A warm bed leads to a long morning. Also, we were in no rush. The lady running the guesthouse at Bolungarvík told us that low tide wasn't until 2pm or so, and we only had about 40 minutes walk to get to the obstacle, so we were in no rush to get out of bed.
Still, you can't stay in bed forever, so after a leisurely breakfast, admiring the patterns in the kitchen table, we headed off. We didn't get very far before we were distracted by a washed up soccer ball. We still had plenty of time to kill, so before you knew it, we had erected driftwood goal posts, and were having our own little penalty shoot out. Rocky foreshore doesn't really make for a great field however :)
As mentioned earlier, the track is pretty much a highway the entire way. Along parts of the shore here, you could even make out where a track had been formed amongst the rocks of the beach, leaving a flat terrace. Big groups. There's a reason they're banned in most wilderness areas.
The rocks along here were very interesting. Most of the trip to here had been grassy, or mossy rocks, but here we were walking along raw exposed rock and as usual, icelandic geology did not disappoint. Very common along this stretch was spotty rocks. Or as we later determined, wormy rocks. These were rocks with tubes of a crystal shot through them. Normally white crystal, but sometimes orange. Very neat. Very similar in appearance to the common seashore rocks around reykjavik, with lots of holes in them, these rocks just seemed to have all the holes filled with a crystal deposit. There was also plenty of dark green rocks, similar to the rocks around Skaftafell, but darker green. Lots of contrast and colour for just a rocky beach. (And of course, the usual scattering of simply different rocks. For an almost purely volcanic island, it has an awful lot of layers, each spewing forth different types and colours of igneous rocks)
So we walked and walked, even though our map said much of this coast was "passable at low tide only." We really thought that perhaps we didn't really need to be at the real bottom of low tide. But sure enough, we soon came to the "obstacle" It wasn't nearly as much as I'd expected, and we could have waded it right then, but knowing that we were still before low tide, and not being in any rush, we decided to just sit and chill for a while. (Also, although we _could_ have waded it, it would have been pretty wet and rocky, no need to be stupid.) So we sat in a little alcove, stacked rocks, and ate dried fruit. I decided on this trip that dried dates are really delicious. I later found that "fresh" dates are actually horrible, at least to me, but dried, they're really quite tasty. I don't know how I'd missed these before. While we're on side notes, wolfgang, who had made his first rock stack at Þórsmörk only two weeks earlier, was well on his way to journeyman status. Ever the artist, he combined driftwood and stones to even get faces into his stacks. I simply stack them. :)
Still, all good things come to an end, or at least the low of a cycle, and the tide reached it's low point. We hopped into the water, and continued around south, expecting a bit of a dash to get all the way through. Seems the "obstacle" is only about 100m or so.
Just past here we burst into the sun, as we headed down into the sunny meadows of Furufjörður. We saw another arctic fox here, just off the path. They are damn cute animals. Svelte comes to mind. Certainly not a dog or a wolf or a dingo. Calm, assured, and completely in control. Knowing damn well that it is the _only_ predator. Furufjörður seemed quite recently renovated, but surprisingly nto a guesthouse, though one building there sure looked like one. Perhaps just a private party house.
Another river crossing or two, these valley floors pretty reliably have wide cold rivers in them, and we stopped for a late lunch before the ascent up to Svartaskarð (Black pass) It was almost 4pm by now, but we weren't exactly going to be running out of daylight, and we hadn't exactly started early either.
The hike up Svartaskarð was almost weak in comparison to Göngumannaskarð. For starters we were now hardened warriors. Wolfgang had rearranged his pack every morning, and was now in touch and in tune, and I seemed to have finally gotten past being such a complete office worker soft body. Not exactly my old hard body self, but better than I'd been in a while. Great view too. Patches of sun chasing each other around the valley floor, and the bay and it's waves below.
The top of the pass even gave us snow, and giant monster cairns. They seem quite out of place today, with the monster foot pad worn into the earth, but I'm sure in days gone by, when men were still men, and Iceland was still far away, before icelanders started driving porsche SUVs and buying up britain, that the cairns were probably more useful. I may talk of myself being soft or hard, or in between, but really, I am nothing but a puny modern weakling compared to those before me. Everywhere in the world I go I see the signs of those who came before, and I feel weak, but this feeling is particularly strong in Iceland. This is a country that breeds hardness. And what is so interesting, is that the hardness is still here. Other parts of the world stopped breeding hardness a couple of hundred years ago, but modern iceland is really only 60 years old or so. Anyway, that's a different, longer story. And not one that I could even try and cover here anyway :)
The top of Svartaskarð, had even more snow than Göngumannaskarð, and cresting the top we were immediately hit by a cold wind. Drangjökull was to blame. The northernmost glacier in iceland, and probably the most neglected and forgotten, Drangjökull is the fourth biggest glacier in iceland but tops out at only 850m above sea level. All the others are 1300m asl or higher.
Still, like the others, it's receding. We walked down under it's cool gaze, into Þaralátursós. This was a beautiful looking valley floor, but unlike all the other valleys we'd walked through, this was fullllly wet. Not just boggy grass, but cold cold water. And wide. We were in and out of creeks and streams for almost the entire width of the valley floor. Still, quite pretty. It was absolutely covered in swathes of small purple flowers, and was quite desolate. We were crossing further inland than most other bays we'd been crossing, so there was no characteristic beach or ruins. It made quite a pleasant (if cold) change.
Almost home and hosed from here, we just had the low hill of Þaralátursnes to cross, and we would be in Reykjafjörður, our destination for the evening.
Except that it seemed to take longer than it should. The gps seemed to agree with the map, and with logic and the time, that it was only 4km, but it just seemed to take longer. I blame the fact that it was just a continuously curving low hill. Who knows, but it took longer than I thought it should.
Blah blah blah. We got there :) It wasn't exactly taxing walking, it was just that we could see the destination for so long. Reykjafjörður was much bigger than either of us were expecting. We knew from the map that it had an airstrip and a pool, but we really weren't expecting quite so many houses. Mostly summer cabins, available for rent, but also some residents, summer residents at least.
The walking track ends at a fairly large lodge, whose residents just sort of pointed us further along towards a grassy area, seemingly the campsite. It later turned out they were from Ferðafélag Akureyri, all 37 of them. They'd walked from Hornbjargsvíti, but they'd done it all as day walks, and had eskys and cases and all sorts of toys with them. We were the solitary campers in the area.
Not a bad campsite, as they go, 800kr per person per night. We had become accustomed to this by now. This was not a wilderness. When we went to pay the next morning, at the main farmhouse, we found, quite to our surprise, that this farmlady did _not_ take credit card. However, she'd obviously dealt with this before, and gave us both business cards that included her bank account details, so we could transfer the money when we got back to reykjavik. Good old Iceland.
Purely for my own diary's sake, this was the day when my knee all of a sudden decided to start misbehaving again, to the point that I took ibuprofen and went to bed, feeling quite unsure about exactly how I was going to walk out to our ferry pickup.