Iceland Day 4: Ásbyrgi Canyon

With a pretty decent night's sleep in, it was time to explore the north. First stop: Ásbyrgi Canyon. At about two hours from the town of Akureyri, I imagined I would just continue down the Ring Road after some exploration here. I arrived sometime in the late afternoon, after taking my time at the hostel, and having another amazing shower. The drive, yet again, was spectacular. The roads in the northern area of Iceland weave in and out of snow-capped mountains and beautiful streams and canyons. Elevation fluctuates quite a bit as well. It's a good thing I got to drive a similar route several times up there because it was just amazing. 

When I arrived to the canyon, I was a little surprised at how empty it was. There was an eerie sense of abandonment as I pulled into the parking lot. Nevertheless, there were a few people who showed up shortly after me. I quickly heated up some delicious canned Italian stew, and decided to explore the area a bit. Shortly after walking down one of the short paths, I ran into a pretty deep layer of snow. In fact, most of the area on the ground level was covered in snow. I knew I was in the wrong place for a hike. 

Frozen goodness.

After walking around the immediate area, I knew the hiking trails I was looking for weren't there. I headed back up to the visitor center, and monitored a map they had displayed outside. I quickly discovered where I needed to be, and head to the area which was just a few minutes away. I parked my car, grabbed my gear, and head off on the trail. The trail lead me along the bottom area of one of the canyon walls, and then eventually up it. After a quick ascent, I was on one of the canyon hills, heading upward and into the main canyon. The trail was moderately easy, with a mellow climb as I moved toward the inner part of the canyon. While hiking, I felt another moment of surreal isolation. There was nobody around but me. I couldn't see a single human or car in either direction I looked. All there was was the path at my feet, and the amazing landscape around me. 

Isolated trail. Nothing but fresh air and serenity. 

I made my way along the trail, which cut close to the edge of the cliff I was ascending. The view started to become better and better. The canyon itself was a little stale, as most of the trees were dead brown, and there wasn't much of a landscape, but still, It was such a unique site to see. The feeling of isolation while walking the trail was amazing. It was quiet and peaceful, and each way I looked I could see for miles, into the amazing river-filled land and snowy mountains. I took my time going in and out of the trail, exploring wherever I felt looked interesting. I eventually stopped on the edge of the cliff for a few photos. I couldn't resist. 

The trail kept going up toward the inside of the canyon, and the view stayed basically the same. Beautiful. I stopped several times and just basked in the amazing atmosphere. I eventually made my way to the end of the trail, which brought me to the very edge of the cliff I was walking on. I looked into the canyon, amazed at the simple beauty of it all. Quiet, clear, spectacular. I hung out for a bit before I eventually made my way back down the way I came. From what I saw from the ground level, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the area as much as I did. It was surprisingly pleasant. 

Peaceful viewings. 

After finishing the trail, I decided I would make a stop at Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. On my way there, I came across a big patch of snow in the road. Having not seen signs that the road was closed, I figured it was nothing. I drove forward, thinking my 4x4 Jeep could handle it with ease, only to find myself quickly spinning my tires, momentarily stuck on a sloping hill in the middle of nowhere. I threw it in reverse and punched it, spinning the tires for a good 20 seconds until I finally made it out of the snow and back onto the road. Not my finest hour. 

The alternative route to where I wanted to go was going to take several more hours than I had originally anticipated, and after a long hike, I wasn't ready for that journey. I decided it was best to head back to the town of Akureyri, and back to my little home away from home hostel. I eventually made my way into town, and settled in for the night. Not as an eventful of a day as expected, but still solid nonetheless. Tomorrow, yet again, another adventure awaited.