Day 2. Fog. Lots of Fog. A shiver of fear runs through me. I remember the last time I was in ground level fog on a multi day hike (trying to reach Grænalón, south Iceland), and I feel decidedly dejected about the day's prospects. Breakfast, and another investigation of why my stove seems to leak, and where it could be leaking from. It turns out to be from the screw into the bottle, not the hose into the pump, as I'd previously suspected. This is sort of good news, as I can just tilt the bottle a bit, and not run with it full, and it seems to eliminate the leakage.
More good news, the monster group from FÍ tells us that the track south is a highway, and we just need to look at our feet, no need to worry about the fog.
Well, that's good news, sort of. For a "wilderness" Hornstrandir is anything but. Icelanders and their habit of hiking in enormous groups certainly cuts a clear track wherever they go. Arctic heath really doesn't stand up to a line of 30 people in hiking boots all following each others footsteps.
Still, we eat our breakfast, and watch the arctic fox puppies play together, and eventually head off south, into the fog. The FÍ guys were right, it's a marked highway. At least, until the next river. At this point, we apparently choose a different crossing, and don't pick up the path on the other side. Not a big deal, it's fairly obvious just strolling along above the sea, heading south, but I really felt a bit ripped off hiking over rough ground in fog. If it was a real wilderness, I'd be perfectly content, but knowing that there _was_ a monster trail somewhere nearby made it a little less than pleasant.
For anyone repeating our path, when you come down into Hrollaugsvík, the first river south of Hornbjargsvíti, cross closer to the sea, the track south goes over rocky ground up from the river, but picks up again quite close to the cliffs above the sea. (We went further inland)
Fortunately, although it was foggy, it wasn't tooo windy, and wasn't very wet. I did spend most of the week in my new rain paints, which were a fabulous investment, but it could have been worse :) We continued south, rejoining the track just before Drífandi, a big waterfall running straight off the edge of the seacliffs and onto the beach below.
Lunch was at Smiðjuvík, which my old guidebook shows in sunny weather, with some old ruins. We of course, saw neither. I wasn't even sure where the ruins had been. But, we found _new_ ruins! we crossed the creek right down at the seashore, and stopped on the other side to have lunch. Amongst the usual detritus of tangled netting and drift wood was the rusted remains of a shipping container! It must have been an amazing storm to watch, if you had a safe place to watch it from. It was well up into the gully of the creek. Would have been quite a ride!
From smiðjuvík it was one more minor hill to Barðsvík. Barðsvík looks great from above. A wide gentle valley, with a beautifully curved beach with the sea washing up on the shore. It's actually a wide wet swampy bog. Just as well we were still feeling saucy and full of energy :) Along this stretch of shore was the "unsure regions" where we had a day up our sleeves, we were hoping to get to Bolungarvík, so we would have the whole day to wait for tides if need be. Ahead of us was Göngumannaskarð, (Hikers pass) the big hill, and we didn't really want to have to deal with the big hill and the "Bolungarvík obstacle" on the same day.
So, across the river we went, though it's hard to say where the bog stopped and the river started, and up the other side we went. Which, by the way, was also boggy. Wolfgang was really not excited by this. If it has not been mentioned before, Wolfgang was actually on his first overnight backpacking trip. Not just first multi day, but first overnight at all. The man is a machine. He dealt with everything iceland could throw at him, and though his equipment came out a bit the worse for wear, his body stood up just fine.
Göngumannaskarð just goes up and up and up. Sea level to 400 over about 1.3km. Just one muddy footstep after another. Up at the top we hit the wind. And even some snow! Very well signposted though, I have to say. The signage improved to the point of obscene on the way down the other side. Someone had been very busy marking the trail.
We guess the operators of the guesthouse at Bolungarvík are responsible. That's right, guesthouse. Turns out our map even marks this as a "guesthouse" but I hadn't looked that closely. We walked up to what looked like a campground, with flush toilets and a picnic table by a big shed, and were just sitting there deciding what to do when a four wheeler drove over from the next house along the shore. They offered us camping for 800, or a night in the guesthouse for 2200. And they even took visa! Seeing as the guesthouse even included a shower, we went for the guesthouse.
Fabulous choice. We had the entire place to ourselves, hot showers, a stove, a beautiful old wooden kitchen table and even a radio. RÚV has never sounded so good. Our wilderness adventure was turning into quite a casual leisurely jaunt. (Except for the weather) It would later turn out that except for our final night, we could have done the entire trip in guesthouses the whole way. It seems this is actually the normal way that icelanders do it.
So, we sat, we ate, listened to the radio, and we read the guest book, and we slept a good long sleep. Tomorrow, the Bolungarvk obstacle!