Iceland, Day 5

Our last full day in Iceland started in Vik. The weather started out rainy and overcast, so I headed to the beach:

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Eventually, the sun began to break through:

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and then, we left Vik, heading west. We stopped at Selfoss, but instead of waterfall pictures, I have several images of sheep, with which Eva and I were enthralled.

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We were especially impressed with their ability to graze themselves into some precarious positions. Yes, those are sheep on the sheer face of the mountain.

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Iceland Day 2

On our second day in Iceland, we began by bushwhacking up the hill from route 1 to get to the cliff summit by Seljalandsfoss. Here we had a great view of the floodplain from the glaciers above:

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as well as a nice view of Seljalandsfoss from above:

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From here, our plan was to make it to the small mountain peak shown in the Day 1’s post; but unfortunately the river that led to the waterfall was too wide to ford safely and we instead went on a hike up river until it became clear that we were not going to make it across. Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous day and we returned to the car after a few hours of pleasant hiking. For those interested, if you follow the river from Seljalandsfoss upstream, you come to yet another falls that it only visible (from the south) by precariously peering over the edge of a cliff. We didn’t photograph this falls because of this.

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Continuing on route 1, we went to a geothermal fed pool — you can see the steam rising from a leaky pipe leading to the pool:

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After leaving this hike and soak, we continued east and our day ended at Vik, where we camped for the night.

Iceland Day 1: Jet lagged

After flying out of Boston late on Wednesday night, our 5.5 hour flight landed at KEF at around 0700 Iceland time. It was pretty chilly when we stepped out of the airport terminal:

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Then we headed to Touring Cars Iceland (they picked us up at KEF) and rented out motor home. The process was pretty straightforward, and after watching a video of how to use the motor home (including a smiling couple emptying the poop container), we had an actual intro and walk through of the camper. This whole process, while straightforward, took a couple of hours, as there were two other groups renting at the same time as us. The bottom line, is that when traveling to Iceland from Maine, even though the flight isn’t that long, the first half day is mainly about travel and getting set up with a rental car and provisioning with food.

Eva and I then went to Reykjavik for a short walk. Of course, we had to see, at the end of Skólavörðustígur street and in front of Hallgrímskirkja church:

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the statue of Leifur Eiríksson

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and then, after a short walk, we had lunch and headed out of town along the south coast. The wind was rather fierce on this first day, and coupled with severe jet lag, I had a difficult time staying awake while driving east. Eva smartly fell asleep and woke up as we approached the waterfall Seljalandsfoss. Here’s Eva in front of the falls:

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Okay, notice the rainbow? My USM physics students should note that the general brightness inside the bow is greater than outside. Remember why? If not, we’ll derive all of the physics of a rainbow next semester in Physics 375 :-).

It’s cold this first day, but it was the wind that was most challenging. Eva returned to the camper, and I climbed off trail to the top of a cliff for another view of the falls that most people here do not see:

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I was going to continue upward, but the wind was so strong that a scramble up the couloir to the top was not so safe. However, climbing up to this point made it obvious that there was a very nice little peak just waiting to be climbed. When I returned to the camper, I dropped the hint that the next day, we could try to hike over to the base and climb the ridge to the summit.

Do to the wind and the setting sun, we camped in a far parking lot pointing our camper into the wind, and used informative signs as a wind break. It was a rough windy night. 

Partial Pemi Loop, NH

Here are some photographs from a partial Pemigewasset Loop that my wife and I hiked this 7-8 August.
We hiked the loop in a counter-clockwise direction from Lincoln Woods trailhead, over Bondcliff, Mt. Bond,
Mt. Guyot, South Twin Mtn, Garfield, Mt. Lafayette, Mt. Lincoln, and exiting
down Falling Waters Trail from Little Haystack Mountain.
25 miles, 17 Hours in two days.

The first (roughly) 10km is pretty flat, on an old rail bed, and after a long but easy vertical kilometer, you emerge onto Bondcliff, In my head, I think of them as the Bond Cliffs, as they are on the shoulder of Mt. Bond, and therefore, I anthropomorphically ascribe ownership
of the cliffs to the body of Mt. Bond…in any case, here’s my wife in the classic cliche Bondcliff shot, but it’s an amazing spot everytime I go to it.

Standing out on the far rock is almost sure to make one take pause (it always totally terrifies me), and most people will not stand closer than about 1m from the edge.

Standing out on the far rock is almost sure to make one take pause (it always totally terrifies me), and most people will not stand closer than about 1m from the edge.

View from the Bondcliff "plank" ; from the hiker's perspective, it's not clear whether the far rock is held up by anything, and even though you know it is, there's a part of the brain that doesn't really trust the visual observation. I mean, one of these years, it will fall...

View from the Bondcliff “plank” ; from the hiker’s perspective, it’s not clear whether the far rock is held up by anything, and even though you know it is, there’s a part of the brain that doesn’t really trust the visual observation. I mean, one of these years, it will fall…

From Bondcliff, its uphill to Mt. Bond (elev 1,432 m), and then to Mt. Guyot (1,396 m), and then a 3 km walk through the woods to South Twin Mountain (1,494 m). From there, its a short but STEEP downhill to Galehead Hut, and then a slow but steady and then steep climb to Mt. Garfield (1,372 m). At the summit of Mt. Garfield there are panoramic views from an old fire tower’s foundation (from WhiteMountainHistory.org)

The 1938 Hurricane blew down thousands of acres of forest and many sections of the White Mountain National Forest were closed to public use because of the high fire hazard. Several new lookouts, guard stations, trails and roads were constructed by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) at this time. The concrete foundation of the lookout on the summit of Mount Garfield is a stark reminder of that period. (Incidentally the outhouse for the Garfield Lookout is still standing and is a short distance north of the summit hidden by balsam fir trees. )

View of Owl's Head and the Franconia Range from the summit of Mt. Garfield.

View of Owl’s Head and the Franconia Range from the summit of Mt. Garfield.

From here, it was several kilometers unti the summit of Mt Lafayette (1,603.2 m) became visible.

First clear view of the Mt. Lafayette summit after emerging from the forested ridge connecting Mt. Garfield and Mt. Lafayette. Note the inherent fashionability of this NH hiker on his way to the summit.

First clear view of the Mt. Lafayette summit after emerging from the forested ridge connecting Mt. Garfield and Mt. Lafayette. Note the inherent fashionability of this NH hiker on his way to the summit.

Stunning views from the summit:

The view looking south along the Franconia Ridge from the summit of Mt. Lafayette.

The view looking south along the Franconia Ridge from the summit of Mt. Lafayette.

And then, a down and up to Mt. Lincoln before a final descent/ascent to Little Haystack:

Descending Mt. Lincoln toward Little Haystack Mtn.

Descending Mt. Lincoln toward Little Haystack Mtn.

All in all, a great hike in perfect weather conditions over two days — a rarity in the White Mountains!

Family Portrait

Even though the post date of this entry is September 23, 2010, I’m writing this in January 2011 (WordPress used the exif data to decide the post date) and now that my semester is over at the University of Southern Maine, I’m catching up on some billing of old jobs. This portrait was taken in September of this past year and the image was converted to greyscale from Lightroom 3.3 using Nik Software’s SilverEfex Pro plugin. The print was made by White House Custom Color (whcc.com).

I am consistently impressed by the print quality from WHCC— any faults in prints are invariably because I did not pay close enough attention to my submitted files. I would highly recommend this company for any photographer not able to afford their own large format printer.

Isle Au Haut, Maine #1

Recently, my wife and I spent a day (sans children) hiking on Isle Au Haut, a 10 km ferry ride from Stonington, ME. Isle Au Haut has about 45 year-round residents, and much of the island is part of Acadia National Park. Due to it’s remoteness, it’s the least visited part of Acadia (actually, I don’t have any data on that, but I’d bet you a nickel it’s true). There are only two rangers on the island and part of their job (aside from being incredibly friendly and knowledgeable) is to make sure everyone that entered the park in the morning leaves at the end of the day on the last ferry.

This will be the first of several posts on the trip, and I’ll include a photo or two with each post.

Today’s photos, the ferns (A) and the beach rocks (B), are taken at Duck Harbor (southwestern part of the island), and Squeaker Cove, respectively.

Duck harbor was where I first noticed that Isle Au Haut has some of the largest uninterupted fields (except for large boulders and occasional trees) that I have ever seen. These fields are so densely packed with ferns (I believe in this case, hay-scented ferns) that they seem to have crowded out many other species of plants. The visual effect is amazing, and the soft overcast light made photographing the fields quite pleasingly simple.

After a short hike up and over Duck Harbor Mountain, we arrived at Squeaker Cove. Beautiful smooth granite stones line the beach, which inevitably prompts people to create little cairn scultpures, many of which you can see here.

Incidently, when we arrived at the next beach at Deep Cove, which is populated by similarly smooth granite stones, my wife stepped in such a way that two of the polished stones slid against each other and produced a noise we both spontaneously described as a squeak, hence our theory that this is behind the naming of Squeaker Cove.

I have no idea if this theory has any truth to it, but it’s a good sounding theory. So there.

I hope you enjoy the images. More about hiking on the island in the next post.