There were four or five rivers to cross (I lost count I must admit) but they were all very, very straightforward.
If the river crossings are making you nervous – there’s really no need to worry on this trail. Even people with completely inadequate kit were managing them (think jeans and cotton t-shirts). However you should still judge them carefully and do the right things as you cross.
A couple of us carried spare footwear (sandals or Kungfu training shoes) but the rest used just our trail-running shoes (Inov8 Terrocs for three of us) after stripping off the waterproof Sealskinz socks. The Sealskinz went back on to grateful feet after the grit was wiped off them on the opposite bank. That worked very well and the weight saving was appreciated.
The Terrocs did really well. They were very comfy to walk in as I’ve already mentioned but we found further evidence that they are making our feet work in a really “natural” way. For instance I have a weakness along the top of my right foot from tripping off a kerb a couple of years ago (flipping town shoes!) and that became sore in a “tired from being used” sort of way.
|Also LB has a weakness in one foot from where a horse stood on it fifteen years ago.
It started to hurt as well and nothing else has ever exercised that part of her foot – apart from when it cramps in ski boots!
It was interesting comparing the footprints left by the party. One of us had monster “proper” walking boots that chewed up the ground like a rotovator. Another had light, leather summer walking boots that also left a fair mark but not as deep.
But for those of us in trail-running shoes all we left was the imprint of the sole. A really visible difference to mention nothing of the harder-to-compare difference in energy expended to lift the larger footwear.
The French father and son we met had taken the traditional approach with good solid kit. But the son showed me his large leather walking boot and how he’d cut one side off to make it more like a shoe since he couldn’t stand it biting into his foot.
They’d met another French guy who had just done the North to South and was now crossing their route on his East to West crossing (maybe something like Andrew Skurka’s trip that he did just fractionally before us). The French guy was also doing it in fine ultralight style, even using a tarp – which is rather extreme for Iceland.
You can’t really argue when people can cross the whole country in trail-running shoes.
They certainly beat the old Icelandic footwear of dried cod skin. According to the guide in the museum in Skógar, longer distances between settlements were measured in terms of how many cod skins you could expect to wear out before getting there!