I woke up this morning with my ankle still hurting but I was determined to do the full day.
I woke up freezing cold even though I had all my layers on that I brought with me (I so wish I had more!) and got out of bed and braved the outdoors.
I was greeted by the beautiful morning sun and it was actually quite warming on the skin. After packing my things away from the night before we all headed to the breakfast tent where there was Icelandic muesli, leftover Skyr, some leftover salmon and bread. I had a bowl of muesli with some honey and it was super good. I was ready for my day ahead.
I spoke to Mau and Tom and they said that there would be exit points on the trek today so if I felt really hard pain then I would be able to leave so I braved it and went on the trek for the day.
We started on small hills for the first part of the day and although painful, I was keeping up enough of a pace at the very back of the group.
It was a lovely, calm area but it was rocky and this was hurting my ankle. We weren’t one hour into the trek when we came across a fast running cold river. We had to go through this on foot! I had brought some black trainers with me for the hostel but I was annoyed I had to use them in the river so a little tip from me, take sandals if you go trekking in Iceland! These were the fast running glacial streams of the Myradalsjokull Icecap, on of the largest in Iceland!
The way to go across these rivers, we were taught, is to tie your trekking shoes laces together and dangle them around your neck, and wear waterproof trousers and your spare shoes and walk across very carefully and slowly. Unfortunately, there was a group of young school children crossing the river too and they had no patience and were so bouncy they were knocking me off balance as I was crossing but I made it.
When I put my foot in at first it was freezing cold and I was trying to be as fast as I could without falling over. I used my walking poles for balance and I did well stepping across the slippery rocks to the other side without falling. By the time I was nearing the other side, I couldn’t feel my feet and they were stinging in pain because of how cold they were. It felt as if I was being forced to soak them in an ice bucket! I rushed out and dried them off immediately, putting on my socks and walking boot, ready to keep moving.
Along the trail, there were some small houses which often is the case in Iceland, little houses in the middle of nowhere! These were some toilets but we didn’t have time to use them as we pressed on wading through yet another river! This time we had to pair up in order to get extra balance and get across safely. This was the ice-cold stream in Blàfjallakvisi.
Once again, I put the soaking wet cold trainers on and linked arms with my friend Margherita to cross the river. There were more children going across this time and so it was still tough but we managed it. When we got across I actually couldn’t feel my feet which was amazing for my ankle but not for my walking ability! Once I had dried them off I was good to go again, but this was hard work.
We then climbed down to the oasis at Hvangngil where we took some lovely photos of the team and walked across a precarious bridge which I was very nervous being on!
Here I was wearing a polo shirt given to me at the RAG Conference which is representing a charity for veterans that come out of war called Combat Stress. It was a great t-shirt for me to be worn whilst on the trek!
After some photos and a quick drink, we trekked through a desert-like pass to Emstrur Hut. We stopped for a quick lunch on the way but the rocks we had trekked across on the way had seriously given my ankle some pain since I had rolled on it a lot but I was determined to finish. The landscape felt never-ending as although we could see the end, it never seemed to come closer…
We eventually arrived at our camp and it was extremely rainy and freezing cold which was hard to cope with and there was a storm on it’s way. We could feel it coming and had to put the tents up quickly, this time leaving our bags in a large tent altogether and sharing with three people to a tent instead of two to keep the body heat. We put rocks on the guide ropes so that the tents didn’t fly away.
It was so cold outside that inside the tent the heat was a welcomed relief for me. I had some time in my tent alone and it was nice to just lie down for a moment and listen to the sound of the wind rustling the tent and realise where I was. Remember that I was in touch with nature at this moment and how easily I could be harmed or saved by it. That’s a hard thing to take in. The terrain here can be unforgiving, and this is important to remember when trekking abroad.
We hung out for a while in the tent before dinner. Dinner this evening was the most delicious roast lamb which had been done outside and I can’t explain how mouth-watering and succulent it was! This was accompanied by roast potatoes and other veg. For dessert it was tinned peaches and pears with chocolate sauce. A real treat for everybody!
Mau told us a story about the trolls and the elves which are a big thing in Iceland that a lot of them genuinely believe in. She told us of a large troll lady who lived alone and one day three men came riding along on horses. During the night they stayed in her cave and one woke up and nudged the other. Their friend was missing. They then packed up and left assuming that the troll lady had eaten him. As the two friends rode off into the night the large troll lady walked out holding hands with the man who she had fallen in love with. (Their friend, so romantic!)
It was a really beautiful dinner and I loved it. After dinner we headed to the tents to sleep and it was a lovely warm night, the warmest I’d had so far.