Neon Green Moss in the Icelandic Highlands
Pitch black lava and neon green moss
Steffen and I just returned from another trip to Iceland. This time our main focus was set on the Icelandic Highlands. During our first week on the island rainy weather and gale force winds prevailed and deterred us from heading there. But during the last 1,5 weeks we experienced almost perfect conditions for quite a few days in a row. I can't tell you how strange it feels, standing on a remote mountain's top in Island's interior in total silence and without the slightest wind breeze. Really, REALLY weird! ;-)
This time we also had the right 4WD-vehicle to do some of the river fords, we always have been wanting to cross: a Land Rover Defender with a raised air intake snorkel (looks pretty similar to a submarine snorkel), so we did not have to worry about getting water into our motor while crossing deeper rivers. So it came that even during dizzle conditions we were cruising the most adventurous jeep trails deep in the Highlands. And we had just about every mood you can dream of as a landscape photographer for instance slowly incoming fog at wizard-hat shaped Maelifell (one of Iceland's most iconic mountains in the highlands), first snowshowers along Laugavegur near Álftavatn, a couple of drama-rainbows and drama-auroras (this time of the year is perfect for that too!) and of course colorful sunsets at remote locations with neon green moss like shown here as the new "image of the month".
There are more than 600 different species of mosses in Iceland and this small plant thrives practically everywhere. The most famous of all grows probably at Eldhraun along the ring road east of the town of Kirkjubaerklaustur, where it beautifully covers the old lava boulders originating from the violent Lakagigar eruption in the late 18th century. Usually the Eldhraun moss appears rather greyish, but it can get vibrant green after heavy rainshowers. We've seen this dramatic change this time and it was really astonishing! The moss you'll find along the main roads can be amazingly thick and incredibly soft. But nothing rivals the beauty of the moss far off the beaten tracks in lava deserts in the Icelandic Highlands. It is even thicker (sometimes it looks like a 0,5m/1,5 ft deep plush carpet) and appears in all shades of neon green and neon yellow. And the contrast with the black pitch lava couldn't be any more intense!
So when people ask us "Haven't you seen every single pebble stone on that small island yet?", all we can answer is: "No, definitely not!". These weird volcanic landscapes keep mesmerizing us. They are of unimaginable beauty and truly out-of-this world! And besides that, the Icelandic Highlands are still full of little secrets and seldom seen places - just the perfect kind of "playground" for us. And so much still left to explore out there!
To be continued... ;-)
Image data: 2 s at f/13, ISO 100; Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM at 27 mm, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Related Links: Our images from Iceland