Last September I did a seven-day trek in Laugavegurinn, Iceland. The hiking trail, dubbed Hot Headwaters Road, was 55 kilometers long and ran alongside the route of the annual Icelandic Ultramarathon, which takes place every year in July. The trip was unlike anything I had previously experienced, to say the very least. My desire to discover Iceland was inspired by photographer Chris Burkard. Chris visited this wonderful place many times, and it still seemed to hold a very special place in his heart.
“There are some places I can’t get enough of,” Chris wrote on his Facebook. “Over the years I’ve been to Iceland 20 times already and I’m sure there will be more to come! It’s just such a diverse and inspiring place to me and I keep finding new things to shoot.”
Iceland has all the features that attract photographers like myself: mountains, oceans, glaciers, and the fabled Northern Lights. And when the sun goes out, it only gets better. Chris has been all over the world and still finds Iceland fascinating, even after 20 trips. Imagine how one would feel seeing it for the first time.
As a photographer, I wanted to come back from Iceland with photos on Chris Burkard’s level (yes, I can dream too). I went there informed, equipped, and stressed because the opportunity to visit Iceland doesn’t come around very often. What if I didn’t see the Northern Lights? What if the weather was horrible? What if my mates – three experienced trekkers – didn’t want to wait for me to take long exposure pictures? I didn’t want to think about that though. I was focused on the idea that if the opportunity were to arise, I couldn’t miss it, as it could be my only chance.
Like Chris, I was won over by this country. I traversed expansive lava fields, crossed icy streams, and hiked through hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, and mountains. The colors were absolutely astonishing. Hues of pink, purple, blue, green, and yellow, among many other colors, filled the wonderful landscape. In seven days, Iceland offered so many things thanks to the pleasant weather. An experienced guide explained that he hadn’t seen weather like that the whole summer.
In short, Iceland is shy and capricious. She hides and can be hostile at times. But when she decides to open up to you, the result is magical. It seemed that every five to ten kilometers we were in a completely new environment. During my stay, I truly lived a pura vida moment. I definitely recommend Iceland to all outdoor enthusiasts, as there is so much more to do besides hiking. Like surfing.