Modulardur–Askja volcano – Modulardur 200 km of dirt track with sand, gravel and fords (tracks F905, F910)
The journey to Askja is a trip through a desert with no rest area for hundreds of kilometers; a situation that can’t be found nowhere in Europe. The track winds across heaths of packed dirt, gravel and amazing expanses of black volcanic sand intermitted by fords with crystal waters to be carefully and skillfully waded to avoid disastrous falls that would ruin the vehicle and probably end the vacation.
Tracks F905 and F910 take us to the volcano crater that has a diameter of 50 km; under the helmet I have tears in my eyes, I discover that Stendhal’ syndrome doesn’t occur only with works of art but even with nature’s shows!
The desert, the real one! The moonlike landscape changes but stays true to a principle: “to amaze Westerners who are not used to nothingness”. Volcanic rocks are almost weightless, the air trapped in the cooling lava flow makes them look like Styrofoam, they are red, yellow or purplish due to the oxidation of the metals inside the lava. Today Riccardo gave all he had in the most challenging sections and, assisted by this group of people who is getting closer day by day, he was able to take home this section of our trip; tonight, in the warmth of the rest area, he is walking on air and feels satisfied, but he was coming up with a bad idea …
WHAT A DAY!
DAYS 5 and 6
Day 5: Modulardur – Hofn 320 km of paved road (roads 1 and 96)
Day 6: Hofn - Kirkjubaejarklaustur 200 km of paved road (road 1)
The 5th will be the only rainy day of the whole trip. Riccardo decides to leave the group, making it to Askja completely satisfied his hunger for kilometers and his R100 made the decision easier by breaking down. The man who brought the sun to Iceland with his Emilian smile leaves the island and the sky of this country cries over his choice. We accompany Riccardo to the airport in Egilsstadir and proceed to Hofn and then towards Vatnajökull with its glacier lagoons Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach, two of the most characteristic places in Iceland!
DAYS 7 and 8
Day 7: Kirkjubaejarklaustur – Hrauneyjar 30 km of paved road + 150 km of dirt tracks (track F208)
Day 8: Hrauneyjar - Hrauneyjar 200 km of off-road
We spent the last two days wandering the southwestern highlands, where reddish and rocky deserts become carpets of neon green moss typical of the Landmanallaugar, marked only by black sand trails that create spectacular contrasts.
Alex guides us to Hekla (the most active volcano in Europe) which is a maze of trails to be rode standing on the footrests and looking at the horizon.
We climb to the top of one of the volcano’ secondary cones and the sceneries is unique, we descend towards the deserts below and our eyes fill up, we proceed to Langamellir and Fjallabak. Everybody considers these two destinations as the most fun because more guided and more technical, almost enduro trails, and maybe they are right, but I can’t get track F910 (Askja) out of my head. We return to the hotel for our last night; we still have one fantasy. Iceland is the country of the Northern Lights par excellence, but it usually occurs in the winter and I feel selfish to desire this too.
And then ... there they are moving sinuously during the only two hours of dark of the summer night: a majestic show! The deserts, the weather, the friends and now the aurora borealis! It was hard to fall asleep that night. It was even harder to go back to work Monday.