Hljóðaklettar (North Iceland III)

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Let’s continue last week’s post with more basalt structures. The place to be is Hljóðaklettar in the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. To get there, you turn south on 862 a little west of Ásbyrgi. There are a couple of well marked trails in this area; today we follow the river north. The landscape is marked with distinctive humps

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that consist of clusters of basalt columns.

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How much time did it take to build all this? We humans are truly ridiculously short-lived.

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Then there are also the half-humps, like split giant geodes.

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The inside (i.e. the left side of the hump up above) shows more strange rock formations

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that up close seem to look at us with mild disdain. Rightly so.

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Aldeyjarfoss (North Iceland II)

Within two hours driving from Húsavik, there are plenty more or less easy to reach places of interest. One of them is the Goðafoss waterfall, which is visible right from the ring road. Nearby, but not quite so easy to reach is the Aldeyjarfoss.

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To get there, one follows 842 south (a dirt road, better than 844, which is an alternative). This turns after a few bumpy kilometers into F26. Most people drive their two wheel drive cars up to the parking lot.

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The waterfall itself is quite impressive, but its real beauty is due to the large basalt formations surrounding it.

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Next to it are some more contemplative smaller falls,

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and a short hike takes you to another large fall, the Hrafnabjargafoss.

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On the way, the rock formations on the river banks have the appearance of ancient friezes, telling stories about civilizations long forgotten.

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The complexity of this place made of rock and water is quite overwhelming.

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Húsavik (North Iceland I)

The next few weeks, I will write about this year’s vacation in Iceland’s north. For comparison, here are the links to the blog posts about Iceland’s south from two years ago:

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This year we stayed in Húsavik, a small and peaceful town a few degrees south of the polar circle.

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It lies on the east shore of Skjálfandi bay, which allows for nice sunsets (unless it is too cloudy (often) or not cloudy enough (rarely).

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Dramatic clouds are abundant and make driving dangerous.

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A highlight was the full moon backlit with a setting sun at midnight.

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Water in Motion (Iceland XIV)

The law of gravity is still intact.

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Whenever in doubt, contemplating a healthy waterfall is certain remedy.

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The imposed free fall gives direction, determination and diverts the attention from situations where indecision has become a permanent state.

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So, is that it? Do we have to either submit to a higher power, or be tossed around by pure chance?

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Sometimes, for a few seconds, this koan has an answer.

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Vegetation (Iceland XIII)

This post is about ignorance. While I like plants, I know next to nothing about them, with the possible exception of cacti.
Moreover, I wan not prepared to encounter any interesting plants in Iceland at all. If I get the chance for a second visit, I’ll pack a macro lens. Let’s begin with Pinguicula vulgaris, the common butterwort. This is the second carnivorous plant appearing on this blog.

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The next one is the minuartia arctica, or the arctic sandwort. The german derivative of the old english wyrte is -wurz, which also appears and connotes with Gewürz, meaning spice. I haven’t tasted any of these.

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The previous ignorances could be covered up thanks to Google image search. The next one, which I find particularly pretty, I am clueless about. The blossoms were not more then 3-5mm in diameter. Help!
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Things get more complicated. Of course, it is not the actual plant is a soulful being that interests me, but rather its idea as a shape forming entity. Like so:

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These grow on the stunning black sand beaches. Because of the harshness of the environment, I suppose, the plants in Iceland are more exposed. While in lusher zones, the abundance of growth (and decay) is also camouflage, here, where there is nowhere to hide, everything becomes subject.

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Clouds (Iceland XII)

Most places have their own very distinctive appearance of clouds. Landscape painters know this and therefore prefer to live close to the ocean or the mountains. Needless to say, clouds in the midwest are either dull or very dangerous.

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Iceland has both ocean and mountains so that one can expect the best of the best.

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When I was little they told us in school that life forms can be distinguished from lifeless matter by a few criteria: Ability to move, react to the environment, and reproduce. Clouds can do all that.

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So I started thinking that being a cloud might be an interesting way to live.

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Unfortunately, the only cloud based life forms in the near future will most likely be rather virtual.

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Music for the Eyes (Iceland XI)

Waves are endlessly fascinating. Iceland, being surrounded by water, has plenty of them. The image below might appear quite ordinary, but for the rather irregular ripples at the bottom right. They were caused by the high frequency vibrations of the motor on the boat from which I took the photo.

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Thanks to a large amount of inland water, you can find more waves virtually anywhere, like here at Geyser, with colorful deposits.

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Just a few feet away, the landscape at your feet changes dramatically, but still offers waves.

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And even without water, you will see waves. After staring at rocky sand

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and lava beds in the large

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or more up close,

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when you finally have enough and look up at the sky…

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There is no escape.