Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sæból --> Hesteyri --> Stakkadalur

Photos: (1-2) Hesteyri; (3-5) Stakkadalsfjall pass; (6) Hut at Stakkadalur valley

I’m awake at 4am but doze for another hour before getting up. The sky is pretty thick with clouds but with alluring patches of blue in between. Dots of sun illuminate spots in the mountains and the village while black clouds meance over others. It’s one of those skies that contains all possibilities for the day.

I’m on the road by 8am. The sun seems to be winning the battle in the sky. I head back the same route towards Hesteyri. A route always looks different going the opposite direction and since everything was covered in clouds on the way here, I’m looking forward to the landscape under a clear sky. Crossing Fannadalur valley, I see a tent next to the lake. The route then climbs steeply out of the valley up the pass and it’s much easier going up than down. The view is indeed beautiful up there and time goes by quickly. Soon I’m at the river, so I change into wading gear and on the other bank I relax and have a snack. Soon the couple that was camped in the valley approaches and I snap their picture as they wade across. They’re from the Czech Republic and were indeed the people who waved to me the other day and the ones who were also up at the war ruins yesterday. After a nice chat, I let them get ahead of me but we meet again in Hesteyri a few hours later and have coffee together at the café. They’re on their way back with the boat today but I still have some time and am feeling great so I decide to hike some more. I’ll have time at the end of the trip to explore Hesteyri in more detail.

So I decide to take the path behind the village through Hesteyrardalur and see how far I get. The route is easily visible and marked with cairns. It’s gotten quite windy and as I rest on a rock up at the pass, a group of Swiss people stop for a chat. They seemed truly concerned that I am hiking alone with such a big backpack J After assuring them that I am fine, I continue on. The Swiss group turns back at the pass and I keep going towards Stakkadalur. Again there are great views of the valleys and ocean at the top of the pass but the terrain is a bit hard on the feet and the path is no longer real clear. That’s not a problem though with the cairns. There’s also quite a bit of snow up there, and plenty of rivers for getting drinking water.

Finally I descend into Stakkadalur. The last 3 km are quite tough on the feet since I’ve hiked over 20 km today. I see a little hut at Stakkadalsvatn lake and think that might be a nice place to set up camp, but as I approach, I see that the hut is occupied and there’s a huge dome tent resembling a spaceship in the yard. I stop to chat with the man, an Icelander, who says he has a group out hiking up Straumnesfjall today, and that they should be back soon. I tell him not to worry, I’m just going to look for a place to camp and will stay out of the way, and he indicates that they will be partying quite late so I shouldn’t stay too close to the hut. Not a problem for me, and as I follow the river behind the hut I spot the case of beer chilling in the water. I find a nice site out of view from the hut along the river to call home for the night. It’s 8pm when I finally make dinner. It’s been an incredibly long and tiring day but I enjoyed every minute of it!