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Sængurkonuhellir: Caving after work, in the rain.

Pictures are at the bottom...

Lee had a friend visiting from out of town, and I had a visitor coming from out of town, both of whom were very keen to do something outdoorsy. With autumn well under way, meaning that short notice tight time window trips would require some serious pull with the weather gods, I turned to caving.

Another activity that I'd previously dismissed as not something I was particularly interested in doing in Iceland, I've come back around. Partly because there's a great new cave guidebook, eliminating the need to meet grizzly old cave men, and partly because I've developed a greater appreciate for it's all weather nature, and ability to provide some new sights, very close to town.

So we assembled a crew. Lesley, visiting from Australia, and the mother of an old friend from university, Evelyn. Dieke, Lee's friend from Rotterdam. Craig, another australian, who came over for Lee and Alda's wedding and has stayed on, and last but certainly not least, Kata, Icelandic, but living and studying in St Petersburg. A bursting at the seams load for the Mighty Micra, but it survived in good fashion.

The night before, over dinner, Kata and I had checked out the map, and picked a cave or two that looked the right size for our little party, and in a nice location. We picked Sængurkonuhellir, which roughly means "Midwife's cave" and is allegedly named after a midwife for a baby troll. It's along the road between Krýsuvík and Þórlakshöfn, about 2km east of the county boundary line.

Finding the cave proved a little tricky. The directions aren't too bad, but finding a cave entrance in a lava field in gathering dusk is not particularly easy. The directions are allowed to be a bit vague anyway, as the book includes GPS points for the entrances. Except they looked like UTM coordinates, and I couldn't work out why they weren't lining up with anywhere remotely near where we were. Later investigation shows that the points in the back of the book are just degrees and decimal minutes, with all the ° and . taken away. Minor grumble :) We found the cave in the end.

And so the fun began! The cave was quite damp, probably due to the fact that it had been raining outside all day, but this just made some of the sections absolutely sparkle in the lights. The cave is pretty straightforward, There's a fairly decent sized first chamber, then a bit of a clamber through a low section, but then it's mostly all pleasant and easy going from there. Not so much in the way of drippies, but lots and lots of sparkling white stuff depositing around the cracks in the roof.

We reached the end, and sat around in the dark for a while, eating chocolate and chatting, then turned back to have a bit more of a look, and take a few more pictures. Cave photography is just as hard as I remembered, but a few things came back to me after this trip, and at least I have _some_ pictures from the evening :)

On the way back out, I had a better look in the sides of one of the last chambers, and found what I'd been missing. The drippy hall. There's a picture in the book of a wonderfully spirally blobby lava dripsicle, and also a low cavern full of drippies. [1] The book had mentioned that there's a 20m section at the end that you shouldn't go down, and this was it. A nice note in iccelandic on survey tape telling us that everything that we needed to see we could see from here, and to stay back.

A clamber and a stroll back outside, into what was now pitch dark, and then Kata brought out the big guns. Kleina and hot chocolate, lovingly prepared beforehand.

An excellent evening for a tuesday, and upon returning to town, we headed to Hresso for a beer amidst the 5 million scottish soccer fans in town for their World Cup qualifier.

[1] I really can't bring myself to call them stalactites. Lave caves are just so different.

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