From Skaftafell to Hverfisfljót, Preparation
All other online reports start the trek from the Laki lava field in the West and walk their way along Vatnajökull to Skaftafell. The Icelandic mountain guides do the trek in 9 days, including an additional loop in the Núpsá river valley during which they meet a car to get some supplies. Dieter Graser needed 8 days from Laki without the loop, mostly because he was stranded two days because of bad weather. Dieter’s description of the Hverfisfljót river crossing (during which he got frozen feet) led Conni to make two wise decisions that we didn’t regret afterwards: we bought neoprene socks, and we changed the itinerary. We were going to start from Skaftafell instead (in order to have the most challenging bits of the trail right at the beginning), and instead of crossing the Hverfisfljót we would follow it towards the main road in the South (based on the recommendation of another Iceland trekker David Abadie).
Although there is no path, the trek is drawn on the Icelandic walking maps and, thankfully, on this online map. Before the trip Fabien borrowed a GPS from the institute and stored Dieter Graser’s waypoints as well as our own, taken from the online map. This turned out to be very useful but also dangerous at times, since the waypoints didn’t always seem to be the wisest way to follow. Still, without GPS and some rough idea about the track to follow this adventure would have reached another level of unnecessary crazyness.
The most important items for this trip were a solid tent, neoprene socks, light crampons for the glacier (German: Grödel), poles, warm clothes and a GPS. Conni had prepared our daily food rations very carefully: we had supplies for 8 days (including 2 spare days) à 2200 kCal a day, all veggie of course. All time favourites include peanuts (and peanut butter), muesli, pasta/couscous, soya granules, dried fruits and all sorts of soups in powder form.
Before leaving Skaftafell we left an approximate itinerary on the safetravel.is portal, with an estimated date of arrival. In case we didn’t contact them before that date they would send the rescue (at least this is what they say). Good we didn’t need to check if this system works or not!