We slept in, trying to recover from yesterday’s 11 miles worth of hiking. We had some Quaker Oatmeal packets for breakfast along with a big cup of English Breakfast tea. Feeling a little better after breakfast, and with one day in the camper-van down, we realized that we needed to better organize the gear and food. Things were rattling around and food was falling out. Once everything was squared away, we planned out our day, fueled up the van, and hit the road.
Our first stop was at Laufskálavarða. It’s a lava field the road cuts through, and just off the road are dozens of cairns. Remember those two stones I grabbed from the beach yesterday? It’s tradition that first-timers who pass through Laufskálavarða add a pebble or stone to a cairn for good luck in their travels. A word of warning, Laufskálavarða is the only place where you’re allowed to create a cairn, it is forbidden in all other places in Iceland because cairns are still used to outline boundaries and other important marks. So if you want to build one, here is the place.
With lunch time approaching, we decided to pack a small meal for our hike at Fjaðrárgljúfur, a beautiful gorge with a gentle river running though it. The trail starts by the mouth of the gorge, next to the stream. It’s a nice and easy hike to top, as it follows along the edge of the canyon. We found a good view at the top, relaxed, enjoyed the great views and ate PB & J sandwiches, bananas, and cheese.
We made a quick stop at Dverghamrar, or Dwarf Cliffs. According to legend, these basalt columns are home to supernatural beings, either Dwarves or elves. Sadly no beings, Dwarves or elves, were to be find. The columns are rather unimpressive themselves, with better ones available on the island, like at the Black Sand Beach. There was also a small water fall behind a farm across the road.
About 40 minutes further east, we got to Svartifoss, the Black Falls. It’s a really interesting waterfall due to the surrounding dark lava columns. It’s a medium level hike to the falls, though the path is mostly graded well, and it was extremely busy here with tourist climbing all over the place to get a good shot. Though with the sun high above and to the west a little, it cast a harsh shadow over part of the falls. Definitely a great photo spot if you get here when the light is right.
Our final stop for the day was at the two glacial lagoons, Fjallsárlón and the more famous Jokulsarlon. We came to Fjallsárlón first, it was a short hike, over a small hill covered in loose rock, to the shore. The water was a bit brackish, and the chucks of ice were small and a bit dirty as well, but you did get a nice clear view of the glacier at the back end of the water.
It was nice that there were so few people here, but it was clear when we got to Jokulsarlon why. Jokulsarlon was astoundingly beautiful, a nice deep blue water, massive chucks of ice everywhere, and even a lone seal swimming around the lagoon. At one point, about a hundred or so yards away, a large slab of ice, about the size of a refrigerator, broke of an iceberg and hit the water. A deep bass noise was emitted, and the sound wave hit you right in the chest. It made my whole body vibrate for a quick second, it was one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to experience. With the sun slowly headed behind the mountains, I shot as many pictures as I could. Just a fantastic place to visit.
We drove to Haukafell Campground, a small, out of the way site that we pretty much had all to ourselves. Though there was room for close to 60 camper vans, it was just us and two other vehicles. Katya hopped under the covers to warm up as I made us tea. It was really cloudy when we got there but the night was perfectly clear and the sky lit up with stars. A wonderful way to end the day.