So, you are going to get a couple of posts a bit close together because I have found a little bit of a break in my schedule and am catching up on a few loose ends. From now on, I will probably start each post with a little bit of what is going on at the moment, but there are still a few things that happened *before* which I want to share with you guys, so there will still be a little bit of jumping around. Last time I was talking about hiking…
After a very well deserved and peaceful night sleeping, day three of hiking Laugavegur brought a surprise. Blue sky. 🙂 There was summer here after all. And after the difficulties of the day before it was a very nice thing to start out the walk with a bit more colour in the landscape.It was a really pretty day of walking today. The trail wound through green hills and followed creeks and rivers for the most part. And although there were some river crossings, most of them weren’t glacial, so I just got wet feet – not frozen ones. At some rivers they even gave us a bridge. The walking was mostly flat and not particularly challenging, so it was nice to just amble along and spend a bit of time lazing around in the sunshine – there is definitely something to be said for the long summer days – especially when it is not pouring with rain!
The nice weather made people a bit more talkative today too (including myself) so it was also nice to chat with a few people as I walked along the trail. And that evening I was greeted with one of the most beautifully set campsites I have ever had the pleasure to stay in.
Day four from now on will be known as Gorge Day. And I am not talking of the eating kind. 😉 I started out the day strolling to the local gorge, Markarfljótsgljúfur, and just in case you were wondering I cannot pronounce it. But whatever its name is, it was definitely a beautiful place. And it was here that I got my first (distant) views of the glaciers I was going to be walking through.
After leaving Markarfljótsglúfur it was onto the next gorge, the equally difficult to pronounce Syðri-Emstruárgljúfur. The scenery here reminded me a little of the desert areas in Arizona near the Grand Canyon, and I was soon to learn (from some friendly Icelanders) that the Icelandic highlands *are* actually the biggest desert area in Europe. This is due to a combination of altitude, harsh temperatures and the volcanic environment. Speaking of volcanic environments, today was the first day where i started to get close to some really volcanically active areas – near to both Eyafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010, and Katla, which is one of Iceland’s most active and dangerous volcanos, and who is “statistically due” to erupt. (apparently overdue) So every now and then signs were placed along the trail about “What to do if the volcano erupts”. Well, my first thought would be “Crap my pants”, but apparently the Icelanders are rather stoic about the whole volcano/eruption thing, which is probably a result of living in one of the more volcanically active places in the world.
But despite the spectacular scenery of Gorge day, I think my absolute highlight was lying on the side of a hill eating wild blueberries with a couple of young Icelandic men, who were out hiking Laugavegur for the first time. Nothing like getting your hiking snacks fresh from nature. 😀 We had already spoken a couple of times along the trail, and I spent the rest of the day walking with them, getting a bit of an insight into Icelandic history and culture. One of these things is dried fish, and the Icelanders do this *really* well. I know it sounds a little weird, but try it. Yum. The lads were eating it with butter – and by this I mean spread on the fish as if it was a piece of bread.
Our lunch stop, complete with dried fish, was at the third gorge of the day – the pretty little Ljósárgljúfur. Then it was on to cross the widest (and coldest) glacial river of the trek so far – the Þröngá. (strangely enough this translates as “Narrow River” and it most definitely is not) Finally, we had a very pleasant stroll through an Icelandic forest (see Grandpa, they do have trees!) to reach our campsite.
N.B. – Joke I learned from one of the Icelandic lads – What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest? Stand up!
The place I was camping in that night was called Þorsmörk, which translates as Thor’s forest (the letter Þ has a ‘th’ sound) and if I was a god I would not be ashamed to have this place named after me. For two nights in a row I had the great fortune to camp in some spectacularly beautiful places. So, to finish the tale of “Hiking Laugavegur” I will leave you with a view of the sun setting behind the glaciers over my campsite. 😀