Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, Iceland

Iceland has ruined me forever!

Forrest Mallard

It is going to be hard to go back to the real world and tolerate its relative lack of beauty, after Iceland.




So Many Epic Waterfalls

For so many years of travel, if I happened to see a quaint little waterfall, I would stop and savor the moment, and maybe take a photo. Now, after Iceland, anything less than Niagra Falls or the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon will probably not even warrant a second glance. Over the past 1.5 weeks I have seen maybe 100 astonishing waterfalls, and then finally yesterday I visited Dettifoss and stood just a few meters from the falls, and every cell of my body tried to assess if this was reality or if I had been trapped in some fantastic GCI experience that was beyond reality.

For thousands of years one of Iceland’s largest rivers, Jokulsa a Fjollum, (The Glacier River from the Mountains) has continued to flow from under the Vatnajokull glacier ice cap. It winds its way through a landscape of diverse aspects for a distance of 206 km, runs north to the sea and empties at Oxarfjordur bay. Besides being the country’s second longest river, its catchment area is the largest of all. North of Vatnajokull, the river crosses a barren, gently sloping plateau, but the current gains speed towards the edge of the highlands, where powerful waterfalls drop into the canyon. On its long journey, the river has carved numerous channels into the highland bedrock and to the west of Holsfjoll it cascades from a tall rocky ledge, forming the huge waterfall Dettifoss.

As I stood to stare at Dettifoss in disbelief, a very young girl that was standing with her family could only stare at my silly hat with the pom-pom on the top. I looked at her, and I just said “WOW” pointing back at the waterfall and she giggled and ran to her parents. I spent about 5 minutes just staring into the epic, cascading water. Then as I started on my way out, I saw the girl running towards me again. I motioned for the parents to caution them, as this is not the safest place for a young child to be running free, next to cliff over a deep chasm with billions of gallons of water crashing down. But they signaled to me that they were keeping an eye on her.

I stopped to take one last photo of the falls and she caught up with me. She just stood there staring at me. I knelt down and she said to me, “It’s vewy wonderful.” I had to pause because:
(1) What is happening? and
(2) This is just adorable!!

I saw her plastic, sparkly star hair clip, her pink winter jacket, and her face that, for some reason was so intent on telling me this. — I said, “IT’S AMAZING!!” — She ran back to her parents that had just barely caught up with us, and I saw her speaking to her dad, and I saw her dad just glow with fatherly pride. This little moment was as special to me as seeing the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

Then I walked back to the parking lot, there were some Germans there that I had some serious misadventures with over the last 48 hours. We got extremely lost in the National Park, but they gave me a ride from the waterfall to the Ring Road. From there it is only 25 km back to Lake Mývatn, and there was a serious lack of traffic for hitchhiking, so I just started walking. I had just walked for 2 days through some extremely difficult terrain, but with only 6 hours more, I could reach where I needed to go.

Only one car passed me every 10 minutes going in my direction. Luckily enough, after about 4 or 5 km of walking a beautiful couple from Malaysia picked me up and dropped me off at the campground. So my first official hitchhiking experience was a success.

SO MANY stories over the last 48 hours of trekking. Hundreds of photos, I can’t even upload them all but will try to post some highlights here.

When I got to the campground, the first thing I wanted to do was take a LONG, HOT shower. The last day of the hike, my own smell was offending me greatly. When I would get very tired after climbing yet another mountain, I just lifted my arm to wipe the sweat off my face and a small toxic cloud escaped from my armpit and the noxious fumes got me on my feet and I was walking full speed again.

In Iceland, many of the showers at the campgrounds charge 100 isk ($0.80) per minute for the shower. I don’t really want to pay $10+ for a shower, so I wait until I stay at a campground that has free showers. The hot water in these places also comes directly from the geothermal springs, so it smells quite strong and it feels almost as if you are swimming at the spa.

I had my shower, so I’m happy and exhausted.

I’ve now reached the midway point of my ‘vacation’ and dreams of going back to Dubai and going back to work are starting to get stronger. I just got my first email about this coming season at Global Village and I eagerly opened it first.

But still 3.5 more weeks of Iceland.
3 weeks of the Faroe Islands and a little time with Sanna.
Then some time with my Jomayra in Spain.
Then I head back to Dubai.

I will have to do Norway another year, I will be exhausted by the time I am done with the Faroes.



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