Thursday, October 24, 2013

So little time to blog, so little time to walk

It is true, like most of us I often have the feeling of having too little time to do all the things I would like to. Two weeks ago I made a list of all the places I would like to go and last week, this list doubled. And this was without making an effort or any real deep thoughts on what to do and where.

To name but a few:

  • The Yukon
  • Both the geographical poles
  • Greenland
  • Patagonia
  • Nepal
  • Lake Baikal
  • Sahara (this time on foot)
  • And so on....

I want to go there on foot, skis, by kayak or else. I don't really care actually.

Some plans are more clear then others; to the poles would be on skis (my preference) and are probably the hardest to achieve of the above list, but crossing the Hardangervidda can be done by foot in summer and skis or snowshoes in winter. Lake Baikal can be circumfered or crossed by foot, skis or snowshoes.

One of the places I want to visit since quite a while is Iceland. We all know the images of the rugged terrain with green hills, glaciers, lava, geysers, snow and wind. I want to go there and I want to go there doing something I never did before.While searching online for all the possible things to do, I visited the blog of Louis-Philippe Loncke: Belgian explorer with a couple of firsts on his name. One of those being a summer and winter crossing of Iceland, solo and unsupported.
Next to this I already had a strong interest in thru-hiking: the Appalachian trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide, John Muir Trail, Alpine Pass Route, Te Araroa trail to name some of the most (in)famous. Some are more extreme then others but all factor in long distances and being away from home for quite a while, but I guess your shelter will be called 'home' fairly quickly...

Summer 2014
It hit me: I am going to cross Iceland from north to south in summer and by foot. And by doing so I still want to visit some of the popular tourist attractions like the waterfalls and the Landmannalaugar trail. The goal of the trip for me is enjoying and experiencing  the country in everything it has to offer from top to toe, or from lighthouse to lighthouse actually.

A second goal is doing so while keeping my base- and pack weight lower then I did before. I only recently started lightening my base weight but I already went from 10,5kg to 5,5kg (23 to 12 lbs). Not bad but this is for a week long trip in a moderate environment, not in Iceland where apparently the wind gusts are worse then anywhere else (depends on your source of information...) and it is hot one moment and cold the next.

I made up my mind but my girlfriend did not do so immediately. She had a bit of trouble seeing herself walking for three weeks straight, wearing a pack and going over some rough terrain. However, after some motivational speeches by yours truly, she was convinced of her own strength and capabilities. I never had a doubt: she walked for a few days with an 18kg pack in Sweden, with a 15kg pack in the Ardennes and she completed the Walk of the World this year for the second time: 4 days of 40km each. I will leave you Imperialists to do the math on this one...

I could not help myself and started right away; it's that bug that a lot of us have and it grows each time you read someone else's trip report, see photos of magnificent nature scenes and when you're making new plans or day dreaming about them. It's addictive and I do not believe a feeling like this will ever go away. I for one, start making plans for the next trip before I'm even close to the first.

For this trip I bought me a 1:250.000 map to start setting a general route using see through plastic sheets on which I draw my possible route with a marker. Next to that, I once got a Lonely Planet from my friends for my birthday which now helps me finding those beautiful and not-to-miss places along the route.
I also started searching for plane and bus tickets and schedules online and contacted some firms to see what they offer and what the approximate costs would be.

Next steps
What shelter to take? What sleeping system? Expedition or thru-hiker style? These questions and more will all be answered anytime soon since no day goes by without thinking about it or sending a quick email or looking up that little part of the route that still bothers me....
One thing I still think about is whether or not to give this undertaking a name. Something that defines the trip and where it stands for, for me and my girlfriend. So if anyone has a good idea for name, leave it in the comments.

Updates on this trip's progress will follow.

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