On day three, May 20th, we planned to drive highway 32 east of Selfoss through the Thjorsardalur Valley to Stong Farm and then drive back on highway 26. Hopefully we would find quite a few waterfalls on the trip.
As we drove along paved highway 32 there were some beautiful farms on our left. The farmland was just starting to turn green and the farmers were starting to work the fields. On our right was the Thjorsa River which is the longest river in Iceland with Hekla in the background. Hekla is overdue for an eruption and folks have been told to stay off of the mountain. Apparently the pressure buildup is more than normal and the next eruption could be quite large.
Our first stop of the day was going to be Hjalparfoss. These are some of the rocky outcroppings along the road to Hjalparfoss.
The Fossá and Thjorsa rivers join at Hjalparfoss. It was a beautiful waterfall with two falls. Once again it was a beautiful sunny day. Not the type of day I would like for waterfall photography but it is what it is. This is where we met some students from Alabama who were on a quest to find the waterfalls of Iceland.
Our next destination was Stong Farm. As we turned down the dirt and rock road to Stong Farm we were not certain that we would make it. The road was in rough shape although it improved as we drove along. At the end it was in rough shape again.
When we drove though the Thjorsardalur Valley things were still brown. Apparently when the vikings settled in the area it was lush and welcoming. However in 1104 Hekla erupted and devastated the area. People continued to live in the valley until the 13 hundreds but five Hekla eruptions finally convinced them to abandon the site.
We thought there was a trail to some waterfalls up river from Stong but we had problems finding it. After several false starts we finally found the trail and after a short walk we found several beautiful waterfalls.
Leaving Stong we continued on highway 32 for a ways then turned off on highway 26 which was a dirt road. We were driving along the plains at the base of Hekla on our left and the Thjorsa River on our right.
In order to get to the waterfalls we had to turn off on a single lane volcanic ash road. The road wasn’t all that bad but it was slow going. It was well worth the trip to Mount Burfell and Trollkonuhlaup. We spent quite a bit of time taking photos and looking at the falls. While we were there a small tour group turned up for a brief visit.
While I was taking this photo I had walked up near the edge of the canyon. As I was placing the tripod on the ground I notice the volcanic ash below my feet was disappearing. I looked down and I was straddling a large crack in the rock. I made a hasty retreat to safer ground.
We returned to the main road and headed back toward Selfoss. Just outside of Selfoss we crossed over Thjorsa River and noticed a sign for Urridafoss. Since we can’t seem to drive by a waterfall without stopping we decided to stop. By now it was getting late and it was windy and a little cold. Just as we stopped the light came through the clouds highlighting the far shore of the river.
We finally called it a day and headed back to our Airbnb in Hveragerdi. It was Friday night and there was a lot of traffic on the road. Folks from Reykjavik were heading out to their summer cabins.
More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.