On the day that we had the good fortune to witness one of my most treasured memories from this trip, we’d had a huge day of driving. we only had a single aim in mind, get as close to the site of the on-going fissure eruption in the Holuhraun lava field as possible, and stay on through the night to see what we could see. We’d already had the almighty pleasure of seeing some faint sky glow from the tumultuous expulsion of liquid rock a week previous, so we could only imagine what being closer to the eruption would mean photographic wise.
After leaving Egilsstaðir just after lunch and after an extended stop at the beautiful Hengifoss, we decided to just go for it, throw caution to the wind and see what we could see. After following the road south for a fair while towards the majestic Snæfell mountain, we were presented with a reasonable vantage point for what we had in mind. The smoke plume was even larger than we imagined, and the potential was truly awe-inspiring; the only missing ingredient was the sultry light best found right on dusk.
So with a location in mind, the only thing left to do was wait for the light to happen, and that was a few hours away yet. We used the time by investigating whether or not an interesting sign a little way back down the road, was indeed a hostel of sorts, and better yet, an open establishment that might allow a few unexpected guests for the night.
This was the best decision we made that day.
We turned up at the most wonderful of Hostels, Laugerfell. The gentlemen that ran the place was most welcoming, and even gave us the most excellent tip after we let loose our reason for being out in the middle of nowhere. He told us (while pointing at a map) that, “…if you go here, and walk up here, you can see the fires.”
We were both a little dumbstruck at what he told us. Had we heard him correctly? Did he just say what I think he said? Sure enough, that he did.
So into the car we jumped and followed his direction. after about an hour of driving down a bumpy and rarely travelled F-road, we arrived at the indicated place. The anticipation for what we would see was palpable. the excitement was thrumming in the air as we grabbed our camera bags, hastily rugged up to try and beat the chill wind and practically ran to catch the last vestiges of the dying day.
Once up on the top of the very small hill we were presented with the most spectacular of views. The flat land of the Hálslón was laid bare before us, in the distance, was a silhouetted mountain range, and beyond that, at an estimated 56km distant… Proverbial Gold. The mother-load. The absolute pinnacle of this wonderfully ill-conceived plan. We could see the fires; the actual lava erupting from the fissure. It was an amazingly surreal moment, and one that will definitely stay with me for a very long time.