Gateways to Hell
Enough of Vatnajökull for this trip. It is really awesome but we only have one month, though we have to move on. We decide to leave to the west and to make a stop to the gateway to hell. But before driving to Lucifer’s palace, let’s have a quick delight with a view on the pretty Svartifoss, in Skaftafell national park. Look carefully at the organ-shaped rocks that forms this waterfall. Isn’t nature able to create perfection?
Now let’s visit Satan. Under the almighty Vatnajökull glacier, one can drive through a no man’s land called Skeiðarársandur. This place is really freaking out. This is a mix of water, black sands and quicksands (I fear quicksands!). Most of the water of the glacier crosses this part of Iceland in order to reach the sea. Look how impressive the texture of the rivers in the sand can be :
When you drive on the only road that crosses this place, I can assure you that you don’t feel at ease. Oppression, mixed with fascination, might be the sensation that describes best what I felt at this exact moment. I have always been interested in dark and gloomy things and this one was easily one of the most fascinating!
Just at the end of the sands, one can see plenty of lava stones among this same black sand. All fascinated that I am, I have to go there and take photographs, despite my fear. After a few shots I am once again soaked by the rain. This same bloody rain that we have seen at least one time a day since the beginning of this trip. But this hard time has been rewarded with a great Icelandic meal : Lamb, potatoes and local beer. Yuuuum!
Hell was described by vikings as a place where sleet is eternally falling from the sky. We do not have sleet yet, but temperatures go down to 1.4˚C … But water is still present, everywhere, as we can see with the huge Skógafoss.
As the sun is coming back, we enjoy a good typical french meal: Cassoulet and wine, with a moist Icelandic touch as you can see …
This has been the last pleasure until we finally take back the road to Hell, once and for all. And this road starts with the black glacier of Sólheimajökull. Did you ever see black ice? I mean, really black … Actually, it’s not the ice itself which is black, but the sands made of grinded lava that has fixed in and on it. Once you face this kind of glacier, you don’t really feel confident: here, everything is cold and black.
After a night in a huge and deserted camping, we have been plagued by hundreds of midges. Is this a warning from Beelzebub, lord of the flies? Anyway, let’s take the last track that will lead us to the gates of hell: the infamous Hekla. This volcano, along with Stromboli, has been described as such during the middle ages. And this is here that we plan to hike today. The track is exclusive to 4WD vehicles but our guide specifies that it is in pretty good shape, though practicable with a classic car. Good news!
After almost 20 kilometers on a long, rough back-breaking lava track, a snow fall is blocking the road. We have to resign. Suddenly, a short but violent hailstorm. We survive it. Apparently, we still have time to spend on earth. Hell will be for later! ;)