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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   

 

  

I’ll Be Back Stavanger

By Phil 2015.08.02 in Norway

Well the Norwegian adventure has come to an end.

Had a great last night of our Norwegian adventure with a night out in Stavanger. Found a great bar called the Cardinal serving an excellent range of strong real ales, so we did our best to work our way through them all followed by a shot of Norway’s national spirit Aquavit. Ended up in some rock club of all places. A different kind of rock we are used to.

Woke with a bit of a hangover so decided to walk it off with a stroll around Stavanger. It was a stunning day and perfect for exploring this beautiful city as you can see from photo below.

We then headed back to where our adventure started over a week ago, Sola beach.

It’s been a cracking adventure covering over 1100km and had some amazing experiences, such as Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Hardangervidda, Rjukan, Uburen and meeting up with my Fjällräven Polar mate Jostein and Britt Victoria.

“I’ll be back Stavanger, you heard me say…”

Nee Bother

By Phil 2015.08.01 in Norway

Had a great night out in Stavanger City last night. Wandered around the streets in the sun and having a few drinks along the way. At one point we were even being followed by a drone as we walked along the harbour front. Not sure what that was about.

View from rooftop of our hotel

After food we headed back to Nåløyet bar where we had met Jostein and Britt Victoria on Thursday night and where they play cool music and also have the most knowledgable bar staff I have ever met.

As Jason was getting our last drinks of the night he noticed he had no Norwegian cash left in his wallet so had to pay with his card. He then asked the barman if anyone had handed in any cash as he thought he must have dropped it at the bar earlier. Luckily enough someone had handed in the 1000 NOK (£80) he had dropped along with his hotel room key.

This morning I woke with a pain in my knee so didn’t really fancy a hard hike today, plus the weather forecast was for rain most of the day so we decided to head along coast and to Jaeren beach.

On the way to Jaeren beach we had to pass the place where we got our hire car from, so we thought maybe we should pop in and tell them about our little accident.

We weren’t going to mention the car incident as we had hoped to fix it ourselves, but after visiting the local scrap yards and the Toyota dealers with no success, we decided to tell the hire car company about the smashed fog light after reversing into a rubbish bin at the car park at Trolltunga.

Anyway the girl at hire place said its was no bother and was pleased we were honest and mentioned the light damage and even gave us discount on the rental for being honest, though we will still have to pay the cost of repair.

We continued the drive along Jaeren beach stopping off at various points for photos. One part of the beach in particular was packed with surfers and kite surfers all dressed like ninjas. It was a stunning coastline just a shame about the weather

Tonight is our last night in Stavanger so may as well have a few beers to end a great week of adventure. I love Norway!

Skål

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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Please checkout my fellow Polar bloggers and read about their experience in their words:

Alex Kalita (USA)

Madeleine Hanssen (Norway)

Manon Kloosterman (Netherlands)

Peter Blom Jensen (Denmark)

Tuija Pellikka (Finland)

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