Category: Landscape photography

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Hiking with the Mamiya 7ii

A friend and I recently took a 7 day, 165 kilometer walk in Northern Sweden. Starting at Ritsem and walking along the Padjelantaleden then moving off to Nordkalottleden and finishing in Kvikkjokk. This isnt going to be a post about the hike itself, but rather about my choice to bring the Mamiya 7ii +43mm lens and a ton of film. The film I used for this trip was varied but mainly Fuji Velvia 100 and Portra 160, 400. All film processed myself at home.

As some of you might know from previous post I have been an avid analog photographer (hobby) forever. I never went total digital as I always preferred the look of analog. On this particular trip I wanted to bring my analog camera as it had been years since I actually went hiking with an analog camera. Though, because I am a lightweight backpacking nerd, its hard to justify 2 kilos of extra gear that can only take still photos. While my total backpacking gear weight with food for the entire trip came in at 11kg, with the camera that pushed everything to just shy of 14kg.

It really was an internal debate for weeks whether or not I would bring the camera and what camera for that matter. In fact, just before boarding the train to northern sweden, I was still changing out my different pre-packed cameras and camera cubes in my backpack. My biggest issue was mainly with volume. While 14kg would not kill me, and I knew after a few days of eating the food weight in my backpack, my kit would be under 10 kg in no time. It was the volume of my pack that bothered me. I normally dont need more than a 40 liter backpack, however, with the mamiya and a packing cube I would need a 70 liter pack. This sucked.

However, while debating whether to bring my Ricoh GR21, Nikon F5, Canon f-1 or Mamiya 7ii, I ended on the only choice that would make any sense: the Mamiya 7ii. WIth its built in meter, super sharp lenses and lightweight, it was a no brainer. Though, I do regret not bringing my 150mm lens for the Mamiya, as 43mm is arguably to wide for most landscape applications. (for the kind of photos I take). This choice was mainly due to weight, one lens was enough.

To protect my camera I kept it in a Wandrd camera cube, in a plastic ziploc bag, the bag filled with these gel packs that keep moisture out. This seemed to work really well as I didnt have fog or moisture in my camera at all despite several days of hard rain. I did have a tripod, which I used both for video and for photography, my tripod weighed about 400grams and gives about 150cm of height.

In the end I think the extra weight and effort was worth it. Though I think had I brough my 150mm lens I would have gotten a lot more quality shots – as it was, I think its hard to capture the “vastness” of an area with such a wide lens that I brought. Wide lenses have a tendency to “squish” and area into a small frame, so even large alpine like mountains, look like little hills. Live and learn.

Anyway, here are a few more shots from the Mamiya 7ii + 43mm lens (I didnt bring viewfinder for 43mm lens as I find its not really necessary). Scanned with Silverfast and no additional editing

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Life in Zambia

Some of you may not know, but since about mid February the family and I moved down to Zambia to adopt a beautiful little boy named Richard. Life here is certainly different, and having two son’s instead of one is also a big change. We live in Lusaka on the southern part of town in an area called Chalala. It’s a nice, quiet area of town that is rather close to the orphanage where Richard was living.

This hasn’t been a trip of wondering safaris and adventure. For the first month we only had permission to come by and visit Richard. So, everyday for a month we drove back and forth to visit Richard. Now, after two months we have full custody of Richard and he seems to really like being with us. We are now finally starting to be able to explore, unfortunately I am a bit out of action at the moment with a broken rib after falling hard on a slippery floor.

However we have made a few outings, with the most spectacular being Livingstone and Victoria falls. Livingstone is the town that hosts Victoria falls on the Zambian side of the border.

On the first day of being in Livingstone it was raining heavily – so instead of heading to Victoria falls we decided to do Musi-oa-Tunya national park for the day. It was an incredible journey where all the animals were out enjoying the rain. Giraffes, Elephants, Water buffalos and monkeys among many more.
There is an elephant there… I realise that my photography sinks a few notches when my family is with me. Perfectly natural I suppose.
Victoria falls from a distance.. Caught on the Canon 6d mark ii with 16-35 2.8 lens.. To say that the falls are impressive is an understatement.
This time a little closer – If you look closely we are drenched – it is not raining, this is from the mist of the falls. The bridge has a river of mist flowing and the entire hillside is like walking through a drowning shower on full blast.
Richard showing off how wet he is from the Victoria falls mist.
Alexander yells out at me “daddy look, take some pictures I’m going to pose…”
Looks perfectly safe.. ….. Zambia!
The minimum wage in Zambia is about 100 usd a month. While this won’t get you more than barely a candy bar in Sweden, in Zambia it’s enough to eat three meals a day on, have a home and cell phone. It’s not luxury, but it’s not death by starvation.
Walking down the street in livingstone
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Camera gear over the years

Over the years I have gone through dozens of cameras. Different purposes, but mainly because I have a serious problem with GAS when it comes to cameras. I have become a freak with gear, much like backpacking gear, I go through gear until I find what works best for me in the variety of situations that I use my gear in. A quick run down follows:

1st camera and one I’ve used until about 2004 – Canon AE-1 Program with a 35-70mm zoom lens. While it quit being my daily camera in 2004, I actually still use it even today. It’s not really my camera, which is probably why I’ve never gotten rid of it. It’s officially my moms camera that she bought back in the early 80’s new. I have used that camera like crazy and love it. Unfortunately, film is not very practical for everyday use so I eventually went over to some Kodak digital camera that had an amazing 5 megapixel camera.

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I used that Kodak for a couple of years on my various trips to Australia, Thailand, Greece and Italy. I have a lot of pictures and video from that time, but, the quality is so bad I never got around to posting any of it. My photography lust cooled down a lot after that camera.. The pictures sucked, the video sucked.. the camera was boring..

Eventually I picked up my AE-1 Program again and started using it. My lust was reignited in 2012 when I bought a Sony NEX-7 then a Sony A7 Full frame and right after a Sony A7R. I liked the Sony cameras, and in a way they reignited my love for photography. Though they both seemed like unfinished masterpieces. Video was not great, lenses limited, software terrible, menu system lacking and with the Sony A7R it was nearly impossible to get sharp images handheld, on top of that, the Sony’s are extremely boring to use (I am used to the feel and look of the AE-1 Program which is rather fun). I also had a problem with the Sony business mantra of selling half finished products, and releasing just newer models every year. I traded my Sony A7R and Zeiss lens for a Fuji x-t1 with a few lenses. I loved the Fuji.

I used the Fuji on a few backpacking trips but found it to be a little on the heavy side and the video was still lacking. Fuji also started raising the prices of the lenses – they were getting heavier and more expensive than full frame lenses – and still are to this day. I upgraded to a X-T2 – though more of the same I thought. So I went over to an Olympus OMD EM-5 mark ii with a few lenses that I got really cheap, so I sold my Fuji and was perfectly happy with the OMD as it was better for video. IMO.. With a flipout screen, cheaper lenses, built in stabilization and in my opinion just as good if not better picture quality than the Fuji, I was more than happy to be an Olympus fanboy.

It was at this time I started to play around with video – last year, and this is when I realised that the Olympus was sorely lacking. With it’s less than optimal autofocusing and in non-perfect lighting conditions the video just looked terrible. And even in perfect lighting conditions with the most expensive lenses, video had artifacts and just all-around looked very amateurish. Don’t get me wrong, I am an amateur, but I figured there had to be better for the money.

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This is when I went over to a Canon M50, In general I have been against Canon, because it seemed to me that while everybody else was innovating and pushing the boundaries, Canon has a board room filled with monkeys stuck in the 80’s. Warren buffet once said “I buy companies that can be run by idiots, because eventually it will be.. ” this is where Canon is – a company run by idiots. However, the Canon M50 while being the worst camera on the market for so many things does a few things very good.

  1. Great video autofocus – it works no matter what
  2. Flip out screen
  3. Great colors from the camera – don’t have to color grade for my purposes
  4. Mic input
  5. Decent, cheap, light lenses.

Now I really like the M50 but it has a few things I don’t like that have made me sell it for my current camera a Canon 6D mark ii

  1. Lenses are not great
  2. Battery life is lacking
  3. Camera is boring to use
  4. Not weather sealed
  5. No depth of field
  6. Low light performance is horrific

Everybody bashes on the M50 because it does(nt) have 4k- or at least not useable. But who wants to edit 4k video?

Now I have landed on the Canon 6d mark II – This camera has the technology of the Sony a7 from 2013 – if not worse. It’s bad in just about everything – that is Canon at it’s finest – making horrific products that just barely glide by, then pay vloggers and reviews to give it exposure. No 4k, terrible 1080p video codec, bad slow mo, no dynamic range, not very good autofocus for pictures.. so on and so forth. Canon has literally just placed a shit sensor from an Canon 80D and decided to take double the price. It’s these kinds of decisions that will kill this company. The board room asses that know nothing about photography or video and thinks they are competing against cameras from 2010.  HOWEVER, there are things I like about this camera:

  1. I love the feel in my hands – the ergonomics and size is just right for a big guy like myself.
  2. Full frame – other than the Sony A7R, A7 and a few Leicas, I haven’t had FUll frame digital. I love the depth of field and quality of the video and images coming from the camera
  3. Weather sealed
  4. Great, cheap lenses – the EF system is ancient. Lenses are a steal right now as everybody knows Canon is sinking so they are jumping off the Titanic before it goes down – doesn’t make the glass any worse.
  5. Flip out screen
  6. Good 1080p for Youtube and internet videos
  7. Built in Timelapse mode – making completed timelapses in camera

That’s it.. That is why I have the Canon 6D mark ii and why I’m actually pretty happy with it.

Anyway, this is just the run-down of my main camera systems that i have used over the years. I have gone through quite a few Compact cameras as well as Film cameras.

At the moment my film camera of choice is a Ricoh GR21 (a fantastic 200 gram compact camera with an amazing 21mm wide angle lens) – This camera is a beast that takes extremely sharp pictures. A lot of fun for street photography – discrete, wide and sharp

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My preferred compact camera is the Canon G7x mark ii. Yes it does basically everything worse than the Sony Rx100 series – all of which I have used a lot over the years. But, it has better colors right out of the camera which means a lot to me.

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Pictures from Borgarfjäll

I recently had an outing with a few friends here in northern Sweden up in the Borgarfjäll mountains, about 350 kilometers inland from Umeå. This was the very reason I moved back to Northern Sweden: To get to the mountains! This was a fun trip, and more in line with car camping perhaps than a rough tumble through the wilds of Sweden, but I had fun non-the less.. In fact, there is something to be said about parking the car outside a mountain top, summiting, sleeping over, fishing and coming back down again. I was out a total of two nights and it was well worth the drive.

This trip also gave me the chance to test my Sierra designs Cloud sleeping bag/quilt and using my Samsung 9+ for all video and photography before taking my planned longer fall trips. Video coming eventually…..

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The view from Buarkantjahke at about 700 meters

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A lot can be said about the Zpacks Duplex – but there are two that define it most: Light and Cold. What you gain in weight, you sacrifice in size and “tightness”. This is a payoff usually worth the cost, but in cold, fall conditions the Duplex should be changed out for tents better situated for these conditions.

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The Zpacks and Hilleberg Allak side by side.. both did just fine in the mountains – though the Allak weighs about 2kg more.

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My favorite pack: the Hyperlite mountain gear windrider 2400. A great combination or weight, robustness, usability and looks.

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Me

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David finding loads of chanterelle mushrooms – we filled up several plastic bags with mushrooms.

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The view by Saxån overlooking Buarkantjahke mountain. 1235 meter peak and were we camped the night before at around 900meters.

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On the way back from Borgafjäll I walked a few kilometers along Lögdeälven and camped right by the water

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Down by Öreälven

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Sarek i Bilder (in pictures) – Part 1

My schedule is filled at the moment while trying to get Backpackinglight.se up and running. So instead of a long trail report, I will post some pictures! More pictures coming soon.

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Mukka Stugan is a small little emergency cottage that while offers a nice place to eat lunch while it’s raining, has unfortuantely become a trash can for hikers who can’t be bothered to bring their trash with them.

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The Trailstar by the glacier river.

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13 kilos for a 9 day trip – fully safe and secure with a fishing pole and satellite phone to boot. My packing is watertight, I’m set for far below zero temperatures if needed.

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Dinner!

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Taking a coffee and candy break while drying out my shoes.

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It looks like hell, but believe me, this is some of the best aspects of wearing trailshoes in the wild. When my feet get hot I can just go trudging through some cold water. No blisters, no pain, no problems! Trailshoes are a luxury few have yet discovered.

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Down by Rapadalen – Amazing

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If only Ron would let me sell his MLD gear! The yellow trailstar is probably the single most beautiful tent build today. An incredibly light and well performing piece of kit.

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My Fizan poles and HMG windrider 4400 after a week in Sarek. Both performed incredibly well – so good in fact that I will be supplying both at backpackinglight.se. These are simply the best products available for their intended purpose.

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Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 4

Emstrur (Botnar) to Þórsmörk

— 15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, 300m net descent —

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Again, I was left breathless by the amazing hike. Glaciers, desert, rivers, mountains and forest all within a 15 kilometer hike. This day starts off in the canyon of Syðri – Emstruá. Here there is a steep path that leads a bridge that runs over the glacier river.

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There is something epic about a raging river being fed with a glacier.. simply amazing. I sat here for sometime and ate my breakfast and just enjoyed the incredible view, engrossing my soul completely in the moment.

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I learned along this trail that it was time to replace my beloved Haglöfs LIM trail shoes. I decided from this moment on that I would wear trail shoes that had toe protection and better grip. On top of that I realized that I’m not really into video production.. I shot hours and hours of video along this trail and so far haven’t edited anything.. I prefer working with photography.

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After this long trek along the sandy, volcanic ash desert everything changes to a kind of mini forest.

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This little house just seemed lost in the wilderness – It was the first house I’d seen for days.

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The house from a little further out.

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After a long walk came this amazing water crossing along the Þröngá river. As always the water is freezing cold, but barely knee high throughout so wading is no problem.

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The little village at the bottom of the valley is Porsmork, while I will be staying in Bazar, I wanted to make the little 8 kilometer detour to Porsmork to drink beer and eat peanuts. It was worth the walk. You can even take the bus back to Reykjavik from Porsmork.

 

From Porsmork I made my way on to Bazar where I would be sleeping for the night.

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While this was not Bazar, it was nice nonetheless.. Not really sure what this place was called, but it was nessled between Porsmork and Bazar.

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After a quick walk over this glacier river, I soon arrived in Bazar where I would throw up my tent and make camp for the night

Once my tent was setup I made my way to the river, laid down and chilled out for a few hours before heading off to bed. Once again, the Laugavegur trail delivered on it’s incredible views and serene enviroment.

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Trail report: the Laugavegur trail day 1
Trail report: the Laugavegur trail day 2
Trail report: the Laugavegur trail day 3
Trail report: the Laugavegur trail day 4
Trail report: the Laugavegur trail day 5

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Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 3

Alftavatn to Emstrur (Botnar)

15 km, estimated walking time 6-7 hrs, 40 m net descent

I was in no rush to leave Alftavatn, the views were simply incredible and it was nice to just hang out for a while. I knew that walking through this valley would be an amazing adventure, and with that, I laced up my trail runners and made my way towards Emstrur.

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From the very start on the way to Emstrur, this incredible view is what I was met with. The hike from Alftavatn to Emstrur is by far the most picturesque of all the sections. From this kinds of green rolling landscapes, into long deserts of volcanic ash and a massive glacier looming in the distance like a constant reminder of the true wild that you are in.
This hike felt long, maybe it was the deep ash or the several large river crossings.. who knows, the hike is easy, but feels much longer than the 15km that it actually is.

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The first real water crossing is about 3-4 kilometers from Alftavatn. Here I passed a whole group of heavy-miserables while they stopped to take of their boots and socks 🙂 I just trugded through, admittedly the water was cold but I warmed up quickly.

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Here the trail takes us over the low ridge Brattháls into Hvanngil. If your looking to book a room in advance in Alftavatn and it’s fully booked (not unlikely). Check out Hvanngil, as it’s not always a known campground.

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The first real river crossing is made on this part of the trail. It’s wide and irratic, you will have to walk around a while along the river Blafjallakvisl until you find a very wide part, and there crossing shouldn’t be a problem. You will notice however I stopped on a little sandbank in the river. I didn’t actually stop here to take a pic, to be honest I stopped here because my feet felt frozen solid from the ice cold water..

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To say that the views along this part of the trail are amazing is an understatement. While I always find nature to be awe-inspiring, this particular part of the trail was something altogether different. I had the feeling of walking along the art gallery of god – his best pieces of art all laid out along a 15 mile trek. I took my time here, stopped often and forgot about everything else in the world, nothing mattered, I was lost in the moment and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.

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After a while we come along the river Nyrðri Emstruá, which thankfully is bridged.. From here it’s only a few kilometers left before reaching the campground at Botnar.

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After an incredible walk we come in towards Botnar which resides in the Markarfljótsgljúfur canyon with the glacier in the background.

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The campground in Botnar is well protected from the heavy winds blowing down from the glacier. The views are incredible here and there is even a little shop here if you need some resuplies. 3G works perfectly fine along all the campgrounds throughout the Laugavegur trail – so calling home wont be a problem.

 

Trip report: laugavegur trail day 1
Trip report: laugavegur trail day 2
Trip report: laugavegur trail day 3
Trip report: laugavegur trail day 4
Trip report: laugavegur trail day 5

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Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 2

When volcanic desert transforms into a true paradise on earth

Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn – 12 kilometer from volcano to paradise

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After a day and a half of hiking in rain and cold, finally some sunshine and water. I stopped here and filled up my water bottle, ate an energy bar and called home. This really lifted my spirits.

After what felt like an eternity of walking in rain and snow, after volcanic ash, rock and gravel. A long sleepless night in an unprotected snowy volcanic wasteland.

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The Laugavegagur trail transformed itself into a true paradise on earth when I came up over the ridge and looked out upon Alftavatn.

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Alftavatn is where most pictures you see of the trail come from, and in the next section you will see why. However to get there you have to walk along a desert wasteland for almost the entirety of the 12 kilometers from Hraftinnusker.

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My journey to Alftavatn started after a cold night of “sleep”. On top of that I of course only use trail running shoes. While this is normally never a problem, on this one occasion my feet where frozen until I got my temperature up as the first 5 kilometers of the trail was covered in mushy snow.

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It took me about 6 hours to get to Alftavatn from Hraftinnusker, lets just say I was in no hurry at all. While it was cold, wet and at times just all around shitty, I actually enjoyed this part of the trail immensely; granted, more now when I’m sitting at home writing this book.

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While the campground looked lovely, I opted for the cabin.. there was actually an available bed! The room here will cost about $50.00.. to me it was worth it that night.

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Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 1
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 2
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 3
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 4
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 5

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The Laugavegur trail day 1

Sometimes it takes me a while to finally get around to doing a trip report. I am working on this as an ebook instead as I can really get the pictures and album to flow better, but I will post the separate days here nonetheless.

This will be a full trip report and information guide for anybody wanting to do the trip themselves. This trip report is divided into 5 days simply because of the diversity and vassness of this trail I simply couldn’t fit it all into one post.

The Adventure begins

I had booked my flight a few months in advance to Reykjavik from Stockholm. The total flight cost around $350 round trip and the light takes about 3 hours. So, in other words Iceland is an obvious choice for most Swedes. I Arrived at Reykjavik international airport and immidiately outside the little airport I found my bus to Reykjavik city center.

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Once at the city center I took a little walk into Reykjavik center ate a burger, bought a map and some gas for my laugavegur trail hike. There is a gas station about 100 meters away from the bus station where all these supplies can be bought. My bus would be leaving at 13.00 so I had a few hours to spare before heading off to the trail start.

I arrived in Reykjavik at around 10.00 a.m. Finding my way around the airport was a rather straight forward process as there really is only two busses to chose from. I bought my ticket at the BSI desk to the BSI terminal in Reykjavik. After about a 40 minute ride I found myself at the main buss terminal. From here it was just a simple manner of purchasing the “hikers pass” which would get me to either the start in the north at Landmannalaugar or in the south at Porsmork or Skogar and back to Reykjavik.

I decided I really wanted to start north and head south, seemed like a fun way to go to end my journey at the ocean. I’m glad I did as I found the first days along Landamannalaugar and Hrafntinnusker to be rather bleak with the rain and snow.

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The Bus ride from Reykjavik takes about 3 and a half hours and I would definitely not recommend trying to hitch hike to the start as there it is literally out in the middle of nowhere. Nobody drives that trail unless they are hiking – and that is mainly just the buses. When I arrived in Landmannalaugar it was rainy and cold. Everyone was bunched into the toilets trying to figure out what they want to do.. Walk or pitch their tents. I also had a difficult time deciding as it was raining like crazy and it was by this time 4 p.m in the afternoon. However, as I had been sitting since my flight left Stockholm, my ass and back were hurting so I opted to walk.

The Hike from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker is about 12km and takes around 4-5 hours to walk. While it was late, I really just needed to walk. This part of the trail was marked by snow, rain and steaming volcanic hills. Landmannalaugar is the only part along the trail where you can swim in the hot springs. I probably should have stayed, but I couldn’t be bothered to sit still any longer.

And so, I made my way to look over the hotsprings, looked at all the hikers huddled in the toilets, waved and made my way.

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Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker

12 kilometers – takes about 4-5 hours to walk

This part of the trail from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker was cold and wet the whole way. I was happy for it to be done. When I do this trail again it will be in August and not June, the trial in June is very wet, snowy and sometimes this means we just want to get through it all instead of taking time to enjoy every second.

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The first day was wet, cold and rainy with dashes of snow. With that said, the beauty was there.

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There was quite a few people stopping me along this part of the trail asking “how far is camp..” I seemed to be the only one heading south!

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The warmth of the volcano underneath kept the ground nice and toasty.

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By the end of this first day I had reached my limits. A long night before when I didn’t get any sleep, a flight, a long bus ride, never ending rain and cold. I was so tired that I didn’t bother taking pictures from that first camp at Hrafntinnusker. In my opinion the campsite wasn’t the best as it was surrounded by snow and no wind protection. I really wanted a warm bed in the cabin, but alas it was fully booked.

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Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 1
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 2
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 3
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 4
Trip report: The Laugavegur trail day 5

 

 

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Along the Laugavegur trail – Iceland pictures part 2

Here is part two of my pictures along the Laugavegur trail – gallery of Iceland. All pictures where taken with the Sony RX 100 I, edited in lightroom. If you steal my pictures atleast leave a link to my site and let me know where they will be seen. Thanks!

The first part of this series you can find here

For information about the trail – how to get there, map and general good to new info click here

For information with regards to my gear that I brought along the trail click here

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