On the morning of Saturday, August 22 I woke up at 1,100m in Hraftinnusker campsite. The best part, I was warm! I was very happy knowing that my tent, pad, and bag had combined for an effective, warm shelter despite the wind and cold that occurred over the night.
My hiking buddy from the day before, Lucy from Lyon, informed me as I was breaking camp that she was going to turn back due to not feeling well and being unprepared for the full hike. I did my best to convince her to stay, because I know how disappointed I would have been had I needed to turn around, but in the end I gave her my contact info and wished her the best for her remaining time in Iceland.
This second hike would end up being my favorite of the entire trip due to the sole fact that it was nature unlike anything I had seen before. As we crossed the rolling hills and ridges between the mountains I got to see many rivers and waterfalls of glacial melt. While they didnt have the intense blue of the New Zealand glacial lakes, it was still very enchanting to walk among them.
I was totally unprepared for what waited for me at the end of these rolling hills, however. Do you know in the adventure movies when a group is looking for treasure or love or a lost city or whatever and they finalllllllly find it and this super intense music comes out of nowhere and camera pans way out and then zooms way the fuck in to capture the full awesomeness of the moment? Yeah, coming over the final ridge and seeing the valley where we’d camp that night was kinda like that. Except the music was in my head. *cues heavenly trumpet quartet with walking stick*
I’m telling you people, it was something. Mountains that would be looming over me in a few hours looked like ant hills, rivers so wide that I would need to take my boots off to cross were blue threads sewn into the grassy fields, and the mountains surrounding it all made the entire thing looked like if God was hungry he could pour some Cheerios and milk into it and have the perfect bowl.
It turms out that even the Laugavegurin Trail is subject to the rule of ‘what goes up must come down’ because I spent the rest of my hike descending. Thankfully I had the incredible view of God’s cereal bowl to distract me but I couldn’t become too absorbed since most of the terrain was steep, loose rock or dirt. By the time I was in the valley my knee was thumping and feet were aching.
I spent what seemed like hours going the final kilometers to the campsite. Being back at a low point in such a high, massive place made progress seem particularly slow going. The mystique of it all was also broken by the mopeds, quads, and Jeeps of the emergency response team rushing past me on the service road. At first I thought there was going to be an unexpected adventure involving a volcanoe eruption in my near future but it just turned out to be a routine stop.
It took me 3 hours and 52 minutes to do the 12k to Alflavatn. This proves that, despite being less of a bitch to your cardiovascular system, going downhill is only easy if you pull a Joe Schuh and just jump.
Camp that night was right next to a lake that I could not for the life of me think of in any other way except for God’s left over milk. See, Dad, even God doesn’t like to drink his cereal milk!
The place was windy, too! It seemed to come in all directions so I put my tent at the bottom of a hill and collect some rocks (#PenguinStatus) to buffer it the best I could. However, the wind did make it an opportune place to get some sink laundry done!
I met a lovely doctor from Seattle, WA during my post hike stretch and snack time named Alyssa so we talked for awhile and I had dinner with her and her friend, Elise (at the time of this publishing I am unclear on how to spell your name, Elise, but I am sure you will find it all the funnier if I am spelling it wrong).
I messed my rice up again that night, too. Dammit.
After dinner I couldn’t help but overhear two men talking about their family’s Holocaust story. While their family’s story is very different from my own, I made a point to walk over and tell him how glad I was that he had taken the time to learn the story and pass it along. Because we must never forget.
The two men (who I believe were brothers or had married sisters, wasnt entirelt sure) were there with their families. Alex had brought his family from Boston and Ben had brought his from Belgium. All in all they had a party of 9 (which would be miserable navigating the trail but seemed like a lot of fun once they got to camp) and it was really great to be able to connect with strangers over my Jewish identity.
After corralling my laundry and writing for awhile I called it a night.
All my love.