It is difficult to know where all the time has gone, but this year we will be returning to Thórsmörk for our tenth season on the trails. A small pilot project back in 2012 led to the creation of our Trailteam.is programme… and after 10 years, we are still going strong.
Recent weeks have been filled with planning tasks, reading applications and arranging interviews. January is always an exciting time for us as we discuss preparations for the season, meet our new teammates and also reconnect to old friends who will be joining us again. Despite the ongoing uncertainty over travel planning for the summer, we have received a huge response to our call for volunteers and the teams are now taking shape.
Full details about our summer plans including project outlines, placement dates and application forms can be found on our website. The groups are already starting to fill up, so if you would like to apply for a place this season, don’t delay.
Applications close on January 31st.
In between the October snow showers, we were able to hike many of the trails and review the recent work that has been completed by our volunteers. It was very encouraging to visit all the different sites and see the success of the work and everything that was achieved last season but it is clear that there is plenty still to do and many challenges ahead.
Our autumn survey found that that several of next season’s work sites will be some distance from our camps at Langidalur and Básar and could include 2+ hours hiking each day. This means that we will be looking for participants with a love for wilderness and who really are ready for the challenge of lots of hiking and working in remote areas. The tasks planned for 2022 are ambitious and include a major project on the Tindfjöll Circle trail, a new (first time) project on Útigönguhöfði and continuation of the work close to Morinsheiði. Training and instruction in the work is provided, but participants must bring their own love for the challenge with them.
Our search for volunteers begins again soon and priority will be given to volunteers who were offered paces last season, but could not join their teams due to the ongoing Covid travel restrictions.
Full details including placement outlines, dates and application forms will be published here on December 15th. Interviews and placement allocations begin in the new year and applications will be open until January 31st.
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.