Kirkjugólf, natural paving off columnar basalt

Notes from the Field: 23 September 2015

Giljalandi-Kirkjubæjarklauster-Langholt-Giljalandi

Ahhhh, I’m sick of rain. In two weeks I don’t think I’ve had a single day without rain. Not thatbi haven’t had some hours of sunshine but they have been far, far, far out-numbered by hours and days and nights of rain.

Spent today alternating between short hikes and huddling, dripping, in my car waiting for the most recent down pour to pass. This area really is quite interesting, and beautiful when one can actually see it. An enormous lava flow, now overgrown with moss so the lanscsape looks like a lumpy green carpet, covers much of the land from the mountains about halfway to the sea. On one side of the lava flow it’s flat and marshy to the oceans’ edge, and on the other softly eroded cliffs leading up into the mountains. Here and there glacial “snouts” can be seen, each of them with their very own glacial lagoon. Sign after sign mentions farms and churches that were covered by lava in one eruption or another, and the inhabitants of this land were described on one roadside sign as being very serious and always waiting for the next disaster to strike. This was the last part of Iceland to be connected to the road system, because of the difficulty bridging so many enormous glacial rivers with their ever-changing beds and flows.

The nearest town, Kirkjubæjuklauster, has a small fish farming operation for Arctic Char, using a glacial stream that runs right through the village as the water source. I was sorely disappointed to find they don’t sell retail to the general public but was pleased to later find some of their fish at the local farmers market. The market also had local lamb (both fresh and smoked – tasty!), carrots and ice cream from a nearby dairy farm. Rutabagas, like the carrots, are also grown outside here but aren’t in season. I stocked up on a few things, knowing I wouldn’t be able to get more than food for the next two days as after that I have a long day of driving with no means to keep food cool.

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