Glymur formerly Iceland’s highest waterfall
You know how Iceland is always changing. Well most textbooks will say that Glymur at 198 meters (650ft) is the highest waterfall in Iceland. A new (still unnamed) waterfall in the Morsárdalur valley in Skaftafell appeared last year. The waterfall had been hidden by the Vatnajökull glacier, but was exposed as the glacier retreated.
Still, Glymur is an awesome waterfall situated in this amazing canyon. The waterfall, directly underneath the photographer in this picture, crashes down into the narrow 200 meter deep canyon with a thunderous noise. This thunderous noise is actually the reason why it is called Glymur. Glymur is a word for a “thundering echo”.
There are also other explanations for the name. According to local tales, there once was a local farmer’s son who had a fling with an elf lady. However, he betrayed her. This enraged her so much that she turned him into an angry red whale called “Rauðhöfði”. Rauðhöfði means red head, as he had been red headed. He was quite unhappy with this new role, so in his rage he attacked fishing boats on Hvalfjörður. Hvalfjörður means Whale Fjord, named after this whale. One day Rauðhöfði drowned the son of the priest at Saurbær. The old blind priest asked his young daughter to lead him down to the sea. There he tapped his cane in the water until the whale swam toward shore. He then walked along the beach tapping his cane to the end of the fjord. There he continued up the river and up into the Glymsgil canyon on the picture above. The whale continued swimming up the narrow canyon with a thunderous roar, thus giving the waterfall its name Glymur. The whale then fought its way up the 198 meter high waterfall and into the lake, Hvalvatn (Whale Lake) just above the waterfall. There it exploded from exhaustion.
Due to the bend in the canyon, it is impossible to get a view of the whole waterfall without standing directly underneath it. I tried this once a couple of years back. To get there you have to swim, wade and climb up the canyon. Standing there directly underneath the waterfall is amazing. It’s also difficult because there is a very strong wind at the bottom caused by the waterfall thrusting air down into the narrow canyon. Even though being there was amazing, I would not recommend this trip to anybody. Check out my photos instead. The risk of rock fall is extreme and has caused serious accidents in recent years. I had a rock smash into the water only a couple of meters from me. I would not be writing this blog post if it had hit me.
You can however hike up alongside the canyon and get some great views. Just be careful and don’t blindly follow any path. Some of the paths go dangerously close to the crumbling edge.
(Source: overdosage, via musevault)