For our 2 year anniversary, Rich and I decided to head to our favorite country for some "us" time. While everyone else celebrates by going out to dinner, maybe taking a weekend in the mountains or even a nice beach, we choose to spend it walking through blizzards, eating overly salted dehydrated food, getting blisters after long hours on the trail, and sleeping in a hut with 15 other smelly hikers. Talk about romantic. Not everyone's first choice, but why isn't it?
In the past, we've done the beach thing. We've splurged on ourselves, bought nice dinners, fancy hotels, all the works. But suffering together, spending uninterrupted time together hiking for hours everyday, no phones, no tv, no movies, has always been the place where Rich and I bond the deepest.
I've become increasingly vocal about how much I value an experience over pretty pictures, and I'm doing it again here. It so happens that my new Fujifilm mirrorless camera died the first day (because I didn't charge it after I bought it, biggest photographer mistake of all time) and I was aching while we walked through some of the most incredible landscape that I had only dreamed to see one day. I tried to take as many iPhone photos as I could, but it just didn't seem to do it justice.
But in the end, it didn't really matter what photos I took. The experience itself left us speechless. Every single day was a new, breathtakingly unique landscape. Everyday there was something that we were suffering through together. We sit and reminisce on these things together often. The pictures are just reminders of what happened. They didn't capture everything, in fact I missed an entire day's worth, but they are there just to make the memories stronger.
I look back and remember how I felt, what we talked about, what it was like to experience this place. This lasts so much longer than a fancy dinner out or a great tan after a weekend at the beach. These experiences make us stronger, together.
For those of you who are interested in more information on this hike, here are a few things we learned. I am a huge believer in you discovering it for yourself, doing the proper research and planning as all part of the experience, so I won't be sharing too much - trust me it's for your own sake.
We hiked it north to south - it's the most popular and easiest route vs. south to north which has more uphill sections and all in all is harder.
We camped at Skogafoss and took the bus near Hella to the trailhead in Landmannalaugar. You will need to book your bus tickets in advance.
We did the trail in 3 days, skipping the first hut in Hrafntinnusker, which was covered in snow, and went all the way to Alftavatn (our favorite hut). We dined at the smallest restaurant in the highlands, pictured above, which surprisingly took credit cards.
We booked our huts in advance through the company Feroafelag Islands. If you choose to book a hut, bring ear plugs. It's nice and warm and cozy, but other hikers might not necessarily be on your sleeping schedule. Our first night in the hut was great, our second night in Emstur was terrible, so it's all a bit hit or miss with the huts and who you are stuck with. If weather is good, the camping spots are great, and we wished we would have done that (not sure how we would have felt in bad weather though).
Bring river crossing shoes.