After a few days to catch up on some washing and shopping, we headed off to have a look at Krafla, a volcanic range with a geothermal power station bolted onto the side. The power station has been there since the late 1970’s and very nearly didn’t get finished as the volcano that supplies the steam which the turbines take advantage of decided to erupt six months into construction. Despite the eruptions continuing for the best part of nine years, work went on
regardless - they really do know how to live side by side with that kind of thing here! Unfortunately the weather was so atrocious that we didn’t take the camera outside, and having driven up to the top of the mountain, we had about five minutes outside, froze right through and got completely soaked then drove down again!
At the bottom of the mountain is a place called Hverarond, a hillside covered in bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles. A lot of the area is roped off so you have to stick to the specified path, but when the explanation is that if you don't, you could break through the crust and plunge your lower leg into superheated steam or maybe even lava, you’re happy to stick to the path! Once you get used to the strong smell of sulphur, it's really the noise that I wasnt expecting. There was one pile of stones that appeared to have been placed in a pile over a steam vent, and the vapour was just roaring out. The steam trail downwind of it went on for a good 100ft or so, and you could see from the scattered rocks around the pile that sometimes the vent had a bit of a ‘burp’ and dislodged some of the stack. Jason was very brave though and posed in front of it for me :-)
There was steam pouring out of the ground everywhere. Sometimes there was a bubbling pool of gloopy, thick blueish mud, other times it was just a cracked surface of dried out old mud, and then sometimes it was a conical shaped protuberance with lots of sulphuric deposits around it that told you it used to be a steam vent but wasn’t any longer. Well, not currently anyway - nothing stays quiet for long in Iceland, and at a mere 4km from the Krafla caldera, the chances of things staying quiet forever are about zero.
It's easy to become accustomed to the sight of steam pouring out of the ground when you’re travelling around Iceland, and it's only when I look at photos as I’m doing the website that I really start to
comprehend the true otherworldliness of the place. If that started to happen in your back garden, would you think nothing of it? Unless whoever is reading this also lives in Iceland or somewhere like it (is there anywhere like it??), chances are it’d create quite a stir. But not here - more likely the vent would be tapped and maybe used to warm a hot tub, or heat a house.
We spent so long wandering around the mud pools that by the time we headed back to Moglet, it was getting late. We had intended to drive off today but decided in the end to head to familiar territory for the night, back the 5 or 6km to the campsite at Hlid, via the supermarket for a hotdog, naturally :-)