East Iceland-Favorite Day Yet!

Today was my most favorite day yet…I don’t know if it was the hardy Icelandic Breakfast I had OR the young Frenchman I woke up next to!…..hmmmm…one of those statements is fact and the other is fantasy…I’ll bet you can’t figure out which! (-:

Regardless of my sleeping or eating status, this day was filled with such unexpected surprises and wonderful brief encounters with lovely people from across the globe…It started off foggy but I had high hopes since the prediction was for sun..as I was heading North…which is actually East…just like the lovely I-4 Corridor…NE & SW!  As I headed OUT of town, the sun was breaking through the insistent cloud cover…BUT it seemed just as I could feel the beam hitting my arm, I was heading straight back into the dreary…bummer…

I was heading toward Skaftafell National Park, “a beautiful area at the foot of the Vatanajokull Glacier which is known for it’s unique natue & abundant vegetation, like an oasis between the black desert and the glaciers”- I lifted that from my travel guide since it describes it beautifully and I have a tendency to go off on tangents…like now…I was told once I left Vik, there would not be a… gas…excuse me…a petrol station for a few hours so I needed to fill up…I should have done that last night before morning when it seemed all the others had the same idea…not so much a problem if I had first learned how to open the fuel tank…and the famous Icelandic wind was ripping into all of us…AND it seems you can’t use a credit card at the pump…debit yes credit no…you need to go inside and buy a gas pre pay card and use that…by now those behind me were ready to kill the stupid American woman….although I spared my country the taint by not opening my mouth so maybe they thought I was of some other persuasion…finally on the road…and the fog is thicker than…molasses…so no Puffin sightings for me…onward I went in optimistic belief the sun would come out…and not tomorrow BUT today….where is the great day part of this very insipid story, you ask…well a friend of a friend was in Iceland last March and kindly emailed me some additions to my itinerary…you know who you are…Anna! One of her wonderful recommendations was to a Gorge called Fjadrargljufur “off the road a bit” was her quote..haha she neglected to say it was off the beaten track on on a very sketchy gravel road peppered with tons of potholes…(-: I met a British Couple down the road where we all saw the sign…and wondered where the gorge was…I told them Anna’s said it was just off the road so we knew to look around for it and from a distance we saw the gorge way way across the road and assumed if we went up the road a bit maybe we would see a street(the one that was off the road a bit)…haha…they ended up following me and the whole time I kept thinking about how there is no wireless service and when I bottom out this lovely rental car and lose my engine how am I going to call the mechanic? I then saw another vehicle 1/2 way there and he looked confused so Invited him to join our intrepid caravan to where ever… …we all soldiered on and eventually found this wonderful, as Anna promised, hidden nugget. Thank you, Anna for your great insight… it was the beginning of my wonderful adventure today…AND I didn’t lose my transmission in the process.

I must add that it was so cold and windy up there, I had 4 layers on…I started with 3 but the Brits put 4 layers and I figured they knew better than I…being a Florida girl, I get cold in Movie Theaters! Good decision…One personal side note…and a return to my earlier bathroom obsession…there are NO facilities anywhere for hours…and it is so flat and desolate there is nowhere to hide…..you too need to think strategically when it comes to this…I saw men just stand and do their business the day before at the Geyser…this is the one thing that makes me terribly jealous about not being a man…Boys, that ability to stand and take care care of it is a gift! OK…I really did take this into the dregs but I am telling you fuel and relief are the only issues from Vik to Skaftfell…unless you just drive straight though and don’t stop or take pictures..I dare you!

Well once I got to Skaftfell, I got a map and advice for some trails and off I went on a 3 1/2 hour hike to some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen…Iceland is shockingly beautiful…it looks like nothing else I have seen…there are mountains similar to many areas but the Lava Fields and Black Sand as far as your eye can see for hours on end and the green moss mixed in it all are breath taking…thank goodness there aren’t many people on the road because with all the stopping I did to take pictures, I am sure there would have been a serious pileup.

I am going to digress a bit…I have to say I have seen more Sheep than people in this country…and that says a bit since the Icelandic people I have seen all seem to have babies…so the population is growing but not like the sheep…they all have 2-3 babies each…and baby horses and birds are nesting…this is like serious mating season here…Babies of all species everywhere…it’s actually quite cute and fun…except when they run into the highway…Again…not many cars but you still need to drive with Sheep wariness…

OK back on the trail…I think I enjoyed todays hike more than most because it fulfilled several of my needs for a good hike…first it needs to be doable without having to stop every few minutes to grab an oxygen tank from my pack because the grade is so steep (-;

Second, it needs to be quiet…no car sounds..no people(or at least, very few), great scenery & vistas…AND few bugs or bees, which seem to encircle me when I hike out West in the states. This hike had all and the amazing part is that this is the only National Park in this area and there are quite a few tourists…but even with the buses, it’s not crowded and those hiking seem to know the code of hiking conduct…  I do meet lots of people…like today…I bought a baguette and ate it on top of one of the vistas…a French couple came up and picnicked with me…I tried to Parlez Francais only to discover how little I learned in my High School French class! Thank Goodness they spoke English…seems they must have actually paid attention in THEIR High School Language Class! We had a nice chat and I headed further up the ridge…we bid adieu…I then came across a couple of Scots who gave me some great advice for the Glacier Lagoon, which I was heading to next…and the day continued like that meeting people from Germany, Sweden, Canada & a Bus load(15 is a bus load here) of Americans from Connecticut ..Oh I forgot to tell you that when I got to the park, the weather had completely changed to bright sunny and, believe it or not, warm…not a little warm but actually hot…I stripped down to one layer(although still had my long underwear on)…At that moment I wished I had brought a  tee shirt…by the time I got to my second vista point the wind had started and the temp dropped enough to put my 2nd layer back on so the heat was fleeting…

On that 2nd Vista, I stood and was mesmerized by the silence…so many of the hikes I do, I can hear distant noises of traffic…or planes..or people talking…but this was deafening silence…and then the chirping of birds…I’ve gotta say, I think bird here sing in Icelandic…their cadence sounded different from the birds in my garden…I recorded a bit on my iphone…when I  get home I will post for comments.

Well my boots are definitely worn in and ready for my big 8 hour Greenland Hike(on my last day there)…not sure my feet are as broken in as my boots!

After the hike, I headed off to Glacier Lagoon…the Scots recommended I stop at one of the nondescript parking areas before the main lot(which BTW is a small lot compared to tourist lots we have back in the States) and hike over the hill…I followed their instructions and was met with the sight of these lovely blueish glaciers floating between the 2 hills I was walking through….breathtaking…And as I got closer, the temperature dropped significantly…I think this is what I will be dealing with when I am on the boat in Greenland…all that floating ice does air condition the environment…These glacier pieces have broken off and are melting into the ocean…which is right across the street…

Oh another digression…I drank my first drink straight from the falls…so delicious…the rule of thumb is…if you can see your hand under the water, perfectly, then it’s great to drink…if it is brackish than no…it won’t hurt you but the brownish color means either it has mixed with the sea water(common in some rivers here) or the volcanic ash is in it…no amoebas here…

After a glacial photo op, I realized it was late and wanted to get to my guest house which was an hour away…the drive was spectacular….totally different then the last 2 days…It was on the ocean with waves crashing…Unfortunately, there were people on the road with me since I was so close to the Glacier Lagoon so I couldn’t do my normal stop short and jump out in the middle of the road and snap away! I know…not good…but otherwise, I’d never get a picture. (-:  The terrain was now green green green…a change from the stark Black Sand…I really do love the look of that sand but it was nice to see some meadows…or maybe i was just mesmerized by the lingering sun…The white clouds in the sky were now high up and no longer threatening with fog…well that is until tomorrow when rain is supposed to return…fingers crossed it stays further south.

The Arnanes Guest House is wonderful. They have horses too…the room is lovely and so comfortable…well with all this activity today, I should sleep soundly.

Fjadargljufur

Fjadargljufur

Em on the edge at Fjadargljufur

Em on the edge at Fjadargljufur

Fjadargljufur

Fjadargljufur

South East Iceland day 2 roadtrip 188

Skaftafell Nat'l Park

Skaftafell Nat’l Park

Some flowers for my horticulture friends

Some flowers for my horticulture friends

Skaftafell Nat'l Park

Skaftafell Nat’l Park

Skaftafell Nat'l Park

Skaftafell Nat’l Park

Another House in the Hill

Another House in the Hill

Skaftafell Nat'l Park

Skaftafell Nat’l Park

Glacier Lagoon

Glacier Lagoon

Skaftafell Nat'l Park

Skaftafell Nat’l Park

9 thoughts on “East Iceland-Favorite Day Yet!

  1. Nora says:

    Great info! The picture of you on “The Edge” made the blood in my legs flow upward! Be careful! Any info. yet on who lives in the houses in the hills?

  2. Elleln Osman says:

    WOW! What a trip. Makes me tired just hearing about it! You are and always have been, the adventurer. Sounds wonderful! Be careful and remain adventurous!

  3. Lorraine Wood says:

    Your journal is fascinating!! You’re really great at painting pictures with words. Feels like we’re on the trip with you.

  4. Matt LeBeau says:

    The scenery is Spectacular, and the villages so colorful.
    If you meet up with a guy by the name of Snowden, get his autograph. Do be careful Emilee

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