The Kjölur route
Tuesday August 3th - To Hvítárnes
It turned out that the taxi driver that drove us from our Arnarhvoll hotel to the bus station planned to run the 10 K from the Reykjavík marathon, that creates a connection. In tree weeks we're allowed to time it again. But before that, we're going to make two walks, one through the interior, the Kjölur ot Kjalvegur, and another more north , from Mývatn to Ásbyrgi, following the canyon from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum, passing the waterfalls Dettifoss and Selfoss.
At the bus station they didn't recognize our reservation numbers. Not by firm number one, not by the other one. When making and paying the reservation by internet yesterday evening it was stated clearly that when you couldn't print the voucher the number alone would be sufficient. Replayed the reservation proces in one office. Girl there was convinced very quickly that we had to go to the other office. She made a phonecall. They still didn't understand it but wrote us a ticket quickly, bus would leave in two minutes. We told them we would come back after our walks.
We immediatly asked the bus driver if it would be possible to bring one parcel to Hveravellir and another one to Akureyri for us. He didn't speak any english, not very common in Iceland, actually so seldom that a gave up all trying to learn some icelandic. But the man next to the driver translated and it was no problem.
When we stopped longer at every touristic highlight we started doubting if we really did get the right bus. An our at Þingvellir, one and a half at geysir, 45 minutes at GullFoss, we got more time at all those places than when we made the Golden Cirkel Tour a few years ago. We expected to arive close to Hvítárnes at 11:30 but it became 14:00. But it was nice to see all those places again and there wasn't much to walk that day.
The landscape became nicer after GullFoss, a small serpentine like mountain road though rough nature only allowed for 4WD cars. Suddenly we arrived at the start of the walk. Bus stopped, take that direction for Hvítárnes the driver said, an eight kilometer walk.
Path to HvitárnesFirst part to HvitárnesFirst shower after less than fifteen minutes walking
I got very confused from the second picture I made. First picture was a roadsign to the hut with mountains on the background. Second picture, a little further, was from Monique with on the background those same mountains. First picture was still on the screen what made me believe that Monique changed in an roadsign. Looked again, there was no roadsign behind Monique but when trying to make the picture again the roadsign returned. Looked behind Monique again... . In the distance we saw two cars driving towards each other on the small mountain road. Without any sounds it could have been that they just hit each other and the whole scene stopped.
First part to Hvitárnes
Monique came up with the briljant idea that maybe I could start working for SNP in Iceland. Help them as a local assistant with all the travels the organize there nowadays Monique kwam op het briljante idee dat ik misschien op Ijsland voor SNP kan gaan werken. Hand- en spandiensten verrichten voor de vele Ijslandreizen die er tegenwoordig door hun georganiseerd worden.
Hvitárnes, IcelandHvitárnes, IcelandHut in HvitárnesHut in HvitárnesHvitárnes, Iceland
There were some nice people around the hut that evening. A German couple, a frenchman alone and a german family with two daughters, one 11 the other 18 years old. The 11-year old didn't seem te like it very much, wasn't very interested in the landscape but soon the 18-year old didn't want to go on holiday with her parents so this might be the last change for this long wanted trip.
Hvitárnes, IcelandLangjökull, second biggest glacier of Iceland
The tree german girls we met in the bus and during the long stops arrived an hour later but wanted to continue walking until the next hut for which they had made a reservation. Until now there were now people staying in this hut but you never know how many people might arrive later.
Lucky ladies. Shortly after their leaving two cars arrived. Two couples with tree children that started fighting with plastic tubes as swords around the tents. The cars were sroven right next to the hut and emptied there. During their barbecue it was silent for a moment but then the sword fighting continued. It's a pitty that places like this can be reached by car. The frenchman was busy collecting big bird fethers which he planted next to the small Icelandic flag right next to the hut.
Wednesday August 4th - First day Kjölur, to Þverbrekknamúli
Still luxury food. We had orange juice, ready-made sandwiches and blueberry skyr.
Sheep along the KjölurFúlakvísl, glacier riverPause along the KjölurSneeuwgentiaanGolden plover is very common in IcelandWith a herd of horses through the center of IcelandWith a herd of horses through the center of IcelandWith a herd of horses through the center of Iceland
Path was easy to follow, just walk parallel to the river. It was a real glacier river, the water looked like a gray sort of milk, not very drinkable. We did have water for a cup of soup, delicious in the sun on a meadow somewhere half way but it was also quite a day of to less water. Beautiful sight, all those glacier tongues of the Langjökull.
Fúlakvísl, glacier river
Almost at the hut at þverbrekknamúli it seemed we had to cross a strong river. Albeit much smaller than the river we had walked along most of the day but still quite a strong current. A little further there was a small bridge though, especially for Monique's immediatly the only option.
Bridge to ÞverbrekknamúliRivier bij Þverbrekknamúli, ook al een bruggetje
Near the hut we met two guys with light luggage but with a big sledgehammer. Geologists that studied lava. Nice study when you look at all the study labs that had to be done all around the world. Next time Hawaii? There was no water at the hut, we had to walk for one kilometer. But they told us the source would be well worth the walk.
In the hut a German couple again. Had a rest day here today, they started two days before Hvítárnes, just past Gullfoss. Perhaps the same route Monique did in 1992. Walk to the source was very special indeed. Long stretch of desert but it became more and more green.We passed the first clear stream because the red marker poles continued. But where they stopped there was a clear water sourse in the small stream that made the small stones floating from the bottom to the surface with a soft tinkling sound. Nice bathing in the stream that originated here.
We were chatting at the hut when the children of the German family arrived. Especially the mother was suffering and it was doubtful if they could continue. Both ladies grumbled a lot but now she started to find it exciting. Dad arrived a little later but left quickly to help his wife. Shearrived quickly, falling on the bench. Didn't want any water or Isostar, didn't want anything for the moment. Took at least half an hour before the husband could be seen in a distance. 'Ah, there is my backpack', was the reaction of the mother, 'and offcourse my husband' she added immediatly. They were clearly topsy-turvy. We had already brought a lot of extra water for them but after the German couple went to the water source with the two daughers they started to recover very quickly.
Source near ÞverbrekknamúliWe moesten hier een kilometer lopen voor water maar wel een hele mooie bron
In the evening we had our first self-dried vegetarian stew. It was delicious. Just as good as at home. Maybe even nicer because I had to do somethging with the milkpouder from our extra safety parcel. Promising for our culinairy future during our walks.
Worm very curious about our dinnerÞverbrekknamúliÞverbrekknamúli
Shortly after dinner Monique starts laughing, 'who do you think I see?' The tree sword fighting kids from last night with their parents. Good that they stay in the hut and we put up our tent a little further away. And certainly not close to a laying tree that attracts playing children so strong.
Thursday August 5th - Kjölur, Þverbrekknamúli to Þverbrekkur
From or next to our tent we look out over the three huge glacier tongues from Hrútfellsjökull under which we walked almost all day. A thin layer of clouds tries to flow over them but they don't seem to get any further. On our side nothing blocks their way. Maybe they are something holds them on the other side. The tree glacier tongues are acually one but it's split by two points of mountain somewhere mid-slope.
As always we got out of the bed slowly. It started to drizzle what makes it less confortable. Does it stop or is it becomming worse and do we even have to put our raincoats on? It's nicer and more confortable when it's sunny, that's for sure. At least it was dry when we packed.
ÞverbrekkurDescend from Múlar, there is a new bridge here tooÞverbrekkur
It looked as if all the people that were leaving today were starting at the same moment. The German couple we expected yesterday evening but never arrived apperently just passed. Annette and Tobi had asked them if they were the missing people yesterday. They looked surprised but confirmed it as well. We didn't really worry because they were just 500 meter behind us when we arrived at the last bridge and you can camp here everywhere but it's always good to hear there's really nothing to worry about.
Glacier tongues of HrútfellsjökullGlacier tongues of HrútfellsjökullGlacier tongues of Hrútfellsjökull
For Tobi and Annette was the non-return of the approximately 60-year-old Icelandic woman with her son yesterday much worse. They planned a roundtrip around Hrútfell, a 28 kilometers long trip along and perhaps over gletscher tongues. They had decided to contact the rescue services at 24:00 hours with the satellite phone that's in almost every Icelandic mountain hut. It was almost dark, around 23:30, when we finally saw to people arriving from the expected direction. Nothing wrong with them, they even looked quite fit. Trip just had taken some more time. In the hut Tobi or Annette had put on some tea water for them, it can be a beautifull world. According to the Icelandic people in the hut you could drink the water from a glacier river.It only contains pretty much sediment and it takes a while before it sinks. Until that time it tasts like, yes, sediment.
So today it was a kind of walking in line. You usually do not see each other luckely. I like the illusion of being alone between all those beautiful mountains, but we could say 'see you soon' quite often. Because the stages are so easy we have a break every hour. Beautiful spots along another big glacier river. It's a good thing we don't have to cross it anywhere. Would be possible in some places but the bridges make it a lot easier. There's almost no watersupply during the day, only just before the hut is a small stream. But there are a lot of berries, certainlynow we know we can eat the small black ones too, they are even more common than the blueberries.
Sandstone along the KjölurSandstone along the KjölurSandstone along the Kjölur
At the hut we are now with three other couples we all know. A little bit like the Laugavegur, only with people we think we all like. Late at night we saw the two families with the three sword fighting children pass towards the car that was parked on top of the pass above.
CairnLava domes, we always call them plop lavaAlmost at ÞjofadalliAlmost at Þjofadalli
Almost ten o'clock another couple arrives, German boy and a girl from Canada, same combination as the two people we walked the Askja Trail with last year. They had to be at a campingsite somewhere near the big glacier east of the Kjölur tomorrow evening so they wanted to continue walking a bit. Bit difficult without hut and probably no water.
Golden plover is very common in IcelandÞröskuldurHut in ÞröskuldurÞröskuldur
It turned out that Tobi and Annette planned to do the same walk after this one as we had decided to and wondered if we already had clear plans for it. Second part is clear, first part less. We hope for some information from the man of the tourist information in Reykjahlíð so we couldn't offer much help. We'll see. In any case it's nice to walk up with them for a longer period.
It might not look that way but the home dried meals were a big improvement.Þröskuldur
Friday August 6th - Kjölur, Þverbrekkur to Hverevellir
First German couple that we already knew from Hvítárnes was gone when we got up. German boy with his Mexican girlfriend were already packing. We took it easy. Together we managed to finish almost all the toilet paper. It was also the first toilet hut where it didn't not smell terrible. It was also build so opent that even some rain came in but much better than the totally closed huts above a big hole in the ground. We hesitated shortly wheather we should leave a toilet roll of our own but we decided no one comes here without his own paper.
SheepLava domes, we always call them plop lavaLava domes, we always call them plop lava
On top of the pass first viewed the Mercedes bus which had been there all night. Was it a 4x4 and we are still looking for a camper like this. Then the jeep track down. Not a very interesting walk. Fortunately, next to this almost real road was a very old one. Felt much better but was still a bit boring. After about four kilometer however, was unexpectedly a sign Hverevellir to the right, follow the orange poles. It was not the direction we expected, but the indication was very clear and the orange poles everywhere. Route was very beautiful immediatly. Everywhere pop lava (lava blub on German), Iceland moss, our newly discovered berries and lots of other beauty. New route was much shorter. By following this route we missed the spot were we expected water but that didn't matter because of the short distance, looking backwards only ten kilometers.
It smells like Christmas and the crowberries taste deliciousArctic sea rocket
From a distance Hverevellir looked as a small plume of smoke, a bit closer as a weather station in an empty open space and suddenly as it really was, many steaming holes in the ground, a few corrugated iron buildings, some tourist busses and cars and dozens of small tents.
Permanently inhabited weather station in HveravellirHveravellirHveravellir, IcelandHveravellir, Iceland
On the terrace of the most visited hut we met the the German and Mexican first, then the packet we had sent to ourselves. It lay neatly in a closet. Then Annette and Tobi and another beer. We stayed there quit long with another Italian couple travelling with a rental car. We put up the tent right next to a stream with hot water. To see strange things you have to be in Iceland.
Parcel 1, sending food ahead makes walking a lot easierParcel 1, sending food ahead makes walking a lot easier
Finally some fresh food. Paprika, smoked trout, from lake Mývatn of course, water and beer. First the hot pot. Right next to the hut and space for maybe twenty people. Very cozy with a tube for hot water and one for cold. Many different languages of course including sign language. Even French sign language. I always thought sign language was a kind of Esperanto, the deaf would not suffer from the various languages. Nonsense and a moment later I realized that I just swam through a conversation. Water in the pot was alternately warm and colder. I didn't see someone playing with the hot and cold water supply.
Camp site at HveravellirYellow turtle of Tobi and Annette
Great food from the packet. Baked potatoes with peppers, honey-mustard dressing, smoked trout and We had a great meal from the parcel. Baked potatoes with pepers, honey-mustard dressing, smoked trout and half a cup of skyr to add an Icelandic touch. Water Beer was a bit of a waste here because they had real beer in the bar. They sold orange jus and skyr as well but ours was quite as good with that.
Hot pot at HveravellirHot pot at HveravellirWaarschuwing bij de hot pot bij Hveravellir
There was a german girl on sabatical behind the bar. Was once for business in Iceland and realized she wanted to stay there for a while. In the bar was a boy from Venray, the Netherlands. Did a tour around Iceland with a passport for the bus along the ringroad. Allowed him to travel all around Iceland over the ringroad, road number 1. Validity is a few years, condition is that you only can go in one direction. If you occasionally buy a ticket for a trip into the interiour or to the coast you can see a lot of the country. Talked a lot with the German boy and his Mexican girlfriend about Hornstrandir, maybe they want to go there. They do what the feel at the moment or where they were brought by the people who gave them a lift.
Camp site at Hveravellir
Saturday August 7th - Kjölur, quiet morning in Hverevellir
Monique met two women from the big German camp at the camping in the bathroom. Camping was not really their thing. 'When things get tough you need a bath and a real bed, ne tent'. I helped on of the girls that worked as a volunteer in Iceland with the packing of here tent. To work three months on various locations throughout nature, especially in places with many tourists. Painting, making those wooden pavements or put up sign posts. One week on every location. Five days of working, two days off. But those days off were often needed for the transfer to the next location. She had already been one week in Skaftafell, this week in Hveravellir and the next stop would be Snaefellsnes.
Bird in HveravellirOld Ferðafélag Íslands hut build in 1938Hveravellir, Iceland
Bus would leavive at 14:35. Seemed a long wait but time passed quickly. In the cafe they had too much bread, a few slices for us was no problem. With real cheese, camembert and some leftover trout, grapefruit, orange juice and of course skyr it was quite something different than the hartkeks and Bambix we used to eat. It rained, but I could take some nice pictures of the steaming pots in beautiful sunshine and of course the sulfur clouds. The first time I walked there I was even all by myself.
Hveravellir, IcelandHveravellir, IcelandHveravellir, IcelandHveravellir, IJslandHveravellir, IJsland
As hard as the first bus ticket was so easy the second. Monique called the girl from the bus station in Reykjavik and she immediately said 'OK, I'll tell the driver '. German boy with a Mexican girl, Gerald and Emma, had apparently got a lift very quickly, at least we didn't see them anymore. Beautifull bus trip through the interior to Akureyri. Somewhere halfway a beautiful Hanomag trying to pour diesel from one tank to another in a way that you don't see often.
Strange way to move diesel