When you're making a film, you need more stuff and when you're doing a wild camping tour in Iceland, supplying most of your own food for a few weeks, you need even more stuff.
Well we were going to be living out of a 4x4 when we weren't hiking so a lot of this stuff would be carried by the beautiful 4x4 rental we'd prearranged several months in advanced. Sue reassured me that Wrent-a-Wreck did not mean what it says in the description. The vehicles they had available these days were of a very high quality...
Upon our arrival at Iceland's Keflavik Airport on a rainy October evening. We were delighted to find all our equipment had arrived with us. We only had to wait for our vehicle which took a few hours of donut eating and coffee drinking.
Biggi, an enthusiastic young man who couldn't have been more polite and deferential apologised profusely for our wait and ushered us into his vehicle so that he could drive us to where our vehicle waited. He was driving a Dacia Duster, which had been our second to last choice of rental, ideally we had wanted a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, which is what we were expecting. Our last choice had been a Suzuki. The reason it was our last choice was because we knew we would be travelling winter roads, we knew we might expect to be either driving in heavy weather, crossing rivers and if possible, venturing off the ring road into the highlands which required a vehicle that could handle the conditions. The Dacia had a front seat that could be loaded, so we could at a push spend the night in the vehicle if the weather was that bad or our equipment failed.
To our muted surprise the vehicle that was waiting for us was a Suzuki. Biggi, gave us a quick tour and as we were keen to get going as we'd already lost time we needed for driving, we piled our gear in and set off into the night.
Wild camping around Iceland is a tricky venture at the best of times. I had spent several weeks as a teen on Heinabergsjokull Glacier, on a Royal Geographical Society Expedition via the British Schools Expedition Society, but that was in the Summer. I'm also a qualified survival instructor and alpine climber so having the correct knowledge wasn't the problem. The problem is that Iceland isn't set up for campers in Winter, in Summer it has many campsites and motorhome pitches set up around the country, In the Winter the majority of these are closed. Not only this, you aren't allowed to pull up in your motorhome and overnight by the edge of the road. Our plan was to park in our 4x4 and hike and wild camp.
We wanted to make our film on a budget and we wanted to circumnavigate the whole ring road in just under 12 days.
Our first spot was a small forest just near the airport, but after pulling up and unloading our camping gear we discovered the Suzuki didn't lock, not only that, the windscreen wipers didn't work. Added to that was the novelty of the front passenger footwell filling up with water over several minutes of driving. Then there was also the enjoyable fact that to shut the passenger door I had to slam it with a lot of force.
We called Biggi. Luckily for us and him our first campsite we chose for it's proximity to the airport as we didn't want to drive after so much travelling. While we waited we had tea.
Biggi arrived; he had omitted to mention that the electrics had been rewired... to the roof - following the last woman to rent it, who had driven through a river, hence the foot well flooding. All you had to do was click your key, above the roof. Of course. We said a big thank you to Biggi for coming out to us and then we settled in for the night. It was a unusual for me to be in a forest as the last time I'd been to Iceland in 1995 there had been next to no trees.
It was a lovely place with perfectly soft ground and the scent of conifers. A ridge behind kept weather at bay and a small lake was just in front, only we couldn't see much until the next morning as we'd waited so long at the airport.
That night there was an unusual sound like a woman screaming; if you didn't already know a fox's call can sound like a human in distress. It was very haunting especially as I'd been reading about a woman who had an unfortunate ending in one of the mudpools on the peninsula and was said to haunt the area. Note to self, when in Iceland be very careful if you stray from the path!