Turn off your cell phone and ride – Mike Basich explores Iceland
When I look back at 20-plus years of traveling and chasing the prefect snowflake, I realize how much we have changed versus the snow. My best memories are that of showing up somewhere with no idea of what to expect – something that seems to be less and less a part of traveling these days.
I miss traveling without a cell phone or internet. So, with no plan at all, I booked a flight to Iceland; a place I couldn’t get too lost on being as it’s an island.
It must have been at least ten years since I booked a flight without research or expectations. I hadn’t even looked to see if it had snowed yet. I had always heard that it was called Iceland to ward off people who thought it was a cold, desolate place, but this didn’t scare me. No way! I was beyond excited to have eight days in a place I’d never been with no plan at all. I decided to travel by myself so that I wouldn’t bum anyone out; a win win situation if you ask me.
Upon landing, the cold touch of air excited my shred senses, so I rented a car headed to the nearest place to enquire about the snow conditions. Despite everyone being super friendly, I kept getting recommendations to take a tourist exploration, something I wasn’t exactly looking for on this trip.
All friendly suggestions aside, I took my rental to the nearest resort making many stops along the way to strap on my snowshoes to take a look around. However, you really have to take advantage of the daylight in Iceland durring December, as the days are shorter than you’re accustomed to.
While watching the sun descend over the mountains during a solo mission I noticed more and more cars driving up the road from where I parked. Everyone seemed to be getting off work and heading up for a night of riding. Despite my watch not agreeing with it being evening just yet, it was still getting plenty dark.
Just as I was getting back to my car to head up to do some “dark riding” a car pulled over to make sure I was alright. Funny enough, out of roughly 300 thousand people in Reykjavik, the person who pulled over to help out was none-other-than Heida Birgisdottir, founder of Nikita Clothing. It coulnd’t have been a more perfect situation. Knowing the type of mountains I was after, Heida gave me the number of a rider up north who could show me around. A good five hour drive later, and with some positive rumors regarding snow conditions, I arrived at my destination.
Early the next day I tried desperatly to meet up with Victor, the rider who was to show me around. This was to no avail though, something I attributed to it being Saturday. “Maybe I had lost him to the night,” I thought.
We had talked earlier about taking snowmobiles out for the day, so I drove up to the resort to see if I could find anyone. It turns out the resorts don’t even open until everyone gets off of work – right around the same time the sun starts to set. Luckily, I heard snowmobiles off in the distance and soon found everyone I was looking for. Their phones had died and finding them was pure luck.
Within ten minutes we had the resort taking us up in the snowcat to the sleds located on a higher shelf. Once I got to the top, I realized Iceland felt like a mini Alaska. Stoked!
Scoping the volcanic landscape, the light was nothing less than beautiful and I was surrounded by “one of a kind” people. In that magic moment before dropping in I more than seriously considered throwing my phone off the ridge and going with the flow just to see what would happen next. In the end, I thought, “It finally looks as if my trip is taking the form in which I had initially planned… or, didn’t plan for.”