Austerland tributaries & mudflats stretching out beyond Vatnajokull
It’s close to midnight by the time we round the eastern tip and follow the curving bend of peninsula facing the opposite side of Vatnajokull, still obscured by snow and clouds, to our farmstay. We bask in the hallucagenic energy of sun still up, daylight through the night. Our host is not happy about staying up to give us the keys to the guestroom beside the barn. She is familiar with light-drunk Americans straggling in at midnight. She must surely be used to tourists waylaid and delayed by the stunning beauty of nearby Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. We collapse into bed in Stafafell, across a channel of tidal mudflats facing the national park. It is hard to believe that we are only on day 3 of our trek (day 2 for me, having missed the first farmstay in Akurholt). Greg falls into bed and sleeps in his clothes as I scan the several thousand photos from the first few days in Iceland. I cannot turn my eyes away from this plethora of beauty. I walk outside in the iridescent midnight light and take several photos of the farmstead. Clouds still obscure the view of Vatnajokull’s mighty peaks. Even in morning, as sun clears more of a view the highest peaks are still hidden in mists. While Greg goes in for breakfast, I stroll about the farm composing the colors of light and ice as sunshine reveals more contours of mountains across the mudflats, the grays of frost-flecked stones brushed to the side of the driveway, the textures of Icelandic horses against green grass pastures extending to the water’s edge. We are forgiven by a gracious host who has provisioned a lovely breakfast of eggs, waffles, fruits, with traditional skyr & granola. We are voracious for food as well as for contours of culture; collections of stones and shells along a windowsill, tidy rows of shoes and coats in the foyer, a cross-eyed four-horned goat proudly beheaded and displayed in the dining room. Raised in the Northeast, I am well acquainted with the practicality of foyers as air locks against the cold, as mudrooms to mitigate the rain and slush of incessantly inclement weather. Refreshed from food and sleep we trek along the gravel path back to our room in the light of late morning, so similar to that of past midnight. We unplug our chargers, pack our bags, provision snacks and water for the car, and drive off into Austerland as the Eastern Coast is known. Few tourists travel this coast and we are grateful to have the roads and vistas all to ourselves.