Sunday, July 5, 2009

A beautiful day waiting out wind

Hello from Nordurfjordur!

I am using someone´s personal computer to write this, so I do not feel like I have the luxury of time with a computer. He runs the one and only cafe here in this very small place that as far as I can tell consists of a small harbour, 2 gas pumps outside a small store selling various items, including random food items (a pineapple!... a COSTCO sized Cheerios box...), and would be the one place I could post a letter, Kaffi Nordurfjordur (where I now sit), and literally a handful of unidentified, boxy buildings where rumor has it there´s a guest house and probably people live. I am camped 4km to the north (Krossnes) where there is an outdoor swimming pool (with nothing else) meters above the ocean. This is my second day here as the fog yesterday was so intense that for the majority of the day I could not see more than 100-200 meters in front of me. Yesterday was also very wet and I spent nearly 5 hours in this cafe sampling the menu and writing letters. Now the sun is shining (yay!) and I can see to the other side of the fjord!, but wind predictions for my 40km crossing include possibly 50mph winds... something I do not wish to encounter. Thank goodness for weather forecasts (Thank you Karel!) because otherwise I would certainly be paddling right now. So this is me playing conservatively.
On Friday, it was very foggy as well. Of course the good thing about fog is typically no wind. This may be a bit confusing if you look at a map because there are two (at least) Reykjafjordurs (There are several repeated names around Iceland and many of them are not very far from each other.) On Friday afternoon, I was at the Reykjafordur just above Drangajokull (the glacier to which I hiked on Thursday), and set out in some fog that I was hoping would clear. It lifted a little for a bit, enought to get around the first major headland, but then descended for good. As it was evening, there was no cahnce a hot sun was going to burn this off (like it did this morning, early afternoon.) I made it around Drangaskord and was confronted with either following the shore line and adding quite a bit of paddling to my trip or cutting across blindly to Veturmyrarnes, the next point, a mini'crossing of 10-12 km. I decided to try out my navigational skills. Of course, I knew that a sharp right ('Keep Iceland On Your Right') would bring me sooner or later to land. So I set my course and made time predictions about when I may see things (like possibly the island in the middle of the crossing.) An hour passes and no sign of the island. Hmnnn.... About half an hour to an hour before I expected to hit land (the mainland), out of nowhere I see land and see that it has a lighthouse on it. I erred! Several degrees too far to the east which brought me to an island (Saelusker) north (and slightly east) of Veturmyrarnes. Lucky, lucky that island/lighthouse was/is there! Otherwise I would have been paddling for a MUCH longer time and possibly MUCH farther into Hunafloi than I hoped to go. - not so conservative (but still playing it very safe I promise you all.)

Wind doesn´t look so great for paddling for awhile. I don´t think I will launch again until tomorrow (Monday evening), which sets me back from my plans of being in Husavik by Wednesday. So be it. Husavik is my next big destination that I expect to catch up on laundry, email, and then go off for several days a little into the interior. I am very much looking forward to visiting Jokulsargljufur National Park, the canyon there and Dettifoss, Europe´s largest waterfall.

So what´s this about hiking to a glacier! (I cannot find the question mark on this keyboard.)
Utterly thrilling I say (about the hike to the glacier.) Much of the hike was along the flow and debris from the galcier river, flat and fairly easy going. As some of this is swamp area though, I kept heading to rockier areas and ended up doing quite a bit of scrambling over and across rock... and waterfalls! There were so many water outlets from melting snow above in the surrounding mountains and there were some particularly stunning ones from the rock formations underneath them. (My favorite traveled down several stone steps.) When I reached the mouth of the galcier I found it a bit mesmerizing staring at the river pouring out from underneath this massive ice. Imaginings of how this got here and created this surrounding earth... Imaginings of what was happening in and underneath that ice... It´s power...!
Of course I wanted to climb on to the galcier, so I took a turn to the right to create some distance from the unstable mouth and headed for the deep snow covering to the side. This involved quite a bit of rock scrambling, which I enjoyed immensely and soon I found myself on the snow. And there in the snow were more waterfalls coming out from under the snow and disappearing again into the snow. Incredible!
I always have a strong inner draw to see what´s around the corner or over the next peak. Just a little further to see what´s there... So I climbed the snow hoping to see over the next bit and across the miles of glacier. I found myself losing sense of distance and thinking things were much closer than they were. It´s very tempting to cross the whole glacier. I got to a point where I could see I had crested the bit what I thought was a top of sorts, saw a little down into a valley on the side, but soon realized that the top was an illusion I would not reach quickly or easily. (Regardless, as a side note... though there were higher peaks around me, there was still some wild sensation of being on top of the world...!) When I decided to turn around, instead of scrambling down all that rock that I climbed earlier, I decided to stick with the snow for a bit. When I got what seemed close enough to the mouth, I found myself in a fairly steep incline back to bare land. Oh if only I had a sled!! I slid/skidded standing on my feet for 200-300 meters. Exhilerating!! What a unique experience... I cannot say that this was the most stunning or beautiful scenery I have encountered in my life, but there was something very special about this hike that will make it something I will always remember.


  1. Good thing keeps getting better! What’s the wildlife like? How’s the food? And what is the most stunning/beautiful scenery? Inquiring minds … . Stay strong. -jt

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  3. I would like to hear more about this magic swimming pool built for circumnavigating kayakers, in the middle of nowhere, I assume it is fueled by hot springs nearby ... what a treat!

    I wish you many, many more 5* campsites and days like this.


  4. Dear Marg,
    Thanks for the updates. Sounds like you are having a great time. Love, Mom