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Friday, 8 October 2021

Iceland 10: to Krókur

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Friday 2nd September 1977

Late yesterday evening at Hvanngil, Dick Phillips arrived bringing further provisions. With him were Paul’s wife Judi and another walk leader called Jenny.

Injured Ed, fearing he is holding everybody up, discreetly offers to return with Dick in the Land Rover. He is told he can but there is no compulsion. He decides in that case to continue. I don’t think he realised what he was letting himself in for on the trek, but what tenacity. Dick does take Gavin’s five tons of obsidian, though.

The early risers disappear for a short walk in the morning sun and we are slow getting away. When we eventually do, it is a beautiful day on winding mountain paths with a black desert and more rivers to cross (the Markafljot and the Hvitmaga), and further views of the high rhyolite. Paul’s wife, Judi, is walking with us. She is chatty and spontaneous, the opposite of quiet, considered Paul.

I will let the photographs do most of the talking.

Iceland 1977: between Hvanngil and Krokur

Iceland 1977: between Hvanngil and Krokur

Iceland 1977: between Hvanngil and Krokur

Now Neville is not going so well. He has bruised heels, although not blistered. You learn a lot about yourself through walking. It separates mind from body. You are minded to keep going but your body wants to stop. I articulate this philosophy and get the piss taken out of me for the next couple of hours.

 
Iceland 1977: between Hvanngil and Krokur

We don’t go as far as the itinerary indicates. Instead of a cave at Lifrarfjöll, we stop an hour early in a hut at Krókur. Its name appears to mean hook. Like the village of Hook in Yorkshire, it is on a sweeping switchback bend in the river.

Hut quality had generally been improving but Krókur is a step back. It has two parts. I choose the roomier stable section in spite of the smell of horse poo. It is preferable to being crammed into the other part, despite its wooden floor, walls and ceiling.

Iceland 1977: approaching Krokur
Approaching Krokur - the hut is in the valley just left of the left hand figure

Iceland 1977: the hut at Krokur
The Krokur hut

After dark we see the Northern Lights: electrically-charged particles from the sun colliding with the gases of the atmosphere in bands of green across the night sky. They appear at a point on the horizon and expand upwards in glowing fluorescent lines that change shape constantly, and then slowly fade as another point begins to appear low down on the horizon. Incredible! 

(next part)
Some names and personal details have been changed. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who was there.

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Me too. You should try transcribing it and photoshopping all the dust of the pictures.

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  2. Those photos show a stunning but very bleak landscape. I imagine seeing the Northern Lights from that unspoilt place would have been quite magical.

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    1. Especially since going through these pictures again, I find that I can imagine how the UK landscape would once have looked like this. Iceland is very young. I read somewhere that it could eventually increase in size to join Europe to America.

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  3. I am really enjoying your tour second hand. I have left it far too late in life ever to go there but it looks fantastic.

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    1. Fantastic it certainly was. I've left it too late to go again, at least to do this kind of walk. It wouldn't be the same in a bus.

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  4. Such a rugged and beautiful landscape.

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  5. I did not know there was a Crook in Yorkshire, but I shall get there, Tasker, I shall get there, even if I never make Iceland.
    Text and images converse with each other as always, and so to us.

    Jenny sounds like a bit of good news, or am I getting her mixed up with Judi?
    My general rule as a man of 70 is that it is OK to fancy young women as long as they are young woman from the long lost past, preferably in walking shorts. I sound like Kingsley Amis in the Garrick.

    I'm not sure about walking separating mind and body.
    Isn't that still to come when we Cross the Bar as Lord Alfred said?

    The Krokur hut in that heavenly light is how I'm hoping eternity will be like. Maybe with a very un-Icelandic pub and cheerful barmaids.

    The vistas take my breathy superlatives away but seem more like New Zealand than the Peak District.

    *Sam Neil on New Zealand Cinema.* FilmSchoolArchive. YouTube.
    Haggerty

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    1. Hook not Crook. By hook or by crook you will read it properly. It sounds like you would have got on well with Amis and Larkin and that lot. Do you take books off other's bookshelves and make rude changes?

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    2. My attempt at humour has as much bite as tinned asparagus, Tasker.
      *Are you trying tae be funny pal?* as we say in Glasgow.

      I shall visit Hook one day and reinvent it as Crookston or Crossmyloof, both residential districts south of the Clyde.

      I would have steered a crookit path away from Amis pere et fils.
      Kingsley's prose was too arid for my taste, Martin's too sweatingly mannered, both deficient in nourishment.
      Larkin was a very different artist, bleak and beautiful at once.
      Haggerty

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  6. I expect seeing the northern lights from there is a deeply burned memory. The scenery in this leg seems extra impressive.

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    1. Funnily enough they didn't, to the extent that until I read the diary again I wasn't sure whether or not we'd seen them. I must have been so knackered as to be past caring.

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  7. Oh, wow! I would hope to one day be able to view the Northern Lights as you have done. -an experience to remember.

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    1. See response to Andrew, 2 comments above. It would have been nice to have a photograph, but very difficult to capture in the days of film cameras, and not worth trying because of cost and limited numbers of frames.

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  8. These pictures are breath taking and some parts look like you are on another planet! Each one of you are amazing to take on such a hike for that distance, location and length of time. How wonderful it must have been to see the Northern Lights!

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    1. I've mentioned before how it makes you realise that the geological processes on earth can be the same as on other planets with a similar structure. Those recent images from the Mars lander for example.

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  9. As Bonnie as just said it looks like another planet, a sci-fi film would not go amiss. But beautiful and a treasured memory to look back on without the blisters and sore feet.

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    1. I don't know if any fantasy films have been made in Iceland. If not they should.

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  10. I was going to say how I envy you for having seen the aurora borealis, but then I read your reply to another comment where you say that you only remembered it when you transcribed your diary. Not so impressive, after all.
    The first photo could have been taken on another planet.

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    1. It seems I found it impressive from what I wrote at the time, and I'm sure I remembered it for several years, but over the decades the memory of the landscape dominated everything else. I meant in the comment that maybe thirty years later I wasn't quite sure whether or not we'd seen the northern lights.

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  11. After reading your follow up comments to folks about the aurora borealis--seen, but not remembered--I won't bother to envy the vision. :) However, when you consider all the information your brain has taken in since that walk many decades ago, you can be forgiven. Occasional brain dumps are inevitable. Too bad we don't often get to choose what to forget. Happy you have your dusty photos and journal to revive some memories of the journey.

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    1. The interesting thing is, having now read that I did see it, I feel sure I can remember seeing it, including where I was standing in relation to the hut. Is that a real or a reconstructed memory?

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  12. Such a surreal landscape. I especially love that top photo. I saw the Aurora Australis in New Zealand when I was there, but I've never seen the Borealis. I'm sure they look the same -- kind of eerie and otherworldly.

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    1. I agree, having the same cause they must surely look the same, except, like ripples on water, they are never quite exactly the same. Boggling thought that.

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  13. Giant steps are what you take
    Walking on the moon
    I hope my legs don't break
    Walking on the moon...

    The last sentence of this blogpost was excellent Dunham Minor - deserving of a house point.

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    1. I meant the penultimate sentence.

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    2. Thank you Sir. Please Sir, does "Incredible!" constitute a sentence?

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    3. Quiet lad and get on with your prep!

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  14. I had forgotten how much I am enjoying your trek. I have a few biographies written by 'ordinary' people ie not by VIPs or politicians and I invariably enjoy them far more. I am really enjoying your commentary and the photos today are stunning.

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    1. Thank you. It looks like there are going to be 14 episodes in all.
      The scenery earlier on was bleak. As we descend to the plains the landscape is greener, and more eroded, rounded and convoluted which adds a lot of interest.

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