Riding along Jökulsá á Fjöllum, the glacial river which is likely to flood if Bárðarbunga volcano erupts, may not sound like the smartest idea.
Especially since the trip was scheduled to take place right around the time when a large area north of Vatnajökull glacier was evacuated, farmers in Öxarfjörður, the region which is expected to be worst hit by the flood, rounded up their sheep and horses and the Civil Protection Department held a meeting with inhabitants in the region to prepare for possible evacuation.
But while sitting on horseback at the edge of Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, several hundred meters above the river, enjoying the sunny weather and spectacular view, I felt pretty grand.
The flood, should it occur, was at least ten hours away, and even if it would swell 50 times, it couldn’t reach us. There was no reason to let an eruption scare from Bárðarbunga spoil the moment.
I had been invited to join a group of tourists on a five to eight-day horse trip of Northeast Iceland on behalf of Íshestar. They were all experienced riders and the horses superb, so they were riding rather fast through diverse landscapes and across partly rough terrain.
On the last leg of the journey, the path was straight and smooth all the way home. We were given free rein and practically flew the last stretch on fast tölt, gallop and even flying pace. It was heavenly.
And speaking of heaven. Earlier in the day, I had picked two and a half liters of blueberries at the kind invitations of my hosts, who have a summer house in Öxarfjörður.
With my nose buried in heather, damp from the morning dew, with that aromatic scent of wild herbs filling my senses, and filling my container with plump, juicy treats, I felt pretty grand.
The eruption scare was miles away. And even when listening to the evening news of continued seismic activity in Bárðarbunga when driving back to Akureyri, I couldn’t let go of that wonderful feeling of grandness.
How could I while watching the sun set over Öxarfjörður and Skjálfandi bay, painting the sky over the perfectly smooth ocean orange and bright pink? Every island and piece of land turned black in contrast, standing out in the distance.
I could see as far as across the Arctic Circle, the tip of Melrakkaslétta, the desolate peninsula which the horse party had crossed earlier in the week, and the island of Grímsey, which lies on the Arctic Circle and can only be spotted from land on particularly clear days.
This ever-changing land of ours is pretty grand, I thought while driving into the sunset.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – firstname.lastname@example.org