Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bike to Svalvogarviti lighthouse



I don’t open my eyes this morning until 8:30 – much later than I expected. The morning is cloudy, cold and windy as I make oatmeal for breakfast and enjoy my coffee from the comfort of the guesthouse. I’m on the road at 10am, bundled up against the elements. The sun soon comes out but it remains on the chilly side all day. My first stop is to respond to a distress signal near Haukadalur. 
 
There’s a lamb bleating incessantly and it’s heart-wrenching. Somehow it got caught behind a fence and its mamma is happily grazing on the other side. As I pedal by the fence, the lamb follows me, running alongside my bike with these watery eyes and I’m trying to think of a way to help. I dismount and lift the bottom of the fence just enough for the lamb to scoot underneath. I thought it would bolt immediately but it stops and stares at me for the longest time, and allows me to scratch its head, almost like it’s saying thank you. Then it turns and runs to mamma, happily ever after.

My next stop is the farm ruins at Sveinseyri. I’ve always wanted to have a closer look here. It doesn’t seem like it’s maintained as a summer house as everything is really run-down. It’s a nice place for a photo session. A group of mountain bikers passes me and I let them get way ahead before I start up again. They look like they’re out for a serious quick trip, with absolutely no gear, racing at top speed. There’s also a very large group tent set up on a grassy plan just after Sveinseyri before the road starts to climb uphill. I wonder what kind of excursions are offered here.

I stop for a quick snack at Keldudalur valley, and then examine the church and cemetery at Hraunskirkja. Last time I was on this route, I didn’t take the time for all these little side trips. Actually I’m quite tired already and time is flying with all these little excursions and photo sessions. I consider not going all the way to the lighthouse. After all, this part right here near the church is the prettiest anyway. Well, I decide to go all the way anyway, and it’s a battle against the wind. The group of serious mountain bikers passes me again, heading back to Þingeyri already. Some of the girls in the group lag behind and don’t look too thrilled. That’s not my idea of fun either. I’m certainly much more content travelling at a slower pace with fun gear like binoculars and tasty snacks and photo equipment and other goodies. 

I’m exhausted when I reach the lighthouse and luckily there’s a small spot where I can get out of the wind and have some lunch. It’s nice to peek into the next fjord, Arnarfjörður. It’s way too cold to hang out long though, and just as I’m leaving a couple from Switzerland stop for a chat – they’re also looking for a picnic spot. The lady sounds like she knows a bit about mountain biking, at least she’s got the terminology right. She calls me a “tough girl” and they go on their way, in search of a less windy lunch spot, and I follow them a bit on my bike. 

I pass two motorcyclists who are camping near the lighthouse. They picked a flat, grassy peak that juts out towards the sea, and while it’s a beautiful spot with an incredible view, like most such peaks it’s terribly windy. As I pass, they struggle to pack up their tent and gear. I stop at Keldudalur for a 30-minute nap in the grass. I’m out solid and when I awake, I’m refreshed and ready for the journey back. I love this grassy little valley though, and next time I will just go this far and explore it a bit more. 

I pass a girl out there alone with full gear, hiking. She’s going pretty fast and has headphones on and no time for a conversation. It would have been nice to chat a bit. As I pass Haukadalur again, I wave to some locals out working in their gardens. I really like this little settlement here. I’m back at the guesthouse at 4pm. I’m really tired – it was 45km today.