Sun Aug 21 2011: A Lunar Landscape

Akureyri (A) to Myvatn (B) to Dettifoss (C) to Seydisfjordur (D)

The next morning we rode out to the Myvatn Lake area.

Myvatn sounds like a pretty name, right? Vatn means Lake, but unfortunately My means Midge, a very annoying fly found in abundance around the lake. They don't bite, but they are attracted to carbon dioxide, and they tend to fly right up into your nose and mouth. We were going to buy a head-net to keep them out, but they were all sold out. So we kept our helmets on instead, but those little flies found their way in anyway. Our time around Myvatn was spent stopping for very short periods, and then riding away quickly from the mobs of midges that found us.

Neda's visor was instrumental in killing many midges

A Tiger in the grass.

Nice dual track around Myvatn. Volcanic rocks strewn all around is a reminder as to how geologically active Iceland was and still is.

Riding around a volcano cone near Myvatn.

A lunar landscape. Fissure in the background.

More lunar buggy riding

Moon walk? On a total Jackson-related note, I was trying to pin down what my
riding suit reminded me of. Finally figured it out: Rhythm Nation.

Scenery is so unreal. Colours are unbelievable! I'm riding around like a bobble-head in a helmet, trying to take everything in all at once.

Myvatn is part of the greater Krafla volcanic system - a collection of faults and fissures in an 80km radius surrounding the Krafla caldera. Today, the area is a source of "green" geothermal energy creating some animated discussions between Icelandic power companies and conservationists. However, we were there to enjoy the unique sights and smells, like the ones we experience in Hvarir, a large geothermal field riddled with bubbling mud pits and steaming vents spewing foul smelling plumes of smoke. Throughout our trip we caught the whiff of rotten eggs, whenever we were close to a hot spring, but the fumes in Hvarir were so strong you could practically taste them.

Walking up the side of a dormant volcano

Hot gases escape from the earth in Myvatn

Active fissures around the Myvatn area

Bubbling mud (grey in colour) flow through mineral-rich sands, fed by boiling hot gases and water heated from the earth's core. Again, out-of-this-world surreal!

Many craters in the ground with pots of bubbling mud

The sulfuric rotten-egg smell that permeated the air stayed in the back of your throat long after we left the area. I can recall that smell vividly, just looking at this picture.

Bubbling mud makes for a great 200C batik dip.

Icelandic art?

Out in the middle of nowhere, an artist put up a shower and toilet right on a natural hot spring. If you wanted to take a hot shower, you could do it here. I only had to do a Number Two, plus catch up on some light reading. Passing cars were slowing down and waving at me. What's a guy gotta do to get a little privacy...? :)

On the way to Dettifoss

Neda is leading this Iceland tour, having done all the research into sites to see and roads to ride. Today was a very dry and windy day, so I had to follow 3 seconds behind her because her rear tire was kicking up a pretty large gravel cloud behind her in some areas. Although most of the Ring Road that circles the island is paved, all the good sights are off the gravel roads that run off Ring Road. If you just stay on the pavement, you won't see anything that Iceland has to offer - like sightseeing in Toronto by staying on the 400-series highways.

A line of stone cairns

A whole bunch of these were erected in a perfect line beside the road between Akureryi and Egilsstadir. Not sure what their purpose is. Looked very Easter-Island-supernatural though

"Some... may say... I'm wasting my days a-way...No way..."

In the 60s, US astronauts visited the Askja caldera not too far away for GFT (Geology Field Tests), training future moon walkers to recognize important rock samples in the lunar-like landscape. BTW, they also visited Sudbury...

Neda, doing the supermodel sashay to a fissure leaking natural gases

Speeding away from Dettifoss

Dettifoss Waterfall. Europe's most powerful waterfall and the largest in terms of water flow.

The winds must permanently blow towards the other shore because it was entirely covered in greenery. Our side was just covered in, uh.. rockery.

Dettifoss flows out into the Jökulsárgljúfur (I had to cut and paste that one) canyon. Basically the Grand Canyon of Iceland.

Postcards from the edge...

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