Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 3: Alftavatn to Emstrur (Botnar)

Had a reasonably good sleep last night, although one of the Spaniards (I think) was snoring quite a bit. In the morning Lynn and I did some trading -- she gave me some instant coffee packets for some of Ed's mini Snickers. I can't believe we didn't think to bring coffee, tea or any kind of drink.

The bikers took off early, and the rest of us were discussing which route to take. The official route, which the hut warden said was signed, was mainly along a dirt service road. It had two river crossings. The alternate route was much prettier, but was unmarked and had three river crossings, including one called the Cold Crotch River. The hut warden said she thought that river was only up to the knees about now, but it had rained all night and was still raining, so we feared it might be rising to crotch level. Personally, Ed and I didn't like the idea of hiking an unmarked trail. We'd done a bit of that last night on the mountains and didn't care for it. I also didn't want to cross any more rivers than I had to. So we elected to take the official route with the Spaniards, while the four Canadians and Eli opted for the scenic route.

Ed and I left ahead of the Spaniards, who prefer to sleep in a tad and eat when the rest of us are out of the kitchen. Although the warden promised signage, there was none on the road. But as there was just one road, we figured we had to be going the right way. 

After an hour or so we came upon another hut (I didn't realize there was another one this close to ours). We chatted with a Slovakian guy there, who said, "Dammit!" when we told him our hut had hot showers (his did not, and he was really wanting one). 

At this point it started to POUR. The Spaniards caught up with us and soon we all faced a fairly wide river up to about knee level. We all forded the river, then began hiking together. The rain stopped -- yay! -- but then these enormous winds began to batter us. They were so strong. We couldn't enjoy the landscape, as everyone had their head down to better hike into the wind. Now we turned onto these enormous, black sand dunes (really lava ash). At some point I just had to eat and pee (it was about 2:30), so we stopped and let the Spaniards go on.

After a hasty lunch tucked into the side of a lava-sand dune, the sun suddenly came out and the weather became gorgeous. We caught up with the other 5 who had taken the scenic route, and the 7 of us crossed another river (I needed some help on this one). Then it was down a mountainside and into the most scenic valley and our next hut.

The hut warden here, Hafta, was dressed in an authentic Icelandic outfit and looked so charming. She had a black Lab, Bronco,who greeted us on the trail. We were assigned to a hut with 10 beds, which was perfect for the 10 of us.

After we got settled in, all of us but the Spaniards hiked a side trail to a gorgeous canyon. It looked as spectacular as the Grand Canyon. Well, it was smaller, but it was still pretty darn impressive.

That night the 11 Belgian kids hiked into camp and stayed in an adjacent hut. Ed and I passed on the $5 shower this time.

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