Further Up And Further In: A Journey Through Misty Mountains, Eternal Ice, And Singing Caves

Further Up And Further In: A Journey Through Misty Mountains, Eternal Ice, And Singing Caves

Noemi Ehrat
Words by
Photos by
Art Bicnick

After a visit to Ólafsvík, a sleepy village nestled in between the sea and the northern foot of Snæfellsjökull glacier, we hit the road southwards with the aim of following the mighty glacier towards the other side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Route 570 starts out steep, as if to scare off any people who might want to conquer the road without a four-wheel-drive. After only a few minutes, several magnificent waterfalls come into view. The route seems to want to impress from the get-go and it definitely succeeds, even as we are surrounded by the falling rain.

Into the clouds

“The fog suddenly gives away to two massive walls of snow and ice around us: Without noticing, we’ve been driving right into the foothills of the glacier, Snæfellsjökull.” 

As we continue our journey, I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ quote “This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now… Come further up, come further in.” Indeed, it feels like we’re continuously driving further up, ascending the mountain and subsequently further into a thick blanket of clouds. The scenery changes slowly but surely from lush beds of moss to rough stones as the clouds absorb the last dappled sunlight.

Suddenly, we can’t see anything and slow down, driving at a walking pace in an effort to avoid the potholes in front of us. There are only few cars crossing our path and all of them seem to have chosen to drive the opposite way. I’m glad to have brought my knitting, as it distracts from the seemingly endless fog around us and simultaneously keeps my knees warm.

Yet, when I think we will never be able to see any stone again, the fog suddenly gives away to two massive walls of snow and ice around us: Without noticing, we’ve driven right into the foothills of the glacier.

Icey fairy tale

I’m impressed at how gigantic the eternal ice around us is and can’t help but marvel at the frozen mass. It feels almost unnatural to see steep walls of snow right and left, in such stark contrast to the almost black road. The mist still hovering above further reinforces the impression of being caught in some sort of dream or fairytale, and I half expect a troll to dart across the road at any minute.

Back to civilization

As we descending southwards, we stop at the Sönghellir cave next to the road. The song cave gets its name from the echo it produces, but I resist testing the cave’s quality myself. A legend says that a settler—a half giant—and his family used to live here. He’s now supposedly guarding the area.

As we finally reappear out from the clouds, I’m amazed by the view of the sea shore below. The sparkling water glitters a most wonderful shade of turquoise. The vastness of the ocean is further emphasized by the contrast to the almost claustrophobic feeling when previously driving through the walls of snow. I exhale as I look at the movement of the waves. Pure peacefulness.