For our last full day in Iceland, we really had just one item on the itinerary. Glymur is one of the tallest waterfalls in the country, but it requires a significant hike to reach it because there are no nearby roads. We grabbed breakfast at our hotel, loaded our packs, then started the hour drive to the parking area at the end of a long fjord. The skies were overcast, but the weather was otherwise pretty good without much wind (yet).
The hiking trail was roughly marked with yellow paint on rocks along the way, and it brought a wide range of terrain. Things started out over relatively flat terrain with a mix of dirt and gravel and one or two easy stream crossings. A while later, you descend through a cave and take some rough stairs down to the bottom of the canyon next to the river.
About to head down through the cave.
Here’s where the fun really began. We had to cross the river without a typical bridge. Instead, there is a log over the second half of the span and some mostly exposed rocks to scramble over for the first half. There was also a tension cable stretched across to hold for balance. There were several groups of people all headed in the same direction, so we got to watch about ten people go across before it was our turn. The technique that seemed to work best was to carefully find rocks with the least water rushing over them to get you to a large rock in the middle of the river where one end of the log was bolted down. Several people could stand on this rock at a time to help steady the cable for the people coming behind them. Perhaps the trickiest part was ducking under the cable to be in position to get onto the log while wearing a large backpack. After that portion, crossing the log was a piece of cake. I went first and was pretty methodical over the rocks. Then it was Amber’s turn, and she opted for the “faster is better” method. Both seemed to work well as we came out the other side with dry feet. Hurray for good boots!
This gives a pretty good idea of what the river crossing was like. There was no way to get across without water covering at least part of your shoes, the key was just to minimize the exposure.
After the excitement of the river crossing, things didn’t really slow down. We had a series of steep climbs where rebar poles had been hammered into the ground to provide ropes to hold. After those, there was a similar section going down, only it was across rock and it was partially wet. Our trekking poles where great for all of this as having an extra support really helped us feel stable even on tricky slopes. From this point, there was nothing quite so complicated.
Once we passed through the first climb after crossing the river, we could catch glimpses of the waterfall at the end of the canyon. Each viewpoint got progressively better until we reached a designated stop with a nice rock wall and paving stones. There was a cache hidden in the rock wall that Amber spotted in short order. The marked trail seemed to end there, but we decided to keep climbing.
This is looking back into the canyon in the opposite direction from the waterfall.
The first viewpoint with the stone wall. The cache was to the left inside the wall.
Eventually we reached another large flat space with a cliff edge directly across from the falls. Here is where I finally busted out the good camera and the tripod. By this point I realized I had forgotten my jacket in the car which also meant I did not have my hat or gloves either. This was unfortunate because it was extremely windy and cold now that we were nearer to the top of the canyon. Amber was nice enough to lend me one of her two jackets. I was happy to have it even if I did look pretty silly in a jacket a few sizes too small.
Taking some streamy waterfall shots from up top.
Soon it was time to head back down and do everything in reverse. This was mostly uneventful as the trekking poles made the harder parts easier. The main difference was that the mayflies where out in force and would not leave us alone. Luckily we were prepared for just such a situation, so we busted out our head nets and became the envy of every other hiker on the trail. One guy even offered Amber $12 to buy hers, and I’m not sure he was joking. She countered at $15 and that seemed to kill any further discussion.
Back at the first viewpoint with the wall, this time with head nets. They look silly, but they were the perfect defense against the bugs.
Back to the river crossing. Amber went first and got across with no issues. I made it to the middle rock, then went to duck under the cable to be on the same side as the rock crossing. Only I did it a little too early and didn’t really have enough room to stand on the other side of the cable. I did a nice limbo move, but I had both hands on the cable and managed to keep everything dry including my pack. Amber got some pics of me crossing, but missed that moment, probably because she was too busy thinking, “Oh, $h!t.”
This is just after recovering from my near dip in the river.
When we got back to the point of the cave, I remembered that there was another cache nearby. I originally thought it was down next to the river, so I headed back that directoin while Amber waited at the cave. Turns out I had misjudged the GPS map and the cache was actually on top of a ridge the same height as the top of the area above the cave Amber was sitting in. I had a really steep climb made possible by my poles, but found the cache shortly after. I had no desire to go back down the way I’d come up, so I opted to follow the ridge around and realized it was headed to the back side of the cave where I could meet up with Amber again.
This is the bottom side of the cave, just before I remembered there was another cache in the area. It turned out to be on the ridge above the cave and about a a tenth of a mile to the right.
The remainder of the walk back to the parking area was uneventful. We spent a total of about five hours. Towards the end, we could feel just about every rock under our tired feet despite our boots. Still a great adventure to cap our trip.The afternoon was much more low key. After getting cleaned up back at our hotel, we spent some time shopping for souvenirs, then had once last expensive Iceland dinner where we both got lamb. Finally, we finished the day with some lounging in a local pool.