Glymur (Clamour)

Glymur, Waterfall

Glymur, tallest waterfall in Iceland

To date there are two places in the world where I have felt a deep inner peace quite inexplicably and quite suddenly. The first place I felt it was near Hvalfjörður (the ‘Whale Fjord’), on the way back from a long hike to try and reach the top of Glymur, Iceland’s tallest waterfall at around 190m+. I had been given the task of finding something fun or, at least, interesting for us to do, so I consulted our trusty road atlas. I discovered that the tallest waterfall in Iceland was within traveling distance. So I suggested we give it some consideration. Clearly we gave it more than some consideration, as we actually set out on a trip to see it firsthand.

With two youngsters in tow we attempted the hike, which was either quite short or 2-3 hours, depending on what source of information you chose to believe. In retrospect, the latter source would tend towards being more accurate. I personally do not recommend attempting this trip with a couple of youngsters in tow. Especially one that is prone to developing bouts of ‘complainarhea’. If one of your intended expedition party does not ‘do terrain’, definitely leave them at base camp if you have the option to.

We parked our vehicle in the car park and set off. I don’t remember exactly when the complaining started, but I believe it was fairly early on. It certainly did not cease at any point. There’s probably something in the Geneva Convention about not subjecting human beings to such an experience, but, sadly, we had no one to protect us from the onslaught. Regardless of that, we hiked up the right hand side of Glymur. We did not get to the very top on this occasion, and who in their right mind would expect us to? We did very well to get as far as we did with no fatalities. I actually enjoyed the experience over all, despite the obvious handicap.

We did see the top of the waterfall, even though we did not reach that point. It was on the way back, on the plateau that sits just above the parking lot, that I paused for a moment. It was then that I felt the peace descend upon me. I looked at the fjörd in the distance, at the trees strewn along the mountainside. I felt the gentle breeze as it brushed past. I wanted to capture the moment, so I fumbled for my camera, and took a few shots. Then I attempted to obtain some video in order to capture the moment more thoroughly. There was the damp feel of raindrops as they began to fall gently on everything around. So I just stopped for a moment, and chose to experience it as it was happening, rather than struggle to capture it in order to experience it in a more detached manner at a later point in time.

Then I felt the peace. [insert thoughtful pause here] Yes, it was peace. I looked and I beheld all that lay before me. The rain drops fell silently, and gently. They didn’t disturb the peace, but rather added to it. It wasn’t long, maybe a minute, perhaps two, but it felt good. Then it was time to move on. Back to the car, back to the rush, back to whatever else we had to do that was so important we could not tarry here a moment longer.

I won’t ever forget that moment though. Again, it is not something I can explain, it was just something I experienced. A priceless pause in time.

In a following year we attempted the hike again, without youngsters in tow. We went up the right side once more. This time the clouds had descended, and we walked up into them. It was quite a mystical experience. It was the middle of summer, with nary a soul around. Perhaps one lone hiker who came jogging by us, and disappeared into the misty clouds as they meandered over the mountain. On this occasion we reached the very top of Glymur, and we were able to cross the river at the top.

I took plenty of pictures and shot some video. I edited the HD video down from 30 minutes plus, to around 6 minutes or so, and set it to a Sigur Rós track, Samskeyti. I am rather pleased with the result, which I should share (especially for those who have not experienced the beauty of Glymur as yet). On this trip there was absolutely no sign of  ‘complainarhea’, and for good reason. It was one of the most profound experiences I have had in my life.

As fate has a way of cropping up at the most unexpected points in time, I was to have another trip up to the top of Glymur. This trip was not in the least bit planned. I had finished work. Burned out for the day, which is always a good point at which to stop, before one starts doing more harm than good. I thought about going and grabbing a latte somewhere, but then reconsidered. So I headed back towards Kjós. I remembered I needed more tea bags. The Euro Shopper brand that only Bonus seems to sell (certainly, it is not available at Kronan). Good tea it is too, a lot better than even the Tetley ‘British Blend’ tea that is sold in the States.

As I was entering the roundabout, post tea bag acquisition, there was a young woman dressed in suitably thick hiking garb, with an equally suitably sized back-pack holding a card that simply said ‘North’. Hmm… Just how ‘North’ are we talking here, I wondered. I had nothing planned, I was on my own, and the situation did not seem in the least bit troublesome. So I pulled over and inquired about just what ‘North’ meant to this wayfarer. Apparently, she was hoping to see… Glymur.

Okay, so you are asking me if I want to drive to one of my most favorite places in the world? Um, yeah, sure, I am up for that. It’s not far from where I live after all. Well, actually, it is father than I remember. It’s maybe twenty minutes to where I now live, and another twenty to Glymur. I only rediscovered that when I agreed to travel all the way up there. We talked, and I drove, and we eventually found it once more. The GPS was not much help, but when is it ever? Sure I’ll hike, I only have my regular sneakers, as opposed to my hiking boots, but I’ll tough it out. So off we went. Talking and hiking. It was most agreeable indeed. It was also most windy indeed.

We hiked up the left side. Which is something we had planned on doing this year. I am so glad I had that opportunity to do it. I might otherwise never have hiked up that side of Glymur. It turns out that it is much easier to hike that side, even with the wind as a foe. We made it to almost the top, before we decided that it was far enough. The wind was strong enough that we did not want to endure it a moment longer. We took a few pictures to commemorate our small victory, and then headed back down.

She had left her back-pack at a clearing on the way up, and we had a little trouble finding it on the way back down, but she eventually located it. We reached the base area where the cave is that one has to go through to hike up the right side, and she said she would camp there over night. So we parted company, and I drove home.

Well, I awoke at about 4:30am, and right away my conscience started working overtime. I had taken this young woman to a place that was pretty much the middle of nowhere. How could I leave her there? It would take her a day just to get to some form of civilization, surely? I got up and set out to bring her back to a more reasonable hiking spot. I had to refuel, so I took care of that first. Then I made the trip back out to Glymur. I was hoping that I would be able to find her in time before she set off to try and hitch-hike ‘North’.

I got to the parking lot, I got out, and I walked to the spot I knew I should expect to see her in. Sure enough, there she was, in her small tent. So I made my presence known. She duly thanked me for returning, and packed up her gear. We hiked back to the car, and set off for civilization. I eventually left her on the main ring road, which was loaded with traffic headed ‘North’. She thanked me, and we parted. I don’t know if I will ever hear from her again, but I know I did the right thing.

So I was back at work, in a meeting, and someone there gets a text from a fellow employee. Turns out she just got picked up by that person, who is heading ‘North’. Wow.

So that is all I have to say about Glymur to date. The other place I have felt complete peace is on the golden sands (most sand in Iceland is black, in case you were not aware) of the beach at Búðir. There is a quaint little church there. The church of the black helicopter. It’s a place of supreme peace… except for the helicopter. But that’s another story altogether.

Bless Bless og Sjáumst!