Adventurer of the Week: Jennifer Vasterling on the Volcanic Trails
Jennifer, an avid hiker from Boston, shares her multi-day volcanic trails experience with us.
What motivated you to visit Iceland?
Many different things! We have friends that have visited and really enjoyed it. One co-worker of mine that lived in Iceland for a few years when he was in the Air Force, has been raving about what a wonderful country it is. However, our primary decision for going to Iceland, as opposed to other places, is that we really love being outside and hiking. It just looked like a tremendous place to spend some time in nature for a few days, which is what we did.
How long was your stay? Did you travel solo or with a group?
I traveled with my 21-year-old daughter and my husband. We had 4 days on the hike and we spent one day before the tour in Reykjavík to make sure we weren’t jetlagged. It was 5 days altogether with travel days on both sides of the tour. We would have loved to stay longer because we love hiking together and we all had a terrific time.
Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?
We did the 4-day Volcanic Trail tour. It started at Álftavatn and ended at Landmannalaugar, which is the only part of the famous Laugavegur trail that we experienced. The middle two days were fun because there really wasn’t a trail. We were literally off the beaten track.
We knew that we wanted to experience the highlands, so we looked at different options. Part of the decision was based on my daughter’s schedule. We wanted to fit in a trip between her coming back from studying abroad and when she needed to be back to University for the summer session. We had this little window and the tour worked with the dates and timing.
If we had no constraints, I probably would have done the longer volcanic trails options because it seems like you can opt into different parts of the trail.
What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?
Some of what I remember is the unique landscape, like the rhyolite hills, the geothermal steam and the numerous river crossings. I had never done so many before and our guide was great. She ad-libbed the tour a lot depending on the rivers we needed to cross, especially since some of them were deep and had a faster flow than others.
Also, to not have to worry about filtered water is nice because we could get fresh water from the streams. The only other place I have done that is in Patagonia.
It was wonderful but I am not used to hiking without a trail. It was really beautiful every single day. It wasn’t particularly cold and we caught rain but it was pretty comfortable. There was a day when we were off the trail, it was basically us and we just didn’t see many other people. You are just out there, which is nice!
At the hut in Dalakofinn there was one other group from Iceland, and they were singing Icelandic folk songs, which was really fun. That was a nice and unexpected surprise.
If you had more time in Iceland, what else would you like to see and do?
We chose to go deep in one area on this tour and I am really glad that we did. However, I would like to see more of Iceland and experience different regions. I bet we do come back and explore more of the country.
"We were literally off the beaten track."
What tips do you have for people who want to visit Iceland?
To really listen to what Icelandic Mountain Guides advises on the website and make sure you bring everything that is suggested. I think it is important to feel prepared for the region you are hiking in. If a person is taking a self-guided tour along the Volcanic Trails, then I suggest considering making reservations in the huts. It was nice to not have to drag around a tent, and I thought the accommodations were nice.
However, I do think it is worth considering doing a tour, especially in this particular region. I don’t usually do guided tours and I wasn’t sure about it because I am used to just hiking on my own. It took some time for me to convince myself that it is ok to go on a guided tour. I feel like people that hike a lot think they don’t need a guide. Unless you are familiar with the area, a guide really makes a difference on those days when you are hiking without a trail. For me, not having done river crossings, it was really helpful to have someone there that knew the lay of the land and could ad-lib our hike. Definitely worth it!
What adventure are you off to next? What is your next dream adventure?
I feel like we do pursue our dream adventures, like hiking in places that are so different, such as Iceland and Patagonia. We are living the dream!
Guided multi-day tours are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Icelandic nature. Start planning the trip of a lifetime by browsing our multi-day tours here.
About the Author
Jewells is a Brooklyn, NY native but love, work and a taste for adventure have brought her to Iceland. As the Content Marketing Manager, she has the exciting task of bringing Icelandic Mountain Guide’s voice and its customer’s stories to life across the digital universe. When she is not working on content strategy, you can find her frolicking in Icelandic nature, trying new vegan recipes, instagramming and pretending to understand when someone speaks in Icelandic.
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