After months of uncertainty, it was very good to finally arrive back in Thórsmörk yesterday. As always, our first visit of the season is an opportunity to take a look at how the winter conditions have affected our previous work. Despite heavy snow, the trail network was in good condition in most of the areas that we visited.
This first trip of the season is also the time when we start putting together a project list for the groups and we found plenty of interesting work to do. So far, the list includes everything from stone construction to timber stairs and of course… lots more drains.
We are currently working on a new safety plan for Covid-19 and hopefully it will be possible for our volunteers to join us later in the season. In the meantime, we will open the Langidalur camp this week so that work in the area can begin.
The drying hut at the Langidalur camp
Little water in Krossá
Snow at the Básar camp
Today we launch our 2020 programme and begin the search for volunteers who will join is in Thórsmörk next summer.
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!
Full details and application forms are now available… https://trailteam.is/opportunities/
We will start to allocate places at the beginning of January and applications will close on January 31st.
If you would like to join the team in Thórsmörk next summer, don’t delay – apply now!
Last season we introduced tree planting into our volunteer programme for the first time. Although this is quite different to the regular work of the trailteams, everyone was very eager to get involved. Taking a break from the Thórsmörk trails, the teams travelled to the Forestry Stations at Tumastaðir and Þjórsárdalur where our colleagues organised and guided the work.
Various tree species were planted (depending on the location) and these included both native birch as well as fast-growing poplar. During a series of projects with the foresters, our teams planted more than 5000 trees.
With this successful start we plan to continue and plant many more trees in 2020.
Full details about our 2020 volunteer programme, including placement dates and application forms will be published here on December 15th.
Last summer, one of our biggest work projects was the construction of a series of timber-frame steps on the west side of Valahnúkur. The aim of this work was to improve safety for hikers, repair damage and significantly increase the carrying capacity of this popular trail.
It was a huge challenge as the teams had to carry the materials up to the work site which was close to the top of Valahnúkur. Also in several places, they had the difficult task of breaking through stone so that the steps could be fitted into position. It was a slow process, but they succeeded in the end.
A design using timber-frame steps was chosen because of heavy trail use, steep terrain and the lack of good building stone in the area. The individual timber steps were made at the Langidalur camp and then carried up to the work site dug into the trail and fitted together. They were then filled with stone and earth before being covered with decking boards. The design included spaces between the steps where soil and ryegrass seed was added to encourage re-vegetation to help strengthen the trail and protect from erosion. Next season we will return to Valahnúkur to continue the work.
Here are pictures of our work on Valahnúkur last summer…