Friday, July 17, 2015

Meðaldalur

Sleep is restless tonight, everything hurts and I have a bit of a headache. My eyes are puffy again, like some kind of allergy has attacked in the night. After a leisurely breakfast, I check out of the guesthouse and leave my bags in the washroom. The bus doesn’t leave until this evening and I still have a full day. I’m on the road at 10:30 and pedal into Meðaldalur valley. There’s a sign pointing this way that reads “náma” and I read about this old spar mine on one of my maps. I’m not feeling up to a big adventure today, but I’d just like to take a peek into the valley and see what conditions are like here for the next time.  
 
But on the road near the airport before I hit the valley I run into the solo hiker chick from yesterday (see pic). And today she’s up for a conversation. She’s travelling with her husband and he hurt his knee so he’s waiting for her in town while she burns off some steam. Sounds like a great arrangement! 

Kaldbakkur
The first 500m are a bit rough, real rocky and sandy, then it turns into a real grassy, mostly flat trail with nice ups and downs, easy to bike, until the large river is reached. Up to this point, it would probably be a bit boring to hike – endless grass and not much of a view, and not even any old farms to explore. It’s all on foot from here though so I park Roadrunner and head up the trail on foot. The trail follows the river but after 1km it turns into a grassy road again. It’s much prettier here too, offering a nice view of Kaldbakkur, the highest peak in the Westfjords. 

I didn’t mention the sun yet. Today is sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and I’m heading straight into the sun in this wide valley. The valley is open wide and there are no large rocks to offer a brief respite. The sun is burning down on my head and I don’t have a hat – I tie my scarf around my head, dipping it in cold river water every few minutes for some relief. It’s hot and I feel like I’m in the desert. At least there is plenty of water and no danger of dehydrating.     

Musical instrument museum
The mine is supposedly 5km into the valley. I hike roughly 4-5 km and keep scouting with my binoculars, but see nothing. Strangely, I’m not too interested in finding it. I’m just whetting my appetite for the next time. I always like to have something new to look forward to, something left undone, and I will often just start down a trail and poke my nose into it and decide to leave it for the next time. This is also due to my need for familiarity. When out exploring, I like to have one small element of the familiar to make me feel comfortable. 

I head back to where my bike is parked at the river, create some makeshift shade by stacking up my bike bag and backpack, and take a nap. Later I have coffee and waffles at the café again and get into a conversation with an Icelandic man who has been to the mine. I was really close, and he said you can’t see it from the trail until you are right on top of it because it’s in a gorge. Afterwards I take a walk on the beach, and the gypsum that was mined there can be found all over the shore. Suddenly a drone descends on me, damn thing! I’m out enjoying a peaceful walk on the beach and it swoops right down in my face.

I still have time to kill so I check out the museum of musical instruments. It’s small and authentic and many of the items on display were made by the owner, Jón Sigurðsson. I especially like the flutes made from sheep bones. Then it’s off to the pool for another swim and dinner of lamb stew at Simbahöllin. Later the bus picks me up and the bus driver is an old acquaintance from my trip to Patreksfjörður. We have a nice chat and he takes me and Roadrunner right to my doorstep.