Monday, March 30, 2015

Icelandic Adventure Day #2

Our second day in Iceland was likely my favourite. We "started" the day at 2:00 a.m. and got lucky to see northern lights.  They weren't the green and blue variety - we missed those, unfortunately - but definite disappearing and re-appearing white and yellowish clouds in the sky.  We stood their, glued to our cold window, for what seemed like an hour.

We then woke around eightish to catch the solar eclipse.  The guest house we had stayed at, though a bit on the dank side, just happened to also be housing two astronomers from France there to see the solar eclipse with their truck load of gear, plus all of their random couchsurfing friends from Malaysia, Australia, Detroit, and Devon.  They graciously invited us to join them and use all of their gear to watch this extraordinary event from the place on Iceland that proved the best spot to watch.  We were told that Iceland TV was among those gathered at our random guest house.

The Frenchies were Skyping with three different classrooms in France.

It is very faint here, but Astro Charlie had punched his name into a computer case.  The eclipse was noticeable in that the shadow-holes looked like moons rather than full circles.

Again, not the best picture, but the eclipse showed up in these shadows as well.

Astro Charlie himself.  He's headed to the US/Canadian border in 2017 to see that eclipse, too.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate with him then as it did on Iceland.

 On our way east, we stopped by this farm, which lays directly beneath Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, which erupted in 2010 and grounded all trans Atlantic air travel, and put Iceland on the map as a tourist destination.  This picture was taken during the explosion.  You can see how the mountains have been changed since the eruption. 

In my top five things we did in Iceland was this mountain hot pool off of highway 242, Seljavellir.  We found it on this blog, although the instructions for how to get there ("keep walking towards the mountain"?  There are mountains on three sides - it should be to "keep walking towards the canyon, mostly along the hot water pipes") were less than clear.  The views were breathtaking - I think we counted something like 18 waterfalls.  The water wasn't quite as hot as I would have preferred thanks to the cold air temperature, so we hugged the two places it emerged.  My only regret was that we didn't bring a towel.  Made getting out in the blustery March weather a rather chilling experience.

We hiked a bit further and found steaming, black waterfalls. 

And this impenetrable canyon.

Next up for the day was Seljalandsfoss - much more intimate and less crowded than Gulfoss.  Can you see the rainbow?

We hiked to the top.

After the viewing platform, we discovered a hike that continued on - more later.

Again, see the rainbow?

Sod homes in Skogar - more on this later.

We then headed to Vik, the lowest point on the Island, and town of the black sand beaches.  Before getting to Vik, I had Lance follow my hunch and turn down a smaller road towards Gardar.  Turns out it went to a much more secluded black sand beach with basalt pillars, caves, massive waves, and a black sand restaurant that sells really good soup and steak sandwiches.

These waves were maybe 10 ft high

Lance tried maybe 5 times to get this picture right.

His final and best attempt got photo bombed.  This beachside cave, which can't quite be captured here, was unbelievably cool.

You can kind of get a feel for the cave in this pic
Gate to nowhere - Lance again behind the camera!
We then set off for our most easterly goal on the island, the Iceberg Lagoon, Jokulsarlon.  To get there, we had to cross about three hours of lava fields and glacier fields.  It was breathtaking.

The most southern tip of Skeidararjokull glacier

the Iceburg Lagoon, formed by an glacier, Breidanerkurjokull, touching a bay that spills into the sea.  It was frozen over when we reached it at dusk, but in the summer, bits of the glacier break into the bay and head out to sea.

We were lucky to find a place to sleep close at hand, in Reynivellir, so that we could eat their over-priced but welcomed food and rest our weary bones.

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