Notes from the Field: 14 September 2015


Today was mostly about driving, and at roughly 430 km was roughly twice the distance I’ve driven or will drive on any other day. Foggy, cloudy, rainy weather kept me from seeing much for the first few hours but the sun broke through for about an hour mid-day, giving me a glimpse of volcanic ridge-ringed farmland going almost to the ocean’s edge. I’d read that in this part of Iceland – the Northwest – horses outnumber people, and I knew I was in horse country when I stopped at a gas station-cum-grocery store, and found a variety of horseshoes and nails in the automotive section!

Towards the end of the day I took an 40 km side-trip in order to stretch my legs with a 4-mile hike to Aldeyjarfoss. This waterfall on the Skjalfandafljot drops 20m over a wall of columnar basalt and is accessible only after hiking over a lava field named Suðurárhraun, which was originally formed by eruptions some 9500 years ago. Most of the  field is just lumpy, barely eroded, coagulated lava but I saw more basalt columns, these lying almost horizontal, in a couple of places. Iceland just might turn me into a geology nerd! Further downriver are several other impressive falls that can be seen from the road, including the mighty Goðafoss. Best of all, I was fortunate to have, if not sunshine, at least no rain while I was taking photos at both these places.

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