Tuesday, December 19, 2017

nykeiko travels: Hiking to Iceland's tallest (second tallest?) waterfall with a baby- Glymur

Nope that's the wrong way!

OH HELLO! I'm alive! Yes, yes. New job, semi-new baby and life is getting in the way of me posting a proper blog post here. Not yet ready to share a glimpse of my daughter's life makes it very difficult to blog about anything at all since she is 100% part of my life now. She just turned 16 months (December update: she is now 23 months. This is a very late post) and I am finally in love with her cuteness, personality and quirky personality.  It is hard not to find a picture without her in it on my phone. I could blog about her all day (not really, because I don't have time for that anymore!.  Don't ask me where I'm writing this at the moment. Could be on the poop bowl, on the bus, lunch time, in bed...).

I am determined to write at least one blog post about our Iceland trip and it's going to be about the time we went for a hike to find Iceland's tallest waterfall and got lost one too many times (with a baby in tow!). 

Here is what we wanted to achieve on our 7-day trip in Iceland:

One of the goals of this trip was to mainly explore West Iceland which we didn't do during our first trip. We actually drove the Ring Road and did the entire island in about 7 days but missed out on many of the coastal cities. This time, we wanted to visit the fishing towns of Arnastapi (to find the red roof house) and Stykkisholmur (where scenes from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was shot). Our only hiking plan was a short but arduous hike to see Glymur waterfall which is Iceland's tallest waterfall (height under debate). Bathe in hot springs and finally, we wanted to revisit the two waterfalls in the South of the Island-Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Those are gorgeous waterfalls and I really wanted them to be the backdrop to our family portraits. I think we were able to achieve everything we set out to do and more! 

We spent the first four nights in an isolated cabin 20 minutes from Borganes (about an hour away from Reykavik). It was the perfect location and focal point to all of our West Iceland activities. We were far from city lights and we stayed up late enough for darkness to set (12-3 a.m.) in hopes of catching a glimpse of the northern lights. It was the perfect setting except we were just not lucky enough.

Our day began late because we decided to stay on New York City Eastern Standard Time. That means the baby went to bed around midnight local time and we went to bed a little later. We all wake up around noon everyday and leave about two hours later after going through the morning routine of making breakfast, eating breakfast and prepping for the day (mostly for the baby). Bringing a baby on a trip like this definitely slows things down but we rarely felt rushed since daylight was almost twenty hours a day. It only felt rushed when we needed to go to groceries stores and shops closed early. When we were back in Reykjavik, most of the shops closed at 6 p.m. 

On a nice but cloudy day, we started our Glymur hike around 3 pm and we read it would take about 4 hours to and from the falls. That sounded easy. We thought it would take us 5 hours because we would be slowed down by a baby. The little one slept as soon as we started the trail and napped in my carrier for about two hours while I walked, crawled into a cave. climbed rocks and leaped over little streams. Before we started the hike, we knew there was a river crossing over a log we would have to do. I was pretty confident we could cross it without any problems. I'm pretty steady on a beam and with a wire over the log, it looked very so-able. We watched enough YouTube videos of other hikers doing it and felt it wasn't going to be an obstacle. But alas, right at the start of the trail, a red sign was posted saying there was NO LOG over the river at this time.

We didn't expect that. We decided to go anyway and see what it was all about. When we arrived to the river, we knew it was game over for the river crossing. We stood there contemplating but when we saw two European hikers crossing the river in their skivvies and soaking everything below their belly, we knew it would not be possible with the baby. The possibility of slipping off the wire and drowning the baby was like in the red zone. So, we took our disappointed responsible parents asses back up the trail and continued our trek to the fall on the same side we came from. This is where things started getting sketchy. We crawled back up the cave and onto the trail where we thought we would need to go to continue the trail. We followed a couple from Michigan who did this as well. It wasn't until we got to the top of the trail that we saw other fellow hikers we saw at the stream already up on the trail passing us. We didn't know that we could have continued along the stream to climb up. Since I had a baby strapped on to me, I thought maybe I took the longer but safer route to console myself. I was glad S weighed in at only 20 lbs. With the Ergo Baby carrier, it was like carrying a normal backpack and I believe she likes to snuggle to me. When it's nap time and she's in the carrier, it's almost guaranteed sleep inducer. Love it!

Here's my faking the crossing with napping baby.

Just crawled out the cave...

We got the river crossing in less than an hour. It would take us about an hour more to get up to the falls with the multiple detours we did. We were already having problems staying on trail on our way up to the falls. We tried going through some thick bushes to make our way up at some and it wasn't until we met a few fellow hikers who had split up to find the trail that we were on our way again. The trail up was not very easy. There were muddy patches that required me holding onto branches so I could prevent from falling, slabs of wobbly rocks and then just some hardcore steps going upward. Without a baby, it would be a breeze (somewhat) but with a baby, every step is important. Considering every misstep could lead to no good at all. I was confident with myself but sometimes you just never know. 

That's the wonders of nature hiking. Anyhoo, when we reached the falls and finally saw the top of it (but disappointedly not the whole fall), it was about 4:30 pm. We started the trail around 2:30 p.m. Not bad I thought. We thought we would be very delayed. We took pictures and tried to marvel at the fall and imagining how the damn thing would look in its entirety since it's the supposed to be the Iceland's tallest waterfall. How much does it suck that you hike for two hours to see this waterfall and all you can see is the top part. Oh wells. We were indeed underwhelmed but the triumph of getting so far with a napping baby (who woke up just in time for family pictures) was satisfying (for me at least). 
It was good timing because the weather started to turn. Fog moved in and misty rain started coming down. We rapidly started our decent in case rain would come. We've learned from the past how unpredictable the weather can be up there. 

Argh, it's so mossy I couldn't tell I took a blurry picture until now. We saw a lot of this when we were off trail. It was beautiful and like walking on clouds.

We saw a family with a few kids walk back a different path on top of the mountain. We weren't sure if they were going another path or back to the parking lot where we wanted to go. Since we were not sure, we didn't want to follow. We went back down the mountain and following another trail we thought other hikers used to come up. We followed one cairn and then another. When we got to the third one, we were lost. We couldn't see the next cairn and lost the trail. Fuck, we should have followed that family I kept thinking but they were already long gone and it was too late to go back. We kept forward trying to follow any possible paths that looked like trails. We kept getting no where. 

After a few attempts, baby needed some food and we sat down to snack while David went off searching for possible trails. He flew downhill left and right to see where it was the safest way for the baby and I to take. That's when we saw our fellow young hikers again who led us up the first time. They were following the same trail that led them to us and then discovered a dead end. They decided that they would walk through the thick branches to get back on the trail we could see from afar. We told them to go first and give us a shout. They struggled but eventually got through. One of them screamed back, "I wouldn't recommend this at all !" As she struggled through the branches. Alright then, we need to find another way to get down there. We decided we would go back to almost near the falls again and find the exact same path we took up which we didn't want to really do because it wasn't an easy path up. 

We walked back and found the path down and we were now relieved to be on a path again. We marched and marched and saw familiar crossings and paths. We were doing good speed until we questioned the path again. Did we see this on our way up? Was there so much bushes along the trail? It wasn't until we came across a coniferous green forest we began to worry. Where the heck did this forest come from? We definitely did not see this ok our way up. But, we were still on a trail, just not the same one we took. We were bewildered with no idea how we got on this new path. 

We trekked on until we saw no more paths. We were lead into to a field of dead grass and no path in sight. Dave decided we should back away. At this point, the baby was back on me and I let him take the lead. He told me to stay put with the baby as he went on to find a path again. I'd wait for his signal.  I was certainly already anxious. We knew we were going in the right direction, if only the road can be so straight forward. Speaking of roads, Dave finally called out behind some trees and told me to follow him.  

He found a service road! We were not sure if it would lead us to the right way but service roads are a good sign and we were momentarily relieved. Dave insisted to carry the baby at this point so that we can increase our speed. Luckily for us, she went for a second nap which is unusual since she has been doing one naps (we were thankful). She must have been really tired and/or really comfy from being snug as a bug in the carrier. After we made the switch, we hurriedly followed tire tracks on the service road. Through mud, through rocks, through big and small puddles and through grass. Even though we were following tire tracks, we came across a trail and when it led us astray we decided not to attempt trails anymore and just stick with the road. However, we did come across a river from far and saw another log crossing from far. We definitely should not follow the trail but from that view, we spotted a couple of hikers from far. The last of the hikers from Glymur! Happiness swallowed me whole! They were on this path a bit higher up than where we were and still too far to hear our screams. We could see that they were heading to the parking lot. At this point, we spotted electrical wires and cars and were just hoping that the service road was going to lead us there eventually.  After what felt like ages of walking (maybe probably less than 15 minutes) we finally found confidence on the path when we came across abandoned cabins and that we were on the right path to our car. Phew! What should have been a casual hike turned into this intense trail. That evening, we kept pondering about how we got lost. Dave started reading more about the trail and how people blogged about getting lost up there.  Before going we were just concerned about a river crossing. We watched YouTube videos and saw pictures of the falls, little did we know we had to search "getting lost at Glymur" to find out we were definitely not the first to get lost on that trail. 

That was an intense trail. What should have been a nice short hike turned into a nightmare however, somehow, this adventure will be as memorable as our  hiking adventure from our first trip to Iceland. Another one for the books of good hikes gone bad. Oh Iceland, still so wild, still so good. Let's try again the next time we visit! 

Even while being lost, I stopped and admired the beauty of the landscape...then back to calm panic mode.

A glimpse of hope when we found the service road.

Dave said he would have wanted to explore this empty house if we were not pressed for time...

Steps from the parking lot....We were relieved.

Last car in the lot...

No comments:

Post a Comment