Where We Be
|From the summit of Mt. Valahnukur you get panoramic views of
mountains, braided river valleys, and glacier-capped volcanoes
|This may look like a picture of "nothing" but it actually includes three
ptarmigans. Can you find them? (Click on the photo to make it bigger.)
|Lovely flowers like these alpine forget-me-nots dot the trail
|It's a steep climb to the summit of Mt. Valahnukur, but if you take your time you'll get there
|There's no way to capture the outstanding 360 degree views in a single photo
|Here we're posing in front of Eyjafjallajokull Glacier. The volcano underneath famously erupted
in 2010. You may remember its huge ash cloud caused flight cancellations across Europe.
|Fine scenery everywhere you look
|We began the hike down the other side, enjoying the immense views
|Odd lighting made for some unusual photographs
|Down below you can see some glamping tents associated with Volcano Huts
|Between Volcano Huts and Langidalur Hut you pass
Snorrariki Cave with its moss-filled graffiti from the past
|You'll also pass another cave known as Skuggi Cave
|The roughly 1 mile (2 km) hike between the two huts is pleasant and mostly flat
|I've outlined in yellow our Valahnukur hiking route. Starting from Langidalur Hut,
we hiked to the summit of Mt. Valahnukur, then down a different path to Volcano
Huts and back to Langidalur Hut. The last stretch from Volcano Huts is mostly flat.
|Hikers love maps so here's one of Thorsmork to help get you oriented. It shows the
location of Langidalur Hut, Volcano Huts, Mt. Valahnukur, and Tindfjoll Circle. For
thru-hikers on the Laugavegur Trail, the Landmannalaugar Hut is about 54 km away.
|We stayed two nights each at Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar (with one night in between
at an Airbnb in Hella). Even one overnight at each hut could suffice: it depends on how much
hiking you want to do and whether you desire one full day with no transport at each location.
|Be sure to book your hut stays well in advance. We stayed at Langidalur Hut at a cost of
$80 per bunk bed per night (so $160 per couple). That's cheaper than any other option
except tent camping. Count it as the cost of being surrounded by such stunning scenery.
|You'll need to bring your own food to cook but
can use the excellent shared cooking facilities
|Here we are all set up in our bunk beds. Another set of bunks stands just across
from us. These smaller rooms on the second floor offer a little more privacy.
|As you ascend Mt. Valahnukur you get great views looking back down at Langidalur Hut.
We liked Langidalur's location and its kitchen options for cooking your own food. Volcano
Huts, about a mile away, are pricier and have a restaurant on-site if you don't want to cook.
|Trex buses are specially equipped to cross rivers safely. This is important
because some of the Thorsmork river crossings are seriously challenging.
|Half our luggage weight on this trip was freeze-dried foods and
energy bars! But you could also shop at Bonus or Kronan.
|Passenger cars aren't permitted, and even in a 4WD these poor folks got stuck. Our
Trex bus had to tow them out. There's no way we'd want to cross these rivers on our own.
We consider the next six days the best days we
spent in Iceland. They were all about hiking and
hut stays in two of Iceland's premier hiking
destinations: Thorsmork and Landmannalaugar.
We did some of our favorite hikes in recent
memory in these two places. If you were to call
Thorsmork "God's country" you wouldn't be far
off, as the name literally means "Thor's woods"
after the Norse god of thunder. It's tucked
amidst rugged mountains and three different
glacier-capped volcanoes. If you love to hike
you'll love Thorsmork. If you don't love to hike,
well, there's not much else to do here.
We arrived by Trex bus around noon, chose our
bunks, stowed our gear, and headed off for our
first hike. The hut warden told us there are two
premier hikes at Thorsmork: Valahnukur and
Tindfjoll. We decided to hike Valahnukur first
since it's literally right next to Langidalur Hut
and is shorter than the Tindfjoll Circle. It offers
terrific views right off the bat. The Valahnukur
hike is about 1¼ miles (2 km) to the summit
(one way) and involves about 850 feet (260 m)
of elevation gain. We decided to save the other
premier hike, Tindfjoll, for our full day tomorrow.
|These ultra-compact sleeping bags were perfect: a light-
weight bag is all you need as the huts stay warm at night.
|Thorsmork is located along Iceland's southwest coast but inland. We caught the 7:30 am
Trex Bus ($87 each) from City Hall bus stop in Reykjavik. In Hella we changed to a different
Trex bus. An assistant aboard each bus helps you with transfers and any questions.
|As you climb the steep trail, you get oustanding views of the surrounding glaciers. This is Myrdalsjokull.
It sits above the explosive Katla Volcano, which erupts every 50 years or so and is now overdue.
|The trail is well marked and starts right from Langidalur Hut
|Happiest when I'm hiking!
|Some signage is only in Icelandic!