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Iceland Challenge 2017 – Royal LePage


This is my second trek with Royal LePage.  The first took me to Peru and the amazing Machu Picchu.  This time we took on Iceland, and to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the awesomeness it had to offer.  I’m pretty sure I said “wow” a million freaking times.  One of my travel mates, Cory and I kept joking about why we even attempted to put our cameras away because every step there was something new to shoot.  Below I want to take some time and go through each day and share some of the photos a took.

Day one we were in Landmannalaugar and this was my absolute favourite location of the whole trip.  I had seen pictures of these mountains so many times and I couldn’t wait to see them in person….and thankful they didn’t disappoint.  We were so blessed to have clear skies the whole trip and in Landmannalaugar the mountains exploded with colour.  On our first warm up hike we explored this area and saw a giant impact crater, a glacier lake and of course some of the famous Landmannalaugar mountains.

Day 2 we were onto the first of 2 big hikes during the trek…approx 24km and 1100m elevation gain.  We would travel from these painted mountains to Alftvatn <—- these places are hard to spell.  This day was pretty incredible.  I flew my drone for the first time on this day and captured some amazing footage of my team climbing the most incredible mountains I have ever seen.  Even now when I watch the video back I’m blown away from the beauty.  I spent a lot of time soaking in the view because I know the odds are I won’t be coming back…well maybe 😉

During this hike we made our way across some ice bridges, snowy patches and past a few hot springs.  When we got to the peak of our journey it was perfectly clear at the top.  Jason asked our guide, Fannie, how often she had seen it this clear and she responded this was a first for her.

This was a pretty solid hike, however with amazing views in every direction I almost forgot we were walking.  When we came over the ridge and had a chance to look down on the valley of Alftvatn, again we were blessed with an amazing, clear view.  The hike down the hill was a little sketchy…pretty sure everyone slipped at least once.  At the bottom our first river crossing awaited.   Freezing cold water actually felt pretty awesome on hot sweaty feet.  Josh was rockin flipflops instead of rolling with a solid pair of water shoes but tackled the water like a pro.  To my surprise we all dominated the water…no one fell in.

Our campsite was beautiful, with a glacier lake as our backdrop.  Setting up my tent I came in contact with the one thing I hated about Iceland…freaking black mother F..ing flies.  Not just a couple here and there…more like 4 billion flying around my head the whole time I set up my tent.  And not shy…not shy at all…these little buggers were going up my nose, directly in my eyes and ears.  I thought I was smart bringing some OFF bug spray but I swear as I was spraying it on my face I heard them laughing at me.  Needless to say the spray did jack all and my tent went up super quick.

 

Day 3 we went from Alftvatn to Emstrur and I’m gonna nip this in the bud…this day sucked.  Literally all I remember is sand.  Sand in the air, sand under my feet and sand in my lunch.  The only thing I liked about this day is I got my favourite shot of the whole trip.  An amazing little water spot with a little hill behind made for a perfect location to rock a ND filter on my 10mm-20mm lens.  Typical of Iceland, this little oasis was in the middle of rocky desert, but still stands out as my favourite picture of the trip.  Other than that we saw a lot of sand…and ate sand in our lunches….did I mention there was a lot of sand?  Really don’t want to leave out the sand comment…because there was a LOT OF SAND!!!  One of the pictures below you can see a sand storm.  F U Iceland sand!

Now at the end of the hike our guides asked if anyone would like to go for a 1/2 hour hike to see a canyon.  At first I declined because I was told I would see it on the following day…and to be honest I had enough sand for one day.  Anyway I was guilted into going (Fannie) but was happy I was.   So Matt and our 3 guides (yes the ratio of guides to hikers was definitely in our favour) set out to capture the canyon.  It was spectacular.  Again, tons of colour, rugged and in the middle of desert and sand.  It was a great ending to the long, sorta crappy, day….you know….filled with sand.

 

Day 4 was another short day from Emstrur to Thorsmork but saw some crazy landscape changes.  We went from being on the moon to a lush Iceland “forest”.  I put forest in air quote because I come from British Columbia so really it’s not a forest, but…you know.  I really enjoyed this day because the hiking was pretty minimal but the landscape was always changing and awesome.  We started by crossing a small bridge over the Markarfjot gorge which was the location for my second drone.  It made for a great location to fly.  I think my favourite part of this day was stopping and watching everyone climb up a ridge and take in the view of an amazing glacier in the distance.  What a great reward for all the hiking.  The ridge with the glacier in the background made for some fantastic photos.

Day 5 was the tiny little hike from Thorsmork to Skogar…approx 23 km and 1078 elevation gain 🙂  This hike started out freaking awesome, kinda sucked in the middle and then rocked at the end.  The beginning we were walking across tiny paths with death on both sides, some major elevation gain and stunning views.  When we got to to the top we had a chance to see some 7 year old lava, which was really dark, black and sharp.  However crossing the glacier was fine but the first couple hours on the other side was just a lot of freaking rock/boulders.  I’m pretty sure I twisted my ankle at least 3 times.  Paula sprained her ankle…yet still hiked 15 km down (amazing!!).  Someone…not to mention names…but rhymes with Abanda tossed her cookies a few times and then dropped trou directly in front of the president of Royal LePage to take a pee.  That’s family folks…president of Royal LePage…no biggy, I gots to pee.

This was the third and final time I had to fly my drone.  I think there were like 79 waterfalls on the way down so I decided to grab a couple vids.  I think I captured more than I bargained for though.  I’m pretty sure I got Jason about to take a wild poo and a couple cougars (Fionna) peeing on a rock.  Next time I think I need to send up a warning flare before take off.  Anyway the drone also captured some pretty amazing waterfalls and lush green hills on our descent.

Overall this was a great hike and I think a lot of different emotions were left on the mountain and maybe a bit on Phil’s shoe (thanks Abanda).  The highlight, to be honest, was coming to a campsite with already set up tents curtesy of Kim, Becky and Ron.  I had my second shower at this campsite and it was close to the best 5 minutes of my life.

 

Well that’s it.  Approx 115 km in 5 days seeing some of the best sites Iceland has to offer.  I highly recommend doing this hike.  Well worth it, amazing views and you see something different than the average tourist.  And bring a friend.  I was lucky to hike with 20+ amazing friends which made the journey all the better.

 

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