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Published: August 24th 2018
A long haul today. Just under 500 km. I must be going soft. 1,500 kms in outback Australia is a good day. Could be just be a little more to see here - and the 90km/hr speed limit is there for good reason. This post will take us down the east through the fjords to where the glaciers come out to play and on to Vik, the southernmost point of the island of Iceland - and the place where there are supposed be lots of puffins.
Nice camp at Reydarfjordur. After doing all our washing and drying (no chance of drying in natural sunshine and breeze here), we slept in and didn't hit the road until just on 11.00am. The plan was to cover some ground down the eastern fjords. The coast line is fjords until you get into the area where the daddy of all the glaciers, Vatnajokull, sits up on the Highlands and influences everything below. Since we have been here the weather in this area seems to be the most changeable. There has also been significant flooding on some of the many rivers. We thought we would see if it was reasonable to do it in one
The first stop was at Petra's Stone Collection. We almost didn't pull up. I made a unilateral decision. I have been told that I should be prepared to make decisions rather than ask for opinion, so I did. I travel with a person who has been picking up stones on beaches and any other places where stones might be for almost 66 years. Surely, this would be something she would want to see.
Turns out that Petra also collected stones. She collected enough stones over her lifetime to fill a decent sized house block, including the house. The display of the rocks now supports a number of children and grandchildren. There are a lot of rocks and, while there are the inevitable similarities and double ups, there is an amazing variety. Most of the rocks were collected in this general area, East Iceland. In the days when Petra got started cars and good roads were in short supply. Only the obsidian came from other parts of Iceland.
Petra was obviously just that little bit obsessive about some things. There are also matchbox, biro/pen, and business card collections, but nothing to rival the rocks. If you are
passing, it is worth a visit at least to marvel at what dedication to a cause can deliver. And if you like to look at rocks of all shapes, sizes and types then spend an hour or two in heaven.
It may sound harsh but, after 30 or so fjords, they start to share a number of characteristics - road along the coast, pretty villages, farms going down to the sea, turns as you go in, get to the end and come out. When you get to Hofn on the way down you are finished with fjords for a while.
We had considered camping at Hofn. Instead we just visited the Vinbudin and a supermarket for supplies and continued on. After that it was all about the glacier(s) and the forecast said it would be raining properly tomorrow with strong winds. Bad for photos and walking around. Incidentally, the Iceland Weather Bureau provides and excellent and pretty accurate forecasting and warning service.
I am not sure how you go about naming glaciers. Vatnajokull is this massive glacier covering 9% of Iceland's land mass. I would have assumed that all of the ice pack connected to Vatnajokull would
be included under that name. That may or may not be the case but our maps show that each glacial "finger" (my name, not official) of Vatnajokull has its own name.
So we have glaciers such as Skalafellsjokull, Flaajokull and Breidamerkurjokull all poking down towards the sea. They seem to be each named for the mountain or range from which they come, although many of these are under 400m of ice. For the purposes of this story, the salient piece of information is that they are each lurching out of the mountains above us and leaking down, across the road, to the sea that is on our left.
Much photography was taking place as we proceeded along the Ring Road, travelling with a greater proportion of the world's population than I had expected to meet in Iceland. Things really picked up when we came across Jokullsarlon - which I am punting means 'glacier lake'. You will have probably already established that 'jokull' is a glacier. But then that would be 'jokullvatn'. Perhaps Jokullsarlon is a lake into which a glacier 'calves' - and I'm not sure if glaciers 'calve' here. I will go with it because that is
what they do in Alaska, New Zealand and Argentina.
It simply means that bits of ice - at times rather large bits of ice, i.e. icebergs - drop off. At this place they float around in this relatively small lake for long enough to let enthusiastic photographers and everyone else take their fill of photos and to allow entrepeneurs to make some money selling tickets to people who will go out in small boats to have a closer look - for those without telephoto lenses. I think that it is around here that you can also go and visit an Ice Cave in one of the glaciers. Not sure about that one - these things are moving, dribbling and have volcanoes underneath!
In company with many others we spent time here looking at the icebergs in the lake and then at those that had made it out into the adjoining surf.
Skeidararjokull gives its name to a large area of land called Skeidararsandur which is a considerable piece of land on the seaward side of the Ring Road. Braided streams from the outflow of the glacier cover the entire area. From the air it is impressive, from
the roadway it loses most of its impact.
We had a plan to camp at Kirkjubaejarklaustur but it didn't work out (even though we had learned to say the name by this stage, rather than Kirkjubae-thing). The camp site caters mainly for tents. It has a toilet and running cold water and nothing at all to recommend it as far as we were concerned even after 480km. Back in the day the village was in the zone most severly affected by the ash of the Laki eruption. There are tracks that lead from here to a number of sites that are considered beautiful and important. Places such as Elagia and Lakagigar. They are also hard to get to and the weather was bad. We went on to Vik, where the weather was also bad but on good road.
The Vik campground was full to overflowing and it was raining and blowing well when we arrived pretty late (for us). Luckily, we have hardened up over the last little while and, instead of turning away or taking a second best option, we poked the ute with its camper into a spot that wasn't really a spot (but it was
flat and had access to a power outlet, which we needed because this camper has a pretty rubbish second battery) and then went and paid. Forgiveness we could seek from a position of being warm and dry. After all, permission may not have been forthcoming and we had travelled far enough.
Tot: 2.489s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 13; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0478s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 4;
; mem: 1.4mb