Monday, March 7, 2016

Iceland Adventures - Þingvellir National Park & Gullfoss

Iceland Adventures: Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss & Return To Reykjavik– 8/28/15

Today was my least favorite day of our entire trip – what??  After all, we’re still in awesome Iceland.  And today we traveled part of the Golden Circle, which is often the highlight of this extraordinary country:  the powerful Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and the famous tectonic plates.  The down side was the continuing troubled weather, more time spent in the car, and stress at day’s end.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We left our paradise by the sea literally in a fog… couldn’t see the countryside around us.  Once we turned southward and inland on Route 1 we left the fog behind, but the wind continued unabated the rest of the day.

Both Cathy and Mike had experienced the Golden Circle on previous visits to Iceland and we all agreed to take just a cursory look-see before heading back to Reykjavik.  Please don’t read this as any useful information or guide to features of the area. 

At Þingvellir National Park, the wind nearly tore the doors off the SUV as we got out to walk down into the tectonic plate boundary.  Below ground was quiet and still.  The fissures are the result of the continents of North America and Europe tearing away from each other.  Read about this phenomenon here.
A brief stop at the edge of Þingvallavatn

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is to Iceland what Niagara Falls is to the US (and Canada?), one of the most popular tourist sites in the country, but don’t let the idea of crowds deter you from visiting.  Gullfoss doesn’t suffer from the commercialization crowding in on both sides as NF does.  At one time targeted for a hydroelectric project, the landowner donated Gullfoss to the nation in 1975 for protection as a nature reserve. (Click on the photo to see full size and look for the tiny people.)
The Hvíta River tumbles into a crevice and makes a hard left-hand turn.  Roaring, all-powerful nature so loud it’s hard to hear a conversation. 

On our blustery day, we got drenched even from a distance.  So why not get closer?

With time running short, we made our way back to Reykjavik to return our rental car. (Yes, we skipped Geysir altogether.  So sorry.)   A quick stop to say hello to some Icelandic horses along the way.

So where is the stress?  We got our belongings out of storage, moved to another rental apartment, made a last-ditch stop at the local grocery to buy Skyr (Iceland’s answer to yogurt), picked up some pizzas and got down to the business of preparing for our four-day trek on the Laugavegurinn.  Tomorrow morning we have to store our gear again, then take a local bus to the main terminal to catch our bigger bus to the trailhead.  Everything goes either with me or into storage. 

As many backpacking trips as I’ve been on by now, I still get those qualms and trailhead jitters.  What to pack?  What to leave behind?  How cold will it get? Will it rain a little or a lot? How much food?  Do I carry that book or not?  Sometimes I think it would be best to have only 20 minutes to pack, with no time to agonize and second guess. 

All packed – and my water bladder wasn’t tightly sealed so it leaked all over everything.  Had to unpack, spread it all out to dry and repack in the morning.  Ugh.

What is the Laugavegurinn?  Iceland’s most popular multi-day hiking trail.  AKA walking on the moon. AKA an adventure like no other.  Stay tuned.

“Backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take.” ~Sheridan Anderson

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I am loving these posts about Iceland! I have to admit, I was a bit nervous by the intro to this post that someone was going to have a bad mishap at the waterfall, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it was a water disaster of a less hazardous sort (albeit a VERY maddening one--been there, done that!). Can't wait until your next post--I see a trip to Iceland on the horizon for my family after reading about yours! :-)