Sunday, December 13, 2015

Last Looks, Landscapes, and Lichen (West Iceland)

The last leg of our Icelandic journey took us through West Iceland on the way toward Keflavik.

We saw these large, round, white puffs on farms all over Iceland -- I guess they grow really enormous marshmallows there! Actually, these are bales of hay, wrapped in plastic to allow the grass to ferment (a practice called "haylage"), which apparently retains more of the nutrition in the hay.

One of the things I found most interesting about Iceland is how varied the landscape is. We'd be driving through lush farmland, and then suddenly, it would turn into a barren, rocky plain. In some cases, there were fields of lava rocks with nothing growing on them, almost like moonscapes. At other times, the rocks would be covered with carpets of Icelandic moss (actually a lichen). Here you can see the transition, where there are still some green plants, but just beyond is lichen-covered rocks.

Here you can see the lichen-covered rocks. (I don't know for sure what kind of plant this is, but it looks like lichen.)

A close-up of the lichen reveals an elegant and interesting structure, but one which is also fragile. Tourist foot traffic often damages the Icelandic moss; it can take years to re-establish itself.

Just off the ring road (Rt. 1), there is a hiking trail up to the Grabrok crater (Mt. Grabrok). We didn't have time to hike the trail, but stopped to take in the view.

That wraps up our Iceland journey -- we stayed overnight in Keflavik and caught an early flight home the next day.  Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed this Iceland travelogue.  If you missed any of the earlier posts, you can start with the first one here and follow the links through the travelogue.  You might also enjoy my travelogue for our trip to Krakow and Prague last fall; the first post is here.

1 comment:

  1. I liked the places where the moss or turf was just a thin carpet over the rocks, so that you could see the undulations caused by the rocks below. The bird cliffs were like this, and I think places where we watched the seals. I remember thinking how easy it would be to punch through the hollows under the turf and twist an ankle if you weren't careful to step on the places that had stones underneath.