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No Ordinary People

By Phil 2015.08.30 in Iceland

Last night after setting up camp, our group of Beardy Trekkers headed to the canyon on a short hike from our site.As we arrived at the canyon the views were once again stunning. We could see the large glacier all around us as the sun started to set above the mountains. Unfortunately the best photos are on my DSLR camera as the battery on my phone died, so will hopefully post more at a later date  

  
We decided to hang around for a while taking photos as well as shots of the full moon behind us. It was a magical night and perfect way to spend the last night camping. Even Alex, the usually quiet cockney member of our group commented that this was one of those nights that we would all remember. I don’t think I will ever forget the deep red colour above he mountains. I have seen nothing like it before. Joe commented: “This has been the the best night of my life ever! Honestly!”

  
We returned to the the camp site sitting drinking the remainder of our local alcohol hoping to see the Northern Lights which had appeared the previous two nights, however they didn’t show.

The whole group woke around 6:00 to get ready for an 08:00 start on our final leg towards Laugidalur.

  

   

  
The two youngest of the group Megan and Sophie asked if they could join our Beardy Trekkers group as they thought we were fast and would like to be part of the “Pro’s” as Charlie had previously described our group. Of course we were more than happy to accommodate more members and were also joined by Lucy. 

  
By the time we started the trek the sun was shining and everyone was in great spirits with the thought of beer and civilisation at the end of the day. Megan, Sophie and Lucy were so happy that start singing the song “Ordinary People” by John Legend. 

    
I decided to stick with Megan, Sophie and Lucy and their singing rather than the Beardy Trekkers. Even Joe was impressed with the singing and think he has them earmarked as backing singers. I asked if they did requests and knew any Blondie. Obviously Blondie was way before their time but they did know “Tide is High”

The final day was another hard slog across more volcanic ash fields and another very icy river crossing before finishing off with an ascent through trees and what I guess Iceland would call a forest, as Iceland don’t have many trees. It was quite strange seeing such landscape after days of volcanic ash tracks and rocky landscapes.

        
As you may have seen from earlier posts that us Beardy Trekkers like to grow an adventure beard during our treks. I have to say the weather caused real havoc with most of our beards with only Rhiannon and Rory’s beards surging the whole trek.

  

The song “Ordinary People” which Megan, Sophie and Lucy had started singing in the morning had stuck with me all day.

The reason the song had stuck with me was that the whole group were certainly no ordinary people. There was a wide mix of age ranges, from as young as 18 right up to Joe aged 53 (or 56 as Charlie announced on bus recent U.S. Radio interview about their Coldest Crossing). All with different ability. Some had never even done any hiking before. I remember Ellie saying the other day “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m hiking in Iceland. This is awesome! I have never done anything like this before.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Some people really struggled and we lost one person last night after pulling calf ligaments and the guys had to arrange to get them transported back to Reykjavik and go to hospital. Also one person was ill from the start but with help from the whole group they made it to the end.

   

 
To me the real stars of this whole trek have been Charlie, Stefan, Archie and Angus. These fours guys have been amazing, so organised and professional from start to finish.

This whole trip was a reccy for their attempt to be he first to cross Iceland from North to South in the winter unsupported which will take them a month to do.
They were also supported but a great set of guys who were part of the film and camera crew hoping to join the guys on their winter expedition.

All four of them were superb at everything they did. From Charlie carrying people across rivers in his baywatch speedos and organisation, Stefan reacting like a ninja to any situation even those who weren’t in our group and to Angus and Archie supporting and helping Charlie and Stefan in everything they did.

I took 7 of my experienced hiking friends with me and every single one of them could not believe Charlie and his team were only 19 years old and are going attempt Crossing Iceland in the winter, yet at the same time every single one of them know they will do it. We experienced some harsh conditions during this summer trek so can’t imagine what they will experience during winter.

One thing I can say is that Charlie, Stefan, Angus and Archie are “No Ordinary People”. These are a great group of guys and a great team and we all have no doubt they will do The Coldest Crossing this winter. We all felt privileged to be part of their summer expedition.

Takk guys and good luck for The Coldest Crossing

  

Two Many Rivers to Cross

By Phil 2015.08.30 in Iceland

Note: This was meant to be posted yesterday but had no signal. Today’s post to follow soon…

Last night was horrendously windy, though slept ok on and off. Luckily everyone’s tents survived the strong winds.  

  
By the time we sat for breakfast the wind had stopped and the sun was shining. By far the best days weather of the trek. Joe was regretting not bringing his legendary short shorts which he usually wears on our summer hiking adventures, still he was happy with his zip offs and still managed to show his legs off to the young ladies.

  
Charlie, Stefan, Archie and Angus had another film shoot around the lake they had to do before setting off, which no doubt will be like a scene from Baywatch knowing these lads.
I assembled my group of Beardy Trekkers, Anna and Steve and set off to our next camp. Today was the leg of trek with two river crossings which required switching to water shoes and walk across the strong and above knee height deep rivers.

  
The first river crossing was around 2km into the trek and my group all managed fairly easily. We decided to hang around for Charlie and the others to catch up, though the main reason is that we wanted to see how many would fall in while crossing. It was like watching a penalty shoot out and guessing who would fall and who wouldn’t, unfortunately for us they all managed quite well so we headed off to the next one.

  
We then stopped off at a hut for a toilet stop and to wait for the rest to catch up. While we waited Anna and one of the other girls decided to setup a hair salon and started platting each other’s hair. Joe was wondering if they did facials. Once Anna had finished her appointments it was time to crack on.    

The next river crossing was a lot hard and twice as cold as the first one and was also a lot more comical watching Charlie and Stefan helping the others across.

  
After all surviving the first two river crossings it was full steam ahead across a very barren and dusty landscape with more lush green mountains and glaciers in the distance before stopping for lunch at a massive waterfall.

    
The rest of the afternoon was a long hard slog across dusty tracks and black volcanic ash. Quite a change from the scenery we experienced in the morning.  

   
 We finally arrived at our next camp site at Emstrur and another night of pitching our tents on black ash.

  
We have just heard from the rest of the group who have just arrived that one of the girls has really damaged her leg, possibly broken and that Charlie and Stefan have had to arrange transport for her. We are hoping she will be ok and be ok to join our hot spring after party.

Holy Hole in a Snow Cave

By Phil 2015.08.28 in Iceland

After pitching our tents at our camp last night, Rhiannon, Rory, Alex, Ian and myself decided to explore a bit and headed to the highest point of the trek to a high point behind the camp site for some stunning views into the distance from where we had walked from.

  
After spending around half an hour taking photos the weather changed completely and we were covered in clouds. We decided to head back down to camp in the poor visibility before been greeted by an unhappy Charlie who had headed out looking for us along with Stefan. I had made the schoolboy error of not telling them where we had gone or taken my new walkie talkie. I wasn’t happy with myself, as usually always take my gadgets with me at all times.

   
 We thought the first night was windy. My god that was nothing compared to last night. It was relentless. Luckily we managed to get to the site early enough to pitch our tents in the middle of some circle of rocks scattered around to offer some protection.

   

 
The weather this morning was also a lot bleaker the yesterday morning as we headed out towards Alftavatn, so we decided to do it in one large group of 35 so not to loose anyone given the poor visibility.

  
Today there was a lot more snow patches to cross than the previous day as well as lots of snow caves along the way. We all took turns heading through one of the larger snow caves we found.

  

At one of the snow crossings Charlie had noticed a hole in the snow where someone had obviously crossed previously and their foot must have went all the way through as it was hollow below. Charlie stood above the hole directing people away around it, though some French guy from another group decided to try and be clever and ignore what Charlie was doing and went his own route and within seconds he fell through the snow and ice with only the top of his head visible. Within seconds Stefan had his rucksack off and sprinted back to help the man out of the hole. 

  
After the excitement of the snow cave and the Frenchman in a snow hole, Charlie, Stefan and one of the camera crew headed up one of the mountains to check it out as a route option for their winter crossing and do some filming. Charlie asked me to lead the group for the next leg and to meet them at the other side with the other 3 leaders scattered along the group. I took my leadership responsibilities seriously and started offering my alcohol to the younger members of the group to help keep them warm, though the real reason was to get rid of the weight of the more disgusting bottle of spirit I had brought along. They seemed to enjoy it.

   
We finally met up with Charlie and Stefan before the steep descent towards Alftavatn.
It has been a very mixed day of weather and scenery, going from very deep snow and ice to desert looking mountains and finally the lush green of Alftavatn.

    
When we arrived at Alftavatn the wind was so strong with no protection from it that we thought we might move on to the next site, though we have now decided to chance it as the views are stunning and the next site is just as windy apparently. It be interesting to see who’s tents stand up to these winds. Without doubt the windiest I have ever camped in.

   
 

With Walkie Talkie Comes Great Responsibility

By Phil 2015.08.27 in Iceland

It was quite windy at camp Landmannalagaur last night. Luckily all our tents survived the strong winds, especially Rhiannon and Bridget’s tents, as they had both decided to place large rocks all around the base of their tents and looked like some fancy garden rockery display. Think the girls must have been having a great British rock off.

 
Today was the day I had been waiting for, no not the start of this amazing trek but my new gadget that Charlie had promised me. A Walkie talkie!

    
As I would be leading my group of Beardy Trekkers, Charlie insisted I had to have one so I could check in with him and the other leaders Stefan ‘the crazy Russian’, Angus and Archie. He also gave me a map of the area we would be trekking and showed me the route, but I was more interested in my new toy. He obviously doesn’t know my history with maps or lack of. Charlie also asked if I wouldn’t mind if Stefan’s mam Anna and his step Dad Steve joined our group. Is this what happens when you get given a Walkie talkie? Added responsibility? 

We had met Anna and Steve briefly yesterday so we were more than happy for them to join he Beardy Trekkers.
Charlie and his fellow Coldest Crossing team had some filming to do before setting off on the trek so we set off as first group.

It was a cracking start to the trek crossing the lavas fields and seeing even more contrasting coloured landscapes. We also passed many stinking sulphur pools along the way, though as someone pointed out it was hard to tell if it was the sulphur or in fact Joe having just let one go following his tikka chicken freeze dried meals from the night before.
    
 
I had been given clear instructions from Charlie to turn the Walkie talkie on every 30 mins to check in with the rest of the leaders. However with all the stunning scenery around us I forgot about his for the first hour or so, until Rhiannon asked if I had my own radio handle and if I had spoken with Charlie yet.

    
I made sure I didn’t miss my next check time and issues my first “Bravo Tango, Beardy Trekkers, come in Charlie, over!” And as if by magic he responded. I told him our location and that we were heading on. He informed me they were just leaving Landmannalagaur over an hour and a half after we had left.

  
Charlie decided to leave the 28 others behind with the other leaders and ran ahead to catch us up and come along with us now all his filming duties had been done.

  
We continued the trek towards Hrafntinnusker, crossing many large ice patches and small bubbling geysers before arriving at our camp for the night.

   

   

The Land of Man and Lager

By Phil 2015.08.27 in Iceland

After a 3.5 hour drive from Reykjavik we finally arrived at Landmannalaugar or Land of Man and Lager as we have decided to call it. I asked someone if they knew what Landmannalaugar meant and nobody knew the answer so that’s the best we could come up with.

  

After pitching our tents on very hard rocky ground, we all headed out on a short hike to get a glimpse of the landscape and scenery we would be experiencing on the first leg of our trek. I have to say it was stunning. I have seen many photos online of this area but seeing it first hand was unreal. In fact it doesn’t look real. The contrast in colours is unbelievable. From black ash, to lush green, to slate rock, desert sand coloured mountains and snow patches, it was spectacular. I don’t think the photos I post here will really do it justice, as I have to resize them on my phone in order to upload, but hopefully you will get the idea of our environment during our trek.

   
 The short hike was also a good chance to get to know some of Charlie’s friends and film/photography people who we will be spending some time with over the next few days.

  
 
As designated leader of my group of Beardy Trekkers, thanks to Charlie, my team decided they had to give me a name. So far they have come up with Kaiser Raisbeck. I’m sure that will change over the coming days.

We returned to camp before heading to the natural hot spring area and boy was it hot! The bit where the water was running down the rock into the spring was so hot you couldn’t touch it, luckily we brought some Icelandic beer with us to help cool us down. Nobody wanted to leave the hot spring if was doing good. A perfect end to the day.

 

Weary Trekkers Hit Reykjavik

By Phil 2015.08.26 in Iceland

Well after months of build up and practice wild camps we finally arrived in Iceland.  
We had a very early flight from Manchester, which meant we had be up and at airport for 04:45. The good thing was it meant we arrived in Reykjavik at 08:30 and had the full day to explore the city.Despite the Beardy Trekkers (our team name for this trek) feeling more like the Weary Trekkers, we made full use of our time in Reykjavik, with half of us taking the the more cultured option while the other half decided to hire Segways to see the city.

   

 The last time I was here was 7 years ago in the winter and the city was covered in snow, so it was great to see it in the summer and looked just as stunning as I remembered.  
We were staying in the backpackers hostel right in the city and is known as one of the best hostels in the world apparently.

Iceland is known to be expensive for beer but luckily for us our hostel bar had a happy hour from 4-6, which of course we made the most of and the beers only cost us around £3:50 as opposed to normal £6.

  
I then arranged to meet up with my mate and fellow Fjällräven Polar UK winner Charlie and Stefan who have planned our Icelandic adventure and to introduce my team of Weary Beardy Trekkers.

  
This morning we walked to the Reykjavik camp site to meet Charlie and the rest of our much larger party of 30, including film and photography crew, with some of them attempting to win a place on Charlie, Stefan, Angus and Archie’s winter attempt to be the first recorded unsupported crossing of Iceland from North to South.

  
I told Charlie earlier this year about me organising a trek for my group of friends to Iceland this summer and he invited us to join his team on their summer reccy trip, which we gladly accepted. This allowed us to take advantage of his Icelandic connections and save us nearly £800 a person which we would have paid if we had used an expedition company.

Please checkout Charlie and his teams website about The Coldest Crossing here at ww.thecoldestcrossing.com #thecoldestcrossing

We are now on the bus to our first camp before we start the Landmannalagar trek. We have just this minute drove across an area created by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010   

 

  

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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