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Sauntering along the south

2016 June 17
by admin

We left artsy Seydisfjordur on the east coast, in search of a hike to start our day. We had not driven far before one of the endless waterfalls along the Ring Road caught our eye more than any other, and we got out for a mossy trek and rock scramble. Waterfalls are like trolls in Iceland: they hide around every corner, roaring with their teeth glinting in the sun, and I am sure that some turn to stone, but apparently not until late summer.

The next sureality to catch our eye was the serene and supernatural-like lagoon of Jökulsárlón. Icebergs, great and small, stood in motion-captured floating around a huge area. As we walked, we saw seals duck in the water, ducks hiding in the rocks, and rocks sealed into the ice. We also got to witness the collapse of a colossal wing of an iceberg, breaking into a chaotic mess of chunks, slowly settling into new configurations.

Our sole planned stop was a hike around the Skatafell region of the country-sized Vatnajökull National Park. Another waterfall, and then to the lookout over a glacier cascading between two mountains. The scene looked like army of snow ripples charging through the mountains, forcing them to cleave apart.

We ended the day over a meal of Icelandic cheese and linden-berry jam pizza, where we also learned that 10% of the country was currently at the soccer game.  We drove across what Lonely Planet describes as the “soul-destroying wasteland” of Sandar, which we found rather beautiful in a yet a new way.

Our AirBnb for the night is on a horse ranch with an hospitable and industrious host.  Earlier, we learned that the field after field of horses in Iceland are not for work nor for transportation, but purely for show, so these were beautiful creatures.  That said, I also found “real leather” wallets, with big horse emblems on them.  Our host also does “super-jeep” tours, such as are the only way to get into the highlands.  We were in fact in need of a super-jeep, since the end of our hike for today required three river fordings to get back to civilization.  Ultimately, we decided to make a loop of the trek, which was the awesome Fimmvörðuháls trail between the recently-erupted Eyjafjallajökull and another even-larger volcano.  After passing myriads of waterfalls (10 of the 22 in the hike), we turned around and made our way back for a day of chill complete with homemade risotto.

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