Frequently Asked Questions
These are some frequently asked questions... and answers! For more specific information about traveling through the Iceland backcountry, click the "Info" link above. If you have any other questions, please feel free to e-mail me at: email@example.com
When I was hiking the CDT, I had a lot of time to dream-up other hiking trips all over the world. One of those was a hike across Iceland... No particular reason, it sounded like it'd be interesting. When my friend Dave mentioned that he had the same idea, it seemed meant to be. The trip was a lot more enjoyable and safer with a traveling companion.
Iceland is a unique place. It is located along the Atlantic rift, where the earth's crust is separating. As a result, there are a lot of geothermal features (volcanoes, hot springs, etc) all over the country. Iceland is quite far north - the Arctic circle was just offshore from our starting point - but, the climate is kept somewhat temperate by ocean currents. The land is one of stark beauty, shaped by ice, wind, and volcanoes.
How long was the route?
Even after completing the hike, I'm still not sure. Our best estimate was somewhere around 360-380 miles.
When did you hike?
We started on June 23, 2006, and finished on July 11, 2006.
What type of camera equipment did you use?
I brought a Canon 5D. To save weight (and to reduce the risk of getting grit in the camera mechanisms), I brought only one lens - a Canon 24-105L f4 IS. I had 12GB of storage space (just enough... could have used 14GB), and about 8 batteries (twice what I needed). I fashioned a setup where I could bind my two hiking poles together, add a tent pole, and mount a small tripod head. This actually worked quite well, but was a little cumbersome to use, so I only used it in a few occasions. I
used ISO 400-600 quite a bit - mostly so I could get a little depth of field in landscape shots. I did pick up my small tripod at Landmannalauger. I used this more in the final section. But, the priority of this trip was always to finish the hike on time and safely. That meant I couldn't always wait for favorable light conditions, or go out of my way for the most ideal shooting angle. One thing I would have done differently would have been to add a very small/light weather-resistant camera so I could have taken
more photos in bad weather.
Where / how did you resupply?
The population of Iceland is a sparse 300,000, and most of those live near Reykjavík. Virtually nobody lives in the interior. Still, we passed through a couple areas where we could resupply. There is a small town near the lake Mývatn in the north, and a summer "backpacking village" at Landmannalauger in the south. We sent packages to both places, but it's possible to buy provisions "as you go".
How cold was it? What was the weather like?
It was mostly between 40F and 60F. It was also quite windy, so it often felt much colder than it was. We had all types of weather, from clear blue skies to clouds, fog, rain, sleet, and snow. The weather changed dramatically, quickly and often. Over in the US I can usually keep track of "what the sky is doing" and have a rough idea of what the weather will be like in the next 2-12 hours. But, I found it very difficult to predict anything in Iceland.
Is there any wildlife?
There are very few large wild land mammals in Iceland. There is a very small population of Caribou in the north east (we didn't see them), and some Arctic foxes (we did see prints, but no foxes). However, there is abundant bird life along of Iceland's coast, and in places inland. Sheep roam much of the lands, but they're not really wild...
Has anyone else done this?
People have hiked across Iceland via a number of routes, but each trip has probably been somewhat unique, and the total number is likely small. Since returning from the trip, I've been contacted by at least one other American who completed a similar trip a number of years ago... I'm not sure if there are more.
How did you get to/from the "trail"?
There is a pretty good system of buses that go all around the perimeter of Iceland.
What was the route like?
The route was a mix of cross-country travel, primitive roads and tracks, and marked hiking trails. The route was mostly flat, and the elevation varied from sea level to about 4000ft or so. There are very few trees in Iceland, so most of the hike was exposed to views and also wind. There were a number of streams to cross as well, but luckily we didn't have any serious difficulties.
Who was your hiking partner?
Dave's web site is here.