Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Iceland Day 8: Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Jökulsárlón, the glacial river lagoon was near the top of the list of places to see and was the highlight of the trip. Its presence in modern day cinema makes it all the more familiar. At one time the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier extended to the ocean. Within the last century, it retreated, leaving a lake and Iceland's shortest river, the Jökulsá. The icebergs can spend up to five years floating in the lagoon before breaking apart and drifting out to sea. Occasionally one would turn, scattering birds and startling tourists. No photographs do this place justice. Nearly every image (of mine) in this post looks like generic tourist fare because everyone is walking around marveling, unsure if the landscape in front of them is a fabrication.

Immediately upon arrival, I had multiple plans: soak this, collect that, photograph this and toss that. Many thanks to Donna for taking several of these images featuring me touching the coldest water of the trip. Repeatedly.

A water sample is collected from one of the newest bodies of water on the continent.

Layers of ash covered the glacier from past volcanic explosions and once the icebergs calved, the black shapes created irregular protrusions in the blue landscape. Sometimes they resembled zebra stripes but this hulking one in the distance reminded me of geological strata.

Several glacial particles floated past the shore and I scooped up this one to document and run my fingers across the pockmarked surface. My hands have never been so cold as they were after holding this up in the air to be photographed multiple times.

Since returning from Iceland (yes these blog posts are slow), I have considered the color and light of this country from a variety of perspectives. This photograph, typical of any image taken on an iPhone by a tourist first visiting the country, epitomizes the blue hues I thought we would find. I am currently brainstorming ideas on depicting color as the way it is imagined in a place so far away versus reality. Often my expectations were surpassed.

After all the collections were gathered and Camden's Rock was tossed, out came the binoculars. Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is in the distance and the zebra striped ash deposits are visible in the middle ground.

Judging from the scale of the people in the boat that drove near this chunk of ice, it was roughly 12-15' tall. It became very important to determine the height of these (though weight is just as interesting).

We walked along the Jökulsá River's mouth where the ice boulders were sent to sea but many were brought back by the tides. This activity was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, walking around chunks of ice that were only slightly taller than I, worn away from constant exposure to water on a black sand beach.

One aspect that contributed to the bizarre nature of the experience was how easy it was to create zoomorphic comparisons.

We successfully avoided dive bombing, nesting skuas but I failed when I lost one of my well loved earrings thanks to readjusting a scarf.

Had I known I would have an idea about video while in Iceland, I would have recorded on a high quality camera the speed in which the boulders were dripping. One became instantly aware of global warming and loss here.

We returned from the ocean and walked along the shoreline obtaining a different view of the lagoon. As we rounded the East coast and arrived in the South of Iceland, the tourists were omnipresent but not in the great hoards we were lead to expect.

Retracing yesterday's steps, the return to the Hvalnes peninsula and the Lónsvik Spit in the sunlight was in order. It was on this day that I knew I wanted to return to Iceland. This was not a once in a lifetime trip but one that would occur again and hopefully not too far in the future.

A photograph was taken of a very orange lighthouse for Hannah Barnes and her love of the hue. Meanwhile, the blue in the background was quite striking and I diverted my focus to that.

I have only been to the Honolulu airport for an hour or two but this scene of the Hvalnes Peninsula makes me feel as if I have explored the Hawaiian islands. Barren, desolate, and green yet also occupied as witnessed by our rental car (nicknamed Stan). This was the location that made me reconsider returning. I want to see places at the edges of the earth that make me feel as small, insignificant and in awe as one doe in Iceland. Only one other country has done that and it was New Zealand.

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