Iceland–Part 6: Back Around Again

Iceland is beautiful, no matter which part of the country you’re in. If you’ve ever seen any Pinterest or Tumblr post on Iceland or you know, one of my blog posts, you’ll know that. This country is a photographer/adventurers dreamland. There is every kind of landscape you can imagine there, from beaches to forests to endless fields to mountain ranges to glacial passes. I knew that before I actually went to Iceland, of course, but I still couldn’t help being surprised at what we found there.

Even though we were nearing the end of our journey, the surprises weren’t through yet. We had just left the part of the country with the most volcanic activity I had ever experienced, and suddenly we were driving through autumnal birch tree forests along the fjord shorelines. As soon as we saw the golden colors of the leaves on the trees, we immediately pulled off to the side of the highway so we could explore. In a way, it reminded me of Idaho, and made me miss the autumns from when I was at school.

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After we had spent a few hours at this place, running around, climbing trees, and enjoying the warmth of the sun on our faces, we jumped in the car again and began another drive. The rocky mountains loomed around us as we drove through the canyons, into the snow-covered landscapes of the high elevation.

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As we reached a lookout point above an expansive valley, we stopped again and worked together to build something for our friend. Joel Robison, one of the best photographer friends of both Rob, Lizzy and I, always seems to build Inuksuks wherever he travels to–which, by the way, is all over the world. We worked together to bring all these heavy rocks together, and named our cairn Jöelle. 🙂 Then we left it up there on the mountain, to hopefully spread joy for years to come (if the weather or dumb people don’t knock it down.)

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Soon our journey took us to the edge of the ocean once again. The calm blue water spread out before us along the mountain cliffs, and we blasted Ásgeir as the Ring Road took us to the south once again.  These are memories I will always keep in my mind and in my heart. I will always remember how it felt to be making our way across the entirety of this beautiful country with two of my closest friends.

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One of our last stops of the day was in a valley beside the mountains that caught my eye.  It seemed too beautiful to be real, and I couldn’t resist taking some photos as the sun dipped behind the rolling hills. It felt so peaceful and calm here, in comparison to the harsh north, and I was happy to be back in this part of the country. Things seemed familiar here, and quieter.

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The three of us had an impromptu dance party at this stop before driving off again, and once again I felt so grateful for the opportunity I had been given to share this adventure with my friends. This was one of the happiest moments I can remember, and I’m sure Rob and Liz would say the same.

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As the sky turned a ghostly blue, signaling the darkest point of the night, we came over the bend and arrived once again at the Jökulsarlon glacial lagoon. This marked the end of the Ring Road for us, meaning we had traveled the entire perimeter of Iceland! We couldn’t believe we had actually done it, and in just a few short days! We were ecstatic as we danced along the icy water’s edge in the middle of the night. The tourists had gone home for the night, and we were alone in this vast frozen landscape. It was beautiful beyond words.

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Being the crazy person/photographer that I am, I set it in my mind that I wanted to stand on an iceberg to commemorate our successful Ring Road journey. As Rob will tell you, it took me a long time to work up the courage to get myself out onto that iceberg. However, I persevered, and after several long minutes of telling myself “I would regret it if I didn’t do it”, I suddenly found myself standing barefoot on a floating continent of ice. It was definitely a top moment of my life, if not one of the most terrifying.

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That night, we set up our tent on the Plains of Mordor, or so it looked like, and slept for the remaining hours of the night. The ground was soft and unexpectedly comfortable, and we passed out quickly despite the cold that night.

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The next day we had plans to visit another waterfall, Svartifoss. It was one I had been most excited to see, for it was used as a location in one of my favorite music videos, Bon Iver’s Holocene. We hiked through the bright green trees to reach it, and stopped along a smaller waterfall to have a lunch picnic on the way.

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The view from this place was astounding, and I was overwhelmed once again at the beauty of the earth.

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Rob was making a constructed piece for an image of his series, and I decided to explore the area while we waited. I came over a hill and found this adorable little house on the side of the mountain. It was so peaceful and pleasant on its mountainside perch, and I could’t help taking some self portraits there.

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Finally it was time for us to make our way to Svartifoss, and it was even more incredible than I could have imagined! This rocky cave appeared out of nowhere in the rolling green hills, and a stream of water spouted as if from nowhere. The basalt column rocks, shaped like organ pipes, reminded me of the ones at Reynisdrangar Beach, and I fell in love with the place immediately.

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I got into my favorite Iceland dress and took some pictures in this incredible place. I was amazed and overwhelmed by this strange and otherworldly waterfall, and I think these photos communicate that feeling.

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Rob, me, and Lizzy at Svartifoss. One of my favorite image from this trip, titled “Adventure is Out There“.

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At last we forced ourselves to leave Svartifoss, and we traveled back up the coast. There was a glacier we knew we wanted to see, and so we ventured out into the open landscape again to find it. Light misty clouds hovered above us as we hiked to the glacial pass, and stared across the seemingly endless expanse of black and white sheets of ice pressing up against the mountains. It was terrifying in its colossal volume, but so breathtaking to witness.

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It’s amazing to me how places like this are even formed. God shaped such an incredible work of art with His hands, and I feel so lucky to have witnessed it firsthand.

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Another one of my favorite places we visited as our journey neared its end was a beautiful little church tucked against the mountains. Grass grew over the roof of the church and blanketed the graves behind it. We walked on the grounds for a long while, and took in the silence and peace that the place provided us.

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Our last stop that day was out into the middle of nowhere. Rob had an idea for an incredible photo in mind, and so we drove out onto the endless expanse of black rocks, where the landscape was completely monochromatic.

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If you happened to miss the teaser trailer I made for my Iceland video, this is the place where we danced for many of the scenes! Check it out here!

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On our drive away from the black rock desert, we saw this gigantic circular mountain and had to stop to take photos of it as the night fell. I had never seen anything like it, and I was mesmerized by the way the clouds wrapped around it.

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We only had a few more days left in Iceland, and we were determined to make the most of it. We had a couple of stops left on our journey, and we were ready to go out with a bang. This country had been so good to us, had given us so many adventures, and we weren’t ready to leave yet. There was still so much more to see.

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I only have one more blog post left on our journey through Iceland, and it makes me sad to think that I’m almost out of photos to share! I guess that just means I’ll have to go back again someday 😉

I’ll be making my last Iceland post soon, so don’t miss it! Keep checking back for the remainder of my photos, because you won’t want to miss them 🙂 There’s still more awesome things coming, but we’re almost through!

4 thoughts on “Iceland–Part 6: Back Around Again

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