In July 2019 my Swedish friend Pana Mogren and I set off on a bikepacking adventure through the land of fire and ice - Iceland.
What once started with an Instagram story and me naively replying to it, became an adventure we should never forget. 11 days through lava fields, geothermal areas and deep black sand. Brutal terrain and harsh weather conditions. A challenging journey deep into the Icelandic highlands, riding along the Mid-Atlantic ridge, separating two tectonic plates, leading us from the northernmost to the southernmost point of Iceland.
|📈 Ascent: 9641 m||🛣 Paved road: 10%|
|🔆 Highpoint: 1141 m||🌋 Rock/Lava road: 12%|
|🚴🏼♂️ Distance: 672 km||🦦 River crossings: 20|
|⏳ Duration: 11 days||🥵 Pushing bikes: 20%|
|💩 Gravel/Mud road: 67%||🍫 Energy bars: 144|
|🏝 Deep sand road: 11%|
Full route and details on www.tectonicadventure.eu
What looks flat here was a 400m ascent that we somehow had overseen on the map.
And finally there it was.
River crossings can become dangerous during or after rain and in the case of glacial rivers during warm periods. You may have to wait until late night or early morning to be able to cross safely.
Our hands reflected our physical condition quite well by this point.
After river #5 we stopped taking off the bags and tried to look for lines that we could walk the entire bike through. This probably saved us 15min each river.
Big smiles once we got to Nyidalur and could set up camp.
We are still not sure what went wrong here. Probably a result of exhaustion, humidity, altitude and wearing the same socks since day one.
Toughest challenge of the day were the flies that surrounded us a second after we stopped.
Sucks when your highlight of the day is lunch.
Landmannalaugar is a truly rare area, both geologically and aesthetically. The dramatic region can be found nestled beside the raven-black Laugahraun lava field, a sweeping expanse of dried magma which originally formed an eruption in 1477.
It was about time for that trip to be over.
Spectacular view from the final mountain top before we should reach the most southern point.
It was crazy to witness how our senses became more sensitive to things we hadn't seen or heard in days. Suddenly there were flowers growing, birds singing and hairy traffic.
We had to spend a few kilometres on the ring route, the two lane "highway" that goes all around the island.
Once we made a turn it was like entering the Garden of Eden. The noise of the cars on the ring route had disappeared and we could hear the singing of the countless birds who had their nests up in the plateau Hjörleifshöföi, named after the vking settler Hjörleifur Hróomarsson.
At this point it felt like we were in a movie just before the grand finale. Mist and fog closed in on the way to the shore so that we heard the ocean way before we could see it.
And suddenly there it was - the southern most point of Iceland.
After 672km in distance and 9641m in altitude we had made it.
For all of my life I have always gone with the guts. I never overthink stuff. It either feels right or it doesn’t. When I commented on Pana’s Instagram post and said that I wanted to come and take the photos, it did feel more than right. We barely knew each other at that point which probably would have been a no-no for many people, but I think we already knew back then that we could trust each other and that we had a lot in common.
Even though I had pushed my limits with other adventures in the past, this one was different. I had never travelled with someone, usually did trips on my own, met people along the way and continued by myself again. I always enjoyed that type of travelling because I had all the freedom to do what I wanted and there was something about that loneliness. Thoughts go a different way when you spent a few days by yourself or have to figure stuff out on your own and can’t rely on someone else.
Looking back at this journey I feel like the shared memories I made and the bond that this created with Pana, is something that I had undervalued in the past. Getting to know someone through a trip like this one is just as special as getting to know yourself. You can hide your weaknesses from people you encounter when travelling alone, but not when you go on a trip together.
Not for a single second I felt like I should have been somewhere else, I was right where I belonged.
Thank you for reading. <3