Laugavegurinn: Ice, lichen and volcanism

Landmannalaugar

Laugahraun lava field, glassy rock, sharp edged, black, brown streaks, soft whitish moss, rounded lumps. Powdery blue-green, rhyolite. Pick it up and crumble it between fingers, softer than sand. Falls back down as dust. Deep pink mound, oxides, pockmarked with holes venting steam. Standing in the dense steam, strong sulphur fumes, breathing it in. Square crystals, bright yellow. Push hand into soil, warm ground.

Hrafntinnusker

63° 56’ 0” N 19° 11’ 0” W

Black ash. Rain is falling, low cloud hanging densely against the ground obscuring the plateau. He stands in the mist, water dripping down his face, the air rushing around him, listening as the water spatters on the surface of a dome shaped tent pitched low against the sheltered curve of a black obsidian wall. The sound of a fumarole is carried in the mist, hissing and roaring, dampened by the cloud, saturated ash; lost again as the wind rises. Somewhere nearby. He is shaking in the cold, hands sore, cracked and splitting, the coarse ash rough against their surface as they had fought the tent rods. The wind is growing stronger, rippling across the taut fabric of the tent. He moves slowly, feet sinking in the soft ash and reaches down to pick up one of the obsidian rocks. Glassy edges sharp. The surface is smooth where the rock has been cleaved from another, he feels it, tracing across faint raised lines of the conchoidal face.

Emstrur

The rain has stopped but the cloud is thick and fast moving. Walking across the vast, flat expanse that stretches to the distant glacier. Each step like walking in sand, the sound as each movement turns over the dry cinder, brown under its black surface. The vast plain is speckled with white, bell like flowers trembling in the wind. Keep moving towards the green volcanic cone which rises suddenly out of the flat ground many kilometres ahead.