DAY 17

Ísafjörður to Patreksfjörður

Today was 180km of driving. Not a long distance, but it was a hard 180km. This was the drive that I was concerned about for the entire trip, as this road was considered impassible just two weeks prior, and just a week ago was designated as "difficult driving". It's a long gravel road that travels over the mountains (two passes), and to top it off, it rained steadily all day, with snow at the higher elevations. It was slow going. It didn't help that our very first encounter with snow today had us waiting on the side of the road for 40 minutes; I came up to a stuck tour van that was towing a trailer, and where I was stopped the wind was whipping snow and ice at the car ferociously. Nowhere to go, I backed up VERY carefully (the edge of the road had a precipitous drop-off with no guard rails) to about 50 feet back from where I was, and where there was no wind at all. I walked up to the driver of the van - a local - who said the plows were on the way. I helped him right his trailer and we joked about the road. "Welcome to Iceland!"

A massive plow showed up and cleared away the drifts, and we gingerly made it over the pass. On the other side - more rain, wet gravel road, and the curtain waterfall of Dynjandi, along with all of the waterfalls below. This made the trip worth it. I hiked up to the base of the massive waterfall in the rain and just stood there transfixed for 5 minutes. I could have been there for hours. It was worth being damp and cold for the rest of the day.

After the falls, there was another snow covered pass, but the road was relatively clear. Once down on the other side, I was really happy to find asphalt again. An exhausting drive, but worth it.

After the village of Þingeyri, the road turns to gravel and climbs up steeply. Soon, we were up against a 15' wall of snow.
A bit further up, the snow was higher, and a tour van was stuck. Where I stopped the car was relatively calm; but about 50' further, where you can see the snow on the road, the wind was gale force and almost impossible to walk into. Beyond the stuck van were 2' drifts of wet snow.
The calvary has arrived
After getting over the pass, this was on the other side.
It's noticeably greener if you just travel a bit south of where we were.
Looking down one of the waterfalls at Dynjandi. This is a wide lens; I was really very close to the rushing water.
Dynjandi is a series of waterfalls leading up to the big curtain waterfall.
Even closer still
At the foot of Dynjandi. Photos don't do it justice. It's awe-inspiring, and much much bigger than it looks here.
Vivid colors are in this year for tourist wear. Looking down from Dynjandi.
Climbing toward another pass, above the falls, moss covered fields.
More walls of snow. Fortunately, no snow drifts, just a rough, wet road.
This was a slow day of driving.
On the beach, on the way to Patreksfjörður.
What happened to the snow?