Category Archives: Land

Ptarmigan is Watching You

On the Lower Stapavik Trail, the ptarmigan like to hang out right on the trail edge, right on the edge of the river, among the logs, where the sun gets warm and life is good.

And  then they burst up in front of you, from like 20 cm away, and are gone. The trick to disappearing is to remain absolutely still. It didn’t quite work for the one above, which tried to sneak between the cover of two rocks and wound up freezing on the shore grass beside the trail. The one below got it right, though. Safe among the lava lumps.

It’s the joyful hoped-for unexpectedness of the encounters that is so alluring. Like most things in Iceland, “you just never know.”

The Puffins of Rauðarnes

The puffins of Rauðarnes are a fun bunch. The walk is stupendous. It’s 7 km, return, but you could easily spend days sauntering along.

You can brave the rough, steep road to Borgisfjörður Eystr and see the puffins up close and personal, and they are really, really great, but this is better, because they aren’t so crowded, which gives a different dynamic, and more goofiness. These are, like, country puffins.

Plus, the gulls are sneaky. See her below?

And unlike the puffins in Borgisfjörður Eystril, they aren’t controlled by hidden netting to preserve their habitat and green it, so these are puffins in the raw, so to speak, which means erosion, yes, but also (see below) a penthouse!

Very cool!

Turn off the road to Vellir Farm just north of Svalbard, just north of Þorshöfn. You will soon be there, puffing on your 3.5 km walk to the puffins, delighted by the sculpted sea stacks and caves on the way. Get there soon, though. The puffins have an ocean to get back to. Oh, by the way, if you’re lucky, you can get pretty close. How about 3 metres?

Such beautiful birds!

Big Wind in Sandvatn Takes the Lake Away

From a little patch of dried clay the size of an average bedroom, the wind howling off of Þorsjökull did a pretty great job of stripping the land down to its bones last week.

Wind speeds were a mere 45 km/h, which, by Icelandic standards, is a brisk afternoon breeze. Remarkably, a pair of swans and a few shorebirds were hanging on, even though the lake and the river flowing from it have almost vanished. If you’re in þingvellir these days, a trip over behind Thor’s Shield certainly won’t disappoint!

The Wealth of Dwarves and Men in Iceland

Ah, volcanoes.

They make beautiful things.

Or beautiful things appear in the mind.

Barking Troll 

In a remote valley in Iceland, under a volcano, one can spend an afternoon among treasures.

I sure did.

The wealth of the dwarves, my ancestors called this stuff.

 

The wealth of men, too, I think.

And the wealth of the water..


And mystery enough.

And light within the stone..

This is old wisdom.

Totemic wisdom. Like this sheep amulet below.

This is the deeps of the mind and body, meeting in the light of the air.

This is what you get when you walk straight into the Earth. You’ll know where when you’re there.