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Hafursey - First proper real jeep trip

Pictures are at the bottom...

Saturday, 13 August, 2011

Hafursey, or goat island, isn't actually an island at all, but from out at sea, sticking up out of the flat sands along the coast, it probably looked like one at one point. It used to be closer to the sea too, but years and years of eruptions at Katla have washed sand and dirt out to sea, part of Iceland's relentless landgrab south towards Europe.

It also just looks cool, and I'd never really heard anything about it. The ring road used to go right past it, so there's an old road most of the way there, and one of my hiking guidebooks talks about walking up.

So, a jeep trip was called for! Finally, a trip to somewhere that actually needed a jeep! After spending a lot of money on repairs over the last year, and mostly just driving it to and from work, or up and down the highway, I was looking forward to this. (And a little nervous, would I get stuck? would it actually get us there?)

We piled a motley gang of icelanders and temporary icelanders in, and headed south, disgustingly early at 9am. The bakery hadn't even opened yet! And so the fun began! The road out to the old emergency shelter was good fun, with some old washed out bridges, and then eventually we broke off to follow some tracks headed where we thought we needed to go. A few bumps and bounces for the people in the back, and we pulled up at an idyllic spot for a secluded camp, fresh water, soft grass and moss, and a waterfall.

Nothing too difficult, but a lot more than the micra would have managed. Money (finally) well spent!

The walk up was good, clouds were kissing the top, and it was quite steep, but lush green moss, some of the deepest I've ever been forced to walk across. While on top, we walked across the to the north west edge, hoping for a better view over Múlakvísl and towards Katla herself, slumbering (for now) under Mýrdalsjökull. Just as we got there, the clouds finally broke away, and we had just stunning views over the flood plains to the glacier.

One of our map books shows that there's now a jeep road all the way around the mountain, so we thought we'd check it out. We followed a very good track all the way to the glaciers edge, where some marker sticks and some very bumpy tire tracks disappeared into the ice itself. Ok... Not that way? (Looking through my map collection, it seems 40 years ago or so, most of the water ran out to the east, not to the south. Presumably the ice was in a different place too?)

We followed some tracks for a bit, but most of them petered out into rough country. The jeep probably could have gone further, but for how much further? We turned south, and looked for a better track east, around the mountain. We found another one, which we believe is the right one, but after struggling up one deep sandy hill, we came to a much much bigger one :) We didn't even bother trying, and decided to just head home the way we'd came, under the shining summer sun.

A most excellent day! Thanks to Logi for being on facebook during a party, he got all the people together for it.

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