Section 1 (Coast Walk): We begin at Kötlutangi, the southernmost point of Iceland. From there, we walk 24 miles west along the Atlantic coast to the hamlet of Skógar and the southern terminus of the Fimmvörðuháls trail.
Section 2 (Fimmvörðuháls-Laugavegurinn): From Skógar, we travel north on the Fimmvörðuháls trail. En route, we pass between the volcanoes Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull. Eyjafjallajökull became infamous in April 2010 when its eruption stopped much of European air travel for a week. From the end of the Fimmvörðuháls trail in Thórsmörk, we pick up the Laugavegurinn trail. We hike the Laugavegurinn trail to its northern terminus in Landmannalaugar, 48 miles from Skógar.
Section 3 (Lakes Region): We hike east from Landmannalaugar to the toe of the Vatnajökull glacier. Though the glacier lies only 34 miles away, as the crow flies, lakes, braided rivers, and long ridges make navigation challenging. Swiftly crossing the lakes region represents the first crux of Iceland Northbound.
Section 4 (Vatnajökull Glacier): The Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe. Before we can cross the glacier, we must first find a way to navigate past the crevasses and icefalls that criss-cross its toe. Once on the glacier, we ski 56 miles to the headwaters of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum. There is the threat of severe weather on the Vatnajökull; an expedition on the Vatnajökull was once forced to retreat because a storm had buried them in many feet of snow...in August. We pass the volcano Grimsvötn, which has been active in recent years. At the northern end of the glacier, we must again navigate crevasses to descend to stable ground. Crossing the Vatnajökull is the second crux of Iceland Northbound.
Section 5 (Jökulsá á Fjöllum): The Jökulsá á Fjöllum river emerges from beneath the Vatnajökull. It is fed by both a sub-glacial hot spring and water melted from the glacier's belly. As the water emerges from the Vatnajökull, it is alternatively warm and ice cold, depending on which source is contributing more water. In all, the Jökulsá travels 128 miles from the foot of the Vatnajökull glacier to the Arctic Ocean. In Section 5, the river is torpid, save a few large rapids and waterfalls.
Section 6 (Jökulsárgljúfur National Park to the Arctic Ocean): In Section 6, the Jökulsa forgets its tranquility. It plunges over six huge waterfalls, the largest of which is considered to be, at 148' tall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. After dropping over the last of these falls, the river surges through a long, narrow gorge with huge and continuous rapids. This gorge is the third and final crux of Iceland Northbound. After the gorge, the river splits into many braided channels and meanders to the Arctic Ocean.
Section 7 (To Hraunhafnartangi): We now walk 28 miles northeast, across a small peninsula, to the Hraunhafnartangi lighthouse. This is the northernmost point of Iceland, only a half a mile south of the Arctic Circle.