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 would 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 for 3 or 4 weeks I decided to go to Iceland by myself. 

Finally the decision had been made. The best time to go would already be in 5 weeks. Fortunately I had already planned a route, but everything else still needed to be arranged. In the week that followed I booked the flight and bought all sorts of new gear, including a tent, backpack, solar charger, hiking poles, shoes, and a lot 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 being covered in blisters before getting on the plane.


Estimating how far I would walk each day and how much food to bring wasn't easy. I had read two reports of other relatively inexperienced hikers who had walked a similar route, they 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. In terms of food I brought 2500 kcal/day. During cycling vacations we ate at least twice as much, but I simply couldn't carry more and expected it to be enough to not starve completely. In the mornings I would eat granola, in the afternoon a mixture of nuts and dried fruits, and for dinner freeze dried rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes. As a backup I also brought some snickers, dried desserts, and 200 grams of palm fat, which is very dense in calories and could be mixed my other meals.


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

Planning the flight was pretty simple. There was only one option, all the other days would be >150 euros more expensive. On July 5th I would fly from Hamburg to Reykjavik and return on July 30th via Stockholm. There were two options for the flight out, one would leave at noon but that would be risky in terms of getting to the airport on time, and the other 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 on the spot. However, if I would miss the layover I at least already made it to Hamburg and could likely hold the airline responsible to some degree. Still not very optimistic I called the airline and the lady 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 departe I started eating as much as possible, but I think I actually lost weight. Until the very last days I was busy completing my gear, such as buying spare shoelaces, GPS maps and memory cards. I also memorized how to properly adjust my backpack. In addition, I had my exams that week and there was a fun fair in the village I work, making it a pretty hectic week. In the end I had prepared everything I could possibly think off and was able to comfortably walk 10 km with 15 kg of luggage. The only thing left to do was leave and hope everything would work out.