Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Haukadalur-Thingvellir challenge, Iceland

Hello again, folks,

Time after time, we may all feel emotionally cracked; it is just part of our lives, and part of the everyday happenings that we need to deal with. That is how my journey to Iceland in 2014 began - during the summertime, I felt I was in an emotional whirlpool and I was becoming a grumpy old git. That is when one needs to act relatively quickly and a 'holiday' might be the only rational answer. I, however, hate commercial or average holidays or just trips in the regular, outdated sense. I am a sign hunter geographer and I need challenges in my life. So I planned myself one that suited me best.

The idea was to go away only for a few days and go somewhere that is isolated enough, away from people, away from the society, where I can be left on my own with my thoughts and my senses. Iceland seemed to be a good idea for this, and I was right. As a first thing though, I had to get to Haukadalur (which is about 60 miles/100 km from Reykjavík), the home of Geysír and other geothermal features which is one of the corners of the well-known and popular Golden Circle (Gullni hringurinn), so it was very easy to get on a bus from Reykjavík. From that spot then my challenge started: I carried out a 50-mile (about 80 km) walk sticking mostly to the unpaved roads marked F338 and 337, but I often tried to shortcut across deserted, rugged, mountainous, icy and well atmospheric Icelandic countryside. From Haukadalur (Hawk's valley in English), within a well limited 3 days, I had to get to Þingvellir (which lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian), where my bus was scheduled to take me back to Reykjavík. I had no much options other than successfully carrying out the challenge!

It was one of the hardest walks in my life without exaggerations. I love walking and I do a lot of walks, but I do not like rushing. I adore the slowest pace possible when I can just enjoy the beauty of nature, take photographs, and set the focus on myself. I see no point rushing things because that means you are rushing your life away. But Iceland made me sweat, it made me struggle, it made me cry because I had to put the speed up: first of all, I had to stick to a dirt road which was literally a dusty road: fine, volcanic sand - every time I took I step, my foot sank. Or, there were larger blocks of rocks that made the walk difficult. But out of all, secondly, the most significant struggle I had was to find water to drink! I assumed Iceland was an easy terrain to fill up my flask while on the way, but I was wrong. Since the road that I took was formed of eroded volcanic sand, hardly any surface water was detected. I was, however, lucky enough to spoon the water out of cracks and hollows of magmatic rocks. I also walked past a massive ice field (Langjökull) and I drank that white, sandy meltwater of Sandvatn. But in the end, even though I was hungry, thirsty, soaked, and with lots of blisters, I managed to get to Þingvellir and successfully completed the challenge. There were times when I literally cried on the way, but since this challenge was about strengthening my emotions, a little more sensitivity worked as the best medication. I returned home stronger and happy.

Sign-hunting-wise, I was lucky to find the Haukadalur sign, where my challenge actually started, but I did not see anything related to 
Þingvellir. However, when I was coming down on the road 337, I ended up in a small place called Laugarvatn where I also spent a night, and luckily this settlement had a sign!   

This was one of the most challenging and most memorable trips in my life and I look forward to doing similar things in the future. Look at my photos and tell me what you think!
~ Laszlo #thesignhunters

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© All photos were taken by Laszlo Bokor (2014). The Sign Hunters all rights reserved.

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