Day 8/10

Skaftafellsjökull

There is a layer of 2 cm of snow on the car. Strange, this was not foreseen. Breakfast is a bit complicated this morning because they have two guesthouses and the breakfast is in the other. It’s quite meager, no reason to drive here for.

The sky is completely overcast, which is a pity. Yesterday the weather was quite good when I passed Jokulsarlon, but at the time I didn’t have enough energy anymore. First I have to drive those 70 kilometers back. It’s raining a little which switches to snow soon after. Then I encounter some snow on the road and a bit further this becomes a lot more. It’s getting darker all the time and before I’m well aware of it, I’m surrounded by a heavy snow blizzard, large white snowflakes flying by horizontally. Looking towards the ocean I see a very dark wall of clouds with the snowflakes in front of it. Very beautiful actually for a photograph, but I better keep my attention on the road. Visibility descreases rapidly and soon everything is white around me. There’s even more snow on the road and I have to slow down, first to 70 and later to 50, because once in a while I feel the car starting to slip away.

Now I start to worry a bit. If this continues I will get stranded rather sooner than later. Luckily I filled the tank before going, which is kind of reassuring. I do not encounter other cars either. Only after an hour I encounter the first one and fifteen minutes later the second. That’s all. This morning I already booked a hotel back in Höfn, the same place I’m coming from today. Instead of going back, it’s starting to sound more sensible to continue to Reykjavik instead and to cancel the hotel. Driving for another 500 kilometers this way is going to take a while, in particular if even more snow is going to fall down.

Everything is covered in grey around Jokulsarlon and it’s still snowing heavily. The road is getting more slippery and the temperature is lower here than earlier in Höfn. I encounter a bus and an emergency service car, nothing more.

After a while, it stops snowing and the sky is slowly getting lighter. Behind me, everything is still dark grey. When I arrive in Skaftafell (hike yesterday above the glacier) it’s dry and light. I better get an actual weather forecast before doing anything else. He says that things will improve during the day. Wind can be the most significant problem. ‘Wind?’ I ask. ‘Yes, actually it’s not that bad, 12 meter/second only)’ he says. Apparently the wind here can be so fast that it’s impossible to drive!! Between Skaftafell and Jokularlon there’s a large mountain sticking out into the ocean. The weather on both sides is often completely different. Something I choked in, the last time I was here. Arriving with a good temper to shoot some photographs, passing the mountain and arriving in completely unexpected foul weather. It happens within a couple of kilometers. If you drive back, the weather is still fine overthere.

I check all the photobooks here and write down all the locations I didn’t know for my next visit (and yep that’s already in the planning (-; ).

Next I’m going to check out the Skaftafellsjökull glacier which is very closeby. At the glacier I notice a couple I have seen earlier this week on the Orcaboat. They are Dutch people too and have been living in Los Angeles for 5 years and have spend all of their holidays in the United States during that period. This is their first time in Iceland and they think it’s phantastic.

You can hike to the tongue of the glacier here and along the debrie slope. At first I’m looking against the sun, so I rather proceed along the slope, also because the mountain summits on the other side will come into view. There’s a kind of trail on the slope, but it’s not that comfortable to walk on. I’m in doubt for a little while. The slope consists of fist size rocks that are all lying loose on each other. The slope is quite steep and roughly 100 meters high where I’m standing. Slipping or tripping is not an option here. I continue for another 200 meters along the slope and then it’s enough.

It’s getting steeper here (not that I’m climbing higher but I’m walking across the slope and that is getting steeper) and the trail has virtually disappeared. The risk is getting a bit too much for my taste. Without photogear it would be another story, but I only have one hand free and the bag is working like a counterbalance that moves exactly in the opposite direction when loosing balance. I shuffle back to a spot with a large boulder (size of an average car) and position my tripod behind it. From here I shoot for a while.

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

These photographs show that a glacier is really a river of ice.

Skaftafellsjökull

Skaftafellsjökull

Shooting beautiful ice patterns here is without limits.

Skaftafellsjökull

I talk for a while with the couple of the Orcaboat and then walk back to the car.

Meanwhile it really has become nice here. A warm sun, with some clouds but not more than 4/8 cover. Better have a look at Jokularlon. After a small quarter of an hour in the car I have passed the mountain, but behind it, the weather is still bad, dark sky, fierce wind and lots of rain. Hmmm. I had better cancelled the hotel and continue to Selfoss for instance. I’ve seen computers at Skaftafell. Most probably they have internet overthere.

Having arrived there it appears that cancelling the hotel, implies paying for the room, which is kind of pity. The weather forecast is fine for the end of today and tomorrow. There’s also an Aurora forecast of 2. Ok, Höfn it is.

After passing the mountain between Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon I notice a beautiful glacier that wasn’t visible earlier this morning because of the weather.

Ringweg ten oosten van Skaftafell

Ringweg ten oosten van Skaftafell

After an hour I’m back at the glacier lake Jokulsarlon. It’s already lighter here and above the ocean it’s still a very dark shade of grey. I wait here for a while but things are not improving. Better try again tomorrow morning on the way back towards Reykjavik. All icebergs are covered with snow now anyway. Very little to no blue ice.

Eystrahorn

There’s still some snow on the road but not as much as this morning. It’s 16:00 now and I notice a couple of little blue specks in the sky. Promising! There are two beautiful mountains here the Vestrahorn (Westhorn) and the Estrahorn (Easthorn). I continue a bit more to the east to see them both. They truly are very photogenic, but the weather is still too bad. At the Easthorn is a radarstation and there is the end of the road. If the wind drops a bit I think I have found a spot that is protected from it, but soon I discover that’s not the case, if the wind picks up again. Sand flies in my face and the wind howls around the car. Ok, forget about this.

On the way back I shoot a couple of photographs without a tripod.

Eystrahorn area

Eystrahorn area

Eystrahorn area

Eystrahorn area

Pity that there’s so much wind. Cannot use the tripod now.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Iceland Winter 2013, Day 08

Download the original gpx file here.

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