Iceland’s Raw Power

I’ve already mentioned the geothermal power that Iceland produces at places like the Blue Lagoon, but this post is more about the other unharnessed powers of nature that are so apparent here. Many of them could be harnessed, of course, but Iceland already has an over-abundance of natural energy, so nobody bothers with the other types of energy (wind and hydroelectric power, for example) that they could take advantage of.

If you love waterfalls, Iceland should be at the top of your travel list. Everywhere you turn there’s a waterfall. Today Mike remarked, “I can see four waterfalls at once,” which is almost like saying, “wow, it’s hot” in Phoenix this time of year. It’s practically a given that you’ll be able to see several waterfalls at once if you’re traveling along the southern coast of Iceland. If there’s a good waterfall coming off a cliff, it would also be a safe bet that an adorable farmhouse is situated underneath it. Everything here has a sign and a name, too. All waterfall names end with the suffix “-foss,” which I’m guessing means “falls.” Some of the noteworthy falls we’ve seen include Gullfoss, Skogafoss, and Systrafoss, which is near a site where two sisters/nuns were put to death for something or another (we’ve camped near the latter two).


Iceland’s glaciers are another example of nature’s raw power. We’re finally seeing some close up, and they are massive. Monday and Tuesday we crossed miles of sandurs, which are vast wastelands of sands and ash deposited by glacial runoff. There’s nothing for miles and miles in these sections, and the landscape is both unpredictable (since the rivers shift) and inhospitable. That’s why the southeast is one of the most sparsely populated reas of Iceland. The interior is less populated, but as far as coastal areas go, the southeast is barren.

We also saw some twisted sections of steel bridges in the sandurs. In 1996 there was a volcanic eruption that caused serious flash floods in the region. An entire 376-meter bridge was washed away, and others were destroyed. 2000-ton icebergs rammed into the steel, crushing them or carrying them out to sea. It’s likely to happen again in the future, but the bridges are now designed in sections so that it’s possible for one section to sustain damage without necessarily ruining the entire bridge.

Here I am, posing on top of one of those twisted pieces of steel bridge. You can see a glacier in the background.

Mike’s turn. It was his idea, of course.

Later today we should get to see some icebergs floating out in the ocean, so I’m pretty excited for that. Cheers!

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