September 16 (Snow)
Today’s weather forecast was more of the same: snow and rain with brief periods of blue skies. Why did I even bother looking up the weather forecast anymore? We experienced every type of weather possible daily anyways. However a couple of things were certain: 1) Waterfall gods despised us since the weather was always at its worst when we were near waterfalls… 2) Having a reliable vehicle was by far the best decision for Iceland travel (slippery dirt roads, ice, snow, etc).
First destination of the day was a waterfall called Dettifoss: the most powerful waterfall in Europe in terms of water displacement. The landscape was completely covered with 2-3 feet of snow as far as the eyes can see. Unfortunately the road to Dettifoss was closed when we reached the junction [Tip #6 – When it is snowing it is extremely handy to check the Icelandic Roads Administration website even though the website looked like it was built by a dyslexic 10 year old. Aesthetics aside the website was actually very informative]. On the way back we saw two travelers driving a Toyota Yaris towards our direction (yes a freakin Yaris in deep snow)… of course being a good Samaritan I flagged them down and updated them to turn around as the road ahead was closed. Karma quickly struck as they informed me that there was a new road that remained open a few kilometers down the ring road! We must’ve been the first tourists to visit Dettifoss that day because I had to trail blaze for the smaller cars including a couple of smaller SUVs in order to reach the designated parking spaces. It took about 20 minutes to hike through thigh-high snow until we reached Dettifoss (it was difficult to decipher trail markers/cairns in a near whiteout condition). There were plenty of beautiful and photogenic waterfalls in Iceland alone (such as Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, etc) but Dettifoss was not one of them. The only word I would use to describe Dettifoss was “brute” because Dettifoss was simply that: A huge earth-trembling waterfall that moved serious amounts of water.
From Flickr I found a hidden gem called “Grjotagja” and it was actually quite difficult to find because everything was covered in a thick blanket of virgin white snow. Grjotagja was a series of underground-ish hot springs (quite dark, damp, and cramped when I finally visited it in person, but the pictures turned out marvelously!). We settled into yet another B&B that night but only after a relaxing visit to a fantastic hot spring called “Myvatn Natural Bath” (similar to the famous Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik but way less commercial and way less busyl). I will never forget the experience of being submerged in a pleasant hot spring while snow gently drifted across my face. I will certainly return here again in my lifetime with my wife to experience this mystical corner of Iceland…