Continued from Day 2
After our refreshing night in the cabin at Hvanngil, we had the shortest, and arguably the least interesting, section of the trip. The walk across the sands to Emstrur. By coming all the way to Hvanngil the day before we'd cut about 4 km off the day's trip, leaving only about 10k for the day. A leisurely stroll if ever there was one, and today we only had day packs, with the jeep taking all our junk ahead to Emstrur for us.
Still, a short day and light packs just means you can have more side trips right? Under high grey clouds, with quite a bit of wind, we set out at a nice leisurely hour, very quickly meeting our first obstacle of the day, Blákvísl, a rather chilly little stream. I had memories of this being quite soft underfoot, so I recommended to just take off the boots and go, rather than get into special shoes. I was actually rather mistaken, and also happenned to be carrying someone in particular's wading shoes in my bag, much to the disgust of a certain person :) Of course, we made it across, but Anna Svava, timing it perfectly, scored herself a lift on a 4x4 from gallant knights who just happened to be passing by.
I took a short detour here, finding a nice waterfall with the blue water from Blákvísl meeting the glacial water of ? in a nice little gorge, but most of the time to lunch was just traipsing across the sands, trying to keep the wind out.
After lunch it fined up a little, and nearing out destination, I talked Einar into having a go at getting up Hattafell with me. This is a rather groovy looking hill, an island of green rising up from the depths of the sand. I'd remembered walking past it and admiring it back in 2005, but back then I was quite sunburnt and hot, and not super interested in it. Today, I really felt like a bit of a leg stretch.
So up we went. It's nice and steep, and got steeper and steeper, until we eventually gave up, a little over half way up. I've since read that it is easier to get up from the opposite side of the mountain, but we weren't really to know that. We got a great view though, and at least we made it up to the cool arch we had been able to see from the track.
Returning to flat ground, Einar and I managed to actually catch the last of our group, so we weren't even the last ones into camp :)
Camp was a nice afternoon, a fairly busy campsite, now that the weather was fining up there were more people on the track, and a nice jovial atmosphere. We were all well into the groove now, and with only one day on the track left, it was starting to look easy! We took a nice walk out to Markárgljúfur, the great big gorge that leads down to Þórsmörk, and got a bit of a tour of some icelandic herbs, very little of which I remember today unfortunately. People had a lot more spare energy today, not having had to deal with the wet and the weather and fresh legs on day 1.
Did I mention there were some cool clouds?
Later that night, I finally filled the first flash card on the camera, and switched in a new one. Apparently, the new one had gotten a bit wet. The whole camera had been quite wet the day before, but nothing it hadn't been through before. It seems this time though, I had a flash card with water in the pin holes? Anyway, it started giving me some odd errors and lights and then wouldn't turn on again. I took it back out, but by then the damage must have been done. I always sort of thought that when I got home, after a nice week of good solid drying it would be fine again, but no cigar.
It lived a good life though. The end of an era, it stood up to a hell of a lot of abuse over the years, swimming in beer and rain, being dropped on concrete, blown onto lava, left behind in the cold, dragged through the dust and mud, everything you could imagine.
Still, day 4 awaited, and day 4 must at least be described in brief. In probably the best weather of the trip we left Emstrur in a string of smaller groups. And missing a man. Gunni had hurt his ankle, and really wasn't in any shape to be walking to Þórsmörk. He would have made it if he had to of course, but given that we had a jeep coming and picking up our stuff and taking it there for us, he got a ride and went ahead to wait for us. But it wasn't a free ride. He had a shopping list! Quite a few people were running dangerously low on various drugs, nicotine and alcohol mostly, after the "harrowing" days and nights that had gone before.
After all the talk in the books about how "dangerous" Þröngá can be, it was quite dissappointing to find that, like in 2005, it was completely boring, just wide. Wide with lots of sand bars though, so it's not even really wide. I've never actually heard of anyone hurting themselves here, but the creek leading down to Álftavatn, I've heard of multiple broken bones, and seen more than one wet drowned rat dragging themselves back out of it. I personally find it a more awkward crossing too.
Þröngá isn't completely without it's charms of course. Today we were treated to the cheerful company of a mostly naked frenchman.
And then, you're in the FOREST! And after the forest comes big signs, and big tracks. And then comes Gunni, waiting at the end of the concreted track leading down to the cabin at Skagafjörður, holding up a big bag of ice cold beers he'd put in the creek for us. Joy!
And lush rolling green meadows to camp in. And some great dinner, and all the happy cameraderie of a trip well done.
Day 5 also needs telling. Day 4 ended excellently. We all arrived whole and healthy and happy, and on Day 5 we were just going to meet our bus, and get back to work. Some of us (more than a few) were planning on working that afternoon.
Except our van didn't show up. And there's very little mobile phone coverage at Þórsmörk. With much hiking and yelling and swearing, we eventually got picked up by the normal reykjavik excursions bus, with our driver a passenger on that bus.That took us back out down the valley to where _our_ bus was waiting. An oversided minivan, completely inadequate for getting into Þórsmörk, and not big enough for us anyway. With very few options, (none) we crammed ourselves in anyway, and got underway.
Slowly. The van had to stop at Seljalandsfoss to take on water, then again in Hella, and in Selfoss it had to be push started to get going again. We still had the hill over Hellisheiði to go though, and with our driver yelling and swearing at the owner to get another bus out here to pick us up, it predictably died completely part way up the hill.
Of course, the owner had no intention of sending any other bus for us. At least, certainly not with any promptness. Most of us got lifts with friends who came out from town to pick us up.
Kata's sister Begga laughed when she heard. Apparently this bus company is _notorious_ for abominable service and busses that barely work. I would have thought that given the small community here they simply wouldn't get any business, but somehow they seem to still exist. Anway, DO NOT EVER GET IN A BUS OWNED OR OPERATED BY Móbílar