We walk walk walk along fall colored paths with short stubby native trees. Tall evergreen or birch trees in Iceland are planted anomalies designed to create a forest illusion, and in some cases in this rather exposed volcanic land, the illusion works. Upstream of Hraunfossar, the Children’s waterfalls, the river water flows and churns into a frothy turquoise with a whipped cream top, bashing and smashing its way against jagged lava sides and probably a kayaker’s dream. We stand over bridges, we take pictures, we do the things you do in the Icelandic fall, and the air is crisp and clear and smells like hot dogs. Oh wait, that’s the nearby cafe. Nevermind.
Deceptive, I was, tagging this picture with things like “waterfall” when, in fact, it’s clearly L’il House On the Prairie. But my point–and I do have one–is that sometimes when you’re visiting Iceland focused on waterfalls, you should turn around a bit a look behind you. The waterfall in this case was Seljalandsfoss in southern Iceland, the infamous falling water you can walk behind. I waited my turn in a long muddy line of tourists dressed in bright unnatural hues and and getting soaked. When I walked behind the falls, I looked out and saw this lonely farmhouse, looking like an obscured 19th century oil painting beyond the moving water. And I saw the odd, tall grass. And in the very far distance I saw glaciers and knew I wasn’t in Kansas.
Litlanesfoss is oft overlooked by tourists intent on hiking 3km up to the mighty Hengifoss at the top, but it shouldn’t really, what all with those mighty basalt columns framing the lower waterfall. Honestly, they kinda look like blue whale baleen to me, but I’ve been accused of having a hyperactive imagination. Anyhow, the weather poured random rain on us, so getting a snap of this l’il guy was an exercise in cover-wipe-shoot-wipe again.
“I’m number 3, Mom!” So says Hengifoss with not a little irony, lauding herself for being the 3rd highest waterfall in Iceland, located in the northeast interior. Do waterfalls have an identifiable gender? The parking lot was overloaded, and our guide Biggi said he was surprised there were this many tourists this far east. We had 60 minutes, so I hauled ass out of the minibus and sprinted up the trail, hauling up the 25 lb camera bag slung over my back, using my three legged tripod as a proxy hiking stick. Crossed somewhat treacherous algae strewn slippy rocks over a creek, slogged through mud, waited for an Argentinian tour group to clear the field of view, snapped a photo. Well….a helluva lotta photos, tbh. The view didn’t suck.
The bus travels through the winding glen above Rannock More, on our way to Glencoe, where our driver cheerfully sits on a granite rock and tells us another tragedy in Scottish history, a rather horrific massacre in 1692. Let’s just say, invoking “highland Hospitality” would give these village folks more than a moment’s pause.
In any case, the Ice Age carved beautiful miracles here, grooved green slopes beneath the continuing blue skies. If you look closely you’ll see the triple tier waterfall midway up the slope, and the folks who live in that white house at the foothills near a creek at the end of a windy dirt road…wait, do I need to say more? It’s a fairytale land, so I’ll let it lie.