I have a new favourite place in Iceland. Kerlingarfjöll! I could easily spend a vacation in this one place alone! It has both the big and small landscape and fascinating details, all shrouded in the steam from hot springs and fumaroles. And to think that we almost missed out on it, as the torrential rains last week had washed away a bridge, so the only option was to ford. But luckily the creek wasn’t very deep and we got over, and the happiness when I saw the landscape open up ahead… it was just one big WOW!
We had lunch before hitting the trail. Drinking coffee in the calm weather with the sun slowly breaking through the clouds and revealing the beautiful snow capped mountains around, with the smoke from the fumaroles decorating the landscape… it’s hard to imagine anything better!
Walking in between the hot springs and fumaroles was an experience in itself. At first I hesitated – I was the first of our group to go down in the valley so when I came to the first spot where I needed to get over some steaming water, I took a few steps back. But I saw that other people had walked there, so I mustered up some courage and got over (expecting my shoes to melt at any moment). After I while I got used to it, but I never lost respect for the markings so I followed the trail carefully and didn’t step outside whenever some area was marked as unsafe. I don’t want to get boiled alive…
With the water bubbling from underground, the sand (and mud) was quite soft, so you also needed to be careful not to slip when going up and down those hills. And the mud is really sticky, try as I might, I could not get it off my boots after they got smeared. Not even when I took a few steps in that hot water!
One thing that you cannot see (or smell) in the pictures is the stink from the fumaroles. Sometimes when you walked through the smoke, it was hard to breathe and I even felt nauseated a couple of times. Imagine the forces right under your feet, with that thin crust of earth as your only protection, like walking on (rotten) egg shells. But when you saw how the light was playing with the smoke and how the wind was sculpting it, it just filled me with awe. The lines, shapes, light… such beauty!
But all good things come to an end, and so we had to leave Kerlingarfjöll. We had a long drive to get to Mývatn for the next three nights, and seeing that the weather forecast was threatening with snowfall tomorrow, I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to get up too early. It’s a vacation but not the kind where you get a lot of rest! 😉