NEW FEATURE: After years of promising myself I would create a collection of books commemorating each of our many adventures aboard AVATAR, I have finally found a medium that suits my needs. ICELAND is the first book to be completed, and will serve as a template for books to follow. I’ll be working backwards in time and anticipate this to be a long-term project. But for now – welcome to the first book in The AVATAR Logs series!
AVATAR is ‘on the hard’ in North Carolina for the rest of the summer and Mike and I are home catching up on a lot of projects that were put off during our exceptionally busy year of cruising. A few weeks ago my sister Patty and I joined up with a photo workshop focused on Icelandic Horses in (of course) Iceland. Our group of horse loving photographers spent a week in the country at a farmstay near the South Coast. From our home base we enjoyed multiple opportunities to photograph the farm’s herd of 150+ Icelandic mares, foals and stallions, as well as sojourn to a few of Iceland’s stunning scenic highlights.
One spectacular must-see destination is the famous glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón and the nearby Ice Beach. The lagoon is relatively recent, the result of a warming climate, and is situated at the base of a glacier. Blocks of ice constantly break off from the glacier and float into the lake. The lagoon is at sea level and seawater floods the lagoon at high tide and washes out again, taking the icebergs with it. The black sand beach and nearby surf is studded with chunks of ice, frosty white and ethereal shades of blue, streaked with black volcanic ash.
Iceland has multiple spectacular waterfalls including Skógafoss (pictured below), Seljalandsfoss where I was able to hike a trail that took me behind its raging cascade, and the partially hidden Gljúfrabúi which is best approached by wading up a stream and ducking through a cleft in a cliff, thus entering a chamber where the 40 meter high waterfall splashes down the the back wall. Waterfall photography has its own particular challenge, as the mist from the downpour quickly coats the lens with water droplets.
The weather was consistently grey, chilly, and drizzly but that only enhanced the color and drama of the landscape, although we were deprived of sunrises, sunsets, and rainbows! We were well prepared, outfitted with rain gear and warm clothing. If we were missing anything, the shops in Reykjavik were stocked with a generous selection of Icelandic wool sweaters, wool caps, wool gloves and mittens, down coats, rain coats, rain pants, and rubber wellies. Winter clothing appears to be a year-round commodity in Iceland! Our transport was a well-used van outfitted with huge off-road tires suitable for navigating back country pasture “roads” like the one pictured below.
Our itinerary overlapped the summer solstice, when in Iceland’s northern latitudes the sun sets around midnight and rises again before 3 am, and between times is never really dark but just a shade of twilight grey. Technically speaking, the midnight sun only occurs in Reykjavík between the 16th and the 29th of June, since these are the only days of the year when the sun sets after midnight. With our grey skies we didn’t see much in the way of sun, midnight or otherwise, and with the long days and short nights aurora sightings were impossible. But the clouds did open up while we were photographing the black sand beach and basalt cliffs of Vik and we were treated to a taste of Iceland’s beautiful light that transforms the landscape.
Click any image below to open a full screen slideshow of 44 images taken during the trip: