Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hveravellir --> Kerlingarfjöll

Photos: (1) Airfield near Kerlingarfjöll; (2) Gígjarfoss; (3-4) Campsite & mountains at Kerlingarfjöll

We’re up at 8 am, the weather is dry and partly sunny with a strong wind. We take a morning hike to the crater Strýtur and are back on the road by 3 pm. I’m a bit relieved to leave Hveravellir, it’s changed so much in the last two years and I don’t really like how it’s developing. But today we’re headed to Kerlingarfjöll – I’ve always wanted to spend more time there. I’ve only been there once, when the bus stopped there for 45 minutes. The area is fascinating even from far away and I’ve always vowed to return.

The road F347 is much easier driving this time. There are new pipes leading the rivers underneath the road, so there are no more rivers to ford. Even the ford at the waterfall Gígjarfoss is gone. Ernesto is a bit disappointed since he was looking forward to bathing our Korean tour guide. Along the way, I finally get the chance to photograph my favorite airfield. These little pyramids dotting the landscape in Iceland denote airfields, and they’re often in the most desolate of places. At the campsite, we pop in the café to pay the fee. The lady taking the money is so pleasant and we immediately feel welcome – what a contrast to Hveravellir. I buy a hiking map, although it’s obvious that the only thing that Ernesto wants to do is check out the hotpot. I’m a bit disappointed since I’d really like to hike in this area. The trails are well-groomed, and there’s a lot to see, including hot springs that supposedly shoot out in all directions like crazy. While looking for the hotpot, we run into two Swiss guys grinning from ear to ear, saying how beautiful these springs are. But it’s late and we barely have time to see the hotpot before it starts getting dark. The route follows the river, and at one spot there’s a spout of water shooting out of a rock like a drinking fountain. The earth around the riverbed is deep red, indicating high iron deposits again. There’s a couple in the hotpot when we arrive, and we make the mistake of not testing the water temperature before we jump in. It’s cold, and it’s rusty. The water is so laden with iron that it turns our skin red. We snap a few pictures and jump out as quickly as possible, much to the amusement of other two swimmers who are obviously having fun.

While wandering around in the higher elevations at Kerlingarfjöll, I saw lots of obsidian. Just small pieces, but pretty nonetheless. Back at the campsite, there’s a party in full swing. It’s a long holiday weekend for the Icelanders and they’re having fun. It’s a bit loud, so I put on my headphones and fall fast asleep.