Day 1 — Landmannalaugar -> Hrafntinnusker

Note: This is part two of a series on my experience hiking the Laugavegur Trail in the summer of 2017. You can see the other posts in the series here. Enjoy!

On the morning of the first day of the hike, Lindsay and I headed to the Reykjavik bus station and grabbed a hot drink – one last taste of civilization – before boarding our Reykjavik Excursions bus to Landmannalaugar. Buses left Reykjavik at 8am and at noon, but given that the bus ride itself is a four hour journey and you’re left with a 12 kilometer hike upon arrival you pretty much have to take the earlier bus. The bus ride was a beautiful experience in and of itself (pro tip: the views on the right side of the bus are much better, so get there at least a half hour before the bus departs to make sure you can get a good seat in the front of the bus on the right side), but the Landmannalauger area was really stunning…

There were a couple really cool looking day hikes (2–4 hours) around Landmannalauger, but they involved a lot of elevation change and the weather on the horizon was a little iffy so we opted to head off on the trail right away. The bus dropped us off around noon and the estimate was a 4–5 hour hike for this stretch so we didn’t want to mess around for too long. On a future hike, I’d seriously consider staying the first day/night in Landmannalauger and doing a day hike or two, as the area looked really spectacular and the Laugavegur trail doesn’t really showcase the full valley very well.

It ended up taking us just about four hours to get to the Hrafntinnusker hut, so we actually made really good time. I stopped for quite a few pictures early, but after about an hour of hiking the wind and rain picked up and didn’t really die down for the rest of the day. Next time I need to bring some actual rain pants. The rain-resistant ones I have worked pretty well, but if it was any rainier I could have been in trouble.

I suppose it was a pretty good day for it to rain. After the first 1.5 hours the scenery got a bit bland. There were some hot springs mixed in, but for the most part it was alternating black lava rocks and snow. We were completely exposed – the tallest things as far as we could see in any direction were the 10-foot cairns and poles that marked the way. In the last stretch, we were hit with some fog that limited visibility to about a hundred yards. So even if wouldn’t have been rainy, it wouldn’t have been the best day for pictures. Plus we got to warm up inside the hut when we arrived!

There are huts at five locations throughout the trail, and all of them book up early so you have to reserve your “beds” (they’re really just quasi-mattresses that you put your sleeping bag on top of) ahead of time. They also cost a quite a bit (~$80 per person). We’re planned to camp for the last two nights to save some money (camping costs $20 per person) and experience the elements more directly, but I’m extremely glad we booked the hut on this first night. It’s at the top of a mountain pass, and it was foggy, rainy, and very windy outside. I was very happy to be writing my notes for the day with a cup of tea and snuggled in my sleeping bag in a warm cabin…

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