Saga of hrunting and thebruce
An Icelandic Winter Road Trip
Best laid plansContinents and CavesReykjavikian ambianceWaterfalls and sunsetsHuman wrecks and legaciesKristinartindar: The Journey is the RewardThe finding of firsts, and birthday peaceThe endurance of history in SnæfellsnesThe edge of the EarthAn unexpected discoveryCommunity, love, betrayal, and sharksThe adventure comes full circle
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Continents and Caves

Hrunting and I began our journey by visiting a number of sites in the Reykjanes peninsula, the southwesternmost peninsula of Iceland, as we made our way towards Raykjavik.


6:47am, Nov 28, 2016

With a bright and early start after arriving on land and picking up Hrunting from the rental agency, we were off to our first destination: Miðlína, a popular stop if you wish stand between the two continental plates of North America and Eurasia.

There are of course a number of locations across the island where you can enjoy touching two continents at once, safely. Here, the "Leif the Lucky" bridge built in 2002 (named after Leif Erikson, the first European to have discovered North America), spans a fissure between the two plates, which are moving apart from each other at the barely noticeable rate of about 2.5cm per year. The mid-Atlantic ridge spreads from the north of globe to the south under the Atlantic Ocean, separating the east from the west, and Iceland is one segment along this border which, through volcanic and other geological activity, rests above sea level. As such, plate tectonics have created caverns and fissures across the island, many of which are deemed safe for exploration, and have become popular tourist attractions.

Unfortunately for me, at 7am, the sun was still far from providing ample light for photography, so while I attempted to navigate the rocky field and sandy crevice with my headlamp, it was much too dark to take decent photos. But if you visit and get yourself down below the bridge in better sunlight, the photo opportunities here are abundant.

A few clips from some brief video footage taken in the darkness while searching for a route down under the Miðlína mid-Atlantic bridge to the black sand in the crevice below.

I couldn't explore for long, as I needed to find out a piece of information for the earthcache posted here (GC2DK2E). Additionally, farther away is another geocache - this one required solving of a puzzle in order to determine the container's GPS coordinates. So-as not to spoil your fun if you intend to follow suit, I won't provide its precise location. However, after walking a for a while, I found success after a hefty search, and it became my first physical geocache found in Iceland!

Hello, geocache!
Mission accomplished: First cache found in Iceland.
What are the chances? Canada decided to show up in the cache.

Later in the trip, we visited another crevice between the plates - this one much more of a squeeze. You can jump to read about that here.

The Blue Lagoon


Moving on to my next stop, Hrunting and I did something heretical - we effectively passed up seeing the most visited tourist stop in Iceland. The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal hot spa. At this point in the morning, we were still surrounded by darkness, and as we pulled in to the main Lagoon parking to learn a bit of information for a couple of other earthcaches (GC25643 and GC6HQ0X) I decided to hop out and check out the scenery.

I quickly realized this important point: You definitely want to visit the Blue Lagoon during daylight. It's known for its otherworldly blue hues in the heated pools. But in this light, as I walked to the edge of one pond which didn't require paid entry, I only barely made out some colour over its surface.

In darkness, the Blue Lagoon is much more like a drab Grey Lagoon. But, just walking down the main entryway to the spa, you can feel it calling you in to visit during cool daylight hours and to enjoy its relaxing and therapeutic properties!
In darkness, the Blue Lagoon is much more like a drab Grey Lagoon. But, just walking down the main entryway to the spa, you can feel it calling you in to visit during cool daylight hours and to enjoy its relaxing and therapeutic properties!

Sadly, I resigned myself to gathering required information for the earthcaches and moving along to a more exciting stop on my trip: A lava tube.



Lava tubes are formed when flows of molten lava cool and crust over at its fringes, leaving the hot, compressed, and still quickly flowing lava shooting through under its own newly formed insulated covering. As the flow eventually comes to an end, then the result is a basically a tunnel of lava rock. They're formed quickly, and once dried and cooled, can hold fascinating and beautiful sights.

Dollan is one such lava tube. It's estimated at being about 800 years old, discovered in 1970 and named after the dozer operator who accidentally discovered it, situated in the Arnarseturshraun flow which was recorded to have occurred circa 1226. And of course - there is a geocache placed within.

The wooden staircase beckons
What mysteries and wonders lie in wait?
Let's go take a look...

You make your way down the wooden staircase prepared for the safety of cave explorers, into the cavern, donned with the essential headlamp (a helmet is also recommended however, as the walls and roof can be quite rough with some sharp protrusions), and you immediately lose yourself in the surreal liquid-like appearance of the lava legacy, like time was suspended as the molten material flowed over the surface. Bubbles, ripples, stalagmites, smooth surfaces and rough, covering every inch.

You carefully climb deeper, through a small opening, and eventually enter into a large room; the silence is deafening, except maybe for a few drips of condensation falling from overhead. There are larger boulders scattered over the floor, likely loosened from occasional earth rumblings, and you remember why you wore your helmet. Except I didn't, and this didn't occur to me until after my trip; something I will need to remember for next time!

For this geocache, you have to locate a hole in the stone about 8 feet overhead which holds a small container. I'd done research beforehand, since of course there is no phone signal deep within the earth, so knew what to look for and where. However, on discovering the crevice, noting how high and difficult it would be to easily check it out, I made every effort to get up and feel around. Suffice to say, this one required some maneuvering of floor stones and a bit of a hop to secure a grip.

I explored enough, however, to be certain that I could find no container. And so for this one, I would log a DNF (Did Not Find) to the geocache listing. It's a sad log, but the experience of exploring this lava tube made it very worth the visit!

This overhead hole looks quite optimal for hiding a small geocache container. Would you make the climb to take a look?
Heading back to the surface, you peer back out the small entryway - hidden in a remote location of an ancient field of lava in Iceland. Humbling.

I made my way back out to Hrunting, waiting patiently, and headed down the road to another underground geocache.



As I mentioned earlier, many of the rural roads in Iceland are merely two lanes with no discernable shoulder, and so pulling over to park outside of designated parking areas is, at best, discouraged (more on that below!). Having solved the puzzle required to determine the GPS coordinates for this geocache, I wasn't sure where the best access point would be.

This cache, like the one near Miðlína, is a puzzle cache - its location unknown unless you can solve the puzzle. Would you like to give it a go? (you may enjoy it more if you know the TV show Big Bang Theory). For that reason I won't disclose the location of this cave. However, If you know what to look for while driving, you may be able to figure it out!

On stopping at a convenient location, still very uncertain about whether to park there or pull off entirely as it didn't look like a parking area, I hopped out and dodged the jutting stones in the field leading to the entryway. With the sky slowly lighting up with the dawn, it was now possible to see for miles, and get a real sense of the vastness of this land.

The view over lava-ridden Reykjanes peninsula on the way to the tomb-like entrance for the cave.

Not sure of what sort of entry to expect, there seemed to be many spots amongst the rocky expanse with holes that could lead to a hidden cave. I was not expecting to find what I did. Over one rock, I came to a gully and back to my left was a constructed entryway, more like a tomb entrance. In the immortal words of Cortana, this cave is not a natural formation - someone built it. Well, the entry at least.

Full 360 panorama peering into the dark recesses of RPSLS.<br/><a href="photos/big/036IMG_4593b-GC2BYDY-tomb-pano.jpg" target="_blank">[Load large image in new tab]</a>
Full 360 panorama peering into the dark recesses of RPSLS.
[Load large image in new tab]

If you find this cave, you won't have far to climb to reach its end. It's wider than it is tall, and beyond the entry cavern the roof slopes and you'll find a couple of smaller connected chambers. I didn't explore each crawlway, but found the cache container easily enough.

Heading back outside I couldn't resist attempting to capture the grim light flowing in through the only exit I had back to the outside world - no one knowing exactly where I was. The irony of the situation, sitting alone in this tomb-like cave, was not lost on me.

Coordinates secret. My precise whereabouts unknown.
The only exit out of this crypt was the tomb-like doorway. Quite sobering.

The Taxi Driver - A Brief Encounter

Hrunting and I were still getting to know each other at this point as our road trip was still young, and the next thing that happened taught me a valuable lesson. I'd be treating Hrunting with much more love and care from here on out. I'm so sorry, Hrunting.

After enjoying the stony, mossy landscape here for a few more minutes now that the sunlight was more prevalant, I spotted a vehicle that had pulled up behind me. At first I thought perhaps law enforcement had decided to check on the car with hazards on, perched awkwardly on the non-shoulder as out of the way as possible, with traffic flow increasing. When close enough, I understood it to be a taxi cab, and the driver was still sitting inside. I took my time and smiled, entering my car and checking up on directions to the next stop.

*tap*tap*tap* The driver had slinked up to my passenger door, cigarette casually in mouth. I opened the window enough to say hello, and he responded nicely in his Icelandic accent, asking if I was parked here for fun. I said no, thinking I wasn't just parked here for the sake of parking here, then realized what I was doing actually was just for fun, so changed my answer.

"Taking pictures?" He kindly asked. "Yes, just enjoying the--" And what happened next changed the channel in my brain as if I was now watching a psychological thriller; I was no longer in reality but watching a scene unfold in which a lonely lost person in a foreign country would become the target of a murderous psychopath, being hunted for miles with no civilized human within sight who wasn't already killed by the unrealistically prepared and resourceful antagonist.

The driver grabbed my window and stuck his head in as far as he could go, yelling and cursing and screaming, looking like he was going to reach inside. I can't recall all the words that came from his mouth as I repeatedly said sorry, apologizing as calmly as possible attempting to de-escalate, but when he stepped back and gave me a 10 second threat to get out of there, the only thing running through my mind was ...idontwanttodie.. ..idontwanttodie...
When he started counting, I had no time for a seatbelt, no time for directions, no time to know what to do next except start the car and carefully pull away.

I didn't want to check the map while driving, lest he, following closely behind, was still watching and found it an excuse to run me off the road as a despicable foreign driver. I just drove Hrunting in the general direction of Reykjavik for about 10 minutes until I spotted a turn off to a small parking lot rest stop - and watched for the taxi to continue on without following me.

Finally parked, I gripped Hrunting's wheel, took a few deep breaths, and realized how important and personal those little tips I researched about driving in Iceland on roads with 2 lanes and no shoulder were to the Icelandic natives. I had heard both good and bad reports about drivers in Iceland, but was certainly not expecting what I'd just encountered. Suffice to say, recently with all of Iceland's increased foreign tourists from around the globe, there are bound to be many foreign drivers who aren't prepared for or don't abide by local driving conditions, laws, bylaws, etiquette - and many of the locals have simply had enough. Clearly, this irate taxi driver was not only having a bad day, but could no longer stand drivers who, despite operating their vehicle as safely as possible, don't appear to grasp the spirit of Icelandic driving etiquette.

Please heed this tip; write it in ink, permanent marker, burn it into your brain:
If you rent a car to drive around Iceland, do not take undue risk or push anyone's buttons! Understand how driving works here, study the road signs, drive with caution, and always be prepared to deal with the unexpected. You never know if you might have an unusual (or disastrous) encounter with a foreign driver or a local.

Not every driver is like this taxi driver, and by far Icelanders are amazingly kind and friendly - but learning to drive properly in good Icelandic manner is not only respectful, it's safe. (Read more about my driving research here)

I'm just relieved that the taxi driver didn't accost me and bury me back in that tomb from which I'd just emerged.

Hrunting and I were free to continue on and head to our urban adventures, in the stylish capital Reykjavik.

Best laid plans

Reykjavikian ambiance

Comments or questions? I'd love to hear from you!

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Best laid plansContinents and CavesReykjavikian ambianceWaterfalls and sunsetsHuman wrecks and legaciesKristinartindar: The Journey is the RewardThe finding of firsts, and birthday peaceThe endurance of history in SnæfellsnesThe edge of the EarthAn unexpected discoveryCommunity, love, betrayal, and sharksThe adventure comes full circle