Iceland 🇮🇸 Day 3 of 18
🗓: 22 Aug | 🌍: Skjòl Campground to Wild Camping near the F-26
The weather has been incredibly sunny so we figured this would be the perfect opportunity to travel through the isolated center of Iceland via Route F26, also know as the Sprengisandsleið. Highlights included barren, moon-like, volcanic terrain, and river crossings fed by volcanic glaciers. I hoped that the water crossings wouldn’t be too deep…
Icelandic horses are small but are long-lived and hardy. Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return keeping the population relatively disease-free.
Our first stop was Gollafoss Falls. Early morning, blue skies, no tour-busses – perfect time to visit.
F26 – Sprengisandsleið
The temperature was 15C (59F) – Warm enough that I can wear my comfortable summer gloves, leave the visor open, and ride without a jacket liner.
The last view of pavement before reaching the gravel portion of the F26. We’ll be offroad for the next couple days now!
Generosity of a Stranger
I’m in awe of the beauty all around me to include the generosity of total strangers. Let me explain… A glitch in Mavic drone caused it to just fell from the sky immediately after I switched off the course lock. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to recover using the tracking feature of the remote. Unfortunately, all four props were either mangled or broken. I had spares but was one prop short… Bummer; no drone footage until we buy another prop – perhaps halfway into our trip when we return to Reykjavik?
As we were getting ready to leave the area, we spotted a Mavic drone flying nearby!! Could the operator have a spare to purchase? I walked over and explained our problem and sure enough this Swiss tourist has a spare! We offered some money to pay for it but he refused. Extremely grateful for the kindness of strangers! Viva Switzerland!!
This photo, from the drone, would not be possible without the generosity of a random Swiss hero!
Reaching the Hrauneyjar Highland Center provided the last chance to gas up before crossing the barren landscape of central Iceland.
A really cool Nissan Patrol. Sadly these are not available in the USA.
I know these mules are just mechanical things made of metal, plastic, and rubber but they have a way of growing on you. We love our two mules – They’ve got us through some wonderful country.
We inadvertently stumbled across this geocache at the base of one of the F26 signs. We signed the log-book and left a sailors knot before continuing onward…
Route F26, also called Sprengisandsleið, is the longest (200 km) and one of the most isolated roads in Iceland, running through the Sprengisandur area between the glaciers Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull.
The sign says 4x4s only. What is a pair of 1x2s to do?
Although this section of the F26 wasn’t too technical, it was remote; we didn’t see more than maybe a handful of vehicles all day out there.
Folks often ask how I get pictures of the two of us when it’s just the two of us. The secret will astound you… a Manfrotto compact tripod.
Here I am returning to pick up the tripod before it gets run over by a Land Rover.
We knew there were going to be water crossing but we had no idea how many or how deep they would be. Anything deeper than 1 meter is probably too deep for the mules and dropping them in water that deep could easily end our trip. With the unusually hot weather, the glacier-fed water would definitely be deeper. To say there was a little anxiety would be an understatement…
This is the first water crossings. As you can see, it’s wasn’t worth all the anxiety and worry. The bike rolled through it like butter… a kind of rocky, bumpy butter.
We ended up riding all day and well into just before sunset at around 9:20.
Taking a break to watch the sun drop behind Langjökull glacier. Incredible! We’re here in Iceland! On our own motorcycles!!
It wasn’t much longer before we found a nice pull-off area and set up camp for the night.
Tomorrow we will continue along the F-26 on our way to the northern side of Iceland…
Iceland 🇮🇸 Day 4 of 18
🗓: 23 Aug | 🌍: Wild Camping near the F-26 to Akureyri
Opening the tent reveled a thick and cold fog. As we packed up the camp I was wondering if the good weather was behind us? I also wondered what kinds of great views we were missing with only about 50 ft of visibility. Luck was upon us that day; the further we traveled, the further the fog lifted and by 9AM we had beautiful blue skies!
Tips for driving in the Highlands of Iceland.
Although we’re pretty remote there are still well marked signs and warnings.
We considered taking the F910 route but the warning seemed like it would be too much of a challenge for us and our mules. Perhaps, it was for the better since we also didn’t have the fuel range and would have had to ask for the kindness of other travelers to share their fuel with us.
There isn’t any restaurants out here in the boonies so the official lunch of the F-26 was energy drink and tortilla with almond peanut butter. Thanks to my aunt Beth and sister Jenn for the drinks!
With only three pairs of socks and one pair wet from a previous river crossing you have to find creative ways to dry them out.
Laugafell via the F831
We came across this sign for the F831 directing us to a hot pool. After two days of riding in the dirt a hot pool sounded like a great idea! Do we have the fuel to make it to the pool and still make it to the gas station?
Chantil studying the map and doing some math to see if we have the range. Even without the diversion, we only had about 20-30 spare miles before we were thumbing it.
Success! Turns out we made it to the hot pool AND had gas to spare. Love it when a plan works out!
Somewhere 50 miles from a paved road is a little slice of heaven – it’s called Laugafell. Don’t miss it if you travel this way. This little oasis has a few buildings, some camping, and most importantly, a changing area and hot pool. We hung out for a few hours and even considered staying the night. With the prospect of bad weather coming in a few days we decided to press on.
We stood on the pegs for a lot of the riding today. Every once in a while I’d “check my six” to ensure we weren’t being overtaken by another vehicle.
This portion of the road has so many water crossing that we weren’t even getting off the bikes to film them. If I remember correctly there were three crossings on the F26 and more than a handful on the F831.
Dropping down into the valley from the highland was one of the most memorable views of the entire trip. To bad I was too busy trying not to ride off the cliff to get a great picture.
The F821 north featured beautiful waterfalls and a gorgeous green valley with moss-covered rocks and sky steal clear rivers.
There was one section that dropped down to the lower valley that was full of small rocks, water crossings, and switch backs. It was the most technical of the riding we did in Iceland.
It was almost 7:30 PM before we were back on pavement. The F26 and 821 were definitely a beautiful and very memorial experience.
We made it into the town of Akureyri where we found gas, dinner at Greifinn’s (recommended by some teenage kids at the gas pump), and lodging at Akureyri Backpackers Hostel.
While reflecting on our trip so far I was feeling like the worst was behind us. We had gotten through some of the most isolated areas on Iceland with great weather and no breakdowns! Little did I know that Murphy was just postponing both weather and breakdowns for a later date…
More on PAGE 3…