Dimmuborgir Lava Fields on Myvatn
We leave the bird museum, located on a farm in the hollow of a small peninsula on the northwest side of Myvatn, and drive back onto the main road circling Myvatn and head to Reykjalid where our destination of the hot springs baths are located. Myvatn has more surprises for us aside from the main attraction of hot springs. This is one of the most fascinating geological and ecological regions in the country. The otherworldly hot springs fjalls of Hverfjall and Namafjall are both nearby (see post “middle earth @ the surface”) roiling with the power of geology burbling beneath one of the thinnest areas the earth’s crust. The small hamlet of Reykjalid on the eastern shore has a post office for mailing off souvenirs to family and friends, along with several lovely cafes and gift stores with handmade knits, jams, chocolates, and breads. I buy a pair of knit slippers, some smoked fish, and the most delicious bread I have ever tasted in my life. It is a brown bread steamed underground in this area. Later I wish I had purchased a case of that bread. After topping off petrol, post office stop, and gift store purchases, we travel a bit further south to Kafi Borgir, a family owned restaurant and gift store on their farm perched atop one of the most beautiful lava formations on the planet – Dimmuborgir.
As we approach the meadows, shoreline, fields afar are populated by a surreal array of lava formations from rising columns to flat expanse of crackled gray. Sheep meander amid the giants. Myvatn’s shores (pdf map opens very slowly but is well worth the wait) are rife with gray boulders of lava everywhere. Kafi Borgir has a simple wood architecture not to compete with the showcase of snow-capped mountains on the horizon or the fluid fields of Dimmuborgir below. In the gift store before the restaurant, I purchase a lava necklace crafted locally with matching earrings in addition to several semi-polished lava stones. I invite any local elves to hop aboard these stones destined for our elf garden back home in Inverness.We enjoy a delicious salmon salad and sit outside on the roped off patio overlooking small groups of tourists weaving in and out along the trail of rough, rising and falling, rippling edges of Dimmuborgir that look much like a massive dragon’s back fossilized upon the earth. Game of Thrones fans will recognize several of these geological features as the film backdrop of the darker settings beyond The Wall.
When Dimmuborgir erupted over 2000 years ago lava flows met the shocking wet of marshlands and this wild, waffling ridgeline of lava was formed. The intersection of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, slowly drifting away from each other, causes intense seismic activity in the region, resulting in features like Dimmuborgir and the nearby crater of Hverfjall, the largest crater on the planet at a diameter of 1 kilometer. We are grateful for guidebooks that take us to most of these travel gems, but it’s not until researching the area for this blog that I realize that we could have driven a few kilometers east and walked up the formidable flanks of Hverfjall. A spectacular sidetrip missed. Next time Greg replies when I mention this to him. There will definitely be a next time to Iceland. My idea is to teach for a year in Iceland when I retire, and possibly plan a year in a different countries – a retirement of teaching abroad. Seismic shift in thinking about work and travel.