Judging from the mostly vertical walls of the gorge and the relative smoothness of the rock walls, it was probably carved mostly by water, possibly with some help from the glacier. The shaft down which the little clear stream trickles was probably originally a crack in the rock or maybe a vein of softer rock which over time got worn away by trickling water.
The walls of the cave, like the walls of the gorge, are partially covered in vegetation and constantly sprayed with water. This makes for a stunning play of light on the walls and water when the sun shines down the hole in the roof of the cave.
Water-worn rock in the gorge wall, with mineral deposits.
Here, the waterfall seems to flow up.
Close up, it looks like the mouth of a monster.
This formation, which sticks up from the course of the Krossá river, was probably carved by the river rather than the glacier.
The Stakkholtsgjá gorge is situated near the entrance to Þórsmörk and is a worthwhile destination in itself. It looks like something straight out of a fantasy novel and would have made a gorgeous entrance to Rivendell if Peter Jackson had decided to shoot scenes for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in Iceland.
I took so many good photos during our hike up into the gorge that I had a hard time whittling them down to the handful I usually post of such expeditions, so I decided to write posts devoted to different aspects of the hike, using galleries to showcase the photos.
This is shot from the entrance, up into the gorge. The gallery below shows how the gorge changes as you get further into it. Which one is your favourite?
Looking back down towards the entrance.
Near the point where the gorge is at its widest.
A bend in the ‘road’.
The canyon narrows. It actually splits in two a little below this point. The wider of the two forks, down which the glacial river flows, reaches up into the glacier. Straight ahead is a vertical shaft carved by water, down which flows a small, clear stream of non-glacial origins.
Into the cave.