We’d decided to backtrack slightly from Myvatn then take a right turn to head south, towards Askja and Herdubreid, the Queen of the Mountains - so called because of the broad shoulders and therefore the weight she can carry. Turning off from the Ringroad we were greeted by the usual flurry of road signs, including the ever-present reminder that you must not drive off the track. I wonder why these signs are always on the road? Surely if you can read
them, then you’re already being good and staying on the road? Maybe they should post them all over the place out in the wilderness, maybe being a little more direct - ‘Get back on the the track, you illegal, selfish, thoughtless sod’, things like that? Or perhaps they do, for all I know. Just seems a bit odd to me.
Pretty soon we were in the middle of black sand desert that soon gave way to an enormous lava field that stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. It's kind of mind boggling to stand on something like that, to clearly see the ripples in the rock that look like stretched toffee, and imaging the kinds of forces that must have been at work to turn rock into a liquid and then spew it out, and keep on going long enough to cover such a huge area. And it's all still going on, right under your feet as you stand there!
The track surface was pretty shoddy, it's constant corrugations reminding us slightly unpleasantly of some of the crappier Moroccan desert tracks. We kept hoping that the ruts would level off, and occasionally they did for a little while, then they’d be back again. Without wanting to shake Moglet to pieces, the only way to deal with is for us is to go slower. There’s some people that will tell you there's a ‘magic’ speed that you can drive over corrugations, and when you hit that magic number your tyres no longer bang in and out of every rut, instead they seem to ‘float’ along over the crest of each one. All I can say to that is we’ve done a fair few miles on corrugations and Jasons tried every speed we can get Moglet to do, and the only thing that changes is how fast your kidneys take a beating. There’s no ‘magic float’ for Moglet. Maybe it's the size of her wheels, or maybe it's the weight, or maybe the whole floating thing is complete tosh. I know which option my moneys on...
But floating tosh or not, all it really meant for us was that we weren't going to cover as much ground as we’d anticipated. We’d hoped to get down to Herdubreid, have a little lookey and then make our way to Askja for the night. As it was, Herdubreid would be our resting place for the night. As it's in a national park of sorts, you’re only allowed to overnight in campsites, and seeing as there’s only the one that we’d reach before nightfall, we didn’t really have a lot of choice!
The road to get there though took on a really crazy turn. Up until maybe 10km prior to Herdubreid we’d passed alongside lava fields and got out to have a closer look, but essentially that was all. But as we drew closer to the mountain, we had to pass right through the middle of the field, and what a crazy road building experience that must have been! Couple that with the fact that there's a river running right next to some of it, so sections of the lava are also a flood plain, therefore planned fords to cross the river are not necessarily where you expect them to be on the map, and it all turned into some kind of mad, looping, twisting road that's not like anything we’ve been on before.
But we made it to the campsite eventually, and despite it being devoid of any kind of staff, we pitched ourselves up for the night and settled down to enjoy the sunset. Jason mentioned something about going for a walk tomorrow, but we’ll see... :-)