iceland. day eight.
puffins, storurd, dettifoss/selfoss

day eight. we awakened in our little campground on a fjord in east iceland, borgarfjörður eystri, hoping to avenge the previous evening’s failed puffin viewing attempt. we raced over to climb to the little cliff overlook viewing platform and settled in. we had big plans for the rest of the day, so we were hopeful it would be long, and we were not disappointed. within minutes, the first puffin, popped out of a nest, wobbled around for a few seconds and took off to the sea.

this happened a few more times and we were able to get quite a few good shots of them. they are surprising fast and smaller than we thought. i was sort of expecting penguin-like, but they were more osprey-esque. haha. as we were leaving, we got the best view of all, as one little guy/gal popped out from a nest right under the stairs, and hung around for quite a bit of time, in the perfect sunlight, while i snapped away. 🙂

perfectly satisfied with the puffin viewing, we loaded up to head to the trailhead for our day’s big adventure. at our buffet lunch the previous day, our server told us about stórurð, and her magical description was enough to cause us to adjust our plans, and it did not disappoint.

the hike to into storurd is pretty fantastic on its own, with ocean views behind us and snow capped mountains ahead. there’s pristine ponds, wild flowers, river crossings, and plenty of sheep.

but, the end destination, storurd (translation: “large rubble“), is like a magical fairy land. the hike in was a pretty good climb, and as we crested the top ridge and first laid eyes on this area, we were stunned. but to get to it, we had to slip, slide, shuffle down a very steep and rocky trail. it took a minute.

the main attraction at storurd is a giant opaque blue lake, surrounded by huge boulders. it was mesmerizing. when we first arrived, it was a little overcast and the waters were a little less vibrant, so we stopped for lunch, and attempted to wait out the sunshine.

our plan worked perfectly, and soon the sun emerged from behind the clouds, lighting up the lake in the most perfect aqua color i’ve ever seen (and i’ve seen some aqua in my day).

we wandered around and scrambled on the rocks for a bit, getting all the various vantage points. we had the place entirely to ourselves until a group of dudes walked in and immediately stripped down to jump in. you can see them in the photo on the right below. apparently it was cold and they didn’t last long.

while the lake is the big highlight of storurd, the rest of the trail that loops around and through the rocks is quite amazing on it’s own. it was chock full of stream crossings, bridges, waterfalls and scenic backdrops. and i will now inundate you with beautiful photos.

this place was truly amazing. i could have stayed there for hours, but we had a big long day of driving, so we eventually had to begin the long hike back out. starting with a climb back out, up a steep, rocky, slippery, and very stupid trail. the long descent through the valley back to the car was still very pretty, but as usual, my knees were taking a pretty good beating and so it was quite miserable.

the hike clocked in at around 7 miles and 2000′ elevation gain. not too shabby. and perhaps one of the best things about it was… we saw very few people. like maybe a dozen or so total. and most of them were people that passed us going up as we were leaving. perfection.

anyways. like i said. a big long day of driving awaited us (derek). we were now on the northern part of the ring road loop, making our way west. gas stations (which are like mini grocery stores and have surprisingly good food and coffee) are fewer and farther between on this section of the route. but we did stop at one little place, found ourselves swarmed with midges, ducked in for a bathroom break, filled up with gas, and ended up purchasing numerous icelandic baked goods. i forget what the little ball thing is, but the pie type thing on the right is called “happy marriage cake” and is sort of an oat-y rhubarb-y thing. i didn’t hate it.

after a few hours of driving, we arrived at our next stop, a quick little hike/walk to check out selfoss and dettifoss waterfalls. (foss means waterfall so i know that’s redundant but it just feels right). anyways. these are super popular spots, and it was pretty late, and we were very tired, and they aren’t like super majestic waterfalls, so we took obligatory photos and got out of there.

after our long day, we decided to eat out and found a fish and chips place that was a gem and a lifesaver.

the town we were staying in was called myvatn, or “lake of midges”. people go there for the cool thermal activity and hot springs. but i don’t get it because the places is swarming with midges. everyone wears head nets and masks and we ran from place to places and made comical efforts to get in and out of doors as quickly as possible. i have no good pictures to document this freakish phenomenon, but i couldn’t leave out this detail because it was just so crazy.

anyways. turns out. the myvatn campground actually had a shower and it was available, and i was able to take my second shower of the entire trip. the downsides were: the water was scorching hot and it was a group shower. fortunately, after a few minutes, the other showerers departed and i had the place to myself. just me and the midges. so i was able to document the facilities without being creepy. 🙂

soooo. that’s day eight. puffins. the most epic hike. some waterfalls checked off the list. delicious fish fry. a swarm of a zillion tiny bugs. and a hot shower. what else could a girl ask for.

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