Vörðuhnúkur - Skalli - Brennisteinsalda Hike

Trip Start Aug 05, 2012
Trip End Aug 19, 2012

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Flag of Iceland  , South,
Friday, August 10, 2012

Wake up at 7:45 am. Sky is grey and cloudy, and rain is expected. Despite the weather forecast, Alex and Pierre gave us a choice between two hikes: an easy and short one (4h walk) on the ridges above the campground with Pierre, or a longer one (7h walk) with Alex. 

Two groups formed and after breakfast, O. and I decided to go for the longest hike. We left the campground around 9:30 am, with S., H., M., V., T., J. and Alex. The path started in the plaine at the feet of Blahnjukur mountain. We even passed before an enclosure with icelandic horses. 

We then started to climb the first peak of the day, V÷r­uhn˙kur, which we reached at around 10:30 am. It was pretty windy over there, and the weather was still threatening. We had a wonderful view over J÷kulsgil river and rhyolite mountains. 


After a short stop to enjoy the view and take some pictures, we decided to continue our way up towards Skalli, the highest point of the hike. The path was steep and became rocky, but the scenery around us was breathtaking. We finally arrived at the top of the mountain and enjoyed the panorama over the ryolites and Tofaj÷kull glacier in the background. In the meantime, the weather was changing and blue sky was starting to show up. 






We made a quick stop for lunch break around 1 pm, facing this incredible landscape. 
But we did not stop for long because Alex proposed us a "bonus". As we were walking at a good pace, and as the weather was turning sunny, Alex thought we could make a detour to Storhiver hot springs and solfatara fields. We then walked on Laugavegur hiking trail, up and down small hills for an hour or so, meeting several sheeps on the way, walking alternately on rocks, ice, green mousse or lava fields. The closer we got, the more steam was rising from the ground. We spent an hour there, walking down a canyon and crossing several bubbling mud pots and noisy solfatares. 








We finally retraced our steps towards Landmannalaugar campground under an amazing blue sky. 






The trail ended in the lava field of Laugar, Laugarhaun. You literally enter it and walk onto it, crossing another hot spring. During our walk in the lava field, we could observe several obsidian flows. Obsidian is a black volcanic glass which contains high levels of silica, and is obtained when lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth. Obsidian is hard, glossy and brittle, and therefore fractures with very sharp edges. 




At the end of the lava field and just before arriving at the campground, the trail weaves around a green mountain made of olivine. The color of that mountain was unbelievable and made the scenery look completely unreal.
We finally reached our starting point around 6 pm. We passed close to the rangers office at the entrance of the campground. We noticed several licence plates nailed on the wall of the house and could not understand the reason for it... for now ;-)


After a delicious and deserved hot meal (rosted lamb with garlic), O. and I wandered for a while to enjoy the sunset light over the rhyolite mountains, and finally went to bed around 10:30 pm. 
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