Friday, August 23, 2013

Iceland - Jökulsárlón - glacial lake

August 12, 2013

Distance:  5.5 miles + 0.5 across the street
Time: ?
Year to date miles: 227.7

Driving directions: Route 1, Skaftafell

Map: We based our hike on the Cicerone Iceland book. No map was necessary. We hiked on the shore towards the glacier. You can't hike all of the way to the glacier. You can hike either clockwise or counterclockwise around the lake from the bridge.

Parking:  Large parking area off of route 1, east of the bridge.

More info:Jokulsarlon

Restrooms: Small bathroom inside the cafe area. Going outside - no bushes/grass to go behind. Basically you can try to go behind a gravel hill, and hope no one comes your way.

Hike directions:
Most non-hiking visitors just look at the lake from spots close to the parking lot. There are also boat tours that start from the parking lot.

We opted for hiking around the lake. You can't hike all the way to the glacier. But, we hiked 2.75 miles out and back, and actually, we could have gone further. This was a spectacular walk. You can see the glacier, and huge chunks of ice break off the glacier, creating icebergs in the lake. The icebergs come in various colors - clear, white, black, blue. Some come ashore.

We met a loose border collie (had a collar, so assume it isn't a stray, and hopefully is owned by someone who works there). The first normal OCD border collie I saw in Iceland. Iceland doesn't have much in the way of sticks, because trees are so uncommon here. So what does this border collie retrieve? Glacial ice! It had a constant stream of tourist suckers who would throw ice into the lake for it to retrieve. It was shivering a lot. However, when the tourists got bored, it just went looking for ice in the lake to retrieve. It's teeth were worn down, but very clean!

So, we left the border collie near the start of the hike, and continued hiking along the lake towards the glacier. We saw more terns (of which I am now very, very afraid of). We also saw ducks, and various other birds. It would be a great place to visit for people interested in birds. The terns would dive bomb - head first - into the water to catch fish. As we got closer to the glacier, we heard loud noises, which at first we thought was thunder. It was actually pieces of ice breaking off the glacier. By the way, the further away you get from the parking lot, the further away you get from the crowds. We mostly had the place to ourselves, once we left the area near the parking lot.

On the way back, we saw a couple of seals feeding in the water.

When we got back near the parking area, the border collie was still being entertained by tourists. We went back to our cars to get our stove and set it up in a small grassy dip near the parking area - to try to get a wind free area. The border collie then stopped by with an empty coke bottle it had been carrying around. I guess it got too cold retrieving icebergs chunks, so it was now looking for tourists to throw the coke bottle for it. I entertained it for a while, and then we settled down to cook. The border collie lay down next to us and took a nap.

We drove across the street towards the ocean and parked there. We hiked another .5 miles along the beach. This is where glaciers flowed from the lake, under the bridge, into the ocean. The beach is a black sand (lava) beach. You can hike much further, but we were ready to head back.

Amphibious vehicle for boat tours....see it drive

The glacier retrieving border collie

...that had a steady stream of tourists to entertain it

The bridge between the lake/ocean. The icebergs make their way under the bridge and out to sea

Hill above the lake.

Hey doggy :)

Glen is excited to hold his first iceberg

Let me retrieve one of those icebergs....

And now it floats...

Time to take a break from retrieving icebergs, and help these tourists with their recycling

I want it!

The glacier dog joining us for lunch. It wasn't keen on our backpacking stove.

After our meal, we went across the street to the ocean. And climbed on to a banked glacier

Glacier surfing

A glacier that made it under the bridge to the ocean

Working on my tan

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