Tue Aug 23 2011: Ice? In Iceland?!?
Hofn (A) to Glacier Lagoon (B) to Vik (C)
We only covered about 600 kms the last couple of days, from Seydisfjordur, through Hofn then onto Vik. Most of it in the rain. Note the Vatnajokull glacier that our route passes by. We spent most of today riding up to a few of the tendrils that reach the road and the water.
This is the first time I've ever tried Gore-Tex riding pants - definitely not as good as a dedicated rainsuit. When you sit on wet Gore-Tex, the pressure squeezes all the water through the fabric onto your skin. 10 hours of soaking butt in 5C rain. :(
In the background you can see one of the tendrils running off Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Iceland. If Vatnajokull is the size of a hand, the visible part from the ground is only about the size of a fingernail.
We stopped to view quite a spectacular sight at Jökulsárlón aka "Glacier Lagoon". This part of the Vatnajokull glacier gets pushed out into a lagoon where pieces of ice regularly break off and create icebergs. These pieces are huge, only 10% is visible, the rest is underwater. They slowly melt and drift out of the harbour. We saw a piece break off while watching in awe.
You can see some dark banding on some of the icebergs. Normally they are pure white, but the big eruption last year threw ash all over the glacier, giving the icebergs here a marbled effect. Beautiful!
Close-up of an iceberg at Glacier Lagoon
The largest icebergs must have been well over 60 feet high, and that's only the part that's above water!
[Edit: Someone just asked me why the ice is so blue. I had no clue, But Wiki came to the rescue:
Blue ice occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of a glacier that winds its way toward a body of water (river, lake, ocean, etc.). During its travels, air bubbles that are trapped in the ice are squeezed out, and the size of the ice crystals increases, making it clear.
The blue color is often wrongly attributed to Rayleigh scattering. Rather, ice is blue for the same reason water is blue: it is a result of an overtone of an oxygen-hydrogen (O-H) bond stretch in water which absorbs light at the red end of the visible spectrum]
Looking over Glacier Lagoon. Two James Bond movies have been filmed here, as well as Tomb Raider and Batman Begins.
Just like at Timmies: Posin' with an Ice Cap. :)
We spent such a long time here, just staring in wonder at these mini-icebergs!
On our way up to yet another one of the glaciers that runs off Vatnajokull. There are tons of them all along the south shore of Iceland. You can see another one off to the left.
Neda is probably looking for more flowers to take pictures of
Mini Glacier Lagoon
After hiking around we find a secluded mini glacier lagoon all to ourselves. Great view of Vatnajokull up ahead. The leading edge of the glacier (terminus) has a very "Fortress of Solitude" look to it.
Close-up of the glacier. Just to give you an idea of how gigantic it is, those dots in the middle of the picture are ice climbers
A taste of Iceland...
Riding away from our own private glacier lagoon
Mossy terrain on the ride to Vik