Vienna, 13 August 2020

My wife and I are just back from hiking the Lagavegur Trail in Iceland. For readers who don’t know much if anything about this trail (we certainly knew nothing about it until an acquaintance we met on another hike told us about it), let me throw in a map here of the trail; normally, one starts at Landmannalaugar and one hikes southwards to ƥórsmörk.


It’s a four-day hike, covering a little over 50 kms. Physically, it’s  not terribly challenging. Much of the trail is flat, with only one ascent and one descent of any length. Because we were doing the hike at the beginning of August, snow wasn’t too much of an issue; there were quite long stretches during the first two days where we had to trudge across snow fields, but that was it. The biggest challenge were the five or so rivers we had to ford. Although incredibly cold, in most cases the water was only shin deep. The fords of two of the rivers were a bit trickier – they were knee deep and the current was strong – but we managed to make it over the other side in one piece. The weather could potentially have been the biggest challenge we would have faced – there is a memorial along the trail to a hiker who died during a sudden snow storm which hit the trail in July – but we were incredibly lucky and didn’t have a drop of rain for the four days we were walking. As for the wind – which can be very strong – it was generally manageable. It was of course cold, but that was also manageable: we permanently wore a wool vest, and routinely wore two layers on top of that, plus a rain jacket. We slept in huts, which was a good thing, because the temperatures dropped quite considerably during the nights; every morning, we would look pityingly at the persons camping as they crept, stiff and cold, out of their tents. Sleeping in huts also meant that we could reduce the weight of our backpacks, and with careful decisions about what we carried we managed to keep their weights to the 5-7 kg range.

But enough of this talk! Let the photos which we took transport my readers along the trail.

Day 1: Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

Looking back, down on Landmannalaugar (our photo)
Higher up, looking back across the lava field we crossed at the beginning (our photo)
The hills are beginning to colour up, the effect of the area’s volcanic activity (our photo)
Our first patches of snow (our photo)
The hills are painted different hues by the volcanic activity (our photo)
snow and colour (our photo)
hydrothermal vents steam away (our photo)
Brilliant green moss grows where there is water (our photo)
The colours disappear and the lava turns black (our photo)
Tonight’s hut at Hrafntinnusker (our photo)

Day 2: Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

Final look back at last night’s hut (our photo)
View of some of the snow fields we’ll be crossing today (our photo)
Another view further on (our photo)
Bright green moss growing by the mineral-rich waters from hydrothermal vents (our photo)
Lake Álftavatn and its plain; tonight’s hut is by the lakeside (our photo)
Dark waters, green moss (our photo)
Tonight’s huts, seen from the lakeside (our photo)
Cotton flowers along a small stream (our photo)
That moss again, this time hugging the banks of a small rivulet (our photo)

Day 3: Álftavatn to Emstrur

Final look back at last night’s hut (our photo)
The way forward (our photo)
The first ford of the day (our photo)
Last greenery before the lava fields (our photo)
The start of the long, long lava fields which we will walk for the rest of the day (our photo)
The second ford of the day (our photo)
The path across the first lava field (our photo)
A waterfall, a welcome break (our photo)
A cheerful dash of colour among the greyness of the lava stones (our photo)
Looking back across the lava field we have just traversed (our photo)
Mountain clothed in green at the edge of the second lava field we crossed (our photo)
The path across the second lava field (our photo)
Tonight’s huts (our photo)
A canyon running close to the huts (our photo)

Day 4: Emstrur to ƥórsmörk

Bye bye Emstrur
A canyon to cross … (our photo)
… and the bridge to cross it (our photo)
We’ll be following this canyon for the rest of our walk today (our photo)
This bright red plant began appearing as we lost altitude (our photo)
The river has left its canyon and is threading its way to the sea in the distance (our photo)
More of the red plant. And we begin to see trees! (small birch trees) (our photo)
The last ford of the hike (our photo)
We enter a forest, one of the few forests in Iceland (our photo)
We have crossed the finishing line! (our photo)

Postscript: We spent one extra day in ƥórsmörk, hiking in the forest and on the surrounding hills. It rained for the first time, but we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow – a fitting end to a wonderful hike.

our photo