Friday, August 19: Following our hike along the river Fjarðará, we take a drive on a gravel road on the north side of Seyðisfjörður. We have been told by Tourist Information that if we drive all the way to the end of the dirt road, we can park the car and walk about an hour to a lighthouse at the end of the fjord. We drive and drive, making a couple of stops along the way for pictures of the fjord.
The drive is pastoral and lovely, with red-roofed farms set in a landscape dotted with plastic-wrapped bales of hay.
Toward the end of the road, it appears we are crossing a gate into someone’s private farm but the road still continues on. Since we haven’t reached the end, where we were told to go, we drive on, finding sheep and horses grazing among farm equipment and a junkyard of sorts.
This vehicle graveyard is a little eerie and, though we don’t see a soul around, we’re worried someone will pop out of nowhere and yell at us for being on their property.
We drive on only a little further before the road dips steeply down toward the coast and we decide we really don’t feel comfortable driving further. Nor do we feel comfortable leaving our car out here in the middle of nowhere. We don’t see any other cars left behind by other hikers either. We decide to turn around and go back to where we passed a series of waterfalls and try to follow the well-marked trail along that river.
On the way, we pass a rustic little barn.
We stop to enjoy the sheep and horses grazing in a field near the mountains.
We come to a set of ruins in the Vestdalur Valley. These ruins are considered part of a heritage site, but we don’t see any descriptive signposts, so I don’t know the story behind them. We wander around the ruins for a bit and then make our way across the road to the path to the left of the Vestdalá river.
Later, I read on Visit East Iceland: The Trail of the Mountain-Maid that this route once served as the principal communication link between Seyðisfjörður and other regions in East Iceland. Nineteenth and twentieth century relics of this transport route can still be detected through meticulous road constructions, stone walls and cairns.
We begin our hike on the left bank of the Vestdalá river. We can see the fog-engulfed opening to the fjord where it empties into the North Atlantic Ocean.
The river flows down a series of plateaus and we enjoy finding all the different waterfalls along the way. What an incredibly picturesque place. It’s like paradise, and to think we have it all to ourselves. I adore this place!
We climb a steep incline and stand at the top of a narrow knob and see this waterfall to our left. The wind is blowing fiercely up here, and I feel dizzy with the height.
Looking down we can see the fjord, the ruins and our speck of a car.
Mike wants to take a picture of me, but I have to say I’m a little nervous standing on this small ledge at this height with the wind almost knocking me off-balance. You see me smiling here, but all I want to do is get down safely from this ledge!
As we reach the top, the fog that we had seen hovering over the end of the fjord quickly moves in and engulfs us. It’s a good thing we didn’t walk to the lighthouse after all. We would have probably been enveloped in fog the whole time.
Apparently from this spot, we could keep on climbing up a total of four hours until we reach Vestdalsvatn, a small lake that remains frozen most of the year. We could also get a view of Mt Bjolfur. But it’s getting late in the day and we’ve done a lot of walking, plus we’re all wrapped up in fog now.
We make our way back down to the bottom where we parked our car. In the fog, we drive back into town.
We return to our room before dinner as Mike is feeling sicker than he did this morning. I’m tired too, and even though we have the smallest room imaginable, we rest for a bit. Mike takes a nap while I finish the book I’ve been reading, Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith. I really enjoyed this lyrical book about longing, love, and loss. My daughter Sarah had lent it to me, and I decided since she’d already read it, I’d just leave it behind in the common room at our hotel.
We have reservations for 7:00 at the Hotel Aldan’s Nordic Restaurant. Mike orders hot water with lemon and honey for his sore throat. I order a glass of wine and Arctic Char fillet served with broad bean puree, roasted beets and a bisque emulsion. (Arctic Char is a coldwater fish in the Salmon family native to alpine lakes and arctic and subarctic coastal waters). My meal is artfully prepared and delicious.
Mike’s meal is just as artistic and is Eastfjord Cod: pan-seared cod served with sautéed zucchini, pont neuf potatoes, veggie chips and “beurre blanc” sauce.
After dinner, we take one last stroll around the little town and then we head back to our hotel.
Though it’s early, Mike needs to rest and I am feeling a little run down myself. Besides, I love to curl up and read after a long day of walking around. Now that I finished Glaciers, I go back to reading 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris. I had started this book at my sister’s house earlier this summer.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll get on the Ring Road again, and continue to the southeast of Iceland. Destination: Hofn.
Total steps today: 14,727 or 6.24 miles. 🙂