After the most sunny and lovely – and above all, fantastically chilly weathered – Reykjavík, we took a bus to the highlands. The bus travelled approximately 6 hours stopping briefly at the geysers and Gullfoss after which we abandoned fertile and green land and headed towards the Icelandic wilderness. Soon we discovered lone and forsaken ash and stone desert which continued till the horizon ahead. The bus drove through this desolation running the Kjölur track number 35 that goes up to the north and is the shorter one of the two main highland passages.
|Landing on Keflavík|
We chose to start our journey at Hveravellir in Kjölur and make our own route down to Skógar passing Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk on the way. I was thinking also Springisandur, which is the longer one of the two passages. When we left on our journey, Springisandur route wasn't open for cars yet. This was at the 1st of July.
The bus took us to Hveravellir, which is a camping site basically in the middle of nowhere. Placed on a lava field next to puffing hot springs, it is owned by Reykjavík Excursions and is therefore visited by many tourists. At the camping place, there is also a hot pool.
The weather was cloudy and soon to be rainy. We put up our tent, prepared our delicious evening meal out of rice and self dried chicken and vegetables and took a stroll around the place. After the hot tub and a hot chocolate in the reception we were ready to bed but just before that we had an opportunity to amaze the ice-cream van that had just appeared in the middle of the highlands.
Camping price: 1200 ISK each
Our first hiking day started in grey and cloudy weather. Fortunately average wind was coming from the north and was at our back. We decided to take the marked route through the crater Strýtur till the mountain Kjalfell instead of walking along the riding path further east. Soon we discovered that the warden's dog had joined us and followed us past Eyvindarhellir until the crater. We had quick lunch at the crater and managed to get up just before it started raining.
|We climbed the crater's high cliffs.|
From the crater we headed straight towards the east slope of Kjalfell using our compass for the first time. Though the visibility was good and getting better all the time, since the rain was passing us more to the west, it was wise to take compass bearing just in case.
The terrain was easy to walk changing from sandy slopes to fields filled with soft moss. When we reached Kjalfell, we could see our destination for the day: a hut beside the river Svartá. The rest 10 km would be gently sloping downhill. However, the hut disappeared almost immediately when we started walking towards it. We didn't follow any paths anymore and now we didn't even see our destination anymore so it was orienteering only with a map and a compass. We were quite sure somebody had stolen the hut...
Finally we arrived and found the warden inside. The warden offered us beds inside but we decided to stay in a tent. It rained rest of the night.
Walked distance: 18 km Camping price (with kitchen): 2100 ISK each
We woke up in sunshine. The sun and wind had dried our stuff so we could pack everything and head towards Kerlingarfjöll mountains. The weather was like in our dreams and we found one of the many lovely places on our journey. It was small river valley filled with green vegetation and flowers. Oasis in the middle of dry desert. We wondered little pink Silene acaulis flowers that grew in patches forming tight balls everywhere on the ground. Ilkka picked up some dragon glass against White walkers, but it seemed really that the only walkers were us.
We thought it would be the easiest way to cross the rivers by the road. So we headed towards the busy road F347. At Gigjafoss black flies attacked us. We walked along the sandy road and got frustrated of the sun, the sand, the cars and the flies. After too much climbing and walking on the road we arrived at Ásgardur.
It was only afternoon so we decided to have a walk on the mountains, even though the weather was supposed to change. We headed towards Reykjadalur but didn't make it before the gods of the weather decided to bring cold shower over the mountains. We saw it and got wet – again, and headed back to the camp.
Walked distance: 20 km Camping price: 1700 ISK each
To be continued...