Today began with a 7.30 start. We both slept surprisingly well considering we were in unfamiliar surroundings and it was bright all night long. After cooking gloopy oats and using someone else's leftover Nutella on our bread we headed out on the hike. The good thing was that our backpacks would only get lighter from here on in; the bad thing was that they were ridiculously heavy.
Instantly immersed in a rocky lava field we wandered through amazed at the colourful mountains surrounding us. Things only got better as we hiked steeply uphill past bubbling geisers. More and more mountains revealed themselves the higher we climbed making the panoramic view increasingly beautiful.
As we hit the plateau ridgeline we stopped to take more photos, admire steaming pits and finally between snowfields on the rock we sat down for our 'Vegetable Hotpot'. A more accurate description would have been instant mash potato with sweetcorn. However it was nice and filling and after basking in the sun for a short while we continued on.
The next section was a long slog across a never ending icefield. With a geiser whistling like a steam train in the background we slopped on needing music to keep us going. The snow was soft enough to be slippy but also hard pack making the going very slow, slippery and energy consuming. After what felt like forever, the snow ended, we came over the brow of the hill and finally saw our hut for tonight. Today wasn't particularly long in distance or time, but the snow combined with lots of vertical climbing meant it was tough nonetheless. Especially considering neither of us had ever been walking with heavy packs before.
We were glad not to be camping. Even though it wasn't yet raining the air temperature had dropped; which meant there was a chill in the air and sleet clouds lay on the horizon. Luckily we had the sanctuary of the huts. The toilets were little more than a hole in the ground, though. However both the toilet seat and our room had stunning views of the surrounding area. Glaciers in the distance with mountains of all shapes and sizes inbetween.
After a quick walk to a nearby summit and falling through an ice bridge we had some questionable falafel, finally falling asleep in broad daylight again.
When we were researching the Laugavegurinn trail, it was sold as an extreme challenge and trek. Bear in mind I am writing this with only one days experience with glorious weather, but the trek itself has not been overly challenging. The path is well trodden, well marked and primarily smooth. Which is a good job since our 1:100,000 map was next to useless.
But considering this it seems more like a beautiful sightseeing trail, rather than an extreme challenge or test of endurance. But that's just fine. I'm quite enjoying walking through amazing scenery with a warm, dry bed every night. It's really quite nice. It also gives Alex a gentle(ish) but beautiful introduction to backpacking. Although I imagine wherever we go from here won't be quite as pretty.
Whilst not as extreme as described by the guidebook, it is every bit as beautiful.