Iceland SOTA Expedition
Hiking the Laugavegur Trail in
Iceland is the island of fire & ice, remote natural beauty and is located just south of the Arctic circle at 64 degrees north.
Dates: 7/29/21 – 8/06, 21
Location: Reykjavík, Iceland & the Laugavegur Trail in southern Iceland
The Laugavegur Trail is considered one of the top 10 hiking trails in the world according to National Geographic. The trail starts in the Iceland highlands and ends at the coast.
This trail encompasses everything:
- Remote back country hiking
- Awesome SOTA portable operating
- Geology on steroids
- Pissed off spewing volcanos
- Icy glaciers
- and extreme weather including snow, ice and high winds (gale force)
Photo by Jonathan Gallegos via Unsplash
Call sign: TF/KB1HQS
The trail is around 48 miles total. Iceland regulations require that you camp at huts that are along the way. As a hiker you have two options. You can reserve a space in the geothermal heated hut ($90) or camp out in your tent ($20). No wild dispersed camping is allowed. While there are guided tours available, my wife and I decided to hike by ourselves. After years of hiking in the northeast including Maine and New Hampshire, we feel are more than qualifed to handle whatever Iceland has to challenge us with hiking.
Follow me in real time:
Everyday I will be adding a journal entry of events, people and flora/fauna in my online Trail Journal. I will also be doing a daily vlog on my Youtube channel: KB1HQS
While the trail is well defind, maps are hard to come by. I created my own custom maps in Caltopo.
Along with my maps, I am bringing some additional navigation gear to use. I recently purchased a Wndsn High-Viz Quadrant Telemeter for determing latittude using the Polaris star. I also purchased a new Suunto MC-2 Global compass for my wife (same compass that I use). Interestingly the decilnation is only 11 degrees 9 minutes West, though I expect considerable dip on the needle.
The Vig Svegvísir (Icelandic for sign post or wayfinder) is an Icelandic magical stave intended to help the bearer find their way through rough weather. -Wikipedia
My navigation tools include the following:
iPhone 12 with GaiaGPS, Caltopo & Avenza Maps
Garm eTrex 20 GPS with waypoints loaded
Icelandic Spar Sun Stone
Sun & Moon Table (custom); Sun Charts
Printed caltopo maps (custom) for the entire route
Considering I will be in Iceland, it seems fitting to have a chunk of Icelandic spar. Back in the day the vikings used it to navigate the foggy and cloudy skies of Norway and Iceland on their journeys west towards Greenland. This will be a fun and historic natural navigation tool (and techinque) to use while in Iceland. The stone uses the sun and polarization to find direction.
Temperatures in Iceland can range from freezing to 70 degrees with considerable rain, sleet or snow, even in the summer.
I have been using mittens and gloves in rainy 40 degree weather for the past several years but really needed rain shells to keep my gloves/mittens dry.
Getting cold hands is miserable so I bought two pairs of Mountain Laurel Designs 3-LAYER eVENT RAIN MITTS for both myself and my wife. I then dummy corded the mittens and rain mitts to prevent loss.
The main issue in hiking in Iceland is the weather. High winds with rain and cold temperatures can make hiking the trail difficult. One of the major issues is keeping your tent from blowing apart from gale force winds.
Using ultralight gear, in this case my Z-pack Duplex tent, you give up some durability for reducing weight. With that all said, from my research online, several people have used these tents with success. Setting up a correct pitch and weighing down your tent stakes with volcanic rocks apparently will help you out. There are also “rock walls” that have been constructed as a natural wind break. I have also added additional guylines and stakes to make it more stable.
Radio gear for this trip will be my Mountain Topper 5 Band (20 & 30 meters seems to popular in Iceland) and Yaesu FT1DR HT. My usual loadout of antennas includes my Packtenna End Fed and Arrow VHF antenna.
Being an Extra class license finally paid off, as it allows me to operate as TF/KB1HQS without any additional permits from the Icelandic government thanks to the CEPT rules. If you ever decide to travel internationally and operate amateur radio, getting your Extra license is worth it. If I was a general license, the same oppourtinity would not apply.
Iceland being such a young country (geologically speaking) offers plenty of SOTA oppourinites including activating near a live volcano.
The conditions at the site can vary depending on the weather, current lava flows, potential outgassing hazards and general safety. Hopefully conditions are good the day we visit.
Along the Laugavegur trail are several SOTA sites with relatively easy access. This will also be my first international SOTA activation which is very cool.
40, 30, 20, 2 meters
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