15 km (9.3 miles)
What a beautiful day for the last section of your journey! Today the trail will take you within a few kilometres from the great Myrdalsjokull Glacier.
As your descend towards Almenningar a few trees can be seen, a sign that you are getting closer to the coast. You walk under the characteristic Mt. Einhyrningur and into the dense birch forst in Thorsmork.
Mt Einhyrningur (750m) is located between the small Tindfjoll Glacier and the bridge across River Markarfljot. The name means “The Unicorn”, and is derived from the shape of this low mountain. Its slopes are rather steep, but it is not too difficult to climb. At the foot of the mountain, on the so-called “Unicorn Plains”, is a hut used by the farmers of the Fljotshlid County, when they round up the sheep in the area late in summer.
Thorsmork is a green valley nesting under the glaciers Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull and is the end of your journey!
12 km (7.45 miles)
Today you will start with another refreshing stream crossing as you make your way past the green volcano Storasula and into the black desert of Maelifellssandur. On your way, you will see Hattafell, a volcano with a strange flat top.
Before you reach Emstrur, take a detour just off the trail to see the amazing, 200m-deep Markarfljotsgljufur canyon. This canyon was carved out by the glacial river Markarfljót.
Your accommodation for the night will be at Botnar Hut - a little green oasis that will be welcomed after walking through the black desert.
12 km (7.45 miles)
Icelandic weather can be pretty brutal. Expect howling winds! The first part of this section of the trail goes across open ground and plenty of snow-drifts – in other words, nowhere to hide from the relentless wind! You leave the colourful rhyolite mountains and enter into an area with dark palagonite mountains and a breathtaking glacier view.
From the top of Jokultungur, there is a great view over the Fjallabak area and Lake Alftavatn (i.e. Whooper Swan Lake). From there you descend from the ridge to the valley floor (it's pretty steep) and begin to follow a small river and you will encounter your very first river crossing on the trail! (Highly suggest you change into another pair of shoes for this experience - who wants cold, wet feet for the rest of the trail?) You will notice that landscape will be a lot greener and you might notice a considerable increase in vegetatation.
It's not far to Lake Álftavatn from here!
12 km (7.45 miles)
Leaving the views are immediately beautiful as you travel through the Laugahraun lava field and past the first of many colourful rhyolite hills.
Continue travelling surrounded by beauty before arriving at Stórihver with its violently steaming vents and hot springs.
From there, the trail climbs again to a stark plateau with amazing views of a glacier and some of the coolest patterns ever made between the contrast of the snow and the brown hills.
You will then arrive at your destination for section one - Hrafntinnusker Hut. Grab yourself a nice warm cup of tea and something to eat! Very well deserved!
The great thing about running is it can be done by anyone, anywhere. Although it can feel a little scary and overwhelming at first, all you need to make a move is a pair of good running shoes and some sheer determination.
Obviously no one walks outside and immediately crushes their first few runs like an elite athlete - more than likely your first few runs will be hell. Here are some strategies you can use to make your kilometres easier — and help you to keep running once you have started.
1. Don't focus on distance - use time instead.
Trying to run 3km on your first run is going to be mentally and physically challenging. Rather than doing this, aim for 15 to 20 minutes and then slowly increase the time as you get fitter.
2. Allow yourself to walk.
Run/walk intervals are a great strategy to build endurance. Walking breaks will delay fatigue to your muscles and keep your heart rate lower. Mentally, it’s also much easier to break your run into 1 or 2-minute intervals. Just make sure you keep the pace up when walking - your aim is to get fitter not to go for a leisurely stroll.
3. Find a friend or join a group.
Two words - accountability and fun. Research has shown that working out with a partner can encourage you to work out longer.
4. Gear up.
Make sure you are in the correct shoe. Many injuries occur because of the wrong running shoe. Go to a speciality running store or book a consultation with your podiatrist.
In terms of gear - there is so much out there! Moisture-wicking, cooling, long-sleeved, short-sleeved...the list goes on. Some of it is very expensive and really not necessary. A good pair of running shorts/capris and a shirt will do you fine. Although not necessary at first, if you start getting into longer distances you may want to look at some running specific socks too.
5. Plan and mark off your runs.
Put your runs in your diary! Make it a non-negotiable event during your day. Studies have shown shown that building time into your daily routine for exercise makes it much more likely you’ll actually follow through on the exercise, and continue on your exercise schedule.
Once you are done - mark it off! The sense of achievement you feel will be immense!
6. Post your goals on social media.
Again - accountability. Share your goals with your friends and family and then post your progress.
7. Don't let excuses stop you.