This is just a quick update on my trip to Iceland. As expected the Icelandic weather has been as unpredictable as ever. Upon landing in Iceland Saturday morning I was greeting with freshly fallen snow. Although this pushed my arrival time back a bit it wasn't that big of an issue as the jeep rental didn't open until 9am anyway. From the bus terminal in Reykjavik it should have been a quick 5 minute taxi ride to pick up the jeep, but this is when things started to fall apart. It seems that the address for the rental company did not match the map on their website causing the driver to cruise up and down the blocks for about an hour trying to find the location.
My original plan was to leave Reykjavik by 09:30 but this pushed my departure back to almost 10:30. Still not the end of the world but road conditions through the mountain pass leaving Reykjavik made for some interesting driving. Iceland has a great website, road.is, which updates constantly with driving conditions throughout the country. This ranges from "Easily Passible" in green to "Impassible" in red. While the roads I was driving on at the time were listed as "Some spots of Ice", back in the US it would have been classified as "Difficult Driving".
Way behind the original schedule at this point I decided that it would be best to go to my alternate location first to try and get some shots while I still had daylight. Upon arrival I had the next set of challenges to deal with, very high winds blowing water droplets onto the lens. More of an annoyance than anything, but it caused me to have to stop, check and clean the lens after each exposure.
At this point I had a decision to make… Push on to my primary location (which I may not arrive at until after dark) or move to another alternate location which was closer. Since I still had all day Sunday and the following weekend I decided that I would press on the remaining 200 kilometers. I'm actually very glad I made this decision since as I went further west the weather cleared up more and more. I actually managed to arrive at my primary location before sunset. Even with this little but of luck I still had to decide exactly where I wanted to shoot. While I did manage to get some decent shots, this is a location that I will have to go back to on a future trip now that I have more knowledge of the area from being on the ground.
As darkness set in the final order of business for the day was to find a place to sleep. I'm not going to details on the evenings camping experience as that would be a story all in itself, but I did end up spending the night on the edge of the Vatnajokull Glacier. Very high winds, gusting up to 45-50 mph made the idea of staying in a tent extremely unsafe so I decided that it would be best to just sleep in the jeep. Like I said in my first post on planning, safety is always the first priority especially when alone in a very remote location. Making bad decisions just to prove something is how people get themselves into trouble.
The next morning I set off for my next location but again the weather just wasn't cooperating. Overnight the roads were covered in sleet and turned into what felt like a sheet of ice. Even though there was one more spot that I wanted to get photos at I decided instead to start the trip back towards Reykjavik with the hopes that the conditions would improve as I got closer to one of the alternate locations. This time I really lucked out. As I was sitting and eating lunch the clouds broke and the sun came out. Only about 10 minutes away from where I wanted to be, I quickly dropped everything and made my way to the beach near Vik. In a later post I'm going to cover the full post-processing used for one of the photos taken during the entire trip, here's one of the shots from the beach:
After a few more hours of driving I was back in Reykjavik, dropped two of my bags off in storage, took a nice hot shower, got some food and went to sleep before heading off to London in the morning. While I'm in the UK I will be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for Iceland this weekend. Currently I'm scheduled to fly back to NY on Sunday night, but I am seriously considering extending my trip through Tuesday if the forecast looks like it will be worth it.
Just remember, no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy. For the purposes of this series at least I'm glad that things turned out this way. It shows just how quickly things can go wrong when in the field. There's no point getting worked up about it either, this is why I create alternative plans.