One Does Simply Walk To Geldingadalur: A Magmanificent Day Out

One Does Simply Walk To Geldingadalur: A Magmanificent Day Out

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Over the past two months, Iceland’s been shakin’ like the Stevens due to the crazy amount of seismic activity going down on the Reykjanes peninsula. Finally, in mid-March, the surface cracked, giving way to an all-new volcano: Geldingadalsgos. It’s a special eruption; not just because it may go on for years, but because of how relatively accessible it is to normies like myself. So why not join me on a guided tour of the latest addition to Iceland’s fine
collection of volcanoes?

Only a hop, skip and a big ass hill away

Upon arrival at the trailhead, it was hard to ignore the sheer number of cars clogging the road. Automobiles of all shapes and sizes lined the road for what seems like miles, all parked precariously on the edge of the tarmac. You’d think one big gust of wind would tip them all over, but it seemed safe enough, so we joined the conga line
and began our ascent to the site.

Looks like lots of people were ignoring Boromir’s advice…

The weather was glorious and the scenery even better. A thin layer of snow covered the landscape like a cozy old blanket, and dark black rocks protruded through the bright white, making the surroundings look simultaneously soft and rugged. The path itself was relatively well-made—bar the odd rock protruding through the mud, waiting to break some unfortunate soul’s ankle—and carved right next to a large snowy mountain, which loomed over everyone as they trudged along, as if nature was watching our every step. After about a mile or so, the first challenge awaited: a steep, rocky hill climb.

A scramble to the top

The path cut straight up the hill, with loose rocks everywhere waiting to shift underneath one’s weight. It felt far safer to go up on all fours, but that came with the caveat of looking like a right tit. People were slipping left, right and centre as they made their way up the mountain side, but some kind porter had left behind a handy nylon rope for the less confident volcanogoer to grasp as they made their way up and down. We salute you, whoever put it there!

Unfortunately, Sméagol was not available as a guide for our trip.

The view from the top was breathtaking. Literally. Absolutely knackered from climbing my way to the top, I sat and let it all sink in. The sun was beaming down, reflecting brightly off the snow. The surroundings looked as if they had been plucked from Game of Thrones or even Death Stranding, a video game heavily inspired by Icelandic landscapes. After a short break, we pushed on along the path before being greeted by the phenomenal sight of the volcano.

Mount Doom, without the orcs

That first glimpse of the volcano will stick in my mind forever. It’s picturesque; walking through a small valley with the large black volcano sitting ominously in the distance. The lava spewing out of its top comes into view upon approach, like a guiding light beckoning you to come closer.

After a short walk through the valley, I emerged to get my first proper look at the eruption site in all its glory and, oh boy, is it glorious. Two craters continuously erupt, throwing out magma into the surrounding area. As stupid as it sounds, I had no idea how bright the lava would be; it glows like a neon light as it flows out of the craters and it’s hard not to be taken back by the sight of it. One certainly gets an overwhelming feeling of awe watching the lava. No matter how long I looked I remained impressed.

Circling further around the volcano netted a view of the lava field that surrounds the peak of the eruption. Looking over the matte black hardened magma created a surreal blurry view of the landscape behind the volcano. The lava slowly seeps through the rock, creating what look like cracks into hell. Smoke slowly rose from the area and as the sky turned dark, the air became filled with a deep orange hue that made me feel like I had stepped into Mordor. All that was missing was Sauron’s menacing gaze.

Death to drones

The slopes surrounding the volcano were packed with other people enjoying the site. There were people with picnics, taking selfies and plenty were flying drones over the action; I couldn’t help but wish to see a drone drop out of the sky and for some poor bugger to cry in despair. Am I cruel for wanting that? Probably.

The skies weren’t just filled with drones, but planes and helicopters circling ahead which annoyingly drowned out the noise of the volcano. After waiting long enough, the pesky flying machines departed and we were left with the sound of the eruption itself; a constant cracking and crashing of lava hitting the rocks beneath it. Music to my ears.

As darkness came, I was reluctant to leave and I envied all those who had brought tents to stay the night. However, it was pretty darn cold at that point—despite the fact that I was standing just 100 or so metres from molten lava. As I turned to leave, I took one last look and drank it all in. There’s really nothing quite like seeing a volcano, and I implore anyone who has the chance to visit to take a trip to Geldingadalur.

I’m sure you’ll absolutely lava it.

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