I woke up, pooped in the pines* and then had coffee as I sat against a tree. There was a bird watching me the whole time. One of the whirlly birds. When Miriam awoke we had breakfast and decided not to stay a second night in Thórsmörk. Instead we mapped out a hike to the Volcano Huts area, packed up and hit the trail.
We walked a different way than the day before. We saw a cave and met a group of teens who would be working the summer maintaining the trails. Mirry and I came upon another cave where soldiers had hidden out during WWII. They carved their names in the stone. The day was sunny and 8°C warm. It was pleasant.
We arrived back at the Volcano Huts and timed it out to meet the bus driver. He was on his way into the valley. We decided to catch a ride with him to the canyon he had pointed out the previous day. He’d pick us up in the afternoon on his way out. This way we’d be able to leave our heavy packs on the bus and just take day bags on our hike into Stakkholtsgjá. He pulled the bus over and let us out.
I felt privileged to have had this amazing opportunity to hike this canyon. When we entered the mouth of it a group was coming out. I thought it good that we might have the place to ourselves. We hiked over rocks and sand, and through the water. The only discernible trail indicated by footprints. I looked up at the high steep sides and could imagine Lord of the Rings characters peering down at us. Sometimes we had to walk over snow. Sometimes through the river. Our goal in this canyon was to reach a hidden waterfall.
We hiked on and came to a fork in the canyon. I chose the right fork based on feeling. After a short distance, I suspected I was wrong and we should have gone with Miriam’s guess which was the left fork. We backtracked and forded the river and headed in a new direction. After an hour or so we reached the fall. It was not as spectacular as the canyon but we reached our destination and retraced our steps to wait for the bus. The sun was hidden behind the cliffs above us and it got chilly quick. We ate trail
mix while we waited.
I had given the bus driver a copy of my Roadside Revival cd and as he opened the door to let us on, I heard my voice blasting from the speakers. I was quite embarrassed. He said something in Polish to one of the passengers. She told me that he was so proud to have met me and have my cd. I hid my embarrassment for that sweet fact although I was dying inside. Around 5:00 p.m. we arrived back to our car. Our Thórsmörk adventure had come to an end.
We had brought all our food for the entire trip with us from home. Things are expensive in Iceland and we tried to reduce costs. Our daily dining consisted of oatmeal for breakfast, trail mix and Clif bars for lunch and what ever else we happened upon. We had a variety of dehydrated meals like Chili, pasta, and a potato dish with meat for dinners. We had been living outside for days now and with two days of hiking, we were ready to treat ourselves.
Just past Skogar, where we had stayed two nights earlier, was a restaurant we had read about. The Cowshed. A nice place built inside and old cow shed on a working farm. It was nicely rebuilt and it would be our first restaurant experience in Iceland. We met the owner. She told us that her grandparents had started the farm.
They also stuck it out during the 2010 eruption of the volcano which had kept us company the night before. We had “volcano soup” (free refills and all-you-can-eat bread), steak sandwiches, and ice cream from the local dairy. It felt good having a hot meal and being indoors. Such a treat!
After dinner we moved onto the coastal town of Vík (pronounced “veek”). Vík has a beautiful and mysterious black sand beach. The weather was cloudy and it was getting late. It looked like we had stepped into a black and white photograph. The campground wouldn’t officially open for a few days but the owner said we could stay for free. After I put up the tent, we drove to the beach and looked at the sand and the cliffs and the water and the giants. Yes, the giants. The legend is that three giants were out on the water fishing. They lost track of time. While they were dragging their boats ashore, these hapless night dwellers got caught in the sun and turned to stone.
Climbing on giant basalt stones from the Reynishverfisvegur side, we watched the sunset. The sky turned blood red and orange in the distance. We walked the beach and checked out the basalt rocks and a giant cave. Some crazy kids drunk on booze and adventure ran into the waves.
We returned to camp and as the wind grew fierce, we went to sleep.
*(You can count on the fact that there are no proper toilets while “Wild camping” Although not often talked about, there is a wealth of info out there about managing human waste and responsible camping. I know it’s not a pretty subject, but to me, it is horrible and maddening when people leave their garbage behind and this includes used toilet paper. Bury it or take it with you! You wouldn’t believe the amount of toilet paper I have found littering the grounds of pristine wilderness. C’mon people, this stuff does not just disintegrate with the wind and rain! It sits around for years and especially in an environment like Iceland’s, it’ll be there for a long, long time. Respect nature, dammit!)
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