The walk back from Langisjor was unexpectedly stunning. Despite mostly grey skies we enjoyed a fantastic couple of days on one of the most enjoyable sections of trail in Iceland.
Our third day at Langisjor began a little after sunrise when the clouds started to break up. A short climb brought us to the same view we had photographed the evening before – this time with a mirror-like reflection on the water below.
By late morning we had packed up and began to make our way along the edge of the lake following the route marked on the map. A trail was occasionally visible but for the most part it felt like we were walking on virgin ground.
Later on the route we found our way blocked by steep snow slopes leaving us to carefully navigate the ridgeline whilst trying not to cause any damage to the delicate moss which we inevitably found ourselves walking across.
A final climb brought us to another panoramic view, similar to that from the summit of Sveinstindur. The flat ground made it a great place to make camp and from the hill above the view improved further.
Sadly we weren’t treated to the conditions of the evening before. As sunset approached the cloud thickened and the wind picked up.
One of the unexpected highlights of the Langisjor workshop was leaving! We had arrived at the lake by Super Jeep, but planned to tackle the 26km distance back to the highland road on foot. I’d researched this route in some depth, largely to make sure that it wouldn’t pose any unexpected dangers, but actually hiking the route was far more enjoyable than anticipated.
Our first stop on route was our food cache which we had left on a snow patch to avoid having to carry it around Langisjor, unsurprisingly it was untouched and we continued down to the hut below Sveinstindur. There we met the first people of the trip, a few European hikers (I can’t remember where they were from) and had the kind of friendly chat that you always have with hikers!
The hike continued for several hours along the Skafta river giving us a variety of views and terrain as the water cut through old lava flows.
I must admit to having made a bit of a mistake on route. I had assumed that we would have easy access to water as is often the case in Iceland. I assumed that with all the snow around we would cross a few meltwater streams, but this proved not to be the case. If necessary we could have drawn water from the Skafta, but this glacial water is full of suspended silt and, without filtration, is unpleasant to drink. So in the knowledge that we would be able to fill up at Hvanngil we carried on, walking for more than an hour feeling thirsty!
I read a blog before the workshop which warned of a difficult river crossing at Hvanngil. The description was so dire that, before I had spoken to our 4X4 driver on route to Langisjor, I had been considering walking around what sounded like a deathtrap.
Even if I would be dragged by the stream there was a good chance I could hold on to some rocks a few meters downstream. It’s always nice to know that when my mind goes into ‘survival mode’, I can always find a certain calmness and extreme determination to focus on the thing to do. The river pushed me, but I made it. http://bramdamman.nl/
In reality the crossing at Hvanngil is as easy as they come. The blogger mentioned had taken a diagonal route across the meadering river shown in the above image. The correct route is off to the right. Even after rain I would anticipate this being okay.
Uxatindur had been in our view for several miles and when we finally reached it we took some time to enjoy the scenery. The lake beneath the peak was a vivid shade of blue and Marie the bravest of the group decided to take a dip. I gather it was bracingly cold!
We continued on following a route up the flanks of Uxatindur often finding ourselves on steep slopes. I was glad to have full confidence in the hiking abilities of the group. Whilst the path was always excellent there were points at which a fall would have been costly! It’s fair to say that everyone was grinning, enjoying a truly adventurous day!
By the time evening was approaching the group was starting to feel a little tired but we pushed a little bit at this point to take a detour to Skaelingar.
Skaelingar is a remarkable area of lava formations and well worth visiting. The hut there gave us a welcome change from tents and somewhere to sit and have dinner. A table and chairs can feel like true luxury when you are backpacking! You can read more about the hut here: Skaelingar Hut.
After a good nights rest we left early to be sure of catching the bus from Ofaerufoss. I’ll skip a description of the hiking for this final part and just show a few of the images!
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