East of town, the mountains don’t give of their world so lightly.
It’s as if the world is turned upside down. Only the water, I guess is right side up!
But they are one thing, together.
Even when they have no name!
Even with blood-red birches. Everything you add becomes the fall. It ceases to be separate.
Even sky can become a river.
Even underground rivers entering the sky from the mouth of the earth.
Even falls held within the Earth!
They are all falls, not water, light, stone, air, water, grass or trees. They are always once thing together, all at once.
This is a great mystery, not because it is unknown, but because it is vital.
This teaching, and this view deep into human-earth relationships in Iceland, continually inspires me. The land is alive, as is the water, and any words that are hanging around start there first.
Or you can sneak off to the Kistá, on Snæfellsnes, which has trolls. Real trolls. You can see a big one lurking in front of the fall below. Sorry, not on the must-see-waterfalls of Iceland lists. But it’s just off the road. You can sniff it out on the edge of the Berserker Lava Field.
Bit of a brown place in November, but it greens up real nice in the summer. Oh, and there’s a second troll leaning over the cataract, so a bonus!
Nice. If you were four metres tall you could reach high tup from your waterfall lair and scratch her under the chin, even! Oh, yeah, one more thing. Bit of a muddy path. You can approach the falls from both sides, but only on the north side can you get underneath. Sorry, no crowds.
I took this image of Grundarfoss on a very cold morning because, well, how cool is it that the public water supply of a major city of 872 people (huge for Iceland) is a waterfall. Very cool! So cool, I could hardly hold the camera steady.
But look what I missed, at the base of the cliff just to the right of the base of the main fall: a lava tube. Now, how cool is that! But, of course, it’s a public water supply, so no snooping around there. Rats. What about the troll at the base of the hill at the left of the image. I bet they’d let me go visit it.
When you turn off onto Road 5001 at the head of the Havalfjörður to visit the high waterfall Glymur, make note of the gravel parking area to your left. When you come back soggy and disappointed that Glymur is unattainable because of bad weather and high water and muck, why not stop and hike a hundred metres up the stream to Paradisarfoss? She’s a pretty little one, with a fine little forest of wild birches. You need never be disappointed in Iceland.
By Icelandic standards, that’s a very good trail there.
Well worth the trip! And no, this was not sunset. And, yes, the sky was that pink. It was just November 5, that’s all, when a stroll through the rain is like a walk through laughter.
These are my secret Icelandic falls. I’m not telling you where to find them, because it does not matter. What matters is the finding. If I told you, you wouldn’t find them, and finding is such a pleasure.
And the leaving again. Even if I came back, I’d find something else.
No, what you need to find lies somewhere else, but I promise it’s there. This one, maybe?
Or this one?
Look at that hill. If you’d come in the right season, you’d find 50 of them, and leave each one to find it in your heart again. Off you go!
Because waterfalls in basalt are the shape of skulls, the shallow bowls that catch the energy of life that is the world, they are great places to think.
It’s a good thing you don’t have to translate those thoughts into words.
To walk into these canyons is to walk away from story into poetry.
Note the “field” on the upper right.
People used to live here. This was the boundary of a house field.
You didn’t look out. You looked in.