off trail in Iceland

Hank Leukart:

Two brothers search for eternal life in the Icelandic wilderness during what may be the last time in history anyone is able to see all of Iceland’s natural, untouched beauty.

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo. (17min)

 

Because my brother and I live so far apart (he’s in New York; I’m in Los Angeles), we have agreed to reunite once every year, somewhere in the wilderness. We’ve been to Alaska’s Denali, Chilean Patagonia, and even Everest Base Camp, but, for our most recent trip, we set our sights on a hard-to-reach lake in the Icelandic wilderness called Eilísvötn, which, in Icelandic, means “Lake of Eternal Life.” …

Brian and I start by trekking two classic, connected Iceland treks: the Fimmvörðuháls and Laugavegur Trails, the first of which begins at a huge waterfall called Skógafoss on the southern coast.

We feel almost disappointed to be enveloped by the sublime, rolling, green hills and plethora of waterfalls, because it feels like we’re in the most beautiful place in Iceland already — we’re getting a fantastic payoff way too early in our trip. Soon enough, though, as we continue through the snow and glaciers near Fimmvörðuháls Hut, it becomes obvious that there’s no chance Iceland will ever disappoint us no matter where we go. …

Without Baggage – Mission Iceland: A Tale of Two Brothers

Selfoss

I’m researching a possible Aug/Sept 2015 hike. Laugavegur is very, very high on the list of treks I want to do next. 🙂

treking Iceland north to south

A short video showing some of the highlights of our traverse of Iceland during the summer of 2014. It took us 21 days to cross about 500km from the northern shore at Hraunhafnartangi to the southern coast at Skogar. …

We had 2 food parcels on the route – one in myvatn and another in landmannnalaugar. This meant the maximum amount of food we had to carry was 12 days giving a backpack weight of between 15 and 25kgs. We also got caught in a storm in the highlands midway through and had to use our SPOT device to get picked up by Iceland’s amazing Search and Rescue volunteers …

(via Hiking in Finland)

coast-to-coast Madagascar

The plan is simple – to be a part of the world’s first group to walk across the northern part of the island from east to west, entirely on foot, a distance of almost 400 km, in the seemingly impossible timeframe of three weeks. …

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Days pass by as we trek west. We camp in rural villages – usually on patchy football fields where, night after night, hundreds of curious children and adults alike surround us, amazed at the presence of a ‘Vaza’, a white ghost – the Malagasy term for westerners. They haven’t seen many before. In fact, in this part of Madagascar, away from the tourist trail in the south, the last foreigners that have entered the foothills of the Tsaratanana were the French army in the late 1940s and occasional mineral prospectors in the 1970s. …

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At exactly the half way point of the journey, after almost two hundred kilometers of uphill slogging, we reach the summit of Maromokotro, Madagascar’s highest mountain. …

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read more – Adventure Travel: Madagascar

(via Hiking in Finland)

Surviving New Zealand’s Hardest Hike – Dusky Track

Eric Leifer of National Geographic Young Explorers :

Fiordland National Park, tucked away far within New Zealand’s South Island, has the notorious claim to fame as one of the wettest locations in the southern hemisphere; and with a mean annual rainfall of 268 inches …

Throw yourself off the deep end by accepting the challenge of the country’s hardest trail, the infamous Dusky Track, an 84-kilometer route that impossibly forces its way through this impermeable landscape. …

Nat Geo

dusky-track-walk

South Coast Track mud

Located in the Southwest National Park, Tasmania, Australia the 82 km track roughly follows the coast between Cockle Creek and Melaleuca. Most people fly into Melaleuca and walk out to Cockle Creek. This is usually to avoid being trapped at Melaleuca in bad weather without food. There are only three ways to get to Melaleuca, by boat, walk in or fly. …

In 2010 David Murphy created a video of his adventures on the South Coast Track. …

All the good bits (mud, leeches, blood, rivers and rain) are in the second half…..

Our Hiking Blog – South Coast Track – mud, leeches and lots more!

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The South Coast Tracks is one of the few hikes where I turned back. Partly due to mud.

Belvedere Hike, South Africa

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

While visiting the must see tourist attraction of Bourke’s Luck Potholes in Blyde Canyon, I checked details on the not-so-popular Belevedere hike.

You must register at Bourke’s Luck. Pay a trail fee of about $5 in addition to the parking fee of $5. Start the hike before Noon and be back by 4pm.

I talked them into letting me start well past 1pm, promising to do a trail run to make up the time. I ended up checking out at about 4:30pm.

The trail down into Blyde River canyon is easy to navigate.

Follow the blue footprints.
Follow the blue footprints.

Promoted as “strenuous”, I’d more call it “overgrown” and “non-maintained“. Only the most agile will be able to avoid all the spider webs.

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It is pretty, though.

Not many tourists get down off the rim into the canyon. I saw nobody else on the trail this day.

The now defunct Belevedere hydro-electric power station is 400m below the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Built in 1911, it was once the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/south-africa/mpumalanga/blyde-river-canyon/activities/hiking-trekking/belvedere-day-walk#ixzz31Waqtyou

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It’s about 10km to here and back up.

This abandoned hiking shelter has a fabulous location. I wish it would be restored.

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more photos

Long Range Traverse, NFLD

I first heard of the Long Range Traverse, Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland, Canada, in Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield.

It’s certainly one of the best hikes of North America.

Distance: 23 miles (35 km)
Time: 4-5 days

Newfoundland’s Long Range Traverse is a unique 35-kilometer backcountry route of growing reputation among wilderness cognoscenti. The storied traverse follows the ridgelines and valleys of Newfoundland’s highest peaks where they rise abruptly 2,500 feet above the island’s west coast along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The landscape here in Gros Morne Naitonal Park is as dramatic as it is remote, carved by glaciers from massive, uplifted blocks of granite that form the plateau. Land-locked fjord-like bodies of water, locally called “ponds,” dominate the views seaward toward the Gulf. …

The route is often described as a 35 km route, or about 23 miles. But that’s measured as the crow flies, and the actual distance walked will be much longer, the result of detours mandated by terrain and the thick patches of tuckamore. …

Mid May to mid September is considered prime time, but most hikers come in July or August. The advantage of off season travel is fewer bugs, the downside is the greater potential for bad weather. …

read the full trip report on Great Outdoors

Ten Mile Pond

related – Save Gros Morne National Park:

Last year Gros Morne National Park was threatened by a proposal to drill and frack for oil metres from the park boundary. After a huge public outcry this specific proposal was stopped. However the park is still vulnerable to future industrial proposals. That’s why CPAWS is working with concerned local community members and businesses to encourage the federal and provincial governments to create a buffer zone around the park to permanently protect it from industrialization

Gxalingenwa hike, South Africa

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

One of the best day hikes in South Africa.

At Sani Lodge Backpackers in the Drakensberg you get everything you need.

trail description, permit, map
trail description, permit, map

Step out the back door, you’re on your way.

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After about 250m you reach the perimeter fence of the KZN protected lands. Permit to hike costs about $3.

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Every step is beautiful in the Drakensberg. Wide open.

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Some African dung beetles are endangered. NOT the ones in these mountains. There are plenty.

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Lizards are constant companions.

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You see a lot of scat, many interesting prints, yet not much wildlife. Animals here have evolved to be elusive.

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I was thrilled to see my first grey rhebok.

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Alpha males “cough” at you from a safe distance.

Wild flowers were still in profusion, mid-summer. We’d had a lot of rain.

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I left a Summit Stone for some future hiker to discover.

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Here’s Gxalingenwa cave. These two spent two nights here, sheltered from the rain.

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Later I learned you are not officially allowed to camp there.

From the cave I had to either backtrack … or finish a loop down the river.

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I’d been warned that the water was high. That I’d most likely need to wade the creek several times.

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Boulder hopping my second crossing, I fell in. 😦

And — since the shoes were wet — I waded 3 more crossings.

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Russell at Sani Backpackers wants to improve the trail staying on one side of the creek. One day.

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I was glad to have done Gxalingenwa as a loop. It’s very pretty coming down.

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Some hike up to these waterfalls from the roadway.

The only downside of the Gxalingenwa loop from Sani Backpackers is a road walk finish.

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Happily, I was picked up. Given a lift by University researchers who happened to be staying at the Backpackers.

more photos from this day hike

Lake of Eternal Life, Iceland

HANK LEUKART:

Brian and I start by trekking two classic, connected Iceland treks: the Fimmvörðuháls and Laugavegur Trails, the first of which begins at a huge waterfall called Skógafoss on the southern coast.

We feel almost disappointed to be enveloped by the sublime, rolling, green hills and plethora of waterfalls, because it feels like we’re in the most beautiful place in Iceland already — we’re getting a fantastic payoff way too early in our trip. Soon enough, though, as we continue through the snow and glaciers near Fimmvörðuháls Hut, it becomes obvious that there’s no chance Iceland will ever disappoint us no matter where we go. …

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

In January 2014, the Icelandic government announced plans to revoke 30-year-old environmental protections, putting Mývatn Lake, the Þjórsá River, and the Highlands in danger of destruction so that new hydropower plants can be built. Three waterfalls on the Þjórsá River — Kjálkaversfoss, Dynkur, and Gljúfurleitarfoss — may be ruined. Now may be the last time in history that hikers can see all of Iceland’s natural, untouched beauty …

read more – Without Baggage – Mission Iceland: A Tale of Two Brothers

Two brothers search for eternal life in the Icelandic wilderness.

BBC Natural World – Himalaya

Kraig Becker:

…The video below is a full episode of that series which happens to be focused on one of my favorite places – the Himalaya. If you have 49 minutes to spare, you’ll get a great look at those mountains and the people that live there, with some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll find anywhere. So sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy the show. It is one of the greatest on Earth.

Adventure Blog

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’m doing some research for a planned trip to the BIG mountains.