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We had the best intentions for the hike of Raftafell. It was a gorgeous day with sunshine and good weather, and we prepared appropriately just like the signs on the hiking hut at Langidalur said. Snacks. Water. Boots. Sunscreen. Go.

We scrambled up the side of the small mountain, thinking it would flatten out and be easy at the top. We were so far from right. Instead, a long and pretty exposed ridge greeted us with dry and dusty volcanic gravel underfoot. The steep grade made it very difficult not to slide backwards on the trail, and the wind wasn’t helping.

At the point we decided to turn around, the trail had become a boulder scramble wedged on an eight-foot-wide ridge, with cliff drops on either side. And Russ was suffering from a touch of vertigo, brought on by a mild fever caught at camp.


This is where we turned around. The 100-ft drop on the right is not visible.


Not this trail, this time.

We skidded back down at a pace normally reserved for hamstrung snails. Knowing your limits when travelling is one of the most important skills that a nomad can acquire. Sure, we could have pressed forward and pushed ourselves farther out of what would have been truly safe. But there are comfort zones, and then there are stupid zones.

Stupid Zone (noun):

1.You disregard your own body and it’s personalized limitations on a given day (i.e. vertigo) and push ahead no matter what. 

2. You prioritize a particular travel experience at the risk of permanent injury (thus stopping you from travelling in future)

Raftafell would not have been a fun time for us on that day, but there was an amazing panorama waiting for us the very next day!


One comment on “False Start: A hike that was out of our league in Thorsmok

  1. mmonroe841 says:

    I prefer the word to “Old Folks’ Boogie” by Little Feat: “Old folks Boogie, boogie if you will. When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill, doin’ the Old folks Boogie with me.”

    I get the vertigo part, too. Takes me back to Long’s Peak!

    Love the article.

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