The main work of the programme is trail maintenance, which includes a huge variety of practical tasks. Trail projects are often very challenging due to the remote locations and physical nature of the work. Tasks include improving drainage to reduce erosion, resurfacing trails with gravel and building steps with either timber or local stone. Hand tools including rock bars and stone carriers are used for much of the work but machinery is brought in to support the teams were access allows. Our trail volunteers work alongside Forest Service (Skógræktin) chainsaw operators who help to clear branches from the trails and cut forest timber for the trail construction tasks.
Trail marking is an important part of our work as it helps to prevent damage to fragile areas and improve safety for visitors. Several new circular routes are being developed and marked by our teams. Volunteers use way-markers made on site from timber sourced from the forest locally.
The Forest Service (Skógræktin) is currently developing a new system of trail mapping in Thórsmörk. The Pathfinder project combines GIS mapping and photographs with a quality grading system. This information is very useful as it highlights areas in need of maintenance and shows the effects of work being carried out. This mapping work began with a pilot project in Thórsmörk in 2012 and the project will now be increased and the survey area expanded to include Goðaland.
Thórsmörk and Goðaland have trails that have been badly damaged by water erosion. One of the worst affected areas is the trail to Fimmvörðuháls where there are examples of deep gullying. Repair work began on this trail in 2011 with bundles of branches that were airlifted onto the site by helicopter. Work in this area will continue with a focus on further development, testing and recording of new erosion control techniques.
Since 2012, our programme area has expanded and now includes worksites along the famous Laugavegurinn hiking trail upt0 35km north of our Langidalur basecamp. These Highland trail teams are organised in partnership with the Icelandic Touring Association (Ferðafélag Íslands) who manage the tourist huts along the trail.