Day 18: Thursday 20 July 2017
Left Hvolsvöllur Campsite after good nights sleep.
Weather at start of day was very nice and sunny, but not so warm, due to some wind chill.
We then drove Mountain Road 249 (Þórsmerkurvegur) into Þórsmörk, which is a mountain ridge named after the Norse god Thor (Þór).
It is situated in the south of Iceland between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, and is one of the most popular hiking areas in Iceland.
The name “Þórsmörk” properly refers only to the mountain ridge between the rivers Krossá, Þröngá, and Markarfljót, but is sometimes used informally to describe a wider area that includes the region between Þórsmörk and Eyjafjallajökull.
In the valley, Krossá is cold fast glacial river that winds between the mountains. The valley is closed in between glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull being at the rear end of the valley.
This leads to an especially warm climate, better than in the rest of south Iceland. In the protected valley, green vegetation of moss, fern, Birchwood, and other small shrubs are found.
Þórsmörk is popular amongst hikers. Many different tours are possible, from hiking on the glaciers to trekking (e.g. Laugavegur up to Landmannalaugar) or smaller excursions, such as to the canyon Stakkholtsgjá with its waterfall or five small day treks, to the summits of surrounding peaks, with rewarding views, even in bad weather.
To begin with, we lowered our tire pressures, and the first river crossings into Þórsmörk were reasonably easy to ford and cross.
However, the deeper we drove into Þórsmörk valley, river became deeper and wider, and with all the very wet weather over last few days, the river levels were high.
We even experienced bonnet (hood) “wash-over”, which indicates how deep the rivers were, with our raised Expedition Vehicles and 35 / 37 inch wheels.
Gunnar also had an interesting experience, getting stuck mid-river, having to engage the Rear Locker, to gain traction and safely drive out of the river.
Once we reached river Krossá we stopped, as the river level and flow rate was very high – so we decided to play safe and turn, rather than risk drowning the car…
The falls are partially obscured by the cliff rock, but hikers can follow a trail to enter the narrow canyon where the water plummets to a small pool.
There is also a winding trail nearby and a wooden staircase to enable sightseers to climb roughly halfway up and view the falls from another perspective.
One of the interesting things about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it into a small cave.
At Road 1, we turned northwest, and after a short distance turned into Road 250 (Dímonarvegur) to meet Mountain Road F261 (Emstruleið), where we turned right (east) to begin our parallel journey with the Þórsmörk valley, and begin our climb up into the Highlands of Iceland.
This area could easily be used as a “interesting lanscape” backdrop for the film industry.
Road conditions were interesting at times….
However, it’s quite amazing what you can find in these remote and desolate areas – a regular bus stop for example !!!
Yes, it’s for real !!!
Here the weather stated to worsen, low cloud and rain, with occasional windows of nicer weather.
We then took a wrong turn at one of the classic “no sign posts necessary” junctions in the Iceland Highlands, and ended up at Strútur Mountain Hut.
With the weather being so poor, and time running out for the day, we decided to make use of the Mountain Hut, and stay the night.
Here we used our first food from our Sponsor Drytech.
This was not how we imagined having our first REAL Turmat meal, but necessity prevailed.
The food packs were really excellent, and we really enjoyed the food, especially with an accompanying glass of nice red wine…
Unfortunately, we did not have time to bathe in Strútslaug hot spring, which was a hour hike away – next time…
Here is the Tracking Data for today.