Honeymoon Part 1 of 3: Backpacking Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

November 18, 2018  •  1 Comment

Hey everyone,

It's been a LONG time since I've put together a blog post. I've had a bunch of people asking for photos from our recent honeymoon so I figured it was a good time to dust off the keyboard. We've been home for a few weeks now, but trying to edit 3 weeks worth of photos and video has taken the back seat to other work trips and projects. Since there are so many photos to share I am going to break it up into 3 parts. Hover over the photos for more info on them. Here goes...

After a long trip to Iceland we landed in Reykjavik. From there we jumped on a bus, transferred to a bus, and then caught a domestic flight to Isafjourder. We grabbed pizza and beers, packed our bags, and hit the sack. The following morning we woke up and headed to the docks to catch our boat to Hornstrandir. 

Ísafjörður morning reflectionsÍsafjörður morning reflections

It was a beautiful morning and we were excited to get our first glimpses of the country after so much travel and poor weather. Spirits were high especially after we finally got a good night's rest.

Boat ride out to the HornstrandirBoat ride out to the Hornstrandir Sea arch in West FjordsSea arch in West Fjords Sea arch in West Fjords (2)Sea arch in West Fjords (2)

After an hour or so of boating and soaking up the scenery, we arrived at our first stop. Our boat was equipped with boat-on-boat technology so the captain unloaded the zodiac and the dayhikers all jumped on.

Our trusty steed in West FjordsOur trusty steed in West Fjords Dropping off hikers with the zodiacDropping off hikers with the zodiac

After the first drop, we headed to Veiðileysufjörður where we would start out hike. When the boat finally left, Corrie and I just sat on the shore and started laughing. It had taken us over two days of traveling by car, planes, trains, busses, taxis, and boats to get here, and we were finally able to enjoy it. After shedding layers and grabbing some snacks we set off for the pass. The plan for the day was to hike from one fjord to another by going up and over a pass.

Zodiac head back to the boatZodiac head back to the boat Leaving veiðileysufjörðurLeaving veiðileysufjörður veiðileysufjörður reflectionsveiðileysufjörður reflections The sound of musicThe sound of music Our first unnamed waterfallsOur first unnamed waterfalls Waterfall and veiðileysufjörðurWaterfall and veiðileysufjörður Away we go from veiðileysufjörðurAway we go from veiðileysufjörður Historic cairns along the trailHistoric cairns along the trail

After a few hours on the trail we finally made it to the pass. The weather was so nice and I was still jet-lagged so I dropped my pack and took a nap. We knew that today's weather was going to be the nicest of this leg of the trip so we weren't in a hurry. Eventually we decided to move on so we could set up camp. As we made it to the other side of the pass we could see the Horn, the destination of the following day's hike. 

veiðileysufjörður from the passveiðileysufjörður from the pass Heading towards Hornvik from the passHeading towards Hornvik from the pass Crossing snow bridgesCrossing snow bridges

As we dropped into the Hornvik area the entire valley was ringed with waterfalls. As we were nearing camp we were discussing how much we hoped we would see an arctic fox. It's an animal that neither of had seen before. Just as we made it to camp I said, "hey look at that!" as an arctic fox ran past us. It wasn't close enough for a photo so we were a little bummed, but we didn't know that we'd be seeing many more up close.

More waterfalls along the trailMore waterfalls along the trail

The next morning we woke up to a low ceiling. We had the advantage of long days on our side so we slept in hoping that the weather would improve. That cool feature that we planned to hike out to today, the Horn,
was completely hidden in clouds. We decided that we should hike out there anyway and hopefully the weather would improve. Since it was high tide we decided to hike out and cross the river where it was wider instead of near the ocean.

Private residence in HornvikPrivate residence in Hornvik Hiking to the HornHiking to the Horn Hiking to the river crossingHiking to the river crossing

Once we made it to the river we took off our shoes and started across the chilly water. On the other side the trail took us past some spectacular waterfalls and black cobble beaches.

River crossing at high tideRiver crossing at high tide Moody views along the Horn trailMoody views along the Horn trail More waterfalls with CorrieMore waterfalls with Corrie Corrie on the Horn TrailCorrie on the Horn Trail

As we pushed further out to the Horn the weather started to improve behind us. The trail ahead was still in the clouds, but we were finally able to see our camp and where we had come from. 

Corrie Climbing up the Horn overlooking HornvikCorrie Climbing up the Horn overlooking Hornvik

As we made it to the Horn you could barely see the Arctic Ocean below or the views ahead. So we decided to sit and see if the weather would improve. Lucky for us, it did.

Corrie on the edge of the HornCorrie on the edge of the Horn Corrie hiking the Horn as clouds roll over the edgeCorrie hiking the Horn as clouds roll over the edge

The trail took us along a beautiful, lush ridgeline that looked down on the Arctic Ocean. As we made it to the pass we could see all of Hornvik and the sea of clouds rolling in from the north. It was such an awesome view to take in.

Corrie overlooks Hornvik from above (panorama)Corrie overlooks Hornvik from above (panorama)

I was slightly behind Corrie on the way up and once she hit the ridge where she could see into the next valley all I heard from her was "Oh fuck yea!" When I made it there a few seconds later I shouted something similar. We were staring at this awesome knife-edged geologic feature with clouds rolling up and over below them. This view was one of the main reasons that we wanted to visit this area and we knew that we had lucked out with the weather. So I pulled out our bottle of Woodford Reserve and we just sat there by ourselves and enjoyed the view.

Corrie and I at HornbjargCorrie and I at Hornbjarg Whiskey views at HornbjargWhiskey views at Hornbjarg Hornbjarg rising above the cloudsHornbjarg rising above the clouds Wildflower and Hornbjarg as clouds roll over the cliff (3)Wildflower and Hornbjarg as clouds roll over the cliff (3)

We knew that we were going to get hungry for dinner eventually so we decided to push on. The trail was along some of the craziest terrain. It was awesome.

Corrie hikes the trail out to HornbjargCorrie hikes the trail out to Hornbjarg A cliff of green rises above an ocean of cloudsA cliff of green rises above an ocean of clouds Corrie hike the trail to Hornbjarg in the distanceCorrie hike the trail to Hornbjarg in the distance
Corrie taking in the views of HornbjargCorrie taking in the views of Hornbjarg

We stopped often to take photos of the scenery, flowers and foxes playing. There was still plenty of sunlight but we were running out of snacks for the day so we looped back around the ridge and backtracked our way to camp. 

Private residence along the coastline of HornvikPrivate residence along the coastline of Hornvik Cottongrass and the HornCottongrass and the Horn

On the way back it was low tide so we decided to cross the river at the ocean this time. The day was still warm enough that I decided to go for a swim. After that the last couple miles home was along a black sand beach, no shoes needed.

Black sand beach at HornvikBlack sand beach at Hornvik Sunset beach walk back to campSunset beach walk back to camp Corrie walking on the beach back to campCorrie walking on the beach back to camp

After dinner we had a visitor. 

Curious arctic foxCurious arctic fox

Needless to say it was a long but amazing day.

Hot tea after a great day of hikingHot tea after a great day of hiking My babooshkaMy babooshka

The next day we woke up to rain.  That would be our reality for the rest of the trip. Every once in a while the weather would quit long enough for me to break out the camera and take a few shots, but overall it was extremely cold and wet. 

Corrie on the trail to HloduvikCorrie on the trail to Hloduvik Moss-covered cliff along the trail to HloduvikMoss-covered cliff along the trail to Hloduvik Trail sign to RekavikTrail sign to Rekavik

We weren't the only ones that were cold and wet. I'm sure a lot of what we hiked through was awesome looking, but at points the visibility was so bad that we had to split up to find the next cairns. All part of the adventure I guess.

Arctic fox curled up to stay warmArctic fox curled up to stay warm Hiking to Hloduvik in the cloudsHiking to Hloduvik in the clouds Corrie coming down from the passCorrie coming down from the pass Corrie hiking the trail to HloduvikCorrie hiking the trail to Hloduvik Following the cairns to Hloduvik (2)Following the cairns to Hloduvik (2)

Day 4 we woke up to more rain. My sleeping bag had finally dried out from my body heat but I was not looking forward to putting wet clothes and shoes back on. We made breakfast in the tent, a luxury not afforded to us normally because we camp in bear country, and then continued on through rivers and marshes and over more mountain passes.

Corrie taking one last look at Hloduvik before heading outCorrie taking one last look at Hloduvik before heading out Corrie and river crossings on the trail to HesteyriCorrie and river crossings on the trail to Hesteyri Corrie and waterfalls on the trail to HesteyriCorrie and waterfalls on the trail to Hesteyri

At one point I was so cold and tired that I started to get the "umbles." All of my gear was soaked. Either from sweat or rain. It was so wet and windy that the only gear that would have kept us completely dry would have been like rubber fisherman slickers. So when we finally made it to the pass where we could see our final destination we were both extremely happy.

  Corrie hiking down to Hesteyri from the passCorrie hiking down to Hesteyri from the pass Hesteyri and cairn from the passHesteyri and cairn from the pass Corrie hiking to the campgroundCorrie hiking to the campground

We made it to camp, set up our tent, and magically the rain stopped long enough for us to have dinner and hang our stuff out to dry. We also found out that there was a small coffee shop where we could grab some coffee and sweets and get out of the elements for a short bit. 

Our campsite at HesteyriOur campsite at Hesteyri
Corrie enjoying Rhubarb cake in HesteyriCorrie enjoying Rhubarb cake in Hesteyri

Hornstrandir was an awesome trip. We got to see the area at it's best and it's not-so-best. When the weather is good it's mostly easy hiking if you're in good shape and have some navigational skills. When the weather is bad you better have lots of high-calorie food, good rain gear, and excellent navigational skills.

When the boat came the following day to pick us up were weren't too sad to leave, only because we were ready for hot showers and non-dehydrated food. We grabbed dinner and beers back in Isafjourder, hit the sack, grabbed a taxi the following morning, and took the plane back to Reykjavik. From there we planned to rent a car and explore some of the island by road. I'll start working on that and let you know when it's ready! Shoot me some questions if you got 'em!


Comments

Alex(non-registered)
What a nice review! Seems like you had a lot of fun! :)
What month did you hike? And for how many days?
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