Deep Sand: From Askja towards Bru. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

August 4, 2013

Deep Sand: From Askja towards Bru.

It wasn't raining this morning but was still raw cold in the wind. Having had enough of one day stuck in the tent, I decided to get moving and left Askja at nine, returning back, the thirteen kilometres to the turnoff on track F910, in which I got colder because it was all freewheeling downhill. From where, the track straightaway went uphill into a mountain of black sand and while much of it was somehow well pressed down by vehicle tyres and so I could ride upon, there were laborious stretches Is off pushing through with the wheels sunk in.

Then over the crest and downhill; having ridden this way before, I knew it wasn't far to the bridge over the Jokulsa a Fjollum which would be a milestone, but I hadn't realised it could feel such a long way as the front wheel repeatedly dug into the sands and I skidded to a halt, then pushed until I could start riding again. Or the back wheel slid sideways into a rut; the result being the same. With all this body motion Is warming up nicely against the cruel north west wind.

The roar of the river echoed towards me as I got nearer. There was a livestock-gate on the bridge that had to be opened to pass over and closed again. I don't know why as no livestock could survive here. A jeep was stopped, it's occupants out admiring and photographing the roaring cement coloured torrent tumble down into a narrow channel in the lava, as I done myself.

It was another few kilometres of riding and pushing to a turnoff for Kverkfjoll, then five more to the second turning for Kverkfjoll at a barrage of black hills where F910 turned left, from where I'd the biting wind in my face. And looking at the map was depressing, as the track held to a northerly direction the next forty kilometres, so it would be a long afternoon of fridge crosswind. Though it turned out not so ill: the rain which threatened over the hills cleared and around four, the clouds broke up and the sun shone, so I could stop for lunch without getting too cold. By then Is on rideable pumice and I lunched in the shelter of a big chunk of lava. On the map this area is called Kreppatunga, I think because it's the tongue between two merging rivers. At high places in the track, I could see Jokulsa a Fjollum on the left and hear it softly rumble along, and I could also see on the right, the watery line of its tributary, the Kreppa river. Soon I was at the bridge over the later, another roaring swift glacier river. I thought that before the bridging of the two rivers, this tongue of land in between was un-visited by people. However would they have passed these rivers.

I kept on going. I was going to ride to perhaps ten o'clock, hoping to descend into Bru-dalur and back to civilization. There were two streams to ford along the way, and I took off my socks and shoes at both as they were below the knee in dept and so I could see the riverbed, and also, my shoes had just dried out in the afternoon sunshine and I didn't want the misery of wet feet so soon. It clouded over again and the wind began cutting through me. I had to stop and camp as it was getting too cold to continue. Seems my wishes were answered as the track dropped into a little valley to another stream, where there were old car wheel tracks off along the bank to a level area with a ring of stones, the remains of a camp fire. It was the ideal sheltered place with water to stop the night. The wind had stopped though and it had gone completely still. And after I'd eaten, the last I saw of the day before zipping up the tent for the night was a white mist descend obscuring everything.

Rocky and rivers to ford, makes me shiver just thinking of the way in the present weather.
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The glacier river, Jokulsa a Fjollum, tumbles down the lava with a great roar.
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The bridge.
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The powerful current surges along with great speed.
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Looking back, man out taking photos.
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F910, car tracks in the sand here at the cut-off for Kverkfjoll. I asked a park ranger the origin of these tracks deep into the interior. He said "when the American army left after the Second World War, a lot of jeeps were left behind which Icelanders acquired and used them to explorer the highlands." He stressed "we weren't so environmentally friendly then as we are now. And soon there were tracks going everywhere. Nowadays, it's illegal to drive off the official track."
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Like much of the way, I had to push the bike around this corner.
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Easier riding on the lava and pumice of Kreppatunga.
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Onwards, after crossing the bridge over the Kreppa river.
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Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 3,699 km (2,297 miles)

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