Oddly enough, Iceland

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Don
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Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 am

Oddly enough, Iceland

Post by Don » Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:06 pm

Sheep, did I say something about sheep?
Sheep, did I say something about sheep?
Down the road apiece, one of the many "swimming pools" that abound around Iceland offers an enticing opportunity to 'take the waters'. With temperatures that range from 85 to 105 degrees, patrons can find their temp...
Down the road apiece, one of the many "swimming pools" that abound around Iceland offers an enticing opportunity to 'take the waters'. With temperatures that range from 85 to 105 degrees, patrons can find their temp...
Having the opportunity to join my better half (Rhonda) in Iceland, where she had work-oriented tasking, I flew in to Reykjavik the capitol of Iceland. After napping for several hours to shake the jetlag off, I rented a car, and drove to Akureyri where Rhonda's conference was held. Arriving on her next to last day of the conference, the images that follow document the countryside enroute and then of our return to Reykjavik by way of the Western Fjords.
I was struck by the similarities between Alaska and Iceland, though immensely different in size (Iceland is about the size of Kentucky), they both are characterized by low population densities, large expanses of wide open spaces. Iceland has few predators (we did see briefly, an Arctic Fox), but a wealth of birdlife.
I started out with a new camera, and I offer my apologies for my bumbling about. The camera, a Sony DSC HX9V, is a point and shoot basically, but clearly complex enough to "grow into". My primary criticism is the lack of a user-friendly instruction manual, as some of the features I wanted to access the most were somewhat embedded. That said, the journey begins.
One of the first shots I took was of one of the state subsidized tree plantations that presented themselves frequently across the routes I, we chose.
One of the first shots I took was of one of the state subsidized tree plantations that presented themselves frequently across the routes I, we chose.
In between my rented car and an interpretive sign, a waterfall and a 1930's road and bridge are visible, especially in the zoomed in image that follows...
In between my rented car and an interpretive sign, a waterfall and a 1930's road and bridge are visible, especially in the zoomed in image that follows...
Like Alaska, Iceland has both dirt road tracks and paved roads, but comparatively very little compared to the contiguous American states.
Like Alaska, Iceland has both dirt road tracks and paved roads, but comparatively very little compared to the contiguous American states.
Though familiar with Garmin's handheld GPS and that of the iPhone, the Nuvi (Garmin) GPS seen in bottom right was a very helpful auto version. The verbal directions prevented me from having to divert my attention to the graphics...we came to call the female voice directing us, as the Imperial Blonde...
Though familiar with Garmin's handheld GPS and that of the iPhone, the Nuvi (Garmin) GPS seen in bottom right was a very helpful auto version. The verbal directions prevented me from having to divert my attention to the graphics...we came to call the female voice directing us, as the Imperial Blonde...
Focused on a timely arrival in Akureyri, most of the images that follow, were taken in Akureyri, or from our return.
Icelandic towns are rather far apart, and try to be self-sustaining. Here beyond the statue of a dairy cow and milking maid, is a fairly large, modern building housing the regional dairy.
Icelandic towns are rather far apart, and try to be self-sustaining. Here beyond the statue of a dairy cow and milking maid, is a fairly large, modern building housing the regional dairy.
Visiting Akureyri's Botanical Garden, I tried my hand (actually my camera) at shooting with a macro setting...
Visiting Akureyri's Botanical Garden, I tried my hand (actually my camera) at shooting with a macro setting...
In a lagoon at the town's edge, these swans (locals referred to them as 'whoopers') and their cygnets graced our presence.
In a lagoon at the town's edge, these swans (locals referred to them as 'whoopers') and their cygnets graced our presence.
Got Geothermal?  Iceland has plenty.  Here steam vents and bubbling mud pots abound, at the base of a one-time sulphur mine.
Got Geothermal? Iceland has plenty. Here steam vents and bubbling mud pots abound, at the base of a one-time sulphur mine.
Down the road apiece, one of the many "swimming pools" that abound around Iceland offers an enticing opportunity to 'take the waters'. With temperatures that range from 85 to 105 degrees, patrons can find their temp...
Down the road apiece, one of the many "swimming pools" that abound around Iceland offers an enticing opportunity to 'take the waters'. With temperatures that range from 85 to 105 degrees, patrons can find their temp...
The last few images are from the Myvatn area along with Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods).
The last few images are from the Myvatn area along with Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods).
Leaving the North, and heading west, we approached the Western Fjords, with our night's stay in Holmavik. Along the way, we observed a gathering of Eider ducks, known for their high quality down, and abundant throughout the region.
Leaving the North, and heading west, we approached the Western Fjords, with our night's stay in Holmavik. Along the way, we observed a gathering of Eider ducks, known for their high quality down, and abundant throughout the region.
Once common, this sod roofed house remains as an example of a previous generations solution to shelter in a wet and cold environment.
Once common, this sod roofed house remains as an example of a previous generations solution to shelter in a wet and cold environment.
Leaving the coast for a bit, we travelled somewhat inland, never far from the sea. Wide open spaces characterized much of our travel here.
I believe the next image is of Djupafjordur, on our way to the ferry at Brjanslaekur.
I have few images of sheep specifically, but must comment that this country supports a surprising number of sheep, seemingly sustainably.
I have few images of sheep specifically, but must comment that this country supports a surprising number of sheep, seemingly sustainably.
Geothermal springs abound everywhere, here developed and piped to a rather nice enclosed swimming pool, with only one house within miles, perhaps a dozen within 50 miles.
Geothermal springs abound everywhere, here developed and piped to a rather nice enclosed swimming pool, with only one house within miles, perhaps a dozen within 50 miles.
For the paltry sum of about $4, we luxuriated in this hot spring fed swimming pool until we'd fully relaxed and were ready to continue our journey.
For the paltry sum of about $4, we luxuriated in this hot spring fed swimming pool until we'd fully relaxed and were ready to continue our journey.
We took a day and travelled inland and upland into an alpine wilderness area in the Djupadalur region, our destination a waterfall of note, but name since forgotten. Nonetheless, a memorable one, after a fog/cloud shrouded drive.
One of the more remote waterfalls we visited, zoomed image follows.
One of the more remote waterfalls we visited, zoomed image follows.
DSC00315.jpg
Another fjord, off in the distance...
Another fjord, off in the distance...
And another...
And another...
With a maximum of twenty images permitted, a second episode to this adventure will follow, later this week.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Oddly enough, Iceland

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:31 am

Don, Great photos with your new camera. Iceland looks rugged and remote. Larry

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bbeduhn
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Re: Oddly enough, Iceland

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:15 am

Icelanders must suffer from severe tree envy. It's a gorgeous country but a bit barren. I only got to see the airport when I was there on a stopover on the way to Europe. The country looks like brown rock from the air.

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Rand
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Re: Oddly enough, Iceland

Post by Rand » Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:23 pm

One of the surprising factoids that I learned in Jared Diamonds book Collapse is that Iceland has been massively damaged by deforestation and sheep grazing, aggravated by the fragility of their volcanic ash based soils (vs the heavy, clay based soils the norsemen had become accustomed to in the rest of northern europe). Forest cover went from ~25% to 1% and half their soils are gone (p 200-1):
At the time that settlement of Iceland began, one-quarter of the island's area was forested. The settlers proceeded to clear the trees for pastures, and for using the trees themselves as firewood, timber, and charcoal. About 80% of that original woodland was cleared within the first few decades and 96% as of modern times, thus leaving only 1% of iceland's area still forested. Big chunks of scorched wood found in the earliest archaeological sites show that -incredible as it seems today- much of the wood from that land clearance was wasted or just burned, until icelanders realized that they would be short for the indefinite future. Once the original trees had been removed, grazing by sheep, and rooting by the pigs initially present, prevented seedlings from regenerating. As one drives across Iceland today, it is striking to notice how the occasional clump of trees still standing are mostly ones enclosed by fences to protect them from the sheep.

Iceland's highlands above tree line, supporting natural grassland on fertile shallow soil, were particularly attractive to the settlers, who didn't even have to clear trees there in order to create pastures. But the highlands were more fragile than the lowlands, because they were colder and drier, hence had lower rates of plant regrowth, and were not protected by woodland cover. Once the natural carpet of grasslands had been cleared or browsed off, the soil originating as windblown ash was now exposed to wind erosion. In addition, water running downhill, either as rain or as snowmelt runoff, could start to erode gullies into the now-bare soil. But as a gully developed and as the water table dropped from the level of the top of the gully to the bottom, the soil dried out and became even more subject to wind erosion. Within a short time after settlement, Iceland's soils began to be carried from the highlands down to the lowlands and out to sea. The highlands became stripped of soil as well as of vegetation, the former grasslands of Iceland's interior became the man-made (or sheep-made) desert that one sees today, and then large eroded areas started to develop in the lowlands as well.

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Oddly enough, Iceland

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:22 pm

Wow! Great photos! Of a place I'll likely never see. Thanks!

I read some essays about the effort to reforest parts of Iceland. I'd also read how the place once had decent forests but was scraped clean of trees by early human settlers. Idiots.

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