Moss, lichen and lava

Notes from the Field: 9 September 2015

Another blustery day, but with less rain and higher clouds – perhaps at about the 1500′ level today. The sun has shone off and, less frequently, on. Today I drove to and around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which allegedly has as its iconic centerpiece a 4700′, glacier-capped statovolcano, visible for kilometers and kilometers… Unless of course the clouds cover everything above 1500′ and rain obscures most of what’s below that. Alas, no Snæfellsjökul for me. I will be going one more time in that general direction and hope to catch a glimpse of it then.

The coast along the Peninsula, while just as windy as that of the interior, had the advantage of at least being occasionally rain-less and so I spent most of my day checking out fishing villages, wandering amongst the lichen- and moss-covered lava (thar’s blueberries in them thar rocks!), and walking along spray-spattered cliffs. I have to say, a stormy day in the North Atlantic is impressive indeed. Perhaps it’s simply because in our own somewhat protected bay we rarely see or feel the full force of the Bering Sea, but this ocean today bore down hard on everything in its path, battering 200′ cliffs and tossing auto-sized boulders to the beach. It’s hard to imagine WWII convoys, much less Viking explorers, crossing this ocean between Europe and North America. In one area the winds were strong enough that waterfalls appeared to be moving backwards, the water arcing up and away just as it dropped over the precipice. Seen from a distance it looked as if the cliff tops were steaming – which wouldn’t be unusual since steam seems to be coming out of the ground around every corner!

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