|Best laid plans||Continents and Caves||Reykjavikian ambiance||Waterfalls and sunsets||Human wrecks and legacies||Kristinartindar: The Journey is the Reward||The finding of firsts, and birthday peace||The endurance of history in Snæfellsnes||The edge of the Earth||An unexpected discovery||Community, love, betrayal, and sharks||The adventure comes full circle|
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After the long and adventurous hike of 7 hours to a mountain peak and back, time had been cut dramatically short. Hrunting and I had intended to continue driving east along the ring road to explore the more distant regions of Iceland, but the sun didn't seem to want to work with the itinerary at that point. So, we resigned to heading back west, doubling back towards the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula and continuing the route from there. That meant there was some time to invest in a few quick geocaching stops along the way!
One of those stops was for what many in the geocaching community value as a fun little side-game - being the first to find a brand newly published geocache. This one had been published almost a month prior, and no one had yet made an attempt to locate it. It was a little off the beaten path, however, but this was a perfect time for a little detour!
Hjálparfoss is a small waterfall located just north of the joining of two rivers, Fossá and Þjórsá. Its name means "helping falls", after travelers coming from the barren interior lands discovered it, an oasis for their horses to graze. The active volcano Mt. Hekla is located about 16km to the south-east.
When I arrived here, it was pitch black and the weather had started to get worse. Snow was falling and there was a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Looking at the road closure map, the geocache was located a couple hundred meters into a road flagged "impassible" (near Búrfell). I wasn't having any difficulty on the approach, however (it was very much like winter driving back home on a rough day), but I still proceeded with great caution. Approaching the parking area, there were tracks recently made just leaving the main road, but they'd turned back. Hopefully not someone who'd set out to hike and be the first to find!
Confident in Hrunting, we pushed forward down the roadway to parking. It was solid enough and the snow soft enough that grip was strong, and we plowed onward. At parking, I heard the deep rumble of the falls nearby. Lights from a power station just to the south-east provided some ambient light, but I realized the GPS might have some difficulty - the coordinates were next to a cliff.
After two attempts at approaching from the correct angle, I found the trail that led down to and along the water's edge, and thanks for a very helpful hint which otherwise would have left me searching aimlessly in the fresh snow, the cache was in hand a short time later. An empty logsheet greeting me, and I was the first to find this cache, my first FTF on a continent not my own!
I'd hoped to be able to nab some photos of the waterfall, however the temperature, falling snow, and darkness were a very bad combination, and I could only barely make out the falls anyway. This would be a stop to visit on another day, in much better weather. Sadly, I retraced my steps back to Hrunting and continued on to the next target. On the way out we passed by a few much larger winter vehicles heading inland, and Hrunting felt quite dwarfed. I wanted to leave the flagged area to find a safer location to have a power nap - my new overnight strategy after the first night's failed attempt at a nice long sleep.
It would soon be my birthday!