Return to Iceland, Pt. 10

Rain and Waterfalls

Jump to Page Content

Finally the Iceland we had expected to be dealing with all along showed up. Rain, and lots of it. We ate at the guesthouse and prepared to venture into the elements. Looking to the south, we could see the low, dense clouds we were about to drive into – certainly a change from the good weather we’d enjoyed so far, but we weren’t about to let it stop us.

First up, the trail to Leirhnjúkur, a volcano that last erupted between 1975 – 1984. The road took us past the Krafla Power Plant with its massive steam transmission pipes. At the parking lot, we pulled on our rainproof trousers, then set out into the mist. The trail wended its way through moss-covered lava fields dating to the 18th century Mývatn Fires and a steaming geothermal area with milky, mineral-rich streams and pools.

The Apollo 11 crew trained in the Leirhnjúkur area to prepare for their voyage to the moon.

After about 1 ¼ miles, we paused to take in our otherworldly surroundings. Black volcanic rock, still smoking from the Krafla Fires, stretched out in front of us. I would have loved to continue on, but we were both starting to feel the cold, windy conditions as the rain continued to pour down – though I was pleased that all our waterproof gear was performing admirably.

krafla leirhnjukur iceland lava field

We warmed up with a delicious meal Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe. Katelyn had the vegetarian special and I had the beef goulash soup; both dishes came with fresh bread and butter. We took our time. Much of the landscape was shrouded in low clouds or fog, so we weren’t really missing anything. The 30 or 40 minute drive out to Dettifoss was strikingly desolate.

Dettifoss is Europe’s most powerful waterfall with a flow rate of 193 m3/s.

Against my hopes, the rain worsened rather than improved. We suited up again and marched out to the viewpoint areas. Dettifoss made for an impressive sight (and sound) as the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum thundered over the precipice. The spray coming off the falls added another level to the rain. We explored the paths for a short time before turning back. I decided to skip the path to nearby Selfoss. Another ½ mille round trip in these conditions just did not sound appealing.

On the way back to the guesthouse, we swung by Grjótagjá one more time. I hoped to get some clearer shots of the geothermal cave. It didn’t really work out, and it was less dramatic without light beams breaking through the fissure above, but it was cool to see it one more time. Dalakofinn provided us with consolation burgers.

After nine days of beautiful weather, we couldn’t be too grumpy, and we coped well with the sudden change. My only regret was that the heavy rain consigned my DSLR and tripod to my backpack for the whole day. No puny rain cover would have withstood the onslaught!