Sunday, September 20, 2015

Iceland Day 10: The Southcoast to Hella

Here is yet another unsuccessful attempt to keep the omnipresent light out of the hotel room in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

The neat old telephone made up for it though.

Today was our last day on the coast and I was willing puffins to appear at each stop. People I had consulted before visiting Iceland said they were everywhere and ten days in, not one had materialized. First stop after crossing the black lava sand flats of Mýrdalssandur was Vík. In a country so new (geologically speaking) with unexpected volcanic activity, standing near rocks like this continued the theme of human vulnerability.

Scale reference. We even saw an insect that wasn't a midge crawling on the rocks. Every living thing felt out of place.

It was in Vík that I realized I have unintentionally collected black sand from all the beaches I have ever visited and this proved no exception.

In reality, they were black pebbles.

Reynisfjall lay around the corner but first a binocular photograph of the Reynisdrangar stacks, pillars of rock rising out of the sea (a less eroded version of the formations that surround Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon). Only Arctic terns were spotted but I kept hoping.

Reynisfjall (straight out of a Bon Iver music video) also reminded me of the Oregon Coast. The basalt formations resembled church organs above the cave named Hálsanefshellir.

Dyrhólaey, once called Cape Portland (now that is a name I can remember and pronounce) was closed due to nesting but we were able to get very close (no surprise there!). First up: a binocular photograph from Reynisfjall.

Once arriving at the rock formation, we saw a crowded Icelandic beach in June.

Donna found two puffins nesting before we rounded the corner for the full view of Dyrhólaey. We were so happy to see this after they had remained elusive for nearly the duration of the journey. We stared at them for quite awhile in the cold wind.

Thew view of Dyrhólaey was spectacular and even more so when we saw that the predominant white area in the rock formation above featured a line of nesting puffins among the Arctic terns....

It was the perfect way to end our trek along the coast before we headed inland to see more foss. The fact that it was a place once named Portland was not lost upon me either.

Next up, the very famous (I can't even count how many works of art where this foss is featured): Skógafoss. We would climb the stairs on the right, legs burning in our new waterproof pants.

Skógafoss was more dramatic of a location than my previous water sample collected at Svartifoss so I dumped it out and collected a new specimen. [Photograph by Donna Goedhart]

Here lies the point where I would never be seen standing in all of Iceland. Fortunately, no one broke past the minuscule barrier (read non existent) to pose for a photograph or take a selfie while we were admiring the view.

Eyjafjallajökull was nearby but it was enshrouded in clouds. We opted to not walk on a glacier since last year's memory of the Columbia Icefield Parkway was very fresh. Sadly, I was not fully prepared with the right shoes (left in Stan, the rental SUV) to swim in Seljavallalaug. It is a must on the next visit as it is the only outdoor geothermal pool where I still feel inclined to swim in the entire country (not waste water from a treatment plant).

The sun shone briefly at Seljalandsfoss and a tiny rainbow appeared at the base of the falls.

It was too slick to walk behind but this photograph that Donna took of me blinded without my sunglasses will serve as a reminder of how much I loved this foss.

A hotel on a horse ranch near Hella was our final destination. Here is a still life from the common area.

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