What I thought’d happen
Too distracted by the cold to forecast
What actually happened
Beautiful day, beautiful scenery. Where else would you rather be.
Up comes the sun
To our delight we woke up today to the most glorious weather. What was previously a heavy haze of white yesterday, was now a gorgeous azure sky set upon a tumble of ice-creamy mountains. Low clouds spun large grey shadows across the snow, slow dancing over the slopes, a dramatic contrast of movement across a deserted landscape.
An hour away from Hrafnitinnusker
The snow starts to melt, exposing patches of spongey black ash, weirdly soft and rubbery like a sun-baked sea-bed. Steam hisses sporadically from the ground as heat carves through the snow, chunks crumbling and collapsing, revealing hidden streams beneath a fragile frozen crust.
About now you’ll reach the steepest climb of the trip, erupting in one last dizzying finale of the empty snowscape and sugar dusted rhyolite mountains.
Pad your way across the hill, feet sinking softly into the fleshy earth, and admire the challenging landscape ahead. A blanket of dark ash, laced with snow, sprawls as far as the eye can see, the black canvas rumpling into soft sloping hills and pinching into sharp palagonite mountains in the distance.
I’m deliberately excluding an image of this. Never lose the magic of wonder.
First river crossing
Trundle down the hill towards the sandy brown banks of Grashagakvisl, a crystal clear stream that’s relatively easy to cross. The current had piled shale into small mounds which we used as a platform to reach the other side.
Say goodbye to your sparkling shoes as you trudge through the thick grey mud around a geothermal spring. If you’ve been politely holding back farts, now’s the time to let loose. The smell of rotten eggs perfumes the air like a sunday morning under the covers.
From here it’s one last gradual incline to what I think is the best view of the trek. Take your first glimpse of Álftavatn (lake of the swans), a luxe pool of shimmering turquoise framed between jagged snowcapped mountains. This is your campsite for the night.
What I learned today:
- Bringing snacks on a hike is like eating for two during pregnancy
- Hiking is the perfect way to bring out the asshole in your partner