high desert & mountain peaks

1_MtPassPanoRing Road through the Ódáðahraun Lava Desert – Northeast High Plateau

We climb higher through mountain roads traversing the land of reindeer in the high plains of the Ódáðahraun lava desert. Winds whip a crystalline arctic snow across the infinite expanse of thin, black highway traversing black lava landscape, punctuated by stunning silhouettes of table and volcanic mountains. This is a geologist’s dream in black and white and bitter cold. This is June when the sun never sets. Imagine the temperatures in winter when the sun never breaks the horizon. I’m amazed as we pass a trotting ewe with lambs pressed alongside at such a cold altitude. She’s headed toward higher ground rather than back to warmer, lower altitude by the sea. I guess that’s what the warm wool is for.


In the distance we see the sentinels of the great peaks of the upper limits of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park along the Flojotsdalsheidi traversing the Highlands. We travel from the Queen of the Elves to the Queen of the Mountains in a single afternoon. Herðubreið rises1677 meters, a tuya formation considered by many Icelanders as the Queen of Icelandic mountains, the grand beauty of the land. We pull to the side of the road where a small cairn of rocks rests beside a small white wooden chair. I am bundled in winter coat, scarf, gloves, and hat as I walk around the fierce landscape as Greg sits in the car with the heat blasting. I compose panos of mountains in profile against the pale white horizon and video winds cascading in a sheer white curtain howling across the landscape. I’m ecstatic in this biting chill and compose my favorite selfie as fierce winds pull my hair and scarf in a horizontal tug-of-war. Shivering, I sit back in the car exhilarated, hungry for the next helping of geological wonder.


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