Monday, August 29, 2016

Land of Fire and Ice: Day 2



If Day 1's theme was waterfalls, I'd say Day 2's theme was beaches. Day 2 was truly magical as it was one of the things I'd been looking forward to the most - Black Sand Beaches, Glaciers and the Ice Beach.

We woke up in Vík, made breakfast and were ready to take on the beaches!








Our campsite was near the black sand beach, so we spent the morning hiking around Vík and the beach. It was soooo windy, but amazing. I feel like I can use that word to describe everything we saw.  The black sand was just so stark against the frothy white of the waves and the jagged cliffs and rocks that surrounded it. The contrast of the landscapes were just so vivid that we just found ourselves staring off into the waves in awe. The town is another iconic Icelandic town with an amazing red roofed church that overlooks the town and the beach. It was so peaceful to hike up and look out over the whole place.

We then hopped in the van and made our way toward the glaciers! This was another day that the distance was shorter - and could probably be made in 2.5 hours, but of course it took us the full day again. The landscape and the weather changes in the blink of an eye and it's impossible to foresee what lies just around the next curve, so each new landscape was a welcome surprise and we couldn't resist stopping to soak it in (and of course snap some shots).











We came across more waterfalls, drove through what I assume a far off planet to look like, saw some mossy lava flows, tall green cliffs, grasslands, and then saw the glacier peeking through the mountains in the distance. It was like we were driving through sets of movies or shows; each one so unique and yet they all fit together so nicely that it was as if it was one big green screen fake-out.

We stopped at Skaftafellsjökull and hiked to the glacier. Since it was summer, there were pools of water and long stretches of dry ground blocking the way, but we still got an awesome view of the massive ice block and its surroundings that have been formed over thousands of years by volcanos, rivers, and other glaciers.


Svartifoss (Black Fall) was a couple kilometers away and had such an intense backdrop of basalt columns.


We continued on further along the southern coast to arrive at Jökulsárlón by the late afternoon and spent the rest of the day wandering around the glacier lagoon, a small lagoon into which huge blocks of ice constantly break off the glacier, Breiðamerkurjökull, and large icebergs float on the water. When the icebergs flip, they radiate a vivid blue tint that almost glows in the sunlight. The lagoon is not very wide, but according to its website, it is up to 250 meters deep - which makes it the deepest lake in Iceland.

The iceberg pieces break off and either float toward the shore or out to the sea {where they sometimes wash up onto the ice beach - stay tuned for Day 3!} and I of course had to feel what thousand year old ice was like...it was cold. Just like the ice in your freezer, but still, it was a pretty cool experience and lived up to all my expectations. I also kept thinking about how much I would not want to be stranded in glacier-ice filled waters, and how there was TOTALLY room for Jack...

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We made some friends with a seal family, and if you look closely you can see one of the little guys in the shot above - ok, by 'made friends' I mean we stalked them for a bit trying to get a picture of them. They were frolicking around the icebergs and would just come up to look around and then dive back under for a long swim. It was adorable, though.

After marveling at this site and scoping out where to come back the next day for sunrise shots, we headed back to Skaftafell to camp for the night at the base of the glacier.







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