Sunday, August 24th was my fourth and final day of the Laugavegurin Trail. I had a 15k hike from Emstrur to Borsmork/Langidalur but I had to be there by 2pm so I could catch the Trex bus for the day back to Reykjavik. If I missed the Trex, I’d miss my flight to Oslo!
Knowing I had to be done with the hike by 2pm at the latest, I had set my alarm for 6am so I could be on the trail by 7am with plenty of time to get to the bus. Although that third night in Emstrur had been the coldest due to our first cloud cover of the hike, I was up and ready to go in record time.
An unforseen perk of getting up that early was being completely by myself on the trail for the first few hours. The trail had actually been pretty crowded and I had never been in a situation where I didnt have people’s conversations and noises behind me or brightly colors jackets dotting the landscape in front of me.
It was good to be alone.
I kind of surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it. For the first three days we had nothing but sun and blue sky but now it was drizzling with complete cloud cover and it was still the best start to a day I had had yet.
I think by then my body had adjusted back into backpacking mode, I had found where I liked my pack to be strapped and my boots tied, and I was gloriously alone with nothing but the sound of my boots hitting the ground and the wind coming down off the mountains.
I lost myself for those few hours. I thought about what I was doing, why I was here, and where I wanted to go. I thought about what ifs I had left back in the States, loose ends I wish I had tied up, and about how I could make all of this worth it. No conclusions yet, though.
Thankfully, I came out of my trance long enough to do a precarious river crossing where I had to lower myself down to a ledge on a rope, cross the river gorge on a wooden bridge, and then shimmy along a one railed ridge to the top of the other side. It was fun.
I soon took notice of two other hikers in front of me off in the distance. At first I thought they were coming my way but as I got closer I realized they were going the same way I was but had just beat me to the trail! Slightly bummed my boots hadnt been the first the trail had seen that day, I continued on until I eventually caught them and…. it was Alyssa and Elise!
I couldn’t have gotten more lucky with who I shared thw trail with the rest of the day. While I had enjoyed my time alone, the point of this trip was to experience the world and if this is what the world had in store for me for today then I was gonna make the most of it.
Together we covered the second half of the trai talking about how everyone always assumes they are lesbians, how terrible my hiking diet is (even though it isn’t), sunhats, Dad stories, and what our favorite hikes were.
We also had a knarly river delta crossing that was a series of about 8 forks in the river all of which were just deep and wide enough to leave your boots soaking. I lost feeling in my feet by the second fork and the air hurt my feet by the time I came out the other side.
We then found ourselves in the Icelandic woodlands and it was such a 180° turn from what we had seen just a few days earlier. It was then I realized all the days had been entirely different and this trail was far exeeding my expectations for diversity.
After 5 hours of hiking we arrived at the Borsmork Volcano Huts, what we all thought was the place we needed to be. Two out of three of us were right. Guess who was the one that got it wrong? THIS GUY.
Apparently, the Volcano Huts were somewhat of a third party operated establishment separate from the campsites and huts that are along the trail. It just so happens that the Trex only goes to those campsites, the final one in Langidalur being another 30 min hike away.
Two hours for a 30 min hike? Whats that? You have beer? Sure, I’ll take one.
Alyssa and Elise went all Jewish mother on me and bought me a pity beer and tried to pawn off all their leftover food onto me because they thought I was going to waste away right before their eyes. They even got me to try dried cod fillet which, while I am happy to say I have tried, I have no desire to ever have for the foreseeable future. I spent about an hour there with them chatting and resting before finally accepting the fact I really did have to go. I got some directions from the receptionist (who said I would go up and take thw trail to the right and shouldnt expect a climb of any sort, strapped my pack on, and was off.
After that I promptly made a wrong turn down a mountain bike path. Fuck me, right? The hills were alive with the sound of Ben’s holy-shit-I-am-going-to-miss-my-bus-and-plane-and-get-lost-in-the-woods cry to the heavens. That damn bike trail took 15 minutes to navigate before it spit me out further away from where I needed to go than I had started.
Finally finding the right ‘trail on the right’ I was then greeted by a ridge so steep they built stairs for them. “Well this can’t be right,” I thought, “the nice Volcano Hut lady said I wouldn’t have any significant climb.” WRONG. With 20 minutes till 2pm, I almost pulled a hip running up those stairs with my 60 pound pack.
I could have let out several ecstatic yips when I saw the Langidalur hut and Trex bus. I hurried over to the driver of the bus, apologized for being so last minute, and before I could ask where to put my bag she cut me off and said, “We don’t leave for another 45 minutes.”
I laughed. I laughed because I could only imagine what I looked like to this lady as I stood there, chest heaving, sweat dripping down my forehead, and still having the better part of an hour to kill.
I also laughed because that is what I get for letting myself lose focus. The entire point of this trip is to face the world and when it shows me a less than perfect face to still find the beauty and keep my center. For a minute there it was more important to me to catch my bus so I could catch my plane than to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings and everything that is inexplicably incredible about my life. I like to think I won’t make that mistske for awhile now.
I spent the time talking to two professors from Colorado who were travelling together. Wonderful women who were ESL and Dead Sea Scroll scholars. I sat with them on the bus and enjoyed a few more laughs with them on the ride and a final good luck when we got dropped off in Reykjavik.
And that is my Laugavegurin Trail adventure.
Overall I don’t think I could have had a better hike or first experience on this trip. While it was a bit weird to be in such a remote place yet still have so many people around me, I am not sure I was completely ready to be totally alone the entire time. This was a good way to ease into that. The physical demands of the trail were intense but nothing that left me incapacitated or couldn’t handle. It let me get my first true wear of my boots and pack in, find my hiking legs again, and let my body adjust to the different demands I will be putting on it for the next few months.
Iceland is beautiful. A unique, friendly, wild place that is just a small part of the world in which we live in. I am so blessed that I had the chance to explore this country, the Laugavegurin Trail, and I want to thank everyone for their constant support and love. Without you, life would be awfully hard.
All my love.