27th July 2013
Today was deemed a rest day - although "rest day" in reality simply meant a bit of a lie in and a shorter walk.
After a leisurely start we decided on an easy walk up a mountain called Kjaftalda. The walk starts on the broad flood plain that drains the rivers Jokulgil, Brandsgil and Grenagil, which is marked Jokulgilskvsl on the map.
It was nice to head out with a light rucsac and we had an enjoyable walk up to its rocky summit. This gave good views of tomorrow's mountain Blahnukur as well as views of the Barmur Mountain Ridge which dwarfed our little peak.
This route incidentally can be made into a full day walk, taking in Skalli (1027m) and then following a choice of routes back to the campsite. Being a rest day we only had a wander along the ridge a bit further before turning back at the next high point. It was then back down to do a spot of clothes washing, map studying and general dossing around.
28th July 2013
From the campsite the black ash mountain of Blahnukur looked like a good objective for another day walk.
At first glance I expected it to be a bit of a slog, but was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the ascent was. Climbing up the ridge the views opened out with every step and lots of stops were made to take in the views and to attempt to identify each group of mountains as they appeared.
The summit when it came was fairly narrow with steep slopes on either side. A brass orientation table at its south end gave us an opportunity to confirm the identity of several mountains not marked on the map.
It was a bit of a windy spot and after the obligatory summit pics Graham and Sanda decided to head lower down ridge to have their lunch in a more sheltered spot. Not wanting to head down so soon we spent a happy if rather breezy half hour on the summit chatting to another group who came up behind us.
We caught up with G&S where the ridge split into two decent routes.
We chose the shorter of the two ridges and were soon at the base of the mountain. We then returned via Grenagill to meet our outward route.
Skaftafell Area 30th July - 2nd August
For the last few days we hired a car and headed along the south coast towards Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, stopping off to stay on the campsite at Vik.
Despite the damp weather the campsite was ok, although the showers rarely had any hot water due to the hot spring being a bit unreliable. We were however told this before booking in. I did try to shower in the cold water but soon wimped out. The lack of shower was in part made up for by having a room set aside for cooking and socialising in, which incidentally also had some charging points for camera, phone batteries etc.
Next morning was cold, grey and misty with a few showers. That said the sun did its best to break through, creating a wonderfully atmospheric scene.
The weather remained changeable with heavy showers sweeping across the mountains towards the coast.
After setting the tents up at the Skaftafell campsite we headed up to the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. Despite being busy it was still a wonderful place to visit. The photographic opportunities here were immense and I wish we had more time to spend waiting for the light to improve.
On the way back we stopped off at the remains of a bridge destroyed when one of the surprisingly regular (geologically speaking) flash floods caused by volcanic activity under the icecap hit this part of the flood plain.
A video in the national park visitor centre shows this flood and the damage it caused. The damage was repaired within weeks.
Kristínartindar from the campsite.
This was our final day before we had to head back to Reykjavik so we climbed the mountain of Kristínartindar.
The way up led us past several waterfalls, the most impressive of which was Svartifoss (Black Fall)
We then climbed up to an area marked Skerholl on the map which gave good views towards the retreating Morsarjokull glacier.
Eventually we climbed up to a col before making our way more steeply onto the summit.
The road home
Next day in improving weather we headed back to Reykjavik via Skogar.
That's it for the Iceland blog reports. I will add more pics to the http://www.bluestoneimages.com/gallery over the next few weeks though.
Text/images copyright David Forster www.bluestoneimages.com