Iceland 2017: Sept 27

It rained overnight. Again. I splashed across the field in my sandals, washed up yet again and headed out to the wonders of the west. Barnarfoss and Hraunfossr first, then five minutes up the road to Husafell, the end of civilisation. It’s the pickup point for trips up onto Langjokull but it’s also somewhere between a village and a small resort, with a bistro and little shop, a country hotel and golf club, outdoor geothermal pool and a surprising amount of shrubbery. Barnarfoss is a proper active river, still in the process of carving out a small canyon from the rock. It’s all autumn colours and although it was grey and wet and miserable, the green and orange and yellow leaves were bright and vivid. Hraunfossar is fifty or so yards further west down the river, where water flowing through the lava field tumbles out of the riverbank and down into the river, although there’s no river on the surface for it to fall from.

Next I went to Reykholt. Snorri Sturlusson is an important figure in Icelandic history, not least because he wrote Egil’s Saga, one of the Eddas and Heimkringsla. However, I’ve never managed to be very interested in his museum. The interesting thing about Reykholt is Snorralaug, Snorri’s pool. It’s a fairly small shallow pool, better for sitting on the edge and putting your feet in than sitting in and of course, it’s geothermal and warm. Across the field/garden, down by the road, is something that looks like a normal duckpond but it steams. I did not go and stick my hand in the water I know nothing about. If you stick your hand in the steaming water back at Geysir, you’re likely to end up with serious burns. I picnicked again in the back of my van in the car park.

Deildartunguhver is having some work done – walkways and fences being built, mostly, to protect tourists from violently bubbling very hot water. It’s always hard to see what’s going on at Deildartunuhver because it generates a lot of steam but at the moment, you can’t see much of it behind fencing and machinery. The dog was still there – it lives nearby and it spends most of its life seeking attention in the Deildartunguhver car park. It’s getting a bit old now, its fur is quite matted in places and it’s starting to limp – it nearly got “rescued” by a tourist earlier in the year.

What next? Grabrok, the little crater at Bifrost. I don’t think I really went there to climb it but of course, I ended up climbing it. I climbed it in 2014 and I’d forgotten how many steps there are up to it – for this is a crater with a set of wooden steps up to the rim and a gravel walk around the top. It rained. It’s quite a spectacular little crater, overlooking a second crater and there’s also the ruined outline of what may or may not have once been a longhouse.

On the way back to Hverinn, I stopped at Borgarnes. I wanted to see if I could get a phone of some kind at the biggest settlement in the west (I couldn’t). I sat in the roadhouse with a hot chocolate I didn’t really want so that I could borrow their electricity and try to charge my phone. It had charged on Monday but then refused to ever since. Maybe there was something about the campervan it didn’t like. Whatever it was, it didn’t like it about the roadhouse either.  Since I like Borgarnes, I went down to the headland, near where I usually stay when I don’t have a van. It’s pretty down there.

By 8pm I was back at Hverinn, reading. At 9.30, I noticed the van parked next to me – right next to me – had been sitting with its engine running and its lights on for a long time. Much later, when they hadn’t turned either off and I wanted to go to sleep, I resorted to flashing my headtorch at them. It worked. They stopped it. Half an hour later, when they thought I’d forgotten, it all went back on. Engine rumbling, lights on. Enraged, I wrote them a message on my misted-up window. There’s not a lot of space so it had to be short, pointed words, easy to write in mirror letters. English, fortunately, has some excellent words for this purpose. They didn’t notice. I flashed my torch again.

At 5.45, I woke up cold and realised the engine was rumbling again and the lights were on. They’d been slamming the doors all night – at one point, I’d heard the side door open and close three times in under three seconds (yes, really!) and now they were doing it again. I’d spent part of the night fantasising about how I could destroy them – sugar in the fuel tank, was my knife sharp enough to slash the tyres, was there some way I could blow up the entire van with what I had in the back? – so in a blind fury, I climbed into the front seat, started the engine, put on the main beams and turned round keeping those lights on them as much as was humanly possible before driving to the other end of the campsite. I climbed back into the back and lay down. This end of the site was much lighter than where I’d been. In fact, it was brighter than those annoying lights switched on next to me. It took nearly fifteen minutes for it to dawn on me that my headlights are not automatic and I hadn’t thought to switch them off. I climbed back into the front again and tried to go back to sleep.

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