I woke again to birdsong. It is one of the beautiful things about Iceland. It is quiet enough that you can hear the birds all through the day. What had woken me was probably the sun hitting the side of the tent and turning it into a small oven. I was suddenly sweaty. I clawed my way out of my tent and into beautiful sun. The camp site was largely empty already. A few of my fellow tent-campers were letting things dry and I pulled out the few bits of damp clothing from my duffle and hung them on the hedge to dry. I would stay another night and just enjoy the sun. I broke out the shorts and a t-shirt. I'm beginning to feel the danger of getting stuck. Klaustur doesn't really have much to offer, but it's quiet, got great views and this campsite is quiet enough for it to be enjoyable without being the only one here.
I lounged around the site, wondered up and made coffee using the kettle(!) and just my jet boil cup as sign that I was a hardened camper (ha!) though honestly having not borough any other kind of eating or drinking container, I don't have much choice. Sat outside the dining room was a man about my age. We swapped a few words. Another hitch hiker making his way around the 1. I found that not having actually spoken to many people for a few days, you struggle to find much to say, too tied into the journey and beauty of what you are setting out to see and having come the same way. We were about a day out of sync and leapfrogging each other round similar stops.
Sitting in the shade for a while, I read my book, write a couple of notes of things that popped into my head and need some thought and enjoyed sitting still. It is so bright that I will have to wait until the evening to get out and take some photos. Instead I stick on my crocs and make a beeline across the site and down the lane towards the supermarket. I don't need much and I find the few bits I want quickly. Then I start wondering around the small isles, simply looking at things on the shelves. Most of them are familiar but every now and then I spot something new and almost interesting, mostly fish related. I realise that I'm actually enjoying wondering up and down. This is one of my mother's favourite past times. I wonder if it's genetic?
I've finally manage to get my hands on small cartons of UHT milk and can make coffee without wasting most of a litre. As I walk back towards the campsite, I check out the cafe that gets a good write up in the guide book, that'll be dinner later. It's empty right now as they don't open until 12 but it looks nice enough and apparently is rammed in the summer. This is definitely summer! I reach for the factor 50 that's been in my wash bag since my last adventure. If the sun keeps it up it'll probably need to get some more. I slather it on.
I edit some photos from the last few days and generally veg out in the shade behind the van. I've mentioned the long days before but they're great! I'm taking all this time to do very little, safe in the knowledge that I've got about 10 more hours of light if I change my mind. Even then at about lunch time I start to feel like I should do something, beyond making a few ham and cheese sandwiches. One of the sights of Klaustur is the 'church floor'. It was long thought to be a church floor from the early Irish monks that settled here but is actually the tops of columns of slow cooling volcanic rock similar to those at Vik and all along this stretch of Iceland.
If you hadn't noticed Klaustur has some significant religious leanings and I think these stretch well into its recent history. There's a memorial chapel built in 1974 for the 'fire sermon' that 'halted' the flow of lava from the Laki eruption and saved the town - this happened in 1783. There are Sisters Falls which I was planning to go up later and then this is fed by Sisters Lake, where, whilst bathing 3 nuns were drowned by an other worldly hand that had appeared in the water and offered them a golden comb before pulling them under to their deaths. A mound where a Pagan Lord is buried, having died as he set foot on the Christian estate and been buried under the mound of rocks.
Taking a few snaps with my phone, I wondered back towards the main road. The N1 service stations punctuate the ring road. Apparently the hot dogs are amazing, I've avoided them so far. I wonder in to the service station shop to pick up some water. Again I wonder the shelves looking at what's on offer - maybe a mug for my coffee? No luck but I did spot the yoghurt covered raisins! In the varied weather conditions so far, my lenses and filters have taken a bit of a beating. I pull the whole bag apart to let things dry and clean off the mix of sea salt and waterfall that has been left behind. There's something very pleasing about putting it all back ready. It's about 4pm when there's a shift in the weather. The heat drops off a little and a slight breeze picks up. I'm half way through a not so cold can of Gull, but this is the time to make a move and start whatever walk I have half planned for the afternoon.
I pick the direction if 'in to' town, although once you have passed the supermarket, the cafe, and the memorial chapel this thins out again pretty quickly to a handful of houses. I almost walk past the falls. They're a trickle amongst some very large rocks at the moment. Maybe my wet weather so far has been a weird patch through a dry Spring. The steps up the side are neatly cut and shot wooden posts with a painted red top line a route that should lead me up and over the top of the ridge that the campsite sits at the bottom of, and back down the other side to where the church floor is.
By the time I get to the top, the rush of wind is amazing and I'm panting and sweating. I then look down and realise that it's been quiet a steep climb and don't feel so bad! I'm being watched by some Icelandic sheep. These are hardy broad things that seem to roam reasonably freely across great tracts of the land. They eye me as I sit and look around. I kick off my shoes and start to follow the painted posts barefoot. There is something great about being barefoot in an open space. Other travellers, other walkers have written a lot about it but at its most basic there is something very pleasing about feeling the ground you're walking on, letting your body through it's feet respond to the changes underfoot and respond to the subtle changes in terrain.
Taking my time I cross the uplands slowly. There is no rush. I sit, lay and look. I spot the occasional group of other walkers who don't ever quiet catch me up, turning back, not wanting to venture from the way they know they can go back? There are bees in the small clumps of pink wild flowers growing in patches across the grass. Below me I can hear the roar of the road, but there are so few cars passing that it is hard to believe that they make so much noise! It is a beautiful high place to be able to reach so quickly.
Eventually, I reach the slightly rocky descent back towards the town and camp site. The path quickly falls into the shade and I pick up the pace to make it back to the sun soaked lower ground. The church floor is blissfully quiet when I get there and I take some time playing with the camera. I wrap up as a group arrive and walk all over it and into my shot. A moment is only supposed to be a moment and it was over.
I was thirsty. Some food and a beer would not go amiss. Time for the cafe. As I approached I could see that it was rammed. Walking in there was the chaos of lots of people all deciding to pay at once. Table for 1? I was seated at a table for four and handed a menu. Some water and a beer. Craft beer has made it to Iceland and I pick out the Icelandic IPA and a pizza off the menu. I should have gone for the smaller size. By the time I am finished, I'm stuffed and starting to feel where I have caught the sun. Not quite ready to go back I ordered a small beer and held the cold glass to the side of my face. You can almost hear a slight hiss!