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The Kjölur Interior Road

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After our successful completion of the Introduction to Highland Driving course provided by the Kaldidalur Road between Húsafell and Þingvellir, we felt confident enough on the very next day to tackle level two: Kjölur. The 200-kilometer route F35 cuts through the interior, connecting Gullfoss to the northern town of Blönduós.

Kjölur Road Trip

The drive started out without any major drama. “If anything, this is easier than Kaldidalur,” I semi-shouted at Jürgen over the music we had blasting from the stereo. Björk grunting something about being a hunter. “Maybe I’ve just become a better driver since yesterday!”

The drive wasn’t just easier, but more beautiful than the previous day’s journey. Glaciers everywhere. To the left, the Langjökull; to the right, the Hofsjökull; in front of us, the Hvitárvatn glacial lake. The sun is shining! And then we spot a rainbow. Björk is purring in joy… it’s oh so quiet. And it’s all so lovely!

Of course, the road eventually degraded into a mess of potholes and puddles so deep they might qualify as ponds. Eventually, I started to question my driving abilities. Eventually, Björk’s voice started to grate on my nerves. Eventually, the landscape looked less lovely than desolate. We weren’t surprised; this is Iceland, where the only constant is constant change. Earlier on this same day, we had experienced hail in Reykjavík, a thunderstorm around Selfoss and sunshine at Gullfoss. Everything shifts rapidly in this country: landscapes, weather, moods, road conditions.

By the time we reached the halfway point, at Hveravellir, we were finished both mentally and emotionally. Our car was filthy, our nerves were frayed, and we had played straight through Björk’s entire discography. On the upside, we could stop driving for the night, knowing that an evening of wine and hot springs awaited us. The downside? The second half of Kjölur loomed the very next day.

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Kjölur Highlands
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October 9, 2013 at 6:58 pm Comment (1)

The Kaldidalur Interior Route

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For 60 kilometers between the Hvitá valley resort of Húsafell and the Þingvellir National Park, the bumpy Kaldidalur (Cold Road) cuts between glaciers and across lava fields. It takes about two hours to traverse and acts as a kind of beginner’s course to the country’s highlands.

Kaldidalur River

We tackled Kaldidalur after having visited the Glymur Waterfall at Hvalfjörður. The weather had been pleasant enough by Icelandic standards, but took a turn for the worse almost as soon as we started the journey to Þingvellir.

Although the low clouds and pounding rain obscured from view the glaciers surrounding us on all sides, it also added something to the experience: the sense of hopeless desolation which should be a part of a journey into the highlands. As we bumped along southward, hopping from one pothole to the next at speeds barely eclipsing 20 miles per hour, I surveyed the lifeless landscape through the rain-battered windshield and a cold dread enveloped my soul. “This is perfect,” I said to Jürgen. “What do you feel right now?”

“Despair.”

We didn’t have much of a view, but Kaldidalur skirts right between two glaciers by the names of Ok and Þórisjökull. The landscape was otherworldly, almost completely lifeless until we neared Þingvellir. And though the road presented some tricky driving, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Actually, it made me eager for our next challenge in the highlands, which would be coming up very soon.

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October 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm Comments (3)
The Kjlur Interior Road After our successful completion of the Introduction to Highland Driving course provided by the Kaldidalur Road between Húsafell and Þingvellir, we felt confident enough on the very next day to tackle level two: Kjölur. The 200-kilometer route F35 cuts through the interior, connecting Gullfoss to the northern town of Blönduós.
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