Saturday, July 23, 2011

Iceland Chronicles - Part XI (Skaftafell)

After a good breakfast, we set out to explore the park. Unlike yesterday, it was a sunny day and so we could see our surroundings. The camping grounds were on the plains below a mountain that sits between two glaciers from the icecap. In earlier times this plain was surrendered by the two arms of the glacier, but now these have receded and are somewhat back.

The mountain is covered by low woods (or brush) and is riddled by streams. We set on a popular trail that leads out of the camp ground up the gentle slope toward a series of falls. The trail was popular and at any point in time we saw other hikers.

We passed next to a cascade of falls.

Then the trail left the stream for a bit and toping the hill we could see Svartifoss (the "black fall") which is surrounded by hexagonal rods of stone. We went down to the stream to take closer pictures (with everyone else :-)

At this point the girls had enough and retraced their way to the camp. The boys took a detour that climbed to the east end of the mountain to overlook one of the glaciers.

This trail was less busy, and we saw other hikers, but not often.

At some point we could see glaciers on both sides and the plain riddled with streams.

The glacier was covered with black ash. This made it harder to distinguish the ice from the surrounding stone. The surface of glacier was riddled with cracks, making interesting texture from our view point.

When we got back to camp, we found the girls in the visitor center. We had a snack, and quick internet session.

Around 2pm we set out westwards. The next 100km passed through plains that were subject to floods from sub-glacier volcano eruptions and to ash from exposed volcanos. As a result most of them are desert of fine black ash that blows in the wind.

Toward the end of the desert we reached the bridge that was washed by floods in the last eruption few weeks ago. The temporary replacement bridge was wooden, but otherwise indistinguishable from other bridges we passed.

The old bridge could still be seen where it was washed by the floods. The whole area had black mud on the fields.

The desert area ended at the town of Vik. This is a small town, that holds several distinctions. It is on the coast but does not have a harbor. The beach at Vik is known for its black sand.

The town is shielded by a massive cliff that runs to the shore. It serve as nesting grounds for multitude of seabirds that we saw before, but mostly on islands. It was the first time I saw this many puffins from the mainland.

The trip to the beach was somewhat disappointing, as the sea was angry and the wind brought up mist.

We continued to a close by beach that sits on a high cliff. The road to Dyrholaey was a bit rough. At its end was a parking lot from which we climbed to see the sea below.

We then climbed down to a cove to watch the waves from up close.

Finally we climbed on another cliff that serves as bird sanctuary. We were standing above the nesting areas, and could see the birds coming and going from the cliffs below us. At this point the light was low and so the pictures are not of great quality.

No comments: