Being naïve of snow means the first sight of frosty particles falling from the sky is an opportunity to dance in astonishing delight. The mountains around Nypugardar still have their crusty glaciers flaking off this time of the year as much as what falls from the sky. Naïve of the importance of watching the weather forecast and driving along snowy roads can become seriously risky. Ice behaves differently under pressure, and a vehicle moving along it will plane like a skater on a rink. We’d lost count the amount of times we were overtaken by less equiped cars on blind corners. Perhaps Icelanders know the texture of icy roads and respond so when they suspect danger. Never experienced in driving through a blizzard, we bumbled up into the crest of a fjord. Of course elevation pulls more energy from the clouds that have to pass, and did so over our little car.
A first attempt at the mountain pass failed in a turnaround to get more fuel. Driving up a mountain in a blizzard with half empty tank for the first time is not edifying. We saw cars coming down the mountain pass on the second attempt. Buoyed with the confidence of a full fuel tank and following a haggard man smoking a pipe in a less equipped car, we gave the mountain pass another go. We followed the snow plough as it cleared the road which we were navigating by only yellow guide posts which indicate road boundaries. The freshly shaved road was crisp to drive on, but as the wind whipped our little car around, an iciness crept across the cabin. In situations like this you’re too far ahead to quit. I kept on saying when everything whited-out – “we’re following the snow truck – it must be OK”. The snow truck grind was spraying a net of grey ice off the road. There the truck felt like being tethered to a huge beast clearing a hostile field of barley, when we’re minnows in its wake. When visibility increased and the beast pulled off to turn around, the fjord came into focus. Waterfalls flew upwards and snow smattered everything in asymmetrical white domes. This was the welcome to Seydisfjordur, where on that day 800 people had become stranded due to the blizzard. Out of ignorance we made it – warm, safe and recoiling with a celebratory Mornington peninsula Pinot.