Posted by: jeanne | August 6, 2014

hofn to vik

these aren’t unpronounceable names, but without practice you make a mess of them.  hofn is pronounced hup(n), where you end with an ‘n’ that you don’t fully speak, and vik is veekh.  just so you know.

anyway, it’s raining here in vik, the rainiest part of iceland, officially.  so i’m going to forgo my usual morning walk and do this blog post, which will probably be my last one in iceland, unless i have some time once i get to reykjavik, where i have to meet two friends and go to the emergency room to have my elbow looked after.  that’ll leave me plenty of time hahaha.

the road from hofn to vik goes along a very straight, curving stretch of landscape around hte south end of the country.


this is the view from hofn that i wasn’t able to get last night because of the clouds.  pretty impressive even at this distance.


and just for scale, these tiny little hills i’m photographing are actually massive – lava stacks – with the real mountains behind them sporting icy tops.


i really loved how this one little mountainlet popped out of the glacier and made all that ice go around.


note to travellers.  when you’re going around iceland clockwise, it’s always best to sit on the right side of the bus.  the view out to sea was fascinating, as always, but rather monotonous.  the sea is a blue green – way out beyond the sand – and the clouds were threatening to move inland all day long, leaving us in bright sunshine for much of it.  i even got out my sunglasses.


this is why you sit on the right hand side of the bus.  again, the reflections from inside marred the view somewhat, as did the powerlines that followed us all the way around, but the mountain is over a thousand feet, pockmarked with caves, and just row upon row of lava laid down a million years ago or so and eroded steadily ever since, the scree all deposited in those cone shaped hills that are thankfully covered with vegetation.  they look like you could climb right up them, but they’re steeper and farther than they look, a constant in this country.


off in the distance, the glacier.  vatnajokull is vast, as i’ve mentioned, and everpresent along this stretch of the coast, with one glacial tongue after another sticking out at you as you pass oh so slowly.


finally we reached jokusarlon, the glacial lagoon, which isn’t in the least overrated.  we arrived before all the tour busses got there, and the cafe wasn’t open yet, so we were lucky.  by the time we left at 10:20 there were hundreds of people and the parking lot was full.  i got a real kick out of this sign, which i guess translates to ‘potential for drowning’.  you can see the icebergs in the lagoon, the far back, which has been built up, and the glacier behind them.


i went to the top of a nice little moraine hill and took this shot.  that’s a very big chunk of ice in the foreground, crammed together with a lot of other chunks of ice, waiting to become small enough to fit in the river and be washed out to sea.  it will be awhile for this one.  look how it’s folded and crinkled.  it must have been a big face of the glacier that calved off in one piece.  the glacier is in the background.


from the top of another hill further on, there are lots of little chunks of ice all massed together, with the actual tongue of the glacier way in the background, curving around the landscape and into the lagoon.  the rest of the glacier is further back than that, and way up.


closer now, and at the level of the lake, i loved the forms and the colors.  white, gray, black, blue.  with the glacier in the background.  duh.


and one last shot, with a blue blue piece of ice the size of a large house floating in the middle distance, and the glacier in the background.


then we moved on, and there were more glacial tongues to photograph from many angles as we slowly passed them at 60 mph. this one shows the crevassing and ice falls well.  i never did get close enough to touch one; we didn’t stop for that long at any one spot.  especially at skaftafell, where we only had 30 minutes, and the hike to the glacier’s edge would have taken at least twice that long.  the bus driver warned us at every stop that if we weren’t back in time, we’d be left behind, and i almost got left behind on my way out to olafsfjordur the first time, so i just hung on and stuck around.


on the way to the next glacier, we passed these trolls stuck up on the side of the mountain, looking like cutout dolls.  see them in the right hand side of hte picture?  can’t anybody tell me there’s no such thing as trolls, as one of my residency-mates continuously tried to do, making fun of my beliefs the way i make fun of organized religion.


here’s yet another glacial view of the same vatnajokull, showing a really good slow motion ice cascade down the mountain.


skaftafell had a very good map of the region, 3-d and ony a little rubbed off on the ocean, because i don’t think those island things are really there.  but i never really looked out to sea, i’m afraid.  the we are there is right where the road kinks up to the edge of the glacier.  i was shocked to see lots of trees everywhere, climbing the mountain, some quite big, with large canopies.  yay trees.


here’s the tourist map showing what we passed.  the red dot on the lower right is jofn, and the red dot on the upper left is skaftafell.


we passed this really neat waterfall, just lying there in the background of a farming community.  there’s lots of farming here.  the soil is quite rich, where there is any.  mostly it’s sediment from the melting glaciers, and it is so fine that it blows away until there is vegetation to hold it down.


and here we are in vik, which has lots of erosion problems that they are solving by planting sea grass and lupin everywhere.  i took this picture because this is the grandest building in the town, and happens to house both the bank and the liquor store, which says a lot.


while waiting for my hostel room to be open – i stayed at welcome puffin hostel, next to the hotel, and run by a very busy guy who nontheless managed to talk to me for awhile, and helped carry my backpack to my room, and let me use his printer to print out the medical forms i have to have filled out by the doctor when i go to the ER tomorrow in reykjavik (i broke my elbow) – i took this ravine walk up the mountain.  it’s by far the easiest walk up any mountain, and it wasn’t a mountain at all, but rather a farm field.  it was well marked thru the grass, and eventually ended in the farm road that i took back to town, finding good samples of icelandite everywhere on the road.


this is the view from the top of the hill, right underneath the farm road.  pretty impressive valley i’m looking up, with a buttelike mountain that butts up against the town, and a long valley that goes off to myrdalsjokull glacier, which is where the katla volcano has so far failed to interrupt my trip.



then i walked down to the beach to see what all the noise was about.  and on the way met a troll.  he’s sleeping right now, but as soon as all the xians die off, they will come back to life, so says this guy i met who knows a lot about these things.  xians tend to be really intolerant and chase off the old folk, like in ireland with the fairies, so here and other places.


this is yet another example of lava forming into columnar forms and bending and twisting into fantastic shapes.  this is down by the beach.


and this is what it looks like up close.  not the previous picture, but right in the same stack.


yet another troll, down on the beach, watching out to sea.


black sand beaches are a great excuse to look at the waves breaking on shore.  they make such pretty patterns and you can really see them here.


the stacks in the distance are a pair of trolls (you can’t see the far one because she’s behind the near one) towing a 3-masted ship to shore.  they got caught out by the rising sun, so the tale goes, and turned to stone.

on to reykjavik this afternoon, after eating the rest of my food that i made last night, and a final walk around town.



  1. […] hofn to vik | an irish travel guide aren't unpronounceable names, but without practice you make a mess of them. hofn is pronounced hup(n), where you end with an 'n' that you don't fully speak, and vik is veekh. just so you know. anyway, it's raining here … […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: