Iceland North to South

The base idea is to cross the island north to south starting at one of the northernmost tips and reaching the south coast over where the icecaps allow a passage. It ends up a slight diagonal NE-SW.

Time frame

2 weeks total for the trip with 13 hiking days max. Leaving on July, 22nd.

Plan

Find a logical line that avoids the icecaps and crosses rivers near their source or over bridges. Main tracks are to be avoided unless the alternative would lead to a major obstacle.

The whole thing will be 546 km. I’ll need to hike at 42 km/day over the 13 available days. I keep the option of an alternate starting point that would save me 56 km in case I decide 42 km/day is too much.

Resupply

I’ll be able to resupply in Asbyrgi (km 90), Reykiahlid (km 170) and Landmmanalaugar (km 460). The longest void stretch is nearly 300 km that I should hike in 7 days. Nothing I haven’t done before.

Obstacles

Remoteness

It’s not an established route and there is no human habitation for most of its length. I’ll be on my own.

Exposure

The remote character makes the exposure issue more serious: most of the route is a lava desert with no vegetation and essentially nowhere to hide.

The weather itself shows a high potential for hardship in the form of cold, rain and wind. Sandstorms are a particular concern.

Rivers

Rivers are probably the biggest potential issue as far as objective risk goes. They’re glacial-cloudy and there’s a fair amount of water courses that can get serious depending on local conditions at the time of the hike.

Average deal

I foresee a trip whose difficulty will be very dependent on the conditions in situ. Weather and rivers are highly variable stuff and they can go from dead easy to real challenge. If the weather keeps calm and the rivers are not in spate, crossing Iceland should be rather easy, the only remaining difficulties being the high daily mileage and the extended autonomy needs. I feel comfortable with both.

There are no big mountains to climb and no vegetation to go across. There is no dangerous wildlife. There are no biting bugs!. Lava fields may be a nightmare to go through but I expect to find a safe traverse as long as the lines drawn in the maps (that I’ll mostly follow) correspond to something physical on the ground.

Challenge

It could be an easy hike, it most probably won’t. I’m certain it’s within my skill set. There’s the emotional challenge of knowing that I’ll be on my own further than I’ve ever been and the added responsibility that comes with it. This is a weight way heavier than a loaded pack.

The challenge may get physical any time: when needing to cross a raging river or when trying to find my way over a featureless landscape. I’ll deal with all that in due time. It’s the emotional challenge that’s weighed me down ever since I thought of this traverse.

It’s come to the point where the excitement wins over the apprehension. I owe this in great part to all the inspiration I get from other travellers and their own challenges. My thanks go out to all you who help me trying new things.

A high daily mileage will add to the challenge but there’s bail out chances in case I can’t make it on time.

Route

The expected route as drawn on the desktop:

Gear list

Prospect gear list for the trip. The final thing won’t differ much, if at all: