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Day Two - Driving the Ring

The plan was the drive around the island, counter-clockwise, mostly on Route 1, otherwise known as the "Ring Road." It picks up right from Reykjavik and as I drove southeast, reaching the coast, the view was spectacular, with the ocean to the right, pastures with many Icelandic horses and sheep to the left, and mountains and glaciers straight ahead. There are waterfalls both big and small virtually everywhere and lots of streams and lakes, as well. The smell of sulfur was strong as the volcanic activity beneath the surface leads to a plethora of hot springs and boiling mud pits casting out the strong odor.

The Ring Road
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Icelandic Horses
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Dodging Sheep
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The speed limit for most of the Ring Road is 90km/h (56mph), which seemed plenty fast with the narrow lanes, often loose gravel, and the many sheep found standing or sleeping in the middle of the road as you drive. Right outside of Reykjavik there are multiple roundabouts, seemingly every 10 kilometers or so, which also keep you on your toes as you plod along, trying not to be distracted by the magnificent views as you navigate the quite often tricky path ahead.

An hour or so into the drive, I could see Seljalandsfoss in the distance and decided to pay it a visit. This waterfall drops 60 meters from a cliff into a stream below, providing a beautiful show even at a great distance. Up close, it's that much more impressive. There is also a path with which you can climb back behind the falls for a unique, albeit very wet view.

Seljalandsfoss
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Behind Seljalandsfoss
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Edge of the Mżrdalsjökull Glacier
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Further along Route 1, you reach some very accessible points to get a close look at the Mżrdalsjökull glacier. This ice cap, which covers the volcano katla, covers 600 kilometers (378 miles) and reaches heights of nearly 1500 meters (almost 5,000 feet).

Sand and Ash Mixes with the Glacier
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An Ice Cave in the Glacier
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Climbing the Glacier
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I walked around the area where the lava meets the ice, often leaving very loose sand (and even some quicksand in places) and investigated some ice caves. Then I thought maybe I'd climb the glacier. It wasn't terrible steep and my hiking boots provided a pretty good grip, so it was an enjoyable climb. The cool air and ice was refreshing and the views were just incredible. After a while I thought perhaps I should turn back, and at that point I discovered why you're supposed to wear spikes on your boots for this type of thing. Trying to walk down the icy slope in hiking boots was a lot trickier than climbing up. I had to go very slow, but did make it down without a major incident.

Hotel Höfšabrekka was a decent enough hotel in a nice area, not too far from the coast. The water had a definite strong sulfur smell, which took getting used to, but the bathroom was very nice and I enjoyed my short stay.


Day Three

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