Crowds on the Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands

Trekking Iceland – Laugavegur Trail – Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn

Ahhhhh Icelandic weather!  

After a relatively nice day yesterday, the wind picked up and fairly howled during the night, making us all grateful that we were in the Hrafntinnusker mountain hut and not camped outside like so many others!

Breakfast at Hrafntinnusker Hut - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Breakfast at Hrafntinnusker Hut

However, we couldn’t stay sequestered in warm comfort forever, and after a hearty breakfast of tea, coffee, porridge, bread, crackers, cheese, and various spreads, we had no choice but to head out into the wind and the cold.

Hiking through wind and fog on Day 2 of Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Not great weather for Day 2 of the Laugavegur Trail. If only you could feel the conditions through a photograph.

The first part of today’s hike was across open ground and plenty of snow-drifts – in other words, nowhere to hide from the relentless wind!  And although it seemed to be about the same strength as 2 days ago on the final leg of the Volcanic Trails trek, at least it wasn’t raining and we weren’t walking into the teeth of it (today it was at our back for the majority of the time).

Hiking through the snow drifts - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Lots of snow to hike through on Day 2 of the Laugavegur Trail

Despite the terrible weather, the views continued to amaze in every direction

Trail views on Day 2 - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands

[move mouse over image to see full panorama]

and at one point I caught myself thinking that the wind was quite invigorating and made me feel alive.  Judging by the smiles that Yves and Annie gave me as I stopped to take yet another photo – perhaps I wasn’t the only one 🙂

Happy hiking companions - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
That’s a smile, right guys? Not a grimace?

Instead of improving as the day wore on, the wind actually became worse, making negotiating the trail tricky in places and forcing us to brace ourselves on occasion against the very strong gusts.

Bracing against the wind - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
It is impossible to tell from a photograph, but the wind was so strong here some hikers actually dropped to their knees and crawled down the ridge!

Unlike the other treks I’d done in Iceland (Hornstrandir, Volcanic Trails and Shadow of Vatnajökull) where I saw hardly anyone beyond those I was hiking with, there was no shortage of people on the Laugavegur Trail.  It was quite a shock to the system both yesterday and today to see an almost continuous line of people stretching out ahead of and behind us along the route.  Though not surprising given that the Laugavegur Trail is the most famous multi-day hike in Iceland and we were there during peak season.

Crowds on the Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
The Laugavegur Trail is the most popular in Iceland.  It is so strange for me to see this many people on a trek!

Our destination for the day was Álftavatn (“Swan Lake”), and the amazing hut that I’d stayed at on Day 5 of the Volcanic Trails trek.  Hmmm… there seems to be a theme emerging about me hiking to Álftavatn in bad weather…

Foggy view over Álftavatn Lake - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
It was blowing a gale here and we could only just glimpse Álftavatn Lake through the rain and fog below us. Can you see it?

This view must be incredible in good weather!

By some miracle, Sigþór managed to find a spot for lunch that was largely protected from the gale, and I sat down to my regular lunch on an Icelandic Mountain Guides trek – a “cheese bomb” consisting of red pepper cheese spread and thick slices of Brie or Camembert sandwiched between large crackers.  The secret is that by lunchtime, the spread has soaked into the crackers and turned them into a bread-like consistency. Much better than starting with bread that is several days old 😊

My cheese bomb lunch on my treks with Icelandic Mountain Guides
My standard lunch on an Icelandic Mountain Guides trek. I do it for the protein … nothing else 😛

After our relatively quick lunch stop (it was cold after all!), we descended from the ridge to the valley floor and began to follow a small river.  At one point, Sigþór gathered us all together for our “Icelandic story of the day”.  Today’s offering – a story about Trolls.  Oh how I love Icelandic Folklore!  

Sigthor telling us stories about Trolls - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Sigþór telling us stories about Trolls

I’m thinking that he timed this to distract us from our next obstacle – our first river crossing for the trek!  If you’ve read the posts about my other treks in Iceland you will know that changing out of hiking boots and into river crossing shoes is par for the course, but it is never a pleasant experience when the weather is miserable.  Fortunately, this river was only small and didn’t take long to cross

River crossing and changing shoes - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
River crossings are dime a dozen in Iceland, and require a change of shoes each time

and it wasn’t long before we were off again through the fog towards our warm lodging.

Approaching Álftavatn through the fog - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Approaching Álftavatn through the fog

It was a relief to arrive about half an hour later and dump all our gear in our dormitory.

Our dormitory at Álftavatn - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Our dormitory at Álftavatn was an explosion of gear drying

Once again, we demolished tea, coffee, biscuits and cake while Sigþór and Þorbjörg concocted another culinary masterpiece.  This time – Icelandic Lamb soup 🤤

Dinner at Álftavatn Hut - Laugavegur Trail - Icelandic Highlands
Delicious Icelandic Lamb soup – our dinner at Álftavatn Hut. Here you see the 16 people on our 7-day trek and the 16 people on the 5-day Laugavegur Trek with Icelandic Mountain Guides. We pretty much took over the whole hut!

And we all sent up another petition to the Universe for better weather tomorrow!

Trekking Information

Distance = 10.95

Time taken = 4hr 23 mins

Strava Link =


Basic Map of hike from Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn - Laugavegur Fimmvörðuháls Combo Trek - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of hike from Hrafntinnusker to Álftavatn - Laugavegur Fimmvörðuháls Combo Trek - from Strava

Read more about hiking the Laugavegur Trail

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 7-day Laugavegur & Fimmvörðuháls Combo Tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.


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