S: ICELAND - 2011
FC: ICELAND - 2011
6: Harpa, Iceland's new music hall has just opened this summer and is largely still under construction. It's construction began before the economic collapse and, despite Iceland's small population, it is designed to be the largest music hall in all of Europe.
7: Old Harbour
8: The famous Icelandic hot dog, complete with ketchup, sweet mustard, crispy onions, raw onions and a remoulade sauce. Legend: Bill Clinton enjoyed one from this very hot dog stand. Fact: Bill Clinton has a history of heart problems. Surprisingly, the Icelandic delicacy that I really like with chocolate and licorice together. Sounds awful but it was actually pretty great! | Range Rovers are all over Iceland and they are well suited for the landscape but they're also a symbol of the craziness before the economic collapse. At one point, Iceland was importing more Range Rovers than all the other Scandinavian countries combined....Iceland being a country with a population of only 300,000 people!
9: Since the lava rocks have so much air in them, they are not as heavy as you'd think. | An Icelandic bachelorette party.
10: SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA
11: Before beginning my camping trip, I took a day trip out to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Goecco Tours. First Stop: The secret hot spring, where we alternated between the hot pool and the cold cold river.
13: Next stop was a picnic on the coast with a classic Icelandic lunch of smoked lamb and flat bread sandwiches...and pizza. “Dessert“ was rotten shark with a Schnapps chaser. Rotten shark is typically washed down with Schnapps. No explanations required.
15: The black church is a tiny little chapel that sits on the coast of the peninsula. Next to it, a small luxury hotel apparently hosts quite a few weddings. What a view from both the church and the hotel.
20: We wrapped up the day with a visit to a farm on the tip of the Peninsula. While we were there, we rode some Icelandic horses and had a beautiful dinner of local fish and lamb that we had picked up along the way.
25: Iceland's only white collar prison is next door to the farm....not a bad life, really. It seems you have to be an international art forger or something to get in. Maybe in my next life!
26: The next day, I joined up with the camping group and our first stop was the Assembly Field where representatives from the different regions of Iceland would meet annually to hold Parliament as far back as 930. You can also see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet on the left side of the photo. | THINGVELLIR
27: There were an awful lot of photos of nothing but spray before I captured this moment right before it went of. Luckily it goes off every 10 minutes or so and we were camping right next door so there was plenty of opportunity to get it right.Erected with the assistance of my camping go-to girls: Susie and Stella. | GEYSIR
30: SNOWMOBILING ON LANGJOKULL GLACIER
32: KJOLUR HIGHLAND TRACK
33: The first of many fantastic drives. The road passes between two glaciers as we headed north The photos just don't convey the sense of space. Along the way, we passed cairns on the side of the road. It's a bit of a tradition in Iceland to leave a rock behind when you run into one of these cairns. This one seems to have gotten a little out of hand. Smaller cairns often mark paths that run parallel to today's roads. They mark the paths that people would follow from their regions to the parliamentary fields.
35: We broke our journey for a short walk and a dip in some hot springs at Hveravellir. One of the hot pools was set up with a hose with some cold water from the adjacent cold river flowing into it so that we could soak but everyone had to crowd around one end because it was still pretty hot.
37: Icelandic roads are pretty tough are vehicles so we had to break our journey again to change a flat tire before we got to our final destination for the day...a beautiful campsite in the farming valley of Skagafjordur. We got much faster at changing tires by the end of this trip.
39: Our guide, Jon could always find us the best picnic spots. These tiny little churches are often built next to farmer's homes but they are used by the community. This one seats about 12 people maximum and overlooks the valley.
42: LAKE MYVATN
46: We went for a hike around Krafla. Thats where were headed! | Older lava in the foreground is starting to grow moss while some of the newer lava is still quite black. | Krafla erupted on a regular basis from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties and it's still steaming here and there. | These humps appear where the lava heaves with seasonal changes...just like Canadian roads.
47: KRAFLA | When you get up high, you can see how the lava has flowed around high points in the landscape
48: 2 | 1
49: 1. At this point, Jon has led us beyond one of the ankle-high safety ropes, which seem to be more of safety “suggestions“ than actual rules. 2. Standing on the edge of one of the eruption craters, Jon explains how it all went down. 3. Yet another example of Jon standing on the edge of a precipice to get cell phone reception. 4. A clear fault line can be seen in the distance. | 3 | 4
50: Krafla Lava Field | Explosive Crater near Lake Myvatn. See the tiny people on the left ridge for scale.
51: This is how it works: They drill deep underground and pipe steam up to the power plant. (You can see the pipelines zig-zagging across the mountain). First, they use the pressure in the steam to drive turbines and generate electrical energy. Second, they run the remaining hot water through heat exchangers to generate hot water. In this area, each house would have it's own cold water inlet and hot water inlet. The hot water would run directly out of the tap for cooking and showers and it would also run through hot water radiators to heat the house. No hot water tank, no furnace, just a hot water inlet. They figure this costs Icelanders about a third of what similar energy would cost elsewhere in Europe. Krafla is the first such geothermal plant and they started building it in the mid-seventies, around the time that Krafla started erupting for a decade. The Krafla site is just out of the photo on the right. I can only imagine what the project manager for the construction of this plant was thinking! | KRAFLA GEOTHERMAL POWER PLANT
52: Turning into an epic day of adventure, our little group went to the tiny Lake Myvatn airport and got on a teeny tiny site-seeing flight around the area. The pilot actually had to lock up the airport before we took off!
53: We were able to spot all of the sites that wed visited that day: The pseudocraters, the power lant, Krafla, Namaskard, and the explosive craters. Also, our campsite!
55: The next day, we set off into the interior of Iceland. Its a tough journey that involves fording rivers (awesome!) and driving through roads carved out of lava fields, and across the desert. The hand painted sign gives helpful hints for successfully fording the river at this site. Thoughtful! One of our only bathroom breaks was at this mountain hut. Mountain Huts are sprinkled around Iceland in remote locations. They're operated by hiking clubs and offer very basic remote accommodation.
57: We stopped to picnic in the desert. We were always prepared with sandwiches, fruit, tea, coffee. Apparently, this area looks so much like the moon that NASA astronauts trained here in the '60s.
58: One of my favourite hikes of the whole trip. We were eating our lunch in the desert literally half an hour before this and suddenly we're trekking through snow. The geography changes quickly in Iceland.
59: HIKE TO THE ASKJA CALDERA
60: What's really special about this hike is that you don't really know what you're supposed to see at the end until you climb over the last crest and all of a sudden there's a giant crater in front of you. A caldera is formed when a chamber of lava under the ground empties out and the ground above it collapses. See tiny naked man for scale! Behind the main caldera in a secondary caldera the size of a lake. It‘s the deepest lake in all of Iceland and local lore says people go missing in it and are never seen again...kind of like the Bermuda triangle.
62: We hiked around to the banks of the secondary caldera where we were the only people around so we hung around, drank our tea, did a little yoga, and generally enjoyed the quiet.
63: Then we headed back to our campsite at Lake Myvatn....through the snow....and the desert....and the lava fields. | This road in unmaintained in the off-season so Askja is really only accessible for the summer months. This bumpy track makes tight turns to wend its way through a lava field for over an hour of driving. I'm glad I wasn't doing the driving.
64: Another late dinner back at the campsite. The sun sets very late in the north at this time of year so it‘s easy to lose track of time. These photos were taken around 10PM!
65: LAKE MYVATN CAMPSITE
70: Elf Church
71: Documentation from when Iceland was first colonized indicates that the country was covered by forest. That's hard to imagine today since just about all the trees were cut down my the Vikings. Icelanders feel a real sense of guilt about the lack of trees in their country and they have projects sprinkled all over the country to try to reintroduce trees. This small forest is an example of what the original forest would have looked like. Icelanders like to tell a joke about what to do if you get lost in a forest in Iceland.... just stand up! | ECHOING CLIFFS
74: NORTH COAST
77: Another Remote Picnic Spot
78: Civilization! Husavik is a fishing town on the north coast. When we visited, we went on a frigid whale watching cruise. We did eventually see a few Minke whales. | HUSAVIK
79: One of the most remote houses Ive ever seen | This teeny tiny hut on a teeny tiny grass hill is barely big enough for a dog. It's a monitoring station for measuring the level and TDS of the water as early indicators of flood activity. If a flood is detected early enough crews can dig out the road on either end of a bridge so that water will flow around, saving the bridge.
81: A glacial river is dirty looking because of all the aggregate from the glacier that it carries along with it. A spring river is characterized by it's pristine clear water. Here, the two meet.
82: SAENAULASEL FARM
85: Icelandic weather sure is variable
86: ddSAENAULASEL FARM | jokularson glacial lagSAENAULASEL FARM | JOKULSARLON GLACIAL LAGOON
88: Another trip highlight, this site was like walking straight onto a set for the movie Titanic. The boat that takes you around the lagoon is also on wheels because the icebergs move around and they often have to change the point that they enter the water.
89: At this point, it had been about a month since the last volcanic eruption in the area and most of the icebergs have flipped over as they've melted away but a few still have sides that are coated with ash. When the part of the iceberg underwater melts away enough that theres more mass above the water than below, the iceberg will suddenly flip. A safety boat zips around looking for signs of movement.
92: SKAFTAFELL NATIONAL PARK
93: This famous waterfall is known as Svartifoss. Remember the big church in Reykjavik? These are the falls that inspired its design. As always, we brought along some snacks, tea, and coffee to take a break and enjoy the view.
95: This old farm overlooked the flood plain. This area used to have a few farms on it but has since been abandoned because of the floods that can occur there. A dike on the left side of the river attempts to protect the bridge.
96: SVINAFELLSJOKUL GLACIER
97: Our picnic spot of the day was on the edge of the Svinafellsjokul Glacier. It was a little preview of what we were in for in our glacier hike later in the day. The tiny people we could see hiking on the edge of the glacier did not inspire confidence. Nor did the plaque that talked about missing glacier explorers whose bodies had never been found. Only their gear had come out the bottom of the glacier some 50 years later! In other news, Jon stands on the edge of a cliff for cell phone reception...again.
98: The uninhabited island if Ingolfshofdi is only accessible by....hay cart. One one side the island is just a big sand dune that almost connects it to the mainland. On the other side, the Atlantic Ocean. For our journey to the island, we were outfitted with laboratory goggles to protect our eyes from the sand. You can just make out the hay cart in the distance. That's as far as it can make it in all this sand. It`s generally a pretty cool place, but the big draw is it‘s Puffin population. | Great Skua
100: Approaching the Glacier. We had such a busy day that we didn‘t do our Glacier hike until 8PM.
101: All geared up with crampons and axe. At least we weren't left unsupervised.
103: Water will find any little divot in the ice and start to carve out a crevice until you're left with a seemingly bottomless pit.
106: Campsite at Skaftafell
107: Midnight at Skaftafell
112: Another flat tire!
113: On our 2nd foray into the wild interior of Iceland, it rained and rained but the land was just beautiful. This is the view from my tent....not many neighbours out here | LANDMANNALAUGAR
115: When it rains in Iceland (and it certainly does rain) you just put on your rain gear and go out anyway.
118: These mountains remind me of a real life Emily Carr painting.
124: Last night of camping...and what a campsite! | Last Breakfast at Skogafoss. My last morning of Mesli and Sourmilk for breakfast. Yum!
125: Eyjafjallajkull. This is it. The famous volcano that interrupted European air traffic in 2010. | Our group had a joke running about these Marshmallow farms that produced the famous Icelandic delicacy.
128: SELJALANDSFOSS | On our way back to Reykjavik we stopped at this waterfall that you can walk behind.
130: The Last Picnic Spot: After 2 weeks of beautiful picnics in Jon's best spots every day, he saved the best for last but we had to work for it. How often do you need to put your rain pants on to dine but it was worth it to get to the falls at the end of the gorge. One of the most special things about Iceland is that a lot of the beautiful places you visit, you don't run into another soul. What a special place to have our last meal together.
132: BLUE LAGOON
133: No trip to Iceland is complete without popping in at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. After 2 weeks of rarely seeing another tourist, I was suddenly surrounded by them!