Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hiking with John, Paul, George, and Ringo

Slowly, I am learning that everything in Iceland is really much further away than it actually looks. To counter this, I am developing a system so that I'll be less disappointed when I realize the destination I had dreamed of making it to, is really in fact just too far away. If something looks like it'll only take about ten minutes to get to, in reality, its likely about 45 minutes away. My Icelandic time conversion calculator isn't entirely accurate, but mentally, it has been a helpful guide.

I have been staring at this one particular mountain out of my window for the past several days, watching how the weather and light hovering over the top so quickly change. What little snow we have is clinging desperately to the tops of these small mountains and making interesting patterns. I chose yesterday to be the day I would attempt to find the ideal place from which to photograph it. It took about 3o minutes to bike up hill and out of town to the base of the valley I could hike into to get to the foot of the mountain itself. I thought it would take me about 15 minutes to get to the spot I wanted, so I made some small calculations on my imaginary abacus and decided I should plan for a hike of about an hour. Naturally it took a little bit longer than that, due to some icey patches which required very skilled maneuvering over, and made the going a bit slower. From about ten minutes away I could see the spot I wanted, and as I came over the last little hill the valley opened up before me and baby blue clouds started rolling in over the completely snow covered mountains ahead. As I often secretly do in Iceland, I spent a moment looking out for a unicorn or two which one might expect to be galloping across a landscape that looked like this (there are a lot of white Icelandic ponies which make for really great unicorn stand-ins). I planted my tripod down and quickly started to assemble my 4x5 camera which is quite the burden to bike with and quite the burden to hike with. I worked for sometime, and then realized that perhaps I had not budgeted enough time to make it out of the valley before dark. Fortunately in Iceland there are no wild animals one needs to fear in the night, however, a slip on a perilous patch of ice would make for a long and painfully fall into a frozen river. So I wanted to start heading back as I foolish forgot my headlamp in New York. As I was collapsing my camera, and as the clouds started to thicken above, blocking out the already fading light, my solitude overwhelmed me, and I got perhaps a bit nervous. I conversed out loud with myself about how there really was nothing to be concerned about, and that the lights of the highway would be visible within the hour, and that to get my mind off of the lack of light I should probably sing a Beatles medley as loud as I possibly could. I settled on a Hard Day's Night as the songs are short and I know (or I thought I knew them well enough). As it turns out, without some help from John and Paul, I don't know quite as many words as I thought I did. So while hiking through this totally romantic and vast landscape I belted out repeated lines and made up words to Beatles songs. I did not stick to their first album at all, found myself adamantly playing the trumpet portion of All You Need Is Love, and singing the instrumental introductions to most songs. My mood was sedated when I bent over to take a pebble out of my shoe and suddenly my metal tripod flipped over the back of my backpack and came crashing down on my head, giving me what felt like at the time a severe concussion. I decided singing probably wasn't good for those suffering from serious head wounds and instead decided to shut up and enjoy the scenery. It was fun while it lasted.

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