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Iceland - prelude

Planning this year's vacation wasn't easy. Bart and I both needed to do an internship and Bart also wanted to go on vacation with his girlfriend. In addition, I prefered to go hiking in Iceland, but Bart wanted to go cycling. As Iceland would likely be tough and lonely I decided to join Bart on another cycling trip.

A few weeks before we would leave Bart still didn't know when he could start his internship. After a lot of puzzling we found three weeks at the end of summer in which we both could go. Two days later, when I was about to ask for time off at work, Bart had suddenly changed his mind. He didn't want to go longer than 2 weeks because he didn't want to miss his girlfriend that long. Instead of cycling he now also wanted to go hiking in Norway. As I did have time to go 3 or 4 weeks I instead decided to go to Iceland by myself. 

The best time to go would already be in 5 weeks. I had already planned a route, but everything else still needed to be arranged. In the week that followed I booked a flight and bought all sorts of new gear, including a tent, backpack, solar powered battery charger, hiking poles, shoes, and lots of food. Although I was in good shape I also started training. Twice a week I walked 10 kilometers with 10 kg of luggage. That was only half the weight I would be carrying, but I didn't want to risk getting blisters before even getting on the plane.

 

Estimating how far I would walk each day and how much food to bring wasn't easy. I read two reports of other relatively inexperienced hikers who had walked a similar route and both averaged around 17-18 km per day. My planned route would be around be 320 km long, which meant it would take approximately 18 days. I brought 2500 kcal worth of food per day. During our cycling trips I typically eat at least twice as much, but I simply couldn't carry more and expected it would be enough to not starve. In the mornings I would eat granola and in the afternoon a mixture of nuts and dried fruits. For dinner I brought freeze dried rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes. As a backup I also brought snickers, dehydrated desserts, and 200 grams of calorie dense palm fat to mix in with the other meals.

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My food for 18 days, excluding a kilo of peanuts I bought in Iceland
 

On July 5th I would fly from Hamburg to Reykjavik and return 25 days later via Stockholm. There were two options for the flight out. The first would leave at noon but it would be tight to get to the airport that early. The second one would leave at 18:00 but give me only a 35 minute layover. Both weren't great. I figured that if I would miss the first flight my vacation would be over. However, if I would miss the layover I at least already made it to Hamburg. I called the airline helpdesk who assured me that if I could book the flight it would be possible to make the layover, as both flights were organized by the same airline.

 

Two weeks before my departure I started eating as much as possible in an attempt to gain weight. Until the very last day I was optimizing my gear. I also had exams that week and there was a fun fair in a nearby village. Despite the busy week, I managed to pack everything and could comfortably walk 10 km with 15 kg of luggage. The only thing left to do was leave and hope everything would work out.