400km Alone Across Iceland - Landmannalaugar to Nyidalur

 

 

D-6 Landmannalaugar - Bivouac at the lake Thorisvatn

The f***ing italian stove bought in Chile broke while I was preparing my porridge! So I left later than expected, but luckily the guy from the bus-shop opened 3h before time (8:00 am instead of 11:00 am) just for me so I could buy a new one. It's a lot heavier and bigger, but I have no other option. "One quality, the worst".

Anyway I'm still feeling good this morning, and I walk singing under the rain across lava flows, volcanos, and scoria. I'm constantly talking with Nature : "Hey, see? I didn't step on that flower. Because I know it takes hundred of years for it to grow. I'm being very careful, so maybe you could do something about the weather? Please improve the weather! That's it, of course it's 'improve', such a fool... Ah Ah! I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain! And I'm happy again, just singing in the rain!..."

"Give the guy some credit! At least I'm trying to cross Iceland, doing my best... So please make the sun appear before my bewildered eyes!... How I am supposed to pronounce 'bewildered'... And what does it mean by the way ?..."

Tough day.

I dream a lot about when I'll get to Myvatn, and when I will come back to France where I will tell my experience. I walk with a smile on my face.

Cold. Forecast were 50% right : there is wind, but it's still coming right into my face. The closer I get to Sprengisandur, the stronger the wind is.

I've walked a lot today, more than 30 km.

Just before entering into the desert, I met two Italians cycling. They came from the desert : they wanted to go across, but decided to head back because of the weather. Nice. That really lifts me up.

It's becoming really hard in the afternoon. "I lost my legs, dunno where. They were here, and then suddenly they vanished. How weird isn't it?"

Weather is... sh**.

A sunbeam suddenly shines in my back, while I'm sweating under the rain trying to get over a long hill, the wind coming in my face :"Sun is shining! (Bob Marley remix) May the force of Bob Marley be with me ! DIMMUBORGIR! (metal band) Shining, the sun in my back! (Combichrist - 'Twisting a knife in my back') ".

I'm using my walking sticks again to help me against the wind.

I'm glad I took Arnica balm : I have a throbbing pain in my shoulder. I set up camp close to the lake Boris Vian (Dorisvatn, pronounced Thorisvatn), behind a dike to protect me from the wind. Suddenly Corentin and Florent, two frenchmen, arrive from Nyidalur. They cross Iceland the other way round. We chit chat 2 minutes, and they decide to go on. They'll set up camp later. Brave...

Serious injury on my left foot. I think I have a cracked heel. It hurst like hell, but I have no idea what I should do, and I don't have a lot of medical equipement anyway. It's the first time I experience this.

Water refill was a priority. I had no water left at all.

Don't know if I can go on because of my feet. It damn hurts. But overall I'm OK, it should be alright. Nonetheless, it would be stupid to hurt myself badly... Healing requested. Need mana.

I dream about Icelandic beauties. I've been told so much about them. Where are they? I still have to do the video for Louise's wedding. I won't be able to be there in October. I must think about what I could say.

F***ing foot, I don't even know what to do (even though I am assuming that keeping on walking = bad).

I hope the barn is open so I can ask for advice. Otherwise I'll have to wait until I reach Nyidalur, in 3 days. It seems so far away...

In the worst scenario, I still would have started to walk across that feared Sprengisandur!

 

 

D-7 Bivouac at the lake Thorisvatn - Bivouac at Versalir barn

I haven't talked, or not much. Haven't met anyone, except few vehicules. For the first time my mind broke free, despite the pain in my shoulders, my hips, and my feet. The landscapes in the desert reminded me of Bolivia, or Siberia, or Tibet, though I've never been, or maybe even to Iceland...

Very lonely. Very hot.

Landscapes are really unbeleivable. Mood is good : as planned before leaving, I broke down nervously yesterday, that is to say after 5 days of walking. What a guess... So I managed to back away from my issues : I had planned all of that, it wasn't surprising anymore. And then I think I have found a way to releive my heel : I wrapped my left foot with bandages so the wound could dry and the skin harden. For the moment it seems to be working.

Today the weather is splendid and there is no wind at all. I'm lucky. But because of the heat, I will need to save water. There isn't much of it in that desert.

I had a beautiful dream walking. I dreamt I met an Icelandic girl in Nyidalur, with who I kept on walking until Myvatn. And then, as it happens in every romantic movie, she took me around for sightseeing, and at the time of flying back, I would miss my plane to stay with her. Love at first sight in the Sprengisandur. next scene, we're married and having dinner with friends in Paris. Everybody talks about what is going on in his/her life, what job, children... It's beautiful.

I aslo dream of telling my adventure during an informal meeting at GDF Suez's, somewhere in the world : "You know what kept me going? That : the stars in your eyes when I'm telling my story. You're with me in that desert, you're living it too I can see. And there is no better feeling than this one. You see, I live every moment of my life. I am fully aware of any minute going by. And by telling you my story, I make you want to live yours. You want a piece of advice? Go out, breath, feel. Life is all about mixing pleasure and pain. Pain is necessary to realise what pleasure is. And pleasure is about relaxation, and overcoming difficulties."

I think of Olivier, the Boucher, the Deleruelle, the Mauprivez... All of those who were amazed by my project. All of those who encouraged me anyway.

When I got to the barn, it was closed. I set up camp next to the wall away from the wind, and washed in the glacial river. I'm lonely, and feel so happy and free. Despite the freezing cold water, the sun warms my skin. Feels great.

Then many people arrive : 3 Frenchmen, a Spanish, and a British woman who said as well I sounded Australian : "Oh you're French? You sounded almost Australian!" F*** you.The Spanish guy rides a bike. He's really nice. "You're going across Iceland on foot? And alone? When I said I was going to do it on a bike, I've been told I was crazy. But you're even crazier than me!". The Frenchmen come from Brittany, and follow the same path I do, but the other way round. One of them reminds me of Bernard, a guy with whom I practised fencing in Grenoble, and he's doing it alone as well (even though he meets the others most evenings). But that one is insane. He tells to the Spanish guy and me what he has done those last days : he tried to avoid the desert, walking along the Vatnajökull, but a large river and icebergs were in his way. So he tried to go through with a group of Germans who had 4x4 of the Icelandic Army, but they got stuck in the river too. The Spanish guy looks at me, smiling : "I guess there is always crazier."

My small gas cylinder isn't empty yet. Unbeleivable. And I'm glad to see the others limp as well, even after 10 days of walking. I'm not the only one suffering lol [Laughing Out Loud].

Weather should be alright again for 2 more days, just what I need. I pray. And a rescue team needs to be rescued. Lol again?

 

 

J8 Bivouac at Versalir barn - Bivouac 15km before Nyidalur

Can't wait for it to be over. Haven't dreamt a lot : walked to fast. I walked around 35 km, which is 15 km more than planed. I was scared to find water, every river was dry. I was so releived when I found the oasis where I settled that I screamed : "OMG OMG! Too much water for me! Can't drink it all!" Just the way I like it.

Today's landscapes, and especially the track going straight in the desert, surrounded by glaciers, reminded me of Central Asia, maybe Afghanistan.

I realised travelling alone in a deserted place wasn't so great. You learn a lot by travelling : you learn from your own experiences, and also, and maybe most of all, from other people's experiences. By sharing with you their experiences, they give a new perspective to your own experiences, and therefore you learn a lot more. Consequently, sharing is probably the best part in a trip. It's what I like : sharing my fears, my pain, my joy : "I like the fact that I've done all of what I've done, because then I have things to tell."
That being said, walking alone in the desert is a unique experience anyone should try.

I think I'll dream more if my body wouldn't remind me how painful it is.

I ask a French family in a 4x4 if they had water for me : "You don't have any water? But we crossed lots of river on the road. — Yeah, you're driving. The last one I saw is 5 hours away." They can't understand... loneliness replaces anger once more.

Another car drived past me, too fast, and I projected gravel in my face. I imagined he would  get stuck a bit further. I then would sat on a rock and watch the driver try to repair his car : "Are you gonna help or what? — Actually, no. I'm going to sit here and watch you. Laugh a bit, and maybe sometimes throw stones at you." Neither do they understand.

I think a lot of Nico, how different it would have been with him : where he would have been in pain, what we would have talked about... I think I regret doing it alone.

There is a huge glacier on my left, the Hofsjökull. I've been walking on its side for 3 days already. "So that, on the map, is that small glacier... F*** is the word you were looking for."

I've got various songs of Combichrist in my head : "Sometimes I feel everything is fucked up", "Let the water flow! (originally 'Let the blood flow!')", and "Shining, the sun in my back!".

Fun fact : the sky is never pitch black, even in the middle of the night. And the sun rises at the North-East, and sets at the North West.

There are lots of stupid flies. It's weird. One of them got stuck in my scarf, and died of course. Maybe next time you'll know, stupid!

I don't use my knife, except for blisters.

And "The more I sleep, the more I'm in pain." : I can't stay still at night otherwise it hurts.

I've already walked more than 100 km. Nearly the half of my trip. I'm living in a kind of routine : stretching before setting up the tent, tidying up the tent always in the same way, getting out the same stuff out of my backpack everyday, for breakfast, like porridge, sugar and tea...

Cheese! Love it. It always makes my day brighter. I must take a picture for the woman who sold it to me : "There never has been a better time to enjoy a good cheese.", somewhere lost in the desert.

 

 

J9 Bivouac 15km before Nyidalur - Nyidalur

Huge F***. There were clouds, and then they weren't anymore when I started walking. So I had to open my bag again and pack everything in.

'Crazy Hour' yesterday with Johnson (the rabbit) : I was dancing and singing out loud wearing tights, listening to my iPod for the first time, with Johnson in my hands. By the way I saw an hawk chasing a small bird. It missed it. And the Soup with Vermicelles is awesome!

I became mad today because I hoped the day wouldn't be too long, but I saw the hut at the last moment (it was hidden behind a hill). Total madness. For real. I was in such a pain. First, the distance between the orange studs I was following went increasing. I had to look for them using my monocular "Where are those little orange f***ers!" Then I repeated until the end : "5 sh*tty little km" and "2 sh*tty little km", then "1.79", and finally F***!! Because I still couldn't see the hut and I was exhausted (psychologically). I wasn't expecting the day to be that long.

The hut rises amongst flowers and grass. I was getting tired of the desert.

It's strange, time seemed different in the desert. It doesn't feel like I've been in the desert for 4 days, while reaching the Landmannalaugar seemed very long.

I'm half way. I've probably walked 200km, even though the GPS says less. F*** the GPS.

I don't understand why people don't like to walk on roads. They all said it was bad. On the contrary, I like to walk on the road : the path is usually easier to walk on, and I love the contrast between that last sign of civilization, and the desert. Moreover, you meet people, like buses full of tourists in front of which you can fool around, and cars taking pictures of you like you couldn't see it, as they did in Tabernas. It reminds me I'm not really alone. It feels better.

I transmitted the message of Inga to the wardens.

Starting tomorrow, 4 days quite hard to Dreki Hut. But then, depending on weather of course, it should be alright. The trip would probably be better if I wasn't suffering that much. I'm worried by my shoulders and my hips for the moment. I'll have a shower and rest in the sun. Ah, and I'm hungry as well : my lunch is not enough at all.

I spent the afternoon talking with the Rescue Team stationed in the hut. They are really nice. "It's too hot this year. See, I'm wearing a short, she says pointing her short, I'm not used to it!" One of them told me that Rescue Volunteers regroup in 4 places during Summer : Landmannalaugar, Nyidalur, Dreki, and another one in the West, so they can act faster if needed in the Highlands. And then, in mid-August (15th), they go back home, and it takes a lot longer for them to rescue people. It's the 12th. Sweet. We talked about my route as well. It's going to be 4 hard days! especially for finding water (no water from day 1 to day 4). And then tomorrow there is no path. I'll have to use the map, the compass, and my GPS to locate myself. Also, taking into account the hot weather of those last few days, crossing rivers became very difficult. Their advise is to cross rivers between 2 am and 2 pm. Talking about that, the track I was planning to follow from day 2 is now closed because of quick sand. They tell me I should follow another one... 10km longer. Let me see... denied. I'm not changing my plans yet. I really don't want to walk 3 additionnal hours, especially with no water supply. But they are all very impressed by my project, and ask me a question I can't find any satisfying answer to : "Why did you decided to do that? — ... I don't know. When I heard about it, I thought it was a good idea..." But now?

Shower.

I notice I have a sunburn on the right side of my face only. It sucks. And then I'm initiating a complete 'feet repairing' operation. Is planed : plasters for blisters, replacement of the bandage on my heel, and Arnica cream. My heel seems to heel. It dries, and the cracks reduce. Nice.

While I chit chat with a French couple : "But why do you do this? Is it part of your job? — No, it's part of my holidays."

AWESOME diner!! First, Knorr's Pumpkin Cream is really good. And filling. And then I make a tea with a tea bag I found in the hut, and later a French family offers me icelandic blue cheese with some bread! As a result, I go back in my tent with a naive smile on my face, my arms dangling and a bulging belly. That family got stuck in the river just before the hut by the way. And the Rescue Team didn't help them at all (not at first) : they filmed them getting stuck. The children were scared to death as water level went up in the car. Lol.

Slept well. I don't need to strech as much as before. Good use of Arnica. And I changed the gaz cylinder of my stove! I'm left with 3, meaning I have at least 2 I won't use (included the one the French guy gave me between Thörsmork and Hvanngil).

 

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