Europe | Iceland
May 19, 2009
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1981, Monday 6 July: Strokkur Geyser splash, Iceland

Strokkur Geyser, Iceland
Until you see one, geysers are inherently implausible, like whale spouts only more so. Get up close and the emotional response changes from curiosity to shock and awe - especially if you figure the wind direction wrong and end up doused in still-hot water and banks of steam.

Geysers are one of the planet's rarest natural phenomena, and to this day, I've visited just the one - Strokkur Geyser in Iceland. (The world's other main geyser fields are in Yosemite, North America; Kamchatka, Russia; the Chilean Andes; and on New Zealand's North Island.)

Looking back at this photo from way back when, what you see is a bunch of gangly teenagers in cotton anoraks on a drear and bleak plain. I still remember the cold and the bleakness vividly (as well as a strong sense of trepidation: we were about to spend the best part of a month hiking across Iceland's uninhabited interior in said anoraks, with just canvas tents to dry off in at the end of each day); but I also remember the fascination and wonder of this site striking me full-square even at the disinterested age of 17. Pity I haven't managed a follow-up visit just yet. An early priority with the boys I think.

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