fimmtudagur, júlí 28, 2005

skaftafell redux

I spent Saturday night camping out with some friends in Skaftafell Þjóðgarður, a national park in the shadow of Vatnajökull in the southeast of Iceland. My first batch of pictures shows the campsite under the glacier and Svartifoss, the Black Falls.

In 1996, a subglacial volcano in the Skaftafell area caused a flood (known in geology circles by its Icelandic name, jökulhlaup) that washed away miles of the national highway, including a part of a bridge that's more than half a mile long. I drove over the reconstructed bridge, which spans a broad flood plain. It was hard to imagine this vast area completely covered with rushing water. Nearby there is a picnic area where kids can play on a twisted piece of the old bridge.

On the way back home (it is a 4-5 hour drive from Skaftafell to Reykjavík along the main highway) I stopped in picturesque
Kirkjbæjarklaustur (population: not many), site of the only gas station in a 50-mile radius. It was jammed with summer tourists, Icelandic and foreign, buying gas, washing cars, filling every table at the gas-station restaurant.

About 45 minutes past Kirkjubæjarklaustur comes Laufskálavarða, site of a farm in the original settlement days (874 - 1100s). The farm burned down back then, but ever since travelers have been adding to the cairns for good luck as they pass.

Wanting some company (radio stations are few and far between and I forgot to bring my Run-DMC tapes with me to Iceland) I stopped for two hitchhikers outside of Vík í Mýrdal. They were two penniless grad students from the south of France who had been hitching their way around Iceland for 5 weeks, and were apparently unprepared for the bone-crushing prices. Since they spoke barely any English (and my usual French expert is stuck on the Vineyard) we had a tough time having any intricate conversations, but they were good dudes. I ended up teaching them some Icelandic. We stopped along the way so they could look for a book they had left on the side of the road, then continued all the way to Reykjavík where I dropped them off at the city campground.

Thanks to RZ for always being a "champion", in the words of FB.


Blogger Chez Master Chez said...

Awesome photos as usual... I'll get there to visit you guys eventually. And thanks for linking to my site! I'll do the same later today.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I love the gas station restaraunts. I think one of my favorites is in Varmahliđ. 'Course, it might just be because I was starving when we got there...


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