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.
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.
We are now back to work after our winter break and busy with preparations for next season. We have been reading applications, completing interviews and starting to gather the team.
Once again, we are delighted with the response to our call for volunteers and it has been very nice to hear from so many people who would like to join us in Thórsmörk next summer. It is especially nice to have contact so many of our old volunteers and also applicants who have heard about the programme from friends who have volunteered with us before.
We have now started to allocate places and the groups are taking shape. We have a lot planned for the summer and the 2020 programme will be our most ambitious to date. In addition to the trail maintenance work, we have a series of new mapping tasks and an increased emphasis on tree planting this season. 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.
Full details including project outlines, placement dates and application forms can be found on our website. The groups are now starting to fill up, so if you would like to apply for a place this season, don’t delay.
Applications close on January 31st.
As we begin to gather our international volunteers for the summer, we have set ourselves a new ambitious target for the season.
As well as the ongoing trail maintenance tasks in Thórsmörk and Goðaland, we aim to plant 10,000 trees at sites close to the Tumastaðir and Þjórsárdalur Forestry Stations. Planting days are planned throughout the season and will start as soon as weather and conditions are suitable. A variety of tree species will be used including native birch and the projects will be organised with our Forest Service collegues who will oversee the work.
Tree planting in Iceland is now gathering pace inline with the country’s climate strategy which includes carbon sequestration through afforestation and revegetation. We are very exitied to be involved in this important new challenge.
Full details about our volunteer projects including placement dates and application forms are now available.
Applications close on January 31st.
We would like to thank all our volunteers and Thórsmörk friends for another great year.
A Happy New Year to you all and very best wishes for 2020.