayed quite a while longer than we did.

Other opportunities missed this day include Storihver (a very active geothermal area), Söðull (a cliff accessible via a side-hike shortly before Hrafntinnusker, offering fantastic views when visibility is good), and the former ice caves of Hrafntinnusker. All were axed due to the weather, which was the right decision on the day, but a shame nonetheless.

Just before the home straight to the hut, we had our first river crossing; Grashagakvisl. This was fine. Fun, if I'm honest. We were close to the snow-covered mountains where the water was coming from, so it was c