Phone Photos: The Fimmvörðuháls Trail

Do you know how difficult it is to describe Iceland without feeling like a slave to hyperbole and superlatives?  Most breath-taking scenery.  Land of starkest contrasts.  Most changeable weather.  Waterfalls beyond number.  After awhile it begins to sound ridiculous, even though I swear I’m speaking truth.

As proof of my dilemma, I offer the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, a hike which begins at the mighty Skogafoss waterfall and ends fifteen hard miles later in Þorsmörk (Thor’s Valley) after traversing between the Eyjafallajökull and Mýradalsjökull glaciers.  I dare you to view the following photos and not  fall into the same description predicament that I’m struggling with…












































I rest my case.  🙂  (And this trail showcases only a small portion of all the visual delights Iceland has to offer).

A few side notes on this post:

  1. Iceland really is a land of the midnight sun.  We were on the trail ten hours and the last few sun-soaked photos of this post were taken around 10 PM.  The sunshine was a gift from God after all the fog and mist of the snow and lava fields.
  2. I didn’t have the chance to photograph any part of the last few miles of the trail which ends at Basar.  We were rushing to catch the last Highland bus back to our car so I wasn’t allowed to dally to take photos.  It was such a shame, really, and our biggest regret of the hike for two reasons: 1) We had already unknowingly missed the bus by 2 hours and 2) the end of the hike was delightfully Shire-esque with mounds of wild flowers and lush green foliage and even more beautiful views around every bend.  Plus, traversing the Cat’s Spine should have been documented for posterity.
  3. I love my Galaxy S9.   The wider angle of view showed Iceland to the best advantage.  The photos I took with it are some of my favorites of our trip.

Phone Photos: Steall Falls, Scotland

Steall Falls is a rather short and scenic hike located at the end of a winding road through Nevis Gorge near Fort William.  It’s especially atmospheric covered in the famed Scottish mistiness. The hike to the falls was a Plan B for us after we decided the fog-shrouded peak of Ben Nevis wasn’t worth the nine hours of effort required to get there.  Plan B, it turns out, was more than worth the effort.  We relished the solitude, dramatic scenery and the challenge of the wire bridge.  A true Fairyland…


{ View from the parking area }


{ The trail }


{ A river tumbling through the boulders }


{ The glen – the only place in Scotland we encountered midges }


{ Steall Falls: An Steall Bàn (The White Spout) }


{ The notorious wire bridge (and yes, we all attempted it – twice!) }

Photos were taken with a Samsung Galaxy 5.



Lancaster County has been enjoying the loveliest weather this week.  I can’t get enough of it.  My daughter, Julia, and I had a free day so we headed to Kelly’s Run for some fresh air and exercise.  Kelly’s Run is a rather strenuous trail that traverses some gorgeous terrain near the Susquehanna River in the south-western portion of the county.  It is one of those places my family considers our very own; we’ve spent so much time and had so many adventures there that in our hearts the place belongs to us.

I took my camera with me hoping that opportunities to capture a scene of solitude would present themselves.  With Julia graciously acting as my model, I was able to acquire several shots I thought fit the assignment.  Below are my two best efforts.  They are  very different from each other but I think they both work for the Solitude prompt.

I’m very interested in hearing your comments and opinions.

Hiking at Kelly's Run
Hiking at Kelly’s Run


Resting at Kelly's Run
Resting at Kelly’s Run

To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world. 

 – Anthony Burgess

A Morning at Shenk’s Ferry

I live just a few minutes away from Shenk’s Ferry, a small parcel of enchanted wood that radiates a fragile magic in the spring and early summer.  Yesterday, I was in desperate need of some fresh air and a change of scenery so I grabbed my camera and made the short pilgrimage to this showcase of God’s intricate artistry.  I spent all morning wandering the trails that follow Grubb Run (couldn’t anyone think of a more romantic name than that?), taking deep breaths of the sweet, cool air and worshipping in this humble sanctuary.

In the spring, Shenk’s Ferry displays over 50 varieties of wild flowers.  I was able to identify thirteen including Spring Beauty, Golden Ragwort, Kidney-leaved Buttercup, Yellow Violet, Dutchmen’s Breeches, Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Blue Phlox (which were everywhere), Wild Stonecrop, White Violet, Blue Violet, Trillium (whole hillsides were covered with this) Virginia Bluebells, and Wild Geranium.  There were many plants just beginning to bud. May and June offer completely different varieties of wild flowers so the show is always changing.  The trail is a flat, easy one mile in length with side trails into the hills and down to the stream.  This little preserve is definitely worth the effort it takes to find it.

Running Away

October has been a rather rocky month for me and my family.  I won’t go into to details  – there’s no need to wade through all that muck.  Let’s just say that our schedule, the renovation, and school mixed with a dash of illness, anxiety, demon-possessed computer, and traveling husband are beginning to cover the entire Whimsey Pie clan in a smoky haze of burn-out.  Frankly, I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed by life.  That’s why, when I woke up last Friday to a cloudless autumn morning on the outside of the house and piles of laundry and dirty dishes on the inside, I decided to run away.

I didn’t run very far – only about a twenty-five minute drive.  Even so, it felt like worlds away from the disaster that is my house and the craziness that is my life.  I ended my flight at the edge of a pretty little wilderness called Kelly’s Run.  The trail there is a vigorous loop that traverses varied terrain and sometimes follows the stream it was named after.  Parts of it are very steep and parts are very rocky.  The most difficult sections are very steep and rocky.  This trail cannot be mindlessly attempted.  It is not a leisurely stroll in the park.  It requires focused attention so that twisted ankles don’t occur.  That’s precisley what I wanted – to think of nothing but where to place my feet and how deep to breath.

Kelly’s Run has a wild beauty that I am always surprised to find in tidy, cultivated Lancaster County.  Every time I visit, I feel like I am stepping into the realm of the Woodland Elves.  It’s magical.  And restorative.  The peace and solitude certainly worked its magic on me Friday morning.  I spent three hours climbing over logs, shuffling across ledges, stepping in hidden mud puddles, and soaking in the beauty of the place.  When I finished the hike, I was tired but refreshed.

I’d like to say that my little escape made everything better.  It didn’t.  I still had to face the mounds of dirty clothes and dishes when I got home.  I was still anticipating a very hectic schedule later in the day.  The first floor of my house was still a shambles.  Somehow, it didn’t seem to matter quite so much.  Spending time alone in the quietness and familiarity of God’s incredible handiwork cleared the cobwebs from my brain and heart and sharpened my perspective.  I felt more capable of facing my life.  And isn’t that what a respite, no matter how brief, is supposed to do?

It didn’t stay cloudless for long.  Typical October weather!

Kelly’s Run – the trail’s namesake.

This is the trail.  I wasn’t fibbing when I said steep and rocky.

One wet foot from an accidental puddle stomp.  I hate that!

God is an incredible artist and craftsman…..