We started the day hunkered down in our campervan waiting out the heavy rains. Once the rain ended, we visited Fláajökull glacier, the very popular Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, and the nearby Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon.
Though it had rained at various times through our first fifteen days in Iceland, today was the first continuous deluge. It lasted for hours and we just waited it out cooped up in our little van refusing to leave the campground.
It was around 2:00 p.m. when the rain finally gave way enough for us to start our day.
From the map we had gotten in Höfn yesterday, we noticed there was another glacier tongue we could drive to. So, we took the unpaved side road about 5 miles (8km) to Fláajökull.
There were several puddles and water-filled potholes on the drive. The road got a little worse as we kept going.
We found what looked like a parking area with a distant view of the glacier. We later learned that there used to be a pedestrian bridge there that would allow you to cross the river and hike up to the left side of the glacier. But the bridge was washed out in 2017 flooding.
Though the road was even rougher more narrow after that, Linda drove our AWD campervan as far as we could go. The sun came out, and we stopped for photos along the way.
At the end of the road, we discovered a marked trail that led to the right side of the glacier. So we headed that way.
Distances are deceiving and it's a longer hike than it looks. The farther we went, the more we found areas of the trail flooded from the rain. Some nifty footwork was required in a few areas.
But the sun was out, and it turned the glacier silver as we walked.
The closer, we got, the harder it was to locate the trail. In the end, we just took the path of least resistance and eventually made it to the face of the glacier.
This glacier was gray around the edges, and it looked like Styrofoam. But we touched our first glacier in Iceland, and we did it on our own.
This glacier is the source of a river, and it was flowing out from under the ice where we were. After resting, listening to the water flow, and admiring the solace of our surroundings, we started back.
From our return angle, we noticed a large ice arch that we didn't see on the way in.
That was pretty cool.
We made our way back on the rocky path crossing streams and walking below several thin waterfalls.
After having to watch our footing, we finally picked up the flatter, clearer trail.
Well, that was a nice hike. It turned out to be a little longer than we expected, but it was well worth the effort. Of course it didn't hurt that there was no one else around and it was free.
As we drove out, we stopped for one more photo of Fláajökull.
The afternoon turned out prettier than we expected, but we didn't have much daylight left as we got back on Ring Road and continued west toward Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Jökulsárlón is one of the most popular tourist stops in all of Iceland. Every tour bus that gets anywhere close stops there. It's right off of Ring Road, and it has become very commercialized with all kinds of boat tours offered on the iceberg filled lake.
On this evening, however, there weren't that many people left. It was late, the sun was blocked by clouds, the tours for the day were over, and the wind was howling, chilling us to the bone.
Huge chunks of ice break off of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier at the back of the lagoon, and the huge, beautiful, often-blue icebergs float in the lake. Today, the icebergs were close to the parking lot, and it wasn't necessary to take a boat tour to get a good look.
The high winds pushed smaller, broken pieces of ice up onto the lakeshore.
This created a mini-version of what is known as Diamond Beach. This glacial lake is close to the ocean, and a short river carries the ice out into the sea where the tides deposit it back onto the black sand beach. The clear ice looks like diamonds against the black sand.
Because of the high winds and the similar effect here at Jökulsárlón on this day, we skipped a visit to Diamond Beach.
There were a few Harbor Seals in the lagoon, but I was only able to get distant shots.
The beauty of Jökulsárlón is undeniable, so we decided to return the next day and hope for a little better weather.
From Jökulsárlón, we drove another 7 miles (11k) west to Fjallsárlón glacial lagoon which, until recently, was considered the less touristy alternative to Jökulsárlón.
In my search for "hidden gems", I read you could drive right up to the edge of Fjallsárlón and basically have it to yourself. However, that has all changed. Now there is a paved road with a large parking area, boat tours, and a restaurant. You can no longer drive to the edge of the lagoon, but rather have to walk up a hill to even get a look.
It's not quite as commercialized as Jökulsárlón, but it's certainly a known tourist destination now rather than a hidden gem.
It was getting late, and it was still cold and windy, so Linda sat this one out while I walked up the hill for a few photos.
This is certainly a smaller lagoon, but the glacier that is the source of its icebergs is closer.
Perhaps we'll stop by here again tomorrow as well.
And with that, we drove about 26 miles (42k) to the campground we had chosen for the night at Svinafell.
It was a short day due to the early, heavy rain, but we squeezed in some nice sightseeing in our limited time.
Day 16 Driving - 138k (86 miles)