Friday, December 14, 2018

Iceland Day 2 part II: Hike, Gulfoss, hot spring

May 12, 2018 Saturday, continued

Once our lips and fingers thawed after the snorkel tour and we could speak normally again,
we decided to stretch our legs and hike up from the rift valley to the edge of the
North American plate. That sounds far but is wasn’t. Great views and otherworldly hiking.
Thingvallavatn is the largest lake in Iceland.

Cracks in the basalt show what a porous aquifer basalt can be.

Hiking through a fissure at the edge of the North American tectonic lake. The government built this boardwalk after a car got swallowed up by falling through a thin cover of rock.

Ropy pahoehoe lava


After a necessary espresso drink (jet lag) and photo shoot for Jean Luc Picard
(action figure on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge!)

Jean Lucy Picard on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

we continued on our abbreviated Golden Circle route to Geysir. This is the geyser
that all geysers are named for, and Drew had never seen a geyser before,
and it was conveniently located about 200 feet off the main highway. Must stop.

It was pretty cool, not literally though. Get it? Haha.

Gulfoss, one huge waterfall  

Next tourist must-do: Gulfoss waterfall. The average flow is about 5000 cubic
feet per second (cfs) but I’m sure the rivers were running way higher than that
because of spring runoff. Besides the raw power of that much water moving
only a few feet from me, I loved the way it disappears into a deep canyon.

The two separate waterfalls are due to differing rates of weathering of lava flows. You can see the coarser and more resistant texture of the flow that is at the level of the lower falls in this picture.

Super impressive.
Time to get back in the van. Oh wait, wrong vehicle.

Secret Lagoon

We turned down a gravel road on our quest to get off the beaten path and find a
hot spring and campsite.  We found the most wonderful hot spring at the
“Secret Lagoon” pool. Gamla Laugin, as it is also known, cost us $54 for
the both of us but it was well worth it. The pool has a gravel bottom, wasn’t
over crowded, and has water entering so hot you couldn’t get within 5 feet.

The boardwalk and paths around the pool led me through the boiling source area springs.

Excellent interpretive signs pointed out that this geothermal area near Fludir is
about 13 miles long and has one of the highest geothermal gradients in the world.
At 900 meters depth (about 3000 feet) the temperature is 110 C or 230 F.

The geothermal energy is used to heat greenhouses to grow vegetables.

Here we met a very nice couple from Britain. We vowed to stay in touch.

Clean and tired, we turned south to find a campsite. There were three campground
symbols on our map within about 30 km from the Secret Lagoon. No problem
finding one with an opening right? Wrong. The problem wasn’t that the campgrounds
were full, the problems was that the campgrounds did not exist. One road that was
supposed to lead to a camp area had a homemade sign saying NO CAMPING.
The other village had a motel but no camp area.  We ended up driving all the way
back to Highway 1 and then some to a private campground called Árhús at the edge
of the town of Hella. It was here we discovered the fridge cooler in our van did not work,
so we cooked up squished and thawed kale patties for dinner.