Iceland Day 4 – Akureyri, Dalvik to Grettislaug, a day on the road

March 29.

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Left in the morning the beautiful wild camping spot North of Grevinik towards Akureyri. I was looking forward to a coffee in a nice cafe with decent internet access.

At 9.30am in Akureyri, I walked the streets for a bit. The second biggest town or city of Iceland still felt like in hibernation. I found an open bookstore, checked books and settled with coffee and cake for their internet. Iceland feels small and the tourists are still limited – ran into Luise first and Herbert and his wife later in the same bookstore.

I came to Iceland mainly for the nature and open landscapes, so I hit the roads again up North on the Western side of the same fjord.

Is I drove up the coast towards Dalvik, situation got more and more snowy. The Tunnels on the road around Olafsjoerdur and Siglufjoerdur are special. They just have one lane and every two hundred meters or so a stop to let oncoming traffic past. With every tunnel passed, the roads were more covered with snow.

Soundtrack for today’s driving: Pink Floyd – Coming back to life

Heading back South on the other side, I came by Hofsoes. Checked up the swimming pool which looked nice open to the sea, but it would only open in the later afternoon. Since Herbert had recommended Grettislaug, I decided to drive all the way to the Grettislaug hotpot and camping place.

Passed Saudarkrokur, there was a bit less snow.

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Made it at 5pm with a starting snowstorm to the hotpot and camping place around Grettislaug. Did a quick check on the facilities, but stayed in the car for the night. No hotpot in the middle of a snowstorm. Parked on the wind protected side of a cabin.

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Photo is taken the next morning after the snowstorm.

Despite the storm, had a good night even with Northern lights showing after 10pm!

 

Iceland Day 3 – Selfoss, Dettifoss, a hitchhiker, Godafoss and the perfect spot for the night

March 28.

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Selfoss

The day started late for me just around 8am, the last night had been late. Breakfast with James and his mum and Luise in the kitchen / common room of the campground.

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James and his man toy

Then I left for Dettifoss with blue skies.

When turning of the main road, I picked up a hitchhiker from Brazil. He was standing there in the wind with two backpacks on a road with basically no cars. The road to Dettifoss was a bit slippery, but with no cars easy to drive. Getting to the parking area where paths to both Dettifoss and Selfoss started, the wind started picking up.

I spent a longer time at Selfoss, walking up as close as possible. No other vistors. Beautiful.

Dettifoss, the more famous and bigger waterfall, was a bit crowded and the only access was a sightseeing platform at a distance.

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Dettifoss

I took the hiker back towards Myvatn with a stop at Namafjall, a geothermal area.

 

After a quick stop at Myvatn for gas and some groceries, I drove on to the next waterfall Godafoss, right at the ring road.

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Then wind really picked up – see the video below.

I was getting adventurous and wanted to try a spot for the night North of Grenivik. The Beautiful drive on the 835 North to the potential camping spot turned out to be the most beautiful road I had seen so far on Iceland. The gravel road had spots covered with snow and ice – and my van finally got dirty!!

I arrived at the spot at 5.30pm – for me a perfect place to spend the night. 

At this beautiful spot, I will sleep again with  open curtains… hoping for northern lights.

And guess what… around 10pm, the show started!!!

Perfect finish for a beautiful day.

Iceland Day 2 – Bakkafjoerdur, Porshoefn, Asbyrgi, Husavik, Myvatn and my first hot hotpot experience

March 27.

Woke up with the sun coming over the horizon – had a good and quiet sleep despite the wind. I enjoyed a slow breakfast with muesli and Skyr – and some big black coffee. I continued driving North, mostly following the coastline. The weather was nice most of the time with sunshine and blue skies.

Passing Bakkafjoerdur, the road was unpaved for a while. There were some beautiful spots to stay for the night but I was planning for Myvatn tonight, so I moved on.

The coast with ice on the shore had its own beauty.

Coming closer to Asbyrgi, the landscape changed to very flat lands. I drove into the park, walked around a bit – the famous canyon, shaped like a hoof.

Passed by Husavik, famous for whale watching. Noted the time, maybe tomorrow. But that will depend on the weather.

Met up with Herbert and his wife and Luise again at the campground in Vogar near the Myvatn lake. They invited me for coffee and cake in their camping trailer – what a nice treat. Afterwards we drove together to the famous Grjotagja cave nearby with a hotpot underground. Getting in there not too easy, climbing into the cave. Next challenge was getting undressed on a small spot… then the water is really hot. 45 degrees hot.

Some more tourist show up, look, take photos… After two sessions, we leave.

Dinner at the campgrounds pizza place with internet. The campground was very basic – just a parking lot with electricity outlets and a building with facilities. I am surely looking forward to some wild camping during the next days.

Luise had her van parked closeby in the same campground and was working to get her heating running. I provided electricity for the hairblower when she tried to unfreeze the Diesel line – but no luck. James has no heating, so nothing can break in his Landrover. Herbert has his electric heating in the trailer for the night.

Iceland Day 1 – Seydisfjoerdur, Egilsstadir, Hengifoss, Iceland Horses and Vopnafjoerdur

March 26.

After breakfast in an empty cafeteria, the ferry arrived at 9am in Seydisfjoerdur. Since the ferry was so empty, also the unloading of the cars was rather quick. Just a bit of backing up needed, then there was space to turn around and drive off the ferry.

First stop was customs. Many of us were not sure about the amount of food we were carrying – there is an official 3kg limit on food besides the usual restrictions on tabacco and alcohol. A very kind customs agent waved me through – welcome to Iceland!

I continued straight through the village towards Egilsstadir with its super markets. We would all reconnect at the Bonus supermarket there. Bought fruits and vegetables, the famous Icelandic Skyr yogurt.

While my intention is to go North following the ring road, I wanted to get my bearings in the area first. So I visited a major waterfall Hengifoss, just some kilometers South of Egilsstadir.

On the way there, I saw some closed campgrounds. It seems they will still offer free parking, just no facilities or water/electricity while they are closed for the season. I hope I will be able to do wild camping most of the time. At least there is no need for showers with the amount of public hotpots throughout the island.

It was a nice short hike going up to Hengifoss. A few smaller waterfalls along the way. Still beautiful weather with sunshine and blue skies, just the wind picked up. I saw a handful of vistors coming down from the waterfall. At the waterfall, Luise caught up with me.

With nobody else around and nobody I could bother, I started the drone to take some footage from Hengifoss. All good until the flight back – the drone was caught in the winds that got stronger and stronger and carried away. I could just watch on the camera how it drifted off, not strong enough to return against the winds. With a big lake in the back, I was close to panic. Luckily, I could force it down on a field despite its impossible tries to return to the starting point. It had drifted away nearly a kilometer. I drove as close as I could and found it shortly after all intact. What a stressful first flight on Iceland. Will need to be more careful with these winds.

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I checked out another campground in the area but decided to make some kilometers North.

Tomorrow evening, I want to be at Myvatn Lake to enjoy the hotpots there. I found a nice spot for the night around 6pm close to Vopnafjoerdur. Exciting first day – I am actually tired after the last days just chilling on the ferry. Sleeping with all curtains open – hoping for aurora / polar lights. 🙂

A day at sea

March 24.

Breakfast around 8.30am. After breakfast, I inquired at the reception desk to get an opportunity to visit the bridge. Due to the weather conditions, it is not clear whether this will be possible today.

Due to the weather, some of the areas of the ship remain closed and some shelves got wrapped up in the shop.

I spent some time sitting at the open deck in the wind and weather protected space, watching as we passed some oil rigs.

The weather later calmed down as we passed the Shetland Islands – beautiful view with the sun coming through the clouds. And I even got some internet reception from these British islands.

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I enjoyed the day at sea not doing much – free time to read up on Iceland, chill, taking some notes for the blog and listening to music.

Tomorrow morning we will come to the Faroe Islands where I plan to explore the island during the few hours that the ferry will stop there.

Going North – To Iceland!

March 21.

Since I returned from the trip through Spain and Portugal, I have been looking forward to the next journey. The idea has been growing to discover Iceland – right now, at the end of winter. I will be driving about 1200km to Hirtshals in Denmark and take the ferry from there to Iceland. I plan to drive the ring road around the Island. I expect wide and open landscapes, lots of snowy hills and mountains, glaciers, waterfalls… and of course hotpots to soak in!

I left around 2pm, made good progress driving North through Germany. I made about 500km until 7pm. Found a nice remote spot for the van next to a small lake for the night.
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Checking the Iceland weather on their very useful Vegagerdin app, the road conditions have turned bad within the last hours.

 

The red roads are closed for traffic due to weather conditions. While it is normal that the mountain roads in the middle of the island are closed in winter, the once marked with the yellow bubble are actually part of the popular ring road.

I am really excited to see how the weather turns out once I arrive in Iceland. The ferry going via Faroer Islands is nearly a 3 days trip.

I came a long way…

Sept 24.

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Northern Terminus – Pacific Crest Trail – Sept 24 2018

I came a long way. 2650 miles and more than 150 days later, I have completed my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail on Sept 24th!

I am happy, relieved, proud, excited… and haven’t fully understood yet that the hiking has really come to an end.

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Southern Terminus (Mexican Border) April 21 2018 / Northern Terminus (Canadian Border) Sept 24 2018

Hiking the PCT meant freedom and new encounters every day. I got used to beautiful sunsets, landscapes that take your breath away. It was a pleasure to meet all these amazing people on trail – especially Cactass, Tinkle and Spirit Kick.

Thanks to my family, friends and former colleagues for their support and encouragement during the last months.

The last two weeks in Washington were the biggest challenge during the hike. We got soaked in heavy rain several times (where also my phone died), had snow several times. We were at a point to turn back and leave the trail due to the weather and limited food. But the weather changed and the sun dried our gear and motivated us to push on.

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin”

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PS: I will be updating the blog for the missing weeks in Washington with amazing photos during the next days…