W.H. Auden, Letters from Iceland
Iceland's nature is that of an Antarctic wilderness.
In short, Iceland is the adventure playground for freeriders.
Gate to the Underworld
Between craters and cooked mud puddles, we watch out for what is known as the hot "liquor." The wind chills us as it sweeps across the land and we make pit stops to warm up at the hot springs that emit heat, and are scattered throughout the land like hot burners of a stove.
For four months a year this land remains in the darkness. Then it is spring on the Arctic Circle. In spite of the freezing temperatures, Iceland's residents wear their summer attire. Whoever lives here must be able to bear the harsh surroundings. Even the traveling snowboard salesman must be tough enough to handle the environment. The well-informed reader knows precious little about the Icelander's mountain pits and mines and we, too, had to consult our travel guides. For someone who is curious about the Iceland experience, we can suggest this: to get the true sensation, grab your weather report and your coffee, and sit in the freezer while burning a hundred dollar bill.
In the highlands stands the king of the Iceland mountain range, Herdubreid, the throne of the gods. During the summer, there are only two months during which it is passable. For a winter trip, the odds are worse. At best, the chances are the same as winning the lottery.
We chose to travel to the mountain of Trölskagi and the Fjördur peninsula in the north. By planning this path, we have uncovered the best of Iceland. The potential of a fascinating and beautiful ascension is enormous.
Old volcanoes and expansive mountains rise over 1,000 meters out of the upper fjords. On the periphery, the world seems to end at the dark, cold, polar water. Until the end of May, the valleys lie under meter-high snow. In addition, one has 24-hour light in the north, which results in climbers losing all sense of time. It is an ideal situation for people who oversleep, such as ourselves; it does not matter if we break camp at 10am or 10pm. Our schedule relies on the weather and physical conditions. The mountain climber must always be in solid physical condition for a journey. The comfortable huts in the mountains and along the coast mean a long, yet lonely, journey. There are no men here, yet the fjords are not uninhabited, there are the elves and trolls.
The Trolls and Elves
But, there are friendlier elves than the grim reapers. Some elves have been known to make intimate friendships with earthly men. But most people who have befriended the elves lost their minds soon afterwards. There is even a position in the government for a specialist of the elves a great position and in the area of Gundafjördur there is an Elf Stone between house number 84 and 88, meaning house number 86 is dedicated to the elves.
The Ultimate Thule Experience
By the time the experience ends, it is after midnight. A single star beams in the sky. Birds move toward the south. It is here that our dreams of the ultimate Thule experience have been fulfilled. Thule, the legendary island of paradise, is in the North Atlantic. For a second, we feel as if we are mythological heroes and with the achievement of many kilometers behind us, we leave the fjord. One more time, against the wind, we must walk over 20 kilometers of rough terrain. Step by step, we fall into a quiet line, traveling methodically down to the small fishing town of Grenivík, where overwhelming greenery greets us. Water from hot springs bubbles from the surface of the earth, covering the glittering snow of the Kaldbakur Mountain.
Fire and ice, that is Iceland. By the next morning, the snowstorm had covered our tracks. The circle closes itself and the story ends as it began. Now we're off to the next adventure.
Jogi Januschowsky, MountainZone.com Correspondent