The Icelandic sagas; part six: B’asar

As Monday morning swung around again it usually brought with it a wave of fresh muscle and enthusiasm. After a full weekend the enthusiasm had to deliver apologies on behalf of the other parties. The sun was out and Cal, Fred and I all powerfully belting completely different songs skipped across the river to be greeted with our days work. In an almost Monday tradition we would be carrying logs up the trail to the base of Rjupnafell, twice. The way marker to our fitness was how much more we could push ourselves nowtaking 2 hefty 1.5 metre logs ready to fling them into place at the top. Our two journeys were also much quicker than previously and we enjoyed the breathtaking valley on the way home, even more so for our declining days in its presence. 

In our small camp, only the four of us, sat socialising and playing cards. Singalongs around the mandolin became commonplace where David Bowie, Beatles and Queen were the songs of choice.

Instead of doing ‘long range’ at our work site we opted to enjoy B’asar and have a longer commute to work each day. The mornings were quiet and still in camp, the sun welcoming in the morning. It was an enviable commute, crossing the Krossá river to Slypuggil and climbing up to the Troll church.  

In our small teams we widened the winding path and put in four log drains to improve and beautify the path. At break times Fred lulled us to sleep by playing the flute, the sound echoing through the valley. While the walk works our legs and the sledgehammering works our arms, the whole day is an ab workout as fits of laughter plague the group at regular intervals. Our savagery became apparent when the wind blew the biscuit crumbs over the mountain and Cal and Fred comedically dived in to rescue them amid soil and moss.

Wednesday we tacked steps, a similar principle to log drains but more measured keeping a regular height and distance between. The sky was vibrant blue with blazing Icelandic sun. On our return walk we saw a group of baby ptarmigan chicks and their mum walking camouflaged in the undergrowth. By Thursday we had transformed the little section of valley we were working on much to the gratitude of passing hikers. We were starting to notice ‘lasts’ as the week and thus the time in the hills gradually drew to an end. An ongoing source of entertainment was the Raven vs the Marlin debacle as the Marlin circled and swooped noisily to protect her young.  

We were so well fattened by Cat, constantly surprising us with encouraging treats. On our final evening, informed that it was chocolate day we had all the sources of chocolate for a gorge. It led to lots of laughter and finally a chorus of ‘Hallelujah.’ 

Friday morning we crossed the river bed to Langidalur for the last time. The route includes ankle breaking stones and two moveable bridges on wheels. We had taken to bouncing and rocking across the first one and swinging our way across the second. The group amalgamated for the last day and tackled jobs around camp such as gravelling the path and preparing an extension on the toolshed. With my new found ‘green fingers’ I did some weeding and pruning around the camp before becoming part of the gravel fetching team. An important role in this task was the performance of delivering the gravel and with each wheelbarrow load we sampled carnival, conga, military style and the circus. 
Friday evening was the time we had all been reluctantly excited about. With super long range happening it would be the first time all together in 2 weeks, the first Friday night campfire for a few weeks and the promise of a big celebration as it was the last night. This was marred by the thought of no more trail team, no more Thorsmork and the 7:30am bus. 
The relaxed vibe surrounded the camp before the bar even opened, but after a day in the sun, the first beer and the effect of being 25 volunteers back together sent us all into hysterics over the smallest things, including a game of hat frisbee. In true form cheese boards opened the night followed by a great Icelandic feast. This was interspersed with Brennevin shots as toast after toast recognised the amazing work that has been done, and the effort by team leaders, volunteers and organisers to get there. It’s safe to say that there was no fresh faces at 7:00am when everyone was scrambling around to leave the park on the morning coach.  

One comment

  1. Wow, what a finale. I’m sad that this chapter is drawing to a close and obviously you’re feeling it too. The work achieved looks impressive and I think the chocolate powered workforce can be proud of a job well done. Thank you for sharing all the amazing scenery and anecdotes with us. Farewell beautiful Iceland….. for the time being.

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