torstai 5. syyskuuta 2013

Walking from Hveravellir to Skógar (part V)

Days 14-16

Day 14.

Since we were ahead of planned schedule and the day before had been long and hard, we decided to have a resting day in Þórsmörk. We used the day mending our equipments and ourselves. We climbed up Valahnúkur next to the hut and down to the other side and went into sauna in Husadalur. We also had the chance to be the first ones to taste the new pizza "Eyjafjallajökull" in Volcano house (and got the picture in facebook). The day was sunny and clear and when we returned to Langidalur, we saw the glaciers for the first time appearing from the clouds. We were even thinking about leaving for Fimmvörðuháls and hike through night, but in the end stayed in the hut. Before going to bed we climbed once more to the top of Valahnúkur to amaze the glaciers and to plan our upcoming route.

On top of Valahnúkur

On top of Valahnúkur

In Husadalur. Sauna on the background.

Hut price: 5500 ISK each

Day 15.

It was supposed to rain during the night and in the morning so we didn't set the alarm clock very early and didn't hurry in the morning. For the first time, however, the weather forecast let us down, but with a good way: when we woke up, the sun was shining and it was as bright as yesterday. That gave us enormous load of energy and we packed our stuff (everything again dry) eager to continue.

We crossed Krossá through bridges near Básar and found the right trail up the mountain. Soon we had to stop and change clothes for the weather was so hot. It was an easy climb, a lot easier than we had expected. I guess we had had some training along the way! We reached the plateau and had lunch with a beautiful sight. After that we changed for rainproof shell jackets and pants for we were about to step in a cloud.

The only hard thing in climbing up Fimmvörðuháls was proper clothing since the weather changed many times and when we tried to act beforehand by adjusting our clothing, it changed again. We passed the point, where lava had fallen down from a cliff like a burning red waterfall and walked past Magni and Móði, the craters formed in the eruption in 2010. The craters are named after the sons of Þór and the surface of the rocks is still so hot that no snow will stay on the craters but melts immediately. Those two black craters were therefore the only snowfree things on the mountain. Their steep slopes rose just beside the marked hiking trail and we couldn't resist the urge to climb on them, take off our cloves and feel the heat coming from the ground.

The trail didn't always feel safe...

Ilkka on Magni or Móði

We were in high spirits but then we landed on snow again and walking became slow again. And the snow was soft and wet and slippery. We shambled half a kilometer off the trail to the hut near the glacier. The fog was so thick that we could see the hut only when we were ten metres from it. It was packed with travellers, but the warden said she could arrange some room for us, if we would like to stay. We weren't in a very social mood and we were eager to see the southern side of the mountain, so we thanked and decided to continue despite the wetness.

The hut is located at the turning point of the mountain trail and now it continued downhill for the first time. Walking downhill in the snow was as hard as walking uphill. We passed the emergency hut - or two of them. The older one looked more like a shack and not very tempting. My mittens were completely wet and it felt like I was wearing wetsuit cloves. Compared to them, I was quite dry otherwise. Since we were feeling like drowned rats, we didn't want to stop. Continuing on the road we arrived at river Skógá. Even in the rain the fierce river was beautiful and we were delighted to see that there was a bridge going over it. One problem though. The riverbank on our side was higher than on the other, so we could just walk on the bridge, but we needed to climb down somehow on the other side. When we reached the other end of the bridge, we noticed there were no stairs or ladders. So we had to take our backpacks off and climb down one by one.

I had expected that the cloud would end soon since the edge of the cloud on the other side had been at 1000 metres altitude. It, however, didn't happen and we continued in the rain. Those many gorgeous waterfalls appealed us less and less. Soon after the river crossing we started to look for a place to camp the night. We found one and retired in the tent. Our sleeping bags had survived the moisture. That was essential. If they hadn't, we should have continued to Skógar. We ate chocolate and candy in the tent and listened the hum of the waterfall next to us. We decided to wait for the morning and check the weather then.

Walked distance: 26 km                                                                      Visiting the hut: 400 ISK each

Day 16.

In the morning we were still in the cloud. We had a big decision to make: whether to put on dry and clean clothes or to wear the wet ones. We got a grip of ourselves and wore the same as yesterday. It wasn't easy, but for emergencies one should always have an extra clothing that is dry. Besides we needed something to put on when arriving on Skógar.

The last 5 km's felt like they would never end. So did the cloud. After some walking people started to emerge from the fog. We met many hikers that were coming from Skógar. According to them, it was raining in there. That didn't particularly enhance our mood.

When we got nearer the town, the amount of hikers grew. The cloud didn't leave us before Skógafoss. Finally the river turned and stormed down from the cliff and we saw the sea. Just stairs down and we were there, at our journeys end!

Walked distance: 7 km                                                         Camping price at Skógar: 1100 ISK each

The journey through half Iceland was wet and memorable. It taught that no matter how well equipped or professional you are, the nature is always greater. Two weeks more or less without the sun affects the mood. I had hard time to recover from the hike - something I really hadn't expected - before I saw the sun again. Altogether we walked 270 km in 14 days. We didn't have to change the planned route, but we spent only 50 % of the nights in planned camps. We had no injuries and all our equipment survived more or less without further damage. I want to thank my friends in Iceland for making this journey possible.

Here's the video documentary of our trip, Highland hikers:

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