Tom at the top of Dangleberry Drop, Hvitá

The Upper Hvitá

Two weeks into our Iceland River Expedition, and we are still alive. More calm this morning and another breakfast in the flies. We flap our arms about a lot and eventually manage to pack up our camp and head for the put-in for the upper section of the Hvitá.

The river looked flat at both the put-in and the get-out, but according to our map, it runs through several 25m contours, so we are hopeful of some rapids. Tom gets to run the shuttle, whilst Andy and I play our newly developed game of Paddle Hac. The put-in is very close to the Hvitarvatn, a large lake that butts up to the Langjökull. The hacky sack we are using starts to fall apart under the new strain of playing Paddle Hac, so we have to find alternative entertainment. We find a bit of wire that we can practice our tightrope walking skills on, and get applauded by the occupants of a passing coach.

Tom on Dangleberry Drop on the Hvitá

Tom soon enough gets back, and we set off on the river. The first 3km are simple enough, but then we get to some rapids. The first 2 drops were simple enough, but then we see the ominous mist above a foss. We get out and inspect, and after some deliberation, we decide it is a run. The fall, which we label Dangleberry Drop, is about 10m high, but on a rather gentle wide slope, narrowing at the bottom with a huge wave.

I go first, cutting a fine line between plopping over the horrible part of the fall and the safe part. I get in position, with Andy as river traffic control pointing me at the correct line. I do some eddy hoping and get in position for the grand slide. I hit a pour-over on the way down, but have no real trouble side surfing out. The wave at the bottom really is massive, but does not cause any problems and I make the eddy at the bottom. I leap out of my boat and get the camera out. Tom runs it perfectly, but Andy decides to walk.

Andy in the first canyon on the Hvitá

We inspected the following canyon, as it was a one-way trip with steep sides, and we did not want to get caught by a horror. It is very boily, but the rapids are all rather simple in the end. The next canyon was only given a brief inspection and also proved to be rather simple. The river then split, and we took the right channel. There were several horizon lines, and we inspected numerous drops. Just before the channels re-joined there was a 4m drop. Tom ran it without a problem, but I hit the bottom hard, and my deck popped off. I eventually surfaced and made it to the edge and bailed out the boat. All OK, but the end cap of the Master was in 2 pieces and taken a bit of a shock to the legs. There were a few more pleasant grade III rapids before the egress.

We got back to the Landrover to a million non-bighting flies. Still irritating, even if not the biting sort. We drive down to Geyser to make some phone calls. We arrange to paddle the Ytri Rangá with our Icelandic friends on Saturday and I phone home to have a new Pyranha Master end cap sent to Seyðisfjörður post office. Good luck to Mum as she goes to Pyranha factory at Runcorn.

We pitch our tent and can see Geyser if we stand on the roof of the Landrover. I make a spicy lentil dinner that is just about edible, and we flop into bed somewhat exhausted.

Setting off to inspect the top canyon of the Hvítá