I'd planned a trip back to Reykjadalur for quite a while. In the end it took 18 months, but I got back there eventually. Wolfgang came along, with three friends visiting from Germany, Hardy, Katrin and Stefan, Ellen and Sara came along as well and Fabio rounded out the posse. I'd invited a couple of odd icelanders, but as usual, they all politely declined, preferring to stay indoors, or something. Some of them claimed to be studying, but I think icelanders are just afraid of their country. By the end of the day however, this fear would seem to be somewhat justified.
The power company has been doing a lot of work out here, and the roads looked quite different, so we didn't quite go in the same way as the last time, but we found an appropriate parking place eventually. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, it was just a beautiful day, just being out of town was reward enough. We could see Þingvellirvatn and Langjökull one way, Hekla between hills, and Eyjafjallajökull, and all of the Vestmann islands out the other way. Glorious sunshine, just the normal amount of wind to contend with.
We got to show up a few big jeep drivers on our way in too, proving that even 2wd nissan micra's can get to cool places.
A fairly uneventful stroll across the heath, other than the girls finding a horses head, and we hit the valley rim. Always a beautiful site, though at this time of year, not fully green yet.
The river was a lot hotter this year though, and we ended up finding a place three dam levels below where the cold creek comes in, whereas my last trip we'd been a couple of dams up the hot stream before the junction. (There's a good few dams built in the creek to make nicer swimming pools, spread up and down the creek to account for varying temperatures)
We had a lovely relaxing afternoon getting sunburnt and dehydrated, sitting in the river, and eating dried fish and chocolate. Ellen and Sara, despite knowing that this was a swimming trip, had not brought swimmers with them, so while we splased around, Ellen relaxed on the hillside and Sara went for an explore, coming back with tales of enormous mud pits, and chasms into the center of the world.
This sounded awesome, and we were about done anyway, so we packed up and headed off home, with a quick detour to check out Sara's discovery.
And quickly became sucked into the pits of doom! This was a rather unstable area, and the giant mud pit she had found was really quite an evil looking hole in the ground. A couple of us had tingling spider sense, and were feeling a little uneasy, but we didn't leave in time. And besides, we'd all seen much more unstable looking areas. Turns out it was just patches of doom :)
Fabio, Wolfgang, Stefan and Hardy had been poking around near a small fumarole, just as we were about to leave, then Fabio found a weak spot, and punched through, plunging his right foot into some boiling mud. He was instantly on (solid) ground, pulling his boot off, and looking surprisingly unhurt, and not in pain. The dangling skin made me feel that he really should have been in more pain, but he insisted he wasn't. Trooper. We walked back down to the creek and stuck him in it, which apparently did hurt, but only becase it was too cold :)
We sat there for a while, keeping cold water on his leg, and debating how bad it was. I decided it couldn't be that bad, as quite a few minutes later (when I felt that adrenaline should have worn off) he was cleaning the mud off his shoes, and still insisting that it only hurt a little bit.
We started walking out, and (to my relief at least) it started to hurt. This was a good thing in my mind. His burns all looked very superficial too, if a bit more widespread than anyone would really like. He was in enough pain by the time we got back to the car that we decided a hospital visit was well in order, but we were all pretty confident that it wasn't the end of the earth.
Fabio was seen almost instantly, and had a lovely (hot) young doctor attend to him, and then we took him home and let him just go to bed with some codeine.
Enough of the dry story, now for all the jokes and anecdotes that came out of this.
- Fabio not wanting to go to the hospital because they'll laugh at him for being a stupid tourist.
- Telling us that a voice in his head just instantly told him to take off his shoe. "Well, actually, the voice said, 'togliti la scarpa' but you know what I mean!"
- Me being summoned into the room, by a nurse streaming icelandic, and me trying to say that Fabio speaks better icelandic than me, (implying mine wasn't very good) and her saying, "oh yes, Fabio speaks very good icelandic!"
- The aforementioned shoe cleaning.
- Fabio walking up hill faster than some of the other members of our party, "uphill was easier than some of the flats!"
- Asking the nurse how often this sort of thing happened, and being told, "pretty often, especially foreigners" (but all in icelandic, so it was ok, he wasn't a tourist)
- No one believing us at first that we _weren't_ tourists, until they worked out that we did speak icelandic, and that we weren't out on the golden circle.
- Fabio carrying his own backpack out, "my shoulders aren't hurt!"
Trooper. He's going to be fine. It's painful, and red, and he has to stick his leg in a plastic bag to have a shower, but it's all superficial, and is expected to heal nicely. He won't even get a good scar, just a good story.
And of course, all the icelanders get to point at yet another group of foreigners getting hurt in the outdoors. I still maintain that it's mostly foreigners because icelanders a) don't go outside, and b) don't get out of their jeeps when they do, but still. The ground did have that odd colour it gets around geothermal areas, but we've all walked on a lot of ground that appeared worse. Basic lesson is the earth is always going to win, if you ever pick a fight with it I guess. :)
Either way, we all live to fight another day, and it was still a fabulous day out.