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11-week Trailteam volunteer placements

Planning for next season is now well underway and we have exciting news about a new initiative for 2020.

For the first time, we will be offering 11-week volunteer placements with our Operations team. Although the main focus remains the practical trail management work in Thórsmörk, the additional time will allow us to include more skills development and a greater emphasis on land restoration and tree planting tasks. The establishment of longer placements will also help us to reduce the number of flights associated with the programme.

These new placements are particularly suitable for volunteers who have worked with us before or have been involved in similar programmes where they have had experience of practical trail work and working with volunteer teams. The 11-week placements will start in April and June.

Full details as well as information about all our other 2020 volunteer opportunities will be published here on December 15th.

https://trailteam.is/opportunities/

‘The Trailteam Tackle the Laugavegur!’

Our Trailteam leader, Nick Munro Turner writes about his group’s adventures on Laugavegurinn this summer…

As we approach our last two weeks of work on the trails, us volunteers take some time away from our now familiar surroundings to embark on a three day hike along the Laugavegur!

Covering some 54km from the Highland basecamp of Landmannalaugar to our trailteam home base at Langidalur, the route took us through some spectacular scenery that really showcase the natural geological wonder that is Iceland.

Setting up at Landmannalaugar
Having been used to the lush, verdant soils of Thórsmörk and Gođaland, setting up in Landmannalaugar was quite the test of our equipment and hardiness. We were met with harsh winds, the occasional snow storm and seemingly impenetrable ground for tent pegs. However, the team were able to pull together and we used our ingenuity to make the harsh conditions work for us, and the spectacular views of the red, black and sandy coloured mountains enjoyed whilst relaxing and unwinding in the hot springs more than made up for it.

Day 1 on the Trail: Landmannalaugar – Alftavatn
After a day of exploring the area, we headed off southwards on the Laugavegur, passing through lava fields and past steaming geothermal vents, climbing the magnificent technicolour mountains we’d been admiring from the basecamp. After some ascent, we came out on top of the mountain range and continued over rolling mounds of black rock; some wreathed in geothermal steam, others filled with snow and ice and even the odd ice cave to catch a quick rest stop in!

At lunch time, we found we literally had friends in high places as we were able to stop at the Warden’s hut at Hrafntinnusker in return for hosting them in Thórsmörk whilst they were visiting!

After a welcome rest, we decided to get up and continue our journey before we got too comfortable. This stretch had so many different land features; from glaciers, to black sand dunes, waterfalls cascading down rainbow rocks and bright green moss, that we wondered if we had wandered onto some kind of surreal film set! Finally, we reached an overlook which gave us a glimpse of the far-off glaciers of Eyjafjallajökull – a white shiny beacon showing us the way ahead to Thórsmörk. As we climbed down off the mountain ridge towards the campsite of Alftavatn, the ground almost instantly became more green and verdant, and the tent pegs went in much easier as camp was set up!

Day 2 on the Trail: Alftavatn – Emstrur
Our journey today took us east and then southwards as we passed through and across lush, green valleys under towering peaks that yesterday had seemed so small! Our path was intersected by many gushing rivers being fed by thundering waterfalls. There were some hefty bridges we used to cross some of the faster flowing ones, but the others required us to change into our river shoes and put our feet in some glacial flow in order to traverse.

We crossed a huge expanse of flat lava field to suddenly have our sense of scale blown wide open as we entered giant gorge country! Having made camp at Emstrur, we decided to use our evening to visit the top of some of the steeper gorges and just be awed by the giant rock faces, the depth below us and the changing colour of surrounding mountains as the sun set across from them.

Final Day on the Trail: Emstrur – Langidalur
Whilst no gorge we encountered was as grand as the one we had visited yesterday, we continued to be humbled by the many gorges we passed and crossed on our final approach to Thórsmörk. The views were becoming much more familiar now, with many land features we’d seen or visited prior now viewable from a different perspective, as if we were now behind the film set looking at the audience space we used to inhabit. As we clambered up and down over green mounds, we noticed that there were now trees cropping up here and there and we realised just how much we’d missed being among them! Once we traversed our final river crossing; the Markarfljót, we found ourselves on the edge of a grand forest, which made us really feel like we were coming home to Thórsmörk. Before too long, we were on old familiar trails that we had walked and worked on, thoughts of our cosy volunteer hut filled with cakes and blankets spurring our tired bodies on.

Our Laugavegur adventure allowed us to journey through some awe-inspiring locations and give us a taste of Iceland’s geologically vibrant Highlands, but it has also strengthened our appreciation for the beautiful, lush region that with live and work and it’s brilliantly maintained trails!

Photographs by Anousa Parkin.

Seven years in the valley

Last month, we celebrated the seventh birthday of the Thórsmörk trailteams.

Although the volunteers were busy preparing the Langidalur volunteer camp for the season, they were able to find some time for the chocolate cake.

After seven years on the trails, we still feel very lucky to call Thórsmörk our home.

Countdown to Summer…

Our 2019 team is now ready and we will be returning to the Langidalur volunteer camp to start work in just a few weeks’ time.

In April we begin work with a survey the trail network so that as the snow recedes, we are able to focus on areas where there has been damage over the winter months and finalise a work plan. This season includes plans to return to several of our old (and favourite) sites as well a series of new project locations. During April we are able to gather materials and equipment ahead of the arrival of the main groups of volunteers and this season we will be hosting approximately 55 international volunteers from 15 countries.

We are very exited to meet the new volunteers and very much looking forward to another season with our teams on the trails in Thórsmörk and Goðaland.

2016 programme dates… coming soon

After a restful autumn break, we are now back to work and busy preparing our 2016 volunteer programme. The placement dates, project details and application forms will be published here on December 19th.

Once again, the programme will include two and six-week projects as well as longer placements for volunteers joining our operations team (helping with organisation and team leadership). The first Skype interviews will take place on January 2nd and placements will be allocated as soon as suitable applicants are found.

Applications open in less than four weeks…

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