Tom on the middle section of the Skaftá

Skafta, Part II

Beginning to miss waking up in a steaming hot tent at 4am. Still raining this morning, and we decide to set-up and run a longer section of the Skafta. We set off up Route 208 and find a suitable put-in.  As it is still raining, we put up the river tent at the put-in and I set off to run the shuttle. Most of the morning has been spent sorting out the river camping kit and some food. We are expecting just one night on the river. 

The upstream edge of the Kaplan, a natural lava bridge on the Skaftá

The drive is about 15km, so Tom and Andy are expecting a bit of a wait. I start walking, and after a couple of hours some people in a Rangerover give me a lift. They are very concerned that I have no luggage with me, and I explain what I am doing. They get even more concerned when they find out I do not have a fibreglass repair kit with me. I try explaining about polythene kayaks, but I am not sure the message gets through.

I get back to the tent so fast that even Tom and Andy are impressed. It is still raining, so we sit and read in the tent for a few hours after lunch. I am reading Chaos, by James Gleick and try to understand how you might set about rendering the Mandelbrot Set.

The downstream edge of the Kaplan, a natural lava bridge on the Skaftá

By about 4pm, the rain eases off a bit and we pack up our camp and set off for the river. This really is the strangest river I have ever paddled on. The river bed is only 200 years old, and all the rocks are super sharp. On the flat sections, the river just meanders about, splitting off into small rivers, and rejoining further downstream.

The rapids are challenging and we are doing a fair amount of inspecting. Soon, we come across a bit of a horror, where the stream we are paddling on comes to an abrupt halt. I get out and find a natural lava bridge, with no headroom. We label this the Kaplan [Turbine] and try to photograph the strangeness of the feature. Below the Kaplan is a great surfing wave, that we spend nearly an hour on.

We push on down the river and find a suitable spot to pitch the tent near a freshwater stream. The tent is pretty small, and we have only minimal dry kit with us, so it looks like an uncomfortable night ahead.

Andy, preparing dinner on Skaftá

Andy, surfing the wave below the Kaplan, Skaftá