Iceland Journal – “Trail to Sandfell” – Fáskrúðsfjörður, East Iceland
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.”
During our journey along Iceland’s Ring Road, we took many occasions to satisfy our curiosity by hiking off the road when the opportunity presented itself. One of these opportunities was this gravel road, which leads up into the mountains that line the west shore of Fáskrúðsfjörður fjord.
The main reason we chose this trail was easy access from the main highway, meaning we could pull off the road safely and park our vehicle by driving part way up the road, till it became too rough to continue. Once parked, we donned our backpacks, filled with camera gear, and headed up the road, which soon narrowed to a rugged trail .Our goal: get to the snow line at the base of the mountains which you see in the distance. The highest peak, Sandfell, is 743 meters high. We were actually hoping to get part way up its slopes.
As our hike continued, the road banked sharply to the left, following a deep ravine toward the base of Sanfell. Something that is not often mentioned in the standard tourist literature is just how rugged Iceland’s terrain can be. Most scenes look quite smooth and simple to traverse, but in reality, the rugged landscape is filled with unseen obstacles, sharp rocks, ice-cold streams, and deep fissures The ravine I mentioned is just one such obstacle. A small glacial creek flows through it, but the banks are steep, jagged lava, and it takes time to find safe passage into the ravine and back up.
After crossing the ravine we were faced with a man-made obstacle, namely, a wide field of deep grass, to be used as feed for sheep or cattle. We only got a few meters into this dense, ankle grabbing grass, till we realized that crossing the field towards our goal would be absolutely exhausting. So, we turned back and forded the ravine once more. As I said, we had hoped to climb part way up Sandfell, but there was just too much terrain between us and the mountain
The other interesting thing we came across on this hike, was a ‘rustic; cabin at the end of the trail. The owner had built it at the edge of the mountains and I can only imagine the lovely view in springtime and summer. The mountains fill the view through one window and the other side looks down across the long fjord.
So, we stood, at the base slopes of these majestic mountains, simply enjoying the view and taking a break from driving.
iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/2200 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20
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