Iceland: Day 4

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Since the first three days of our trip consisted of driving west and north, we had to at some point make our way back towards Reykjavik and the airport.  Most of our fourth day was dedicated to doing that, though we made a dozen pit stops along the way.

Our first stop was back at Jökulsárlón.  As we were leaving the day before we saw that you could actually park on the other side of the road that faced the ocean instead of the lagoon.  It seems like a lot of the ice that makes it out of the lagoon ends up washing back up on the shore so it was cool to be able to walk between the massive ice chunks.

After that we stopped at Núpsstaður.  Our plan was to stop there the day before however there was a "Private Property" sign at the front gate so we decided to skip it.  While we were driving past it on the way back however we saw half a dozen cars there and people walking around the area.  I'm sure we should have just listened to the sign, but we decided to go anyway.  Núpsstaður is a collection of old turf houses and a turf church.  They were all so tiny that I don't think I could even fit in one for long.   We didn't stick around there for long but again I felt like we were exploring hobbit houses.  Pretty much the whole trip felt like we were bouncing back and forth between Middle Earth and the moon.

Further along the road back to the city we stopped in an area we had found the day before.  I'm sure this area had a name, but we were just calling it The Cove.  From the road we could see two waterfalls off in the distance and it looked like there was a hidden cove at the base of them.  I had left most of this day open for driving with time to get a hike in, so we decided this would be the area we would explore.  We parked our car in an area off the road and started following a path.  The path led to a few levees that we couldn't even see from the road.  From there we continued on by following sheep paths.  We began climbing up until we were looking down over the small river created by the waterfalls.  We had been walking for a long time and because we were now between massive moss covered rocks we could see no signs of civilization.  It was just us, the river, and the sheep.  I don't think I've ever felt so truly isolated as I did there.  Turns out there wasn't really a cove and we probably would have had to hike for a few more hours to actually reach the waterfalls so we eventually started making our way back.  On the way back we did, of course, cross paths with two men who probably owned the land.  I felt bad if we were trespassing but they didn't seem to mind. We also found the bones of a long gone sheep which was kind of terrifying (especially when Josh threw one of the bones at me when I wasn't looking) but it definitely added to the isolated feeling we experienced.
The hike I had actually planned was at Skaftafell National Park, but by the time we reached the area we were both exhausted.  We did start the hike but within 15 minutes we both decided that continuing on would probably just leave us cranky and unable to enjoy the hike.  Plus we still had a decent amount of driving to do that day.

Our "splurge" for that trip was staying at Hestheimar Cottages.  These were a handful of cottages overlooking a horse farm.  After staying in hostels for three nights anything would seem luxurious, but this place really felt it.  There was a big hot shower (though it did almost flood the bathroom after running for just a few minutes) and bathrobes provided.  There were candles in all of the windows and a nice little kitchen for us to cook our dinner in.  We probably could have gone out and explored some more, but this cottage was kind of like ending our trip with a spa night and we were both more than happy with just relaxing and enjoying it.

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