Waking up to the hiss of snow on a window pane is a new experience. It’s a tinny crackling sound, reminiscent of sand flung by a strong breeze on a tent. The fjord did nothing but to corral the passing front’s energy into a gray jaw that opened over the tiny colourful town.
No shops were open despite the 800 tourists being trapped within the town (because of the weather) ,and equally there was no presence of tourists. We failed in an attempt to reach a waterfall within the town as a result of snow being thrown out by yet another passing front. It appeared the little town had clammed up – who knows what happened to the visitors – but we had our little 4WD and fresh confidence in driving over mountain passes. We headed back over the encrusted fjord after establishing that Seyðisfjörður was all but bunked down. The freshness of the deposits of snow from the night before caked the mountains along our way. With the unapparent dawn of summer the waterfalls were stretching and yawning and pounding themselves to awakeness on the strata below. When travelling to the interior of Iceland be prepared for the drying cold. Of course we weren’t. The wild flowers had opened their peachy little faces. A proclamation. Summer was here.
Driving from Seyðisfjörður to Lake Mvyatn is like watching the earth be born. The magmatic mountains with their skirts of crumbly scree dissolved into rolling hills as we passed them. They were dusty and unstable. Mountains wobble into plains. Sparkling granitic ash mixes and brown grass that looks like it’s given up on life spread out in the dry interior. I’m not sure when growing season would be as it’s parched beyond desiccation when the sub-polar hurls unrestrained. Consequently, it grows (whenever it does) in sensations undulating waves that look like they surf one another. Until that is a friable lobe collapses leaving a dusty pockmark. The sandy bunkers expand and contract into the horizon like the scene of golfer’s nightmare. Further along, stone mounds have been erected in the landscape in an attempt of installation art. Lonely and forgotten, the stone towers stretch for kilometres into the distance in strange uniformity of anonymous effort.
The cold here has gone feral. It is invasive and everywhere to be found.
Creeping upon on the horizon towards Mývatn along Þjóðvegur (Ring road) is a red roofed house on the lip of a lava field. It is an abandoned outpost of some description. The location speaks of a tempo that isn’t here any more. Sheep look like they run here but there is no evidence as far as any optical zoom can reach. The lava field which abuts the house has been shaped into small walls and allotments for corralling. A great amount of effort has been drawn from the lava field and what little dent it has made. The curious little building looks somewhat well kept. In view from the window is a wooden table, a spent candle and a leather-bound book with runic language on it. There is no lock on the door. I open the latch but do not enter. The house, the lava field, the cold, and the beckoning curiosity is as forgotten as it is mildly sinister. I don‘t understand enough to intrude on whatever melancholy assemblage this could be. This is the land of real sorcery and magic; I have no intention to invoke their charms upon me.
It’s easy to tell when you’re approaching Námaskarð (bubbling mud). You could first be blamed for the punitive Icelandic diet consumed the night before, until the strength and persistence is something beyond superhuman. Set within a desert plain and against steaming mountains, the sulphur vents and grey plopping mud are the only sources of heat in a landscape. An infra-red photo would be over exposed and under exposed at the same time. We can’t stay here long as the cold was truly terrifying. The hydrogen sulphide escaping the vents chokes everyone within a few metres and outside of that brimstone plume, the dry icy air splinters eyeballs into tears. The visit doesn’t last long as it is humourous. Who could not be around such visible amnesty in fart-ridden air and not continually blame each other for the gaseous emissions. Mrs B says I’ll never grow old of this humour.
Mrs B’s discretionary extraordinary itinerary
- Borgarfjörður Eystri
- Sænautasel farm turf village
- Þjóðvegur (Ring Road)
- Myvatn Nature Baths