As if to make up for the terribleness of the last day, this day dawned beautifully with an incredible sunset over Lake Mývatn. Once I saw the scenery outside, I sprang out of my bed and threw on my clothes as quickly as possible so I could get outside and take picture. Sadly, my picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was the perfect way to begin the day. After I finished up with my pictures I headed back inside to pack up my room and then have breakfast. This was the first place I’d stayed that included breakfast and I was curious to see what it was like because I’d heard quite about the weird Icelandic breakfasts. They did make an effort to have some typical breakfast fair of yogurt, granola, cereal, and the like, but I loved that they had some wonderful breads and meats too. Apparently that is a pretty Icelandic thing, which I thought was totally kickass because I’m not a fan of cereal or even yogurt really. After finishing my breakfast, I turned in my key and headed out for the day.
My plans for the day included Dettifoss, which is the most powerful waterfall in Europe, some mud pots and geothermic areas, then to end the day I was going whale watching with Northern Sailing in Húsavík. This was a lot to try and fit into one day, so I needed to stay on top of myself and not get lost or anything. As I headed towards Dettifoss, I was again found myself marveling at the landscape surrounding me. The snow had stuck around and really offered a wonderful contrast to the lava rocks and blue sky. Even though the sun was up there was this really cool reddish tint to the south eastern sky, I’m not sure what caused it, but it really added to the views. The hour drive to Dettifoss went by quickly amidst all that scenery and before I knew it I pulled up to the parking area. The completely empty parking lot really set the mood for the next hour, it was a bit chilly so I bundled up, grabbed my camera, and headed out to Dettifoss. It was a relatively short hike, a mile or so I believe, and it was so very silent. The lighting was just gorgeous and I tried several times to capture the effect it had on the my surroundings. One again I found myself wishing I was a total camera badass, but I was having fun playing around. Just as I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to reach the waterfall I felt the rumble come through the earth. Was that Dettifoss, I asked myself? Yes, it was, although it was still incredible silent, this waterfall had enough power that I could feel it through the earth. Craziness.
Then I rounded the corner to the sight of the water spilling and rushing over this jagged tear in the earth and it is truly striking. It’s not beautiful like Godafoss, no, not in my opinion, but the power of it is overwhelming. I walked to the upper cliff over the falls and watched it for awhile in fascination, still completely alone, and contemplated going down to the lower cliff where you could actually get right next to the falls. However, it looked very dangerous. There was no safety rail (of course, this is Iceland) and all of the mist that the waterfall threw up had frozen to the ground. I couldn’t imagine how slippery it would be down there. Still, I played with the idea… Could I do it? Just imagine what a rush it would be to stand at the edge of the cliff, staring down at the edge of the falls. It called to me, I wanted to do it, I mean, wasn’t I just talking about wanting to be this ridiculously brave badass the other day? What better way to do it than to slide my way down the cliff to stand at the edge of the most powerful waterfall in Europe? I started to walk down to the path, thinking to myself how I would do it and manage to not actually kill myself. Then I saw the sign on the stairs. Hung on a little chain across the stair entrance, it made it quite clear that it was not recommended to go down that path. Hrm… I looked… And thought… And looked… I really wanted to go down there, but this was Iceland. The place where safety rails and the like are basically nonexistent. If they were warning me away, it was probably pretty serious. Then I thought about those nieces, nephew, and god children of mine, not to mention Motorman, and I realized that it wasn’t worth the risk. I’m not stupid, it was really slick down there, if I started to slip, I’d probably go right off the damn edge. Nothing would be helped by how clumsy I am either, so I passed on that little adventure.
Released from the strange pull of the edge, I followed a path through the snow to another vantage point and took some (by which I mean a lot) more pictures. Although I took quite a few, I don’t feel like any really quite caught the power that I felt from Dettifoss. The still, yes, but not that power, the draw it had. Anyways, I headed back down; there was another waterfall upriver that I wanted to check out. Once again, I walked by that little stair down to the waterfall’s edge and felt the urge to go down, but once again, I resisted. I have more important things in life than staring down a waterfall, poor Motor wouldn’t know what to do without me and while I may very well move away from the kiddos at some point, that’s a heck of a lot different then getting killed in Iceland. Haha!
Heading to Selfoss, I felt the rumble of Dettifoss lessen and the silence deepen even further. The light was still incredible as I rounded the corner to lay my eyes on Selfoss. My immediate impression was one of delicacy and beauty. Like Dettifoss, Selfoss cut through a jagged cleft in the rocks, but unlike Dettifoss, there was a sense of delicacy to Selfoss. Maybe it was due to the sheer power of Dettifoss, but I quite enjoyed it and happily clicked away on my camera until it died in the cold. I started back to my car, oh so very content with the way my morning was going, I was re-charged from my sickness and the silence of the morning had been invigorating. Then as I rounded a bend in the trail I came upon four tourists headed to Dettifoss and almost peed myself, I really didn’t expect to see anyone and man did I jump. Then as I got closer to the parking lot I could hear the noise of human activity shattering the stillness, I saw a big van unloading people and several other groups. Then horror of horrors a bus pulled and then another one appeared too! It was like walking into a different world! I smiled at everyone through my astonishment at actually seeing (and hearing) so many people while I walked to my car, but as I drove away I couldn’t help but wonder if they would get the same sort of tour that I had gotten…
My next stop was some geothermic activity areas, which I was looking forward to seeing, I don’t know about you guys, but to me there is something so amazing about witnessing primal forces in action. Not to mention there were supposed to be some great lava fields in the area, which would probably be really fun to take pictures of with the snow and the lighting. My plans changed almost as soon as I stepped out amongst the fumaroles, steam pots, and bubbling mud pots; while really amazing, it was cold and ridiculously windy. Instead of the still of the waterfalls, I was in danger of being blown away. So, I hurriedly walked around and took some pictures, not even bothering to mess with settings this time around. Scraping the thick mud off of my boots took some time, but finally I managed to get them clean enough to hop into my car. I headed to the nearby geothermal plant, hoping that maybe the wind would be blocked on the lava fields or around that area. That was definitely not the case, the wind was actually worse over there, to the point where the road to the lava fields was blown shut. So, I snapped a quick couple of pictures of the plant and headed back the way I had came. Even if that was a bit of a disappointment I still had whale watching to look forward to in a couple of short hours!
I had chosen to try out whale watching in Húsavík because I had read that it was one of the best places in the world to do so, I’ve always wanted to see whales and what better way then against the incredible backdrop that is Iceland. However, there was the slight issue of it not really being the prime (at all) season for whales in Iceland. By this time many of them had already begun their migration so my odds of actually seeing them were pretty slim. All the same it would be really cool to get out on the ocean that had been calling my name for the last (almost) week. The drive to Húsavík was a continuation of the beauty that I’ve been raving about since day one and no, I was definitely not becoming blasé about my surroundings. To the contrary, I was falling more and more in love with this beautiful country and if not for my animals I don’t know that I would not have started trying to figure out how to stay. As it was, I had a Motorman waiting for me at home and horses are not importable in Iceland, so that wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon.
Other than lots of drooling over pretty ponies, mountains, and finding the awesome place I decided to stay that night the drive was uneventful and I pulled into the parking lot with plenty of time. Grabbing my camera and warmer close I headed to the ticket booth to check in. Then I headed into the bathroom to change where I had a pretty hilarious conversation with a random Icelandic woman. She probably thought I was a bit odd, but hey, I was talking to people, now wasn’t I? At this point I was so bundled that I wasn’t worried at all about the cold on the ocean, however once I boarded the ship I was handed a waterproof jumper and told to put it on. Awesome of awesomeness the damn thing was BLAZE ORANGE. Hellz yeah, this was like the most amazing thing ever, it perfectly matched my hat! Of course, then they also handed me another jumper to put on so that I wouldn’t be cold. My blaze orange was hidden (besides the hat), but it was close to my heart, a pretty apt symbol, I think… We started out into the bay with our guide explaining that we may or may not see whales, there had been a couple around in the morning, but they may have moved on. Like I had previously noted this wasn’t exactly the high season for whale watching. Still I was excited and attempted to strike up conversation with the fellow passengers, even if most of them weren’t all that interested. Haha But like I said, I was throwing caution to the wind and talking to people.
Here is where I’m going to get all New Agey and shit on you, if it bothers you, maybe skip the next paragraph or so… Anyways, as the ship headed I closed my eyes, opened my heart, reached out, and called to the whales. I asked them to come and see me, please and thank you very much, I so wanted to see them in this beautiful place and that seeing them here would be an experience that would live with me for the rest of my life. Then I opened my eyes and waited with my heart open, occasionally repeated myself and looking around for any spouts. The guide offered for those of us with cameras to come up on the tower thingy so that we could get better pictures, but I wanted to be right there with them if they chose to appear. Yeah, the pictures wouldn’t be as nice, but I was here for experiences, not just pictures.
After awhile it began to seem like maybe there weren’t any in the area, but I held out hope. There was something in the air, a feeling I had felt several times on this trip, I just knew they were coming. Then the cry went up! A spout had been spotted. And another! And another! There was a group of them feeding. Humpbacks(!!!!) I could barely contain myself, “thank you thank you thank you” I thought towards them, “You’re making my dream come true.” The next I don’t even know how long were spent following that group, as well as the two more groups that had appeared, and watching them dive and roll in the deep blue sea. This was seriously everything I had wanted and more, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful backdrop and the sky was utterly breathtaking. Then it somehow got even better. A group of freaking dolphins appear. Yes, dolphins. They started teasing one of the whales and the whale rolled and swam around the ship while the dolphins leapt and played. It was absolutely amazing and none of my pictures did it any justice, but I’m ok with that because I was literally 20 feet or so from a humpback whale and some dolphins while they played in the sea.
We followed the various groups around for awhile longer until it was time to head back into the harbor. Our guide asked us to go sit in the back of the ship so we would be a little more protected and they could go faster. It had been a wet ride so far, but it was going to get even wetter shortly. I sat and watched the sea as we left, thanking the denizens of the sea for coming to say hello. As if in response one of the dolphins leapt out of the water, twirling above the waves before splashing back down. I was apparently the only person who actually saw this because when I started exclaiming about it everyone just looked at me like I was nuts. Haha, Oh well. The last I saw of them was one last whale breeching above the water. I felt like they were saying good bye to me too.
Before I knew it we were docking and I was walking up to my car to call the place I wanted to stay that night. Except they were closed so I had to look for somewhere else to spend the night, after being sick I had kind of abandoned the idea of sleeping in my car. I definitely wanted to avoid a repeat of that hell! So, I searched, and searched, and searched, but the only thing I could find was the hotel in Húsavík, which was really expensive. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything else, so I bit the bullet and booked my room. A hot shower was in order, but first I needed to get some food in my stomach. I was starving! So I dropped my gear off and headed into a nearby restaurant. There was a dish that I had been seeing regularly and I really (kinda) wanted to try it but I was a bit (a lot) leary. You’re probably wondering what this dish is by now, right? Well, it’s seafood pizza. Yes, seafood pizza. It has tuna, shrimp, scallops, and maybe a couple other types of seafood as well. Sounds pretty odd, yes? Strangely it was actually pretty good, although I’m not sure if I’d order an entire medium (but more like large) pizza to eat by myself again.
After I was finished gorging myself I headed back to the hotel to get showered, wash some clothes, and write down notes from the day. It really was a pretty amazing day, especially after the crappy day before. I felt like I had started to really hit my stride and learn from my time in Iceland. I couldn’t wait to see what the coming days were going to bring me!
I’ll be stopping there for now, the next post will be coming up soon. Hopefully I will have some decent internet connection shortly for uploading pictures too so that will help with my slowness! As always, the rest of the pictures from the day are uploaded to Flickr here: Iceland, Day 6
Thank you for reading!