JMT – Day 4 – From Crabtree to Tentsite below Forester, mile 779

Jul 29.

Got up 5.45h, left tentsite 6.30h. I definitely have a cold, but somehow I manage to keep an acceptable hiking speed. Made it around 7am to the PCT crossing at mile 767 – now I am heading north as close to Forrester as possible.

Beautiful morning in the Sierra

There are a couple of river crossings coming today.

The first two were knee deep and I could cross right on trail.

Taking a break at 930am at mile 772, Tyndall crossing is still 3 miles out.

Made the Tyndall crossing around 1130am as recommended by many SOBOs a bit upriver from the trail crossing. Turned out to be not much of a challenge. Amazing – no mosquitos around these meadows. A good reason to plan for a lunch break. It’s only 4 miles and 2000 feet to Forester Pass. Considering that I will only do the summit tomorrow morning due to better (harder) snow, I have plenty of time…

The approach to Forester is one of my favorite stretches of the JMT. 😍 It’s a mix of Sierra beauty and moon landscape to me.

Arrived around 3pm at the desired tentsites, even further up than the last time I camped below Forester pass.

Tentsite just below Forester pass

They are all quite exposed to the wind – I secured my tent with extra rocks on all stakes, I hope it will hold up. Maybe the wind will also calm down over night. Watched an older couple climb down from the pass – gave me some good ideas for tomorrow morning. When they arrived they looked very exhausted but will push on another 3 miles to a better tentsite.

I prepared my dinner at 4pm.

But I didn’t get the loneliness I was expecting. First an older couple came down the pass, maybe at 5pm. They had trouble navigating but had seen my bright tent in the rocks. I gave them directions. They were pretty exhausted but were heading on to make it to the next better tentsite at 3.8miles, probably 2h. They might make it short before nightfall. They had shown me a friend of theirs in bright clothes, still making his way down. And after this guy came a last older man. They were really looking exhausted. I invited them to pitch their tents nearby, but both carried on at 5.30pm.

Forester is always good for some excitement.

… And then at 6pm a group of 4 older ladies showed up. I had met them during the Whitney Summit, actually brought a lost sun hat up from one of them. My beautiful remote camp spot is no more quiet. Can’t even … out loud anymore! But I can’t help it… I offered them to lead the way tomorrow around 7am anyway.

JMT – Day 3 – Summiting Mt Whitney and back to Crabtree Meadows, mile 767

July 28.

Getting up at 6am.

When I prepared my daypack to climb Mt Whitney I felt so smart. I would leave all my other gear behind in my tent – additional clothes, sleeping bag, the bear can away from the tent… And then I realized I need my hiking poles that also hold up my tent! 😂😜 Stupid me! 😂 So I broke down the tent, packed all gear in my back pack and hid it behind some rocks. Leaving camp at 645am – still not sure how far I will get. Most hikers had either left at night time for sunrise or at least earlier than me. I started with one Ibuprofen, had a nagging headache.

Short break in the beginning of the switch backs. 745am at 12500 feet. So I still did 1000 feet in one hour. Wonder how I will feel when the ibuprofen wears out…

845am at the Whitney Portal trail crossing at 13360feet. Looks good, feeling ok.

945am resting at 13825. Much slower altitude gain, but still feeling pretty good. 0.8 miles and about 500 feet to go.

Made it to the summit at 1015am. 😁

I was sitting there for a while, quietly enjoying the moment – it took actually a while to realize. I had been touched when I summited Mt Whitney the second time in 2018. This time, I started crying when I was starting to go down and away from the crowd at the summit. It might not be such a big thing to climb this mountain with relatively easy approach. But still – these 14505feet / 4400m mean a lot to me, especially coming back the third time.

Back at Guitar lake at 1.45pm. Redid my pack, started walking 2pm.

Pitched my tent at 4pm at a site close to Crabtree Meadows. Its less than a mile back to PCT from here.

Whitney summiting from Guitar lake 9miles plus 3.5 back from Guitar lake. 12.5 miles today.

Napping in the tent, a bit separated from the rest. Around 6pm it started to get colder. Even though I am not that hungry, I pushed myself to get out and cook. Fell asleep happy and exhausted at 7pm.

Iceland Day 14 – Hiking in Skaftafell NP, Icebergs at Breidarlon/Joekulsarlon, Hoefn

April 8.

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Had slept very well with popped up roof, plugged in electrity. Cozy and warm, snuggled in. Glamping. Woke up around 8am… planning to get some laundry done. What a great camping ground! Not only has the Skaftafell NP campground nice and clean grounds, toilets and showers – next to the visitor center are also washing machine and dryer free for use. After starting laundry, the campground was still quiet. Had a delicious breakfast with freshly made scrambled eggs and onion – surely making other campers jeaoulus with the nice smell. I walked a bit to an empty area and did a short drone flight, just taking some photos of the beautiful mountain landscape around me from above (see first photo of this post). Even the camping fee was cheap comparing to other campsite. Definitely my most favorite campground on Iceland so far – but finding wild spots is still the best. 😉

With the laundry done and dry, I left for a hike aiming for a 10-12km loop trail. As I climbed higher and higher, the views become more and more gorgeous. So much beauty around me. Passed a few waterfalls, one with remarkable basalt columns.

Pushed on further for a higher spot for a lunch snack. Even though it was a short hike only, no more tourists walked around here. A lunch break with a view so beautiful I won’t forget. Watched the mountains, the moving clouds. In the flat lands towards the sea, dark clouds formed and some dust or sand storms raced through the open lands. I planned to hike around two peaks, but at this altitude, there was already so much snow that following the trail all the way would be difficult if not impossible without proper gear.

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With the clouds getting darker and closer, I hiked back and got ready to move on further East.

Could not get far before the next stop. A glacier reached so close to the ring road that I had to stop right away. A really bumpy road with a warning 4WD cars only led me to a parking right next the the glacier.

With the bumpy road, not too many other tourists were around. So after enjoying the beauty of the icebergs for a while, I took another drone flight. Still careful about possible winds and gusts specifically, I did just a very short fly around. But that’s exactly the footage why I brought the drone in the first place.

Back on the road, I followed the advice from Iceland veteran Herbert.

I did not stop at the famous iceberg sightseeing spot at Joekulsarlon but a bit before at Breidarlon. Also there, a small store offered boat rides around the icebergs but I chose just to walk around the shore. It got more windy, cloudy and with that colder by now. But that didnt make the view less magnificent, just the photos more difficult with so little contrasts between the massive glacier and the grey skies.

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I continued East on the ring road, checking out a possible location for the night just before Hoefn. The dirt road leading there was narrow and started to get more and more muddy. I did not want to get on private lands and potentially even get stuck there… so I opted for an easier alternative and drove to the Hoefn campground. Just opposite of a gas station with small shop, it is located an the beginning of the small town. Drove up all the way up and to the end with nice view on the town and the nearby water and meadows. I spotted a reindeer just below grazing. This campground is really basic – most facilities were broken resp not working, still they were asking a steep price.

With the good feeling that I had actually given some wear to my hiking boots today, I fell asleep.

Iceland Day 11 – Golden Triangle with Pingvellir, Oxararfoss, Geysir and Gulfoss

April 5.

This would be the day of the golden triangle – the major attractions Pingvellir, Geysir and Gulfoss that are located close enough to Reykjavik for a day trip. With that, I was also anticipating more crowds of tourists than in the relatively quiet North.

Heading towards Pingvellir, I was planning to take road 435. I had read some nice reviews about Pingvellir where approaching was recommended via this scenic route. As it turned out, that advice was only good for summer time:

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Road 435 closed due to snow

When I later came to the Pingvellir area, I avoided the main parking spot but took an earlier turn South along the lake.

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Took a lunch break on a small dirt road in this beautiful area.

Continuing on towards Geysir, my next stop was at the Oxararfoss waterfall and a connected small canyon. The access into the canyon was a bit steep. With so many people crawling down, it was actually funny to watch how many were scared of slipping or falling and decided to glide down instead sitting on their pants.

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Oxararfoss

Following the tourist crowds, next stop was the Geysir area.

 

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After this geothermal area, I was heading on towards Gulfoss, again with a full parking lot. I really wonder if this is low season, how is this area looking like in peak season?

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Gulfoss

And it was time for another hotpot for the night. Checking the useful hotpoticeland.com website, I drove a bit South towards Fludir. The camping ground there was closed, but would make a good parking for the night anyway. Drove on some dirt roads towards the close hotpot in Hruni called Hrunalaug. Due to the proximity to the golden triangle, this hotpot was packed full with visitors. Some people from Iceland, but also from China and the US. It got a bit tight in there, but I still stayed for an hour or so. Surely not the same and these lone hotpots in the North I had enjoyed so much – but a hotpot after all.

At 9.30pm at the closed campground where I stayed for the night.

Iceland Day 8 – From Westfjords into Snaefellsnes

April 2.

Got up around 9am after that really long night last night. But the photos of the Northern lights still look nice in the morning. So loosing some sleep for these moments was very worth it.

To get out quickly from the Westfjords towards the Snaefellsnes region, I decided to take a ferry that will connect from Brjanslaekur in the Westfjords to Stykkisholmur in Snaefellsnes. It should save me several hours driving. Booking it online just 2 hours before departure was easy enough. I was waiting alone at the very small harbor first, then one truck and another car showed up.

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The ferry left around 12pm. The ferry ride was great – beautiful weather, a short stop at a tiny island on the way.

Just as the life in the Westfjords, also the ferry connection seems to be as flexible and multipurpose as possible. Besides trucks, cars and passengers, the ferry carried some lumber on deck that was quickly unloaded during the short stop on the way. Also a small container was exchanged, probably with mail/packages. Water was refilled while the ferry was stopping for these procedures. A trailer was lifted up with the crane to the spot where the lumber had been transported before. Once again I was impressed on how a country and society so small in population still can work.

With all this efficiencies, I made sure to be at the steering wheel when the ship was about to arrive. You notice the big truck behind my van in the rather empty ferry.

I spent the day driving through the really beautiful landscape of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.

For the evening, I planned two locations with hotpots nearby. One turned out to be closed, the other one I was not able to find on the first try. Checking on campgrounds opened in the winter season, I decided to stay in the Snorrastadir farm which also offers a basic campground with facilities. It was great to reconnect with Luise. The hottub was closed unfortunately, but they offerend a big kitchen space well heated for dinner. Had lots of beer for a good night sleep.