The Nyidalur Hut: what a wonderful place to sleep. Ok, it cost me $70 to share an attic lined with mattresses, cozy as a tin of sardines. No electricity. Just a handful of others, international explorers including the search and rescue team. You have to do these things when you visit a foreign land, sleep in expensive huts. When else do you have this opportunity?
The caretaker had recently returned from a backcountry excursion in my same direction. She told me about another private hut not listed on the map and where they hid the key. Her directions, precise: follow your nose straight towards the Hofsjokull Glacier. Moments before I set out, a young Algerian photographer asked if I would like his new compass, since he was carrying two. Pre-trip, this was something I didn’t think I would need. I brought just a tiny, almost toy like thing — assuming the metal in the rocks would render it unusable. This silly idea came from the blogs I read in preparation, but one should ALWAYS have a good compass, especially with solo off-trail travel. Overwhelmed by his generosity, I accepted the gift and gave him mine in return as a token of thanks.
Well, the grey ash hills were simply wonderful leading to the glacier, so far removed from any road. Again, perfect weather — cloudy with a few blue patches providing a bit of light on the giant frozen mass. I probably hiked too hard and fast to keep a solid pace, but I made it. Even crossed a few rivers without getting my feet wet. Ending with the best night’s sleep.
It was completely white out when I woke up. I forced down a few more hours of sleep and then took my sweet time getting ready… meditating, photos, preparing my 'dry suit,' pooping, you know the routine. I pre-rolled 2 burritos and 5 cigarettes, in case the rain shouldn’t subside, and lined my shoes with plastic bags. Today would be wet.
One of the reasons I wanted to hike Iceland was to face my fear of cold. I’m trying to broaden my skills and experience… push my comfort, if you will. Remember folks, I'm a California girl and have a cute allergy to snow. This is just my second year in the outdoor world. Oooooh baby, let's go!! These next 30 miles were on a 4x4 track so, no need to worry about navigation.
I screamed to the hills in excitement, once I confirmed my rain system was working. I can’t quite explain it… this feeling of euphoria, completely ecstatic with a teaspoon of pride. I proved to myself that I properly prepared for my biggest fear. I didn’t conquer it, no, more, I found a way through it. I’m still terrified of the cold, and I’m sure the storm wasn’t really that bad.. or maybe… just not that long.
About 5 hours into the wet freeze, I saw a little weather station, just like the one I remember reading about in Luc Mehl’s trip report packrafting across Iceland. Luc is a true adventurer… one of the big dogs, he's in a completely different league. Well, to find myself in a similar situation as him, it was almost like a dream! I cooked up a pot of ramen and giggled to my self with glee. So fucking happy. I’m doing it! On my own! Just like the cool cats! (Again, my journey can’t come close to comparison with these guys, but that’s how I felt). I’m not a failure! And I’m having fun! The time of my life! In the sole company of dead flies! I remembered Luc writing something about the temp readings being largely off the night they slept inside. I gave a quick kiss to the blue box thermostat, thinking I may have made a similar mark before setting back out.
Several more hours of heavy rain and sleet. Two BMW touring bikes passed me and I gave the biggest smile and wave. Soon, 14 more… followed by a truck lugging their gear. I’ve never been so excited to see people, drenched in cold. I mean, they are bad ass motorcyclists touring Iceland. Walking is easy. Riding takes skill, not to mention the added danger factor. But here I was, crossing the same country, only me with all my gear on my back, at a much slower speed. I can’t wait to ride over foreign lands, and I can assure you that I already have this in my plans, but for now, I am just so happy to be here on foot.
Needless to say, it was a very good day!