We have long since lost sight of the low houses of Akureyri and only tiny patches of the stream that runs along the northern stretch of the Ring Road, which we follow, remains free from the winter suffocation.
The whiteness does not stifle a rising brooding nor the mist we glimpse drifting in the distance.
After many kilometers of vertigo, the Skjálfandafljót river suffers, there, the most dramatic of the geological stumbles that its journey from the supreme domain of Bárdarbunga to the bay of Skjálfandi submits to.
The Godafoss Iceland Divine Cascade
We cross the bridge that crosses it and park. We walk without tact or faith about iceland snow with 40 cm in height and, despite the sensation of imminent collapse, we reached the high margin.
From that somewhat treacherous position, we unveil the half-frozen, stalactite splendor of Godafoss, the cascade of the gods.
The amphitheater of this catadupa is about 30 meters. Slightly dampened before the 12-metre drop, the water from the Skjálfandafljót seems to solidify before our eyes and touches up a sculpture that the cold has shaped since the first days of November.
Whatever the temperature, Godafoss will always be an unavoidable natural monument in Iceland. Its mythological name is justified in one of the oldest and most renowned books in the island's history. narrates the Leslendingabók that, around the turn of the first millennium, its population had to decide whether to preserve Norwegian paganism or embrace Christendom.
After a day and a night of silent meditation under a blanket of furs, a lawgiver and chief named Thorgeir Ljósvetningagodi – who until then was a pagan himself – chose to convert to Christendom.
On his return to his farm in Ljósavatn, he threw the divine idols he had discarded into the churning waters of the waterfall.
The route continues through Sprengisandur and takes us to the volcanic stronghold of Myvatn. We explore its now wet and now icy lunar surface and continue east.
The Frustrated Quest of Detifoss, the Queen of the Waterfalls of Europe
At some point, we detected a set of road signs. Despite being huge, only its top remains uncovered from the accumulated snow.
We noticed that Detifoss, the largest cataract in Europe, is just 24 km to the north. We keep the breath of reaching it.
But, a board
at the entrance to the turnoff, he informs that there is no winter snow clearing service and that the secondary road may be impassable.
It only takes a few minutes for us to struggle with invincible layers of snow. We surrender to the evidence. We return to Ring Road.
An inescapable passage through the Jokullsarlon Lagoon
We skirted several of the deep fjords that cut the east coast, including the one that shelters Seydisfjordur. In those parts, more rain than snow irrigates countless wedding veils that flow from the top of green cliffs.
This profusion intensifies with the proximity of the eastern end of the Vatnajökkull glacier, eternal source of life on the island of fire and ice.
We explore it from the Jokullsarlon lagoon, from where its most adventurous icebergs set sail for the Atlantic. Then we travel to Skaftafell.
It rains a lot. A notice in the makeshift car park indicates that the continuation of the road is restricted to employees of the national park. Thus, we surrender to the slippery trail and the downpour for almost 2km.
When we reached the confluence with the actual end of the paved road, we realized that we were the only semi-soaked visitors to respect the indication.
The Geological Artwork of Svartifoss
To compensate, the next river target is imminent. We approached and noticed, on a more dignified scale, its polygonal eccentricity. Unlike previous waterfalls, the Svartifoss flow proves to be insignificant.
As happened in other rare parts of the world, the solidification of the lava took place there under improbable conditions. It generated arched walls, composed of strange hexagonal columns and in permanent danger of collapse.
It rains again. First, just pitchers. Then, to pitchers, also in the form of a sharp hail. We retreated.
We pass countless agricultural farms alternating with the alluvial vastness left by successive melting glaciers to the north. It's sunny, it's snowing, it's raining, it's snowing again and it's sunny.
The breathtaking scenery also follows as we pass. Even so, we find it difficult to respect the 90 km/h limit of the endless Ring Road.
Skogafoss, an Admirable Waterfall from the Base and the Top
We are on our way to Skogafoss when, hidden on a low curb, the first police car we see outside of Reykjavik pulls us over. "Good afternoon. Where are they from?” asks the blond agent as he goes through the documents. "Portugal? Things aren't exactly going well there, are they? “ continues with elegant sarcasm.
“Over here, the worst is past, but they know that the fines have not even gone down with our crisis. They are guys! Go away but look, it's just this once. You may have noticed that Iceland has things that are much more worth spending money on.”
We are moving away from authority at a theatrical speed. For a while, we managed to stay in line.
A little later, we catch a glimpse of Skogafoss wedged between recessed cliffs. We follow the margin of the rocky course from which it originates and, accompanied on the other side by a fence by a maddened horse, we reach its shadowy base.
We sat down. We admire the 60 meter jump overflown by black swifts. When that thalassotherapy seems to be enough, we head for a steep goat trail.
We conquered a viewpoint erected over the last throes of the Skógá River, on a clear plain border between the southern coast fringe and the interior highlands.
Seljalandfoss's Slim Dancing Neighbor
Seljalandfoss is not far away. We find its meandering drop of 60 m on a cliff perpendicular to the road. We start by looking at it from a side platform.
It doesn't take long to install new weather. The wind, the water from the cataract and the mixture of snow and rain combine to create a vortex that lashes us mercilessly.
We left the observation post. We take shelter in the only covered place, behind its vertical flow, inside the concave base of the cliff.
As quickly as they are gone, the sun and clear skies return. We went back to the car, wanting to regain our body heat. We do it facing Seljalandfoss, which the permanently oscillating northern light tinged with different hues.
Until, an unexpected visual interference surprises us. Halfway between the car and the cliff, an extraterrestrial-looking green creature performs stunts, photographed by a fellow Earthman.
At one point, half of the visitors pay more attention to it than to the waterfall.
Being green shows little concern. And intrigued. Since the car he returns to after the session ends is right next to ours, we can't resist questioning it. "It's yours? Not!!" answer us with good disposition. “I'm from here. Icelandic and all."
This monkey business is due to a project at my university in which I had the bad idea to get involved. It's called the Green Channel. Then we'll process the images with TV software. But I have to make these figures in more places symbol of Iceland. Have you seen my luck well?"
Before returning to Reykjavik, we would still pass by other waterfalls. The most emblematic of these finals, Gullfoss, impressed us for its layered configuration, not so much for the volume of the flow of the Hvitá river.
Winter was at an end. Soon, the intensification of the melting would feed the endless Icelandic torrents with plenty of water.