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.
Last night's campsite
The end is insight
The last 12 kilometers was an asphalt road which really isn'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.
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 is one of the most beautiful, educational, and coolest things I have ever done.
It was still one kilometer (that is a thousand meter of walking) to the village. There were only 3 streets, but then again it was 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 inquired 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 would pay for it. They had started at 7 this morning to arrive here 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 the hiking as much as Thibaut he had just spent 250 euros to fly home sooner. Thibaut would take the bus back to Reykjavik and then travel east for an excursion climbing up the Vatnajokull glacier to reach 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. I will hike south instead and likely 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 4 French girls arrived who planned to also 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 usually becomes, but 45 days of roaming around is really a lot.
After again saying goodby to the French I returned to the campsite. It was next to one of the rare forests in Iceland and it was nice to see some green for a change. Tomorrow I will explore it some more, there is supposed to be a hot spring somewhere as well. Sleeping on the campsite is annoying, you can't just pee anywhere you want and, while during the trip everyone thinks it is cool what you are doing, here they look at you as if you are a homeless person. Furthermore, you have to pay for a piece of ground that is identical to everywhere else. Lastly, it is loud. It now is 23:45 and it sounds like a herd of savage vikings is screaming next to my tent. Probably they are jealous of my beard.
Distance walked: 28 km