Lagoons, Coasts, and Deserts
Wednesday, July 11th
We awoke to another fine morning at Skaftafell. Once again, Hvannadalshnjúkur - a summit with which we are now much more familiar - stood out clearly as seen from our campsite. Today would have also been a good day to climb it.
That would not, however, have fit in well with our trip logistics. It was now Wednesday, and our week-long trip was moving rapidly along. If we were to have any hope of seeing anything at all from the north of the country, we would have to bid the Skaftafell area good-bye today. Too bad, because there were a lot of interesting hikes and locations to explore here.
Our stomachs had not forgotten last evening's promise of a hearty meal, and so we decided to forego breakfast at camp and have something to eat at a road-side hotel we had seen along the highway yesterday. Wanting to be efficient, we packed all of our tent gear into the van so that we would not have to make a detour back to the campsite after breakfast.
We drove a short ways east to the Hotel Skaftafell - the establishment we had seen the day before. Indeed they did have a very nice-looking buffet in the European-style, rather than the North American-style scrambled eggs and bacon variety, and for a reasonable price as well. To top it off, we were able to sit at a table that had a superb view of the nearby peaks, including our very own Hvannadalshnjúkur.
After a thoroughly filling and satisfying breakfast, we looked forward to a pleasant day of road-touring. Our destination for the end of the day was a point somewhere near the Dettifoss waterfall, way around on the North side of Iceland. That meant a day of mostly driving, although we still had plenty of time built into the day to stop and see various road-side attractions - of which there were many!
First up was a visit to the snout of the nearby Svínafellsjökull glacier - one of the many large valley glaciers that spilled off of the nearby Vatnajökull icecap. A short gravel road led to a parking lot near the snout. We got out and walked the few meters to a convenient overlook, and spent some time observing its naked, crevasse-crossed tip. Far out on the glacier, we observed a small guided party out exploring. If we had had more time, we could have done the exact same thing!