The weather has been terrible the last few days. Our plan was to hike the volcano on Sunday evening. But they closed access because the weather was too bad. They said they’d make a decision about Monday in the morning.
After the volcano tour was cancelled last night we decided to get up at 6am and check the status for today. I was so excited I had a hard time sleeping! There was no update. We waited till 7. Still no update. We decided to just get up and go in hopes that we’d be there right when they made the decision. When we got to the parking Police were directing everyone away, but said that a decision would be made within about 30 min. We had passed a lookout on our way up and thought we could go wait there. Rusty was going to make a U-turn, but it was pretty tight with our big van and there was lots of other cars doing the same. I told him to just drive down the road to find a better spot to turn. As we were driving we saw another parking lot. Tons of people were parking and getting out and starting to hike. We thought probably they’d get turned away after the final decision was made or after they reached a certain point on the trial. But we thought we should at least try. And if it opened we’d be that much ahead of the massive crowds sure to come. We started hiking. About 10 min in we got official word that the volcano would remain closed. But, everyone else on the trail continued. So on we went, sure we’d reach a point where we’d have to turn back. That never came! We, along with a couple hundred other people, apparently found the volcano loophole. We could not figure out why they’d put police at one parking lot, but not the other. We were one u-turn away from missing the whole thing!
After about 2k we came to some fresh lava fields from the last eruption and steep switchbacks. At the top of the switchbacks was a long, rocky ridge. It was so muddy, and we were dodging rocks with every step. We continued on like that for another 3k or so. In continuing with our fantasy theme—it felt like we were headed straight to the heart of Mordor. It was so desolate, with steam coming off the lava fields. The rain and fog would come and go.
We reached the area where you could walk right up to the old flow. It was so beautiful.
Not too much later the massive smoke plumes came into view and we knew we were close! 2k later we were ready to drop over the hill into the volcano valley.
Rusty and I were just a little behind the kids. Josh created the hill and immediately started to whoop. He was absolutely awe struck! Listening to him might have been my favorite moment. Rusty and I rushed forward and we were equally delighted. It was breathtaking. So powerful. So bright. There really aren’t words to do it justice. Rusty said he got a little teary.
Me and the kids made our was further down the steep, rocky hill. Rusty stayed at the top. We settled in and pulled out the binoculars. The bright red flow, combined with the black rocks on top was stunning. The lava was spurting in big gushes and then slowly flowing outward. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite life experiences to date.
It was mesmerizing. Three cones shooting lava in the air. Multiple pools bubbling up lava. Then a lava field stretching out across the valley. Then maybe the coolest part, a real live LAVA RIVER! Flowing down and going over a LAVA WATERFALL!!! I mean – it was incredible. You could:
SEE: The color. I’ve talked about. The flowing river, the waterfall.
HEAR: The sound of the lava folding in on itself and shooting out of the air
FEEL: The heat as the wind would die down
TASTE: The sulfur and slight ash taste in the air. Luckily the wind was blowing hard enough to the north that we knew we weren’t in danger from the fumes.
At one point there was a red hot, bright orange lava river flowing. It looked like a little lava waterfall. Josh said this was his favorite thing. It was just a bit too far away to get a great picture.
The rain was coming down hard and fast. And the wind was whipping. Fog would roll in an obscure the view, and roll back out just as quickly.
As we were watching, there was a loud cracking sound and a large amount of lava broke through the surface. Big chunks of the cooled black rock broke off and started floating down this new flow. And new fingers of lava started creeping out along the flat ground. It was so beautiful to watch. The elemental forces of nature are so grounding. It feels so old and so wise.
If the weather was better, I bet we would have stayed for hours! Be were were completely soaked and freezing. The fog was also getting thicker. So after about an hour we bundled Blake up in every extra layer of clothing we had and started the long hike back. At some points the fog was so thick we could hardly see the people 10 feet in front of us. The rain was coming down in freezing sheets. It hurt when it hit any exposed skin.
It felt like it took forever and a day before we made it back to the van. We were soaked to the skin. Everyone was stripping off wet layers and trying to get dry. We were frozen. Finally we got all the wet things squared away and the heat roaring in the van. Before we started the hike we’d stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom and grab a snack. We’d seen a couple order the most massive bowl of fries we’d ever seen. After scarfing down our sandwiches in the van we headed straight for the fries. They were so hot and delicious. 5 of us could barely finish the bowl. I have never seen such a massive order of fries.
Now that we were sufficiently dry and fed, we drove to our hotel by the airport. It was a no frills, barebones place, but it had enough beds, and that’s what mattered.
Everyone crashed for a couple of hours before our reservation at the Blue Lagoon. It was so perfect for our tired, sore muscles. It was still raining, but it was more misty and less staby. We had a great time soaking in the milking blue water. We did our silica face masks, got a drink at the part and relaxed in the nice warm water. Rusty said that sitting in the lagoon talking and laughing as a family might have been his favorite part of the trip. We met a group of people from Tel Aviv who were SO JEALOUS of our volcano experience. They had scheduled a helicopter tour but it had been cancelled due to weather. They were going nuts over our pictures. We again felt so lucky.
All too soon it was time to return the van. We hurried and grabbed to go dinner at Olson Olson’s. Again, we got some Curley fries and the portion was so big we didn’t even come close to finishing. Iceland does fries right! They are always served fresh out of the fryer.
We returned our trusty van, packed up, and hit the hay. Today was a day that will never be forgotten. What an absolutely perfect end to a pretty amazing trip. It was so much fun to travel with these teens. They were up for most anything, and Blake was more than happy to be influenced by the promise of a Mountain Dew at the gas station. We drank delicious European Fanta, ate our fill of Digestives, laughed and successfully doubled the number of nights we’ve ever camped as a family. I love this family of mine!