“It would get so depressing, men would walk off the cliffs”. That was how Ymir described Hornstrandir.
Hornstrandir is located in northwest Iceland, and is as isolated as it gets in Iceland. Even in Icelandic terms, this place is completely off the map and very few people ever see it.
This was an adventure into complete isolation, all to take anniversary photos at place nobody would ever think of.
Becky and Ymir had their wedding at Jökulsárlón about a year earlier, so for their anniversary, a hike to the end of the earth was planned.
The journey to Hornstrandir came together via Facebook, and one particular image. The picture was of Ymir’s sister jumping through fog in an abandoned building, and it looked haunting. I made an off-handed comment about wanting to photograph a couple there one day (not realizing where this place was located) and the wheels were in motion. Becky and Ymir had not spent a lot of time together during their first year of marriage, and they had wanted to do something special for their one-year anniversary. When I made that comment on Facebook and shared that I would be in Iceland for a wedding around the time of their anniversary, things came together.
What I thought was going to be a walk in the park ended up being an insane walk along cliffs and straight up a mountain.
To get there, the first flight was between Reykjavik and Ísafjörður, which is a small fishing village in northwest Iceland. That flight weaved through fjords and was a stunning 30 minutes – if that was all the flying I did that day, that would have been totally fine. But when I walked off that plane, Becky was waiting on the tarmac and escorted me to a second plane.
We boarded a very small six-seater plane and away we went. This second flight went further west, and we landed in field 20 minutes later. There was no tarmac, no roads, just a bright flag indicating where the plane should land. The pilot gave us a wave, said he’d see us later that day, and the mega-hike began. Completely oblivious and unprepared for the insanity that was about to ensue, I was wearing runners and shorts. It was five hours of cliffs and trails to get to Hornstrandir from where the plane let us off, and then of course five hours back.
Hornstrandir is an abandoned military base that the US Army built during the Cold War. It was a post built to “protect America” from Russian aircrafts that would fly over the spot should they ever invade the States. This seemed far fetched to me, but that’s why it was there. There were many people posted in this depressingly beautiful place, but there is absolutely nothing there but mountains, ocean, and openness. The buildings that are left there now are completely rundown, but signs of life are everywhere. Electrical sockets, books, plates, tables, etc. – these things showed that people actually lived there. Then everyone up and left 50 years ago and all that remains is rubble.
So, that’s where we went for Becky and Ymir’s anniversary session. Ymir’s sister Embla and her friend Bergrún also came for the hike to nowhere. The experience was nuts, but doing crazy things like this with couples is right up our alley.
Vendors for Becky and Ymir’s adventure on Pinterest.