July – 2016 Day Seven
Okay, so we may have lucked out a little on this day. In our last blog post, we referenced our inability to decide which direction to go when we began our trek on Ring Road. Well, when we decided on the route we took, we bailed on our initial plan to check out the continental divide. However, luckily, the company we booked with, honored our reservation and squeezed us into to an amazing, frigid adventure!
The valley, and Silfra itself, were formed by the divergent tectonic drift of the Eurasion and North American tectonic plates. The plates drift about 2 cm (0.79 in) farther apart every year, building up tension between the plates and the earth mass above. This tension is relieved through periodic major earthquakes at approximately ten year intervals, which have caused cracks and fissures to form in Þingvellir valley; Silfra lies at the rim of the Þingvallavatn Lake and is one of the largest and deepest of these fissures. The Silfra fissure intercepts a major aquifer, which feeds multiple springs at its base. Boulders and rocks falling into the widening cracks have formed caves within the fissures.
The water in Silfra is without a doubt one the (if not the) clearest and most pristine water on the planet. The reason trends back to approximately 12,000 years ago to the end of Iceland’s last ice-age.When the ice retreated to where Lángjökull currently stands, it left behind a lot of glacial melt water. Around the same time an eruption occurred, creating the volcano Skjáldbreiður and a 327km2lava field that covered the melt water and forced it below ground. It is this event that we have to thank for the crystal clear clarity of the water, as melt water is naturally very murky, but lava filtration is one of the best in the world. Now, with the melt water from Lángjökull travelling 50 km or so through the lava, a journey that takes between 30 and 100 years, and welling up from an underground spring directly into Silfra, we find ourselves looking at a fissure of perfectly filtered crystal clear water.
Dry suits were a must, and note that Scott is holding a GoPro. Well, about 1/4 our way into the journey, he thought he made a successful handoff. Those thick gloves made for warmth, provide no feeling. After about 50 meters, we realized something was missing. A swim back and a glance down led a perfect site line to the GoPro. However, trying to dive down in a dry suit is nearly impossible. Luckily, a dive team was following our excursion and was able to recover the GoPro, and more importantly the sd card with two weeks of traveling.
After our AMAZING experience, we head to the popular Strokkur geyser. We pull up to a busy area, filled with tourists, definitely a change from the days leading up to this stop. There felt like days on the Northern coast that we barely encountered anyone, locals or tourists, and at this point, those desolate days seemed quite appealing!
As we walk the path to marvel at the natural phenomenon, you could hear a gasp and roar every few minutes. We quickly learned why, the gurgle of the geyser, like an enormous pot of boiling water, lead an eruption ____ feet in the air. We were so fascinated, that we kept saying one more time. The famous geyser erupts every 6 to 10 minutes, and staring at strangers or into empty space for those minutes seemed worth it each time we heard the Earth start grumbling!
Well, six nights sleeping in the back of a van, is about to commence. The plan for one more night in the van quickly got squashed by the thoughts of a hotel room! In most parts of Iceland, we wouldn’t have had the option, but in the capitol of Iceland there was plenty of options. However, those options came at quite a price. We roamed the city for an hour or so, looking for a decent place to sleep, without paying $300. After all, we were driving in a van that doubled as a hotel room when parked, we were just set on the idea of a warm shower, and a little more space to relax. Luckily, our persistence paid off!
Last day… our incredible train ride through Switzerland, turned adventurous drive on the Ring Road, had culminated with an enjoyable last day in the vibrant city of Reykjavik. After experiencing this vibrant city, we wish we had more time here! Reykjavik certainly surprised us! Such a cool unique little town. Paintings everywhere, cute little shops and restaurants and a vibrant bar scene. We will definitely be spending more time here the next time!