angezeigt 20800 Mal, heruntergeladen 578 Mal
bei Skógar, Suðurland (Lýðveldið Ísland)
Do not start this trek without first visiting the hot springs at the park/trailhead. They're certain to be crowded, and many of the bathers chose to bathe au naturel, but don't let that stop you. They're some of the best raw/natural hot springs in Iceland. When you're in them, try pressing your fingers into the gravel and digging them down about an inch or so. You won't believe how hot the earth beneath the water really is.
As for the trail - this section is supposed to be one of the most picturesque views on the entire trail. Unfortunately, we were socked in the whole 1st day. Visibility was as little as 20 meters at times. Glad I brought the heavy, delicate, expensive camera..... sigh. Oh well. The fumaroles and steam vents were still pretty interesting, though. "Hrafntinnussker" is Icelandic for Obsidian Mountain - or so I'm told. And it's accurate. There is black volcanic glass laying about in fields on last 5th or so of the section. So much, in fact, they have 3 meter high cairns of the stuff. Some of it is sharp - mind your step.
We were weatherbeaten at the end, but the hut was full. We had to pitch camp in an obsidian field and suffer a windy, rainy night. Being well equipped for a hike, but not a swim - after all, this is August, and we're Californians!! - we had to decide on pressing on or turning back. Morning and the weather would tell.
Day 2 = Hrafntinussker to Alftavatn Hut. Weather was just as gloomy, but a lot less rainy so we dried out and continued on the trail. Most hikers do this trek from North to South to take advantage of the net elevation loss. It also puts the biggest climbs on the first day when you are freshest. On the descent we got to see some of the greenest hillsides I've ever seen, but we didn't see them until we dropped below the cloudline. The Alftavatn lake camp was dry when we arrived, but it rained sideways in the howling wind the entire night and flooded our campsite. The tent site is past the hut down by a creek. If you suspect any rain, try to place your tent as far upslope from the creek as possible or you will swim in your tent.
If I've learned anything about Iceland it is that the weather is fickle. Absolutely unpredictable.
Day 3 = Alftavatn to Emstrur (Botnar) Hut. Hiked for first part of day in blowing rain and fog. You can see our track on the map how we lost the trail out of camp and had to re-acquire it. It was about 12 meters visibility during the worst of it. We continued on this way, in passive acceptance that we would spend the rest of the day soaked. Rain gear does nothing to prevent rain blowing in from the side and even below.
But then...... the SUN! Out of nowhere. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, and we rolled up the rain gear. The second half of the day was gorgeous on the descent into Botnar. Grey sands juxtaposed by bright green hillsides and craggy stacks. Amazing. The rain had swelled the river crossings. We had to ford them arm in arm and, instead of being shin-deep, they were waist deep.
Dried out our bodies and our gear in the sun and wind with a huge group of hikers on some well constructed boardwalks and cabins at Botnar before pitching camp just down hill from the huts in an angelica grove.
Day 4 = Emstrur to Thorsmork. Nicest hike of the 4 sections we did. Made us want to press on and climb between the glaciers from Thorsmork to Skogar but we were spent - still too damp and out of packable food.
This leg of the trek crossed churning rivers on single track bridges, had rope-assisted descents, had some of the best views and the most rewarding end-point. The volcano huts at Thorsmork had an all you can eat buffet and, of course, hot tubs. We closed down the lodge that night hamming it up in some cozy chairs sipping beer and hot chocolate with two Danes, an Irishman, and a Spaniard. The next day you can pick up a bus out of the park right in front of the hut. Excellent service. Damn good trip despite the hell that was the first 2 days.