Iceland Part 4: Four Waterfalls, Turf Houses, Myvatn, Thermal Bathing, Egilsstaðir

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

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On Saturday morning, we left Sigulfjordur and reentered the tunnels heading east.

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Our route for the two days covered in this post originated in Sigulfjordur, with stops at Godafoss and Fossholl, The Turf House Museum, Lake Myvatn, Mývatn Nature Baths, Dettifoss, Selfoss, and a stay in Egilsstaðir. Then Hengifoss/Skriduklaustur and a stay in Djúpivogur.

We stopped at Fossholl and Godafoss, hiking along the dirt paths along the edge of the roaring water to the top of the second falls. Shallow water spilled quickly over the edge, and people awkwardly jumped between the rocks to get closer to the action. A minority of the people had any grace or confidence jumping on the rocks.

Despite the overcast sky, the water was bright grey with glimmers of turquoise. It looked cold.

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Fossholl.
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A mighty sinkhole.
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Looking up to Godafoss.
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The rock jumping course.
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At the edge of Godafoss.

After a short detour north into farmland, we stopped at the Turf House Museum. I explored the perimeter of the builds and stopped to visit the cows. While J and Amanda paid to go inside the buildings, I sat in the car and ate a snack.

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Church window.
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Row of turf houses.
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Rooftops.
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Lone cow.
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Milky cows.
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Rear window.
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Loner barn.

At Lake Myvatn, we stopped and hiked up to one of the views on the rim of a crater in the lake. It was temporarily sunny, and a mist rainbow had formed along the distant hills.

Before returning to the car, I patted a cow that was grazing by the fence along the road.

At another viewpoint at the lake, a Chinese man beckoned me down a path so that I could take a photo of him and his family. He seemed harmless enough, so I followed. I snapped a few pictures of them group posed on a rock and asked them where they were from in China.

“Shanghai,” they said. I tried to explain where I lived there, but I think they thought I was gesturing wildly about the Ürümqi region of Northwest China.

They waved thanks, and I waved goodbye from the car as it flung gravel bits in their direction.

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Mist rainbow.
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Lake Myvatn from the southern edge.
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Crater.
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Udder.
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View from the eastern edge.

The scenery after the lake turned to Mordor: no vegetation, plumes of steam, sulfur smell, craters, and vibrant lakes.

We spent under two hours bathing in the hot pools of the Mývatn Nature Baths. Admission was 3700ISK/$28 per person. A nude shower in a shared shower room was required before entering the pools.

The water was milky blue and hot. It was hot tub hot on one side, and transitioned to urine warm on the other. We were outside, with an open view of the bleak volcanic landscape. Two cascading falls had enough force for back massages.

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Mega crater.
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Overflow.
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Warning sign to those hoping to swim for free and melt their skin off.
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Mars base alpha.
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The pools.

Relaxed, warm, and with sulfur smoothed skin, we drove to parking area of Dettifoss and Selfoss. It was late in the day and mostly empty. The rocky landscape felt like the moon as we hiked along paths towards the misty evidence of the falls.

Dettifoss was mighty and misty, and we decided to not hike down into the mist.

Instead, we followed the basalt columns of the gorge up to Selfoss and did some more rock jumping to get close to the edge. For once it was dark enough for me to get a long exposure of the water.

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The moon.
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Canyon.
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Dettifoss.
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Walking towards Selfoss.
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Basalt columns and black sand.
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At the edge of chaos.

After a slog of a drive, we arrived at the Hotel Edda in Egilsstaðir. Since the building was a boarding high school during the winter, our room not only had a sleeping loft for A, but a private bathroom.

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Hallway.
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Colorful stairs.

It was long past dinner, so I bought a thick, apple pie flavored Icelandic yogurt from the lobby and declared it my new favorite food.

Our shower used geothermal hot water, and it smelled like eggs.

On Sunday morning, we splurged on a bountiful (for Iceland) breakfast buffet for 1900ISK/$14 each.

We drove south towards to third tallest falls, Hengifoss, and went on a fun 4.5 mile hike up towards the upper section. It was sunny and hot.

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A muddy lake.
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Hengifoss.
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Grassy.
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Multiple falls.
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Our closer view.
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Beginning the descent.
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Watch for falling rocks.

Nearby, we looked at Skriduklaustur and the modern visitor’s center along the valley edge.

It was lunch time, so we circled back to Egilsstaðir in search of food. None of the restaurants looked worth the cost, so we stocked up on groceries from Discount Pig.

Before reaching the fjords, we stopped for a picnic lunch in a river valley along Highway 92.

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Our picnic road.

Near Reyðarfjörður, we switched to another road into a tunnel before following the fjord contours through the patchy fog.

The scenery was beautiful, but hard to photograph due to lack of pull-offs and blind curves. And due to the low clouds, it was hard to tell how tall the hillsides were. The last few miles of driving were on a gravel road.

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Valley.
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Abandoned shed.
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Misty fjord.
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Where’s the top? Dammit.
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Totally fogged over.

That evening, we reached our cabin on the harbor of Djúpivogur.

While J worked on her version of Icelandic hot dogs for dinner, A and I walked to a nearby store to buy beverages. She got a tall can of Coke, and I bought what I thought was a malted darker beer. I took a swig and discovered that it was really a non-alcoholic, beer-flavored soda. Yuck.

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Harbor view.
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Sunset over a cold evening.

Like our last cabin, I slept in the main room since I got tired last. The sunset lighting on over the harbor was pretty, and I almost motivated myself to go on a late night walk.

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