|Best laid plans||Continents and Caves||Reykjavikian ambiance||Waterfalls and sunsets||Human wrecks and legacies||Kristinartindar: The Journey is the Reward||The finding of firsts, and birthday peace||The endurance of history in Snæfellsnes||The edge of the Earth||An unexpected discovery||Community, love, betrayal, and sharks||The adventure comes full circle|
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I made my way back out to Hrunting, waiting patiently, and headed down the road to another underground geocache.