Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thorsmork, or Þórsmörk

With the help of a small employee discount from a friend's mom, I was able to travel to Thorsmork for the day and see a part of the country that's really only accessible by giant 4x4 or super jeep. It was a beautiful day for travelling...well, it was rainy on the coast but the Thorsmork area tends to have much nicer and calmer weather as it's sheltered by mountains and glaciers. There was a breeze, however, that kicked up ash clouds from nearby volcanos, familiarly called Ejafjallajökull and Grímsvötn. I'm glad the bus didn't stop here as it looked like a sandstorm on another planet. This area was basically inaccessible for about a year, with all of the ash mounds blowing around.

We took this enormous monstrosity into the park, which is about 1.5-2 hours from Reykjavík. We didn't really need such big tires...until we did. The last 30km or so were so bumpy. And the many strong and deep rivers we crossed would never be cross-able without it.

There used to be a beautiful glacial lagoon here, but now only the tongue of the glacier remains and a lot of wet quicksand-like soil. This guys, is Eyjafjallajökull! The base of the volcano that caused so much trouble last year. It looks so quiet now, mostly just dirty.

The actual park part of Thorsmork is divided into three parts, a summer-housey bit, a camping and hiking bit, and a gorge. We did two outta three, and checked out the camping bit, hiking up through a forest (one of the few very lush places in Iceland) and out to some cool-looking rocky (of course volcanic) outcroppings.

Then I wanted to check out a fairly strong river. After chatting with a nice musician from Denmark named Thorbjorn, we walked together a bit and discovered that the park people had wheeled over a cool bridge for hikers to cross the river. Brilliant!

We hiked into this beautiful green gorge called Stakkholtsgjá. The bus driver/tour guide even told us about some edible plants along the way. He was a cool guy- I asked him if he ever got tired of leading tours after working on them for over 3 years, and he said 'only sometimes'. But I think I distracted his boredom by my surprising him with speaking Icelandic, we chatted about music a little bit.

The gorge gets narrower and narrower until you finally come to its source, a waterfall hidden up underneath a rocky outcropping. You can scramble into it and see the waterfall, and it was a little tricky but totally worth it!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Wow! That looks breath-taking! I'm extremely jealous!