Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hiking Morsárdalur

Yesterday part of our team hiked through Morsárdalur to Kjös on a mostly flat trail following the Morsa River between mountains. The picture above, at the terminus of our hike, doesn't really do the views justice. (Take a look at This video pan for a better look.)

The trail heads roughly west through a pretty barren landscape, with the sea to the south and mountains to the north and northwest. Part of this area has been sculpted with dikes to prevent damage in glacial flooding. As the trail approaches the end of the mountains to the west, plant life picks up considerably and the trail passes through an Icelandic forest.

Before hitting the mountain, the trail turns north, so you are hiking up a valley with mountains on every side except behind. The trail peters out as the entire valley becomes a streambed; luckily, we hit it at a time of very low water.

The hiking is relatively easy in here, as it's flat and it's clear which direction to go, but it also feels slow; you can see the entire valley, compared to which every step is nothing. 

Eventually, the valley ends. To the right is a high valley covered by glacier; to the left is a continuation of the valley, under the name of Kjós. After the turn, the valley eventually ends, running into a mountain that looks like a painted backdrop (above). On each side of the trail are steep mountains with high-up waterfalls. As there is no exit, the only way out is back.

It was a beautiful hike, although we had a minor problem with our group getting separated in the return journey. But all made it back safe and sound. One-way, the hike is 7.5 miles, with a 300-foot elevation difference between the start and turnaround, although my watch measured about 800 feet of gain due to minor ups and downs, as well as, possibly, changes in the weather.

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