When considering flight options for a 1-month business trip to Quebec City (that is to take place in September 2016), I am tempted to fly Icelandair and make use of the stopover option of maximum 7 nights at Keflavik, at no extra cost. I consider it a good opportunity to squeeze in another trek, to top off the summer season.
So, when I eventually arrive at Keflavik on August 25, I make use of a storage facility to get rid of luggage non-essential to trekking, pass the night at the Reykjavik Laugardalur campground, and take a highland bus operated by Trex to Rjúpnavellir the next day. My plan is to first hike the Hellismannaleið trail (normally 3 days) and then via Landmannalaugar continue on the Laugavegurinn trail (normally 4 days) to Þórsmörk. Of course, since my stopover is only 7 nights (including nights spent at the campground in Reykjavik after and before flights), I will have to hike quite a bit faster than the guidebooks’ recommendations, if I want to make it in the 5-day time frame that I realistically have.
The weather forecast for the trek doesn’t look very promising. Rain and low temperatures are predicted for the entire period. In relation to wind it looks good though, so I don’t have to worry about a 4-day storm scenario as in Kerlingarfjöll in July 2013.
In the end everything works out much better than expected. Instead of the recommended 3 + 4 days, I merely need 4 days in total to do the approximately 120 km from Rjúpnavellir to Þórsmörk, which means a daily average of about 30 km. Although the trails do not have major technical difficulties, there are still the occasional river crossings, steep climbs, lava fields, etc. So, a 30 km daily average is pretty decent. Also in terms of weather, things turn out better than expected. It indeed does rain nearly every day, however mostly during the night, leaving the days either cloudy and dry, or downright sunny. Temperatures hover between 0 and 10°C, which in the absence of wind isn’t too bad.
Since I am able to finish the trek one day ahead of schedule, I also have plenty of time to explore Reykjavik before continuing my journey towards Quebec.
So what’s my afterthought on this trek through the land of Mordor? Well, although I already did the Laugavegurinn trail in 1998 (in the opposite direction), it doesn’t hurt to do it a second time: the landscape is just astonishing. The trail has clearly become more busy, but I wasn’t overly disturbed by it. The Hellismannaleið trail is less spectacular than Laugavegurinn in terms of natural scenery, but is still beautiful, and has more of a wilderness feel to it since it is far less crowded. In fact, I was the only one to get of the bus in Rjúpnavellir, and I hardly met anyone during the entire 59 km.