Tag Archives: Iceland

Pathfinding in Iceland

If you’re going to follow the trail …

Threading through the mountain bogs on the way south from Stapavik

… the sheep won’t help you.

Yes, this poor ewe is lost.

It’s best to follow the stakes set out by the Icelandic government, to keep things safe. You’ll have to stomp around quite a bit to find them.

They’re not always even on the trail!

It’s always a happy moment to spot one.

Even if you’re at the bottom of the trail at that point! It’s just a little game Iceland plays with you. You might as well play along.

Hiding in Plain Sight

While getting boots and gloves and hat ready to go over the lip of the hill last December 24 and visit Sheep’s Falls, one of my favourite waterfalls, many tourists stopped as well: the first stop, it seems, two or three hard hours of driving from Reykjavik. Time and again, they took a few pictures over the Berserkerjahraun to the rising sun, and then posed for each others’ cameras and drove on. It was intimate and sweet.

Still, they had Kirkjufoss to get to before the rising sun was no longer behind the mountain, and they didn’t need me telling them it would be worth it to walk for ten minutes down through the drifts, because they might not have come to Iceland to see the pale, pale winter sun and to learn its nature. They had places to be getting along to, with better cameras and the hope for brighter light, and promises had been made to them, and promises, we know, should be kept.

Just imagine how many times a day any and every traveller in Iceland, myself included, encounters people who know where they are and what is worth seeing and say nothing, because that’s the way of the land itself. As Paul Theroux pointed out half a century ago while travelling by train through South America, it’s North Americans (myself included) who point to stuff.

Oil Slick? Not in Iceland!

In Canada, this would be an oil slick, caused by a passing freighter illegally flushing out its tanks at sea.

Njardvik

Not so nice!

But in Iceland, it’s more like an Earth slick.

Njardvikura

It’s the confluence of a river that is taking an 1100-year-old farm away and the desire for a new road to prevent rural depopulation in Borgarfjördur Eystri.

The concept of “nature” is a balancing act here.

Arctic Terns Both Up and Down

Arctic terns.

They dive at your hair and scream. The screaming comes first. They’re just not much ones for settling down on land.

Even if it’s the Njardvik beach and the Njardvik troll.

Up in the air it is!

It’s ironic. One can get so intent on looking up to avoid them, that, um …

… one is in danger of stepping on them. True to form for a crew that doesn’t like land too much…

… they’re not much in the way of nests. Not really.

Really not.

So be careful where you walk, and if the terns start diving?

Don’t be there.

The Slow Return of a Mountain Bog (Or Why It’s a Bad Idea to Stand on Every Icelandic Rock You See)

The mountain bog around this stone was mined for peat in the cold centuries of Iceland, perhaps as late as the 1960s, but the stone was left. It was too big to build a fence from, too small to cut into a building block, and, besides, it wouldn’t burn in a fire.

Look how the arctic willow has clung to its warmth, though, building a rich ecosystem, even while the bog it might otherwise have rimmed is still nothing more than grass and a few flowers. The bog is now a thin layer of water mining the stone. Slowly, life will return from here.

The Complex Social Ecosystem of East Iceland

An American gift. Pretty.

Neskaupstadir

Everywhere!

Perhaps the Windiest Holiday Houses in the World: Eskifjördur

Out with them!

Baula

Your holiday stay (and those pics you took of the pretty lupines)…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eltz_2019/27844425172/

…pays for this volunteer time on days off. A complex social ecosystem, eh.

Land Conservation by Colour

Water and stone both flow. That the tephra cone (Eldborg) and the stream (Bólulækur) are the same colour on this June day is part of the mystery.

Both are coloured by the sky, which gains its colour by heated oxygen, which, to complete the pattern, is (more or less) on fire. The skill at recognizing these correspondences are one of the ways in which poetry adds to human knowledge of the world, and maintains it. Once you have made this realization, you will harm neither stream nor mountain.