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A foray into earthquake country

Today EPI and I decided to live dangerously and head out for a hike on Reykjanes peninsula, right smack in the middle of earthquake country. Most of the quakes of the last few weeks have had their epicentre just a few kilometres from where we were today and, yes, I would by lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind once or twice over the course of the 2-3 hours we were there.

Our plans for sunbathing all day at the pool were thwarted by the very conspicuous absence of sunshine. The supposedly fantastic weather we were to have this weekend had been hyped for days beforehand … and it IS relatively warm, but the sunshine appears to have been reserved for other parts of the country. Anyway, both of us were longing to get out of the city, a common state of affairs when the Icelandic summer finally rolls around. It’s the season for making the most of the amazing landscapes of this country we’re lucky enough to inhabit.

Reykjanes

We drove for around 30 minutes [from our front door] and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. The Reykjanes peninsula is the area you drive through on the way from the Keflavík International Airport – the landscape that from the window of a car [or bus] looks desolate, like the moon. Thing is, though, that once you go off the beaten path, it has incredible variety of colour, landscape and geology, and is, in many ways, reminiscent of the highlands. There are craters everywhere, and cone volcanoes, like the conspicuous Keilir, very visible from the capital area.

Mt. Keilir

This, meanwhile, could be Keilir’s little brother:

Reykjanes peninsula

Highlands in miniature, and not a soul around:

Reykjanes peninsula

The full set of pics is here.

It’s 11°C [52F] right around midnight, the sun came up at 2:59 am and will set in a couple minutes at 12.01.

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  • Professor Batty June 28, 2009, 2:21 am

    A wonderful area, mind-boggling at times, and a very doable afternoon or day-trip.
    I did it in a Yaris, a four wheel drive might be a better option.

  • Ljósmynd DE June 28, 2009, 6:50 am

    Nice introduction for an upcoming visit to Iceland.

    Is this the area northwest of the Krýsuvik thermal area? I’ve never been there but it seems to be worth a visit. It looks very similar to Krýsuvik, which also has these incredible colours, particularly when the sun is shining.

  • Kanadier June 28, 2009, 7:27 am

    Wow, I honestly never grow tired of seeing landscape pictures of Iceland. It is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth. And, it manages to seem somewhat diverse even, despite the lack of trees and relatively small size of the country :p. Wie jenseitig…

  • baa June 28, 2009, 7:28 am

    thank you, Alda:)))

  • Paul H June 28, 2009, 9:07 am

    Beautiful landscape.
    Returning for our longest visit yet very soon.
    Can’t wait.
    Expecting perfect weather and possible earthquake(s).
    Oh, and much Skyr.

  • Rachael June 28, 2009, 11:57 am

    Another stunning set of photos there Alda! They make me want to rush back to Iceland right now. & the weather doesn’t look bad at all in those pics.

  • maggie June 28, 2009, 11:57 am

    Your photos always remind me of why I loved your country.

  • Runa June 28, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Beautiful. Thanks Alda.

  • alda June 28, 2009, 2:31 pm

    Thanks everyone. 🙂

    Professor – yes, a 4WD would be much better. The roads, especially into the more remote parts, are not great. But doable in a pinch.

    LDE – I’d say this was directly north of Krýsuvík, or maybe a little to the north-east. Pretty close to town.

  • Alexander E. June 28, 2009, 10:11 pm

    Alda, is the first picture – green-brown-red-etc colored – made in the valley that is parallel to Krysuvikuvegur (#42 road)? There is a “secondary” road that cross the valley and I’m also tempting to visit the place.

    PS. Now between you and us, readers, could you tell the truth? You have been visiting your far away home planet and then uploaded these images from home by mistake, right? And now trying to convince us that you were driving just 30 minutes from Reykjavik town, Iceland, Earth of Solar system? I personally don’t believe you! 😉

  • alda June 28, 2009, 10:32 pm

    Alexander – I’m not sure which road you mean, but to get to this location you take a road that veers off the Krýsavíkur road, about 12 km before you get to Krýsuvík. But then you have to drive off that road a bit and hike a ways before you get to that exact spot.

    And yes, absolutely, it is very much like another planet. 🙂

  • Elín June 28, 2009, 11:52 pm

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous! The first and third in this post especially look just like Kjarval paintings … I hope you and EPI have lots more adventures in the countryside this summer. It must be very therapeutic.

  • Jessica June 29, 2009, 1:53 am

    Daft question: is Keilir still an active volcano? I read something ambiguous about it in one of those Iceland tourist guides this weekend that made me wonder. I know that whole area is still very active (geothermally speaking) which is kinda freaky considering the short distance to Hafnafjörður…

  • Meagan June 29, 2009, 9:42 am

    I was on Reykjanes on Saturday too! (That is so exciting for this Canadian to say.) We found ourselves at the top of the Valahnúkur cliff and it was then that I remembered your posts about the earthquakes in that area, and had visions of the cliff just giving way. We aren’t able to do any off roading because we have a small sedan as our rental. But it was amazing and all I can say is that your country is SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL. I feel so lucky to be here right now.

    And I can confirm, driving through the lava fields is like being on Mars. Or Mordor.

    Thank you for this!

  • Chris June 29, 2009, 9:57 am

    Among tourists this is probably one of the most underestimated areas in the capital region (like Hengill). I like this a lot – not far to drive and very nice.
    Alexander: I think Alda probably drove on the road 428, which leaves from the main road (42) just after the gravel road begins and shortly after the gravel plant. The road goes through a valley between Kleifarvatn/Seltun/Krýsuvik and the road to the airport.

  • alda June 29, 2009, 10:16 am

    Jessia – no, Keilir is not active as far as I know. If it were, I think we’d be a little more nervous of having it so close. 🙂

    Meagan – I’m glad you didn’t do any offroad driving because it is strictly forbidden!! Anywhere in Iceland! Carries heavy fines! Destroys sensitive vegetation that can take decades to repair! DON’T DO IT!

    Chris – yep, that’s the one.

  • Rozanne June 30, 2009, 3:01 am

    Fantastic photos, as always. So glad you got a chance to get out for some hiking.

  • Meagan June 30, 2009, 8:54 pm

    I suppose I should qualify “off road” by saying off PAVED road.

  • alda June 30, 2009, 10:17 pm

    Meagan – a small qualification, but oh-so important! 🙂

  • idunn July 2, 2009, 7:42 pm

    First thought of the first picture (of green) was, sadly, of erosion. This perhaps due my understanding that unchecked soil erosion one of Iceland’s most pressing environmental issues. Also that some people and organizations have been attempting in various ways to reforest Iceland for decades. Would that they succeed, and within all the beauty of such a land vistas also include verdant forests of green.