I sent a damaged tent pole away to scotland to be repaired/replaced. It was meant to take 3 days or so. They posted it after 3 days. Icelandic Post and Customs sat on it for two weeks, and then wanted 1000kr in customs duties. (About 30% on top of the repair cost) Bastards. It's a hindrance to free trade and economic development I tell you.
This missing tent pole however had been wreaking havoc in my plans. I expected it back. A long weekend was coming up. Verslunamannahelgi, a traditional camping/drinking weekend for icelanders. And the last long weekend of summer. I wanted to get out of town. I didn't really want to buy a cheap tent just for the weekend, especially given the deteriorating weather forecast.
I'd almost given up on the idea. I was going to maybe do some of the longer day walks, do some geeky computer projects I'd been putting off. When finally my tent pole arrived. Hooray!
Drove up to Akureyri on Saturday, Nothing unusual. Grey, drab, misting rain. Got past Blönduos, and finally started getting somewhere I hadn't seen before. Except that it was also grey, drab and misting rain :) Eventually got up towards the Öxnadalur valley, which would have been beautiful, except that it was..... wet, grey, and shrouded in clouds :)
Pulled into Akureyri, and called Lee, one of my roommates who had gone up for the weekend to do a bit of work at the festival, and generally hang out with some friends. Met the posse, and proceeded to tell tall tales while away the evening hours, until the rain forced us into smaller alcoves of tent doorways. Fun was had by all.
Sunday, I woke up to steady pouring rain. Excellent. In a break in the rain I packed up and drove off east. The weather forecast said east was better. It only rained a little bit. I guess that's better :) It really is a nice area though, makes quite a change from driving across from Brú to Blönduos. Eventually made it out to the Mývatn area. Time for action.
Karl vs the wind. Karl vs the grey. I hiked up Vindbelgafjall, a low peak overlooking the north edge of the lake. Quite pleasant, but Mývatn itself (the lake) really wasn't the beautiful stunning locale I'd been lead to believe. Everyone I'd met in the prior few days when they heard I was going over to Mývatn had been full of, "Ohh, it's sooo beautiful over there" (They weren't going of course, they were generally going to sit in Akureyri in tents and drink)
It was nice. There was a few nice little craters around the place, all nicely greened over. I headed on, and actually even paid for camping in a developed site at Reykjahlið. Good facilities I must say. Hot showers, a cooking tent, a covered clothes drying area, and a nice location on good grass beside the lake.
Full of Germans. Lovely I'm sure. A few manic cyclists too. One charming? old gent from america, proclaiming the benefits of germanium 244? for the uptake of oxygen in your blood, and hence why ginseng and ginger and garlic are all so good, and that wild thyme is such a good antibiotic, and how important it was to carry some, in case you ran into bad water from taps in certain parts of germany, and that panniers are simply a bad idea, unless you have a steel framed bike, and you really ought to have a trailer, and that bike shops in amsterdam are closed on mondays. Too much health in that man I feel. (He was also the only cyclist I noticed who was travelling by himself)
I played well the part of the anything but a penniless hitchhiking backpacker quite well. I had a hamburger, hot chips and a coke from the grill across the street, and read my book while others had a dinner of boiled spuds and leek. I think I was in the wrong camp :)
That afternoon I'd driven out to Krafla, had a nice look at Viti, and even walked up to the top of Krafla itself. This again was kind of a, "Why is this so famous?" moment. The top of the mountain was a communications mast and shed, and lots of mud. Viti was nice, a lovely blue colour in the red rock, but it's much like most geothermal areas in iceland. Lots of people though.
Well, the next day finally brought the good weather that was forecast for this area. Sunny, partial cloud. Warm even. Delicious. Wish I'd brought shorts. Drove out to Gjrótagjá, a really deep fissure in earth, which has a hotspring in the bottom. A nice underground pool, but it's a little warm for swimming. Only just. Nice for a foot dip, but a touch too hot for anything prolonged. Walked up Hverfjall, which is hands down the biggest cinder cone I've ever walked up. Still, it's just like every other cinder cone all over iceland, only bigger, with more people traipsing around the rim. But it is damn big.
Dimmuborgir was nice. I was expecting more of a wasteland, dotted with crazy lava shapes, but it's actually almost a forest! Had a good walk, almost got a sunburn even. Kirkjan is fabulous. The arched doorway is fabulous. Lots of holes, caves and arches. Lots of people. Look but don't touch. Had a nice walk though. I shouldn't complain about the people, the routes I chose meant that I barely saw anyone once I was out on the track.
Finished up at 1pm. I'd sort of expected to take a bit longer, but the only things left that I wanted to do, I either didn't have the equipment or the time. And the only small things left I had no real desire to do. Lonely planet talks about spending 3 days at Mývatn, and many guests wishing they'd allowed more time. I don't know what they would be doing. It's a very nice area, sure, but mostly compared to what's nearby, which is the fairly usual, pretty, but not particularly enticing rolling icelandic farmland. About the only thing in the immediate vicinity I'd like to go back to would be the Lofthellir lava caves, (only because they have ice formations in the back)
So I headed back. A leisurely long weekend then. Don't leave til midday saturday, and head home midday monday. Picked up two nice swedish hitchikers, who were actually working in Borganes for the summer, and after stopping in Goðafoss, actually drove them all the way home, including a stop out at the hotsprings at Stórahraun, my favourite hotpot in iceland, and good recharge before the final drive home.
Fun, and I'm glad I got away, but Mývatn itself really wasn't as exciting as I'd expected. Akureyri needs more time, I want to visit their botannical gardens, and I want to go and do some walking near Dettifoss, but as for Mývatn, well, it's just a lake.