Iceland
Moglet in

© Copyright Moglet 2011

31st August

Next morning we awoke to the sounds of the large group of 4x4’s making their way towards us, intent on following the track that last night we’d decided was just a bit too cheeky to follow!  Turns out they’d had a chat with the campsite owners and been told that although it was in a bit of a sorry state, the track was legitimate and ok to follow.
With this happy confirmation ringing in his ears, Jason couldnt get into the drivers seat quickly enough!
For a little while we ended up following the group of 4x4’s, but eventually they pulled ahead of us, and to be honest we were happy with that.  If they got into trouble we could help them out when we caught up, but I the meantime it felt much more like we had the place to ourselves and didn’t have to be in someone else’s dust cloud all morning.
BACK
As luck would have it, the worst part of the track was really the bit we’d done the night before.  Whilst this section looked mucky in places, and despite a warning sign at one point saying your wheels should be +35” to handle it, the mucky bits quickly turned to rock and so we had no worries at all.  We did notice one little shack-type dwelling on the route, with a couple of out-buildings - the cables on each corner tying them down to huge boulders a testament to how bad the weather can get here sometimes!
Aside from the occasional muddy stretch, much of the track was surprisingly sandy, and a good quality.  There were occasional small huts off in the distance, so perhaps the route is maintained by locals so they can use the track to get to the huts and go fishing??  We completely lost the 4x4 group, spotting them once on the horizon and then that was that, so we presume they made it through ok.  Towards the end of the day, the track eventually popped us back onto tarmac, which we followed for 15km or so to the large Halslon dam.  It's a controversial project (arent most dams??) as not only did lots of lovely local land get buried under masses of water once it was completed, the hydro-electric power that it generates isn't much used by the locals - it's pretty much all sucked up by an aluminium processing plant some distance away.  So, loss of countryside and furthering of stinky pollution generating factories is a good thing??  Or maybe it's the sacrifice of a relatively small amount of land to generate jobs and income in an area where there's not much else to do to bring home the bacon.  Plus in the grand scheme of things Iceland overall generates bugger all pollution - it was the only one of the countries which formed part of the Kyoto agreement which was actually allowed to increase it's pollution generating levels, by a whopping 20% no less!

Politics aside and from a purely tourist perspective, the dam isn't exactly anything to write home about, although we did see it on a chilly, grey afternoon so maybe not showing it's best side.  The size of it is pretty impressive, especially when you look down the sluice side and see just how far down the valley does that's been flooded to create it.  If you click on the middle picture below to enlarge it, you can just about make out a black semicircle shape in the lower left corner - that's a tunnel big enough for a two lane access road!
Having driven over the top of the dam, we followed the remains of the tarmac onto the rubble that the track once again became (passing a road sign that goes some way to showing why ‘picking up’ any Icelandic along the way while you’re here is easier said than done!).  By this point it was getting late and we were both tired, so we pootled along until we found a flat spot that was ok to pull onto for the night.  With Snaefell retreating into the distance on one side of us, and the distinctive flat top of Herdubreid, the Queen of the Mountains, growing larger with each kilometre on the other, we really couldn’t complain about the views.