While relaxing in the sun at 9pm, casually playing dice with sangria, a proposal was put forth. Camping was required, and it was required to be Þórsmörk. The speaker, Rakel, batted her eyes, and the plan was approved.
Well, sort of. No-one was entirely sure would be going, let alone how we would even get there. Þórsmörk, or Thor's Wood, or Thorsmork, or even, heaven forbid, Porsmork, depending on how you anglicise the name, is not very accessible. It's serious big boy's toys country. Glacial rivers and rough roads, this is not a place for Nissan Micras, no matter how tough the Micra might be.
With numbers waxing and waning and still uncertainty in how exactly we would get there, no-one really wanting to catch the bus, friday approached. My car load had swollen to five, and were driving down on Saturday, we had a concert to get to on friday night, and Wolfgang had only just stumbled off a plane from Montreal, and was in no fit state to travel.
But but now, things were firmly in control. Rakel and her posse had a big red jeep. A proper big red jeep. A Land Rover Defender! No leather trim on this bad boy. We were meeting this magical mystery bus at Seljalandfoss, so we had a bit of time to look around while we waited. And also to look cool with our music and dancing and hardcore camping gear and general desirability for all the generic touristas driving the ring road. Yeah, that's right, you head on back out and out to Skógar, we're going to Þórsmörk!
(No one should pay attention to the fact that this was only my third time there, and my first time actually camping there)
Moving, or bouncing, right along, the road up was exciting enough. About 30 seconds after leaving the bitumen, one (american) companion declared, "Oh, I totally see why we needed a big jeep now." This was met with twisted heads from all the icelandic residents of the jeep. We were still on a very good dirt road.
Later, we hit the _actual_ end of the dirt road, where a couple of little sedans were parked, and loading jeeps. From here on out, chaos ensued. One companion screamed in panic at every river, afraid of imminent death. Two companions laughed manically in the back jump seats, riding the best roller coaster ever! Jón and Rakel in the front were at first a little concerned at these outbursts, but it soon became just part of the fun. Jón was also having a great time, having just driven through all these rivers to come and get us, he felt very free to drive through them at great speed, playing with the car a lot more than normal. This of course certainly helped with the excitement factor :)
Seeing as one of the big plans of this weekend had been to "do something" not just "sit around a tent drinking" we set up the tents, and promptly set up a beer fridge. Well, filled a beer fridge. Prior residents had already set one up. We did then take off packed into the jeep to go for a hiking trip. We crossed Krossá, site of a well publicised rescue only days earlier. A swiss man had tried to stop his jeep in the middle, to propose to his girlfriend, but before he could get that far, the car started flooding. Apparently the answer was yes, but only on the provisio that he saved their lives. At that moment the big blue rescue tractor arrived.
We didn't go quite that far, but we DID have one girl scream out, "I'm still in love with my ex boyfriend!" at the depth of the rivers, when the rushing waters and rolling jeep became too much. She gets a touch excitable at times, but we won't reveal just which girl this was, at least, not now....
cRAZINESS continues however, while walking around from Langidalur to Húsadalur, we started meeting people with numbers on their chest, and carrying nowhere near enough gear to have walked from Landmannalaugar. Seems today was the day of the Laugarvegurinn marathon, 56km of mountain running. We clapped and cheered them on as they went past, and eventually at the hut, over waffles, sandwiches and coffee, we pondered the mentality of people willingly choosing to run that route, in the rain, for fun.
Home again home again, via a different track, passing Snorrariki, a cave up in a hilllside, which some of us were game enough to climb up into. Some of us weren't so game. It's got some nice carved hand/foot holds, so some people could also just be called weak.
Fastforward. Cold beers. Rock stacks. BBQing MEAT, bbqing veges, falling in rivers, bonfires, diesel fuel, a song book, broken glass and a broken hand and blood in the river, cake, wine, chocolate, sun lighting up the mountain tops. Breakfast in a sun dappled meadow, lounging on lush grass.
The world slows again, and smiles gently at the happy campers. A pineapple is murdered, and its bloody carcass shared amongst the heathens. A walk is proposed, and undertaken. Caves are explored, orchids discovered, cameras are left high on mountain ledges. Strákargil proved to be a very pleasant walk, always lots of nooks and crannies to explore, though not all of us felt quite so willing to hike up the steep sides to investigate every cave and arch.
Feeling a growing urge for food, the two parties in the gorge, the cliff scaling women, and the river following ground team converge again, and head back to camp. Just in time for the clouds to open up and drench us all. Perfect timing. We loiter in the toilet shed for a while, noone really wanting to start the tetris game.
Remember how when we came in, we had 5 people plus gear in my micra? And then we got picked up by a group in a single jeep, that were already in the camp? Well, add one motorbiker, who arrived with a lift during the night, and we were now 10 people, plus gear, all trying to fit in the defender for the trip back. We huddled in the toilet shed playing human tetris there for a while instead.
Eventually the rain eased off, we _did_ manage to get everyone in the jeep, and we even managed to get through all the rivers without any lost love proclamations. From the other pictures I've seen though, there was much gnashing of teeth and clenching of fists however. Not everyone likes being trapped under luggage in a foggy vehicle that tilts and creaks and bounces it seems :)
Coming out of þórsmörk, we were instantly back into bright sun, and as no-one was quite ready to go home, we headed for some relatives of friends, and had ourselves a nice big bbq of minke. Our host, Pétur Pétursson, from a long line of that name, gave us a nice tour of his farm, the old turf buildings, the gardens, the dogs and horses. He also managed to keep a dozen people well oiled with coffee, and well entertained with tales of the country.
All good things come to an end however, and the group eventually departed back to the big city. My car stopped a few times on the way back, taking advantage of the glorious sunset, and a convenient roadside waterfall, but by 1am, we were all finally home, filthy and tired, and falling into our respective beds, dreaming sweetly of our newfound friends.