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Southwest Iceland, crazy changing weather and midnight Sejalandsfoss climbing….man I’m beat!!

It is 7am here right now on Sunday morning, and the sky is finally clear and I can see sunshine to start but after a second day of hardcore driving, we deserve a longer rest. So continuing from our first day adventures, Lev and I got up at noon yesterday. He was a bit worse for wear but miraculously remembered where we had parked the car last by Oudua’s house, thankfully I got some extra sleep but once again got up with no hangover to speak of really! The Russians were talking about us though, with our late arrival back at the house at 5.30am from partying in Reykjavik, some gibberish about the tall white guy and the “black” guy he was with!!! Only in Iceland, can that happen I’m assuming, since I am not florescent white and don’t glow in the dark. So after they knock on our door at noon and walk in to tell us we have to leave……this is ain’t no fricking Sheraton for sure…. we got on our way and decided to drive South through the South Western coast, make our way to the Blue Lagoon and then finally head to Vik.

The drive through the Rekjanes Peninsula is quite scenic, I wouldn’t describe it as breathtaking but it does offer quaint old churches and farmhouses. The geology and panoramas though as something to behold….more on the Geology in a bit. The coastline itself

The rugged coastline did provide tons of great pictures and the water in combination with the clean air really does refresh you. There really isn’t that much that i can write, since the pictures themselves tell more about the scene

 

As soon as you arrive in Iceland, you can see that it is geologically unusual. Over much of the drive through the the Reykjanes peninsula from Reykjavik, you are presented with a scene as bleak as you can imagine. A dark, hummocky plain, Reykjanes peninsula was created by the same violence that both built Iceland and pulls it apart today.

Iceland sits astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, part of the world-circling undersea mountain system that is the locus of new crust formation. Iceland formed by the coincidence of the spreading boundary of the North American and European plates and a hotspot or mantle plume. As the plates moved apart, excessive eruptions of lava constructed volcanoes and filled rift valleys. Subsequent movement rifted these later lava fields, causing long, linear valleys bounded by parallel faults. These movements continue today, accompanied by earthquakes, reactivation of old volcanoes, and creation of new ones.

Some of the most active areas of new crust formation are in the southwestern parts of Iceland, accessible to all travellers. The trip from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik takes you along the edge of the North American plate where it meets the European plate. A drive to nearby Thingvellir valley, reveals an older part of the rift system, where you can see both sides of the plate boundary in one sweeping panorama. So of course a tourist point is the actual fault line where the two plates meet up as the pictures show.

Much of the next couple hours of driving was a combination of crazy rock formations or gorgeous coastline, although we definitely felt at times like we were on the death march to Mordor. The trip though the Peninsula has that type of Lord of the Rings feel to it. So after a long couple of hours, we finally looped back to Keflavik and to the World Famous Blue Lagoon.

Thoughts on the Blue Lagoon….
Personally, I was not blown away or anything. It is nice, it is blue.. some parts more azure blue than others but it is really is just a very very fancy spa with some warm blue water in it. Of course, it is a requisite tourist trap and it was quite welcome after a long long day of driving through the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Anyway after leaving the Blue Lagoon, we decided to make the 3 hour drive to Vik to get our touring started early…. nothing much since it got dark at this time…. or so we thought, since it was really was just driving through the crazy changing weather in Iceland, and it is crazy changing for sure… I wont try to explain but rather insert the following journal entry

The “Icelandic Low” is a key to bringing a greater or lesser amount of warm air into the Arctic depending on the intensity of the system, and is part of a larger weather pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

NAO is the name for changes in the difference of air pressure between the semi- permanent low-pressure system centered near Iceland (the Icelandic Low) and a semi-permanent high-pressure system centered near the Azores Islands (better known as the Bermuda-Azores High).

On average, both of these systems are present all year; however, both are strongest in winter. When both the high and the low intensify and fluctuate in pressure relative to one another, they change the circulation of cold and warm air in the region.

When the Icelandic Low is strong, it forces cold Arctic air southward to the area west of Iceland and Greenland, setting the stage for increasing sea ice cover in Baffin Bay, the Labrador Sea, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. At the same time, to the east, warm air that is swept northward reduces ice extent.

This warmer air contributes to the reduced ice extents east and north of Greenland, and the reduced extent of ice in the entire Arctic overall. “When the Icelandic Low is weak, it will still bring warm air northward to the east of Iceland, but not as much as when the Icelandic Low is strong,”

The highlight of the day really came when I spotted this faint illuminated source in the darkness off the side of the highway….

Ok ok.. it was not the Sheep really….but rather this…

This was Sejalandsfoss at night.. so through the driving rain we find this tallest waterfall in Iceland… completely deserted, spooky as hell, and fricking magnificent and we had it all to ourselves. Not a soul in sight at 11pm… driving rain, uterr darkness around and what do we decide to do….

Yeah that’s right… we hiked behind the falls through the rain and sleet…. but it was absolutely exhilarating… the power and roar of the waterfalls…. and of course with Lev’s trusty flashlight… it was perfect…. we spent a good 35 mnutes being soaked to the bone in near freezing temperatures but I would do it again for sure!!!

This last shot took about 4 minutes to compose, since it was raining so hard and was sooo windy!! After that we were buzzing for the last hour’s drive to Vik….. and basically got to the hostel… unpacked, uploaded and I was out at 2am…..end of day 2…..

 

 

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at [email protected]

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