Iceland: The South East

Rise and shine on day 3 and I am not feeling so hot. I had a couple late night sprints to the bathroom and I am blaming the lamb/chorizo or the not eating all day or eating such rich food or hiking for 12 hours. I am having trouble committing. Regardless I can feel that today I will need to take it easier. Our hostel hostess gives us Tums and wishes us well. It is 10am, deep breath, ok, lets go.

Onward we go to see Jokulsargljufur a glacier in Vatnajokull National Park. It was about 3 hours drive past Vik so we could work furthest South East to West since we were staying in Reykjavik that night. It was formed in 2008 when Skaftafell National Park merged with it. The glacier is located near Iceland’s second largest river Jokulsa a Fjollum. The great thing about Iceland is everything is basically within a day or two drive. You get to see all of the national landmarks pretty easily. I am still shocked at how much of America I have yet to see but I can now say I’ve stood on a glacier.

We went to the north entry at Asbyrgi which is enclosed by canyon walls. Since we went in the spring season we unfortunately could not go cave exploring. The boat trips were not running either because of the water run off and the moving glaciers. The Icelandic man who works at the coffee shop by the glacier casually told us this. Talk about an interesting place to work. We could see plenty as we climbed up some hills and explored around the area. The enormity of it is lost on you unless you are there. Look for the man in the red jacket in the third picture for some perspective.

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From there we headed towards Skaftafell, which if you are paying attention would guess is a… yes waterfall. On the way there we found another glacier. I would absolutely suggest getting a rental car. Having the freedom to pull over when you see an incredible mountain or glacier or waterfall definitely makes the trip. We get to Skaftafell around 2pm not entirely ready for another hike. With only ice cream in my belly we head towards the waterfall.

The directional signs are so infrequent that we would arrive at a waterfall and think “This can’t be it, right?” We would walk for about 20 more minutes and find something just as beautiful and think “Ok maybe this is it?” But we would keep going and then we would find it and believe me you knew when you did.

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One of the women at the Visitor’s center told us there is an incredible view just past Skaftafell. I am starting to get hangry but we are already halfway there and when I am going to Iceland again so alright let’s go. We walk up mountains that had no paths except to follow the incline. The wind was so strong I was walking at an angle. By the time we got to the top I need a minute to take it all in. After some great shots it is time to walk down.

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By the time we get back to the car it is around 5pm and we have one final stop. Our amazing hostel hostess told us we had to do it. After she saved our lives with Tums and a place to sleep we had to honor her request. The last stop is Reynisfjara which was on our way back past Vik on the way to Reykjavik. It is on a black sand beach near Dyrholaey. You can see the beautiful arch rock from the shore. They are stacks of basalt columns that look like church organs. We had fun climbing the columns because unlike at home everything can be touched. It is easy to forget your exhaustion when you see a place like this.

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By 7pm we are not only exhausted but just done with the site seeing. I am day-dreaming of my hostel bed as we pile in the Suzuki and head back to Reykjavik. It is a 4 hour drive so we take turns at the wheel, race other Suzuki’s on Rt 1 and sing along to Maroon 5.

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