A Travellerspoint blog

Myvatn

Now that the wind has died down, the midges have emerged. Despite the lake's name ("Fly Water"), I had forgotten this was a possibility. They were suddenly swarming my face, and I thought, What? Oh. So it's true then. Because I had been in a little disbelief.

Posted by chschen 08.25.2013 05:00 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Hitchhiking and Birthdays

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Milky hot spring pond

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Geothermal steam in the distance

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Iceland lava monster

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Again, moss covers everything

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You have to lean into the wind just to stay upright

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Our kind ride-givers

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Mudpots!

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Birthday DIY cookies and cream ice cream

Posted by chschen 08.24.2013 05:52 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

Mighty

There is something sparingly beautiful about this flat, rocky land, smothered today by a thick, lumpy blanket of low clouds. Everything I think I can't stand--the cold, the wind-blown grit that gets everywhere, sticks to your hands and face, penetrates your mouth and coats your teeth, the abysmal, desolate loneliness--all of these are borne by other people somewhere in the world, and that I experience it, too, is somehow a type of communion with them. Or with the sense of the solitary. Or with all solitude.

That distant roar is a mighty waterfall. You would never think it, in this dry, featureless land, that only meters away was a deeply-cut gorge and millions of gallons of angry, frothing water barreling through a day. Mighty. Here, nature or the gods or God or something that is not man is mighty. I am glad we did not just drive up in a car, take a few pictures, and leave. Even yesterday, walking through, I could not comprehend, was full of other things. Only now, not seeing it but hearing it and remembering, am I properly awed.

What is such a feeling worth? You can't say. I wish to, and then simply stand and receive. So if you can't pay for it, you can't even be certain to have it, how do you measure it? By others' reactions? But you can't share it, either. The most you can do is to talk about it vaguely and inadequately and hope to touch some spring in someone else that will answer forth in a gush.

* * *

No caption for these pictures because Chris took them on his hike while I stayed in the tent recovering from illness.

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Posted by chschen 08.23.2013 05:00 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

So Laugh

I'm not sure why it is that I can spend many hours gazing off into space nowadays, thinking of nothing important at all. Afterwards, if you asked me, I wouldn't even know what had been playing in my mind. Perhaps nothing, or perhaps something at a very slow speed. At first I had blamed it on the cold. It dazed me somehow. Now I think it's not that--just laziness or contentment.

Chris and I have begun hitchhiking. It's always tourists who've picked us up so far--maybe it's only tourists who come out this way. A German couple, a French couple, an American girl from Alaska. The talk is cheerful and always the same. Luckily we're a semi-interesting story in these parts where almost everyone is just on vacation. Alaska girl (Sara) said it's colder here in Iceland than it is in Alaska right now. We laughed at that for a bit, but inwardly I sighed. Cold can be funny if you don't still have two weeks of camping and hiking in it left.

We're in the north now. Just a little bit further and there would be the Arctic Ocean. Our bus meandered up the east fjords this morning, and it was a marvelous feeling to go from thick drizzle to sunshine and sea, everything looking so clean and large and our bodies warm, finally, from being "indoors," if only temporarily.

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Many murals in the towns of Iceland

But that was short-lived. The bus dumped us at the Dettifoss intersection, and it felt like the middle of nowhere on the moon. Just black sand and dust and low rocks and a relentless wind blowing it all into your eyes. My skin is so dry that some patches look white. I've been looking toward this hike with more than a little bit of trepidation for some time now. Outside the two major waterfalls it feels deserted here, not even a bird bothers to visit. It should be the last physically challenging part of the most physically challenging part of our trip. So if I can just get through it. But then it feels absurd: why am I bothering to do something that causes all this dread? Other people who drive their sturdy metal boxes around and who sometimes stop for us, they speak of their hostels, and my heart leaps in envy. Hostels! What luxury!

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Our favorite cheese

Oh for shame, for shame. Ungrateful little thing. We've a cozy little tent, have we not? Though it's true that lately it's been showing signs of wear. A tear here and there, and the zippers don't zip properly anymore. And haven't we been eating well? I sit like a princess, staring at nothing, while Chris tries to boil water in the wind using our little stove. He comes in breathless but not grumpy as I would be. Stop your moaning, Robbie would say. "Moaning" sounds like just the right word because "complaining" doesn't quite capture the shuddering soul aspect of the noises that issue from me, or that I want to issue. I try not to spiral into negativity as I know this would sadden Chris. And anyway we are having a good time if we can both laugh together about it. So we laugh (a bit nervously).

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Dettifoss prelude

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Dettifoss itself. For scale, the little colorful dots near the center of the photo are people.

Posted by chschen 08.22.2013 05:00 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

24 Hours at Jokulsarlon

What's going to follow is a whole lot of pictures of floating icebergs. Because of the bus schedule, we spent over 24 hours in this windy, beautiful place, freezing and falling into a sort of hibernation state. Nothing to do but take photos and meditate.

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I can't believe we're somewhere cold enough to calve icebergs

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Doesn't this one look like a swan?

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Iceberg pieces carried out to sea, floating in the surf

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Some were quite pretty

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Some were beached until they melted

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Icebergs parading out to sea

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Ice and light

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Zoomed out, from the windy ridge

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Whale?

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The light grows pretty

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All the serious photographers started snapping in earnest at sunset. Bored, I copied their stances and angles when they'd moved on to the next spot.

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Iceberg shards

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Our best camping view yet

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Ever more shards

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Dusk

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Moonlight

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Different day, different world

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Tunnel to gloom

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Someone's after our polenta

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Iceberg antics

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Captain Chris

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Climate change art titled, "Polar bear on a melting iceberg"

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"Don't worry, men. I know how to land this spaceship."

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The 'bergs must all pass below the bridge...

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...while we sit back and watch in luxury.

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Found a single, dirty mitten. Mine now. Precious. My precious.

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Rough seas

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Icebergs in the mist

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Ghostly icebergs

Posted by chschen 08.21.2013 05:00 Archived in Iceland Comments (0)

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