Escape from Hrafntinnusker

July 3, 2009

We were up at 7:30 am to find that the clouds had gone and the sun was out. Originally we had planned to stay another day at the Hrafntinnusker hut, but this was only because the hut at Landmannalaugar was completely booked up when we arranged the trip way back in February. Still, none of us really liked this plan – in fact we didn’t like it at all, since there wasn’t much to do even in good weather. So Christine asked the hut warden to radio the warden at Landmannalaugar and see whether they had four beds available for tonight. And amazingly they did. So we took them.

Söðull After breakfast the two of us hiked up to a little peak named Söðull which was quite close to the hut. The views from the top were great, as we could see the big glaciers in the south and the snow-patched mountains nearby and the higher peaks in the distance. “Hrafntinn” means “obsidian” in Icelandic and indeed along the trail were large pieces of obsidian which glittered in the sunlight.

Another possible day hike from the hut was to some ice caves, and this hike was even in our little hiking book. Unfortunately there had been an avalanche earlier in the year, so the caves were covered by the snow and the route to them was dangerous.

Neil and Christine had left before us, so once we got back to the hut we gathered our packs and headed up the trail. Highland view The views were spectacular, and it was good that we were able to leave today in the good weather. The walk back over the snow was better than the walk in. For one thing we didn’t have to look so hard for the trail markers, and for another thing when we did look around, we could actually see distant views. Every way we turned the landscape unfolded into mountains of various colours with patches of snow. Moss campion There were a couple more glaciers off to the north, and several valleys had smoke plumes coming up. We took a couple of side trips to check out the views and the steam vents.

As the day progressed the clouds started to roll in. We caught up with Neil and Christine at lunch time so we sat and enjoyed the views. By now the snow-walking had worn down our legs, so we passed through the lava flow more slowly than when we came up, but still it didn’t take too long to get back to the hut. Icelandic Highland Duck We went to the warden’s office to confirm our newly-made reservations, and luckily we had brought the paperwork for the old reservations so there was no problem.

As it turned out, we were put in a room which was mostly taken up by an Exodus tour group. Evidently the group was smaller than expected, so the cancellations had freed up the beds for us. Anyway, we unpacked our stuff and generally tried to organize our beds.

After a while Neil and Christine arrived back, having taken a more circuitous route back from the lunch spot. In the Green Bus We all went over to the “Green Bus” shop, where we had tea and coffee while Christine raided the bus’s store of ancient paperbacks. Then we went back to the hut, where Christine used up the remnants of our food to make dinner. We had a variety of courses, all of which were good.

After dinner the two of us stayed and talked with the people from the Exodus group while the other two went for another dip in the hot spring. Hot springs at dusk We went to bed around 10 pm, but unfortunately several of the Exodus people came back later, with much zipping of zippers and Velcro, so we didn’t get a very good night’s sleep.

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