Iceland 2021 Page 6

Weird And Glorious Terrain

Looking back from the little pedestrian trail, as I manhandle my bike along it once again.

Sometimes I get the impression that sheep are activelty searching for the most remote patch of grass, even when they're surrounded by perfectly good grass near home.

Pretty sure this is the last actual bridge the road will provide me with for the next 50 miles.

Who wants ice cream?

Aaah, the open road! I really should have come here with better tires...

Enjoying the day.

Ugh, more loose sand.

Some motorcyclists waiting for their group to catch up.
Little pictures in little boxes can't really convey how refreshing it is to be surrounded by this.
An unwelcome amout of sand on the road, but the surroundings more than make up for it.
My view as I ate breakfast.
So many rocks, slowly drifting down the hillside...
Fields of flowers, interesting mountains, good weather, and no one for miles.
It's a long, rough way up.
Stopping for a snack and pee break, because why not.

It's like a massive, sparkly piece of naan bread.

Oh look, Timmy has spilled his soda water on the polyester carpet! Except... THE CARPET IS ALIVE.
You think it's ice, don't you? Or some kind of resin or sap? Nope! It's ordinary rainwater, floating on top of a blanket of thick moss due to surface tension.
Sometimes the water sinks in, sometimes it doesn't.
A spider patrols the surface of this strange mossy world.
When I saw this, I had to stop. It just looked so bizarre.
Water drops large and small ride atop this surface.
Once the drops grow beyond a certain size they start to vibrate in the constant wind.

I didn't try drinking one, but I was tempted.

Valoria, ready for more travel.

It was within easy walking distance of the bike, so I strolled over.

Nice sno-cone material, except for the grit.


The first of many river fjordings.

Crossing number 2. Same deal as the first crossing.

Successfully shoved the bike across. Good thing I have waterproof bags along the bottom.

This fellow did a U-turn in the river, since it was the widest part of the road. He's probably towed a hundred broken cars down from these roads over the years.
Up there somewhere is a cute little lake, according to the map.
Okay, the bags are across, now for the bike...
Now those are some dark hills.
Looking back down at the road.
I am amused by these river crossings!
Another shot of those black hills.
And over the hill... More hills. And more river crossings.
Winding my way down to crossing number 3. Too minor to be listed on the official map.
Not looking forward to all that sand.
Just the worst for traction. Good thing I was already walking the bike.
Fortunately it's not very deep.
That was relatively easy! Didn't even need to remove the lower bags.
The sand is always a nuisance.

I don't recall seeing hills this dark anywhere else. The lack of vegetation contributes to it.

Mmmm lunch! More sardines!

This is a good day.

Time for a break by this vibrant little stream.

Lots of tiny fungi saying hello on the bank of the stream.

Straight down from the side of the mountain on my left.

Ice cold. Time for a drink!

Even with the river crossings, this chunk of the route is actually easier than the chunk leading down into Landmannalaugar from the north.
Approaching another river crossing.
Had to take the lower bags off again for this one.
A pair of cyclists going the other way. We traded tips about the terrain ahead.
I was tempted to try blazing right across it while still on the bike. Glad I didn't.
The black hills probably melt snow quickly in the sun.
Wet, but too full of rocks and well compressed by truck tires to be mud.
Another hour, another crossing!
You can see how the puddle grows as cars range farther up and downstream from it, aiming for the shallower edges.
I think this is crossing number ... Ten? Eleven? Do the minor ones count?
This was one of three crossings in a row, as the river zig-zagged over the road.
I took another drink here. It was just so tasty looking...

A strange hunk of rock, worn down from years of flooding.

As I got closer it looked more and more bizarre.

I suspect this fell down from the hillside above, years ago, and then the debris around it got washed away.

Dang, this hill went up a long way...
Another roadside snack stop.
Strange terrain at the top of this hill.
Still not the last fjord!
Pleased to be up here!
Looking back from a long, careful climb.
Things have names out here?
Such an interesting texture. Like the plates on a turtle.
I'm not sure what this marker is for. It was driven into the ground about ten feet from the edge of the road.
So much green!
Such lovely colors...
One of the larger fjords, but it had a narrow span suitable for my bike.
Pausing halfway across for a photo.
It's not deep, but the tires tend to sink into the rocks.
Snacking and pedaling!
The last valley before the big downhill.

These rocks are here as a polite reminder that people shouldn't go joyriding away from the road.

The last fjord -- in the highlands at least.

My constant companion.


Ugh, this hill was steep.
It's not a rock... It's some kind of article of clothing, smashed into the road.
I do believe I'm looking at a mangled pair of shorts.
The reward for that climb: An incredible panorama.
Hundreds of square miles of wandering river, in one view.

Deep channels eroded into the hills from meltwater streams.

Partway down, leaning on the brakes. A fall onto this at speed would be brutal.

A landscape of fuzzy lumps. Not a tree or even a bush in sight.

Look at that cute little bridge! Awww!
This river did not have an easy way for a bike to cross, and it looked deeper than all the others.
Taking the bridge option.
It really was a cute bridge.
Someone got so wired on their French-press coffee that they took off and forgot the French-press.
Lovely land lumps.
Spooky lumps!
The evening sheep are aglow!
Look at that fluffy halo!
A flat road cutting through a very bumpy landscape.
A tiny wedge of sundog next to an old contrail.

I tihnk these ruts are from groups of horses and cattle being run up and down the road.

At first I thought those parallel ruts were made by animals. Then I realized that they were previous versions of the road.

People drove their trucks over the hill in the same ruts, year after year, until the ruts got plowed too deep and began scraping the underside of the vehicle. Then they started driving up a fresh patch of ground on one side. Do that for twenty or thirty years on a fragile landscape … and now we all get to look at the results for about a century.

Ah, finally at my stopping place for the night!

I always like signs with lots of symbols. Plenty of services to choose from.

The fire escape ladder is somewhat lacking.

An interior that houses 20 people, and only two of us sleeping there.

No need for a tent tonight!

Big waterfall, big meal

He'll go a lot farther than I will today.

I can't believe I forgot to ask him his name.

Hanging in the hostel common area.

Hanging in the hostel common area.

Funky rocks revealed in the channel cut by the river.

An interestingly layered chunk of rock. Obsidian subject to repeated coatings of blowing dust as it cooled?

A decent-size river.
It's a long way down...
Looks slippery!
Tiny drops coating everything, day and night, for months.
I wonder how much faster the signposts degrade in this constant rain.
A constant light rain.
So many drops!
So much moss!!
Delicious mist from the Huldufoss.
The ravine made a perfect channel for bringing the mist up to spectator height.
A lot of churning going on!
The noise was channeled upward just like the mist. Very intense.
I wonder how often this very rainbow appears. Probably for hours every day...
It's the Bilröst!
Pleased to be seeing a rainbow!

Lazy sheep taking in the view.

The closer to the horizon you look, the colder the terrain!

Follow that cloud! But first, have lunch before going up that dang hill.
Lots of deep blue sky here.
The jets often cross the sky at odd angles here.
This area has a dryer feel to it than the others. Even the highlands felt relatively damp.
Will those sheep never learn?
Descending into a strange flatland. Looks like a layer cake.
YACICS: Yet Another Cute Icelandic Church Syndrome. It starts hitting you after the third week.
That farm has quite a lot of toilet paper! Good for pandemic times!

More of those nifty lava columns.

Go bikers go! Also: Dang, pedaling that load, in sandals? I bet those are e-bikes.

Go go go! Whoooo!

Fine place for a walk around ... then a picnic ... then a nap!

It's the cover of that unreleased prog rock album that Pink Floyd would have made before Roger Waters got too spazzy

Spending a day driving the giant hay-munching beetle.

I love watching the beetle poop out rolls of hay.

Lots of hardware on this truck.

Lots of farming happening quickly here in the high summer.
The last hill of the day! Whew!! Well, no actually there was one more.
A long straight ride against the wind to close out the day.

28 kilometers that way on the 1, and I can stop for the night.

Yes, I bought three meals. And ate them.

Finally at the campground!!

An interesting character

So many fun accessories and stickers!

Apparently it's a reconstruction of a convent. I never did find the time to wander inside. ("Hey, were there any interesting things in there?" "No; nun!!" WHA-CHAAAAAH)


The fanciest hotel room of the whole trip, I suspect. Got it on a deep discount.


Time to make that radiator earn its keep.

Glaciers and plains

A crisp, clear morning. Just the tiniest bit of tailwind.

Happy horses enjoying the short summer.

Hard to beat this roadside view!

Multiple layers of farming.

Not a lot of natural arches in this terrain, so it's surprising to find even a small one.

Local pie and local waterfall.

You know it's a warm day in Iceland when you start seeing heat mirage on the road.

If you squint, it looks like a beach covered in elephant seals.

Stopping for a snack, and to try swapping my front tube.

Got mjolk?

Depending on where you stand, the cloud cover is a lot closer.
Clouds throwing shade.
Geologic history laid bare.
This was a pretty long bridge!
The incongruous flatness of a zone long covered in glacier ice.
A closer look at the pulverized flatness of the glacial plain.
Meltwater churning with rock dust, moving out to sea.

Interesting info about the early explorers of the Vatnajökul ice cap.

This would be impossible without the road.
There's an extremely fancy waterfall in there, but I'd seen so many pictures of it already I wasn't all that enthusiastic about riding over.
Glacier under dramatic cloud cover.
The first full-on view of a glacier for this tour.
This bridge wasn't in use. I'm not sure why.
Slowly getting dark.
A channel of sunlight.
45 years old, circling Iceland in the late summer.
Seriously, a view like this is just wasted on sheep!
Imagine this massive pile of ice slowly sliding down the side of that mountain, year after year, for tens of thousand of years, crunching boulders down to sand, which washes away...

Sheep just can't appreciate how great of a view they have...

Wreckage from part of the highway that got destroyed in a flood years ago.

Wreckage is cool!

Having only one road around most of your country is problematic.
The old bridge at Gígjukvísl was smashed away by floodwater carrying icebergs that weighed up to 2000 tons.
Background and description of the 1996 volcanic eruption and flood.
When constructing a road like this there are choices to make that sometimes conflict with each other.

Even guided tours on this glacier are strongly discouraged. This is a warning to locals as well as visitors.

Not only are there rockslides already damaging the road, but more could happen any time!

Oh, fart! It's impassable!

Hello, meltwater! Gosh there's a lot of you.

A restaurant serving food to an avalanche of people, mess-hall buffet style. One of the best deals I've seen in all of Iceland, actually.

The view outside the restaurant.

It's a nice spot, but way too expensive for what you get.

The room before I obscured it under all the reast of my gear.

Drying clothes, importing photos, and patching a tire all at once.

So many snacks got chomped!

A River Of Ice

Everything's outside the room, so it counts as checking out!

Reassembling the patched tire. Let's see how far this gets us...

Another natural arch way up there! This totally feels Lord Of The Rings-ish.
Comminucations gear waaaay up on a hill.
Glacier under cloud.
I know starkness is sometimes the Icelandic modern style, but come on, couldn't you do just a little bit of landscaping? This is a hotel but it looks like a storage facility.
Spoooooky valleys!
Looking south across the layers to the Atlantic.

A long straight approach to the foot of the next glacier.

An absurdly expensive restaurant but the view is alright.
Heading away from the glacier now. Looks very different from any angle!
Centuries of ice piled on top of itself.
So much ice!

ROAD CAKE. The best kind.

The ice just keeps going up...

Approaching the Jökulsárlón glacier bridge.
Cars have to wait their turn, but people just stroll across.
The bridge makes a great photo spot.

A busy day on Jökulsárlón glacier.

I dig this.

I'll never understand why Ford discontinued this van body style. It was so versatile...

It's a giant bookshelf; get it?

Lots of instructions for finding the cabin.

The rock talks.

They custom-laid me a table for one, rather than making me wait. Nicelandic!

A new sticker!

Where to go, and how to get in.

Not 20 minutes in, and stuff is everywhere already.

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