Iceland Journal – “Clear the Way!” – West Iceland
“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
This, our sixth day of travel, did not leave us lost, as the quote may imply, but it did send us down some ‘interesting’ paths.
As I noted in previous posts, there are roads which enter Iceland’s mountainous and rugged interior known as “F” roads, which we were prohibited from driving on with our rental vehicle, despite studded tires and four-wheel drive. As Iceland approaches late autumn, these roads can quickly turn treacherous and they are very remote, so emergency assistance would be very expensive, if even available.
As we mapped out our path from Svínavatn to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we noticed that travelling the Ring Road would have taken us further south than we wanted, meaning extra distance and time lost driving. We were directed by locals to take a ‘shortcut’ cross-country from Staðarskáli to the town of Buðardalur, at the base of the West Fjords. It turned out that the ‘shortcut’ was an “F” road, so we sought other passages. It turns out that just north of the “F” road is an ‘official’ road, in the form of Highway 59, which parallels the “F” road. I’m really not sure how much better than the “F” road this highway was, since it was roughly thirty kilometers of black, icy, and potholed track through some of the most desolate landscape we had seen yet. I think we drove nearly twenty kilometers without seeing a single building. Barren grassland and low hills reaching to the horizon.
What we did see lots of was sheep. Despite the barren, windswept landscape, sheep were everywhere. That was true, not just here, but throughout Iceland. There are just over three hundred thousand people in Iceland, and at last count, there were over eight hundred thousand sheep. They are everywhere, in open fields, on high mountain sides, in the tortured and twisted lava fields, and often, on the road. Yes, there are fences aplenty, but the sheep seem to find their way over, around, and under the fences, often grazing right next to the road, or like here, on the road. So you have to be ever vigilant while driving.
This troupe was very cooperative, except for a few stragglers, who hurried to catch up with the rest of the flock, who were waiting patiently on the far side of the bridge. I just had to stop to take a picture, since this captured yet another aspect of our drive.
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @ 200mm
1/125 sec, f/35.6 ISO 200
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