The second day of my hike in the Jökulsárgljúfur national park got an early start (read about the first day here). Although the night had been cold I have had a great night’s sleep in my tent. I was a bit surprised how rested I was. I only had a thin mattress but my back didn’t even feel sore. Guess I am a natural for sleeping in tents! Probably it helped that I was looking forward to hiking Hljóðaklettar, a stunningly beautiful area I have not been to in ages.

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Starting Hljóðaklettar hiking trip breakfast of champions

I wanted to be quick to get ready for my hiking trip to Hljóðaklettar. I made sandwiches for the day (salmon, chili mayo and eggs) and had a true breakfast of champions. A can of real sugary Coke and Homeblest chocolate crackers! This raised some eyebrows amongst others in the hiking group. They seemed mostly to be breakfasting on chia porridge. I told them that my strategy was that the Coke and chocolate crackers would take away the years I didn’t want. I don’t think this went down very well. Perhaps people did not appreciate the implication that chia pudding would bring nothing but years of senile misery. I don’t know. On my next hike, I am definitely having egg and bacon for breakfast. Perhaps that will be more popular.

Great hike so far

The day before we had hiked all the way from Selfoss and Dettifoss waterfalls. We went all the way to Vesturdalur camping ground which is right next to Hljóðaklettar (Echo rocks). We had descended into the jökulsárgljúfur canyon itself. On our way, we had gone past Hafragilsfoss waterfall. This is now one of my absolute favorite waterfalls.

Basalt columns in Hljóðaklettar.
The basalt column show starts the minute you enter Hljóðaklettar.

Heading to Hljóðaklettar

Now we would walk about 15 kilometers (some 9 miles) from Hljóðaklettar, to Rauðhólar and then to Ásbyrgi. We would come to Ásbyrgi right on top of it and get a view of this fantastic horseshoe-shaped natural wonder. This would be where the torrent of water which formed Ásbyrgi would have swept everything in its path.

Waiting in Vesturdalur

Our first task was to take down our tents and put them in a carriage which would be picked up during the day and moved to Ásbyrgi. When everybody was done, we would start our hike. I did this quickly as I hate being the last for this kind of stuff. So I was first and ended up waiting a bit for everybody. These days even Vesturdalur has a data connection. I  played chess with people from all over the world. Presumably, they were sitting on their toilets while I sat on bench. The wonders of modern life!

Epic display of basalt columns in Iceland
An epic display of basalt columns.

Hljóðaklettar is a wonderful place

But we started out and it was a short way to Hljóðaklettar or Echo Rocks as I have seen it translated. A literal translation would be Sound Rocks. The place is named in this way since that if you close your eyes there, you are unable to hear from where the sound of the nearby Jökulsá river comes from. I didn’t try this so I am the fence on this one. But no matter, Hiking in Hljóðaklettar is fantastic, Hljóðaklettar is a wonderful place. It is a city-like area of beautiful and large rock formation made out of basalt stacks. I may be old fashioned but my very favorite place in Hljóðaklettar is the wonderful Tröllakirkja or Troll Church. I remember visiting it as a child and this place really jogged my imagination. When you see it yourself you will understand why.

Lava wall at Hljóðaklettar
Lava wall at Hljóðaklettar

No limit to the art of nature

But you could wander there for hours and see so many beautiful images from the rocks and formations. There is no limit to the art that nature has created there.

Rauðhólar right next to Hljóðaklettar.
Rauðhólar right next to Hljóðaklettar.

Violent events formed Hljóðaklettar

But Hljóðaklettar is just like Ásbyrgi. They are the result of violent geological events. Hljóðaklettar are remains of ancient craters covered in volcanic material. Massive flooding would sweep away all loose debris and leave behind the solidified lava. Our next destination, Rauðhólar was how Hljóðaklettar looked. High sandy hills with a red taint which gives their name. Literally, Rauðhólar means red hills and they are impressive. And the view from them is just incredible.

 

Hiking to Ásbyrgi

From Rauðhólar it was a hike across a beautiful heath to the edge of Ásbyrgi. It was a hot day and I thanked my lucky stars I had remembered my short pants. Otherwise, I would probably have collapsed into a sweaty heap. My liter of Powerade I had brought was quickly soaked up.  At Ásbyrgi the sky had become overcast and there a few drops of rain. That did not detract from the amazing view from the top of the cliff there. I was impressed by the skessuketill or ‘trollkettle’ above the Botnstjörn at the bottom of Ásbyrgi.

Skessuketill - troll kettle above Ásbyrgi.
Skessuketill – troll kettle above Ásbyrgi.

Water and rocks had drilled a massive hole above the cliff’s face before the torrent tore down to form Ásbyrgi.

The view from the edge off the cliffs above Ásbyrgi.
The view from the edge off the cliffs above Ásbyrgi.

What a hiking trip

This was almost the end of our hike.  We walked along Ásbyrgi cliffs until we came to Tófugil (Fox Gully). A rope helped us get down to Ásbyrgi proper. The day had gotten really hot and I think we were all glad to be able to get cold drinks. It had been a fantastic couple of days and more than 40 kilometers.

Rocking out in Akureyri

My next thing to do was to head to Akureyri for a hot shower and dinner. I would be staying with my sister and brother at Kjarnalundur hotel and I was looking forward to getting there. In the evening we would see a concert by the Icelandic rock band Dimma and it would be great fun.

 

Hljóðaklettar on the map