Shorts and suntan lotion, and hot pools at midnight

Day 13. 18 August 2002

Sunday. Our last working day. I wake after having a bitterly cold night, not helped by the fact that the zip on the sleeping bag broke and whilst I could get myself warm by tucking myself in – as soon as I was to move everything became cold again.

It is an effort to get up, especially, when emerging from my tent I find a thick frost on the grass and ice dew frozen on my flysheet, but clear skies and sun. However once breakfasted I soon warm up, and by the time we are ready to make with tools to the worksite I have detached the legs from trousers and applied my suntan lotion.

We walk to Rauðhólar – the red hill – and witness fine views across the canyon. Chas had been told that the steps (some of them subterranean) were in a shocking and terrible state. As it turns out there’s only an hours work at most caring for what is really just one huge pile of (volcanic) ash. We begin with a coffee break – although in the unaccustomed heat the favoured beverage is water. With the task quickly complete, we break for an early lunch on top of the Rauðhólar and move on down the hill to an area famous for its rock formations laid out by nature to resemble a castle keep surrounded by ramparts, castle walls, and bordered on the east by the great river.

( read on… )