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Rain, wind, clouds, sun and... lava: a trip to Iceland.

Rain, wind, clouds, sun and... lava: a trip to Iceland.

Old Nov 1, 2021, 9:28 am
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Rain, wind, clouds, sun and... lava: a trip to Iceland.

At some point in the autumn of 2020, halfway through what we were to call “Lockdown 2.0”, I began to dream about camping.

I’m sure it all started as a mean of coping with the tidal wave of bad news surging all around us. Cooped up in our tiny apartment, where the kitchen table had become office and meeting room, I dreamt of open spaces. I gazed at the upward trends of cases and wished those charts indicated the metres of altitude I was to gain in a hike. In a nutshell, I wanted to be out.

Time morphed this itch into a deeper desire, something I found myself unable to express fully until Fire Season, a book by Phil Connors, landed in my hands. Connors, a fire-watcher living in a hut in the American Southwest, had all but read my mind. “It’s a matter of achieving some substantial contact with that part of ourselves that relishes a campfire under a sky berserk with stars, 40 miles from the nearest social worker, completely reliant on our own dexterity”.

Shackled to my laptop, discussing products, (how to sell them, how to sell them faster and why we weren’t selling even faster) I felt the irresistible pull of, again in the words of Connors, “to be shed of the social imperative of productivity”. Alas, I had to bide my time. And, incidentally, find myself another job once my company decided to jump on the "Hey, it's Covid!" bandwagon to trim down the org chart. Last-in-first-out was the order of the day and, being the newbie, I found myself out in the cold.

Eventually, the time came and with it, I settled on my destination. The Westfjords region of Iceland is a peninsula sticking out of the main body of the island, the remotest and wildest part of a country that has plenty of both. Right in the middle of that jumble of geographical features is a mountain: Kaldbakur.

Alone in an area that features mostly flat-topped ridgelines smoothed out by glaciers, Kaldbakur stands out in triangular perfection and splendid isolation, quasi-Himalayan despite being only one tenth of Everest. Stuck in my apartment, I decided that Kaldbakur was to be the test of my dexterity.

The plan was simple in its beauty and straightforwardness. Drive north, leave the car outside ingeyri’s municipal swimming pool, head up the fjord, sleep somewhere [I ignored, there and then, that this particular part of my plan was illegal - so [i]don't do it] and, the following day, strike an all-out assault to the mountain. When, eventually, the time came I was ready. I felt ready. Months of waiting and dozens of outdoor podcasts – where youthful Americans with names like Payson, Fitz or Kinley recounted their “gnarly” adventures – had primed me like a brainwashing session in a North Korean labour camp.

I just had to get there.

In case you have nothing better to do, here are some other TRs from mine:
  1. From the Archives - Moai + Vicuas: A Trip to Chile.
  2. Bethlehem, or the city behind the Wall.
  3. To Kashgar: flying/hitching/walking to Xinjiang.

Last edited by 13901; Nov 1, 2021 at 9:39 am
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Old Nov 1, 2021, 10:40 am
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There are airlines that one must try if he or she is a real aficionado of the industry and Icelandair is one of them. Don't ask me why, I can't tell you. Maybe it's because of the 757s, maybe it's because of the special liveries, but I'd decided that, this time, I had to travel to Iceland on the nation's airline. I'd originally booked a Friday evening flight out of Heathrow on what promised to be a 757-300. Two months, one cancellation, one re-timing and three equipment changes later I left home at 11AM for a mid-afternoon service operated by a 767. At least it wasn't a MAX.

London, in those days of late summer, was still holding its breath. His Mopness had declared "Independence Day" a few weeks prior but it felt as if people weren't quite ready to believe him... and how to blame them. So it was that I had a whole Piccadilly Line car for me.

Icelandair operates out of Terminal 2, Heathrow's newest. It'd been more than 5 years since my last visit and, when I arrived, the place looked as sparsely populated as it'd been way back in 2016. With the relaxing of pandemic rules HAL had de-frosted Terminal 3, where the likes of Virgin and Emirates promptly returned, leaving T2 to the usual Star Alliance gang and T4 escapees.

Icelandair suspended all online check-in services as everyone had to show a barcode (as well as test results/proof of vaccination) to an agent. As I was nice and early it took just a matter of seconds and then I opted to go out again to enjoy a few more minutes without a face mask.

After a while, properly attired, I re-entered and went through security.

T2's satellite building is connected to the main body of the terminal with a fairly long tunnel. It's a bit of a drag to reach but being the misanthrope that I am, it's a great place to be. Even with multiple heavies departing it's rare not to be able to find a quiet corner to sit and watch the world go by. The dcor is also relaxing, almost Zurich-like.

As I haven't been travelling a lot (euphemism of the day) in the past year and a bit, I decided to splurge for a new set of camera lens. Now, as a male member of the human specie I can't do two things at the same time and I have no time for reading the instructions, which might explain the initial mixed results. Still, some planespotting to start.

JetBlue had, by that time, just started flying to JFK and everyone seemed to be raving about them.

Aeroflot, exiled out of their usual Terminal 4 hangouts for the foreseeable future.

Here I must admit I had to stop for a double-take. Qantas? Remember, those were the days when you had to be Rita Ora or a tennis player to gain entry in the land Down Under. The only logical explanation for that 787-9 being at Heathrow a repatriation flight... or that the crew had gotten drunk. Probably the second.

Meanwhile, a fairly full 77W is boarding for Toronto, or maybe Montreal. The flight crew has clearly gone all-out on some dodgy Bath Road curry, yesterday, and... well, today's the day of reckoning. I wonder if they can leave the window open at 33,000 feet.

But it's time to leave Air Canada to their woes, for boarding for FI451 is now open. Prior to this flight I'd often wondered how busy the flight would be; after all, on my previous visit to Iceland there weren't many takers. But this is the summer 2021, Iceland is one of very few countries on Grant Shapps' "Green List" and, let's face it, this is enough an incentive for anyone who doesn't have the stomach to pretend to be enjoying holidays in Dorset. So the line stretches for a good 40 metres and, yes, it's a full flight today.

767s are a fairly recent addition to Icelandair's fleet but this bird ain't no spring chicken. At 21 years of age, TF-ISN could buy a beer in America (I think?) and has been around quite a lot. After flying the Kiwi colours she was taken up by Flyglobespan (remember them?) who then loaned it to outfits in Venezuela and New Caledonia. A stint in Africa for Kenya Airways and then KEF has been her base.

She might have some years on the wings but, once inside, it's hard to tell her apart from any bird a third her rage, or at least this is how it feels from Seat 37G (a place seldom reported from here on Flyertalk...unless the Upper Deck goes that far back). There's good legroom for yours truly at 1.83mt, a functioning IFE, thick enough padding and all is well in my world. Even my seatmate, who as usual is at least two metres tall and has the shoulders of Atlas, can fit without digging too much in my ribcage.

Icelandair, as you might know, is Buy-on-Board in Economy, even on Transatlantic routes. I know this is anathema on these shores, although it's fine by me. In case you wanted to know these are the prices for the booze; there's also food and non-alcoholic drinks on offer but why would you want to spend any money on that?

In spite of the heavy load, we leave the gate on time and take off towards the city. So far London had a fairly disappointing summer and that day was no different, with low clouds that engulfed us as soon as we reached the outskirts of Brentford.

Scotland, instead, basked in a beautiful sunshine, so much so that you could all but see untold numbers of Scottish lads and lassies hitting the beaches for a top-up of Vitamin D. Lucky them.

Icelandair, as I was saying earlier, offers IFEs on all their international flights which, to quote Lucky from One Mile at a Time, is a feature that I value highly. Even more commendable is the space that the airline reserves, on its screens, to local talent: sure, there's plenty of your Hollywood blockbusters, lots of Tom Cruises and men in colourful leotards swinging hammers at each others, but there are hundreds of records coming out of Iceland. It's not just Bjrk, Sigur Rs or sgeir. There's lots, and I mean lots, of lesser known artists.

There's even free coffee, coming on a cup with some local trivia printed on. If you've ever wanted to know how to call a column of vapour that looks like a geyser but isn't quite one... you're welcome.

Today's flight time is quite quick at some 3 hours and, lo and behold, the most Viking-sounding captain of them all comes on to the blower to announce that we'll be soon landing. The local weather, he confides after a short pause, is "not good". So we buckle up for an adventurous arrival, ready to brave anything, only for our trusty 767 to land with zero fuss and just a couple of minor shakes. Talk about anti-climax.

As we taxi towards our parking position (a remote stand, no less) I catch a glimpse of Iceland's new LCC. After the demise of WOW, and a few shenanigans that included a highly questionable attempt at reviving the purple airline by some American investors, here is PLAY. Same business model, similar understated livery but hopefully different outcomes.

Immigration formalities take a moment and, after having picked up my duffel bag, checked my vaccination records and barcode, I'm allowed in the island. It's been a while, but the air and the light are still the same and unlike anywhere else. I head over to AVIS and, much to my surprise, I manage to grab a Suzuki Vitara, ironically the same car I had last time I was here, without having made a booking. I'm all set for the Westfjords.

Last edited by 13901; Nov 1, 2021 at 10:52 am
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Old Nov 1, 2021, 11:15 am
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Four hundred and twenty-nine kilometres separate Keflavik's car rental parking lot from ingeyri, my manifest destiny. Six hours. North is the way, first on route 1 and then route 60. Impossible to miss, so there's no need for a GPS that, anyway, is not included in my car's rate. And so it is that I'm off, having bought liquorice and coffee at a petrol station, with an unknown Icelandic radio station belting out 1980s rock bangers.

I make good progress and, after Hvalfjarur's tunnel, traffic thins out to the occasional truck or Land Cruiser. Lorry drivers, here, are true gentlemen (and women): if the road his clear they'll indicate so that you can overtake them in all safety. Just one quick hit on the gas, you're past them and the world outside is back to 180-degrees beauty.

Eventually I reach the Route 60 junction and... boy isn't it a gorgeous road. I drive up and down passes, through tunnels and along fjords. Sometimes a bridge carries me on the other side, more often I simply circumnavigate the waters. It's just a sequence of incredible views, a hit parade of valleys and clouds and sun and deep blue waters.

And then, all of a sudden, Route 60 becomes like this:


A sign says, rather unhelpfully, "Gravel road". Hang on... Jaroslav, the man who gave me the keys of my Suzuki at KEF's AVIS, said something about gravel roads, didn't he? Something about not driving on them. Yes, it was definitely something that I shouldn't be doing. Being the mature, responsible man that I am I decide that Jarek will never know about this and press on. After all it might just be a short bit they'd forgotten to pave, right?


I mean, how much further?

After a while, again by virtue of being a responsible adult, I decided that since I was there I might as well have fun. The Suzuki Vitara has a little round dial on a panel between the seats, you see, with three settings. One says Snow, one says Normal (or words to that extent) and the last say Sport. If you select Sport while driving on a wet gravel road two things happen almost instantaneously: first, fuel consumption goes up remarkably fast. Second, the back of your car turns into a very happy dog with a very long and powerful tail. Which is enormous fun, until you almost end up in a ditch and remember that a) you are no Mika Hakkinen and b) you're not meant to be driving on that road.

Eventually, though, I managed to arrive here.

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Old Nov 2, 2021, 12:13 am
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Very. very nice, and I;m looking forward to more and what was at the end of this road.
I really must visit Iceland, but it is a bit of a trip from Hawaii where I live, especially in Covid times, where all my trips have been between the islands.
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Old Nov 2, 2021, 4:09 am
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A squall was on its last legs as I rode into ingeyri, the last drops of water washing the mud off the car as I bundled supplies and gear into a rucksack. I had everything: a bivvy, lightweight sleeping bag, foam pad, two bags of food, propane and enough attitude to feel invincible. No one witnessed my departure, and no one but a few sheep saw me walk up the fjord, past the airport and take a left, into the wild.

And precisely in that moment the wind hit me.

Wind in Iceland is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s not only murderously fast and constitutionally icy; it’s also unpredictable. It can hit you from any direction at a moment’s notice. Like the velociraptor gang in the first Jurassic Park, Icelandic winds never strike twice from the same angle.

The gale that rolled down from lftarmyrarheii pass sounded threatening. It growled down the smooth valley walls like a cannonball, whistling as it went through fences and chicken wire. And it was bringing along some friends.

Sensing what was to come, I had put on an extra layer of overalls just before the rain rolled in. I carried onwards, bending under the weight of my backpack and the relentless beating of the wind. Horizontal rain pelted my face and, from time to time, rags of clouds entombed me in a white nothingness.

This was the moment my podcasting friends would inevitably come to. The time when the conditions turned from bad to worse and stamina ran low. This would be the occasion to dig in, to shred even more. No way back, nothing but the goal.

Light faded. I set up camp in the shadow of a boulder; enclosed in a green nylon cocoon I lay under my sleeping bag, listening to the wind and the occasional baaah of a distant sheep. I had barely the time of thinking of Conrad Anker slumming it on the snow of Meru’s Shark Fin and I was asleep.

The next morning revealed, well, not much. I had high hopes of one of those mornings with cloudless skies ranging in colours from salmon to indigo, but instead I woke up to a world dipped in cotton wool. I packed my bivvy, ate a Snickers and made coffee. Drizzle settled in. “I can go on for hours”, it seemed to say.

I stood there, conflicted. I was at a junction and the two sources of inspirations that had led me so far were pointing at different directions. Following the example of my outdoor mentors would’ve meant hiking to Kaldbakur, but that felt like a masterclass in futility, a climb to savour views that weren’t there. I ruminated some more, and then made my decision.

The past year had proven, time and again, that being in control is just an illusion. In that cloud-chocked valley I was reminded again that plans are nothing but statement of intention, wishes written on water. There is more wisdom, I decided, in pivoting in the face of a plan falling through than in soldiering on.

That was my epiphany, that day in Dyrafjorur. It was also the end of my attempt of climbing Kaldbakur. I shed myself of the social imperative of productivity and walked back to ingeyri. A road led to unknown lands beyond the fjord, disappearing into the dark recesses of a tunnel, and I decided to follow it. Eventually, it led here.

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Old Nov 2, 2021, 4:22 am
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safjarardjp is the "fjord next door". A mere 40, 50km separates it from ingeyri, but the difference was like night and day. Here there was sun (well, for Icelandic standards), wide open views, not too much wind and something else in the air, something that made me think like, yes, I belonged there.

I left the car in a random parking lot and just began walking, up and down, stopping every now and then to take in the views. On the other side of the fjord was Hornstradir, a wild peninsula with, basically, zero population. A small commuter plane buzzed overhead, aiming for
sarfjorrur airport. There and then I promised myself to return here.

My love affair with safjarardjp gets even better as I discover that, in the local supermarket, the splendid Isey Skyr is also discounted. Frankly I could live off it and, believe me, I have (and still do).

Eventually, after a couple of days in the fjord, the act of sleeping in my microscopical bivvy in a campsite, lying next to two brand-new Land Rovers with all the mod cons, gets a bit heavy on my spirit. I need a bed, I need a roof, a window I can open and close and, most of all, a shower. I haven't made any plans for this holiday but, as the return date draws inexorably close, I decide to drive over to Grundarfjrur.
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Old Nov 2, 2021, 4:24 am
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Originally Posted by HawaiiFlyerDC8
Very. very nice, and I;m looking forward to more and what was at the end of this road.
I really must visit Iceland, but it is a bit of a trip from Hawaii where I live, especially in Covid times, where all my trips have been between the islands.
Thanks HawaiiFlyerDC8!

Some aspects of Iceland (mainly the colour of the rocks I guess) are similar to Hawaii but, apart from that, I think they're as different as it gets. It is a bit of a schlep indeed from your place, although I suppose you could put together some sort of HNL-SEA-KEF itinerary. I hope you get there someday!
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Old Nov 2, 2021, 4:58 am
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Now, Grundarfjrur. This is the place I've been to before. The year was 2019, the month was March, the snow bulleting was "lots of it" and my wife and I had an absolute blast. I drove a Suzuki with studded tyres, we went to see the Orcas in Olafsvik, we experienced white-outs one moment and then clear skies the other and I broke the window of the car while opening it in high winds. I couldn't wait to get back.

This time I'm taking the longer way, Route 61, then the main trunk of Route 60 and then little-known Route 54. Should all be paved, methinks.

And indeed...

Anyway, it's not a long stretch and, once I'm back on tarmac, I stumble into something for which Icelandic car hire companies always tell you to be mindful of.

You know those long drives, the ones where the road is empty, distances are long and you are not in a particular rush to be anywhere special? When time dilates, as if you were standing on the event horizon. You climb, descend, operate the indicators, turn on or off the wipers… but it’s almost as if these tasks were involving only a minor part of your mind. Everything else – the core of your CPU, if you will – is elsewhere. Drifting.

I was in that state of mind, towards the end of this long drive, listening to music and nothing much in particular. I remember that my playlist, that day, was decidedly Latin American. Inti Illimani’s
Canto de Pueblos Andinos and what they call "folktronica”. In that moment, as I turned a corner and a new panorama came into view, I remember listening to the end of Natalia Lafourcade’s Derecho de Nacimiento, the bit when guitars and voices reach Himalayan heights of haunted beauty. I remember it because it was the moment I popped out of the trance-like state I was in.

This view was something, even by Icelandic standards. And... it just popped out, unannounced, from behind a bend.

I had the presence of mind of stopping away from the road, on a gravel lay-by that appeared out of nowhere, evidently designed for moments like this. I popped the handbrake, turned the engine off, left the car keys in the ignition and jumped out, leaving the door ajar so that music could still ooze out of the vehicle. Clouds cruised above the wide plain, and the sea rushed ahead to meet them. Pools of sun rays danced like searchlight, painting the falling rain the colour of honey. Natalia's song ended and harps came on after: Sueo en Paraguay, by Chancha va Circuito.

Smudges of blue sky appeared for seconds before another low-flying cloud occluded them. The sun continued in its disco-ball effect. Rain showers started, stopped and then picked up again a little further downwind. The sea shifted through its colour palette like an octopus, turning from indigo to battleship grey in the space of moments. I closed the car door and the only sound that remained was that of the wind. I was alone in that corner of Vesturland, the only one to witness that spectacle.

Or so I thought.

The horses appeared without forewarning, driven towards a farm downhill by a barking black dog. The wind carried the thudding of their hooves on the soft grass and the yap-yap-yap of the dog. I snapped a photo, blindly, and before I could compose myself and take another one they’d gone. Clouds closed in, as if they were following the herd back to the stables.

I returned back to the car, smiling, riding the kind of high that only appears when you chance upon something completely unexpected. Rain started tapping on the roof as I put the car back in drive and onwards towards Grundarfjrur, where I arrive riding a wave of euphoria. Memories from 2019 flood in; even in summer the beauty of this place is beyond words.

I find a guesthouse by the port, a place with a large communal kitchen, soft beds and very powerful, very hot showers. Having gained a semblance of decency I'm out again, aiming for Kirkjufell, a mountain that is as Icelandic as a man in a woolly sweater standing by a volcano with a smoke herring in his hands.

Along the way I met a very photogenic Icelandic horse who didn't mind posing for a photo, or sixteen.

And here is Kirkjufell in a rare moment without too many fellow tourists.

And then the storm you can see in the background rolled in, kicking me back indoors.
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Old Nov 2, 2021, 6:32 am
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This is awe inspiring, thank you.
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Old Nov 3, 2021, 6:30 am
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Amazing scenery. Iceland is definitely on my bucket list for travel, and your posts are just making it move higher up the list.
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Old Nov 3, 2021, 7:26 am
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Originally Posted by mentor of monty
This is awe inspiring, thank you.
You're most welcome!

Originally Posted by GregWTravels
Amazing scenery. Iceland is definitely on my bucket list for travel, and your posts are just making it move higher up the list.
I recommend it highly. Sure, it's stupidly expensive but with a little bit of care (and not too much drinking) it's manageable.
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Old Nov 3, 2021, 7:34 am
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Now, where were we?

Ah yeah, it was departure day from Grundarfjrur. I'm aiming for Reykjavik, the capital, to get my pre-departure testing, some coffee and plan my last two days in Iceland. On my way into town I stumble in the thing I least expected from Iceland... a traffic jam! Who knew.

After that rather unusual experience it's just a short drive to the testing centre, located opposite a supermarket. The test is administered by a no-nonsense nurse who grabs two swabs and shoves them both together into each nostril. Of the 100+ tests I've done since Covid introduced the idea of sticking a swab into your nose, this has been the most painful. As the American man who was behind me commented once we left, "She could've used a toothbrush".

Anyway, with that done I leave the Suzuki downtown and head out for caffeine. The Nordics have a great coffee culture and Reykjavik has some amazing coffee shops. This time I sampled Kaktus Espressobar, where I had a very nice and fruity Americano, before going back to my old love... Reykjavik Roasters' filter coffee.

As I'm sampling a second serving of the Colombian brew of the day I get the results from my earlier brain scrape test. Time to move on, I've got another couple of days to fill in Iceland.

And, luckily, I know just where to go.
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Old Nov 3, 2021, 8:02 am
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Fagradalsfjall is what people in the lava business call a “tuya volcano”. Imagine a sort of tall stack of pancakes, vertical walls and a mesa-like top: the kind of structure that emerges when an eruption starts underneath a glacier. Fagradalsfjall has laid asleep ever since mammoths roamed the Earth and Neanderthals followed them; but a neighbouring pasture, called Geldingadalir, was about to shake things up. In March 2021, after a swarm of earthquakes, a fissure opened in the ground, gushing red lava like a wound. Then another. Then another. Then another. At the time of my visit, six sets of vents had opened in what volcanologists decided to call the “Fagradalsfjall eruption”.

The world’s media descended on the scene like flies on fresh manure, rubbing hands with barely-concealed glee. An eruption during a pandemic after a chaotic US election and attempted coup? It must’ve felt like triple Christmas for a circus increasingly hooked on the scabrous, the lurid and the desperate. Could hot lava submerge Reykjavk? Would it stop all North Atlantic flights?

Fagradalsfjall couldn’t, and didn’t. It continued spewing out prodigious amount of lava and gases, filling barren and unpopulated valleys with 160 million cubic metres of black lava, regardless of whatever the media thought and said. And it didn’t mind one bit when said news broadcasters, once it became clear that neither Tommy Lee Jones nor Bruce Willis would be needed, wandered off to gawk at the next crisis. Only Icelanders and those with nothing better to do remained. Like me.

Some 20 minutes east of Grindavk, past the saltfish museum and the football stadium, route 427 climbs through a panorama of dark hills, rising and sinking in synchronicity with the landscape. A right-hand turn reveals a gravel car park where vehicles of all kinds, from microcars to gargantuan overland rigs, are arranged in something resembling – from a distance and one eye closed – lines. A trail departs from the jumble of glass and metal.

The paths have now changed, owing to the advancement of lava and so on, but back then the itinerary I followed was the "B" trail. A windswept path that climbs above a sequence of hills, always chasing the crest. Few and far between are the dips into lower grounds and always as brief as possible. Sensible policy given that, here, the floor really is lava.

There’s always quite a crowd, at least for Icelandic standards, scattered along the trail. Multi-generational families and solo travellers, grizzled trekkers and Instagram queens in yoga tights, Icelanders in shorts and Spaniards bundled in down jackets: we’re all united in this laic pilgrimage to the sanctuary of mother nature.

It all appears quiet, dormant, howling winds the only noise, but it’s only an impression. Smoke plumes piston out of the expanse, revealing a molten core still lurking underneath the surface. A rivulet of red lava pokes through a gap in the alien landscape.

Lava tubes. Levigated conduits for a stream of molten rock, some of which can reach colossal dimensions, must be running through the field. They exist on other planets too, wherever there is vulcanism, and some have advanced the option of using those on Mars to carve out human habitats on to the Red Planet. Clearly, though, those tourists who I spot climbing on the lava field haven’t heard of them. And neither have read the Morgunblai article “Visitors Seem to Have a Hard Time Staying off the Lava”.

Not wishing to add my name to the crowd of Darwin Award recipients, I press on. Strands of clouds hurry across the landscape, bringing visibility to nil in a matter of seconds. More often than not, the fog is followed by the hiker’s worst foe: sheets of cold, horizontal rain.

I keep on going forwards, climbing up and down hills drenched in fog. I sit for a while on a rock, munching on some dried fruit, until a gap in the clouds appear. And the view... sweet Chuck Norris, the view.

I'm instantly hooked. This is a spectacle like no other and if there's a drug so potent in the sense of addiction it develops... well, it ought to be banned tomorrow. I push on and, suddenly, find myself above the volcano.

It’s warm up here. My back is soaked in sweat and lashed by the wind but the parts of my anatomy that are facing the eruption bask in heat, a balmy warmth irradiated by the marching river of lava that is flowing a few hundred meters below where I stand. The few hikers that have made it this far are all holding hands and feet forwards, enjoying the world’s largest fireplace. A purring cat or two wouldn’t go amiss.

Human constructs like distance, speed and volume lose meaning before such a spectacle. Long tongues of liquid fire traverse a black desert. Fountains of orange-crimson lava gurgle and spray from an anthracite mountain.

I’m drawn, moth-like, to the hypnotic advance of the lava towards the hill I’m standing on. Like a deer on the motorway I stand still and gawk at the bright headlights of this twin column of molten fire. It’s rock, it’s incandescent, and yet it behaves like a liquid, flowing downhill in obeyance of the laws of physics and in search of the patch of least resistance.

Fragments on the surface of the lava cool down, turning black like necrotic tissue. They surf above the molten belt conveyor to the front of the advance, where they fall with a delicate noise like the tinkling of glass. Then, more molten rock smothers them.

It’s moving, it’s advancing. It might not be the deepest of observations, but right here and now it’s the best I can come up with. Lava flows around obstacles, it ripples and waves around boulders, mimicking the features of the ground underneath to the extent allowed by its own viscosity. It’s almost as if it were alive.

It's not often that I'm mesmerised by something but this truly is it. I lose track of the time, I stop thinking about my surroundings. I don't think I ate, drank or peed for six hours. Eventually, as light started to fade I reluctantly, slowly made my way back. I still had to find a place to sleep for the night... but not before one last look at this incredible beauty.

One thing is for sure... I'll be back!
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Old Nov 5, 2021, 1:47 am
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The pictures are really spectacular👍
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Old Nov 5, 2021, 3:48 am
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: BKK
Programs: Mucci Chevalier de la Brosse a Cheveux Dore, SK *GfL, BA Gold, WY G, HH DIA, IC Plat Amb., Hertz PC
Posts: 3,517
Truly spectacular pictures, especially of the volcanic activity! And I like your writing style - very immersive and interesting

I only ever saw lava like this years back on Sicily and the volcanic islands north of it - it comes close to what you are showing, but still quite a bit off from being equally spectacular!
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