Monday, July 31, 2017

Iceland Day 4 - Glacier Kayaking in Jökulsárlón

Welcome to Jökulsárlón!  We've got glaciers, we've got icebergs, we've got seals, we've got black sand, we've got crystal clear ice, we've got dreams come true, we've got it all!

Every couple's paddles in this picture, except the Crabby's, are in sync (or N'Sync if you prefer).  Get your heads in the game Crabby's.  This is serious business.  Don't you realize that handfuls of people will see this picture on this blog?  Handfuls.  We can't have amateur posing mistakes like that.  We're better than that.

Jökulsárlón was one of the coolest places we visited in Iceland.  No pun intended...  I can't decide if it's more appropriate to say in Iceland or on Iceland.  Tomato, Tomatoe.   

Jökulsárlón is a deep lagoon that is the magical leftovers from a receding glacier.  The lagoon connects the glacier, and the icebergs that break off of it, to the ocean.  It's about 5 km from the glacier to the ocean and apparently 100 years ago the lagoon was completely covered by the glacier.  I guess Jökulsárlón is one benefit of global warming?  You've gotta look for the bright side of everything...  Sorry Al Gore.

We got to wear dry suits and kayak around the icebergs that were floating in the lagoon.  When we arrived to meet our guides they had pretty disappointed looks on their faces.  It had been blowing super hard all morning and they said that the wind speed was higher than they typically allow for kayaking.  Then they saw Nin's shaved head and thought, "Well this chick is clearly a badass so at least whoever is in her kayak will be fine."  Amazingly the wind died down and it became, according our guides to Bobo and Brindisch, one of the very best days on the lagoon they had experienced.  They said the group just a few hours earlier had to paddle as hard as they could against the wind to move just a couple of feet.  For us, there was barely even a breeze.  #Blessed.

See Crabby's, paddle synchronization.  You gotta GTS (get that shot).

Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon that connects the Vatnajökull glacier to the Atlantic Ocean through a short waterway.  When we pulled up to the lagoon we were blown away by the size of the glacier.  The glacier went from the lagoon all the way up the mountain and covered the ridges as far as you could see.  It wasn't until later that we realized this part of the glacier was part of the 8,000 square kilometer Vatnajökull glacier.  For those of you who don't hablo metric measurements, that is equivalent to an area larger than 3,100 square miles.  Yeah, it's big.  It covers 8% of the entire island.

We paddled around the icebergs and marveled in their unique beauty.  This was definitely not something you can readily experience in most places on Earth.  We turns some mini icebergs over, made loud noises on our kayaks to attract a seal, and even took a quick plunge.  Crabby led the way and just jumped in.  Kollin and I followed and just "iceberged" for a minute.  We figured that most people wanted to swim in the lagoon on their kayak tours but when we asked if others ever jump in they just said, "Uh, no. Only you are this crazy."  It really wasn't bad at all with the dry suits on.

After kayaking the girls got in the water with us too. 

Then us men partook in a public display of our strength to woo our females.  I think I won.  I think this is one of the main reasons Nin loves me.

As the icebergs calve off of the glacier they float 5 km across the lagoon towards the Atlantic Ocean.  I'm guessing that the icebergs go out to the ocean when the tide changes because there were a bunch of icebergs lined up at the outlet of the lagoon to the ocean.  It was so amazing to sit next to the water and just watch them.  It sounded like a giant bowl of Rice Krispies with all of the snap, crackle, Mitch, and pop.  Pieces of the icebergs would break off and a couple smaller ones even flipped while we were there.  Check out this pano!

On the other side of the short waterway connecting the lagoon the ocean is the Black Sand Beach.  This is where the strongest icebergs end up. The ones that finished their dinners and drank all of their milk when their mommies told them to.  The float down the waterway then get pounded against the beach by the ocean waves.  The remaining ice is crystal clear which makes for an amazing sight.  A long black sand beach that looks like it's littered with precious treasures.  

Nin got a little greedy trying to get the perfect shot.

Nin and I sat on the beach and watched the waves beat against a couple shrinking icebergs.  It was one of the most relaxing parts of our entire trip.  If you ever go to Iceland, this should be at the very top of your must do list.

Here is Nin GTS'ing hard.

After our adventures in Jökulsárlón, we drove to Svartifoss which is a waterfall surrounded by dark lava columns.  The hike was pretty mild and the prize at the end was worth it.

It wouldn't have been a normal day without Kollin having drone issues.  As we left Svartifoss for our AirBNB we passed beautiful fields with rivers from glacial runoff.  Kollin had to GTS and in true fashion he lost his drone.  We were sitting in the car watching him and Crabby fly around.  Then out of nowhere Kollin starts running to the away from the cars.  Then he turns around and runs back to the other side of the cars.  Steph radioed "I think Kollin lost his drone again" without an ounce of surprise.  He lost connection with his drone, as he does, and it was going to auto-land.  He didn't know where it was and because of the area we were in there was a 82% chance that it was going to auto-land in an ice cold, milky glacier river never to be found again.  Fortunately he reconnected with the drone and flew it safely back home.  You might think, oh man I can't believe Kollin had another crazy experience with his drone.  Just you wait, there's more.  

I should also point out that I've only highlighted his crazy drone stories.  Once you see the footage that Kollin gets, I think you'll agree that the NDDE's (Near Drone Death Experiences) are well worth it.