Iceland - Day 12 : The balance
I aimed to walk as far possible so I would reach the campsite early tomorrow. After a few kilometers I passed a hiking couple. They came from canada and had started hiking in Akureyri in the north and were now heading towards Vik.
They asked what the south was like so I explained about the mosquitoes. According to them it was very windy in the north and it would take about 1,5 days before it would get more green. I was looking forward to that after walking in the same dry landscape for the past 5 days. When we sad goodby the girl said 'good luck, you only have 6 more days to go'. She wasn't being sarcastic, hiking 'only 6 days' was getting normal.
A while later I noticed a gnome that somebody had left by the side of the road.
Near a lake I could fill my water supply. It was also time to take out another piece of my gear: my solar charger. I had planned to use it to recharge my GPS, camera, and phone.
Later I arrived at a 10 km long straight road over a barren plain in the scorching sun. It looked more like Spain or Morocco than Iceland. I saw a lake in the distance and was confused because it wasn't on the map. It turned out to be a mirage.
The road in Spain
I needed to cross yet another river, which was a lot less bad now the sun was out. I also washed my socks and t-shirt. A car arrived with a man and woman in it. The lady was ordered to go out of the car and walk through the cold river so she could tell the man where to drive. He had it all figured out.
The river I crossed
I noticed I had two more blisters, although none of them hurt. I was carrying blister bandaids, but decided not to use them until the blisters open up.
This road was a lot busier that the previous ones. I saw a whopping 15 cars that day. I didn't like that, as solo hiking in the middle of Iceland gets a lot less adventurous when every 30 minutes someone ask you if you have enough water left. However, there were no other roads to take and fortunately it only took a minute or so for each car to disappear in the distance. It still felt amazing to be able to look 20 km in every direction with no other sign of civilization than a small dirt trail.
The endless dry plains I had been hiking through for almost a week.
Nice view near a river
The water was super clear everywhere in Iceland
The next day it would only be 11 km until the campsite. I had read on the internet that there was only cell phone coverage on Iceland's periphery. Apparently that had changed during the last few years, because I had cellular coverage every day. However, I had agreed with myself not to call home for at least a week after Landmannalaugar. That week had now finished. However, precisely tonight I didn't have coverage. It was a strange idea that you could walk around here for days without seeing anyone, but can update your facebook status at any time.
This was my 10th day of walking, so it seemed a good moment to make up the balance. It was difficult to estimate how much calories I was eating, but I am pretty sure it was not more than the 2500 kcal/day I planned for. I hadn't been super hungry yet, although I definitely lost weight. I had also brought roughly the right amount of batteries to charge my phone, camera, and GPS. I did miscalculate the amount of fuel I needed for my stove. I had burned about 330 mL of gasoline in 7 days, which meant I was carrying one liter too much. I decided to leave my stove on a bit longer every night to burn through it quicker and help warm my tent. My body still felt OK. Usually my back hurt in the evening but that was almost always gone in the morning. It made a huge difference that my backpack kept getting lighter over time. My blisters were pretty intense but did not hurting much. I usually hardly get any during my hikes, so this likely had to do with all the volcanic dust. I developed a red rash on my hands during the previous two days. It looked like mosquito bites but I didn't see any bite and it would be odd if they only targeted my hands. The rash gets especially itchy and painful when exposed directly to the sun and wind.
My lips were also badly damaged due to the sun and not drinking enough. Apart from that, I had some odd and alternating alternating pains and wounds. For example, at some point I noticed small wounds on the back of both my ears. I realized this was because when I look sideways my ears scrape against the top of my backpack. The last but certainly not the least important progress marker was my daily distance. I had planned to walk 18 km/day based on other peoples' hike stories. However, I was averaging around 23 km/day, which meant that despite my missed flight I would still have 8 days to spare after reaching the ring road if I kept up this pace. One the one hand that seemed a big error in planning, but if I would have walked only 15 km a day - just three km less than planned - the entire trip would have taken several days longer and I couldn't risk missing my flight back. I already had a few ideas for what to do after the ring road, but first I need to get there.
Distance walked: 25 km