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By our third day in Iceland, the fog finally lifted to reveal what we’d hoped to see. With steep, snowy mountainsides, pastoral fishing villages and lines that skied directly to the sea, our long trip to the Troll Peninsula finally delivered on the promise of twenty daylight hours and a sky that remained dusky until dawn. We’d landed to rain and gloom in Reykjavik with Europe still reeling from the volcanic panic that shut down the continental airspace and stranded travelers around the globe…
But Icelanders are a flexible and practical lot, with a national character seemingly forged by self-reliance, coastal weather and natural wonder. As a result this country adapted quickly to eruption and disruption even as foreigners cancelled their trips and Fox News stirred up fear with geothermic sensationalism.
At our destination of Dalvik, where we were invited for a week of touring with Arctic Heli Skiing, the season’s schedule was already mess. Owner and ACMG/IFMGA guide Jokull Bergmann, was adapting to cancelled bookings, forced layovers and unpredictable weather. But the forecast looked good so he suggested we arrive early and he would adapt.
One day’s drive north and one diesel mix up later we were sitting at his family’s traditional house in a sheep-farming valley above the Arctic Circle tracking the jet stream. We spent the next morning driving through one-lane tunnels, over dirt-road passes with emergency roadside shelters and past traditional red-and-white Icelandic farmhouses until arriving in the small fishing town of Siglufjorour on the north coast.
Here, in what was the Herring capital of the world until the stock was fished to death, we toured above town and waited for the weather to lift. The clouds cleared out the fjord toward the North Pole and we skied perfect ribbons of corn until nine at night then drove back past backlit peaks and green valleys to a midnight dinner at the farmhouse.
We learned that power was out to all of Iceland and the Dow had crashed a thousand points, but, like the locals, we have started simply adapting to life at the 66th parallel. It might be the daylight, the character or the isolation, but the rhythm of this northern island is drawing us in one line at a time. We already have our peak picked for tomorrow, but there will be no morning rush since the alpenglow won’t be raging until at least eleven.