Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hike: Hverfell crater

(Photos: on the trail to Hverfell, crater rim with lake Mývatn)

I wake up just after midnight with a horrible belly ache – must be the unusual food I’ve been eating. But I don’t mind because I’m able to witness a beautiful orange sky. The campsite is so peaceful. I finally get up at 7, but take my time this morning. It’s been hot and sunny for days on end, so today I decide to wear shorts. After taking care of some things like getting my cell phone charged and buying a bus ticket for tomorrow through Sprengisandur, I’m finally on the trail to Hverfell at around 10:30. I’m mostly alone on the trail but there are lots of cars in the parking lot at Hverfell. It’s a huge sandy hill that doesn’t look too spectacular from the bottom, and the trail looks steep. I have some lunch a before going up, just watching the people get out of their cars, look at maps and argue about whether or not to go up. There’s not much room to sit, the ground is sandy and there are no large rocks to sit on, but I find a small rock and unfold my aluminum seat. I seem to be the only hiker there, everyone else just jumps out of their cars and heads on up.

The view at the top is simply amazing, and the crater itself spectacular. While most people snap a few pictures and head back down, I decide to walk around the entire rim. I estimate it will take about an hour (which it does), but since there is nothing else on the agenda for today, I want to do it. The wind is gusty at times, but the scenery is amazing. I take so many pictures, which unfortunately don’t turn out too well. There’s an Icelandic couple hiking the rim as well, with a small Asian boy who’s already gurgling in Icelandic. The lady is carrying the carrier and the child on her back despite her knee being bandaged. They take their time, and I pass them about half-way.

At the bottom again, there are even more people than before so I hurry to get back on the trail. I find a secluded grassy spot and take a nap. There’s nothing I enjoy more than napping in the outdoors and this may be the last chance I get for a while. There are lots of berries in the whole area, even blueberries, although it’s too early in the season and they’re not ripe yet.

Back at camp, I shower and work on my notes. My fingers are badly cracked and my hands real dry. The air in this area is extremely dry in general. I don’t have this many problems with my hands in other parts of Iceland. Even my eyeballs hurt from the dryness.

During my travels, I often hear that Mývatn is too overcrowded. Yes, there are lots of people there, but if you get off the beaten track and do some hiking, it's not that bad. There are beautiful things to see in this area and it would be a shame to pass them by just because other people want to see them too.