Inappropriate Footwear, and an Inaccurate Prediction

Camera: Panasonic DC-G9M2 | Date: 19-02-2024 09:35 | Resolution: 14005 x 3658 | ISO: 400 | Exp. bias: 0 EV | Exp. Time: 1/50s | Aperture: 8.0 | Focal Length: 12.0mm (~24.0mm) | Location: Skógafoss | State/Province: Skogar | See map | Lens: LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8II

On Sunday we moved on from Höfn back towards Vik. I was still feeling fragile, but after a better night’s sleep somewhat improved, and I knew the day would be mainly a fairly steady drive.

We did make one photography stop, at the Svínafellsjökull Glacier. At one level this was very depressing. I visited in 2011, and I remember a short walk of maybe a minute or two, to a glacier towering above us. Now it’s a 10+ minute hike in, to a glacier which is at its leading edge some way below the viewpoint. It has obviously retreated at least 0.5km in the intervening 13 years, and maybe as much as 1km. There really is a case for tying all oil company executives to the front of glaciers at the start of spring, and explaining that if they are right about global warming, they won’t drown…

At another level it was quite hilarious. The path from the car park starts with about 100m of a steady moderate gradient, which was covered in sheet ice, in turn running with melt water. Those equipped with crampons (including all members of our group) just walked straight up on down the middle. Those in boots without crampons walked gingerly, occasionally on all fours, close to the path’s edge. And then there was this young oriental couple!

Inappropriate Footwear – Thanks to Andreas for the Image(Show Details)

The Hotel Vik is by some margin the worst of the trip (at least so far). The rooms are poky and so poorly lit you can’t see what you’re doing unless you get them to provide an additional lamp. Given what most residents will be doing the lack of either rails to hang damp clothing, or a boot puller is a complete mystery. To sit at the desk you have to make movement between the bathroom and bedroom areas impossible. There was obviously a competition and the architects who claimed to put stuff into the smallest possible space won the job, but it’s not a good one. (Interestingly it only scores 25 on the dysfunctional hotel rooms scheme. That’s high, but not excessive – the issue is more the cumulative effect of everything feeling a bit squeezed and cheap.)

To add insult to injury dinner is served after 7, but happy hour is 4-6. WTF?

In the morning I was almost back to my normal self. Our first stop was the waterfall at Skógafoss. Even though we arrived by about 8.30 the site was already quite full of other visitors. Most of my group resolved this by setting up tripods some distance back and shooting over their heads. I found a different solution, put the 9mm lens on the camera, and walked in front of the grockles to get a clean shot without them. It took a couple of goes to get one before the spray covered the filter, but it worked. Afterwards I felt sufficiently recovered to do the short walk to the high veiwpoint, and was rewarded by an opposing hillside lit by the rising sun in wonderful oranges and browns, with the river and top of the waterfall providing leading lines below. Shot of the day?

After that we headed back to the island of Dyrhólaey. Lee suggested that we might want to try and capture the intricate patterns of foam from waves breaking gently on the black beach. Right:

"You might want to try and capture the intricate patterns of foam from waves breaking gently on the black beach" (Show Details)

Once we’d tuned into the stormy sea (not accompanied by a significant local wind) I did manage to get a few different shots, but most involved catching very big waves either in front of, or breaking over, the other features.

After lunch we went down to the Black Beach. Again this rapidly became a game of catching the biggest most threatening looking waves breaking in front of or over the rocks. While doing so I was caught out by a rogue wave which charged up the beach and reached me at thigh level even though I was some distance from the average water position. Fortunately I kept my balance, didn’t fall over or drop the camera, and the combination of muck boots and over trousers kept almost all the water out. One sock was a bit damp, but that’s not too much to complain about when it could have been very much worse.

I had wondered why the flashing light at the entrance was only on amber. I looked up and in the intervening 5 minutes it had gone to red. Fair enough.

We gave up on the Black Beach and drove round to Vik beach, which is usually calmer. Not today. After a short session trying to catch the scariest-looking waves breaking in front of the sea stacks it started to rain, so we finally called it a day.

The Sea Stacks from Víkurfjara Black Sand Beach (Show Details)
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