As a treat for shopping the day before we had got fresh milk for this morning, making a change from the powdered milk we had picked up at theReykjavik campsite. After Steve put some in his morning coffee it became obvious that we had picked up yogurt instead of milk - not so good in coffee. This wasn't our only disappointment in the day. Our Las Vegas friend had told us of a campsite 80km away which had a hot pool a hut and food for sale, this sounded like paradise. Only after labouring under thisdelusion for half a day did we realise that he had taken a very different route and we would be wild camping rather than camping wild. On leaving the campsitethere was no sign of anyone to pay which we put down to the party the night before. We didn't hunt for too long before deciding we'd just leavebefore we got lucky and stumbled across the site owner. It is this moment which probably set up our bad karma for the next couple of days - bad weather soon rolled in.
We stopped at a road side cafe just a couple of km short of the end of the tarmac road. At this point we realised that tarmac was good but in ournaivety didn't quite realise just how bad the lack of it would become. While looking inside at the hotdog honey's who would be stoking our calorie intake wespotted a couple of cycle touring brothers we named the Crosso brothers due to their branded gear. Steve mentioned that while cycle touring in South America seeing a fellow cycle tourist was something of a treat to be celebrated with stopping and brewing a cup of tea. These brothers took the opposite approach and studiously ignored us and strangely each other. Without a flicker of smile or a twitch of amusement they eventually geared up and peddled off into the distance.
While enjoying our food the karma caught up and it started to rain for the first time on this trip. Undeterred we threw on our jackets and plodded off after the Crosso bro's. We passed a sign shortly after declaring that we had 239km to go before our next hotdog opportunity - further than we were expecting. Soon the tarmac ended by a hydro-electric power station and within moments we were pushing our bikes up a steep gravel track in the rain - 239km suddenly seemed like an awfully long way. Even when the track flattened out our progress was slow, the quality of the track being terrible. We didn't make it to our chosen campsite but got as far as a small bridge over a river. Looking like a good place to stop we waited for a fellow cyclist coming the other way. He'd been all the way across the interior and gave us some pointers on our route. Like dogs when they first meet we inspected each others bikes and set up, he favoured a trailer to panniers and even had a pair of wellington boots 'for the fords'. We had a spare pair of sandals.
Setting up camp was quite chilly with a blustery wind and a significant temperature drop since we had left the coast. In fact the scenery had changed dramatically from greenery to grey lava gravel to the horizon. It was beginning to live up to it's reputation as being a bleak place to be.To rally our spirits Steve found some bits of wood under the bridge and started a fire. To rally them further he spent some time building up a hanging frame to use to boil water in a pan. This worked a treat as we all laughed when he spilt the hot water into the fire. To warm us further we dug into our plentiful supplies of alcohol and declared the snaps fit for drinking. We must have been desperate - I've tried it since and it could strip paint off walls. Once we had eaten Duncan taught us the best method of cleaning bowls when camping on sand - grab handfuls of wet sand and scrub the pan.