We woke up to a lovely surprise: there's an arctic fox at our guesthouse! It turns out that this handsome little fellow has been coming here for a few summers, and made a friend with the owner's dog. Here he is fast, fluffy, and fetching!
We were told of an old spar mine at Helgustadir, about ten minutes east of Eskifjordur. Supposedly back in the days this place was the premier source in the world for optical grade spar, which even made it into the hands of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek et al. We went to check it out for ourselves. It appeared that the old mine entrance had been closed off by a pile of rocks, though there were lots of small, broken pieces strewn about outside. It's illegal to take them away, unfortunately.
Ann did not remember going up yet another waterfall after this, but apparently we did. This one had a dedicated parking lot, and we figured it would be safe.
On the recommendations of Hannes, we took a turn off of the main ring road onto Route 901 towards Möðrudalur. For all the varied geography that we'd already seen in Iceland, this was yet another entirely alien landscape. We stopped by a vantage point overlooking what one would only imagine Mars or the early earth looked like: stark, otherworldly. This vista alone was almost enough to convince us to come back for a third trip through the highlands.
Occasional streams ran down hills and gave the otherwise monochromatic world a shock of color and life. Oddly shaped pools dotted part of the valley.
We wound our way back onto the ring road, relieved by signs of civilization. Exhilarating as this detour was, it really knocked the wind out of us both, and we had to pull over the side of the road for a nap before continuing onto Goðafoss. As we arrived, a team of daredevils were just assembling ahead of the drop off to kayak down the first stage of the waterfall. Perfect timing.
We are now officially in the north! On our way towards Brimnes Hotel & Cabins in Olafsfjordur, we stopped frequently to admire the evening light over the snow-capped mountains and fjords:
Scenes from the road: