Day 8 – Journey to Hekla

The morning was damp and drizzly again. We expected as much. Weather was supposed to be crummy until Tuesday morning. 1 more day of rain to go. 🙁

But I was feeling so much better and as such I woke up staaarving. I ate two bowls of thick oatmeal, an apple, scrambled eggs, a huge plate of pasta and then two protein bars. Yeah. Hungry like a wolf. lol

Today was mostly all driving and we re-did the things mom and I saw on the Golden Circle the first day we’d gotten to Iceland before Sarah and Levi had joined us. So again, another day of mostly just sitting in the car hiding from the cold rain. I did run out to see Gulfoss again. It might be one of my favorite waterfalls. 🙂

After we’d seen the geysers and Gulfoss again, it was decided we would make the drive to the base of Hekla to camp for the night. Hekla translated means – gateway to hell.

Hekla is Iceland’s second most active volcano. Fun fact, Iceland contains more volcanoes than any other country in the world. One of Sarah’s top items in coming here was that she wanted to hike an active volcano. I wanted to do it as well, until mom started reading all these things about the volcano that made me hesitant as to whether or not it was a wise decision to hike Hekla. Sarah’s personality is “let’s do everything dangerous even if we die!” and mom’s personality is “we’re going to die!” even while driving on the road. So I always feel this responsibility of choosing a happy middle. haha.

We drove into the base of Hekla. I did the driving. It took about an hour on all dirt roads. The last half, more of a dirt track. The landscape quickly changed into a black volcanic wasteland. Sharp mountains of all shapes and heights rose abruptly from the blackness. Some of the mountains were covered in a bright green moss, others looked almost purple, while others were black or tan and dirt like. It was so unique and gorgeous. The drive into the base of Hekla was possibly the prettiest and most epic drive we did while in Iceland. Pictures do NOT do it justice.

The last 15 minutes of the drive was awesome. You gain elevation quickly as you snake up the mountain and drive a ridgeline. Some parts were very steep, and mom was screaming out to God and holding onto any handle looking things she could find. haha. It was bumpy, there were some deep ruts, but even with all that the road wasn’t in bad shape compared to some other F-roads we had been on.

When we finally got to the trailhead, temperature had dropped from 9 celsius to 4 celsius. And it was super windy. We hadn’t eaten supper, it was just about to get dark, so we decided to turn around and camp at a lower elevation and a bit further away from the trailhead … just in case there were to be an eruption.

There had been a sign on the side of the road 25 minutes from the trailhead, that instructed all hikers and drivers past that point to download an app called “Iceland 112.” It allows people to check in and drop a GPS location so that if needed, an emergency beacon can be sent out with one tap on your phone. Also, it well send any volcano related warnings. That was the other things mom and I didn’t like. There was no wifi signal from our rental car at the trailhead, so should there be some kind of emergency siren sent, we probably wouldn’t get it.

From everything we’d read, Hekla routinely erupts once every 10 years. Its been 17 years since it’s last explosion. It had been quiet for years, until this March 2017 there was activity and they think it will erupt any time and be massive since it’s long overdue. At the time of an eruption, tremors will give you half hour to an hour and a half of warning time to eruption.

We camped about 25 min away from the trailhead. We set up in the black volcanic wasteland. We literally camped on lava! 🙂 It was pretty cool. Cooled lava looks like black and red gravel of all different sizes, but is so pourous and light.

We set up, made a quick supper of Mac and Cheese in our jet boils, and went to sleep.

I, for some reason, couldn’t sleep. We went to bed at midnight (like most nights here) and I slept for an hour and half before I woke up. My dreams are insane at night. My friends know this. I was dreaming about zombies in a black desert wasteland, and then once I woke up, I could swear I kept “hearing” and “feeling” tremors from Hekla. I think I was insanely overtired and still recovering from being sick and that led to crazy restlessness. I ended up getting into the car at 2:45am and talked to my husband on the phone for an hour and then finally drifted off to sleep for an hour. At sunrise, Hekla awaited my ascent.

From her here still about 40 minutes to Heckla trailhead
Trailhead parking spot on more lava
Hekla warning signs
Tents pitched in the black volcanic fields
Supper!

 

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