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Tales to Tell: A Hiking and Kayaking Journey Across Iceland

Earlier this year, we were approached by Charlie Turnbull, a young Australian adventurer with a passion for the outdoors. He had recently launched his “career” with a 25-day, one-thousand kilometer canoe journey from Mongolia to Russia, through one of the least densely populated areas on earth; from the southern end of Lake Khovsgol to the tiny river Eg, south across the Mongolian plains to the Selenga river, then crossing the border into Russia, and straight into Lake Baikal.

Paddling Mongolia to Russia

The travels were documented on Patagonia’s Australian website at

Our emails criss-crossed while Charlie outlined his new plans – in a nutshell, to hike and kayak the length of Iceland. The proposed route traversed the volcanic highland region of Iceland and onto the Hofsjökull ice cap, crossing the ice to the headwaters of the Pjorsa River, then 230km of kayaking whitewater and flat sections to the Northern Sea. The trip would be in June/July, when the temperature averages 15 degrees C. The bulk of the paddling would be calm, with some rapids.

We discussed what products would be best suited for their needs – a tough decision as there are several. They needed a two person that could carry some gear, but weight was a concern. The need for material that would not become waterlogged in a chilly setting; and the need to traverse some rapids. We discussed Advanced Elements, Innova and others, and finally focused on the AquaGlide Klickitat Two, a 42-lb whitewater, self-bailing kayak that AquaGlide agreed to provide for the trip. And as the expedition expanded with a videographer to document the journey, we sent along an AquaGlide Chinook Two for Sam Brumby and his camera gear, Advanced Elements fiberglass Orbit breakdown paddles, and Astral Designs super-lightweight Ronny PFDs.

Charlie receiving his Chinook 2 inflatable kayak.

With good-humored ribbing from friends and family, Charlie and company headed off.

In July, we heard back from the trio. According to Charlie, “What an epic 20 days. The boats were amazing, so tough. Grade III glacial water, volcanic rocks, long portages – held up perfectly. The footage and pictures we have are awesome as well, will send through in the next weeks or so.”

Charlies’ crew is currently working on a multi-part video series on the Icelandic trip, which will be part of a larger project called  ‘Tales to Tell’. Tales To Tell is a collaboration between friends with a passion for adventure, journeys and storytelling; through image, film and text, the friends hope to share experiences and inspire others to explore and create at home and abroad, and in doing so foster a healthy respect for the environment.

The final video documentaries will be uploaded to the Tales to Tell website at

But until that moment, Charlie has given us a “sneak peak” at the upcoming Tales to Tell: Iceland.

Charlie begins …

Made it!

“Supposedly, the first Viking that attempted to settle Iceland was a Norwegian named Floki Vilgeroason. Landing in the north, Vilgeroason was soon driven back to Norway by the severity of the Icelandic winter and, upon return, exclaimed that the island he named Iceland was worthless real estate. Stemming from such failed exploratory attempts, the Icelandic wilderness has earned a reputation of volatility and hostility.”

Along the journey
“Far better equipped than Vilgeroason and his crew, our Icelandic expedition seemed to have a far more favourable chance of success. We were to start in the Northern town of Akureyri and hike south, up into the infamous highlands and between the two largest glaciers on the Island.”

“After nine days of hiking we would meet the Pjorsa river, and our inflatable kayaks at a nearby hut. From here it was downstream for 240kms, until the Pjorsa bursts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Essentially, we would try to hike and Kayak the length of Iceland.”

Along the journey

“What ensued was an all-enveloping roller coaster ride of an expedition, with the Icelandic wilderness in charge of the control panel. Wind and waterfalls gave way to dust-storms and snow. Knee-deep volcanic sand was replaced by freezing glacial rivers and bony tributaries turned into voracious white water.”

“The motion pictures can tell the story a lot better than I can, so keep an eye out for the launch of Tales To Tell Iceland. But while we wait to piece the videos together, here are some stills to get your feet itchy …..”

Made it!

Congratulations Charlie Turnbull, Oliver Chiswell and Sam Brumby, for reaching your goals and fulfilling another piece of the dream.

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