Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Iceland - Hekla Volcano

August 9, 2013

Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Year to date miles: 209.2

Driving directions: From 26, turn onto 268. We didn't now how far we could comfortably drive on 268, because I believe 26 became an F road (only 4x4's allowed), and 26 became a track (only 4x4's allowed). Tracks are crazy! We parked right before the stream crossing (bridged), and decided to walk along the gravel road rather than drive. It turns out we could have driven further, to where 459 (the track turns left). We did find another car that parked at the intersection of 268 and 459. Note - this hike is not a popular tourist spot. We did pass a tourist building for Hekla along the way, but didn't stop in.

Map: Mal og menning, Map 2, Gullfoss, Geysir, Hekla (purchased from Omni Maps),

Parking: N64 00.897 W19 53.856
We parked on a gravel pull out

More info: Hekla
Restrooms: None. No trees/bushes/anything, however, not many people either. Surprisingly, we did see the occasional car driving on 268.

Hiking Directions: It is possible to hike up Hekla (very active volcano, overdue to erupt), but it is a very long hike, probably best done with a guide. We decided to do a hike at the base of the volcano.
From where we parked, we walked along the gravel road, then turned left at 459 (there is a sign). Climb up a steep rocky hill. Follow the path which leads closer and closer to the volcano. This is an out and back. We could have gone farther.

We had a cloudy day. On cloudy days in Iceland, the clouds seem very low - almost makes me feel claustrophobic! This hike has a very exposed feeling as well. No narrow trails - just the fact that you are out in the open with no protection (no trees). The sky was grey, and Hekla was in the clouds. It did make me worry about thunderstorms a lot! There is just nowhere to go for protection! I have since read that thunderstorms are rare in Iceland. It is just a creepy feeling being so close to the clouds on a very threatening looking day - out in the open. This is kind of a desolate hike, but still very interesting because it is so different than NY!

Lodging: Selfoss Hostel

We didn't enjoy the Selfoss hostel nearly as much as the Laugarvatn Hostel. It is right in the center of one of the largest towns in Iceland. Luckily our room was quiet, despite it being on a very busy street. Our room didn't face the street. We had a private room with a shared bathroom in the hall. The hostel had plenty of bathrooms though. The hostel had laundry facilities - but it was a pain to use the one washer & dryer (the receptionist would lock the door) - and they were pretty expensive to use - and the dryer ended up not drying our clothes. We ended up with damp clothes that smelled strongly of laundry detergent for the rest of the trip. Blech. Our room was tiny - like a cell. The kitchen was large, had plenty of stuff to use for cooking, but did have quite a few flies (windows were open because it was very warm in there).

For Glen....

Can't remember if this means road construction or just not a road for Corollas. But we turn off this road.

We parked next to a lava field. Hekla in the background.
Just thinking...Hekla created this lava field. Last eruption was 2000.
It has been erupting about every 10 years. That means it is overdue.
And we are hiking here!

The road crosses this stream (on a bridge). We walked over the bridge.

Bridges were one  of the few places where you might see guard rails!

Low clouds. I think it didn't actually rain, though it was forecasted to.

I believe this is the sign where we turn left up the gravel track.

Steep gravel track with Hekla in the background.
From the photo it isn't apparent how steep & rough the road is.

The bottom of Hekla - it was mostly in the clouds all day.

The track (i.e. road) isn't marked - but is easy to follow - just tire tracks along the lava. in the distance.

During our trip, we kept testing out springs to see if they were hot. This one was cold.

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