Total distance covered: 340 km | 211 miles
Latrabarg had bestowed new sounds upon our 16-year old rental car, and left us nervous about the strain of the remaining yellow and brown marked roads. I fell asleep wondering if we would make it out of the Westfjords with our little car, and also, if my mother would catch a plane tomorrow and head for home. Needless to say, we had to forgo the planned counter-clockwise trip around the region, as experiencing all the fjords would have required a 4×4 vehicle. And, luckily for me, my mother did stay with me for the remainder of our expedition.
The layers in the land were striking throughout our travels in the Westfjords. The horizontal strata in the geology of the terrain demanded attention. Bold, lateral lines created a consistency and unification which visually strengthened the already massive cliffs. Upon closer inspection of these layers, I noticed the basalt columns. At this scale the vertical lines of basalt were subtle and delicate. Did I mention these cliffs are HUGE. At times, the horizontal and vertical lines in this landscape suddenly disappeared; the crumbling steep slopes marking the process of erosion on a grand scale.
Swales on the ground plane etched stunning lines into the landscape of the Westfjords. To make hay production possible, farmers reshape the land. Swaths of dry ground are created using swale systems for drainage.
Sand color is a stunning example of the differences between the fjords we visited. Beach combing at Osafjördur resulted in numerous large clam shells and white sand. Beach combing at Vatnsfjörður revealed neon green seaweed and black rocks.
The fish-drying shack in Vatnsfjordur was restored by the National Museum in 1976. Birgit Abrecht’s Architectural Guide to Iceland led us to this historic structure. The book informed us that these shelters “were formerly a common site on the coast”. We had discovered a building similar to this only yesterday along the coast of Patreksfjörður and surmised it had to do with fishing. However, the word “shack” had not come to mind as the massive stone walls brought with them a sense of permanence and stability.
Hotel Reykjane was bustling when we arrived. The front lawn of this hotel was packed with tents and campers, creating a carnival-like scene. It was the weekend, but we hadn’t seen this many people, or this sort of festivity, since we arrived in the Westfjords. It became apparent that the locus for this gathering was the large concrete pool, with views of the fjord beyond. The pool held a plethora of diverse groups: kids learning to swim, couples soaking, families convening, and as night wore on, adults (beers in hand) conversing. The water gradient spanned all comfort levels: from cool at the deep fjord end, to hot, hot, and even hotter. Geothermal water was helping to creating a thriving culture in this impressive pool.