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Iceland Day 5: The Golden Circle (Pt 2, Háifoss)

After sleeping in for the first time the whole trip, we woke rested and ready for the day. We took an easy in the morning and afternoon, getting in a little sightseeing and eating actual food.

Soon the fun and games was over and we began our drive towards our site for the evening, Háifoss. The road up to the waterfall validated our choice to get a 4x4 vehicle, as it was a steep, rutted, dirt and rock road that challenged our mighty Duster, but after a couple interesting moments where we thought our vehicle wouldn’t be able to pass, we made it. The best part was that the parking lot only had two other cars in it, so we had once again found a solitary haven in Iceland’s tourist Mecca.

The waterfall itself was over 120m tall (or about 400ft) and poured into a beautiful canyon. It was already July but near the base of the falls, there was still a pile of snow and ice that had yet to melt, creating stunning contrast between the water and greenery of the slopes. Kelly took a couple shots from the top before we decided to hike down into the canyon to see if we could get another perspective.

Going down, the trail was nothing more than a hard packed dirt footpath traversing a steep slope. At a couple points we had to tread very carefully, even sitting down to scoot our way down the as loose rocks on the hard, steep dirt made things incredibly hazardous, not to mention the swarms of flies that constantly buzzed about our heads. We had to resist the urge to swat lest we lose our footing and tumble into the canyon.

Then once we passed the steep part, we had to navigate through a rockslide that was frighteningly unstable and each step was carefully planned. This made for very slow going but we kept making progress, with each step by careful step.

Once in the valley the view was worth it. Down in the river, even in July, there was still some icepack we could see under the water, indicating just how cold the water must have been. And as we got close to the waterfall, the gusts of wind generated by the crashing water kept away the flies and gave us a moments reprieve, although it did get us pretty wet, but at that point we really didn’t care.

After getting some food, refilling our water, and enjoying the aesthetic beauty, Kelly found the place she was looking for. As luck (or Toloff) would have it, the sky transitioned from flat overcast to something with a little more texture and even a couple holes where blue sky peeked through. Kelly worked with her tripod, trying to find a stable location to set up amongst the loose rocks. Once it was up and adjusted just right, we had to be sure we walked very carefully as a single wrong step could shift the ground and ruin the shot.

Along with dealing with the ground below our feet, we also had to worry about the ground above us, as on more than a couple occasions grapefruit sized rocks would break loose somewhere near the top of the rockslide we were at the bottom of and come way too close for comfort. This and of course the flies. Always the flies.

But Kelly kept at it in these challenging conditions for almost a full hour to make sure that she got things just right, and I think the results justify our time and effort.


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