As I write this, I'm sitting my car, sheltering from the rain. This is as it should be. It would not do this trip justice to write about it from a sunny safe place of shelter. We got a lot of grey, wet and windy weather on this trip.
So, we drove out of Reykjavik under grey drizzling skies, an auspicious start. We actually picked up a bit of blue skies on the drive north, but by the time we'd arrived in Ísafjörður, it was raining again. We set up the tent and went to try and find some food.
Ísafjörður is small, and doesn't offer a lot in the way of dining options, but this still went superbly well. We found Tjöruhúsið which had been closed when I was last there, and we stuck our head in to have a look, check out a menu. They couldn't give us a menu, but it turned out we didn't need one. We just picked our fish, lemon sole, and sat down to wait.
We were sitting at a giant, rough hewn wood table in a long wooden house, with raw wood walls, and a very very cosy feel. Shortly, dinner arrived. A great big frying pan, filled with four fillets of fish, some potatoes and some fried veges, all lazing around in a buttery sauce.
This was delicious from first to last bite. Quality dining. The sort of classic fish restaraunt that somehow doesn't exist in Reykjavík.
But that was the night. The next morning we jumped on a ferry, and headed off into the "wilderness". We had a private ferry, not by design, but just due to lack of demand at the tail end of the season, with a shitty weather forecast. Fine with us. We saw some dolphins on the trip out, and just enjoyed the view as we sailed around the top of Iceland.
Arriving in Hornvík, we were greeted by a man with a load of garbage, who proceeded to give us helpful directions on the easiest way around to Horn itself, and onwards. Turns out Hornstrandir isn't such a wilderness. There were marquees set up, and people hanging out in some of the houses left standing up here. No matter, we walked off down the beach, under grey, but still and dry skies.
Shells everywhere, and feathers. Things I hadn't seen on other beaches. It might not be a wilderness, but it was still pretty wild and different. We were on the arctic here, looking straight out into the cold nothing.
We quickly got to our first river crossing, which would eventually turn out to be the deepest by far, though not even close to the widest. This was a good warmup though :)
Walking around the bay, we found a solitary seal lounging on a rock, a whale spine, and some cool rock outcrops, with wonderfully textured surfaces. From there, we headed up to Horn itself, and our introduction to the sea of wildflowers that adorn the cliffedges. Also interesting to see some insects in swarms, just sitting all on the same plant. Angelica was very popular with them too, with an angelica flower sometimes having 50 odd bugs all sitting there, hanging out.
Walking up and over Miðfell, we were quite glad not to have our packs with us, as this was rather steep and muddy. Lunch back at the packs, then up and over again, this time crossing Almenningaskarð, which gave us a big long view south. We were walking south for the next few days, before cutting west for the last day to meet our boat on the inside coast. We weren't sure at the time just how far we would be going, but we later put all the fjörds together.
A muddy stroll downhill again brought us to Hornbjargsvíti, the lighthouse at Látravík. This is an automatic lighthouse, so it was empty for a while, but a few years ago, a family reopened the house as a guesthouse. This is apparently quite popular. There was a large group arriving in dribs and drabs just after us. All with daypacks and walking poles. We would later find out that you can do some quite long multi day walks here just hopping from hut to hut.
We were very happy with the facilities. There was a note saying that it was 700kr per night, but we spoke to the caretaker twice and he never mentioned it, just pointing us to the toilets (flush) the shed we could use to dine and sit in, and where we might like to camp. Having a shed to cook and eat and sit in was _reallly_ nice. Just somewhere out of the drizzle, and not cramped in a small hiking tent :)
Another wonderful surprise was the number arctice foxes casually hanging out here. I could see four at once at one stage, and I think there was actually five or six. Quite a few were pups, and they were really really cute. Wrestling and jumping around. Very cool creatures.
Which about brings day one to a close. Stay tuned for what day two would bring!