What my charity trek across Iceland taught me

In my last two blogs I’ve talked about stretching your comfort zones, having a great team around you and in this, my final blog it’s all about some of the things I have learned throughout the whole experience of trekking across Iceland.

The trek itself was fabulous, a great experience, great people and scenery that is out of this world. I managed to create some memories that will last a lifetime.

We walked the “Lava Trail” which was around 60 kilometres and we covered that in three days.

Day one

iceland trekInvolved around 900 metres of height gain, walking through snow, past smoking fissures and scenery that was beautiful at every single turn. We worked as a group, got spread out across a reasonable distance on the trail and came back together as we rested for lunch breaks and morning and afternoon stops.  We helped and supported those that needed a hand crossing difficult parts of the path or on snow. When people needed moral support if they were struggling, they had a group of people, supporting, helping and cheerleading them to each rest point or break.

Day three

Was a gentle final day with a couple of river crossings then a steady descent to a coach heading back to Reykjavik. The sight of being overtaken by runners who were covering our three-day trek in a half day run (not all humbling) was an interesting one. The last part of the trek ended in trees! Top tip, if you get lost in an Icelandic forest all you need to do is stand up (the trees are very small and the forest covers literally thousands of square centimetres).iceland trek

Day two

Why did I leave day two until last? Day two was challenging, but not necessarily in the way you might expect. The terrain was easier that day one, the distance was shorter than day one and we didn’t gain anywhere as much height as day one. It was the weather. All of it, literally every type of weather throughout the day. The morning was absolutely consistent weather though; howling winds and horizontal rain. Marry that up with two challenging river crossings and that made it a, well let’s say, memorable day, certainly the most challenging day of the three. Knowing I was dressed appropriately (one of only two in the group that managed dry feet throughout the day), with the right kit on my back – spare dry clothes, food, snacks, safety kit, hat, gloves, scarf and plenty of fluids. Some of the group became very cold as we had to bow our heads and push on through the onslaught of the horizontal driving rain. After lunch though, the sun broke through, warmed us up, dried us out and reinstated the widescreen, sweeping majesty that Iceland provides around every corner and over every brow.

We camped for the first three nights and I had to get to know our group of 30 people. I had met Carol from the Sunshine Fund on training walks and bag packs. The rest I met at the airport before we flew out. We ate great food together and thanks to a little planning had a whiskey or two (purchased from Heathrow duty- free) to ease our aches and pains each evening.

Those three days were fabulous, great to be out there, great to be with those people and great to see that amazing scenery. The defining moment for me was on day three, when I had paused to take a few (more) photos and after a couple of minutes I realised I was on my own, no one in sight, just a path stretching out in front of me and silence all around, that was a special, simple moment. A moment when it all became real, the effort of fund raising, the benefits of the training and absolute joy of being in the moment and enjoying the here and now.

iceland trek

Iceland and this charity trek lefts its mark on me and I thought it would be worth recording some of the great things it taught me:

  • Understanding the importance of planning, preparing and doing the hard training. You can read about that in my previous blog
  • Using the power of “Better to have and not need than need and not have”
  • Recognising that a trek involves a team (before, during and after) There’s more of that in my previous blog
  • Understanding that everyone is different and we all need support in different ways at different times
  • Appreciating that at times we are all leaders and at times we all must follow
  • Seeing the power of a supportive group helping every individual (we had a range of abilities and skills) make three days of trekking in difficult conditions
  • Gaining so much from clear thinking time in the great outdoors when training and trekking – this has to be my biggest takeaway

So what about my three goals?

  1. To raise money for a charity. I am still finishing my fundraising activity but I have raised over £2,700 so far, I need to say a huge thank you to every single person that helped me get to that target. Thank you for all your donations and I am still driving for my £3,170 target! So, if you’ve enjoyed my blogs and want to make a donation you still can here.
  2. To challenge and stretch myself out of my comfort zones. Yes, I challenged myself, became uncomfortable at times and as is always the case I learned lots about myself, I confirmed that having a goal written down and shared will really help you achieve it. I can honestly say I enjoyed every part of the journey. I know much more about myself and the fabulous family, friends and colleagues I have around me (thank you all again).
  3. To get fit. Yes – fitter, much fitter and still working on it. I lost 2 stone/13 kilo’s in training and now tackle my (initially challenging) 3 miles walks easily and feel so much better for it.

Was it all worth it – YES 100% – should you do something similar? YES, get out there and stretch your own comfort zones and get some of that great learning along the way.

Will I do something else? I am already thinking what next, watch this space for the next challenge…

 

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