Above Gullfoss Falls just north of Geysir
Last day on the island is such a rush. How much can we get done for the final hours of fun? Certainly the sun is on our side because it never quite sets and we have evening flights back to SF. Long before we get there along Highway 37 in the distance we see the celestial flush of the famous Geysir. Active for the last 800 years and at times reaching 80 meters, this geothermal flume (after which all other geysers are named) has diminished over the years. Fortunately the oozing orange, turquoise, and yellow landscape shrouded in hissing steam also includes the nearby Strokkur geyser that reliably blows off steam every 10 minutes in a chute of 15-30 meters. We spend an hour just watching, waiting, and clicking wildly to capture the few seconds of eruption. The mega tourist complex across the street is a pass with overpriced wares but like everyplace in Iceland the food is brilliant.
We fuel up for the drive up Route 35 to Gullfoss, the glory of gushers, a double cascade waterfall intertwined with the history of environmental activism. Its name is a mixture of fact and lore: the golden evening hue, the rainbow that is ever in its spray ,and the lore of a man who threw his gold over the falls. We can all be thankful to Sigridur Tomasdottir in Brattholt that this is a national park. Her father Tomas Tomasson refused to sell the land to an Englishman with the reply, “I will not sell my friend.” Would that we all felt this kinship with the earth? He did lease the land to foreign investors to build a proposed power plant, but his daughter Sigridur fought tirelessly in court to have the lease annulled. Fortunately during the Great Depression of 1929 the investors did not make payment on the lease so it was cancelled. Sigridur’s treks across mountains and rivers to meet with government officials made her Iceland’s first environmentalist. The falls are truly spectacular, exceeding the volume of Niagra Falls, Gullfoss, the convergence of 2 great waterfalls intersecting at right angles on the River Hvita, it is the greatest waterfall in Europe plummeting 32 meters with a total of 70 meters in height.
After the falls we head south and stop at a farm yarn shop where Greg finally finds his Icelandic sweater and we pose among the herd of horses being rounded up in the adjacent pasture. Then to the car for our last stops before leaving this geological paradise.