Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Day of Waterfalls

I woke early and after breakfast headed out to Myvatn again to visit some waterfalls.

My first stop was Godafoss. This is just off Rt 1 before a tricky single lane bridge. I navigated up the single lane access road and reached the parking area about 500 meters from Rt 1. Easy access to a wonderfully beautiful and powerfully spiritual waterfall. Seeing this magnificent waterfall in winter covered with ice and surrounded by snow was a treat. I remember it from my last visit 2 years ago in August.

I continued on my way to my goal, Dettifoss, 50 KM east of Myvatn. Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. These falls are a gem and worth a real struggle to reach. My last visit was one of the most difficult drives over the roads of Iceland in that last visit 2 years ago in August. I didn't have an intention of seeing them this trip, but I learned that since my last visit, a paved road had been made from Rt 1 to the parking lot at Dettifoss. After driving through Myvatn, I drove 26 KM to the turnoff which was the beginning of a 24 KM road. Immediately I was greeted by a sign that warned me that the road was not cared for during winter. I crossed my fingers and headed off to Dettifoss.

The road was pretty clear and a plow had been through, but not recently. The wind created drifts across the road. Within 2 KM I was confronted by a snow obstacle that I was able to plow through. I knew I was up for an adventure. The landscape was frightening and severe as the paved road was partially covered with drifts making a two lane road a single lane road. There was a car in front of me as fresh made tire tracks indicated. So the raod was clear as far as I could tell since these were single tracks of one car. I felt hope. I approached a white road and and stopped to get out and survey the condition of the road ahead. The now was about 6 inches deep and lasted for about 100 yards. Since the vehicle in front of me had already made tracks I could follow through on those. I backed up to get some speed when I hit this snow field. I navigated through it in second gear weaving most of the way through. I got through and realized this was going to be the deepest snow I could through if I was going to reach Dettifoss. About halfway on this road, I reached a high snow back, but realized I could plow through this tall but short snow bank, especially since the car in front of me had already made the way clearer for me. I may have made it through this one, too, even if the car in front of me hadn't already made a path. After 2 more KM I came upon the car in front of me which was a large Iceland Jeep with huge balloon tires. He was huge up in a large snow drift. This was the end of the road for me. I got out, grabbed my shovel and walked up to the Jeep and helped him dig out. He was upset with himself because he had not let out air before attempting to get through this drift. He had been here 2 days ago and he had no problem. The wind of the last 2 days had created more and deeper snow drifts. When he let out air the belly of the Jeep got hung up on the snow. He was digging out. I helped on the passenger side. After about a half hour of digging he finally got through. He had been hired by the 2 passengers to get them to the waterfalls. Since I had helped them, I was offered the empty seat for the rest of the journey. I went back and got my camera, locked up the car and left it there. He put my shovel in the back of his Jeep and adjusted the air in his tires. He had an air pump attached to his car since he needed it when he did this over snow and glacier driving. The rest of the way was pretty clear until we got to the turn for the Dettifoss parking lot. We were confronted by a 5 foot drift that he navigated over with some work. When we reached the parking lot, we were the only visitors, no surprise.

The driver was Gunter and he was about 30. The passengers who hired him were a couple from Frankfurt, Germany, Frederick and Ingrid. The walk from there was over snow and was familair to me, since this was the same place I had been 2 years ago. It was a tough walk as the snow wasn't hard enough to bear our weight so we broke through often and that made the walk a real workout. My glasses fogged and I was beginning to sweat. When we finally reached the falls, the struggle was worth it as she was a magnificent sight. And being alone here was even more gratifying. I could only imagine the crowd here now that there was a paved road. To my dismay I discovered the batteries to the camera were dead. I had forgotten to recharge them last night and this morning. A major mistake, very careless. I neglected the effect of the cold on the batteries. Oh well the images are in my memory. We did a lot of walking along the rocks to get better views of this massive natural freak. She didn't disappoint. Gunter then led us on another path, to Selfoss. Now I thought Selfoss falls were in the town of Selfoss, near Reykjavik. He chuckled and said folks are often confused by that. There are two Selfoss' in Iceland, one the town and the other the falls, which were soon in front of us. We were seeing them in winter so the usual cascading along the shore was not present, but what we saw were the very beautiful walls of this canyon that were unique columns of rock.

The number of waterfalls on this single river are superb and we were unable to visit others because of snow conditions. But this is worth a visit in the summer.

Totally exhausted and exhilarated we proceeded back down the road and snow drifts we had entered on to me car. We exchanged pleasantries and discovered we'd see each other at the Myvatn Nature Bath soon. The baths were filled with about a dozen other folks, all English speaking. This is one curious thing I have observed here. English may not be many travelers first language here in Iceland, but it is the common language for most travelers. When people meet and they speak various languages, English becomes the one they speak. For example, Gunter spoke Icelandic and English, the Germans spoke German and English, so they communicated in English. This has been what I have observed throughout Iceland. Everyone left the baths for their trip back to Akureyri. I stayed alone for another half hour enjoying the hot tub and steam bath.

The ride home was encouraging as I saw a clear sky and lots of stars. Perhaps tonight would be good for the Northern Lights. I decided to stay in, eat some smoked salmon and crackers with some wine while watching the Manchester City Dortmund Championship football match, Man City lost and were eliminated from the League this year. After the game, I got dressed and prepared myself for Northern Lights chasing. I headed north from Akureyri and took the road to Dalvik, past through this lovely little village to the end of the fjord. Just before a tunnel, which is a 5 KM single lane tunnel, I pulled off to the right to a parking area for Northern Lights viewing as directed by Alan, Eric's brother, the night manager. I could see Grimsey to the right and a clear lovely sky. It was 11PM. At about midnight the show began. Faint at first and I wasn't sure if my mind and eyes were playing tricks with me. But suddenly I realized these were the Northern Lights, faint at first then brighter and undulating. They were aqua green and formed in a nebulous cloud like shape. Then streaks, like spears shot out from different points and then disappeared. Slowly this mass evaporated. I felt like the crowd at Devil's Tower in Close Encounter of a Third Kind. I cheered, clapped and whooped it up, knowing I was disturbing no one but celebrating my first encounter with the Lights. About 15 minutes had elapsed. Soon further out, A green ring began to form that resembled a Venus Fly Trap with a solid distinctive, core with hundreds of tendril like green lights extending out. The extensions varied in length and intensity as the whole mass seemed to undulate in no pattern and with any rhythm. This show continued for about a half an hour as the shape held, but the explosive tendrils altered dramatically. The cold didn't seem to bother me as I was exploding with joy at what I was watching. Slowly this display faded away and the moon was just rising and beginning to light the entire area in light, making viewing more difficult. Since I saw my shadow, I decided to leave. It was 1AM. The show was over. Bravo sky, applause, Thank You.

When I returned to the hotel, Alan explained I had seen what were called the Icelandic crowd which is caused because of the proximity to the Arctic Circle.

No comments: