perjantai 23. elokuuta 2013

Walking from Hveravellir to Skógar (part II)

Days 4-6

Day 4.
I woke up at six o'clock, but it was still raining outside so I went back to sleep. There was still some dripping at eight, but we got up anyway and managed to leave the camping place at ten. We intended to take a shortcut since we wanted to have a bath in the hot pool nearby the camping area. The pool was quite a disappointment: cold and dirty and disregarded, and Ilkka refused to wet his swimsuit at all. Furthermore it appeared to us that it was impossible to follow the river until Reykjadalur. So we climbed back on the marked path.
Black flies were there always when the wind calmed down. This time we reached Reykjadalur which is a sandy river valley between the mountains filled with hot springs and boiling mud pools. The sand slopes are coloured with different shades of brown, red and yellow and white steam is rising from hot spots. There we had lunch and got acquainted with new people.

From Reykjadalur we were supposed to continue an easy path running between the mountains. The path was marked on a map, but we couldn't find it in the valley. For a while we were confused and a bit lost, but then decided to follow the marked path as long as it would take us to the right direction. We also gave up and put on the GPS device for the first time. We climbed up the hill something that felt forever and from the top we could see both, the Kjölur area: the Langjökull glacier in the west, the Hofsjökull glacier in the east and the stormy clouds covering the mountains in the north, and the – not too dry either – part of Iceland south of Kerlingarfjöll.

We followed the track until it disappeared behind the mountains. We saw now where we were and took a shortcut straight towards the Klakkur hut. It was easy downhill walking and we had some fun with downhill sliding on a snow using our backpacks as sledges. However, before long we ran into a miserable scenery: there were two rivers meeting at the root of the hill, both at the bottom of a deep carved canyon. There were no point to get down and no point to cross the river.
We stopped and thought, as so many times before. The cliffs were steep and slippery and our backpacks too heavy for extreme rock climbing. The feelings started to be a little bit desperate since both of us were very tired. Finally, after some searching, Ilkka found not so steep passing which was partly covered with snow, small river running underneath. We were ready to try that and managed to get down to the river not so far away from the joining point of the two rivers.
We crossed both rivers and climbed back up on the other side. It was already almost ten o'clock in the evening and we had walked already quite a distance, so when the first decent, dry and soft looking place to put up a tent came across, we decided to stay and camp there the night.
Walked distance: 17 km

Day 5.

On the fifth day we had nothing but bad luck. It rained through the morning and till lunch time. By that time we had walked through windy and sandy plains and were completely wet. On lunch break near Litli-Leppir we decided to search for refuge in a nearby hut in Leppistungur. My back was sore and the way to the hut was difficult and trying: mud, Icelandic quicksand, deep ditches and bumpy terrain. It felt like forever to reach the cabin.

We found the cabin closed. It was late afternoon, the wind was getting stronger and there was no end for the rain. We sat down in miserable feelings. There were phone number on the door and since we had very little options, we decided to call the owner.

The owner charged us 5 000 ISK each to sleep in the cabin ("Is there a massage included?" I remember muttering). Fortunately I had that amount in cash and we got in. The place was cold and gloomy, but we were happy to find out that there was a fireplace that could be heated with wood and there were also logs for it!

We hung out our stuff to dry and started to plan our next move. Leppistungur located further in the west, almost 10 km's from our original camping place and, because of the sudden change in the plan, we were running late in the schedule. The next shelter would be at Sultarfit, over 30 km's from Leppistungur. Nevertheless, we decided to try.
Walked distance: 13 km                                                                                Hut price: 5000 ISK each

Day 6.

We woke up at four a.m. and had good breakfast before leaving. I had woken up several times during the night and seen the sky in many manic colours. At three o'clock the sun was in the northern horizon colouring the sky with purple. Now it was as grey as the day before and as wet, but the wind had somewhat calmed down.

We started toddling towards our next destination. The day was so long, wet and horrible that I didn't even use my camera, although there were some beautiful moments, e.g. when the sun had a quick look on us between the clouds and for a second the whole wet world was full of shimmering stones and brightness.

We walked first uphill to the east, back to the planned track, then to the south and past Grænavatn. The track followed the river Stóra-Laxá which apparently (according to its name) had at some point been big and had salmon. The wind grew towards the evening and was coming this time from the south. We pushed forwards one after the other through sand and rocky plain, cursing the wind and the rain. The wind was exhausting, so strong that it was difficult to breathe or walk any faster. Though good thing was that we stayed quite dry because of the wind.

After 12 hours, over 30 km's we reached the hut in Sultarfit. Before the hut we had to take our shoes off for two river crossings and between those we got completely covered with a rain cloud that wet us thoroughly. So we were wet once more, weary, sore and so miserable that even the fact, that the cabin was again closed and empty, couldn't make any difference. There were phone numbers but for the first time there were no signal.

There was empty stable on the yard and we retired in that. We decided to put up a tent inside. The floor was dirty, but we were so tired that we didn't really care. At least the tent would stay dry.
Walked distance: over 30 km
To be continued...

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