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Iceland - Day 16: Finish!

Today was the day, after 2 weeks of hiking I would arrive in Varmahlid. It was still 25 km away and I was pretty tired. My feet hurt but the distance slowly got smaller. I noticed foot prints of the French in the sand but wasn't sure how far ahead they were.

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Last night's campsite

varmahlid sign

The end is insight
 

The last 12 kilometers was an asphalt road which really wasn't fun to walk on with a heavy backpack. With 6 km to go I took a break. I decided to look at all the pictures I had taken thus far. It was a really cool experience to rewatch the last two weeks compressed in 10 minutes.

varmahlid
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After some more tough kilometers I could see it in the distance: Varmahlid. I was exhausted but made it. I took at least 10 pictures with the self-timer. Fortunately it didn't take much effort to keep smiling the entire time. I had crossed Iceland, which was one of the most beautiful, educational, and coolest things I had ever done.

hiker to varmahlid
hiking to varhmahlid

It was still one kilometer to the village center. There were only 3 streets, which made it one of the largest villages on the ring road. There was a gas station with a store and apparently also a campsite with a second store. Of course the campsite lay on top of a huge hill and only when I got there I found out there was no store after all. I also couldn't find Matthey and Thibaut, maybe they were still eating somewhere or had already taken the bus. Although there was no-one on the campsite I pitched my tent and lay down exhausted from the 95 km I walked in the past 3 days and the 250 km before that. I called home and ask how much it would cost to expedite my flight by a few days. That turned out to be too expensive. I walked downhill again to the gas station where I raided the store. I bought cola, orange juice, 2 buns, an orange, and egg salad.

 

The orange was important, because on our cycling vacations Bart and I had tested my theory that oranges get better the further south you are. On the way out of the store I noticed Matthew's backpack. They were inside the restaurant and told me about a second campsite that wasn't on a hill, was only half the price, and did have working showers. That was my luck. Apparently yesterday they had kept walking for an hour and then passed something that looked like a hostel. It wasn't, but the owners still let them camp in their yard and had let them decide how much they wanted to pay for it. They had started at 7 this morning to arrive Varmahlid as soon as possible.

 

Matthew had a wife at home and his first anniversary coming up in a few days. As he didn't seem to like hiking as much as Thibaut, he had just spent 250 euros to fly home early. Thibaut would take the bus back to Reykjavik and then travel east for an excursion climbing up the Vatnajokull glacier, the highest point in Iceland. He asked if I wanted to join. That seemed fun, but besides costing 300 euros it would involve spending 3 full days in a bus. Instead I decided to hike south and meet him later in Reykjavik. He also proposed to drink a beer to celebrate our achievement.

Apparently Thibaut and Matthew had already been sitting at the same table for the past 6 hours. While we were drinking our beers a group of four French girls arrived who also planned to hike through Iceland. Their plan was basically to spend as little money as possible to travel as far as possible. That seemed cool, for some reason I never meet that type of people back home. To get as much bang for paying the flight they were also staying for 45 days. We told them they would regret that 2 weeks from now. The cheaper your vacation the more adventurous and memorable it becomes, but 45 days of roaming around is really a lot.

 

After again saying goodbye to the French I returned to the campsite. It lay next to one of the rare forests in Iceland and it was nice to see some green for a change. The following day I planned to explore it some more, there was supposed to be a hot spring in the area as well. Sleeping on the campsite was annoying, as I couldn't just pee anywhere I wanted to and, while during the hike everyone thought it was cool what I was doing, they here looked at me like I was a homeless person. In addition, I had to pay to camp on a piece of ground identical that would have been free anywhere else in Iceland and I was surrounded by loud neighbours. At 23:45 it still sounded like a herd of savage vikings was screaming next to my tent. Probably they were jealous of my beard. 

Distance walked: 28 km