Iceland - Fjallabak Nature Reserve
Red River Bed in Fjallabak Nature Reserve
August is the best time to explore the remotest parts of Iceland's interiors. The soft Arctic sun has finally melted away most of the snow covering jeep roads providing access to lesser known hiking trails and to quite a lot of truly unspoiled and trailless regions. Despite the headlines that "Iceland is currently overrun by tourists from all around the world", which is true especially along the South Coast and the "Golden Circle" (Geysir, Gullfoss etc.), there are still so many places out there, where you will hardly encounter any soul. Or at least no one besides Iceland's famous and ubiquitous trolls, gnomes, elves and all those other fancy little hidden creatures... ;-)
So it comes that we spent some days in the Icelandic Highlands last summer without running into any other tourists for days. We really love those moments, when there isn't anything but fantastic nature all around you. When the sun peeks through after a short rain shower and when a rainbow brings even more colors to these colorful valleys and mountains. Anything can beat moments like these and the incredible feeling when you can share them with your soulmate and the person you love most.
This month's image displays one of those very special moments for us. And in case you are wondering, the bright-red stream bed is real! It almost looks like lava, but it is the dissolved iron escaping from an hot spring where it gets its dynamic red hue from. The underground water is low in oxygen and the iron is in solution. As soon as it comes in contact with the oxygen in the air it rapidly oxidizes and precipitates out as an orange-red deposit. We came across this scenery during a day-hike out there at Fjallabak, but you can find colorful stream beds like that all over Iceland for instance also at Markarfljot or Fjadrargljufur.
Fjallabak Nature Preserve was created in 1979 and protects an area of about 47.000 hectars north of the glacier Torfajökull and south of river Tungnaá. Fjallabak means "behind the mountains" and well, it is really located quite "behind many mountains" and only a stone's throw away from the powerful (and active) volcano Hekla. It is without any doubt one of most breathtaking places on Earth. Hardly anything rivals the colorful rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar ("the people's pool") with its "blue peak" (Blahnukur) and "sulphur wave" (Brennisteinsalda) along Laugarvegur, a multi-day backpacking trail linking to Thorsmörk and giving access to further geothermal areas such as Vestur & Austur Reykjadallir in Hrafntinnusker.
Image data: 0,5 s at f/14, ISO 100; Canon EF 16-35mm 1:2.8 L II USM at 19 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark III