A Travellerspoint blog

Land of Fire & Ice (Days 9-20)

Day 9 July 1, 2015

===WEDNESDAY===

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Riding Like The Wind

I woke up this morning feeling I had got my fair share of hiking here at Þórsmörk & that it was time to ride out of this valley. It was a blessing hitchhiking the small part of the road to this camp days before. One thing I've been trying to keep consistent on this trip was not retracing the same routes over. I enjoy keeping this experience raw & new everyday. I rolled down the rough rocky trail slowly leaving the valley. As I came upon the first of many small streams to cross a group of horses fifteen deep was closing in behind me. They were being herded by two women who most likely run tourist horse rides. Nevertheless I rode along side this group of horses with the wind blowing through my helmet. For a while I almost felt like I was in some old country western movie, riding off into the sunset with the credits rolling down behind me.

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Anyways, back to real life. After playing a bit of tag with the horses over a few smaller streams the group was herded up a hill into a back valley ranch. I came upon to the first big river crossing. It wasn't more a little below the knee at it's deepest, but I was crossing barefoot to keep my shoes dry. I strapped them to the sides of my pack & zig zagged across the slippery rocks with an audience of Indian guys from Ohio watching me. I caught up them & we chatted for a while as I walked my bike.

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Seems this last crossing was to be the worst one which was nice. I repeat the same process for crossing the next ten or so streams along the dirt gravel road. The slight tail wind behind me zipped me across the road & out of the valley with ease. It was a beautiful day out with some clouds & the sun shining. Things are looking up.

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I came upon the bridge I had to cross. This bridge crosses one of the biggest rivers in Iceland. A large boulder on each end of the bridge blocked motorized traffic leaving it free & open to just me on my bike.

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Next up is a long dirt road that connects to Hwy 261 where I'll stay once again at a cottage camping site. Before I get there though, I pass by a giant rock jutting from the ground. For miles around there is nothing, but flat plains. With only mountains in the far background it's seems strange to see this giant rock risen out of the ground all by it's self.

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After a short ride on the pavement, I rolled into the campsite & enjoyed a soothing jacuzzi soak once again.

Day 10 July 2, 2015

===THURSDAY===

Spent the whole day writing the first blog post. I have only one regret so far.

I should have brought more peanut butter.

Day 11 July 3, 2015

===FRIDAY===

The day before I had been taking some time to walk outside in the quietness & gather my thoughts. I noticed strange mountains way in the distance where there should have only been road then ocean to my knowledge. After some research I come to find that in the distance the dark outline is the Westman islands. Compromised of an old volcano it only takes a thirty five minute ferry ride from the coast to reach. The next objective is set. I only have to loop back west & take a quick stop in Hvolsvöllur for grocceries. After an hour ride through the country I roll into town & head into the store.

Up until this point I had been starting to solidify the belief that I could survive on nothing more than multivitamins, peanut butter & whiskey. I still believe this to be true, but as I waltzed into that grocery store it finally hit me how hungry I had been. Drooling at the mouth & with my eyes glazing over I looked upon the selection of breads, meats & cheeses like a pirate that had just opened a chest full of glimmering gold.

Fat kid mode: Engaged

I made out like a bandit with almost enough food that I couldn't fit it in my bike bags. They only had one type of peanut butter & I practically bought out the entire stock. At one point I almost felt like this was too easy, like I was doing something wrong. A full stomach will calm this paranoia & so I stuffed my face before taking off down the road towards the port.

A half hour out & I was seeing more fellow bike-packers on the road then all of the previous days of this trip combined. Next thing I know a guy rides up from behind me asking where I was going. After some chit chat I find out that me & my new French Canadian friend Jeff (He Americanized his name for me) are both taking the ferry to Haimaey island. So, we tag team our way through the wind down to the Landeyjahöfn. Tickets even with bikes are cheap. Coming in at something like $13/1800 ISK one way.

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They have a vending store inside so we get some coffee & head up to the outside viewing deck. After some tinkering from my backpack my coffee is now Irish. Jeff doubts my coffee concoction, but I'm inclined to experiment with all things whiskey. As we close in on Haimaey island there are several smaller islands that we pass. They seem to be surrounded completely with cliffs which makes the single small building on each of them that much more mystical looking.

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We pull in through a channel to the port & are slowly engulfed by cliffs. Even a sweet looking pirate cave to boot. In case you don't know, one of my favorite movies if all time is Goonies. So, pirates will always be smile inducing.

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We are debating on where to go & decide to set up camp where we can ditch all the gear on our bikes. We find our campsite, settled next to a hollowed out volcano that looks like a giant mountain amphitheater. This is where Thor lays down his hammer for some sweet guitar solos.

Bwahhhhooooahhhh (Guitar sound)

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Some Hiking Music

We biked down to the base of the mountain & hiked up a thin path to the ridge above. The weather had turned & it was absolutely beautiful outside. Sun shining I could actually feel the warmth on my skin which doesn't seem to be a common thing here in Iceland. We get to the top & snap some pictures before heading up closer to one of the peaks.

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Further up the trail is a goat family also hanging out in the sun. These guys seem be wild & are a lot less skittish then the previous goats I had come in contact with.

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We followed the trail up & around the backside of this awsome old volcano. Not even feeling the need to follow up the trail higher we plop down on some natural dirt lazyboys & crack open the beers we had bought earlier for this summit. With no wind, clear skies & warm sun we discussed how this was probably the best place ever to drink a beer. I didn't want to ever leave. Few things in life ever feel that perfect.

Fun fact: Beer cans make decent camera lens cap holders.

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I told Jeff about my grocery shopping story earlier that day & he suggested that we have a feast while camping on the island later that night.

So it was foretold.

So it would be.

Of course we still had more beers left.

Day 12 July 4, 2015

===SATURDAY===

I was in need of a laundry day for quite a while now so Jeff & I took advantage of the facilities at the campsite. I spent the morning doing as such. It felt refreshing to have clean clothes again. So as mid day rolled around we headed down to the local cafe to get some coffee & wifi. We had some coffee & lamb meat soup. Seriously some of the best soup I have ever had in my life. It wasn't cheap, but it was worth it. While hanging out on the tables outside we started eyeballing what looked like trails on the other mountain face. I saw some people up on top & it looked like a good spot to punch some clouds.

Commence backpack adventures.

The first section is steep loose gravel followed by a stairs that seems to be a work in progress. After that, a couple ladders & were swerving our way up the thin trail to great views.

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At one point a group of goats start getting closer & closer to us. Any other time I ran into goats they would always run the other way so this was weird. There was a bigger one with horns so I was ready to wrastle me a goat if he got all alpha goat. It turns out thy weren't being territorial, but wanted whatever food Jeff had bee carrying in a plastic bag he had bought at the grocery store before the hike. Someone had been feeding these goats. There is grass everywhere which is what I see them eating all the time, but these guys had a sweet tooth for human food. I didn't see the harm in it since it's not like there going to become dependent on human food then forget to eat grass so I gave them a couple bits of an energy waffe & we continued our hike. More goats ran down to us & before long we had a goat entourage following us on our hike. Me & my goat crew kick it old school.

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We got to the top & enjoyed the views for a while then skiddadeled down the mountain to our campsite for dinner.

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Day 13 July 5, 2015

===SUNDAY===

I awakened early morning to cloudy skies & rain. Tearing down camp in the rain is the worst. So, we waited for the rain to thin & took the ferry about mid day. Also, what is quite common with campsites in Iceland is that no one comes to collect payment for a nights camping till later in the day at certain times. Jeff & I had tried to find someone to pay both nights, but no one seemed around. Free camping is good camping. I would love to just camp in the middle of nature where there's no designated areas, but so much of southern Iceland is private property right up to the road. So, this is usually not an option. Besides, it averages only about $10/1300 ISK a night & most have facilities with bathroom, shower, etc. I had planned on camping in the middle of wild lands most of this trip, but these kind of campgrounds are everywhere along the south so I had been taking advantage of them.

Back on the ferry, the ocean is much rougher this ride back. I perched myself on the high balcony outside enjoying the views of the ocean & Haimaey islands cliffs. It was also funny watching people with no sea legs stumble around as the ferry was rocking about. When Jeff & I disembark from the ferry we ride back up the same road with plans to camp at Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland's bigger waterfalls that is just down the road.

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We set up camp & which is a five minute walk down from the waterfall. Seljalandsfoss is a huge beautiful waterfall, but what makes it really cool is that there is a trail that runs behind it so you can walk completely around this stunning falls. I couldn't fall asleep till late, about 2am. So, shortly after midnight I grabbed my camera & took some night shots of the falls from a hill perched on the side. It was muddy getting up it, but gave a much nicer view of the falls & the surrounding area.

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Day 14 July 6, 2015

===MONDAY===

Jeff & I said our goodbyes as he was on more of a time crunch for his trip. He took my advice & booked a ride into Þórsmörk for some hiking. I packed up mid day & planned on riding to Vik, but halfway there I saw Skógafoss from the road. Back to back waterfalls sounded like a solid plan so I turned down the road & set up on a campground right next to this behemoth of a falls.

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There was a restaurant/bar right next to the campground. I treated myself to a couple beers & some Icelandic meat soup which hit the spot.

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Side note: Iceland is not really into the whole happy Disney ending.

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There was also a shop there so I bought myself an Icelandic wool hat.
Most comfortable beanie I've ever worn. Everything in Iceland is very pricey, but makes up for it in quality.

Day 15 July 7, 2015

===TUESDAY===

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Time to get a move on to Vik. A short ride with little wind & some great views has me arriving into Vik in under two hours. After going through this section of mountains in the picture above the road has a fun downhill section right into town. Halfway down there's a speed limit sign of 50kmph & one of those electronic signs that tells you to slow down. This song starts playing through my headphones as I zip down the road into town clocking in at 55kmph. Wheeeeeeeee!

With a smile on my face I roll into town at a rest stop & buy some much needed sun glasses. Not so much for the sun, but for the constant wind in my eyes while I'm riding. I find the campground & get my bearings in this small town of Vik.

First I ride down to the black sand beach Vik has to offer & taking in the sights of the salt pillars just off the coast.

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Next there seems to be a steep winding road up the mountain cliff that overlooks the town. I push my bike up this rough rock road & arrive at a beautiful outlook of the area.

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Of course, it was a blast bombing back down this road which I find out later is one of Iceland's steepest roads.

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Day 16 July 8, 2015

===WEDNESDAY===

Around mid day I got into a conversation with italian bike packer just outside the camp. He seemed to be in his 50s, but had more enthusiasm in him then most people half his age. Apparently he had been biking for the last two months. Starting from southern Italy he rode up through Germany then to Denmark. From there he took the ferry to the Faroe Islands & then here on Iceland. He admitted, smiling slightly that he possibly carries too much stuff on his bike. Through this whole trip I had thought I packed too heavy, but this funny little Italian man had his small road bike loaded up like a circus bike sideshow. Loosely strapped down with bungee cords it made me chuckle a bit, but apparently this was working just fine for him.

I played with the idea of staying another night, but at about 5pm I saddled up on my ride & headed east. There seemed to be a tail wind & I wanted to take advantage of that. Just outside of Vik the mountains stop & a vast flat nothingness surrounds the highway. Only filled volcanic rock & a sea of purple flowers. It left later this day than all the other times I pedaled off for a new destination. My decision to leave later though rewarded me with beautiful views as the sun shined through the clouds lighting up the landscape to my side.

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Soon the road was surrounded by rocky areas that were completely covered in this light green moss. It is such a weird sight as everything around you is smooth & fluffy. Small fuzzy crevasses & little caves are scattered amongst the terrain to my sides. This must be where the gnomes live I chuckled to myself. Legends of gnomes, trolls & elves are rooted in Icelandic folklore. Some more pedaling & I come to a junction. Kirkjubæjarklaustur was where I was headed, but to the left there was winding road up into the mountains that looked was drawing me in. The sign read 37km/23mi to a campsite in the highlands. Just the word highlands sparked some epic images in my head so I made my decision. Right after the highway there is a green bridge that blends perfectly with the surrounding green landscape. I stopped for a picture of the river I was crossing.

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All Alone In The Highlands

The road I took went up & down with the hilly terrain. It felt like a roller coaster flowing down the road. The next couple hours I got to experience something new for this trip. I was riding through the night so I got to enjoy the colors of the sun setting then coming right back up. It became more & more dream like the farther I rode into the highlands. There was absolutely no wind & it was completely silent. This was a first. I was hitting some of the calmest weather I had this entire trip.

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The road turned into a car wide off-road trail which made it all the more fun to cruise on. There were a lot of ups & downs on this road. So, at times I had to push my bike, but it wasn't bothering me the slightest. This place felt mystical, serene & I was all alone out here for miles. I wasn't sure if a lot of the horses back here were wild or not, because they were not contained in fenced areas.

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At times I was riding right next to them. I saw a figure in the road up ahead, but couldn't tell what it was. When I got closer I realized it was a lone horse standing in the middle of the road looking right at me & it peacefully moved to the side once I got closer. This place was completely surreal. It took me nearly 6 hours to get to the camp from the highway, but none of it felt like a struggle. I settled into the small empty camp sometime around 2am.

Day 17 July 9, 2015

===THURSDAY===

I woke up, paid for the night before & asked the warden a couple questions about the area. The path to Landmannalaugar was still closed up ahead. I didn't really plan on going up that far anyways as I would be heading back the way towards Þórsmörk. The wardens dog was playing around & was very friendly. This is such a great place to have a dog. Not locked up in a suburban prison, but free to roam around. I was feeling fairly tired & wanted to be fully rested for when I left so I cooked up a big breakfast then slept for 24 hours. Apparently I needed some rest.

Day 18 July 10, 2015

===FRIDAY===

While sleeping I had heard strange ripping sounds & goat noises everywhere. I dreamt neither as there seemed to be goats hanging around the fringe of the camp at all times. The ripping sound was the dog ripping open a package of hot dogs I had left under the rain fly part of my tent. He was too cool a dog to stay mad at though. I set off to leave the same way I came in & get back to the highway.

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I had more energy & the terrain worked better for me this direction. So, I made it to the highway in three & a half hours. Stopping to make coffee I looked up how far it was to Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Not too far at all, so I cruised & made it there in no time.

Day 19 July 11, 2015

===SATURDAY===

I wanted to catch up on the blog, but my mind was too erratic for clear sentences & punctuation. I have run out of the whiskey stash I brought with me on this trip. Instead I grabbed my bottle of Brennivin, my helmet & ventured down the nearby valley from the campsite.

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There was a trail leading from the town roundabout farther down the valley so I followed it till it came to stairs over the fence. I lifted my bike over the small stairs & from therein hiked my bike up this steep trail. Not long later I was on top of the plateau that over shadows the town providing a great view.

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The hiking trail up top looked like single track to me. It was hilly green fun & eventually led to a water basin that was peeved up on this plateau. Kind if a strange thing to see, but Iceland is always throwing geographical curveballs. The basin was slowly draining into a small waterflow (the water wasn't falling so I made a new word) below in town.

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I told you Iceland doesn't believe in Disney endings.

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After bouncing around on the plateau I finished the day by finding a smaller waterfall further into the valley. Another perfect place for a beer. It was fantastic atmosphere.

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Day 20 July 12, 2015

===SUNDAY===

Today I stayed in town catching up on the blog & rewarding myself with some apple pie & good coffee. I chatted with a bike packing couple from Spain & tomorrow I will continue my trek east, pedaling off into the horizon once again.

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Posted by Dynosoarus 10:43 Archived in Iceland Comments (1)

Land of Fire & Ice (Days 1-8)

Day 1 June 23, 2015

===TUESDAY===

I have discovered time travel. Many have tried to find it's secrets. Some claim blue police boxes or early 80s automobiles, but the formula is simple.

1 travel shot of Bourbon
2 Xanax bars
& a plane ride to othersville

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Touchdown in Reykjavik, Iceland. I exit the plane & head to gather my luggage. As I wait by the conveyor belt for my big cardboard bike box containing my bike & all the rest of my gear, my mind drifts to the worst possible thing that could happen in this situation (which it usually does). I wait, I wait, it's not coming. Oh no....

The one thing I feared that could derail this adventure from the beginning has just happened. I rush over to the customer service window for IcelandAir. After clamoring around carts & cleaning supplies I am suspicious this is even where I am supposed to go, but after a few frantic knocks a woman opens the window to greet me. After exchanging information & repeated returns to this shanty customer service window I learn that my box had not been put on my plane. It would be coming on the next flight in about 6 hours. Bummer, but the plus side to this is that it's around 1am here & I could use some more sleep. So, I find a good place to lean up against & doze off. I check the window hours later when I'm awaked by an airport employee & find that the flight has landed.

Sweet boots, let's get this party rolling.

I grab my box & head outside for the grand assembly of my ride.

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Getting some strange look from people I put together my setup & takeoff towards Reykjavik. The 50km/31mi ride is slow & heavy. I knew the begging of this trip would have a breaking in stage where I really figured out what & how much I needed. I've never done a trip like this before. I overpacked just to be sure I was prepared for anything. It's always nice to bring a gun to a knife fight even if it weighs a bit more. Consider it training.

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The Music Fades In

The landscape here is mostly flat & barren, but the mountains are visible in the distance. Getting into Reykjavik I find that this city has an amazing bike trail that swoops all along the edge of the ocean around the city. Snapped a pic along the way.

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Anyways, I setup base at the campsite in the city, chat up some English dudes & settle down for my first night in Iceland. Oh yeah there is no night...
24 hours of daylight here just shy of the artic circle.

Day 2 June 24, 2015

===WEDNESDAY===

When days don't have nights it gets hard to recall memories in anything other than one continuous bright & blurry loop. Especially if your not sleeping because of jet lag. At this point I still had no concrete plan of what I was doing, where I was going or who If anyone was doing it with. From some advice of a friend I visited some local landmarks & meander around town a bit.

Time To Meander

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To wrap up the day I rode down to a local hostel to have a pint. When I went out on the patio area I overheard some American voices amongst the flurry of accents & foreign languages. I asked if I could join them & ended up chatting till bar close. It's crazy how you meet people traveling sometimes. You just need to put yourself out there a little bit & things fall into place. Two of the guys there had planned on doing a drive the next day to sightsee. They invited me to come along, but I eventually turned them down as I felt I had to experience it by bike.

Writing this now I'm craving beer. Is it okay to start drinking at 3:00 in the morning if it's never dark?......What a silly question, I'm from Wisconsin.
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Day 3 June 25, 2015

===THURSDAY===

I wake up & feel immediately like I need to leave the city & get on to some real adventure. After seeing that a fellow biker I know is going to be in Þórsmörk in about 2 days & that this national park looks like this picture below, I'm sold.

Going It Alone

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This is what I came to Iceland to experience. Reykjavik is one of the nicest & cleanest cities I've ever been to, but I've been dreaming of desolate roads & mountain views for far too long. I shove down a filling oatmeal breakfast, pack quickly & fast pedal out of Reykjavik taking Hwy 1. It's about 125km/77mi to my destination & I figure I can divide it up into 2-3 days.

Note: I have big ole 3" wide off-road tires so speed is not one of my setups advantages.

It's slow going, but I'm enjoying every minute of escaping the city. I ride for a couple miles out where this highway runs though beautiful nothingness & notice a dirt/rock trail that's running far off to the right, but parallel with the highway. This was like my first off-road teaser for the trip so I snapped a pic with my tripod.

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Sadly the trail only lasts a couple miles & I'm back hitting the pavement. I start climbing some decent sized hills & am slowly gaining elevation. Eventually I stop for a break at a rest station & end up chatting with two Icelandic motorcycle riders. We end up talking for at least a half hour & I find out that after a bit more elevation gain there's a huge spiraling downhill section to the road into the next town, Hveragerði. Up, up then it plateaus before the much welcomed downhill. I use my brakes in spurts to give them a chance to cool down. Halfway down the road it got a little less steep so I pulled over took out my phone then took some video on the way down.

Shaky Camera Video

I stopped for a quick snack after the descent & one thing I now know for certain is that Iceland has the most delicious & healthy rest stop/gas station food. Fresh fish & deli meats, just primo stuff on sandwiches. The rest of this ride is mostly flat, but absolutely beautiful. Big farm ranches cover the valleys & plains surrounding me.

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I walked up to the gate on the side of the road at one point & these guys came up to greet me. Stuck my hand out slowly & a few let me pet them.

I am the horse whisperer.

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After a bit more riding I rolled into the quiet town of Selfoss & setup my tent at the campsite there. I spent the rest of the night hanging out with a group of Texans that were camped near me before turning in late. Check out there Instagram accounts if that's your thing.

Check em out:
@adventure_addicts
@burytherails (<Gave me a half full handle of makers whiskey, what a guy)

Day 4 June 26, 2015

===FRIDAY===

I didn't sleep very long & woke up at the would be ass crack of dawn if the sun ever did set in the first place. After getting my bike all packed I said goodbye to the Texan group. I roll out of camp at 5:30am. As I leave the small sounds of the town dim. The only noise that now fills my ears is a slight breeze & the sound of my tires whirring on the pavement. I throw my headphones on for some tunes. This is the life. It's 74km/46m to the Fljótsdalur Hostel where I'll decide how to get closer to Þórsmörk. Seeing as it's just a few more miles beyond that.

Flat Land Cruising

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The wind doesn't pick up until it starts getting later in the morning, but the headwinds slow me down quite a bit. No matter, I keep hitting the pavement. Slight hills going up & down, but nothing like the day before. As I'm riding I look left & right & see fields of green with seemingly no end. Like an ocean of grass with an occasional farm shack. Never seen something quite like this before. I glide through the town of Hella & stop for a quick photo.

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Shortly after this picture a big gust of wind comes out of nowhere & knocks over my tripod. Camera into the gravel....lens first. No....this is not hella cool.

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That was my favorite lens. I use it for like 80% of my pictures. Ahhhhh...I brush it off. "Material things can be replaced" I tell myself. I guess that's what they call coping. R.I.P. Rokinon. May you be blessed with a better caretaker in the camera lens afterlife.

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Rolling through Hvolsvöllur I switch to Hwy 261 running into a headwind that's more vicious then a city block in Englewood, Chicago. For real, this wind is no joke & the bags on my bike are not the most aerodynamic. There basically acting like those giant parachutes that pop out of drag cars when there trying to slow down. I hop off my bike because I can't pedal into the wind faster than a slow drunken stumble at this point. So, I walk my bike. The weird thing is that it's bright & sunny out, but with gail force winds. I come over a hill walking & the struggle so far feels worth this view. Is this real life?

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After getting farther down the road I'm starting to feel tired from biking all day. So, I find a nice green ditch to bunker away from the wind & eat my delicious salmon, egg salad, poppy seed bun sub I bought earlier at rest stop. Out of the wind the sun is warm & feels great so I take a nap. I wake up two hours later though & the wind is just as bad if not worse, but I have more energy now. It's still sunny, but now I see where the wind is coming from. There are rain clouds in the distance, but this is the slowest approaching storm ever, despite the wind. Seems to be staying mostly back inside the valley.

Pushing, pushing, switch sides & more pushing. This goes on for something like 4-5 hours in total. Iceland is laughing at me. Thor is dropping the hammer. Farming gates line the side of this road. Even the goats are giving me strange looks & mocking me. Whenever I get close to a drove of goats, even if there on the other side of the gate they take off running. I must look like some kind of alien to them. On one occasion as I was walking the bike & a group of goats jumped through the gate in front running away from me down the road. One didn't make it through until I had already walked past him though. So there I am just minding my own business, but once this abandoned goat manages to squeeze through the gate he runs around my side & stops about 30ft in front of me. He pauses, looks me right in the eye, bahhhs some obscenity in goat tongue, then pisses directly in my path before taking off after his friends. Thug life.

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A couple water falls dotted the cliff face to the left of the road. Here was one of them. A small group of goats hung out together at the bottom shortly before I took this picture.

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It's getting late. I had passed a place at one point where it looked like there was camping, but I was determined to get to the hostel. The paved road turns into gravel & the wind is somehow getting stronger while I'm getting weaker. It started to rain slightly & all the cars passing me must have been wondering what this guy was doing heading into a frickin hurricane. Although I do get a thumbs up from one driver. I'm stumbling over rocks on the path every which way as the winds blowing me around. My energy levels are low. I've been at it since 5:30am which by now I believe was something close to 13 hours, counting the nap & a half hour stop in the morning. I think I see the hostel so I keep pushing for it. My GPS says I'm only about 2-3 miles away. I get closer. That's not it. I decide this is a good time to quit. I sit down on the side of the road in the rain, defeated & pull out a 375ml bottle of rye whiskey to toast Iceland. What a beast of a country. I guess I'll head back down the road to that campground.

With bottle in hand I kick off once & realize these last hours of torture are about to pay off. One kick is all it takes & I'm sailing down this rocky gravel road doing what must have been close to 25mph without pedaling. The headwinds now a tailwind. I'm am flying down this road almost passing a 4x4 truck. Once I hit the hard pavement around the corner I pick up even more speed. I'm trying not to exaggerate, but it must have been at least 35mph. Which is fast on this bike. The combination of my rear bags & big gortex jacket were sailing me into euphoria. Not to mention this whole time I was steering with one hand, whiskey bottle in the other laughing like a maniac. Passing occasional vehicles & farm animals I give the occasional cheers with the my bottle. Ten minutes in still no pedaling. The weight of my bike & the speed I was going felt like riding a motorcycle minus the noise & vibration. The combination of this & downing half the bottle I felt like I was just gliding right above the road. Once your moving with the wind you don't feel it nearly as much. Almost like there is none. So, as I would feel my self slowing down a fraction, a breeze like a gentle hand pushing would speed me back up.

One of the most incredible things I have ever felt.

I peak the hill close to the campsite & only have to pedal a couple times to make it up. Now on the other side a car zips past me & slams on it's brakes up ahead. Someone gets out & I hear my name being yelled. What!? It was the two friends I had drinks with at the bar in Reykjavik the night before I left Reykjavik! I roll up to them with looks of bewilderment & smiles all around. They ask me what I'm doing out here & so I catch them up. We're all amazed we ran into each other. This is not a road with much traffic, especially at this time. We chat for a while exchanging laughs & I'm given half a loaf of bread because they "Can see the pain in my eyes." I scarf down a slice & we say our goodbyes.

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"Check this out" I say & kick off once letting the wind propel me down the road. They pass me in their car with some cheers & I think I saw a fist pump or two. I'm still laughing to myself as I make it to the campsite. I went something like 12km/8mi on flat ground with only ten or so rotations on my pedals. I check in & pay for camping trying not to look like some wild eyed creature man child. Settling in I find a nice a jacuzzi to dunk in & soak my soar muscles. Stayed in there for hours. Drank more whiskey. What a day.

Day 5 June 27, 2015

===SATURDAY===

Carbo loading now with my well established breakfast of peanut butter oatmeal & instant coffee I'm ready to go by noon. Felt like I deserved to sleep in or just didn't care, no matter. I obviously needed it. I step outside & the wind feels to have died down a bit... or so I thought. This hotel campsite was shielded a bit from the wind. Once I get to the road I pedal for no more than 10 minutes & start the battle of the headwinds again.

Zach Vs. Iceland, Round 2.

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Announcer: In this corner coming in at 18 million years old, weighing an ungodly amount. It eats tourists for breakfast & spits them out whooooolllleeee, Icelanddd!!

Announcer: & in opposite corner, he's 25, 175lbs & enjoys torturing himself in his freetime, Dynooooosoarusss!

FIGHT!

Winds about the same, but I'm rejuvenated from a good nights rest for this round. No matter, I still push my bike 14km/8mi through this ridiculous head wind to the hostel in about 4 hours. There's a path I wanted to take called Emstruleið down far enough where I could cross the shortest part of the valley to the other side, but I saw I sign prohibiting all traffic due to spring thaws & wasn't sure if it applied to foot traffic or bikes. I didn't want to risk it less I end up fined or jailed. I've heard stories how the local DNR equivalent....don't take to kindly to ignorant folk. Ya hear? So I didn't want to risk it. I start crossing the rocky terrain. Even though this fields scattered with hand sized stones to roll over I'm doing alright at this point. Some small streams start coming up & I cross them on bike, walk it if necessary. The streams weave in & out. Thicker/thinner in some places & deeper/shallower in others. There slowly getting more complicated & numerous. So, there comes a point where I just have to get my shoes wet. Keeping them dry is not really an option at this point.

Use Them Shoes

It's only about a 2km/1mi across. I'm aiming for the closest connecting rock islands & the slowest, shallowest parts. I'm fairly good at reading water & on a couple occasions just to make sure, I test the water first without carrying anything. Eventually though, I have to wade through some knee & even one waste deep sections. Taking my bags off I sometimes ferry my bike in three sections as it's too heavy to carry across fully loaded. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this is glacial runoff water & it's cold. At this point as I know how to keep my body temp up & I have some good clothes on. Still I jog around between moving gear to keep my core temp up. I'm also moving through this area as fast I can because I know fatigue will start to set in if I'm wet here too long in the wind. An hour or two & I'm almost all the way across. I can see the "shore" so to speak. It's 30m/100ft away. One problem, actually two. There are deep wide sections of the river moving fairly quick & there looks to be no easier way across up or down river.

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The plus side is I've spent the last 4 years in Hawaii self learning how to swim in treacherous waters. It wouldn't be that hard to swim across just by myself, but with a fully loaded bike It was going to be a little more of a challenge. I weighed the risks. At this point it would take much more energy to get back through that maze of streams then to just get ashore here. Was this a smart decision, probably not. Do I recommend it, no, but at this point I wasn't going to be beaten down two days in row. I was making it across that river.

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I had mostly waterproof gear, but I repacked valuables like my phone, passport, wallet, camera, etc. into dry bags & buckled everything down. The road that runs along the river, Hwy F249 Þórsmerkurvegur is the proper road into Þórsmörk that sane/smart people use. This road is now occupied by a lone white 4x4 truck about to watch a crazed bicycle guy try to cross a river no one does & for good reason. I pushed in starting higher up the river because I knew I'd be pulled down river faster than I could move across. I hold onto my handle bar with one hand & doing a kind of half frog swim with the bike downriver from me I make my way across. It's working, but it's slow & I have to swim hard to make progress. It's upper chest & shoulder high deep at times as I can feel my shoes occasionally slide against rocks on the bottom. I get to the middle rock island section & pull my bike out of the water with me. So heavy. I shake it off & take sometime to catch my breath, bouncing in place to get my core temp up.

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It's not worth hanging around. I'm already committed so after about 30 seconds I plunge down into the second & last section. With water at my neck I took comfort in the fact that if I missed this next spot I was aiming for there were little rock islands I could beach myself on further downstream. I wasn't going to be swept off a waterfall or anything. It can always be worse.

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Right handed hulk grip on the bars & more frog swimming across I get to a point where it's no longer deep, maybe slightly above the knee, but the waters moving so quick I'm sliding right over the smooth rocks underwater. I've got about 25ft more downstream until this section ends & ill be in deep water again. I don't like that option so I claw my way out of the water & onto the rocks while dragging my bike. I'm on shore at this point, but my the bikes lower side is catching the current. Water rushing around it, over it & between it. Not very hydrodynamic either. Look at me using all these science words. No way I'm losing you buddy! I yank it out with what strength I have left & pull away from the river.

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I head up the bluff to greet the Swedish man from the truck so he knows I'm not hurt or dying. I feeling ok, despite the circumstances & tell him I'll be good. I have a a couple pairs of dry clothes in my bag. I assure him with this so he nods ok & leaves. He was on his way out of the valley. If he had been going inwards I would have seen if I could hitchhike along.

I'm slightly numb in my legs & shaking quite a bit. So, I put on my gortex jacket & pants to block the wind. Commercial break over, Man Vs. Wild is on all of a sudden. I'm cranking out push-ups & jumping around to raise my temperature. After a half hour or more I'm still freezing, but I've warmed up enough to not worry about anything serious like hypothermia. I've also shaken all the water out of my stuff & packed my bike up. The only damage is a couple superficial scrapes on my left shin from sliding across the rocks.

After checking everything, all was good in the Icelandic hood. I set out biking & soon noticed a truck with a legit bike rack up top carrying a fat tire bike. My visions a bit blurry, but I notice then it's the same truck from before that was watching me beach myself out of the river. I flag him down & ask if I can get a ride into camp. He agrees & we strap my bike to the top with help from his teenage son. Not much of a looker, but this truck had some of the smoothest suspension I've ever ridden in. Apparently he had imported some leaf springs from Australia on this wicked trail chomping ride. Also, these guys had drove this truck here from Sweden. Taking the same ferry which I should be using in couple weeks to leave Iceland. We talked a bit & he gave me some tips on local hot springs & I flipped through a book he had solely on the subject. So want that book. After a half hour ride they dropped me off at the wardens station were you check in. I thank them wholeheartedly for limping me the last small stretch to camp Basar. Finally, I'm here.

Day 6 June 28, 2015

===SUNDAY===

These last three days have been my hazing period into Iceland. I've always had a habit be it good or bad of jumping straight into the deep end with things. No pun intended. Today was a much less eventful day though. No exploring this day. I took the opportunity for some much needed rest, bike maintenance & food devouring. Spent some good time chatting up other campers & learning about some hikes. Also, learned a Russian card game translation: Idiot. I won once, what does that mean? Another lady gave me some of her food after chatting sporadically through the day before she left; an apple, two small cookies & a sealed bag of Hawaiian trail mix. It's cool people keep giving me stuff & I appreciate it the hell out of it. Gifts like food & whiskey are a big morale boost.

I biked around the immediate area & took some pictures. This is what I came to Iceland for, views like this.

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Day 7 June 29, 2015

===MONDAY===

Tunes For The Views

One week benchmark here Iceland. It's time to have some Mountainous experiences to show for it. Grabbed my small backpack with only essentials & left camp Básar to head across the river. There are two bridges that scale the bigger parts of this river section to reach a fairly big rock field. They shake a bit with each breeze & step making for a fun walk. The next camp was up ahead after crossing the rock field.

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I check the map at the other camp & headed up the trail to the peak of Valahnúkur. It's a short, but fulfilling hike. Zig zagging my way up the path the scenery around you sinks slowly below. From the summit, stunning views put the valley & mountains around you into perspective. Somewhere down below is the maze of rivers I crossed previously & to the left is the road þórsmerkurvegur which I would end up riding to bike out of the valley the day after next.

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I jogged back down the way I came & went looking around for some more fun trails. Eventually I passed through the volcano huts camp & found a small cave opening above a 6m/20ft rock climb. After looking it over an Icelandic girl who I found out later worked with the tour bus said she had wanted to climb this spot. After I got up there & had her take this picture for me I spotted her so she could do it also.

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We chatted for a bit on the way back to the rock field & parted ways when passing her bus. So, I walked back to my campsite, settled down & practiced wheelies the rest of the day.

Day 8 June 30, 2015

===TUESDAY===

I decided to stay another day for some more hiking. I took too much effort getting here not to stay & enjoy this place some more. Bounced around camp looking at maps & decided on hiking to the Útigönguhöfði summit. There was a lot of cloud cover & slight rain, but you can't have perfect days all the time, especially in Iceland. Besides, punching clouds is also one of my favorite pastimes.

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Up through the forest & the trail whips around into a cool path with drop off views. Didn't bring my rain jacket, but the rain was thin. The trail splits in two so I take the longer right side as I want to see the valleys on the opposing side. Turns out to be a good decision & I wander onto this high rise plateau area.

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Veins & valleys everywhere are loaded with leftover winter snow. The trail snakes up & down steadily climbing. The cool mountain breeze here is just so damn fresh & invigorating. I get closer to the top & the trail turns into a bit of a scramble with some loose gravel. Not too shabby though. I start to feel rain hitting my head & it's sounds weird. I look around & notice that this rain is actually Airsoft BB sized hail. It keeps coming down sporadically adding to the awesomeness of this hike. As I step up onto the summit it's not what I expected. There's a huge plateau on top which is really interesting. The trail to another mountain path winds around & down to the next peak. It looks tempting, but I've had my fix for the day. So, I hang around for a while taking in the sights, munching on some almonds & capturing some memories. There's so much space here, but no room to complain.

So goes another day in the land of fire & ice.

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Posted by Dynosoarus 11:57 Archived in Iceland Tagged hiking bicycle hike bike surly Comments (0)

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