Trekking – something that everyone can do yet it is not for everyone. Trekking is for people who are passionate about it, it is for the patient souls and the ones who seek something beyond the normal travels. For people who love to trek, it is the journey that matters and not the destination. As a part of the #IamLivingit series, Rachana from Team Livingit met Prerna Sinha, a passionate blogger, and traveller. Apart from being a hands-on mom and a full-time blogger, Prerna is also passionate about running and recently completed a 5-day trek to the Laugavegur trek in Iceland. Having been lived in a big city like Mumbai, these little adventures that she follows is her only escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. She considers herself a born gypsy as visiting and exploring new places is like oxygen for her and she needs oodles of it!
LivingIt : Tell us something about yourself.
Prerna : A few years back if you had asked me this question, I would have said that I am a fashion designer by profession, an economics graduate and have worked in the garment industry for almost a decade but today my identity has completely changed. After becoming a mom, motherhood first took me completely by surprise but then gave me the wings to fly. Today I blog professionally on motherhood and pursue my like exploring the world, running marathons, trekking or imbibing any form of fitness.
LivingIt : When and how did you start Trekking?
Prerna : I did my first trek way back in school where we did the Gangotri – Gomukh trek and we were awarded the Duke of Edinburgh award. I remember Kiran Bedi handing the award to me. It was a prestigious moment. After that, I got busy in studies and then life took over.
LivingIt : How did you prepare yourself for the Laugavegur trek?
Prerna : While I did small day treks in and around Mumbai like Karnala Fort, Kanheri caves and a few more. I never really tried anything more rigorous until the Iceland opportunity came up. I had read up that it was one of the most beautiful trails in the world and I wasn’t going to miss it. While I hadn’t trekked in a long time but I had been into fitness for some time and I knew I could pull it off.
LivingIt : Tell us something more about The Laugavegur Trek?
Prerna : Laugavegur is short for “The Landmannalaugar Trail”. We hiked from Landmannalaugar to Skogar over 5 days and covered about 80 kms. The terrain kept changing all the time. You start in a valley along a stream and within a short while you are climbing uphill along hot geysers. Then you go across fields of black dragon stone, walk through frozen lakes and so the terrain keeps changing forever and all this within 12 kms. Just imagine how the whole terrain would be like. There is hardly any vegetation in Iceland and it is only towards Porsmurk where you can see shrubs.
LivingIt: How was the natural beauty of Iceland?
Prerna : There is so much beauty in Iceland that a paragraph would not be enough, neither a whole article can do justice but in just small pointers. There is natural hot springs, geo-thermal landscapes, lava mountains, dormant and active volcanoes, best scuba diving place i.e., the Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet, glaciers and more.
LivingIt : Was the weather supportive- this being a 5-day trek? Which was the best destination and why?
Prerna : The weather was terrible. The thing about Iceland is that the weather and the landscape keep changing forever. You walk a few miles and it is windy and cold, the next thing you know it is sunny. I was forever getting in and out of my layers. We covered 80 kms in 5 days which may sound less but owing to the weather and the terrain it’s not that simple. I loved our last camping grounds Porsmurk as it is very scenic and next to a lake in the valley. There were many stunning waterfalls on the trek and I am sure there are no names given to them as they are not open to regular tourists, which makes it even more intriguing. The frozen lava mountain along with the dormant volcanoes in the trek was another thing that takes your attention.
LivingIt : (On a lighter note) Do you happen to be a game of thrones fan?
Prerna : Oh, I am a complete fan. I have not missed an episode. I knew the series had been shot in Iceland but when I saw the signboard which read Winterfell was just 6 kms away, I was so tempted that I couldn’t resist taking a picture. Did you know that while Lord of the Rings is shot in New Zealand; the inspiration came to Tolkien from Iceland? All the names of the places mentioned are from Iceland.
LivingIt : Tell us something about your gear – your current collection/brands you use.
Prerna : I use North face hiking shoes and down jacket as I totally believe in their quality. For the rest of my gear like my trekking pants, glasses, hiking poles, anti-blister socks, torches, I shop from Decathlon. It’s cheaper and has the entire range of hiking gear is available.
LivingIt : We have heard that the trek does have a sudden change of temperatures? How did you prepare for that?
Prerna : You need to layer so that it’s easy to remove and put back on. Also, it rains a lot in Iceland so wearing your rain gear as a top layering is a good idea.
LivingIt: How was the hike from Emstur to Porsmork?
Prerna : Emstur to Porsmork was supposed to be a 15 km hike but as usual, we ended up doing more than 17 kms. The weather God was in our favour which made the hike pleasant. During our hike, we passed through many memorials that had been built for the people who had lost their lives. We came across this river crossing where this young 24-year-old had died while crossing it and his friends had built a bridge in his memorial. These memorials constantly kept reminding us of the dangers that might have been and we were just lucky to have survived this far without any issues. Porsmork was the most beautiful campsite along the beds of mountains and a river.
LivingIt: So, did you happen to cross the icy cold rivers?
Prerna: We crossed many rivers during the trek. I had never crossed a river earlier and this trek set many first for me. While the rivers were not deep the current was strong and the ground beneath you keeps moving as the river carries the sand and the gravel along with it. It was tough and scary initially, I even fell into a river on my first day and felt terrible but by the end of it, I was crossing rivers with ease. We used rain shoes or any extra pair of shoes for river crossing. Drying your hiking shoe after a river crossing in a weather like Iceland is a nightmare and if you walk in wet shoes for long you will get blisters.
LivingIt : Tell us something about the famous “Catspine Ridge”?
Prerna: The knife-edge “Cat’s Spine Ridge” is but a six-inch-wide trail with a vertical cliff hedging one side and 90m drop off. It is supposed to be the most difficult part of the trek; if you slip you can really go down. Luckily we all managed to cross it without any issues. Sometimes we manifest our own fears.
LivingIt: How did you feel when the hike was about to come to an end?
Prerna : I felt a separation anxiety. I had had the most wonderful adventure and lived in the most amazing landscape and it was about to end, which didn’t feel good that time. In fact, at the end of my trek which ends at Skogar waterfall, I saw hordes of tourists; I just wanted to get out of place. The next day when we did the golden triangle and there were railings along places that you were not supposed to go close to, I remembered how we had clicked pictures at the edge of cliffs. It was all feeling unreal. I knew I was going to be in love with the mountains for a long time.
LivingIt: Any incident from the trek which will always be dear to you?
Prerna: There were beautiful moments in the hike like watching a double rainbow in the mountains after a small shower, crossing lava flows, and climbing a lava hill.
LivingIt: Did you face any difficulties; this being such a long trek?
Prerna: I had a cramp on the last day of the trek in my adductors and the last day was a 3-4 hours of climb for the first half. It made me and the group a little slow. I felt that I need to strengthen my adductor muscles more to build strength.
LivingIt: Any tips for the ones planning the Laugavegur trek?
Prerna : Just start with small day treks around your location and find if it’s your cup of tea before you take a plunge. The conditions in which you live during a trek are not regular and so only people who can look at the beauty of the mountains and say it was worth it should pursue this.
LivingIt : Did the Laugavegur trek impact your life? Anything that changed within you after the trek?
Prerna : The untouched beauty of this Fjallabak Nature Reserve and the Laugavegur Trek (one of the world’s most beautiful trails) for five days is something that will last with you for a lifetime. When you experience nature so up close and personal, there is no way you won’t come out transformed. After I came back from the Iceland trek it was a strange connect that I felt to the mountains. I have motion sickness and if you had asked me earlier I would always prefer a beach holiday but now I am forever looking at the opportunity to head to the mountains.
LivingIt: Anyone who inspires you?
Prerna : My friend Joyee, she is a professor in the Yale University and it is because of her that I get to do these offbeat trips. She is also amazing because she really defies all physical limits to achieve her goal.
LivingIt : Any plan for the future?
Prerna : I don’t have a bucket list but I do want to do the Everest base Camp trek sometime. I just see myself climbing more mountains, hopeful, and as such I have not set any goals, I want to enjoy the journey and not worry about the end goal.
Well, wishing Prerna a life full of awesome treks and adventures ahead! You can also read about her Iceland trip here.
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