Monday, July 25, 2011

Sléttuvatn --> Sæból

Photos: (1) View of Sléttunes; (2) View of Fannadalur valley; (3) Old church and parsonage on Staðarvatn lake; (4,6) Abandoned houses in Sæból; (6) Nasi mountain (425 m); (7) Midnight sun over Aðalvík bay

7 am. Constant rain, sometimes drizzle, sometimes more. Thick clouds indicate no let-up. It’s gotten colder and there’s a bit of wind. Pretty miserable actually. I get out to secure the tent and there’s a strong wind coming from the lake. After a hot breakfast, I feel ready to tackle the day and by the time I pack up camp, the wind and rain are gone.

Just a few minutes into the trail, there’s a river (Sléttuá) to fjord that requires me to change into wading shoes. This would have been a nicer place to camp. But it’s chilly so after drying off I hurry on my way. I continue to head northwest up the trail to Sléttuheiði pass. The sky clears progressively and there’s a nice view of Ísafjarðardjúp fjord and the emergency shelter on the coast at Sléttunes. At the top of the pass, I find a sheltered spot to have some lunch. On the other side, looking down into Fannadalur valley is beautiful. There’s an old church and cemetery nestled next to lake Staðarvatn, so that’s the next good place to make a stop for a snack and some photos. Descending from the pass is incredibly steep and I move carefully to avoid becoming a rolling boulder with my 18 kg pack. The valley is wet and marshy but the trail navigates it well. I examine the church and parsonage up close. The parsonage seems to be used as a sort of hiking hut. Through the window a well-equipped kitchen is visible. And the church is well-maintained too.

After a long break, I head towards the abandoned village of Sæból on the coast of Aðalvík bay. I heard there are designated camping sites on Hornstrandir so that’s what I’m looking for here. As I near the village, I see all kinds of people. Looks like a large hiking group is staying here somewhere. But then I notice that the houses are not so abandoned. In fact, many of them are bubbling with life. People working in gardens or sitting on the porch, kids playing, dogs running. I’m a bit surprised to see so much activity since this area is advertised as an abandoned inlet with desolate houses. Everything is nicely kept and it certainly doesn’t look desolate. I later talk to one of the locals and he tells me that the families still own this land, of course, and like to come out in the summer and vacation there. The fact that more and more tourists are coming each year is actually a benefit to the locals as well. More and more boats are being operated, allowing them access to their property.

Anyway, I find a lady working in her yard and ask if there is a campsite somewhere. She points vaguely in the opposite direction outside the village, so I turn around and head back. There are 3 buildings in the vague direction she points, each quite far apart. After inspecting them all, I determine that none of them resembles a campsite. I look for a river, and follow it back into the valley a bit out of sight of the villagers and set up camp. It’s a beautiful grassy spot covered with purple flowers with the majestic mountain Nasi in the back, and a wonderful view of the ocean. It’s on a small flat area below a hill so it keeps me isolated from view and sheltered from wind.

The weather is at its best as I set up camp. The sun is out and it’s warm and pleasant. I give my body and clothes a good washing. As I make dinner, two hikers walk by and wave. I enjoy the evening basking in the sun, and even well into the night I often get out of the tent to snap a picture or gaze at the midnight sun.