After my riding adventure I hopped into my car and drove the few minutes from Geysir Hestar to the famous geyser Strokkur (cylinder), which erupts every five to ten minutes. The weather had turned to the worse. Instead of warm sunbeams, an icy wind welcomed me when I walked the short distance from the parking lot to the geyser. The path led past a meadow with lots of hot puddles, steaming away in the cold air and spreading the characteristic smell of sulphur.
The edge of the Strokkur geyser was framed by a thin rope, signalling visitors to stay at a safe distance. Without much warning, the water in the large hole in the ground swelled and the geyser erupted into an impressive fountain of about fifteen metres into the air with a loud hiss. My camera clicked industriously while trying to enjoy the spectacle simultaneously – not easy. I wasn’t sure how well my pictures had turned out – white fountain in front of foggy background… but the icy wind had gotten so icy that all I wanted was going back to my car and drive on.
My next stop was Gulfoss (Golden Waterfall). I parked in front of the visitor centre and walked past it to the top platform, which offered a great view. The river Hvítá (White River) drops 32 metres in two steps and is on average 175 metres wide. None of these figures describe the feeling I get when I’m in places like this where you can feel nature’s brute force, dwarfing us humans and putting us back into our place.
It is difficult to imagine that Gulfoss nearly got disfigured by a power plant at the beginning of the 20th century according to the plans of an English business man called Howell. The owner of the land, Tómas Tómasson, refused to sell him the land. However, he agreed to lease it to him, not knowing that that created a loophole for Howell to carry out his plans. Tómasson’s daughter Sigríður Tómasdóttir supported her father in the legal battle that followed and repeatedly walked the 120km to Reykjavík and back in the process. Today, Icelanders celebrate Sigríður as the first environmentalist of the country; her determined face can be found on a memorial near the waterfall. The visitor centre has a canteen-style restaurant and a large gift shop. Both were busy with tourists doing the Golden Circle Tour on buses, so I returned to my car and set off towards Reykjavík. I decided to go directly instead of stopping at Selfoss because I wanted to be back before the weather got really bad.