Day 4: SKINANDI A NO-GO
Even though Julie and I got up after 7am, which was rather late for our trip, we still felt like we really didn’t want to wake up so early. However, we knew a long drive was ahead of us to Hof í Vatnsdalur, which was a guest house and site of our next accomodation.
But one look out the window and we saw a cloudless sky! So after briefly getting our stuff together, we loaded up the car and walked around the area to take a few last photos of Djúpavík under the perfect sky. What a contrast to the variable weather from yesterday!
The walk was surprisingly warm considering how bitterly chilly it was yesterday. We walked on the same trail we were on yesterday to get up to the hill for a look back at Djupavik. However, we went straight instead of going right up the hill.
As we headed back into town, we could see the full extent of the fjord without a cloud in the sky! The mountains still clung onto what vestige of snow was left, and even some more waterfalls in the grooves of the mountains in the distance revealed themselves.
We opted to skip the breakfast this time around but we did talk to Claus the German Hotel helper. We continued our attempt at talking to each other in Icelandic while also signing the guest book, paying the bill, and taking some photos in front of the hotel.
I’d have to say that this was truly one of the more unforgettable places we’ve ever been at and we thoroughly enjoyed the company from Claus and the Dutch couple who joined us over dinner. We will also not forget Tína the local dog accompanying us on our walks around the area yesterday.
By 9am, we bid a fond farewell and headed south towards the Ring Road. As we were weaving in and out of the fjords we traversed yesterday, we could see how much of a difference the lack of clouds and the presence of sun really made.
It didn’t take long before we found ourselves once again on the part of the Strandir Coast where we were flanked by mountains with some snow left on them on one side with the ocean lined with washed up white driftwood on the other. With such bright skies, the driftwood really shone brightly against the dark volcanic coastlines.
It was a shame that such perfect weather was on a transit day because we really didn’t want to leave the Strandir Coast like this. This was the kind of place where the nature really sinks into you when she reveals her subtle beauties.
Indeed, the drive was an exercise in a mix of slow driving (noticing many things like the subtle features of the wrinkles in the cliffs next to us as well as sheep freely using the road we were driving on) with our heads in the mindset of knowing we still had a place to get to that was pretty far away.
Some time after 1pm, we took a fairly lengthy detour over unsealed road towards Hvítserkur, which was a small double arch sitting on a black sand beach. It seemed to be a favorite spot for the birds in the area.
We walked to the overlook which provided a rather unsatisfactory view of the arch, but there was a steep path that led to the black sand beach where we could at least shoot the sky through the arches for more meaningful photos.
So after taking our photos of the attractive arch rock in the distance, we noticed that it seemed like the tides were low enough to enable us to get closer to it. So that strengthened our resolve to make the descent down to the beach.
The steep descent wasn’t good for my already ailing right knee, but I managed. I was actually more concerned about the stiffness I felt after driving for such a long time. So perhaps the exercise and movement was what I needed to get that circulation back.
So Julie and I got our shots of the interesting attraction, and then starting noticing other subtle features around the area like a small waterfall with some reddish color on the cliff containing its waters. I wasn’t sure if that was legitimate enough to count as a waterfall, but it was interesting nonetheless.
After our excursion to Hvítserkur, it was about 1:30pm when we headed back to the Ring Road then took another lengthy unsealed road towards our guesthouse – Hof í Vatnsdalur. At first, it looked like we were about to live in a farm, but then we saw the guest house which looked amazingly modern and right on par with some of the hotel accommodations we had been staying at so far (it was way better than our hotel in Reykjavík like many of the other places we stayed at).
I tried to talk to Jon (one of the owners) in Icelandic inquiring about the Skinandi Waterfall. He drew me some directions on how to get there on a piece of paper and that was what we had to go on for tomorrow morning’s hike.
It was too bad the owners were busy sending their sheep to the highlands for the summer so that meant there would be no home-cooked dinner. No worries though. We drove the half-hour towards Blönduós to fill up on petrol and have dinner at Pots and Pans (or Potturinn og Pannan).
As we drive towards the trailhead following Jon’s directions, it immediately seemed sketchy that we had to drive on a grassy 4wd road to get to an unsigned brown patch of grass. From there, we followed the rest of the 4wd trail past a gate and towards a waterfall with a fish ladder.
It had a signpost (saying Stekkjarfoss) which gave us hope that perhaps we were on the right track (at least to Dalfoss). Moreover, on the way, we saw a glimpse of a big waterfall within the canyon which heightened our hopes even further.
Unfortunately, after nearly half an hour of rough hiking along the river, we finally hit an obstacle of deep water inundating what would’ve been the continuation of the path to at least the base of Dalsfoss. We couldn’t find the path up to the top of the canyon, which was what Jon told us was the way to Kerafoss and Skinandi.
Having already had a bad feeling about the vagueness of the trail and the fact that it seemed like we were trespassing on someone’s farm, we ended the day deciding we weren’t going to do the 6-8 hours of hiking to Skinandi and back tomorrow.
I guess sometimes, you have to know when to saw when, and this was certainly “when.”
Given this sudden free-up of time, we now looked forward to having a lot more time at Akureyri tomorrow and ultimately more time in Mývatn a few days later. Perhaps in hindsight, my ailing right knee might have also appreciated the fact that it wouldn’t have to be put through that much additional stress…