It wasn’t too hard to wake up since the sun had been shining bright for hours already. Definitely something to get used to! We talked to one of our Airbnb hosts about how they adjust to the changing sun and he said that they kind of naturally just sleep a little longer in the winter and get less sleep in the summer. He had lived in Iceland his whole life, so I guess he’s used to it. I can’t imagine moving to Iceland for the first time and having to manage all the drastic changes. For us, we were just so excited that we didn’t care.
Let’s hit the road!
Our plan was to see how close we could get to Þórsmörk, which translates to “Thor’s forest,” and can generally only be reached by the Super Jeeps. It was a gamble since even though it was May, spring was late, which is also why it was still brown outside and not green yet, many of the roads were closed.
We were just in exploring mode. Time did not matter.
And what an amazing thing to have time not matter. Life is so hectic. We always have to be on a schedule. Wake up when your alarm goes off. Get to work this time. Leave then. Make plans to meet friends. Always show up a little late to those plans with friends and always feel bad about it. We are ruled by time. I can honestly say we rarely looked at the time (and the only time we did, as I mentioned before, was much later in the day, when my hunger alerted me that restaurants would be closing soon), which in these days means we never looked at our phones since we weren’t wearing watches. Our phones were also always on airplane mode (don’t even get me started on how much technology rules our lives too!) for a week straight. What a wonderful feeling!
As we were driving down this random road that we had a feeling would lead us nowhere (but everywhere at the same time…hehe) we saw a hillside that had a waterfall probably every 100 yards or so. It was incredible. Water flowing from everywhere. Definitely made us think of the different parts of the world, and of course California where we are from, who are starving for water. Places that have been in “droughts” for years. Places where you have to walk miles to get water out of a well, and neighborhoods who only have one day a week they can water their lawns or are “going brown” instead of “going green” (two COMPLETELY different situations, but that’s the world we live in).
And water is just coming every which way in this country. Its amazing.
We saw a larger waterfall, which we came to find was named Gluggafoss. Best. Name. Ever. How could you not explore a waterfall named “Gluggafoss”??? So of course, we did. And we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. One other car was there, but left after we had been there for a few minutes (we totally crashed their party).
It was the beginning of our “day of the waterfall.”
Soon we were back on our way, but eventually came to the end of the road. And by end of the road I mean, there was an even more “gravely” dirt road ahead (yes I know I made that word up, and Stratton hates it whenever I do that: “You can’t just add “y” to the end of a noun and make it an adjective.” Well I think I can.) and a chain across that was not allowing us to go any further.
Welp, we knew it wouldn’t take us anywhere. But it sure took us to a “nowhere” that was stunning.
I was convinced that this mountain was Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and haulted all air travel for a few days due to the enormous amount of ash that was projected into the sky. I have no idea if it was or it wasn’t, but it made for one of my favorite shots.
And we were convinced this was a troll’s home. (Note: Trolls are very big in Icelandic culture. So are elves. We’ll show you an elf’s home in a later post).
Stratton was brave enough to check out the cave, but I was a bit too creeped out to make the trip. It felt like we were in a movie or something and a troll was going to pop out, or the rocks start moving to form some troll-like being, or we were going to be transported to an alien world because we found their secret portal.
Next up on our tour of waterfalls was Selijalandsfoss. Obviously it is beautiful, but its also huge and has this perfect cavern behind it that you can easily hike to (be careful of the icy stairs!). I immediately decided that I wanted to go behind it, but since Stratton didn’t have rain pants and it looked like we would get pretty wet, I forged ahead alone to check it out while Stratton kept the camera safe and dry to take pictures of my trip.
Clearly, I thought the trip was epic and coaxed Stratton to come with me. I told him you can’t miss this! And I mean it, you can’t miss it. Being behind a powerful waterfall, with water gushing down right above your head. Its pretty incredible. I got a little more soaked than usual because I was exploring a rock next to the larger part of the waterfall (you can see the little baby waterfalls to the left of the big flow) where the little bit of water had stopped running, or so I thought. Next thing I know, it starts back up again, right where I was standing. Luckily, it wasn’t a whole lot, but I thought it was pretty funny. And my drenched state when I came back wasn’t too convincing, but luckily he had seen the mishap and knew that I had a bit more water on me than the average explorer. So he came with this time.
And so we saved the best for last.
Well, I don’t know if “best.” Because honestly, I think every waterfall we saw had its own specialness, that the others didn’t have, but Skogafoss is kind of in a league of its own.
I mean, how small can you possibly feel…..
You can hike to the top, and its a hike. There are a LOT of stairs. People won’t frown upon taking breaks on your way up, cause I know we took our fair share of them. But you HAVE to go up there. Seeing the water rushing down from above, it almost seems impossible that that much water could be falling. It just looks unreal. And to be that close was something else.
We came across a field of cairns again. Tons of them. And then saw a pile of rocks, looking like they were put there just for this purpose (at this point we did not know that they actually did that!). So joining in this apparent Icelandic tourist culture, we made our own.
We took our time and barely spoke as we searched for the perfect rocks that would represent our cairn identity. Stratton of course chose big rocks and I small, but we ended up choosing the exact same amount: 6, which I thought was pretty cool.
The hike was beautiful and it seemingly went on forever. It wasn’t hard at all, just slowing going up and down small hills (nothing like the million steps that led to the top of the waterfall, and yes, I said million, and yes I know there are not really a million, but my legs might argue otherwise.) Because it was the end of the day (it was actually close to 7-7:30 at this point), there wasn’t a lot of people so we had a lot of peace.
And at one point, we were the only ones there. I’m sorry folks, but this won’t happen in high season (and even possibly in low season because you don’t get as much sunlight), unless you go at midnight, which I actually recommend, because it is SO worth it to see this place in solitude (or of course with your traveling partner).
Now thats a way to enjoy a waterfall!