Hiking Iceland – In the Shadow of Vatnajökull – Day 3

Sunrise at Egilssel Hut.  Yes, once again I was up at about 2:30am to see this.  Totally worth it! 🙂

Sunrise at Egilssel Hut - Day 3 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Sunrise at Egilssel Hut

After another relaxed 8am breakfast, we retraced our steps from the day before around the lake and started to ascend towards a higher plateau. 

Climbing towards the ridge on day 3 of the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

There were fantastic views back down over the lake and hut, despite the weather being more than a little grey!

Panoramic view over lake in front of Egilssel Hut - Day 2 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

[move mouse over image to see full panorama]

The climb was not too steep for the most part, and delivered us to the edge of the cliffs lining the deep river valley that we had seen yesterday.

Tröllakrókar Cliffs on Day 3 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Do I need to say that the views were incredible?

Panoramic view valley below Tröllakrókar - Day 3 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

[move mouse over image to see full panorama]

I loved the patterns in the landscape!

Abstract landscape - East Iceland

But even better was the surprise hidden within the Volcanic Tuff from which the cliffs were made.  Trolls! 

I’ll let Þorbjörg tell the story 🙂

This was Tröllakrókar – cliffs of the Trolls. And the pillars of stone and shapely rocks we were admiring were the petrified remains of party-goers according to Icelandic Folklore.  How cool is that?!  You can really see it too if you let your imagination run wild 🙂

I could have spent hours here giving each Troll my attention and looking for different angles to photograph.  But unfortunately, this is exactly the moment when my new Fujifilm XT-2 camera decided to break 🙁  The on/off switch on the top of the camera came off as I was pulling it out of the camera bag … which (as you can imagine) distracted me from the incredible place I was in and sent me into a bit of a fluster.  

After ascertaining that I couldn’t do anything to fix this problem while on the trek, I switched to my trusty Fujifilm XT-1 camera (which I’ve been using for the past 2 years) and carried on.   But I lost a lot of precious time at the Trolls, adding to my feeling that we didn’t stay here for nearly long enough.  It would have been great to have taken this part of the trek slower … even if I hadn’t had camera issues.

We took our lunch overlooking the river valley, glacier and last of the trolls

Tröllakrókar and its trolls on Day 3 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

and then headed down towards the river and the start of the colourful rhyolite mountains.

Descending towards the river on day 3 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

Here we came across the first “trees” in several days, which had managed to grow to the height an adult person

Small Icelandic trees on Day 3 of Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

and chains to help us “abseil” into a gully and back out the other side.

Abseiling - Day 3 of In the Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

By this time we were following a marked trail (actually, this started at our lunch spot on the southern end of Tröllakrókar), as we skirted the shale coming off the mountains along the edge of the river.

Hiking scenery - Day 4 - Shadow of Vatnajökull trek - East Iceland

We arrived at Múlaskáli Hut quite early (really wishing for more time at the Trolls!) and in bright sunshine.  This was the biggest and most luxurious hut of them all – it even had flush toilets (the others had extremely clean dry toilets) and hot showers if you wanted to pay 500ISK (~USD$4).

Interior of Múlaskáli Hut - East Iceland

Interior views of Múlaskáli Hut

Just before we reached the hut, Sabine had noticed wild mushrooms growing along the trail and asked whether they were edible.  Þorbjörg said that she thought so, and both Sabine and I thought they looked very similar to edible mushrooms we’d picked in Germany and Slovakia respectively.  So before Sabine and I settled in, we headed off mushroom picking 🙂   

As was the case at Filip’s family’s hut in Slovakia, I loved picking wild mushrooms!  You really have to slow down and take your time, as they are not the easiest things to spot under the trees.  But it is this slowing down that makes it such an enjoyable experience, and before you know it, you’ve been wandering around for over an hour – hopefully with a good haul to bring home and cook.

Mushrooms - East Iceland

I added my collection to Sabine’s and sat out on the deck in the hot Sun chatting as Sabine and Wolfgang cleaned and prepared the mushrooms.  We ended up with just enough for everyone in the group to have a taste … though were surprised that the majority of the group were highly suspicious about their edibility.

cleaning mushrooms outside Múlaskáli Hut - East Iceland

It never ceases to amaze me how little mushroom remains after you finish cleaning it!

Dinner was tomato soup, followed by sauteed mushrooms (in the end, almost everyone had a taste) which were delicious and not poisonous nor hallucinogenic, followed by pasta with a creamy pesto sauce and dried lamb sticks that were similar in texture to twiggies.  Dessert was McVities Hobnobs digestives, tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, but unfortunately we couldn’t monopolise the dining table as there were our 3 Icelandic ladies from the previous hut and another group of hikers who also needed to use the kitchen.

Cooking wild mushrooms and eating dinner at Múlaskáli Hut - East Iceland

Sabine cooking wild mushrooms, and the group eating dinner at Múlaskáli Hut

No sunset again tonight as the Sun disappeared behind the mountains quite early. Instead it was upstairs for a relatively early night 🙂

Trekking Information

Distance = 10.22 km

Time taken = 5 hours 38 minutes

Map

Basic Map of Day of In the Shadow of Vatnajokull - from Strava

Altitude Profile

Altitude profile of Day 3 of Shadow of Vatnajokull from Strava

Read more about hiking In the Shadow of Vatnajökull

If this post has piqued your curiosity, read about the rest of the 4-day trek “In the Shadow of Vatnajökull” with Icelandic Mountain Guides

Alternatively, check out my other posts about hiking and trekking in Iceland and around the world.

 

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