From Vik to Skaftafell National Park

6 Oct 2015

This morning we make our way to Hali Country Hotel located 7.5 miles east of Jökulsárlón-Glacier lagoon.  This will be our home for the next four nights.

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Our first stop after leaving Reykjavik was Reynisfjara beach near Vík.  There are basalt columns, black sand and two sea stacks.  The weather was overcast and there were many people on the beach so it wasn’t the most promising for photographs.  It was very lovely to see.  I made an attempt at an HDR photo at this location (sandwiching multiple shots with different exposures to compensate for the range in correct exposure).  It isn’t great  I think because the waves and clouds were moving but it gives you an idea of what the beach looked like.

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Along the way we passed through an area of obvious volcanic activity covered in thick moss stretching for miles and miles.  It looked like big soft pillows of green mossy wonderland; I wondered where all of the faeries were hiding!  It was so beautiful and foreign and completely captivating!  This area is called the Eldhraun lava field.  It was created by the 1783 Lakagíga volcanic eruption which wasn’t a single event, but rather 8 months’ worth of lava flows and explosions.  The Laki explosion not only killed 50% of  the livestock and 25% of the population in Iceland, it also had a dramatic impact on the rest of Europe. Global temperatures dropped as a result of the sulfur dioxide spewed into the Norther Hemisphere causing drought and crop failure.   It is estimated to have killed over six million people globally!  Over the centuries the lava flow has been covered over with moss and some of the native plants creating this other-worldly landscape.

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Closer to Skatafell National Park we stopped at Gigjukvisl Bridge where a piece of the old bridge is on display.  In 1996 a large glacier run was caused by the eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano on Vatnajökull (kull is Icelandic for glacier).  The bridge was destroyed by floating ice boulders as big as a house!

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Robin standing beneath the twisted remains of the original bridge.

Wednesday October 7

We got up for a sunrise shoot at the black sand beach that the Jökulsárlón-Glacier lagoon feeds into.  The Atlantic Ocean in this area is truly vicious, a force to be respected.  I have never in my life see such tumultuous surf. It is awe inspiring and a bit scary.  There wasn’t much ice there this morning so we went back out to the lagoon and took pictures there.  The weather was still overcast with intermittent rain.

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Rain made us run for cover and then rewarded us with a lovely rainbow!  We saw a young man out here this morning, I assume a local, making a statement to the tourists in three-quarter length pants and a bright red short sleeved tee-shirt!  I had on thermal underwear, a wool sweater, a down jacket, a rain coat, a hat that covered my ears and gloves…..I was NOT too warm.

From there we drove out to a location on Vatnajökull glacier.  We could see people out on the glacier going in and out of a hole in the ice….crazy if you ask me!  A few times we heard sounds…..”glacier noises” that would have sent me fleeing but did not affect their behavior at all!

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We ended our day back at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to photograph the aurora.  The solar flare activity was high but the sky was overcast.  It was bitter cold when we got there about 10:30 pm.  After a time there was a break in the clouds and we were able to see the dancing lights.  It wasn’t magnificent but as the evening wore on we did get some pretty good shots.  We finally packed it in about 2:00 am completely frozen and exhausted!  It was a lifelong dream of mine to see the lights so I felt very exhilarated to have witnessed it!

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