Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday in Hofn

Waking up in Myvatn the next day, I am much refreshed from the travails of the day before and it's a bright sunny day with winds from the southeast. Just over the hill and around the corner, we stumble on this site that we hadn't been expecting - Namafjall Hverir - another heavily loaded geyser site, much like the one near Gullfoss in the south.

The Namafjall region is close to Krafla, one of Iceland's still active volcanos. I start piecing together how geysers work, and their relationship to volcanos. Go, shoo.... look it up on Wikipedia. I did when I finally paused in the hotel at night. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is basically just one huge supervolcano? That even just one explosion of a supervolcano could completely change our entire world literally overnight?

This is just one of the prettier pools of bubbling hot water, superheated by underground magma pockets.

This is a steam vent. I like this picture. I look so.... tentative.

Snorri just sighs at being threatened with hot steam once again...

This stop is planned! It's yet another waterfall - I don't really feel like that... that 'yet another' thing, because I really enjoy them, but I'm starting to wonder if my readers are going 'what another waterfall?' as you follow along.

This is Dettifoss. It is the largest waterfall in Europe in terms of volume discharge, and it is largely glacial runoff from the Vatnajökull glacier.

Neil pauses in the sunshine to enjoy the water flowing past him. We can walk right up to the edge of the top of the waterfall, and even stick our hands in the stream - it's cold!

Back on the road again, I've been making it my ambition to get some of the thousands of sheep that I've seen on film (ed - electrons dear, film is so old school).

We spent the night in Egilstaðir, where I wrote the last blog, but not the day leading up to it. It's getting a little confusing, the where and when of where we are, but don't worry.

Egilstaðir to Hofn is a long drive - 250 odd km, so we decided to skip the two waterfalls that would have been an 80 km detour, and just let the road itself entertain us along the way. There aren't really that many plannned tourist distractions on the east coast.

But the road itself.... now that's another story. It started to rain, quite likely the heaviest rain since we've gotten here. Very annoying. We found what looked to be a shortcut on the map that would cut off about about 60 km, with a secondary road over the mountains.

It's kinda twisty.....

.... but it was in better shape then the #1, and had some fantastic sights along the way. After we got out of the fog, that is. The climb up the mountain was ...eerie.
I could tell there was awesome scenery out there, but we couldn't see it. And then we reached the halfway point and started climbing down out of the mountains, and the sun broke out, the rain stopped, the fog dissipated, and there was a waterfall and picnic table pull over.

This is not that one, but yet another beautiful unplanned waterfall along the way!

I guess it's not surprising that there are so many waterfalls in Iceland, what with mountains, and glaciers, and all the rain it takes, all the freaking time, but... wow, there are literally thousands, all over the place.

I like this image, just because I got that blurry water effect of an open shutter to work so well, and these black (what we think are) rows of lava tubes.

Back into the car, back into rain.... *sigh*.

This is just the coast line, as we are starting to approach Hofn. It's still overcast and rainy, but the coast is getting... craggier. It's so pretty that I defy the rain to get a shot.

Then it's into a brief tunnel, only 1.3km, and out the other side.... the rain stops, the sun is shining, and there is our first glimpse of the Vatnajökull glacier.

We're in Hofn quite early, just around 3pm, so we decide to take a long walk around the town. Found another cat.....

And went to the Glacial exhibition, which was just chock full of science and yet very well presented - a mix of boards full of facts, frequently asked questions, a short film, and a trip to their rooftop to view the glacier itself with different peaks all laid out along the way.

In the exhibit, while I was still capable of absorbing the science.... I couldn't help but think that Marcus is just going to go totally crazy here. This entire country is a geologist's wet dream. You could spend a lifetime investigating the geology of Iceland and still not get it all.

Today, we head out towards Jokalsarlon for a tour of the glacier. Brrr.

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