One of the really cool things in Iceland was that so many people were walking around wearing outdoor gear.
I wanted to make sure to take something of the Iceland-based brands home.
I also thought it would be cool to have something from Iceland’s 66 North at the top of the world to go with my Due South brand items from South Africa at the bottom.
North & South for the gear collection.
Iceland Packing Palette
I did something different when packing clothes for this Iceland trip: I used a color palette.
Most of my gear fell into these color categories, and I wanted to make it easy to mix and match layers when horseback riding, running or walking to dinner.
Wearing fuchsia (or Icelandic Pink) at the airport, where it was on Icelandic Air ads and on the matching Fly Bus.
Gray and black served as neutral base colors.
I would recommend using a color palette when packing with colors that are in tune with your destination.
Mine made me feel organized, effective and in harmony with Iceland’s natural beauty.
If only I didn’t have my invaluable, but ubiquitous, blue rain jacket on in every photo, as usual ;)
Iceland had some super fun salt flavors in the tourist shops. I so wanted to buy them all – Blueberry! Crowberry! Rhubarb! Kelp!
In moderation, I settled for the classic Icelandic Black Lava version with spend-down kroner at the airport.
Served on this week’s Fiesta Quinoa.
Obessions of the Week: Iceland Version
Our hotel guest house had free drinks in the lobby, and I got hooked on this perfect hot chocolate from their cafe machine for evening dessert.
I also enjoyed these dark cane sugar cubes made from large golden sugar crystals. They tasted like hints of honey and were a good excuse for afternoon tea breaks from the rain.
My dad and I went to Iceland to run the 55k mountain Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in the Landmannlugar National Park area.
While we were there, we also got to do some some fun, Icelandic adventure travel activities as well.
Iceland was wet, green and beautiful. I spent 90% of my time there with wet hair due to all our outside activities.
Our first stop from the airport was the iconic Blue Lagoon,
One of those places you always fantasize about going to.
I tried out the silica, algae and volcanic face masks
And a blueberry Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) smoothie at the swim-up bar.
Our next Icelandic activity was the Golden Circle Tour with Arctic Adventures, which included Tingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland’s first Parliament, and where we got to snorkel in drysuits in the Silfra fissure between the two continental plates of North America and Eurasia. (Another intercontinental swim!)
The water was really cold on my face and hands, but everything else was warm and cozy in the down base layer plus outer layer drysuit.
This was one of my favorite things because it was so special to Iceland. The crystal clear views are known worldwide, and I had a great time sprint-snorkeling through the fissure and taking in the neon plantlike and standout blue waters.
We also got to jump off a cliff in full gear before resuming the rest of our tour. It was so exhilarating and refreshing to go completely under in that cold water and pop up like a rocket in the pressure packed suit – just what I was needing for a little adrenaline fix.
Then we visited Gullfoss
And some Geysirs.
Enjoying a somehow-always-better-European sandwich and Magnum ice cream bar flavors.
We stayed in Reykjavik at a hotel guest house, Leifur Eiriksson,
Right in front of the Hallgrimskirkja
In the city center and spent our in-between-time walking around the capital, shopping (liked the outdoor gear stores) and exploring all the fun food palaces and, naturally, bakeries, in the area. (We have a pattern for travel shopping.)
We ate lots of fresh fish in the form of Smorrebrod
And fish soup.
And had some traditional Icelandic farm soup as well.
I love noodle bowls, and we found several noodle places for before
And after the run fueling.
I also liked this cool juice bar, Lemon,
The Te & Kaffi coffee shops, where we found the city’s best cookies,
And browsing the bookstores,
Where I found Scandinavian and personal heroine, Pippi.
The hotel served breakfast each morning. I would get fruit and cucumbers and this delicious brown bread or waffles.
We had to get up at 3:15 a.m. the day of the run.
Here’s a photo of the the Hallgrimskirkja from my bedroom during the always-light-night at 1:30 a.m.
And at 3:30 a.m.
Staying warm at the run start, after the three hour bus ride to the national park area that had very nice facilities for backpackers, who usually do the run route as a four-day hike, stopping at what were our aid stations for overnights.
Gearing up for the cold, wet, windy run.
The event started with a very steep climb and just continued going up and up. We ran through geothermal geysir steam, full of the smell of sulfur, volcanic silica mud and rock, over huge rolling mountains, across streams and even ran through slushy glacier ice water up to my knees.
It was beautiful and hard and wild and hard to summarize. Some of the scenery was so unique. (These photos via the event website where more of the run scenery can also be found.)
34 mountain miles and many ups and downs later, we all got showers and a Iceland BBQ meal,
Before a rocky bus ride back through the green cliffs and river crossings.
We had planned to do a glacial ice climb the next day, but the volcano Katla was showing signs of erupting and the police closed the area.
We instead decided on whale watching as it would be a nice recovery activity.
And a good place to eat our snacks while viewing minke whales, dolphins and a basking shark.
For our last day in Iceland (despite being sore) we went horseback riding on the special Icelandic horses, who were very social and sweet.
We ended up on an experienced tour and got to do a lot of the Icelandic fifth gait, tolt. It was energetic when going fast, relaxing when walking, and a good way for us to take in more Icelandic scenery among the riverbanks and meadows below the volcanoes.
Overall, the trip was fabulous. We learned a lot about Iceland, and it gave me a great taste of Scandinavia as well.
We even got some amazing views of Greenland on the flight home.
There is something primal and spiritually galvanizing about running in inclement weather when you have no choice but to endure it.
In some ways, the essence of trail ultrarunning is about immersing yourself in the environment around you—less because you want to perform well, and more because you love the freedom and positive vibe running provides.