Selfies, trail building, hiking… and lots of food. These pictures tell the story of our adventures last summer.
Although travel plans were disrupted at the start of the summer, many of our volunteers were able to join us in July and together the teams managed to completed more than 100 weeks of practical work. In addition to maintenance work on the hiking trails in Thórsmörk and Goðaland, the volunteers also worked closely with our Forest Service colleagues on a series of tree planning projects on other sites as part of our carbon sequestration initiative.
We have now started putting together a team for 2021 and full detail including application forms are now available here on our homepage. Applications for next season will be open until January 31st.
The team have gathered some of their pictures of this season’s first big week on the trails. It has been an amazing week of trail work, bridge building, hiking and camp fires… with lots more adventures still to come.
Friday evening campfire at Langidalur (Jenny Allen)
Bridge building (Jenny Allen)
Hiking day on Rjúpnafell (Jenny Allen)
Our amazing team leaders (Anna Mariager)
Coffee break on the trail (Ellen Halldorsson)
Moving materials to Morinsheiði (Isabel Cadec)
Hiking to work (Michelle Pröstler)
The Fimmvörðuháls trail (Ondřej Kupka)
Step construction (Michelle Pröstler)
Timber built trails have become one of the main features of our maintenance work in Thórsmörk and Goðaland.
Although we do work with stone when it can be found close to the trails, there are many areas on the trail network where there is little natural building material available. Since our volunteer programme began in 2012, we have been developing trail maintenance techniques using timber produced from the forests of south Iceland and these timber trails are now a common site throughout the Thórsmörk area. During this time, several types of timber have been trialled, but the majority of this work has been done using Icelandic-grown Sitka spruce.
Where possible, new steps are built wider than the existing trail to help prevent erosion and the height of the steps is limited to approximately 15cm to make them comfortable to walk on. Low steps are particularly important for visitors carrying heavy backpacks. Flights of steps are usually built with regular spacing. Long timbers are used to make drains (waterbars) and these are added to each section to divert water from the steps and to help protect them (shown in middle picture).
Timber sides can be added to help secure steps over bedrock areas and these help to prevent material from being washed out of the steps (shown in the picture on the right). On freshly repaired sections, rye grass seed is added to stabilise the areas around the trails. This is fast growing but only grows for one to two seasons, helping to stop loose material being washed away. As the rye grass grows and then dies back, it allows time for the slower growing natural vegetation to re-establish itself beside the trails.
This summer, our trail building with timber continues as our team move to new worksites in Thórsmörk and Goðaland.
In summer 2014, a volunteer camp was established at Básar so that we could host additional teams and improve access to work sites on the hiking trails in Goðaland. Facilities are basic but include a group tent for cooking and eating together as well as a large timber framed tent used for storing food and equipment. Our volunteers usually stay for two weeks and camp in the surrounding forest.
The volunteer work is organised in close cooperation with Útivist travel association who support our teams and provide facilities for them at Básar. Our simple forest camp at Básar is much loved by the volunteers and we look forward to returning to continue our work there in June.
As well as returning to some of our favourite project sites on Réttarfell and the popular trails close to Básar, this season we will also start restoration work on several new sites on remote sections of the Fimmvörðuháls trail. This summer we will also focus on improved trail marking in Goðaland, continuing the trail marker numbering system on more trails in the area.
Moving timber onto the Fimmvörðuháls trail.
Meal time in the tent at Básar camp.
Cooking at Básar camp.
This is the final day of applications for volunteer placements for the 2020 season.
Full details including placement dates and application forms can be found on our website…
Our search for volunteers comes to an end this week, so if you would like to join us in Thórsmörk this summer, please get in touch.
No previous experience of trail construction work is necessary as practical training will be provided. We are looking for participants who have some experience of camping and hill walking, enjoy wilderness landscapes and are ready for a challenge. Iceland’s notoriously changeable weather means that our teams have to be well prepared with warm clothing, good waterproofs and sturdy tents. Due to the strenuous nature of our work, participants must be physically fit and as many of our work sites are in remote locations, we do a lot of hiking to get to them! Our team is chosen from applicants and there is no participation fee.
Full details about the placements including dates and application forms can be found on our website…
Applications close on Friday, January 31st and the final placements will be confirmed by February 15th.