03 November 2017

My Scandinavian Adventure: Iceland—The Ring Road

Days 5-6: Lake Mývatn

I mentioned the crusty cod fisherman we met at dinner. One key bit of info he gave us was that we should plan to stay at Lake Mývatn at least two nights. It's where Icelanders like to go camping when they're on holiday. And that was good enough for me.

Lake Mývatn is in the north central part of Iceland on the Ring Road. As promised, there was tons of cool stuff to do. Our two days there were the worst weather days of the trip. But, as our cod fisherman said, there really is no bad weather in Iceland as long as you dress for it. He then spoke about a cousin who lives in Arizona who has no natural way to deal with the 110º F. temperature. Point taken. We all had rain gear. I was the only one who didn't actually have a pair of rain pants, so my legs got damp when we hiked at Dettifoss. But, big deal.

The campsite bustled. You could hear a Babel of languages when you walked through the common indoor area, though everyone spoke English as a second language. Tons of millennial campers enjoying each other's company, sharing road stories and camping technologies. We climbed a 2000 ft barren, lava cone mountain—Vindbergjarfjall; walked through the sulfurous hot springs at Hverir; hiked and got lost in the mazey paths through the lava structures at Dimmuborgir; hiked the one kilometer path along the canyon ledge between the two magnificent waterfalls, Dettifoss (yes, I know) and Selfoss; and luxuriated in a giant Hot Spot, a geothermally heated natural bath maybe ten times the size of an Olympic swimming pool, which had a bar and on the night we were there was filled with Russian supermodels in ridiculously tiny bathing suits—I kid you not! Wisdoc kept grabbing my arm and saying, "I'm over here. I'm over here." Sorry, no pics. We stayed till the baths closed around midnight. The air was cool, but not cold. The twilight lingered for hours over the distant mountains. The temperature in the pool varied from warm to pleasingly hot depending on where you chose to stand. The scene here was better—younger, hipper, more interesting—than at the more famous "Blue Lagoon" near the airport (which we also visited).

The second night we were there, the weather cleared up. As the twilight waned, around 10:30 pm, we saw the first glimmers of the Northern Lights in the sky, but we were so tired from the day's activities that we couldn't stay up until it got completely dark. (I did see the Northern Lights in glorious fullness on my night flight from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, FYI.)

Click pics to embiggen!
The idyllic campground at Lake Mývatn. Lava fields, lake, church, clouds.
Climbing the switchbacks up Mt. Vindbergjarfjall. "Hey guys! Wait for me! I'm old." "Stop taking so many pictures and catch up, old man." I get no respect.
The gang at the top of Mt. Vindbergjarfjall. We are the only ones up here.
Pano from the top of Mt. Vindbergjarfjall.
Stinky sulfurous paths at Hverir.
The earth is alive. Hverir.
Lava chimney. Hverir.
The damp, slippery approach to Dettifoss Falls.
Dettifoss Falls, reputedly the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Also, the location of the opening shot from the movie Prometheus.
Selfoss Waterfall in the distance.
Silly Icelandic troll photobombing the hike from Dettifoss to Selfoss. Or, Selfie at Selfoss?
The 1 km trail between Dettifoss and Selfoss. I've told you: You want to hike with me. An almost mystical experience. Most of the tourists at the falls didn't venture away from the paved paths.
Looking down on one of the paths through the lava fields at Dimmuborgir. And yes I know of the Norwegian black metal band which took its name from this place. We head banged on the drive away.
Standing in a lava tube at Dimmuborgir. You wouldn't know it, but I was separated from the group and a little lost here. It took me about an hour to find my way out. Ran into some college kids who were lost as well, except they were through-hiking. (NB: I've scuba dived through lava tubes in Hawai'i as well!)

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