Made in Iceland – on hiking through the highlands for 25 days
This summer I completed a 25day long solo-hike through Iceland and made a short documentary about it called MADE IN ICELAND. Since then I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback I’ve got- and the many questions about my trip. And here they are, the answers to a collection of the most frequently asked questions about the hike:
Why did you choose Iceland as a destination?
Iceland is well-known for it’s beautiful landscape, it’s photogenic and deserted hiking routes. The only thing you’ve got to be scared of is to be gobbled down by a rabid Arctic fox. With an average bodyweight of 3kg making it the biggest predator in Iceland, there is not much to keep you from sleeping tight at night. That rasping sound is only a sheep rubbing it’s fluffy back- hopefully!
What route did you take and how many km did you cover?
At the beginning of my trip, I hiked very common routes like the Laugavegur and the Kjölur. Instead of hopping onto one of the highland buses at the end of the Kjölur route, I decided to hike till I would reach the ring-road. I spent 3 days walking along a straight gravel road with car rushing by me at 70km/h (and realizing that this car will reach a point in one hour, that you’ll not see in the next 3days does not help keeping the moral up). I covered about 15 to a maximum of 30km per day and approximately made 250 to 300km in total. After reaching the ring-road I hitch-hiked further north and circled one of the peninsulas near Akureyri. In the end it doesn’t matter which route you take. More important is, that you actually DO go out there and start to walk.
Did you have a GPS on you?
Yes, I did. The GPS helped a lot by giving me certainty when I wasn’t sure if I navigated correctly with map and compass, but in some places it might not get you out of a tight spot. The one time I got “lost” in the mountains, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I just couldn’t pass the escarpments and steep detritus in front of me to get there.
What did you eat?
I had porridge every morning. That was fine, as I’m usually a big fan of it- what changed very quickly when I ran out of milk-powder. A muesli bar for lunch, a package of trekking food for dinner and whenever possible a cup of tea with sugar, big amounts of chocolate and hot-chocolate to keep the mood up. Still I was constantly hungry!
What camera did you use, and how did you charge your batteries?
I had a Canon 550D with me, two lenses and a (lightweight, but still unbearably heavy) Manfrotto tripod. After m 5th day of hiking I had to head back to Reykjavik. My battery back with AA-batteries was not working as it should have and I had to restock food as well. When I started the next part of my hike I had 6 fully loaded Canon- batteries with me- I had bought all that were in stock in camera shops all over Reykjavik.
What was you happiest moment during the hike?
Seeing that Arctic- fox hobbling towards me was a very special moment, as he didn’t seem to bother at all that I was there. I hadn’t expected to come that close to the Icelandic wildlife and neither was I prepared to such fluffy cuteness strolling around. Having such an encounter in the harsh wheather and fast highlands feels like a friendly smile from nature, trying to tell you that you are being accepted here now.
What was the worst moment?
I guess being up there on that mountain, feeling the ground move with every step, must have been one of the most horrible situations of my life. I knew, that if I would fall and hurt myself, it would take people 5 days to even start searching for me as I wasn’t expected back before that. Throughout the entire hike my phone had no reception and in this particular situation I realised how vulnerable I was. I also felt stupid, as it was me who got myself into that situation, because I thought I would be modest and intelligent enough to stop and turn around, when it would get too dangerous, but I then I didn’t. I learned a lot about myself that day.
What do you think about the trip now that you’re back?
It feels like I’ve never been away, the experience was so different from my usual life, it seems absurd to believe that it actually happened. It was not always easy and I questioned my decision many times, but this hike might have been one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. I can only give one advice: Pack your stuff, buy that ticket and live, explore, discover! It’s always worth it!