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Our fantastic hiking experience, abridged

We arrived home from our hiking trip last night after a fantastic time away. Incredible how many amazing adventures can be packed into four short days. Here’s a quick run-through of our itinerary:

TUESDAY

Left Reykjavík around 2 pm, drove due north to Hofsós, a small fishing village on the edge of Skagafjörður fjord, where we had our base. Got settled into the house our group had rented for the duration of our trip. People started arriving and we wondered with some concern how 15 of us were going to manage with the TINY kitchen in the place.

WEDNESDAY

Drove further north still, to the foot of Siglufjarðarskarð mountain pass. Those with cars drove them on to Siglufjörður, while the rest of us set off. The drivers then came back in a single car and caught up with us en route. Hiked up the mountain and through the pass, coming down the other side and into Siglufjörður, where we visited the incredible Herring Age Museum. YT is not much of a museum person but I loved this place, especially the live reenactment of the herring age, which made for a Klondike-like atmosphere in the early part of the last century.

Fun at the Herring Age Museum

Next we went to the only cafe in the place, which happened to be a Pizza 67, and then drove back to Hofsós.

THURSDAY

Sailed out to Drangey, to which the outlaw Grettir Ásmundsson fled and was later killed. Stunning, stunning place, filled with puffins and Kittiwakes. Seriously, I cannot adequately describe my impression in this small space – it’s otherworldly. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it, from near and far. More on Drangey later.

When we got back, we headed to Hólar, which is one of the two Bishoprics in Iceland, and had a look around. From there we crossed the fjord for a dip in Grettislaug, which is a naturally hot pool in which Grettir is said to have warmed himself after swimming all the way from Drangey. EPI and I forgot our bathing suits [or, I forgot them] so after some coaxing from the others we ended up going in in our underwear.

Grettislaug

FRIDAY

Drove out to see some place called Ábær, where a woman lived with her five children or something. The road was horrible, and since EPI and I were not driving a SUV and all the SUVs the others were driving were full, we let them go on ahead and went on our own hike, which was great.

Went from there to Mælifell, which is the highest peak in the area, around 1,100 metres above sea level. The Ábær adventure had taken so long that we didn’t get there until 4 pm. We’d planned to go all the way up, but by 6 we were only halfway there and a few of us were getting pretty hungry and tired. We headed down [the women, if you must know], while four of us [the men, if you must know] went all the way to the top. Next time I’m starting the day by going there – and going all the way up.

Helene, Þorri, YT

SATURDAY

Drove out to a nearby headland called Þórðarhöfði. Had to hike for a long distance along a rocky spit before we actually got to it. Then headed up, and across. Down the other side, to which the cars had been ferried, like on the first day. Along the way we picked loads of mushrooms for our big dinner party that evening – every hike ends on a ‘gala’ dinner. It was meant to be an easy walk but it took about five hours. Headed back to Hofsós and started getting ready for the barbecue, which was being held in a house owned by a friend of one of the women in our group. Ate a fantastic meal, drank wine and after dinner the partner of the woman who owned the house brought out his accordion. There was dancing. There was singing. There was madness on the trampoline. And a fantastic time was had by all.

Dancing fools

SUNDAY

Packed up all our stuff, then headed down to the Icelandic Emigration Centre, which gives an account of the massive emigration of Icelanders to North America at the beginning of the last century. Around 25% of the nation left!! It’s another wonderful museum, and had our YT enthralled, despite my aversion to staid old museums. From there we drove to Grafarkirkja church, a tiny turf church that has been preserved and which is still occasionally in use. Very beautiful. Took our time going home – had planned to even stay a bit longer on the road, but since the weather was no longer cooperating we decided to hightail it back to town.

Meanwhile, the weather was FANTASTIC the whole entire time we were hiking. Brilliant sunshine and [relatively] warm temps. The weather gods totally pulled through for us!

I’ve just uploaded a gazillion photos to Flickr [not kidding!] that you may want to check out. Just make sure you get comfortable first – and remember the slideshow option!

Comments

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  • Jon July 29, 2008, 2:56 pm

    Great pics! Did the camera ever start to overheat? Do all of the rock formations in Iceland have names? Just looking at the photos gave me a mini vacation. Thanks!

  • Lucy July 29, 2008, 3:27 pm

    i love that church, what religion is it?

  • Valerie July 29, 2008, 5:05 pm

    Thanks so much! Icelandic looks so magical. I hope to visit one of these days. It just seems to have such a unique landscape and atmosphere and I love the Icelandic people I have met.

  • hildigunnur July 29, 2008, 8:01 pm

    They STILL have Pizza 67? 😮

  • Rozanne July 29, 2008, 8:47 pm

    Totally great. (As you will see from my comments on Flickr–I am quite enamored of that Herring Age Museum.) And the hiking? I am in awe. It all looks so unspoiled and wild and northern.

  • alda July 29, 2008, 11:12 pm

    Jon – overheat? From too much use? No, every time it started emitting smoke I made sure to give it a rest.

    Lucy – it’s Evangelical Lutheran. That’s the national religion here, something like 90% of the population belongs to that church.

    Valerie – it’s totally magical, especially when the weather is like that!

    Hildigunnur – yes indeed! 🙂

    Rozanne – you would have loved the place. It was a wonderful museum – it’s won European awards and stuff. Like I said, I’m not much of a museum person, but I was very impressed.

  • Coffee Drinking Woman July 30, 2008, 5:44 am

    Why is it that reading your blog always leaves me with the urge to drop everything and fly to Iceland Right! Now!?

    I’m off to check out the gazillion flickr photos now…

  • mary July 30, 2008, 11:06 am

    Your pics are wonderful, don’t really know what to say. I totally agree with Coffee Drinking Woman, I too want to fly off to Iceland NOW.
    What a happy bunch you seem, but there’s no point on going on holiday unless you enjoy it.

  • tk July 30, 2008, 2:28 pm

    Beautiful pix, Alda. Love the puffins. The trio looks so inquisitive. And oh, man, does that leg of lamb look good!

    A heads-up: a partial solar eclipse on Friday morning will be visible from Iceland. Paths & safe viewing tips:

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/29jul_solareclipse.htm?list107690

  • alda July 31, 2008, 11:22 am

    Teri – maybe because you need an escape right! now!? 😉

    mary – thanks. I guess I’m doing something right if this blog makes you want to fly on over … call me the unofficial Iceland Tourist Board!

    tk – yes, the puffins are a delight. They really are. So funny looking, and the way they fly is hilarious, with their legs all splayed. – Thanks for the hedz up on the eclipse … I’ll check into it.

  • Rose August 1, 2008, 10:00 pm

    I really enjoyed the evening picture of Drangey from Hofsós–the two days we were in Hofsós it was so foggy that you couldn’t see Drangey from Hofsós, or the shore from Drangey!

  • Rose August 2, 2008, 2:11 am

    And Alda…did you take that Drangey-from-Hofsós picture with a telephoto, or not? I’m really curious…

  • alda August 2, 2008, 12:27 pm

    Rose – thanks, yes, I like that picture too. It was such a beautiful evening. As for your question, I’m a bit befuddled as to the difference between a telephoto and a zoom lens. I used a zoom lens – is that the same as a telephoto lens? Anyone?

  • Rose August 2, 2008, 1:52 pm

    I think telephoto is just an old-fashioned word for zoom lens. When I think of telephoto, I think of a non-digital SLR where you remove the regular lens to put on the big ‘0l telephoto. I just used the word automatically, thus, perhaps, showing my age. Not positive about this, though.

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