Robin's Adventures

Arctic Circle, Greenland, and Iceland
Jewels of the North

Almannagja Fault

We walked along the canyon floor and between roughly textured rugged cliffs in a rift zone that is on the boundary between two tectonic plates. The valley walls are moving apart at a rate of about 7 mm per year. The sun was warm, the air was crisp, the birds were singing and everything was very peaceful for a place that is so active seismically.

Scenic Views

The views were amazing as we walked through the valley and looked at the rock walls and the clear blue water of Iceland's largest lake. Many people like to snorkel here in the waters between the American and Eurasian plates, but the lack of fish and the 34 degree temperature did not appeal to us. We were content to enjoy the views above the water's surface.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss, which means "golden falls," at first glance looks like a river that disappears into the earth. As we got closer, we could see the 100 foot deep crevice that the water was spilling into, and a spectacular sight it was. There is a great deal of water flowing very quickly and this created a thick mist in the air and a constant roar of flowing water that delighted our senses.

Langjokull Glacier

We stopped for lunch at the Gullfoss Cafe and were amazed at the wonderful view. In the distance we noticed Langjokull, which means "long glacier." Langjokull is the second largest glacier in Iceland.

Geothermal Fields of Haukadalur

Haukadalur was a geothermal area with lots of active geysers, mud pots, and hot springs. The Strokkur (\"the churn\") geyser erupts every few minutes in a thirty to sixty foot tall fountain that was fun to watch.

The word geyser actually came from a geyser here that is currently dormant. It was, however, very active in the 18th century and people referred to it as "geysir" which means to gush or rush forth. The name stuck and came to be applied generically to geysers the world over.

Faxi Waterfall

We hiked down to another waterfall called Faxi. Right next to the falls was a salmon ladder.

Skalholt Church

Skalholt was the site, in the 12th century, of Iceland's largest cathedral. During the Reformation, Iceland's last bishop was beheaded here as the country broke its ties with the Catholic Church.

The church we saw on this site was built in the 1950s. It had beautiful murals and stained glass windows inside.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is 200 feet tall and it has a hiking path that allows you to actually go behind the waterfall and view it from the back side.

Behind the Waterfall

We went slowly along the slippery trail behind Seljalandsfoss falls, but the journey was worth the effort.

Glacier Topped Volcano

Eyjafallajokull, at about 50 square miles, is Iceland's sixth largest glacier. It is significant, however, because it rests right on top of an active 5,500 foot tall stratovolcano. Right below the volcano is Porvalseyri farm.

In 2010, the volcano erupted for the first time in about 200 years. The plume of ash went more than 30,000 feet into the air and shut down air travel across most of Europe. The eruption caused a major flood from the melting glacial ice that covered the farm and surrounding areas.