iceland 6

That night I continued on to Gullfoss. I slept overlooking one of the largest, most awe-inspiring waterfalls I had ever seen. I found it especially interesting that most of the waterfalls in Iceland are privately owned. The landowners very graciously let people venture onto their land to see these magnificent beasts. Half of Gullfoss sits on someone’s land, the other is state owned. My passenger earlier that day had told me that up until ten days ago, the owner of this magnificent waterfall was asking people to pay 300kr to enter, about $3. A court ruled that this was not okay and the fee was abolished. Either way, I woke a couple hours later and began to explore. The size and power is greater than Niagara Falls, and is one of two Icelandic waterfalls that are rated in the top ten waterfalls worldwide. It was truly amazing, and for a while, at least, I had it all to myself!

Long before I saw the first tour bus, I was in Geyser, watching some of the biggest geysers I had ever seen.  Great Geysir blows every 5-10 minutes and is twice the size, and more consistent than Old Faithful. I stood over the giant hole in the ground and watched as a pool turquoise water rhythmically moved up and the down, as though the earth was breathing. With little to no warning the water disappeared for a split second before being shot straight up in the air. I spent the rest of the morning wandering around the steaming pools, watching geysers explode in all directions.  When I started to see tour buses crest the hill, I knew it was time to go. I slowly walked back to my base camp and made some lunch before taking off.

If I was going to make it to Westfjords, I had to get through this area in rapid fashion. As I looked at my map, I realized I still had a slew of places that Smari and other locals had given me. I decided that I could sacrifice a little sleep tonight, so that I could see everything as I drove to Þingvellir. 

As I watched canyons, fields, and waterfalls pass by, I laughed uncontrollably in spite of myself. When you start to think there could be the slightest possibility of boredom on your trip, Iceland seems to know what you’re thinking, and decides to do something incredible to remind you how wrong you are. It throws in a cliff and a waterfall, or a canyon that ends at a glacier, or really throws you for a loop and just puts a sheep in the middle of the road. As expletives flew from my mouth, I jumped on the breaks with all the force I could muster. I know that sheep family saw me, and I saw them. I swore we had an understanding with each other: I would maintain a constant speed, continue driving straight and they would just keep milling around the field below the road. We were good, or so I thought. 90km/h to 0, in the span of what felt like 100m. All of my gear flew forward, maps falling from the seat next to me, tires squealing, and my heart feeling like it was going to jump out of my chest. With a “bah,” mama sheep, who would have totally ruined my trip, and her two little lambs stood there, now in the middle of my lane, staring at me, looking quite pissed off. I stared back with a blank face. “You're lucky that Johnny would kill me if I totaled his car, and that you are technically not a free meal, little guy,” I mumbled as I glanced at the clock. I had been driving for quite some time! I almost felt like I was on autopilot, jamming to modern radio stations and watching the sights pass me by. I had missed almost everything I was supposed to do, and better yet…. I was officially mumbling to myself. Someone back home warned me about this. Had to be a co-worker.

The best Ice cream in Iceland, ATVing, spelunking, and a hidden waterfall were on the agenda and I missed it all. With that I decided I had to turn around and headed back towards Gullfoss.

The sheep still stood in the middle of the road bawing at me. With a laugh I threw my white stallion in reverse and backed up, what felt like a kilomiter or so, before I found a place I could turn around. 

Ryan McNamee