Storming ahead into the final week with the six week volunteers, we began work on a new project, creating a timber staircase on a very well loved section up to Valahnukur.
Unlike our very natural looking steps, well refined in their design, this project demanded durability and a long term solution to this hard worked bit of trail. Metal brackets were sunk into concrete, on which we could fasten side panels and the frame work for steps which were to be decked. Accuracy was key, new materials were exciting, and each day provided a session of pondering before a burst of activity, but by Friday afternoon it was all taking shape. Our first five steps were in place, with the foundations laid for much more.
Many hikers saw us lugging logs and swinging sledges and showed immense gratitude for our hard labour. Others, in particular saw us enjoying the indulgences of trail life. One warm day I met Jade and Eric onsite with chocolate cake to revive them after they delivered a hefty signpost to site. They tucked in as I started digging the hole to bed the sign and two tourists sat down next to them asking ‘is this where we can take our picnic and watch the workers.’ They commented on the chocolate cake, a sign of being so well looked after all this way into the park, then went on with their walk. Several hours later, just as we sat down for our afternoon tea break and pulled out a second serving of cake, who should walk past but the same couple. They proclaimed ‘I don’t believe it, another cake!’
Each day was clear skies and beautiful weather, unseasonal for the end of August and with phenomenal continuity for Iceland. That being said, with no cloud cover the nights were cold and the tents grew crispy with ice, the ground with frost. The dancing lights continued to steal my shut eye as I couldn’t resist the 1am peak at the night sky, illuminated by the Aurora.
The inventive meals continued with feasts of hot dogs, curry and quesadillas. With camp running like a well oiled machine, it was hard to believe that Friday would be the end of such a big part of summer. The groups now operated like some sort of family, in jokes in full force and weirdness embraced.
On Friday night there was the traditional Lamb, Cheese, Beer and campfire. There was also the sense of something different as many prepared to say goodbye to dear friends, and look forward to when paths may cross again. With the addition of Brenevin, there was dancing on the tables.