Getting Ready for My First Solo Trek

The best birthday present I have ever received

I am married to a very smart woman. She is not into collecting things, but rather collecting experiences. Since we met, we are trying to add new experience to our shared journey.

For my 40th birthday, that will occur later this August, my wife prepared me a very special experience. I have a 20 years old dream — to do a solo trek. I never managed to accomplish this dream. First it was university, then career, and then our two boys were born — so finding time and money for a trek was never prioritized high enough. Up until now.

On July 13th, 2020, I will board a plane to Iceland, to walk on one of the most beautiful trails in the world — Laugavegur (55 km) and Fimmvörðuháls (23 km), a total of almost 80 km in four days. Holy shit. I am actually doing it.

It is my first solo trek. And, this is my first trek of such a length. The longest trek I did was during our honeymoon, the Tiger Leaping Gorge in China. It was a two-day, 22 km trek, with a total ascent of almost 4,000 meters, most of it done in the first 7 km.

So, here we are. So many questions. What should I bring? How do I get there? And when? Huts or a tent? A lot of research to do, a lot of answers to be found.

Planning for the trek

I started reading everything I could about Laugavegur trail. Theoretically, it is not very physically demanding, nor technically complex trail. What makes Laugavegur challenging is the Icelandic weather. The weather can change several times during the day, and I have to be ready for everything between nice and easy walk at 15°C, and 10 minutes later for a pouring rain with some snowflakes.

The Internet is full of beautiful pictures from Laugavegur, but also some very disturbing videos of tents that have been flattened by the wind and the rain, with the unfortunate hikers unable to find suitable shelter. 

One thing I need for the trek is a reasonable fitness level. Luckily enough, I got back to Crossfit training a couple of months back, so hopefully, if I persist, I will be in good-enough shape for the trail.

But, how do I pack for Iceland? What kind of equipment should I buy — and where? 

Soon enough I realized I want to go as light as possible. I’d say ultralight, but I don’t think you can really go ultralight in Laugavegur, without serious risks. Cold wind, heavy rain and wet snow are not an uncommon sight on the trail. What I need is good equipment, but then again — I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on equipment, if I don’t know that I will be using it often.

Quick navigation (will be updated as I continue my adventure):
Part 1: My first solo trek
Part 2: Picking the right tent for Iceland

Interested to hear more about hiking and parenting? Join me on the trail.

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