Since the first big earthquakes started in February 2021 I was hoping for something new, big and changing to happen. And three weeks after it really did.
On the night of 19th of March, an eruption started. I was in downtown Reykjavík in the bar with my friends at the time. Well, one more reason to celebrate. When I woke up the next day I was excited and I knew I wasn’t the only one. Many people went to see the eruption that day. I wanted too. There were no marked paths and Suðurstrandarvegur, the road close by the eruption site, was closed. It took many hours to get to Geldingadalir by walking through the lava fields. People, full of excitement, just went for it. I really wanted too. I stopped my car at the place where many cars were parked and checked the area on google maps. Although it didn’t seem so far I had to realize that my equipment wasn’t good enough to make the hike in the middle of nowhere possible safe and sound. The weather wasn’t really welcoming and I was a bit hungover. So I turned around and drove back home.
First hike up there
On Tuesday, 23rd of March I woke up, dressed up warmly, took my hiking sticks and shoes, packed water and some food and started my journey. New volcano, new lava, new piece of land. I was more than ready to receive a lifetime experience.
By that time, the Suðurstrandarvegur was open and incoming cars were instructed to park along the road. I arrived around 9AM and I was lucky enough to be able to park my car just a few minutes from the hike starting point. The path was just created and newly marked by Björgunarsveit Þorbjörn and was only 3km long. (one way)
First I had to go through the lava field. Easy peasy, narrow path. Just had to watch out for hidden holes under the moss and loose stones. After about 15 minutes I got to the foot of the mountain, which I walked along the contour line to the point where the straight path began to rise. The hill was steep. Quite a lot. But luckily short. I continued the path sensing that I’m not far away from my desired goal. After a short crossing of the mountain plateau I saw the volcano for the very first time. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought I was ready to experience it. But this exceeded my expectations like a million times. It was still far enough, but I felt so alive and so motivated. I was totally hooked, magnetized. I continued walking towards this natural wonder like hypnotized. I didn’t feel the cold wind. I just freely marched into the Icelandic Mordor, Geldingadalur.
I was standing on the hill side, watching the volcano in the valley next to me. I decided to go down the hill and to get to the foot of the volcano. There were just a few people down there, so I was hesitating to go more up, closer to the crater itself. But then I saw the rescue teams nearby, allowing people to go closer, my hesitation was gone and I walked straight up. On my way towards the vent, there was a stream of new lava going directly from the volcano. Hot lava. Just flowing there. Peaceful and calm but deadly hot. I felt both amazing and scared. When I stood about 10 meters away from the crater I was just stunned. I couldn’t stop staring at the lava blows into the air. And the sound of it! Hard to describe. Almost like an ocean crushing the cliffs.
I spend over an hour next to the crater. The weather was perfect, blue sky and almost no wind. I took plenty of videos and pictures, but mostly enjoyed the show, which our Earth made for us. I felt so lucky to witness this with my own eyes. I went back down to the valley and around that new, black and still steaming lava field. Then I climbed up the hill and sat down to watch the volcano like it was there just for me. It was me, green moss, new lava field and volcano. Couldn’t get enough of that view. I spend hours there. At some point it started to snow and it brought completely new enjoyment. The dark, cloudy sky made the lava flows more visible and I could see them nice and clear. Almost like in the night. And the sound of snow on the lava field was just improving the moment. So many natural elements at one moment.
In total I spent more than 6 hours up there. Just enjoying the view and the moments. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to miss a thing. But I left, feeling grateful for what I saw and knowing that I would be back. Sooner or later.
The hike down was somehow more challenging since more and more people decided to come. The steep hill path was slippery, so my hiking sticks came by hand. The line of cars along the road was endless. Literally. Cars parking on the both sides of the road, people everywhere. It sounds like madness, but everything was under control in the Icelandic way and you could feel peace and happiness in the air. þetta reddast. When I reached my car I was so indescribably happy, that I even didn’t feel pain in my feet.
Yes! Helicopter ride have always been my dream. So now was the perfect timing. My flight got rescheduled 2 times, once due to the origin of new fissures and second time due to weather. On Monday 12.4. at 5PM my dream came true and I saw not only one volcano, but 4 from the air. I was thrilled. The helicopter even landed at the eruption site and I could explore that newly created area and lava flow to the next valley, Meradalir.
Second hike, night watch
Right after the helicopter experience I felt so hyped up, that I decided to go back up again. This time by foot, and see the volcanoes in the night. The timing and weather couldn’t be any better. The parking along the road was forbidden, so I had to park on a newly made “parking field lot”. Took me around 10 minutes to get to the hiking path and oh boy, did it change. Thousands of people who made their way up to the volcanos left a huge mark behind. In terms of creating a smooth hike trail. I remember very well the route from my first time, so I got excited when I saw the new marked path. I took it without doubts. It was marked and no people were on it. Now I know why I was the only one, out of hundreds. That path, marked as Leið B, seemed longer and the hill was much higher than the one on Leið A.
I appeared on Fagradalsfjall and had all the volcanoes right on the palm of my hand. The issue was, that I wanted to be on the other side of Geldingadalir, from which it was a better and closer view. So I started to walk around new lava fields to get to my desired point.
The valley I saw 3 weeks ago was gone, completely covered by black lava. As it was getting darker I could see more and more red lava flows in the already created lava field.
The excitement I felt at my first visit was back and I felt like I saw all that power for the first time.
In the darkness the eruptions look more scary but yet more fascinating. I sat on the side of the hill with the great view and just soaked the hellish atmosphere. Seriously, all the area was lit in red. The smoke coming out of the vents was red, the seen sky was red, the lava flows were red. Unstoppable power of gushing volcanoes, sounds of boiling magma and blowing lava. This inferno was definitely the most powerful sight I have seen so far.
I sat there for 2 hours. Mesmerized. But for safety reasons I decided to go back. The eruption area was open and controlled by the police and rescue teams from noon to midnight.
When I came home I was totally exhausted. Walked over 20km that day in mud, snow, up and down the hills and across lava fields. All the tiredness was gone by the next morning. Not because of my good night sleep, but because I learned that at least 4 new fissures opened up. I was excited. I´m hooked, I have to go there again.
Few words to the end.
If you are thinking of going up there, do it! Just be well prepared, check the weather conditions, bring enough water, food and warm clothes.
Remember to be cool, but responsible.