Iceland. It’s RUN time.
Day 6: The South
What would a vacation be without a long run session? I woke up at 5am for a mission to run from the hotel to Svartifoss (Black falls) and back before breakfast at 7:30. I had the route all figured out except for some minor details, such as the uphill trail running portion one mile from the waterfall. I kept confusing meters for feet and always ended up ascending 3x more than expected. Words can’t describe what it felt like to run on a long empty road with wild Icelandic sheep on your left and mountains and glaciers on your right.
And most of all, it was a refreshing 40F that morning. After reaching Skaftafell National Park, I saw Svartifoss in the distance. Eventually, the hard work paid off, as it usually does.
On the way back, I realized that it was earlier than I thought. So I took a detour and ran down another trail which led me straight to the Skeidararjokull glacier outlet. I got as close as possible and then headed back to the hotel. So much to see and do with so little time. Skaftafell requires a half day at least. Sky running may be in my future.
For miles, as long as the eyes could see, there were flat barren plains resulting from the aftermath of the 1996 glacial lake outburst flood. Look what water does to bridges (and what remains of it).
Moving along the ring road, we arrived at Dverghamrar, a small canyon with hexagonal basalt columns in the middle of nowhere. It was like the Icelandic Stonehenge.
Not much further along the road, Mt Lomagnupur stood majestically at 2500 ft. It’s the highest cliff face in Iceland. This looks like an epic hike, maybe next time.
Further south-west were the lava fields of Eldhraun and cairns of Laufskalavarda. It was interesting to find an area where we could contribute in adding rocks to the expansive cairn collection. Knocking one over by accident probably would have caused a disturbance in the force.
Near the southernmost town of Vik is the Reynisfjara black lava beach. But in Iceland, you can always expect that a beach is not an ordinary beach. You can’t help but wonder if dragons lived there once upon a time. Lava rocks on this beach make good souvenirs since they are free and made in Iceland.
After a brief stop in the Skogar folk museum (turf farms with rocks for walls and grass for roofs), we made our way to the mighty Skogarfoss (Forest falls). As always, there was a path toward the top where I eventually end up. The photos would’ve been better but it was so cloudy.
By this point, you could see the strato-volcano Hekla (4,892 ft) and the infamous Eyjafjallajokull (Island mountain glacier, 5,417 ft) known for shutting down air travel in 2010 when a volcano under the glacier erupted. Ben Stiller in the Walter Mitty movie has a great time pronouncing this one. I hear there are great hiking trails around these lands.
And guess what? Another waterfall stop. Even so, each waterfall is unique and a sight to be seen up close. Not too far from Skogarfoss is Seljalandsfoss, which has a trail that takes you behind the waterfall. The sky was finally clear of clouds and the rainbows appeared. Just for fun, I tried going right under the falls. It was worth getting soaked for.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the Golden Circle; Iceland’s most popular tour. Stay tuned.
TO BE CONTINUED: