Breaking the Cycle - Iceland

Mar 26

Fire and Ice

Published at 16:29
Dispatch created from email
23rd - 25th March

The night I arrived in Germany I had a terrible fall, slipping forwards
down some wet metal steps, crushing and twisting my already damaged
right knee. Up until then the knee had been going well and I was feeling
particularly fit after the Baja ride. It swelled immediately and I could
barely walk and not without restriction or significant pain.

From that time there were six days until I would be required to cycle again, so I
hoped the rest and self-treatment on the ferry and travelling time in
the truck would enable it to recover enough. After five days it was
reasonable and I managed to do a little snow cycling to shoot a new
promotional video and had only a small, manageable reaction.

When we finally found some significant snow to cycle on, I limited
myself to just 20km so not to overdo it. The knee was struggling
though after about 5km, but I thought I could push through it, as I
often do. The following day I had a significant reaction. It was
evident that it had not healed enough and was probably going to take a
few weeks to recover.

This is of course both frustrating and worrying. I took the decision to
give it the rest it needs; I cannot afford to compromise the project by
doing more damage. We therefore have decided to try to make the most of
our time here and see as much as we can of this amazing, scenically
dramatic island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

From Egilsstadir we headed to Iceland’s most northerly point,
Hraunhafnartangi (pronounce this!), taking in some snow-covered
highlands and remote farm and fishing communities.

To reach the most northerly tip, just three kilometres below the Arctic Circle, we had to park the truck and walk (slowly and carefully for me) about 1500m along
a stony track to a rather modern, hi-tech looking lighthouse.The track was littered with non-biodegradable rubbish washed up from the sea; plastics, pieces of nylon fishing nets and ropes appear to bind the grey stones together. I guess the debris is an indication of just how much trash is floating in the cold Atlantic waters around here.

The headland was protected by a barrier of stones to break the waves.
Nestled in between the barrier and the lighthouse, the ruin of a tiny
grass-roofed hut was a reminder of the remote, harsh circumstances in
which many would have lived in years gone by.

We continued our tour of the Melrakkasletta Peninsula along a potholed
gravel road to a well-serviced fishing port called Kopasker and then
taking in a spectacular coastal drive, a further 100km or so to Husavik,
a more major centre in the region, (population around 2500).

Yesterday we played tourist once again and ticked three important boxes
in the volcanic Myrvatn region of north east of Iceland. Volcanoes and
geothermal activity are synonymous with the lake environs which sits
along the divide between Europe and North America.

First we explored around Hverfjall, a perfectly formed volcanic cone,
about 1500m in diameter.

Namafjall, about five kilometres from Hverfjall was the highlight for me - a dramatic geothermal area with fumaroles and boiling mud pots. Steam and fumarole gases, the most distinctive being hydrogen sulphide (smells like rotten eggs) bellow from the ground under pressure - 1000m below the temperature is 200C.

About an hour’s drive away were the Dettifoss and Selfoss waterfalls. At
this time of year, melting snow drains into the Jokulsaafjollum (river),
first over the smaller Selfoss and a few hundred metres later, thunders
down the mighty Dettifoss, Iceland’s most powerful waterfall.

A lot of images this time!


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