Sunset at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon

Some days in Iceland are more crazy than others. This was one of them. After making my way through winds that were so cold that my iPhone switched itself off, getting completely soaked from torrential rains and having to change all of my clothes in the car next to the road (fortunately nobody saw me), eating canned beans next to a milk truck in the middle of nowhere under a sky that reminded me of a surrealist painting and visiting a waterfall that looked rather boring, I arrived at the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon just as the sun was starting to go down.

I grabbed my tripod and camera, stuffed another lens into my pocket and jumped out of the car. I left the – still wet – backpack behind. I quickly made my way up a little rubble hill, rammed my tripod into the ground as good as possible to protect it against the extreme winds and started shooting picture after picture after picture. After sixty-some pictures, my memory card was full. And the spare cards were in my backpack. I ran and jumped down the hill back to the car, at times almost getting carried away by the wind. I don’t think the wind was strong enough to actually carry me away but it still felt funny. After changing memory cards, I sprinted back up the hill, much to the amusement of the few couples who were enjoying the romantic sunset from the warm comfort of their SUVs.

Jökulsárlón Sunset

Fortunately, I hadn’t missed much of the scene. In fact, the most spectacular moments had just begun. So close to the Arctic circle, the sun goes down very fast during winter. And just for a few minutes, it sets the sky on fire. Higher clouds are illuminated directly from behind, lighting up in an intense red-orange glow. The water in the glacial lagoon of course reflects the spectacle. And with drifting chunks of ice shining naturally blue the whole scene became even more breathtaking. I actually had tears in my eyes. Might have been due to the wind, though.

After about half an hour, the sun had gone down far enough to make the magical light disappear. I had taken almost 250 photos by then. Back in the car, my fingers were stiff and my face was burning from the frost. But I didn’t care much, I was too ecstatic that at the end of an otherwise suboptimal day, I got to see the most beautiful sunset of my life thanks to nothing but luck.
I turned up the music and the heat for the remaining 80 km to the next city, already planning to return the next morning for some daytime pictures of the glacier.

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