It is only the beginning of Day 4 of our trip to Iceland, and EPIC makes a comeback in a big way. There is no doubt as to why this adjective is reinstated as the word of choice, for we had a pretty darned EPIC day.
So EPIC, in fact, that this post is one of many that will spawn from our sight-seeing endeavours on this day alone.
But firstly, a bit of a duck.
Everything that we had read, prior to our visit to Lake Mývatn (Lake of the Midges – actually, Lake is superfluous as vatn actually means lake…. So that’s Lake of the Midges Lake, then..?) led us to believe that we would be spotting birdlife, specifically ducks, in numbers never before experienced.
A drive around the western edge of the lake was unconvincing.
Mind you, if I were a duck, I’m not so sure I’d be out in this weather…
Our plan was to head up towards the Krafla Geothermal Power Station, but it took us some time to get there as we were waylaid by EPIC sight, after EPIC sight. Never mind that the weather was miserable and the wind was blowing a gale; it was all part of the scene. Firstly, we encountered the obvious clue that told us we were in a geothermal area. Vents at the Diatomite Mine spew plumes of steam into the air.
As we get closer, we see the hills are steaming all around us.
Not yet realising what lay over the ridge – we explored the countryside around us and located the Myvatn baths.
Not planning a stop to soak today; we peeked over the fence and moseyed on our way.
The Námarskarð pass, over a hyaloclastite ridge…
…offers great views of the Lake Mývatn region, when not completely shrouded in cloud (and steam).
The second you reach the top and make your descent eastwards, you pick up the scent of sulphur – a hint of things to come. A small lay-by parking area on the right indicated something of interest… It turned out to be a view point overlooking Hverir, but we pressed on and saw this as we rounded the bend. (I’ve also spot-healed out all the cars and people to give it its proper, ethereal context. Pesky tourists: always getting in the way.)
I’m pretty sure that most of us think of snowy white, glacial/geothermal blue and black ash to be the general colour scheme of Iceland’s natural habitat – oh, plus a dash of grassy green for good measure, but that isn’t everything.
Nope: there’s more.
Described as both hot springs and mud pools, but looking more like 100% mud-pools, these bubbling pots of sulphurous silica in partnership with steaming vents and fumaroles create the most EPIC scene imaginable.
The larger vents have been filled in (although not blocked) – I’m presuming that there has been a need to stick one’s head inside the vent to get a closer look at some point in the past. (I actually know some people who would do this…)
The ground under your feet is a mere, wafer thin (don’t make me go all Monty Python on you again…), crust – under which the earth is splitting apart.
Believe it, or not, you are currently standing on the Krafla fissure (for those of you hoping for great big cracks in the ground as depicted in movies like 2012 etc. etc. sorry to disappoint you) This crust may be 1m, or 1 cm, deep – so it is advisable to stay on the demarcated paths! Mind you, in saying that, the clay-like ground clings to your walking boots so you start to feel a good few centimetres taller by the time you have finished examining everything. It also makes a real mess of your car… Good thing I changed into different shoes to drive with…
A pleasant surprise was the sign of life, growing in the most unexpected of environments:
It has taken me ALL day to put this post together… but the visit itself was for a mere hour or two. Just goes to show how really EPIC it really was…