Sunday, June 22, 2008

Northwest Iceland: The Mývatn District 17 May

17th May 2008
The Mývatn District

Today is our last morning at Mývatn. When we come down for breakfast, little we know that we are the only occupants in the entire hotel last night. No cars other than ours were parked outside the hotel last night and this morning. Despite we are the only guests, Maria didn't fall short of her services at all. Look at the breakfast spread!

This is a perfect breakfast to kick start of a good day. Sumptuous breakfast plus a picturesque lake scenery.

We set off at 930am, to visit Leirhnjúkur at Krafla before leaving the Mývatn region and drive eastward to Seyðisfjörður. The weather is kind of cloudy and the temperature is a cool of 6°C.


The Leirhnjúkur is compellingly grotesque lava field. This field was overflowed with lava during the 1984 eruption, and a testament to the lasting power of molten rock: twenty years on, and the ground here remains, in places, too hot to touch. Tracks from the parking area cross older, vegetated lava before climbing onto the generally darker, rougher new material, splotches of red or purple marking iron and potash deposits, white or yellow patches indicating live steam vents to be avoided – not least for their intensely unpleasant smell. Pegs mark out relatively safe trails around the field, between giant, solidified bubbles, smooth lava pavements, and impossibly cracked, split and twisted mounds.

You are here at your risk because Krafla is expected to erupt again within the next few years.

One can imagine how thick the snow has gathered during winter.

Behind me is the steam from the Kröflustöó Power Station.

After 30 mins of trekking thru the thick snow, we finally glimpse the colourful Leirhnjúkur.

The air is filled with bad rotten egg smell here.

Behind me is the notorious Krafla lava plain. The amazing thing about Krafla is that instead of a cone-shaped peak, it is a largely level system of fissures underlaid by a great magma chamber. So wherever I go here, I'm still standing on the magma chamber.

The Krafla landscape. A step beyond the line, and you are off the cliff.

The white mist is not fog, it's steam from the magma chamber underground. The black rocks are the younger solidified lava which are still dangerous.

It starts out as a lava fountain in 1727, spouts lava for 2 years before subsiding. After a minor burp in 1746, it become what we see today. One can visualise the state of the lava before it cools off.

Black steaming lava rocks.

The best example of fire and ice co-exist

See how magnificent Leirhnjúkur is. The hike around this place takes us 45 mins to complete. Despite we follow the peg marks on the path, at some instances we lose the sight of the peg marks and couldnt pinpoint the correct direction back to the starting point. Everywhere you turn are dark menacing steaming rocks, some with whistling sound and together with the howling chilling wind, makes the place kind of weird and intimidating like a living hell especially when we are the only living beings here. Nevertheless, this is a good sight of fire and ice co-exist.

Click to see next - East Iceland: The Mývatn District → Seyðisfjörður 17 May


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