More F88: Herdubreid to Askja - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

August 2, 2013

More F88: Herdubreid to Askja

Yet another raw day. It wasn't raining, though it wouldn't be long until it would as the clouds closed in. The F88 continued from the ranger's hut at Herdubreid and after leaving the green osasis provided by the small river there, began again it's torturous path up and over and around the big cracked bubbles of old lava. There was one reprieve from the track a few kilometres south; at a point the track swung close to the Jokulsa a Fjollum river; a walk to the side, down to where the river's great thundering mass of cement coloured water tumbling down into a narrow canyon, racing along through the canyon in bouncing waves. An awe-striking sight if every there was.

The way onwards passed from lava to loose sands with much off the bike pushing; then gradually to creamy yellow pumice which is small honeycome volcanic cinders and not too bad to ride upon, so no more pushing. There was a lot of climbing ahead; first, up along the elongated yellow and brown mountain running south from Herdubreid which took me up to where the track joins the F910 track; from where it was thirteen kilometres more on pumice, twisting and turning around lava out-crops with incline after incline towards the Dyngurfjoll mountain massif until, shortly after three o'clock, I crested a hill and saw just ahead of me, the tourist cabin and ranger's hut at the river gully at the edge of said mountains; where the cauldron Askja is located.

I paid my camping fee in the ranger's hut. The ranger said with a smile when I mentioned how cold it was "Last night it snowed at Askja"

The flat area cleared of volcanic rocks for camping was full of big jeeps with big tyres suitable for the sands and waterproof under-sides for river-crossings. There was one cyclist whom I didn't get to meet because the bike was left by the tent and the cyclist gone, supposedly walking up to the volcanic lake Oskjuvatn.

I put the tent up on the sheltered side of the cabin out of the wind, then sat at the picnic table against the cabin wall to late lunch. Then closed my eyes and dozed but was awakened by drizzle. My sleeping-bag which I'd spread out to air was getting wet.

At six o'clock I set off cycling up to the lake. The fog had set in and it was still only raining lightly, though by the time I'd reached the car park it'd intensivefied to driving horizontal rain. There were a few cold looking people with rain-ponchos returning bent against wind and rain. But as the two point something kilometres walk to the lake Oskjuvatn was with the wind, it didn't feel too bad until I felt the backs of my legs get wet and cold from rain-water running down off my rain-jacket. When I got there the fog was so thick, I saw no lake at all. It felt like a waisted journey. The walk back to the car park to the bike was hell with wind and sharp sleety rain cutting my face and my hands stuck in the pockets for warmth. Worse still was the downhill cycle to the campsite; freewheeling with the body lifeless getting colder. I was glad to see out of the fog the cabin ahead and soon Is in the tent and in the sleeping-bag warming up.

Packed and ready to leave at the tourist cabin by Mount Herdubreid.
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The glacier river, Jokulsa a Fjollum, thunders into and rushes through a canyon not far from the start of today's ride.
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Slow forever twisting and turning difficult track.
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Pumice, or yellow volcanic cinders which make the track a little more rideable.
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Pumice fields east of Dyngurfjoll (Askja).
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Looking back, I climbed gradually near enough the whole way.
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Shortly after three o'clock, I approach the tourist cabins at Askja.
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Looking at the sign, contemplating my journey in 2000 towards Nyidalur in the Sprengisandur.
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Walking through the Cauldron.
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Viti, left after the eruption in late Winter 1875; beyond which is, the lake Oskjavatn, formed in subsidence in the thirty years following, but cannot be seen as weather conditions were so foul.
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Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 3,628 km (2,253 miles)

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