25 Jun 2015

Westfjords, Iceland by adamandheather

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One last pass to tackle. This time we're going to Hesteyri, where we'll have our boat pickup tomorrow. With the extra day we spent in Hlöðuvík enjoying the nice weather, we have to skip seeing the western end of the peninsula. It gives us an excuse to return.

These passes are starting to get routine, but the cloudless skies bring an absolutely unrelenting sun, and keeping your temperature regulated can be difficult. When the air is calm, it feels quite warm, but the breezes are strong and, since they blow over snowfields, can be chilly.

On the final leg of the descent to Hesteyri, we encounter an enormous snowfield. It stretches down the hill, and increases in steepness, such that we can't even see the middle section. It takes about 30 minutes of slow effort to safely descend, but with the soft marsh at the bottom, we wonder if sliding down would really be so bad.

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When the house was first built in 1901, people traveled from all over Hornstrandir just to come and look at the bathtub. It was the first one on the peninsula.

These days, Hrólfur runs a guest house and cafe here. We booked accommodation with him for our last night, figuring we could use the shower and home-cooked meal. He greets us warmly and whips up some coffee, then we spend the afternoon talking about the history of the area, our home countries, and the surge in Icelandic tourism. Ísafjörður, the town across the bay and the biggest in the westfjords, is receiving a 5,000-passenger cruise ship tomorrow, and everybody seems uncertain about how it will go. Ísafjörður itself has a population of only 3,000. They're receiving 63 cruise ships this summer, although most are much smaller.

Before long, a curious Arctic fox trots up to the porch, politely posing for photos while waiting for food scraps.

Dinner is lamb stew, and we have two helpings. Three helpings of bread. And don't skip dessert. A chilly after-dinner walk to the old whaling station gets us ready for bed, and it doesn't take long at all to get to sleep.