Day 6: Heydalur to Patreksfjördur
Woken by one of the dogs barking. Peeked outside to the coldest morning yet. The car had frosted over, blue skies, bright sunshine and a mist on the fjörd. There was even horse hair frozen onto the car telling us the horses had been walking between the cars during the night.
We are a hearty breakfast, said goodbye to Loki and Bangsi and hit the road.
There were icy roads on the shady side of the fjords which freaked me out abit but Josh adjusted his driving according to my distress as well as the roads.
Our first stop for the day was the Arctic Fox Centre which is a research center with an enclosed exhibition and museum. It focuses on the Arctic fox (Vulpus lagopus) which is the only native terrestrial mammal in Iceland.
The old word for fox was Melrakki which means ‘the little dog on the snow.’ Icelanders have 20 different words for the arctic fox!
There is a new law in Iceland that forbids animals that were raised in homes and considered domesticated, from being released into the wild. Until the law changes these guys have to live here. The law was made to stop people releasing pets like floppy eared bunnies and snakes into the wild. They did t think of wildlife rehabilitation places.
We had a good chat over a coffee and hot chocolate with the fellow running the place. We talked politics,soccer, tourism, foxes and Icelandic surnames and place names.
Foxes even get a mention in the Sagas of Iceland. The Ballad of Sheaf-Tail is the most famous and I found a link in this PDF: The Ballad of Sheaf-Tail
The poem tells the story of an old Arctic Fox in his den with his wife, who convinces the reluctant fox to go out in search of food for their cubs. After killing an old ram, a shepherd and his dog chase the fox into a small cave where he man breaks the fox’s ribs with his staff. After they’ve gone the injured fox slinks hole to tell his wife what happened. In his final moments of life he looks back on his glory days of biting sheep and stealing fish, consoling himself with the thought that one of his children will grow up to cause even more mischief to the nearby farmers.
Despite the funny tone, the poem shows how the early Icelanders viewed the arctic fox as an animal that not only caused harm but also enjoyed it.
Sudavik also has a memorial to the 14 people killed in the avalanche of 1995.
The rest of the driving today consist of terrifying sheer drops one side and dangerous rock slides on the other. This county needs a safety barrier and steel netting EVERYWHERE! Josh was highly amused at my reaction and took pleasure in it I’m sure.
Our big stop for the day was this ‘collection’ of waterfalls where Josh had a great time with his drone. It was quite a hike up and hard work but we got there!