Power of Creation

riding past the Unicorn mountain

riding past the Unicorn mountain

Fjallabak

Fjallabak

There’s an area of Iceland between the glaciers called ‘Fjallabak,’ or ‘the mountainside,’ which may or may not be the most beautiful trail I’ve ever ridden in Iceland. It rides past the infamous Eyjafjallajokull and the Laki craters, a volcanic lava field created in an eruption 250 years ago. I may be a bit biased, since we had perfect, sunny weather the entire 6 days, but any or all visibility you could have were stunning, breath-taking views. There are glaciers and mountains in all directions, sand deserts, lava rock fields, yellow mountains, green moss and water galore. We saw beautiful waterfalls on our first day, rode over grassy fields at sunset on our second day, and through volcanic canyons on our third day.

Hundafoss

Hundafoss

The fourth day we went exploring some vegetated valleys, and found an old sheep-round up hut built of turf and stone. Then we went to the top of a mountain, for a 360 degree view of countless mountain peaks and 3 big glaciers. We could see all the way from Eyjafjallajokull to Landmanalaugar, sitting just above the Thorsmork nature park. Our last 2 days rode us past a unicorn mountain and back into the farm lands, to Birna and Kiddi’s horse breeding farm at Eyvindarmuli. We went up to the mountains behind his house to look for some foals, but instead got stuck with the only rain and fog we had seen all week. It passed in just a few minutes though, so we clambered back down the slippery steep slope and saw some more beautiful waterfalls.

feeling like we're on top of the world

feeling like we’re on top of the world

This was my first time riding this trail, which we took from Lakagigar west back to Eyvindarmuli. There were only 7 guests in the group and it eventually felt like we were just a group of friends riding the same wonderful horses we came to know and love. We rode one of the longest days I’ve ever ridden, 53km, but it went by nice and easy with our small herd and young staff. I can’t wait to ride this trail again next year, perhaps from west to east, and see what kind of weather and riders we’ll get then. Take a peek at the tour description here, and maybe get tempted to come too ūüėČ

one of many stunning waterfalls

one of many stunning waterfalls

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Photo Trips to 'hey, you forgot le yogert,' aka Eyafjallaj√∂kull

I heard about the first volcanic eruption about 1 minute after the news report was released, late at night around 1 am, and almost drove out to it that night. Hearing rumours of road closures and safety risks, I waited until the next day, and then life just carried on as usual, busy days doing nothing, until all of a sudden, the volcano was over!

I was expecting a 2 month or even 2 year spectacle and assumed I would eventually get out to it so I could also get my  photo taken with bubbling lava behind me like everyone else, but the couple weeks I waited proved to be too long. It was also because there was no sign or evidence of a volcanic eruption here in Reykjavik, as no sounds, sights or smells of the eruption reached us.

But then, we all know what happened, the real show began! The most recent eruption started at around 20 times the strength, defeaning sounds echoing around southern Iceland, and ash starting its quick and lethal journey to mainland Europe. I decided I of course couldnt miss this opporunity again, and drove out to it within¬†a day¬†of it¬†blowing its top. The road was actually closed, but I was driving with an Icelandic friend of mine who convinced the authorities we had to go into √ölfsey to help a friend move horses. It wasn¬īt 100% true, but there was a friend and there were horses, but we were just going to take photos all night from beneath the volcano with our zoom lenses and tripods.

The lightning in the plume cloud was one of the most amazing natural phenomenons I have ever witnessed, the most beautiful, bright sight you could imagine in an otherwise horribly dark, grim volcanic ash cloud. It was red sometimes, orange other times, and even a white lightning streak sometimes lit up the whole cloud. It was soundless lighting though, and the missing thunder just made the volcano seem more scary, like a silent monster. Northern lights speckled the sky half way into the night, and the view of a billion stars all added up to make the night one of the most unforgettable I’ve ever had.

The next day we took advantage of the day light and took photos of the plume cloud, rising 10 km¬īs above the crater, and the endless, drifting ash cloud supposedly spreading ash in Russia and leaving ash on people¬īs cars in Norway. Crazy to think about.

I went back to the Volcano 2 days later, Monday the 19th, to see a much smaller, lighter plume cloud, but an even murkier, spooky ash cloud blowing straight south, barely missing the Vestmann Islands off the southcoast of Iceland.

The road closure was slightly closer, right at the bridge over Markarfljót, with the rebuilt ringroad highway that was originally torn apart to allow for glacier melting and run off water to flow. As we arrived, the time was 19:27, and the road block was officially lifted 2 minutes later. So, with a sense of adventure, everyone in the car thought we should carry on and we drive straight into the ash cloud. It was a spooky, eerie feeling, extremely silent and lifeless, and the sun looked like a radioactive ray glowing far away through the thick ash. We didnt get out of the car but took photos from the safety of our sealed windows.

After all the excitement, we started our journey back to Reykjavik, and as we drove away and nightfall set, we saw the flickering red glow of the volcano light up a pitch black sky, which we later learned was the turning point of Eyafjallajökull into a roaring lava flow eruption.