John made this walk alone one day while Siv rested. Incredible place, walking on a volcano with steam vents all around you.
"Leirhnjúkur is a rhyolite formation (593 meters above sea level). The hill rises less than 50 metrers above the surrounding lava field. The rhyolite of the hill is porous due to the geothermal heat and has in several places turned into clay -- hence the name Leirhnjúkur = clay hill." Its second and latest period of volcanic activity was in the Krafla Fires of 1975-84. Distances are deceiving: It is about 1 km from the parking lot to the mountain. At the beginning of the path, there is a lone-standing turnstile, like in a Mel Brooks movie. Of course, I went through it. Pretty orchidy-looking flowers add a minimum of color to the rocky landscape. The landscape itself has plenty of color. Looking south along the flank of Leirhnjúkur
High geothermal activity means steam escapes from cracks all over, like this one on the slope of Leirhnjúkur. A viewing platform overlooks the area. Looking up along strangely anatomical-looking formatons Hot lake on the north slope The walkways around the thermal lake are as esthetic as they are useful. The ground is quite hot. This walkway was quite new. Apparently the ground moves enough that it must be replaced fairly often.
Hot mud and water An opaque, milky-looking thermal lake and a view over the northeast lava field The path goes upward, One of the path-marker stakes is visible on the horizon to the right. Dried lava is mostly black or dark grey (basalt?), but interspersed with rhyolite and other mineral color. It looked like a path on the left, but it went nowhere and the rocks on the side were very loose.
Ropy-looking pahoehoe lava This was the path up from the thermal lake, with a red-shirted person on the viewing platform. Volcanic cone against a lava landscape Steam vent right beside the path Bright mineral colors
Stakes mark the path. Hlíðarfjall, one of the most recognizable peaks in the Myvatn area Incredible colors Distant islands floating in a black sea (really a lava field) north-west of Leirhnjúkur Blue colors in a light-weight, extremely fragile piece of vesicular lava, probably basalt
The path finally reaches the top of Leirhnjúkur. Looking back towards parking lot and geothermal plant View southwest across lava field View down over thermal lake On the horizon, smoke from the eruption at Bárðarbunga and Holuhraun
The path down eventually reaches soil and grass among the piles of dried lava. Complex dried lava Different colors of dried lava Bright red leaves of ground plant Green lumps around the base of Leirhnjúkur
The path descends down from Leirhnjúkur. Contrast of dried lava and slopes of Leirhnjúkur