08 April 2010

All that glitters.

An hour after we got to bed last night-- and a mere four hours before our wake-up call, I heard Caroline whimper and retch. I don't know how she did it, but with only four hours of sleep in the last forty-eight hours and no ability to keep down a sip of water, she worked up the enthusiasm to get out of bed and see the Golden Circle. It was a gamble, but it paid off. She took things slowly in the beginning, and felt perfectly normal within a couple of hours.

Our Golden Circle experience was quite different than my tour with Steve last month. There's snow on the ground now, and some of the water at Gullfoss, Þingvellir, and Kerið is frozen. The snow in Reykjavik and at Þingvellir is powdery dry and crunchy when you walk across it, and it sparkles in the sunshine. It's lovely. Although it must have been colder for Caroline and me, there was virtually no wind. This time around, we were able to really explore each site. We started our Gullfoss visit way up high by the visitor center this time, walked down to the main viewing area, and then went down as close to the water as we could. At the bottom of the trail, atop a series of volcanic rocks near the edge of a cliff, Caroline learned a fundamental climbing rule the hard way: when you climb up, you need to be able to get down. Fortunately for Caroline, she only weighs seventy pounds and her mom was there to grab her.

Steve and I were hammered by the wind at Geysir so hard that we took a couple of quick (but lucky) pictures and ran back to the bus. Caroline and I were able to linger here long enough to watch Strokkur erupt several times. Strokkur erupts (on average) every four minutes. Some of the eruptions are very small; others are massive. Sometimes there are two or three in quick succession, and other times, it seems quiet for a long time. We stayed in the field for about twenty minutes, and sure enough, we saw Strokkur erupt five times. Here's a small eruption, but the only one I was able to capture from start to finish:

We got back to our hotel at about 5PM, had a quick dinner in the hotel's restaurant, and tried to decide what to do tomorrow. We really wanted to sign up for The Mountaineers of Iceland's 4X4 drive across the "Myrdalsjokull Glacier to the erupting volcano on Fimmvörðuháls which is situated near the Glacier Eyjafjallajökull". We tossed it back and forth, and decided that the 4PM-4AM itinerary was too ambitious, and the $400+ price tag was too expensive.

And then we booked it anyway.

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