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ICY LANDS

Moments seem to pass too quickly in the end. They always do. The Icelandic weeks billow with bliss; this is one of the facts of life. The Troll Peninsula envelops your heart the moment you step foot onto its volcanic soils. The northlands are barren, desolate and absolutely truthful. The Troll doesn’t bother hiding finicky weather, black sand beaches, troves of first descent ski lines to be had, geothermal hot springs naturally producing the perfect soaking temperatures, or northern lights so profound as they dance through the night and into the succulent sun of the Icelandic dawn.

The small turbo propelled aircraft was inbound. The sound of the propellers echoed off the broken rock walls that encapsulate the landing strip tucked gracefully at the toe of the Fjord. The plane sung loud with reverberating pitch as it sank closer to the earth that it departed from just an hour before from Reykyavik. Franz, Ulli, Werner, and Phillip stepped onto the tarmac with eyes beaming. To the west, lay some of the crown jewels of the troll peninsula. To the north, the largest fjord in Iceland runs infinitely towards the deep blue of the arctic sea.

I spoke of the history as we embarked for the lodge about an hours drive from the city of Akyueri. We passed fjords with depths to 200m, mountains up to 1800m, and tunnels over 7km long. I talked of the history of fishing and tourism, of the flora and fauna. The waves crashed upon the banks of the Fjords. The gulls circled high above as if enchanted by the mysterious waters below. The road carved the mountainside and threatened dangers on the precarious turn. We passed through the darkness of the last tunnel before Siglofjordur just as the light was peeling back towards North America.

In Iceland, it is often said that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. This is entirely true. The Austrians had landed in sunshine, drove through a blizzard and arrived to the peaceful serenity of an Icelandic sunset. The days to come will surely bring all of the elemental gifts from the earth. The winds will blow gaily as they do. The sun will warm the arctic air. The snow will accumulate in droves. The Island will be beaten by its remoteness yet it will not succumb. It never will.

We sat down for an Icelandic dining experience as we talked about our days to come. The culinary experience is so salivating to the buds that you find yourself with aches and pains from hazardous levels of caloric intake. The meats, fishes, and cheeses are brilliantly laden with local flare. We feast upon the riches of this land. The fisherman filet local cod upon the black volcanic sands just kilometers from our table. The salmon swim in the North Atlantic waters just off shore of the Western Fjords. The summertime comes and the lamb grazes high upon these hills. They primarily eat berries, grasses, and mosses at will. Come autumn, all members of the community celebrate the herding of these passive creatures by taking long hikes to the highlands to bring them back home. Then comes the celebratory sacrifice of their spirits for meats so savory and plump. The geese fall out of the sky one by one to inhabit our plates, cooked rare not well done! The veal, oh poor calf, how I whimper when I realize how they could have run so free upon this beautiful scape, but alas it’s far too late. We eat them dressed with such rich, creamy delight.

The next day, we awoke to a sky so blue that its hue was nearly unrecognizable. The tones of aquamarine paired wonderfully with the still sea and the snow-covered plateaus. We departed in the helicopter towards the remote epicenter of the Trolskagi Mountains. The day was filled with ten laps of the finest powder skiing one can dream of. Our gratitude transcended our cultural backgrounds and we laughed with utter bliss.

The hours turned to days and the days to nearly ten days. The moments were blissful. Franz and I connected over our love for adventure and we talked about worldly objective far and near. Phillip and I talked of his motion picture works. His tales of the “German Hollywood” industry were just as intriguing to me and as the mountain adventures I shared with him. We began to understand eachother on a level so intimate I could begin to easily read their body language over breakfast and shift the day to meet their needs. We rode the steep headwalls connecting plateus between the Fjords, mellow powder runs to the sea, and gazed from high atop the Troll Penninsula with a gratitude so immense for our collective experience, that we were speechless.

As they departed for the airport, it was clear that our experience had transformed their souls. We talked about their time in Iceland as if they were leaving a piece of their home. They promised a visit to the states to sample some Teton fluff and I promised that if I was ever in their neck of the woods I would surely stop in for a night on the town. And just like that, The crew was riding high above the tiny arctic island as if to have woken up from a dream.


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