For part 5 of the dreamtour Laura vd Ham wrote a blog about crossing a lot of water!
Of the many rivers and lakes that characterize Northwest Iceland, Lake Hóp must be one of the most famous one and could not be missed as part of the Dreamtour. Along the way to the lake we crossed several streams and rivers and had to climb some hills and cliffs. We passed the fortress Borgarviki before we saw the first signs of Lake Hóp.
Getting to the lake, however, required a climb and a tricky descent among a path that might not be as bad as the Westfjords, but was still challenging, with riders having to dismount and the herd trying to pass us on the way down. Fortunately, a small paddock was located at the bottom to put the herd in and take a short rest.
Lake Hóp is not deep at all and at some points it almost looked as if we were walking on water. Since the riders crossed the lake first, we had a superb view of the herd wading through. The flat black beaches were backing us and provided the perfect underground for a fast and smooth tölt. Our faces almost split in two from the big smiles. Connie in particular was a sight to behold as she and her favorite pinto kept the herd in check, because they too enjoyed themselves and wanted to pass the front riders on several occasions.
All too soon the black beaches of the lake were replaced by grassy tracks that ended at the farm where the horses would spend the night and enjoy a much needed rest, because the high speed, the tough sands and the rocky cliffs took their toll on some of the shoes. Nevertheless, the next day the horses were fresh as ever as we prepared to cross another (slightly deeper) lake called Hunavatn.
Lake Hunavatn was not as big as Lake Hop nor did it have a beautiful tölting beach, but the lake has a beauty all of its own and as we once again split the herd and the riders, we had a beautiful view of the horses crossing the lake on this fourth day of part five. The afternoon track followed the road mostly, but the surroundings remained beautiful and the gravel roads were great for tölting.
With Bjarni and Ingimar in the front, however, the opportunity was too good to pass on as the front riders soon discovered. Almost unnoticeable the two friends looked at each other, shared a smile and took off in a fast galop that soon evolved into a high speed pace race with the rest of the front riders following at a slightly lower speed. Those of us that had five-gaited horses even got to experience some pacing, though not a the speed of our fearless leader.
It was exhilarating and not the last race of the day as we soon discovered, though this time we knew what to look for and we saw the telling smile, we now knew to prepare for takeoff. Which rider won might not be completely clear, but all riders enjoyed the race, so it didn’t really matter. All too soon the day came to an end and the horses were left for a well deserved rest while the riders went back to Blunduos for a good dinner and a good soak in the hottub.
Day 5 was a shorter day, giving the horses some much needed rest and ended at the community home Hunaver where Sjöfn welcomed us with cookies, coffee and other snacks, followed by yet another nice dinner: fiskeboller with curry sauce, rice and vegetables.
The last riding day arrived, where we would cross the mountains to Ingimars farm Flugumýri. What a ride it was, showing some much of the beauty Skagafjordur has to offer. After the mountain paths Ingimar and his daughter guided us along roads, pastures and rivers through the valley to their beautiful farm where the horses can enjoy a well-deserved rest. In his garden, Ingimar treated the rider on a strong home-brew followed by an impromptu performance with Bjarni and Siggi of the beautiful Icelandic song about coming home. The day ended at guesthouse Hlin in Varmahlid where we enjoyed the hottubs and another good meal from Sjöfn.
Text by: Laura vd Ham
Pictures by: Laura vd Ham & Nora Mueller