Sleeping Dragons

Sam Koltun

There is a saying in Iceland about the weather........."if you wait ten minutes, it will change".  That adage would well apply to riding SLEEPING DRAGONS.  It was chapter two of my journey that began the prior year riding GRAND CANYON with Riding Iceland and Siggi.


 Sleeping Dragons offered a diverse view of the magnificent land that indeed changes continuously.  Unlike a view from the window of a transport, you feel and experience the topography through the sure footed steps of the magnificent horses that survived and bred to negotiate the changing land and protect the rider.  Unlike the highlands of Grand Canyon, Sleeping Dragons, named for the most fierce volcano eruptions of recent past and ancient history, follows the low lands with valleys of grass and rushing waters of shallow rivers to cross.  The sturdy horses swiftly and smoothly carrying me over valleys of small rocks as far as the eye can see, experiencing a ghostly fog rolling in from the right off a distant mountain overtaking and obscuring the previously unlimited vision, then as quickly passing by and overtaking a distant mountain once a minor volcano.  
At riding days end, in sight of the sixty or so horses secured in their paddock, a tireless activity to watch and photograph them framed against a picture postcard background, we recount our day over great food and intoxicating drink.  We laugh, listen to singing and take our rest in the shadow of Volcano Hekla.  Another day, another set of adventures experiencing more waterfalls even more magnificent than the prior days.  Riding across sandy bottomed shallows with cautionary signs for Quick Sand, and then long slow treks up mountains of hard packed rocks revealing views that must be experienced, and seeking the best route to the long awaited bunk house/hut.  
The needed rests to change to fresh horses and stretch our legs were accompanied by the always entertaining, Siggi, sharing the legends and lore of the area.  As an American with each changing landscape my mind wanders, something reminding me of old black and white filmed western movies.  Mostly, you imagine yourself exploring territories unseen or never mapped.  Truth be told, you are seeing and experiencing from the ground a land that few will ever witness, that defy development in any future time and so remote that only these special mounts that you ride will ever negotiate the terrain.  The one nod to civilization witnessed was the occurrence of a highflying helicopter against the blue/grey sky that does not darken in summer.  The copter thought to be filming or spotting locations for the Tom Cruise movie project.  It was in Iceland, that Cruise's wife mustered to leave him, as we were traveling by horse to our next hut or bunkhouse for more regaling the day’s adventures and indulging in great food and box wine.  
For myself, my wife who never gets on a horse yet shows the greatest affection and trust in the Icelandic horses to carry her, this summer will be our third year and an adventure that is now an existential part of our being.  Here is where we belong to hold fast to our memories of the prior two summers.  A perfectly safe adventure holiday by day and like a summer camp with no counselors in the laugh and song filled evenings.  Will see you in June and July, and thank you Siggi, for these trips change our lives.