Monday, 4 August 2014

Day 91: Lake Myvatn to Askja - Mon 4 Aug

Day 91: Lake Myvatn to Askja - Mon 4 Aug


Felt like our coldest morning yet. Arose in Icelandic time, off to Askja today, to see the area around the strato-volcano which resembles a moonscape, and where NASA astronauts trained for first trip to moon. There was a rockfall here just before we arrived in Iceland but apparently the road is now re-opened. Aha, at first turnoff encountered a sign saying road closed due to river flooding, and large 4WDs only could take alternate route. Spoke to traveler coming out who said it's flooded in two places, disappointing the small 4WDs behind us, hesitating on verge of going in. We decided to investigate alternate roads further down Highway 1. Crossed the high, wide and raging dirty glacial river on a bridge minutes later and were glad we hadn't taken the first route! 


Surreal moon-scaped lava fields, and plains of black silt, sometimes overlaid by lighter coloured sandblows of pumice grit. Pulled off road to use toilet and ranger stopped to give us a lecture about impacting the environment - apparently you are to stop in the middle of the one-lane road and the rest of the traffic has to wait! We had to rake up our tyre tracks as penance.

Wonder what made this sturdy vehicle break down?
Water, water everywhere....

Had lunch beside a powerful river, torrents coming straight down from glacier - no wonder road is closed at river crossing. Could see flat-top mountain Herdubreid from afar, formed under 1+km ice. 


In last 10kms spotted Askja, spectacular with its multi colours. Paid at ranger station to camp night to do trek in morning - choice between steep 14kms and not being allowed to top because of huge chunk of mountain that gave way two weeks ago (thank you, NOT!) or more graduated 5kms track around back which goes through wet snow/ice (sounds do-able in right boots). Circumnavigated site as mists steadily descended.
Approaching Ranger station at Askja


Curiouser and curiouser

Had a bit of a fright when we turned on the heater in addition to the hot water system, it started making louder and louder noises and suddenly the house filled with smell of burning and light smoke. Quickly turned everything off. Drat, not the best weather to be without hot water. Both quickly had a shower before water cooled down, and got into bed to warm up....

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