Hot and Steamy Iceland
As we were traversing the wild island that is Iceland, we had been having pretty good weather. Yes, there were drizzles, a few rain showers here and there, but overall the sun would shine, the clouds came out, and we had some beautiful days. The day that we were exploring some of the geo-thermal areas was pretty miserable. It was one of those days where the gray just takes over and doesn’t let up. The sun couldn’t poke through, there was almost no difference in land and sky; it was all one gray landscape with a black blot of land rising up in the distance. It was, to say the least, a little gloomy.
Thanks to all the volcanoes that make up Iceland, we were walking by plenty of sulfuric holes in the fields, with steam escaping in a single line not unlike my teakettle. It was almost comforting to wander and feel the heat coming out of the various holes.
If you look closely at the photos, you’ll notice that everyone is completely covered up from head to toe. It was the first day that I saw folks sporting hoods, woolen caps, and even gloves. It was almost the Icelandic day that I had been expecting all along; maybe we all were. No one was surprised, and everyone was ready for it.
Paths and small wooden bridges led us around and up, down and through a variety of mud pools, steamy plumes, and a hidden warmth. One farmer explained that no one really had to pay for heat in Iceland, because it all comes from the ground. Some places it’s just a little deeper than others. In fact 87% of all homes get there hot water and heat from the ground, and it provides power and heat to five power stations as well.
It’s not just the government or big business that’s harnessed this natural resource. Plenty of individuals, hotels, spas (Blue Lagoon) have also tapped in and built hot pots or natural hot tubs. It contributes to heating the community pools all over the country, which is one why it is so cheap to camp. However, these are not the mud pools that you want to crawl into and smear the mud all over your body. No, these were way too hot. From a few feet away, you wouldn’t feel it, but the closer you got, the hotter it got.
A barren, mud-stained ochre-colored landscape, it looks like I would expect another planet to look like.
It was so cold, we only braved it for about 40 minutes, but then after this last pile of warmth where even though it doesn’t show it in the photo, there were plenty of chilled visitors clamoring for some heat, we warmed up, shook the drizzled raindrops off our shoulders and went to find the jeep where we could crank up the heat.