Esja

Welcome back, and thanks so much for your patience in waiting for new pictures (well, new as any of these are).  Today’s batch won’t be all that many, but hopefully they’ll be interesting enough.  I took them on a hiking trip up Esja, a mountain just outside of town.  

There it is.  Up we go.

There are all sorts of moss growing on the mountainside, and a lot of them are squishy.  In some places, it feels like walking on some kind of foam.  Most areas, though, are good old-fashioned rock.

Looking down from the mountain, you can see Reykjavík.

The trail we hiked was, according to the map, meant to meet its peak at a certain stone, or steinn in Icelandic.  With so many to choose from, the authorities kindly labeled the stone they meant.  Even knowing that, though, I couldn’t help but chuckle just a little to see a stone marked, “stone”.

Going higher was deemed risky at this time of year, so here we turned back, but here I got a good view of one of the mountain’s other “wings”, for lack of a more (or, for that matter, remotely) accurate term.

Here, on the way down, you’ll notice a pile of rocks.  You hikers will already know it’s called a cairn, and hikers build them as a courtesy to other hikers to help mark out the trail for them.  I don’t know the Icelandic word for them.  In fact, I don’t really know the English word for them.  Cairn is Scottish Gaelic.  But that’s one of the great benefits of speaking English: the entire world is our linguistic buffet.  We’re sort of like the decorator crab of languages.

This is the decorator crab.  It’s a small crab that collects bits of junk and sticks them to its shell.  Special thanks to Google image search and the Scuba Equipment USA website (www.scuba-equipment-usa.com) for this lovely illustration of the English Language.  The decorator crab is otherwise irrelevant to the Icelandic subject matter of this blog.

Back to Esja.  Here is a nice shot looking back up the mountain.  It’s always a nice feeling to see trees.  They don’t have many here in Iceland.  We were translating a text in which Þórr (one of the Teutonic gods) and his companions went to sleep under an oak tree, and following the word eik (“oak”)was a endnote mark.  Hoping the editor was going to give some helpful grammar tip or intriguing piece of etymological information, I eagerly flipped to the back of the book only to find this:

eik.  ‘oak’. a meaning nearly obsolete in Iceland.

Thank you, Professor Gordon.*

And to close, here’s a picture of the sunset over Reykjavík bay.  Mind you, “Reykjavík bay” is redundant, since vík means “bay”, but I thought it would be best to distinguish it from the town.  But if you guessed that the word vík was the root for the word “Viking”, then you’d be, if not strictly right, then at least in agreement with one of several scholarly theories on the word’s origin, the implication of which is that the Vikings were people who spent a lot of time in bays.

B.

*The book mentioned here is E.V. Gordon’s An Introduction to Old Norse.

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