Notes from the Field: 11 September 2015

There are a lot of similarities between Iceland and the Eastern Aleutians: the grasses and lichens and wild fruits (not just blueberries and crow berries – they have wild strawberries here, something I discovered after talking to a potter about the berries she’d put on her tea mugs); the waterfalls and the cottongrass meadows cut through with myriad rivulets; the type of rocks and even the shape of the mountains are similar. But the scale of things here is truly astonishing… Imagine if you will the tool in a photo editor, the one that allows you to pinch and stretch different parts of your photos. Now, take the Aleutians and stretch the ridges until they are miles long. Grab a mountain peak and double or triple its elevation. In fact, raise the whole Chain so the passes become instead vast valleys. That’s what it feels like here: the Aleutians, super-sized. I’ve yet to effectively capture this in a single photo, but I’m working on it.

In other news, I left West Iceland and have arrived in the Westfjords, a highly serrated peninsula that juts from icelnd’s northwest corner. I could have spent an entire day driving here, but instead took took a ferry ride across from Stikkishólmur to Brjánslækur, across Breidafjördur. Im not sure how big this bay is, but it took three hours to cross it and there are at least 3000 islands in it. Seriously. And it’s a hot-spot for eider down production, in case you’re wanting an eider down comforter and want to know where it was sourced. About halfway across is the only year-round inhabited island, Flatey (say Flat-ee), serviced only by the ferry and a few  privately owned work and fishing boats. The ferry brings fresh water to the village because there isn’t any there except what can be captured in snow or rain fall.

Aurora forecast is good, and it’s only partly cloudy tonigh. Tomorrow I’m headed to the westernmost point in Europe, a place which also happens to be the largest (14 miles long by 1200 feet high) seabird colony in the northern hemisphere…

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