Committing to the highlands

It was an exciting morning. On today’s route I would reach an intersection, and if I turned left, I would be heading up towards the highlands. Or I could chicken out, and follow the coast. I still had a few hours to think it over. In the meantime: Breakfast!

Must ... eat ... baked .. goods!

Just beyond the bakery I found what looked like a great bike path right next to the road. After about 15 meters it dissolved. What a dirty trick!

Spontaneously ending a road is a dirty trick to play on a cyclist.

I put on my headphones and turned the cranks, enjoying the fresh air and the greenery. The traffic was heavier than usual, but the road was decently wide.

Fasten your seat belts!

I suppose it’s the increased traffic that makes these signs necessary. (“Munið Bílbeltin” means “remember the seatbelt.”)

I dig the highly visible vest!

My first cycling friend of the day! This well-prepared fellow was heading back towards Selfoss. He passed me as I stood at the fateful intersection, deciding if I was crazy enough to try for the highlands.

This is the intersection where I commit to a trip through some of the highlands.

Do I dare? Yes I do!

“If things get bad I’ll just turn around,” I told myself. Even though I’ve never done that before when things got bad. Hmmm.

I was suddenly reminded of a cartoon show where a little kid walks up to a door with a sign on it: “DANGER, DO NOT ENTER.” The kid stares at it, then proudly declares, “Hah! This sign can’t stop me, because I can’t read!” and flings the door open…

Pastoral goodness.

Perhaps danger lay ahead. For now, the road was easy and the landscape was delightful. Everything had that breezy “just rained on” feel.

Suspicious sheep.

Very pleasant riding out here.

It wasn’t long before I encountered more cyclists.

Fellow adventurers!

These folks could have told me about the route ahead, but there wasn’t quite enough room on the shoulder for an easy conversation.

Nearby the kids had a boombox blasting "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

I passed by a microscopic settlement – too small to be a town – and noticed a bunch of kids playing on a giant trampoline. I waved and they waved back.

For the next couple of hours I rolled along snapping photos of wildlife and listening to podcasts.

Resting where a pond used to be.
Hay is for horses!
Pleasant country riding.
More stuff that way than this way.
Up and away!
I'm not entirely sure what operation is happening here, but it looks difficult.

One of the more remarkable things I passed was a sheltered hillside with an actual forest growing on it:

Back home, I could get a shot like this in millions of places, especially if I went north towards Oregon. Here in Iceland, seeing this many trees in one spot is so rare it’s almost unsettling. It feels out of character for the country. That’s tragic of course, because a couple thousand years ago, forests like this were everywhere.

I imagined a whole menagerie of forest animals, enough to populate the island as it was, hemmed in together in this little patch of trees. Foxes, mice, and the occasional polar bear, all of them bouncing around like molecules in hot water, constantly finding an edge where the trees stop and turning around to run back into the darkness. Impatiently waiting for their territory to grow…

Still very much an open question whether that territory will ever grow, or just keep shrinking until the last tree falls over in the shallow soil…

The register display was stuck in self-test mode. I was amused.

Enjoying the weather and my hat flaps.

I arrived at Árnes campground in the evening, and paid for two days. I had room in the schedule, and I wanted to make sure I was rested and ready for the ugly roads ahead.

Tucked away in the tent.

The rain started again just as I stowed my gear. My phone said it would last most of the night. The internet was spotty, and I could only exchange a few delayed text messages with the folks back home. A sign of isolation to come?

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